A New Book of Southern Baptist Racism and Racial Unity

My good friend Dr. Jarvis Williams who serves as an Associate Professor of New Testament interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY has a forthcoming book on the Southern Baptist Convention, racism, and segregation in Southern Baptist churches, as well as on the imperative of racial unity and reconciliation in Christian circles:

Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention: Diverse African American and White Perspectives (B & H Academic, 2017)

Book Description:

” The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has an obvious historical stain on it: namely, racism, evident by the SBC’s affirmation of slavery, its fairly recent repentance of this sin in 1995, and the numerous segregated Southern Baptist churches. This stain prohibits Southern Baptist churches from embracing the one new man in Christ outlined in Ephesians 2:11–22 and from participating in the new song of those saints from every tongue, tribe, people, and nation in Revelation 5:9.

The glorious gospel of Jesus Christ necessitates that all Southern Baptists do their part to remove this stain from the SBC. This requires sacrifice, humility, and perseverance, along with a relentless commitment to Christian unity. This volume, edited by and contributed to primarily by African-American voices in the SBC, is one small effort to help remove the stain of racism from the SBC in pursuit of this unity in our beloved denomination.”

I can’t wait to read Dr. Williams’ new book.

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The Legacy of Fidel Castro and the Evangelical Christian Community

The Legacy of Fidel Castro and the Evangelical Christian Community

In the past two days, I have engaged in some interesting and controversial conversations with some evangelical christian brothers and sisters (I myself am a follower of Christ, and do not identity myself as an evangelical Christian.) about the legacy of Fidel Castro and American imperialism, and America’s foreign policy towards Cuba and the so-called Third World countries.  Let me make this clear: I am not a communist nor do I support violence and terrorism of any form. I’m against war and all forms of violence and human oppression. I’m a Christian pacifist and non-violent follower of Christ.

Below, I highlight five counter-responses to my underlying thesis (see below), from my christian brothers and sisters:

1. First of all, a christian evangelist and preacher told me that  if you do not like America and American foreign policy toward the Third World, why don’t you go live in Cuba and go back to your country.

2. A christian gentleman, who holds a PhD in missions and theology, told me that I’m a communist and do not support American democracy, and that he and his grandfather have fought for the freedom of this country.

3. Another christian (a trained seminary gentleman) accused me of being anti-American, unpatriotic, and liberal.

4. Another Christian brother said to me that I was talking nonsense dressed up as pseudo-intellectualism.

5. Another christian thinker, who currently serves as the chief editor of a famous Christian magazine accused me of spreading communist propaganda.

For example, here’s one of the comments I made in the course of the conversation:

“Thanks for your comment. American imperialism and political greed in the world, especially in the Middle East, has also led to the death of thousands of children and innocent people. Fidel Castro was not the only bad guy; he was one among the many. Our pro-lie philosophy must also be inclusive; we cannot be partial or discriminatory in our evaluation.

By any means, I’m defending Castro’s leadership in Cuba. Castro was an ambivalent figure. He is a hero to many people; for others, he was the devil in the flesh. However, we need to balance our assessment and take into consideration his accomplishments and contributions in modern history. Many people in the Third World regard him as the hero who had consistently fought American imperialism and Western oppression in the world. He decried American racism against African Americans and was an aspiration to many Americans in the era of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements in the United states. Fidel Castro is also revered in many countries in South Africa, and in most Latin American and Caribbean countries because of his uncompromised liberative beliefs and ideologies against the Empire and oppressive American-European economic capitalism and strategic globalism in the Region and in the world. He was also an inspiration to many Latin American theologians and freedom fighters in various Regions in the Americas. It is important that we articulate a fair narrative about the Man.

Furthermore, in addition to Castro’s brutal leadership, American foreign policy and years of embargo in Cuba have contributed to the mass exodus of Cubans out of Cuba. Imperial America gave Cuba Castro! Just like Imperial America gave the Haitian people Francois Duvalier (Papa Doc). It is also good to study US foreign policy in the world, which most American don’t care to know. Fidel Castro (1926-2016) was and will remain the Devil to many people; for others, he was the Savior.

If we are going to condemn oppression and human degradation elsewhere and everywhere, we must first begin here in the United States. If we want to be faithful to the Gospel and its clarion call to practice peace, justice, and reconciliation, we must also denounce American oppression and the dehumanization of certain lives.”

