“Let us dance”(for a city girl who bids goodbye to urban love)

“Let us dance”
(for a city girl who bids goodbye to urban love)

Let us dance
dance to release the burden of loneliness,
to bring friends together,
with strangers, you will make the city as one.
Dance to destroy false joys in the city.
Bad hope will escape urban love, if you dance.
Hope to the dead, if you shall dance.
Dance to bring life, to those who can’t breathe.
To say no anger within, you will dance;
dance for a new season.

Let us dance
dance as if this is your last move in the city;
the final step that will bring a new urban love,
to revive all who do not want to dance.
Dance to create new forms of life in the city;
to say no to pain;
to bring down fresh rain.
Your dance will make urban love beautiful and just.

Let us dance
by dancing, you will shine again,
climbing to the heavenly sky;
touching the highest star in the city;
Dance to marry the boy you love,
to sex in urban joy as one,
together a new offspring will create.
one that will not die in the city.
Dance to bring peace in desolate places;
urban love will build strong.

Give-Away Copies of My New Book: “American Christianity and the Culture of Death” (2020)

Give-Away Copies!

I am giving away 15 copies of the PDF version of my new book:

“American Christianity and the Culture of Death: Conversations and Poems on Racial Trauma, Social Justice, and Hope” (2020). 268 pages

If you would like to receive a copy, inbox me or send me an email @ drcelucienjoseph@gmail.com

*** There are two basic rules to receive a free copy of the book:

1) You cannot share the PDF copy with a friend!

2) You have to make your request today (June 27)

Happy Reading!

Excerpts from my new book: “American Christianity and the Culture of Death: Conversations and Poems on Racial Trauma, Social Justice, and Hope” (2020)

Excerpts from our new book: “American Christianity and the Culture of Death: Conversations and Poems on Racial Trauma, Social Justice, and Hope” (2020)

***Now available on amazon in the Kindle edition (e-book)!

“Another Country?

There is a sense to say that American Christianity, especially the white evangelical Christian expression has produced a culture of death in the American society. Arguably, the environment some white evangelicals continue to create in the American culture promotes a life of alienation and hostility for non-evangelical Christians and Christians of color. It is religious alienation and political hostility if an individual or a group is not in the evangelical camp. The political culture produced by white American evangelicals is very antagonistic to those who do not embrace the Republican party, the Conservative agenda, “God’s preferential party,” as the say, or even the “Family values” party, they believe.

In the same line of thought, White evangelicals sustain a culture of death whose aspects include existential, social, religious, economic, political, cultural, and ideological. Because some White evangelicals, for the most part, continue to tolerate the unhealthy ideologies of white supremacy and the dangerous ideas of white Christian supremacist theology, death in the culture is inevitable. Evidently, it is a matter of great urgency for black people and people of color. Whenever white evangelicals choose to remain silent on pressing moral issues such as police violence and brutality toward blacks and people of color, the culture they produce is death. When white evangelicals decide not to confront white supremacy and racial injustice, the environment they promote is death.
Finally, when white evangelical Christians fail to act on their moral duty to challenge the racial biases of the Judicial system, the Prison system, and the Police system that are responsible for the mass incarceration of blacks and people of color in this country, they contribute to racial trauma, black tragedy, and even black death. This is how the culture of death and alienation continue to be present in society.

The American church lost the battle when American Christians refused to stand on the right side of slavery. The evangelical Church failed when evangelicals participated in racial segregation and refused to integrate churches, seminaries, and public places. The Christian church in America lost the battle when the people of God refused to stand on the right side of the Civil Rights moment. All of these failures and sinful actions of the American Christianity and evangelical churches have fostered a culture of death and hostility in this nation. White Evangelicals have failed refugees, immigrants, and people of color in history in many accounts and in my times whenever they took sides of the powerful and abandoned the most vulnerable groups in society. They fail them on moral grounds and when they refuse to be an ally to African Americans and people of color on moral issues affecting their safety and lives in this country.

