”James H. Cone as America’s Greatest Theologian”‘

“James H. Cone as America’s Greatest Theologian”‘

***My book, “Theologizing in Black: On Africana Theological Ethics and Anthropology,” contains two full chapters on Cone’s theology. I still need to explore how James Baldwin has influenced Cone’s literary radicalism and theology of political activism. Cone’s creative engagement with the wider Black Atlantic intellectual Tradition and Radicalism is another aspect that needs further study. Finally, Cone’s “epistemological borrowings” and “literary echoes” within the framework of African American literary criticism and theory have not been explored in contemporary theological scholarship and Black studies. Interestingly, James H. Cone has not been placed within America’s public intellectual tradition. He was both a public intellectual and public theologian. We should thank Professor Anthony G. Reddie for writing an excellent and insightful introduction to James H. Cone’s theology. In James H. Cone’s literary corpus, we encounter both “theological fragments” and “literary borrowings.”

One day I will write an intellectual and theological biography on James Cone! Just give me three years 😊

“Farewell to my Students and Colleagues at Indian River State College”

“Farewell to my Students and Colleagues at Indian River State College”

Today is my last day of work at Indian River State College (IRSC), where I had the opportunity to serve as a professor and a mentor to students for about a decade. Those years have marked my life in a tremendous way, and language fails me to articulate with precision the impact the IRSC community has had in my life and family.

IRSC has given me the immense opportunity to teach, mentor, love, and guide many students who come to us from various parts of the world and socio-economic background. In countless ways, they have enriched my life meaningfully and contributed immeasurably to my growth as a human being, thinker, writer, educator, researcher, and a scholar. IRSC students have taught me to have a greater appreciation for our multicultural and inclusive world, diversity in thought and expression, and the world of difference and pluralism. An ethic of care has been my driven motive during those wonderful years at Indian River State College, and a politics of relationality has guided my pedagogy and approach to human knowledge and understanding toward the success of IRSC students.

During my years at Indian River State College, I was surrounded by a group of caring and committed educators, administrators, and staff, whose friendship and collegiality have added more meaning, love, and joy in my life. My colleagues and friends at IRSC have taught me about the value of education, the importance of nurturing the life of the mind, and the non-negotiable dedication to students’ learning and future. More importantly, I have learned that treating all students with love, respect, and dignity is where the real learning begins and ends. Yet I remain convinced that the goal of education is human formation and growth, and the goal of teaching is to seek understanding, and understanding is the heart of effective pedagogy and engaging teaching.

I am leaving Indian River State College to assume a new responsibility and a new adventure as the Chair of the English Department at San Jacinto College (Houston, Texas). I will miss my IRSC students, the Writing Club, which I sponsored for the past four years, and my remarkable colleagues in the English and Communications Department who have loved me and supported my career during those years.

At San Jac (San Jacinto College), as an administrator, I will have another opportunity to influence and mentor both faculty and students and contribute to a more perfect union and a robust democracy in this country, in which both faculty and students will be agents of change and human flourishing in their community and in the world. For me, the professor and the administrator share something in common: the spirit of servanthood.

My new position would allow me to continue my work in serving others and mentoring faculty to be persistent and robust about their vocation and commitment as citizens and educators—the commitment of a worthy cause: the cause of their country and the global community; the cause to fight against human oppression and to champion human dignity; and the cause of love, justice, equality, and the cause of freedom for all.

‘In Praise of Books and Reading Well: My Journey with Books”

“In Praise of Books and Reading Well: My Journey with Books”

I love good and beautifully written books. I also admire and have great respect for writers who use language with precision and clarity and words with great economy, emotional and intellectual restraint, and linguistic control.
I must admit the fact that I am a bibliophile and have always been a book enthusiast since I was a kid–growing up in Haiti, a country where books and good public libraries are rare. However, Haitian literature is very rich, and Haiti is a country of great writers, great minds, and great literature. Arguably, the country of Haiti has produced some of the most important, prolific, and influential writers in the Americas, writing in French, Spanish, and English languages.

Nonetheless, I became more conscious about my love for books, uncontrollable interest in good writing/ writers, and the weight and glory of good words and the correct usage of the right words when I was probably in 5th grade. In 7th grade, my passion for good books exploded with an enormous and enduring zeal that would eventually shaped my High school years, and eventually my academic life and my identity as a writer.

In Haiti, I attended an all-boys Roman Catholic School, CollÚge Notre Dame du Perpétuel Sécours (CNPS), a rigorous and college preparatory school that has trained some of the most brilliant minds, who originated from Northern Haiti; Haiti has ever produced, such as Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Arly Lariviére, etc. I was able to attend CNPS not because my parents could afford it financially; it was because of my high academic performance and excellence that granted me access to this bourgeois school in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. It was the school where all the rich kids and those in the upper class and the sons of the most powerful figures in society attended. My parents struggled to pay the semester-by-semester tuition and other related expenses. God is always on the side of the poor and the economically disadvantaged group; he generously provided for my brother and me every semester, while we were attending; I managed to make it through the academic year and until my final year of Middle School. The trajectories of my life would change when I immigrated to the United States at the age of 15; I attended a new school, in a foreign environment, a High School that was not like the one at home. Yet, I would find comfort and peace in and through books at the Broward County Public Library in Fort Lauderdale, where I would visit four to five times a week, when school was dismissed.

My favorite Middle School memory was not the time of recess or hanging out with friends, but the memorable Friday when my class would go to the library to check out novels. Oh yes, the visit to the library was the most delightful time in my childhood in Middle school. The school administration and librarian did not allow students to check out more than three books, at one time, but I attempted in several occasions to break the rule and to cheat. In fact, I would take four to five books at one time and take them to the library desk to check out. The library would kindly refuse the extra one or two. That one or two books that I couldn’t check out from the library were usually among the top ten novels I wanted to read for the next two weeks or for the month and before I would return to the library to check out more books.

Books give meaning to life. Good books deconstruct, construct, and reconstruct the human imagination and action, and they breathe new lives to dead souls and the spirit in the dark. They also bring dignity to human relationships and friendship. Books change history, culture, and society. Good books and good writers change people and contribute to human flourishing and the common good.