“Stop Saying Racism is a Spiritual Problem!”

“Stop Saying Racism is a Spiritual Problem!”

I believe the problem of racism in the human heart is not just a theological or spiritual issue. Christians need to stop saying that. Racism is a complex reality that needs to be treated holistically and multidimensionally. Christian theology produced in the West is too weak to be the solution to the race problem or our contemporary struggle with white supremacy. In other words, if you tell me that Jesus is the solution to the problem of racism and white supremacy in America and in the world, you would have to tell me whose Jesus are you talking about? Are you referring to the Jesus of the poor and the oppressed and the marginalized? Or are you referring to the Christ of bourgeois theologians and racist Christians?

The poor and marginalized know Jesus is their friend and their only help in the time of sorrow and suffering. The figure of Christ in Western theological discourse is too transcendent and distant to relate to the poor and their living conditions and existential suffering manifest in today’s culture as white supremacy and terrorism.

When Western theologians stop theologizing and theorizing Jesus and his message, they will contribute to the solution of white supremacy and racism in our culture and Christian circles. In other words, if (and when) Western theologians start to believe that racism and white supremacy are more than a theological issue, but are embedded in systems and structures, be it economic, political, cultural, and ideological, they will start making social justice issues part of their larger theological thinking and writing, and intellectual framework and tradition.

Contemporary destructive ideologies and evils such as white supremacy and Christian white nationalism in Christian circles and in this culture are existential realities that destroy lives, demonize and alienate people, and cause more personal despair and collective suffering to our personal and shared experience as Americans and images of God. American (Evangelical) Christianity needs a new theological discourse and a new generation of theologians who can and will write theology differently and offer an intellectual and paradigm shift that is relevant and contemporaneous to our existential troubles and racial wounds.

We need to reject the idea that white supremacy or racism is just a sin or spiritual issue unless we understand sin has a multidimensional aspect. We need to leave behind this thinking that racism is just a theological matter and therefore needs a theological/spiritual solution. The God of the Bible is about cosmic transformation and holistic renewal of his creation; his solution to the human dilemma such as white supremacy and racism goes beyond the realm of the theological and the spiritual. God wants to change systems, ideologies, and structures that produce and sustain white supremacy, internal terrorism, and racism. He’s about comprehensive reparation of his creation and humanity.

Jesus is the God-Man and not just a spiritual and theological Being. He is a social and relational Deity as much as he is spiritual and theological. To say that Jesus is the social God means that he does not disengage with the social issues–such as white supremacy, internal terrorism, and racism– of life that affect and change our theological interactions with him. To say that Jesus is a spiritual Being is to convey the idea that what we think about Jesus theologically change human relationships and interactions.

Advertisements

My New Book, “The New Life Catechism for Children: 100 Questions & Answers to teach us how to live peacefully and relationally”

Folks, here’s the good news. I just published a new book, “The New Life Catechism for Children: 100 Questions & Answers to teach us how to live peacefully and relationally in the world.” If you purchase my new book, 50% ($ 4.56) will go to fund the new pre-school we are starting in Port-Margot, Haiti, in September 2019. The e-book version ($ 8.99) is now available for purchase on amazon, and the paperback ($ 10.99) will be available in two days. Please spread the news for the great cause of educating children for the future and for a new Haiti.

Description

“The New Life Catechism is about spiritual formation and development and so designed to teach children about the great theological truths and ethical practices of the Christian faith. It is written with great theological clarity and precision, and rhetorical eloquence. This gospel-focused guide directs our attention to the relationship between the Christian life, society, and doing good works, and also focuses on how Christian kids should live in society and with others relationally and peacefully. It teaches us about the importance of difference and unity, and the beauty of diversity and multiplicity expressed through God’s creation and the various cultures, races, and ethnic groups God made for his glory. This study can be used in Sunday school classes and small groups on spiritual formation for children. The target audience includes two different age groups: 3-7, and 8-11, respectively. Christian Parents and educators will read the catechism to the first age group; children belonging to the second age group can read it by themselves.