This book offers a critical commentary on some of the most pressing issues affecting the American society and American Christianity; in particular, it is a report on how white evangelicals engage culture and the public sphere. The book is written in the form of a series of meditations and reflections on six urgent matters in contemporary American life: (1) the conundrum of racial trauma and anti-black racism, (2) the culture of death and alienation, (3) the prevalence of Police brutality and violence, (4) the contradictions of American white Evangelicalism and its despairing politico-religious ideologies, (5) the plot of refugees and undocumented immigrants, and (6) the existential meaning and relevance of Black life in today’s society. This book is more than a critical report on a life of despair, alienation, and violence in the American society linked to the omnipresence of white supremacy and structural racism; beyond a life of hopelessness, it provides strategic ways and methods for the American people and Christians to foster both personal and collective hope, and to live in peace and in community with one another. It is also intended to foster racial healing and reconciliation. This text is an attempt to reimagine another country and an alternative societal life toward the common good and human flourishing.

The language and form in the book include both fiction and non-fiction, poetry and prose. Thus, the book incorporates a series of blog posts, poems, short essays, and opinion pieces that have previously appeared in various social media platforms and publication venues in the past six years (2014-2020). They are written in the form of short conversations and dialogues, and not in the typical academic style. Our intention in this book is twofold: (1) to engage in honest, deliberate, and courageous conversations with the general American public on the most pressing issues of our time, and (2) to reach the common and intelligent American reader to think about future possibilities and some strategic ways to change the nature of things in this country. Collectively, we hope that we would be able to create an alternative way of being human and citizen in this American world.

The fictional aspect of the book contains a series of poems, written mostly in the year 2020 and in moments of national rage and discontent, street protesting, street rioting—considering the recent tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and a host of black and brown victims at the hands of American Police and white supremacists. These poems reimagine black and brown lives in a way that they tell complex and difficult stories about the uneasy experience of black people and people of color in the American society. These are stories of lament, poetry of despair and violence, poetry of death and alienation, poetry of black rage and protest, and poetic stories of hope and new creation. The first six poems in Part III (“Dead Bones Rise Up! Poetry of Pain, Suffering, and Revolution”) of the book are written by Katia Joseph. These energetic poems reflect Katia’s significant contribution in the book; through her poetic voice, she deploys the language of poetry to protest, demand justice and equality, to humanize America, and to challenge America to live up to its democratic ideals and promises to black and brown people. “Freedom,” an important poem, is written by Terrence Joseph. Through this poem, Terrence puts accent on the practice and significance of freedom for people of color. The remaining poems and the prose division of the book are written exclusively by Celucien.

Part I of the book engages the world of American Christianity; special attention is given to the dangerous ideologies and practices of white evangelicals. Correspondingly, Part II is concerned about social justice issues; hence, it can be construed as a critique on the American society and culture. The significance and influence of the Black Lives Matters movement in the American society is important enough not to ignore in this conversation; its rapport to the role of religion in society and to the cherished ideals preserved in America’s lofty Constitution and the Bills of Right is worth considering. These foundational documents can still inspire hope in society and empower us as Americans and as a people toward greatness and success. Because these historic documents somewhat and partially symbolize the conscience of this nation, we believe that we can always appeal to them to find direction to bring a cure to our contemporary woes and to create another country for the future generation.