————————————————————————–

PostScript

I have to constantly remind myself that the United States of America is not the world, and certainly does not represent the collective voice of the people and leaders outside of the United States of America. America happens to be one of the countries in the world. The opinions of American citizens about Castro do not represent those of non-U.S. citizens, and they’re certainly not the final words about The MAN. We are not the world! As my friend Marc-Arthur Pierre-Louis has cautioned us:
 
“If you don’t come from an oppressed country, if you have not been alien in someone else’s country and suffered oppression, it will be nearly impossible to understand the complexity of Castro and the Cuban people existential struggles and so I urge you not to oversimplify the Cuban revolution into a binary, Manichean settlement.”

 

In the video below, “Fidel Castro and Political Rights in Cuba,” “James Early and Paul Jay discuss the death of Fidel Castro and how corporate media deals with the question of political freedoms and human rights in Cuba”

Evangelical Paradoxes: 10 Things I do not understand about American Evangelicalism and American Evangelical Christians

Evangelical Paradoxes:

10 Things I do not understand about American Evangelicalism and American Evangelical Christians

 Below, I list 10 major issues , what I call “evangelical paradoxes” or “evangelical contradictions,” I do not understand about modern American Evangelical Christians. For me, these critical factors not only demonstrate how Evangelicals engage culture, politics, ethical issues, they also represent a major crisis in contemporary American Evangelical churches and leadership.

  1. They zealously defend the life of the unborn and in the womb, but are reluctant to protect and defend life after birth.
  2. They claim that abortion and homosexuality are moral issues that all Christians should reject, but undermine major ethical or moral issues such as war, poverty, hunger, racism, the exploitation of workers by big corporations, etc.
  3. They fervently preach Jesus’ pacifist teachings, but support U.S. military invasion in the world or in Third World countries.
  4. They despise the cruel empires of the Biblical era that led to the suffering, humiliation, and forced exile of the Israelites—the chosen people of God—and eventually the death and persecution of countless Jewish and Gentile Christians in the Roman Empire, but do not renounce American imperialism and European neocolonialism in the world that contribute to greater suffering, poverty, and countless death in the world.
  5. They passionately preach the unconditional love of God to all people, but support racist politicians and bigot leaders.
  6. They believe that it is a Christian duty to care for the poor, feed the homeless, and welcome the immigrant, but vote politically against the poor, the homeless, and the immigrant. Or they become allies with lawmakers and politicians who created (intend to create) policies against the welfare of underprivileged families and the poor.
  7. They claim that they are not citizens of this world and do not need the world’s power to succeed, but sell their soul and compromise their faith to pursue political power and to have cultural influence.
  8. They believe that it is a Christian duty to evangelize and win the lost for Christ such as the Muslims, but sees their neighboring Muslims in the United States as a threat to Christianity and an enemy to American democracy.
  9. They give sacrificially to international missions and even send missionaries on both short and long term missions in foreign and distant lands such as black countries in Africa, Jamaica, or Haiti, but maintain segregated churches and defer the project of racial reconciliation and harmony in contemporary American society and churches.
  10. They eagerly announce the fatherhood of God to all people, but approve of America’s foreign policy that dehumanizes peoples who have been created equally in the image and likeness of God.

 

 

The Death and Meaning of Fidel Castro (1926-2016)

The Death and Meaning of Fidel Castro (1926-2016)

The Postcolonial nation-state of Cuba, an heir of the Haitian Revolution and a dear friend of Haiti, has graced the oppressed world and people with the birth of the revolutionary leader and freedom and anti-colonial fighter Fidel Castro (1926-2016); revolutionary Cuba is and has been one of the most faithful and consistent nations in the world in the struggle against American empire and hegemony, and Western colonization and oppression in the world.

fidel

In The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, Caribbean Marxist intellectual  C. L. R. James,  in the Appendix entitled “From Toussaint L’Ouverture to Fidel Castro,” wrote meaningfully about the historic significance of the Cuban revolution and paramount importance of its protagonist Fidel Castor, as well as the connections between the Haitian Revolution and Cuban Revolution:

Toussaint L’Ouverture is not here linked to Fidel Castro because both led revolutions in the West Indies. Nor is the link a convenient or journalistic demarcation of historical time. What took place in French San Domingo in 1792-1804 reappeared in Cuba in 1958. The slave revolution of French San Domingo managed to emerge from

… The pass and fell incensed points of might opposites.

Five years later the people of Cuba are still struggling in the same toils.

Castro’s revolution is of the twentieth century as much as Toussaint’s was of the eighteenth. But despite the distance of over a century and a half, both are West Indian. The people who made them, the problems and the attempts to solve them, are peculiarly West Indian, the product of a peculiar origin and a peculiar history. West Indians first became aware of themselves as a people in the Haitian Revolution marks the ultimate state of a Caribbean quest for national identity. In a scattered series of disparate islands the process consists of a series of unco-ordinated periods of drift, punctuated by spurts, leaps and catastrophes. But the inherent movement is clear and strong.