Nonetheless, individuals of any age group will find this summarized statement of the Christian faith informative, insightful, empowering, and doctrinally sound. The overall objective of this book is to lead individuals, especially Christian children, to love God more passionately and affectionately, as well as to grow more in grace and in our knowledge and understanding of the Triune God and to achieve gradual maturity in our relationships and interactions with our neighbor. We also hope that The New Life Catechism will help the church to construct this new radical life we are called to live in this world and to combat and thus solve the crisis of biblical illiteracy among Christian children and adults in our culture, especially in Christian circles. The book is also available in French and Creole.”

Haiti 🇭🇹 Impact Trip: July 2019 (Part 8): Report about the new Preschool 🏫 (“Hope Academy of Bois d’eau”)

Haiti 🇭🇹 Impact Trip: July 2019 (Part 8): Report about the new Preschool 🏫 (“Hope Academy of Bois d’eau”)

Friends and Supporters:

One of the goals of my recent trip to Haiti (July 17-25, 2019) was to plan for the new Preschool we will open in September 2019. After meeting with the school staff, conducting research, I want to give you a brief report about this important educational project.

A. Name: The name we have chosen for the new school is “Hope Academy of Bois d’eau” (“Académie d’Espoir de Bois d’eau”) located in the rural area of Bois d’eau, Port-Margot (Northern Haiti).

B. School Staff: Six individuals make up the staff of the school, including the school’s principal, the kindergarten teacher, the teacher’s aid, the security officer, two cooks or kitchen aids.

C. Curriculum & School’s Philosophy:

1) Kreyòl will be incorporated into the school’s curriculum and pedagogy, beginning with our first preschool class composing of 3-5 yr old;

2) Emphasis on comprehension, not memorization, reasoning, questioning, critical thinking, analyzing data, inferencing/inferences, collaborating learning, etc.;

3) Incorporation of religious education in the curriculum;

4) Emphasis on praxis (practice);

5) No corporal discipline/punishment allowed;

6) Emphasis on personal and corporate responsibility, good citizenship, and civic engagement/participation;

7) Emphasis on the role of (effective) education and (sustaining) development (i.e. the individual, the community, the society, and the nation);

8) Use of technology in the classroom (we need 27 tablets= 24 for the students, 1 for the teacher’s aid, 2 extras);

9) Projected Budget for the academic year 2019-2020: $ 7, 500.00

A) With the help of our donors and supporters, Hope Academy of Bois d’eau will be fully funded and tuition fee for all students;

B) The annual salary for both teachers is
$ 2,000.00;

C) The annual salary for the kitchen aids is
$ 1, 000.00;

D) The annual salary for the principal is
$ 1, 000.00;

E) Food (Lunch) for 24 children: $ 2, 000.00;

F) Miscellaneous (school supplies, sanitary items, security/safety issues): $ 1, 500.00

***We need to raise $ 7, 500.00 for the academic year 2019-2020 to cover all the costs and provide a free education to all our anticipated 24 children.

Support Haiti’s Preschool and Kindergarten Project (2019-2020)

Hello, Friends: Here are some of the children from Haiti who will be attending our Kindergarten in September 2019. I’m asking you to support their education and this is an important cause that will change their future toward sustaining development and human flourishing.

Please click on the link below to support one of those children as part of the Haiti’s Preschool/Kindergarten Project (2019-2020).