For such a time as this, one thing that is true about the Black Lives Matter movement is this: it has now become a global, intercultural, and interracial BUZZ. People around the world can identify injustice when they see it; they can also identify hatred and bigotry when they see it happen, even to strangers. The world is tired about how America treats its Black citizens and its most vulnerable populations. People are also tired about the silence of evangelical leaders and churches on these moral concerns. The question before us as a nation and people is this: how are we going to move forward? how are going to cure the American soul that has been wounded since the foundation of this Republic. We’ve had an awful beginning. Our foundation is not a glorious one. We have written the loftiest Constitution in the world. Our Bill of Rights is another groundbreaking document in the modern world. These important documents must help us to foster and sustain hope, justice, rights, peace, and freedom for all Americans. We must embody their ideals in practical life so we can live in peace and harmony with each other. No other nation and no other people can do it for us. We are the masters of our own destiny, and the cure to our own wound.
This American nation began in the shed blood of the most vulnerable groups and the racially-outcast populations. The Black problem is never a racial issue; it is more than that. The Black problem is inherently an American issue that we as a people must engage and end, even now. (What black people in this country are striving for is equality, not revenge.) White Evangelical Christianity has compromised its ethics, morality, and conviction for the sake of power and influence. Right-wing evangelicals want to dominate, control the culture, and be a reference point in all things political and cultural. Correspondingly, white evangelical Christianity has been silenced on national issues of racial injustice and police brutality and in part, white evangelicals are morally responsible for the conundrum of Black and people of color in the United States. In their writings, both James Cone and James Baldwin linked the problem of white dominion in society with the compromise of White Christianity. American Evangelicalism not only continues to support white supremacy and anti-black racism in society; traditionally, white evangelical Christians have been instrumental in maintaining whiteness as power and dominion, white supremacy as a system, and theology’s racial identity. In many of his politico-theological writings Cone, for example, has challenged an entire (white) theological system and (white) Christian ethical framework that do not live up to the biblical standard of righteousness and justice. He refuted white American theology because of its silence on black pain & suffering, and black death. He debunked white theological vision of God, humanity, & the world because it is built structurally on the strict doctrine of white supremacy and white racial dominion. Cone understood that (theological) ideas have consequence, and that Black and Brown people in America have become victims of those consequential ideas. Yet he pressed that that Christian actions bear more consequences in this life and the life to come.
In the same vein, in his body of work, Baldwin called for the destruction of white supremacy that holds the black and brown body captive, and he also urged America to abandon the false Christianity that sustains the power and dominion of whiteness. Baldwin’s clarion call for the death of white dominion in America is akin to Cone’s urgent message to reject white American Christianity and theology. Baldwin’s vision of America’s redemption is grounded on an alternative world that begins with a fresh vision of American history and identity, and one that will reassess the dignity and worth of America’s black and brown citizens— without forgetting America’s past.

In addition, both thinkers were aware that America’s dominant religion, white Christianity, and the internal force and system, white supremacy and dominion, that created a subhuman category and a marginalized citizenship in the American society needed to die for the total emancipation of this great nation. In other words, white dominion, supported by the narratives and perceptions of white Christianity, is a theological heresy. James Cone and James Baldwin envisioned an alternative American narrative that is anti-white dominion and a new American saga that desecrates all the sacred places and functions whiteness embodies in the American society, as well as all the geopolitical zones and anti-black and brown narratives race sanctifies, concurrently.
This book is written in the spirit of James Baldwin and James Cone; it follows their lead in these complex and difficult matters it addresses so urgently. Yet our moral responsibility is to love one another and to express the deep dimension of love in public in the way of Jesus. We must learn how to love other individuals our systems, laws, and even our hearts do not allow us to do so. Love here is a command; can we command love? Yes, absolutely! Can you command a feeling? Love is more than a feeling; it is a sacred obligation. Love is the moral responsibility that we must practice and embody every day in this society if we want to recreate this society and move forward as a nation.

As a people, we must begin again. If we have to start off from scratch and with a blank piece of paper, it will even be worth it to use a new ink to write a new American history in the twenty-first century. As a group, we must create another country for the common good, human flourishing, our children, and the future generation. Future possibility is “the possibility” we must now embrace toward a new creation and national renewal. We must build “a new nation” and “begin again” to save the wounded soul of America— only if we want to redeem ourselves and create a society characterized by justice, love, and peace, in which everyone is armed with the appropriate tools and resources to flourish and enjoy existence, rights, and freedom.”

“The Trees That March”

“The Trees That March”

Fight until your weary voice send sounds of roaring waves,
to the highest of the stars,
like a mad soldier in the harsh rain,
you will bring forth a new season,
to exchange the sign of the moon for the sign of peace.
In stormy seasons, don’t you stop the fight.

Fight until the trees are shaken,
for the forest to embrace you,
the leaves bow down for justice,
new roots spring forth to broadcast the good news.
Let the islands hurry to march with you, for a new season of joy,
new branches rising up for a new day.

Fight with the rigor of the Palm tree,
to cover the people in sorrow under your wings,
to shine like the rising sun.
Let your poetry of resistance destroy the old tree,
trees of pain,
trees of tears,
trees of death,
to create a new nation that will last,
a new generation that is yet to be born.