The history of the West Indies is governed by two factors, the sugar plantation and Negro slavery. That the majority of the population in Cuba was never slave does not affect the underlying social identity. Wherever the sugar plantation and slavery existed, they imposed a pattern. It is an original pattern, not European, not African, not a part of the American main, not native in any conceivable sense of that word, but West Indian, sui generis, with no parallel anywhere else. (pp. 391-2).

By any means, I’m defending Castro’s leadership in Cuba. Castro was an ambivalent figure. He is a hero to many people; for others, he was the devil in the flesh. However, we need to balance our assessment and take into consideration his accomplishments and contributions in modern history. Many people in the Third World regard him as the hero who had consistently fought American imperialism and Western oppression in the world. He decried American racism against African Americans and was an aspiration to many Americans in the era of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements in the United states. Fidel Castro is also revered in many countries in South Africa, and in most Latin American and Caribbean countries because of his uncompromised liberative beliefs and ideologies against the Empire and oppressive American-European economic capitalism and strategic globalism in the Region and in the world. He was also an inspiration to many Latin American theologians and freedom fighters in various Regions in the Americas. It is important that we articulate a fair narrative about the Man.

Furthermore, in addition to Castro’s brutal leadership, American foreign policy and years of embargo in Cuba have contributed to the mass exodus of Cubans out of Cuba. Imperial America gave Cuba Castro! Just like Imperial America gave the Haitian people Francois Duvalier (Papa Doc). It is also good to study US foreign policy in the world, which most American don’t care to know. Fidel Castro (1926-2016) was and will remain the Devil to many people; for others, he was the Savior.

If we want peace in our land and live peacefully as a people, we must be agents of peace here and elsewhere and must not support war and tyranny, and protagonists of human terror and oppression in other countries. To bring this brief refection to a close, allow me to say this: Capitalism is not a better alternative. I am not a communist or a socialist. I’m a follower of Jesus, and my allegiance is not to a system, country, or a person–but to Christ alone!

*To read an alternative perspective about Fidel Castro, click on the link below

Fidel is Dead” by Dr. Miguel de la Torre

​Engaging Girard’s “Toussaint Loverture: A Revolutionary Life” (Part I)

Engaging Girard’s  “Toussaint Loverture: A Revolutionary Life” (Part I)

toussaint

I’m working my way slowly and patiently through Philippe Girard’s biography on Toussaint Louverture, “Toussaint Loverture: A Revolutionary Life” (2016).

Here’s my brief and preliminary evaluation of the book (I’m still reading the text):

The strength of Girard’s work lies on his critical assessment of the  archival material on colonial Saint-Domingue and his attempt to present a balanced interpretation of Toussaint’s life,  the colonial order, and the Haitian Revolution.

Many of Girard’s claims and inferences about Toussaint and colonial Saint-Domingue are not new and groundbreaking, but they could be construed as recycled material and information;   his creative (re-) interpretation on previous and current studies on Toussaint and the Haitian Revolution is quite stunning and brilliant. This is an important work!

1. First of all, for Girard, Haitian oral history and stories about Toussaint and the Haitian Revolution are not reliable historical sources.

2. The first black church, although short-lived, probably started in Saint-Domingue not in the United States as traditional maintained in contemporary scholarship on black religion, by newly-slave converts to Catholic Christianity, and it is probable that Toussaint Louverture occasionally delivered sermons there.

3. Girard presents Toussaint Louverture as a man of faith and devout Christian.

4. Toussaint has intentionally abandoned the Fon language, and his African customs and traditions in which he was reared in colonial Saint-Domingue to accommodate with the new culture (French) and civilization (Western).

5. Toward the process of assimilation, Toussaint rejected his ancestral identity because he aspired to be French, White, and Western. He never referred himself as a son of Africa or an individual of African descent. He was ashamed of Africa and his African identity.

Consider Girard’s paradoxical statement below:

“Loverture is regarded today as a hero by the people of Benin in West Africa, where his parents were born, but having African roots was considered shameful in eighteenth-century Saint-Domingue. Louverture purposely left behind much of his African cultural heritage as he grew up, from the Fon language to the Vodou religion, so as to embrace the dominant French cultural model. He was no black nationalist: he was trying to fit into a colony where everything African was deemed uncivilized, and lived much of his life as a Creole and an aspiring Frenchman” (pp. 23-4).

Do look forward for Part II.