Thank you for your generosity and commitment to change a life in Haiti 🇭🇹– Dr. Lou, President of Hope for Today Outreach

https://www.gofundme.com/haiti039s-preschoolkindergarten-project

https://www.gofundme.com/haiti039s-preschoolkindergarten-project

“The Problem of the Theological Curriculum: The Chapter on Theological Education in North America and The West”

“The Problem of the Theological Curriculum: The Chapter on Theological Education in North America and The West”

One of the chapters in my forthcoming book (“Evangelical Paradoxes) discusses the subject of theological education that train Christian pastors and Christian academics in North America and the West to serve in Christian churches and the academic world. I am very much interested in these two groups: Christian pastors and Christian academics for six specific and main reasons I offered in the book—given their substantial influence in the congregational life, human relations, and contemporary Christian thought in the sphere of Higher Learning, which engage both culture and society. (In this important conversation, I do not ignore other Christian professionals or ministers who continue to play important roles in the church and in the secular world, serving in different capacities and roles, including Christian artists and worship leaders, psychologists and therapists, missionaries and educators–who have also been trained in theological schools.)

Initially, I wrote a 35 page chapter on the problems—some are structural, systemic, ideological, and others are practical and traditional; yet all of them are practical issues—I observed and researched in predominantly White Theological schools (that have formed me, and they are mostly theological seminaries and divinity schools in North America and in the West) in the training of minority students and integrating minority faculty members in their midst. As a side note, I have earned six academic degrees: a Bachelor, three Masters, and two PhDs; three of these degrees are from Christian and theological schools, and my other three degrees are from the so-called secular institutions and universities.

Interestingly, the research has taken me places that I never anticipated or imagined of going. I ended up writing two interrelated chapters (85 pages in total) on the subject matter. I proposed some practical steps to deal with the observable problems I discussed, and some of those propositions and tentative solutions are non-traditional in and for theological education. One of the core concerns is to bridge the racial, gender, and ethnic gaps in the theological curriculum and theological schools. Since the majority of pastors/ministers and theological academics in the major Protestant denominations in North America are trained in seminary and divinity schools, not often in School of Religion—yet this is now becoming a trend in religious education in the United States—my main emphasis in writing these two chapters is to explore how theological environments could be more democratic and pluralistic. Theological schools should be the starting point to foster candid and unintimated conversations about inclusion, diversity, and difference in society and Christian circles, especially churches. I strongly believe that the theological curriculum is the most feasible place to tackle the racial/gender/ ethnic conflict in contemporary American society and Christian (Evangelical) churches wherein we train pastors and ministers and Christian scholars. Racial/gender/ethnic tension in this country and in Christian congregations is always and almost theological and religious. Hence, we must begin thinking together about these complex issues and finding practical, theological, and intellectual solutions in the theological classrooms.

Finally, the first chapter on theological schools and education introduced the reader to the problems I observed. The sequel to that chapter offered an alternative way to deconstruct the theological curriculum and reconstruct it toward the general welfare/the common good, especially to benefit students of color and minority faculty members. I used various theories of (multicultural and democratic) pedagogy and methodologies including theories in multicultural education and curriculum, and postcolonial and decolonial studies to recommend that the theological curriculum needs to be decolonized, dewesternized, and make intellectual spaces and more room for a more liberal, democratic, and gender inclusive, as well as race and ethnic sensitive theological education that would consider the history and contributions of people of color to global Christianity as well as to integrate the lived worlds and experiences of minority students into the theological curriculum. Some of my proposals are non-traditional and a little revolutionary, and that is okay with me. 😊

Folks, at least, I tried and am trying to bring a solution to the problems in contemporary theological education in North America and Western countries, that have practical implications on how we do church and relate to each other humanly, racially, and Christianly.

“Our Internal Conflict: We Still Remember Our Collective Wounds Every National Holiday”

“Our Internal Conflict: We Still Remember Our Collective Wounds Every National Holiday”

There is a serious internal conflict that arises among the American people of various cultural background, ethnicity, and race in the commemoration of every major national holiday such as the 4th of July, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in this country. Among a large segment of the American population, there seems to be a hunger for more democracy and justice and thus a fair critique of the application of the current democracy to the living conditions and existential plot of this nation’s disadvantaged and minority populations. Their repetitive complaints and spontaneous rage make the work of American democracy limited, inadequate, and even bankrupt. For example, many African Americans do not feel comfortable to celebrate the 4th of July (of 1776), the founding of the Republic of the United States of America and its eventual emancipation from the Great Britain.