Fight with the strength of the eagle,
to drive away human ego,
to reconcile children of God,
to live in the same village as one,
until we win the trophy of love.

“The Problem of Memory of Slavery and Racism at Southern Seminary: An Urgent Call to Remove the Four Founders-Slave Owners from the Seminary’s Current Memory”

“The Problem of Memory of Slavery and Racism at Southern Seminary: An Urgent Call to Remove the Four Founders-Slave Owners from the Seminary’s Current Memory”

For such a time as this, the Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest Protestant denomination, should be on the right side of history. In 2017, African American scholars and professors Jarvis J. Williams and Kevin M. Jones edited an important book called “Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention.” The basic objective of the book was to revisit the history and legacy of slavery and racism in the Southern Baptist Convention, as well as to propose new solutions to heal the wounded soul of the Convention. In fact, the SBC was founded in 1845 because of a split over the issue of slavery.

Historically, the SBC had not only endorsed slavery as an institution; as a Christian organization, it condemned the abolitionist movement nationwide and supported and practiced racial segregation in its churches, seminaries, and institutions. Contributors of the book such as R. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Daniel Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Matthew Hall, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Curtis A. Woods, Assistant Professor of Applied Theology and Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Walter R. Strickland II II, Assistant Professor of Systematic and Contextual Theology and Associate Vice President for Diversity at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; W. William Dwight McKissic, Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, and others have affirmed the difficulty of the Convention to confront its racial history and make peace with its historical memory grounded on the heresy of white superiority and inferiority of Blacks and African Americans. They also observed that as a denomination, the SBC continues to struggle to remove stains of racial prejudice in its institutions and create a positive image for itself.

For example, in the same book, President Mohler affirmed that “We cannot tell the story of the Southern Baptist Convention without starting with slavery. In fact, the SBC was not only founded by slaveholders; it was founded by men who held to an ideology of racial superiority and who bathed that ideology in scandalous theological argument.” In the opening sentence of his chapter, Hall confirmed that “Southern Baptists are more haunted by the ghosts of white supremacy and racism than most denominations. While the specter of racialized injustice and evil left no corner of American religious life untouched, our family of churches has had a particularly sordid and tragic part to play in this story.” President Akin suggested various virtues and qualities that are necessary if the SBC institutions, seminaries, and churches are going to make any substantial progress toward racial justice and to deal with its racial crisis:

“[O]vercoming racism requires humility and sacrifice of the majority race, virtues that do not come easily. You see, welcoming you into my community on my terns is one thing. But to surrender my preferences so that you can feel at home in what is now our community is something more. But let me go further. Even more humility and sacrifice are needed for me to invite you to the table of leadership and to welcome you to sit at the head of the table. Until we can arrive at this God-ordained destination, our convention of churches will struggle to receive the full blessing of God and attain credibility with a cynical and skeptical culture that already questions the authenticity of our faith.”

Within the same line of thought, I am proposing that in these urgent moments of crisis the Southern Baptist Convention has a golden opportunity to eradicate vestiges of racism and white supremacy embodied in Confederate-related items from its campuses and institutions, and to create a committee to review buildings, facilities, and halls that still bear the names of Confederate members, white supremacists, segregationists, and slave owners, such as the four founders of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: James P. Boyce, John Broadus, Basil Manly Jr., and William Williams.

Toward this goal, the SBC will make use of this terrific occasion to reinvent itself in the public sphere and to repair its damages as a Christian denomination. This endeavor will move the Convention one step forward toward good practices of racial justice and reconciliation; this constructive effort will also help heal the racial trauma and terror that have for many years affected Blacks and African Americans. This is also a project of both intellectual and spiritual reassessment, and deconstruction and reconstruction. I am suggesting that this important work must begin with the Convention’s flagship institution: The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In the year 2017, President Albert Mohler had appointed a committee of six individuals to prepare a report on the legacy of slavery and racism in the history of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The members of the committee have concluded that the four founders of Southern Seminary, as named above, were active slave owners, ardent white supremacists, and energetically fought against the emancipation of the enslaved population in the United States. In the preface to the report, President Mohler made this honest declaration:

We cannot escape the fact that the honest lament of the SBC should have been accompanied by the honest lament of her first school, first seminary, and first institution. We knew ourselves to be fully included in the spirit and substance of that resolution in 1995, but the moral burden of history requires a more direct and far more candid acknowledgment of the legacy of this school in the horrifying realities of American slavery, Jim Crow segregation, racism, and even the avowal of white racial supremacy. The fact that these horrors of history are shared with the region, the nation, and with so many prominent institutions does not excuse our failure to expose our own history, our own story, our own cherished heroes, to an honest accounting—to ourselves and to the watching world.

Below, I share five major conclusions from the report (The name of the report was “Report on Slavery and Racism in the History of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.” The complete document can be accessed on the website of the Seminary.) that substantiate my underlining thesis:

  1. “The seminary’s founding faculty all held slaves. James P. Boyce, John A. Broadus, Basil Manly Jr., and William Williams together owned more than fifty persons. They invested capital in slaves who could earn for their owners an annual cash return on their investment.”
  2. “The seminary’s early faculty and trustees defended the righteousness of slaveholding. The semi-nary faculty supported the righteousness of slaveholding and opposed efforts to limit the institution. A number of the seminary’s prominent trustees advanced public defenses of slavery. Despite his early opposition to slavery as a young man, Basil Manly Sr. eventually became one of its most ardent apologists.”
  3. “Upon Abraham Lincoln’s election, the seminary faculty sought to preserve slavery. They believed that Lincoln’s election threatened the extinction of slavery. Boyce believed that sudden secession would be disastrous, and that negotiation with the Republicans would produce guarantees of protection for slavery. Manly and Williams seemed to view secession as the only hope for preserving slavery. Additionally, trustees such as Benjamin Pressley had made arguments for secession as early as 1851, claiming that defending slavery was of such vital priority that southern states should be prepared to leave the Union.”
  4. “The seminary supported the Confederacy’s cause to preserve slavery. Faculty, trustees, and students joined the effort to defend the independence of the Confederacy. Boyce served in the army at the start and at the end of the war and served in the South Carolina legislature for the entire war. At the 1863 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, Broadus drafted and presented resolutions pledging Southern Baptist support for the Confederacy. Broadus and Manly wrote and published literature calling soldiers to believe in Christ and follow him faithfully. Broadus preached the gospel among the soldiers. Students, as well as future faculty members, fought and served as chaplains. All sought God’s blessing for Confederate victory and independence.”
  5. “In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the seminary faculty appealed to science to support their belief in white superiority. The faculty believed that science had demonstrated black inferiority. They were convinced of the superiority of white civilization and that this justified racial inequality. They did so with full confidence that their views were the conclusions of empirical observation undergirded by leading scientific authorities. Writing in 1882, Broadus advanced this sort of thinking, concluding that supposed black moral inferiority was connected to biological inferiority. For his part, Mullins put the matter starkly: ‘It is immoral and wrong to demand that negro civilization should be placed on par with white. This is fundamentally the issue.’ In his estimation, black political participation was the primary culprit in the “race problem.’ Charles Gardner concluded that science had established the inferiority of blacks, appealing to pseudo-scientific studies that concluded that whites were the products of more advanced evolutionary processes: ‘The negro should in some way be brought to the frank recognition of his racial inferiority.’”

To bring this important matter in the context of the ongoing events in our country, since the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis, across the country and the world, protestors and state leaders have asked to reexamine America’s racist legacy, especially associated with the institution of slavery, Confederate ideology and nationalism, and Jim Crow laws/segregation. In various major urban areas and at least 22 cities such as Richmond, Virginia; Jacksonville, Florida; and Indianapolis, IN; Mobile, AL; San Francisco, CA; New London, CT; Atlanta, GA; Frankfurt, KY; Louisiana, NO; Boston, MA; Detroit, MI; and Minneapolis, Minnesota have already removed or approved the removal of Confederate monuments and statues of slave owners. For example,

• In Alabama, a bronze statue of the Confederate Navy officer Raphael Semmes, was removed from Mobile street and now relocated in the History Museum of Mobile.
• In San Francisco, California, a statue of Christopher Columbus was removed and now placed in storage.
• In Delaware, a statue of a renowned former Delaware leader who owned slaves was removed from the public place.
• In Florida, a Confederate statue that was located in a northeast Florida park for more than a century was recently removed. In downtown Jacksonville, a statue of a Confederate soldier that was located next to the City Hall was also removed.
• In the Kentucky Capitol (Frankfurt), protestors have ordered the governor to take down the statue of Jefferson Davis. Granted their request, the renowned statue will be soon removed.