This American freedom, which they argue, is not their own, since their African ancestors were still historically enslaved in a country that just became politically free and independent from its former colony. Rather, they proclaim that their true independence occurred not in 1776 but in 1865, known as “Juneteenth,” the historic commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, in June 19, 1865, and the historic moment the transatlantic slave trade was legally banned and condemned.

A second source of internal conflict is the Martin Luther King Jr. Day (June 20). Many Black Americans and immigrants equally claim this day as theirs as they collaboratively remember and celebrate Dr. King’s magisterial labor, enduring efforts, and resilient activism that practically embody the soul of the American democracy and its connected lofty ideals and principles of American unity and solidarity, and human rights and civil rights for all America’s children—black, white, brown, Asian, native American, mixed, and those yet to be born. By contrast, many White Americans do not feel the same way and often are not enthusiastic about celebrating the achievements of a “Black Hero,” and paradoxically, he was and is a “native son.”

A third source of internal conflict arises in our midst during the celebration of the Thanksgiving Day (It is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of November). Many White, Asian, Hispanic, and Black Americans wholeheartedly celebrate this (in-) famous holiday without any regard to the history of conquest, colonization, and the eventual genocide of the native American population. By contrast, the majority of individuals and families from the Native American population (and a minority of the American population from other ethnic groups or races) refuse this celebration and for them, the Thanksgiving holiday is a day for national lament and repentance, and correspondingly a moment called for national reckoning and retribution.

How shall we then be reconciled to each other? How shall we then move forward as a nation and people without forgetting the historical past but not dwell upon it? How shall we then cultivate genuine interracial friendship and authentic social relationships among ourselves? What constructive steps should we now take collectively to foster a sense of national unity and collective destiny? Honestly, I do not know the best possible solution, but I would like to offer a prayer for this nation and its people on the 4th of July (Yes, beyond offering a word of prayer, I also believe political interventions and public policies grounded on the common good and human flourishing and governmental actions rooted in the idea of a social contract to lift up the poor and the vulnerable are critical and urgent steps to achieve the work of democracy for all.)

“A Prayer for National Healing and a Wounded Nation”

O Gracious God and Sovereign Lord of the universe and all nations: We pray in this way for holistic healing and restoration of this nation:

where there’s hate, grant us love.
where there’s despair, give us hope.
where there’s division, grant us unity.
where there’s chaos, give us peace.
where there’s isolation, grant us community.
where there’s sin, give us repentance.
where there’s retaliation, grant us forgiveness.
where there’s vengeance, grant us reconciliation.

“On Kindness, Privileges, and Change”

“On Kindness, Privileges, and Change”

It’s really not a good idea to use your privileges (i.e. financial, gender, ethnic, racial, sex, class, education, nationality) or fame to make life in this world an uneasy journey for those with less privileges or no privileges at all.

The individuals who have changed the world and human dynamics in society used their privileges (i.e. power, influence, reputation) to uplift the weak and empower the disavantaged to dream again and hope for another world that is more promising and fulfilling.

They share a common characteristic: self-denial. They became small so others can become big. They put the needs of others above theirs. They always find creative ways to love people, and to show kindness and acts of compassion to those who are hungry and thirst for justice, peace, and righteousness. They love gently, treat others caringly, and give themselves unselfishly. These individuals, both men and women, live life in this world with an unwavering commitment and passion to make it a better place for all, especially the poor.

These individuals also use their power and privileges not to oppress, exploit, or shame the poor, the unfortunate, and those living in the margins; rather, they hold truth to the principle of human brotherhood and “I am my brother’s keeper.”

Friends: if you are a privileged individual in society or have power to effect change in your city or wherever you’re exercising these abilities, please use them for the good and welfare of the least among you and us. Trust me you won’t beccome a a less privileged and powerful individual when you exploit your resources for the sake of others, and toward the common good, human flourishing, and a better society.