Beyond the United States, in the city of Bristol, British protesters toppled and then dragged into the river the famous statue of Edward Colston, a notorious 17th-century slave trafficker of Africans. The British people also demanded the removal of the statute of white supremacist and imperialist of Cecil Rhodes. Protesters in Ireland have called to remove a statue of Oliver Cromwell from outside the Houses of Parliament in London. The statue of the celebrated slave trader and colonizer Christopher Columbus was removed in Trinidad and scheduled to be placed in the National Museum or the National Archives. Other protestors have demanded the removal of the statue of the American slave owner Thomas Jefferson in multicultural Paris, France. The presence of these statues and memorials in the public space continue to remind us of the cruelty of slavery and colonialism, as well as the history of suffering and subjection of enslaved African population in the Americas. Black people and people of color in the American society continue to suffer the legacy of slavery, racial trauma, and racial segregation.

In addition to the multiple reasons stated above, the most pressing cause I am requesting the removal of the names of the four founders from Southern seminary’s halls, library, undergraduate college, chapel, and elsewhere on campus is that they do not belong to today’s multiethnic, multiracial, and multicultural Southern Baptist Convention and SBTS. The names of these four gentlemen bring too much pain and suffering to African Americans, Black Christians, SBTS Black seminarians and alumni, and the numerous African American and ethnic churches affiliated with the SBC. Also, their names on the Seminary’s halls, library, chapel, and undergraduate college remind us of the long-held tradition of suppressing the freedoms and rights of Blacks and people of color in this country and in the Convention, concurrently. To continue to honor these figures at Southern Seminary and the SBC is to express racial insensibility and to undermine the dignity and humanity of Blacks and African American people, and people of color. In the same line of reasoning, to maintain these four names in the Seminary’s current memory and archive is to overlook the rich legacy of blacks and people of color in their struggle for racial justice, equality, integration, human rights, and freedom in the American society. Below, I name the six tangible items, memorials, and symbols that need to be renamed at Southern Seminary:

  1. Boyce College: Boyce College is the undergraduate branch of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; it bears the name of the slave owner, white supremacist, and Confederate preacher James P. Boyce. James P. Boyce was the first President of Southern Seminary, from 1859-1888.
  2. James P. Boyce Centennial Library: The main library of Southern Seminary also bears the name of James P. Boyce.
  3. Manly Hall: Basil Manly, Jr., served as professor of Old Testament at Southern seminary from 1859-1871, and 1879-1892, respectively. Manly Hall at the Seminary honors his racist legacy as a slave master.
  4. Broadus Chapel: The main chapel at Southern is named after John A. Broadus. Broadus was the second president of Southern Seminary, serving from 1889-1895. He was a fierce defender of the institution of slavery and white supremacy.
  5. Mullins Hall: The designation Mullins Hall refers both to the entire student housing complex and to some individual units in it. Edgar Young Mullins served as Southern’s fourth president, from 1899-1928. Mullins Hall celebrates his mixed legacy as a white supremacist, a Baptist preacheand a champion of racial segregation.
  6. Williams Halls: The designation Williams Hall refers to Dean and Administration offices, Faculty offices, and some Dorm housing. William Williams served as Professor of Church history at Southern Seminary, from, 1859-1877. Williams Halls celebrates the mixed legacy of a slave master and white supremacist.

In conclusion, I hope the Southern Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary correspondingly will be committed to completely removing the four finders’ names, items, and symbols that memorialize their racist history and racial practices. By removing their names, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Southern Baptist Convention would show to the American public and Black Christians that their commitment to racial healing and reconciliation is not a matter of lip-service; rather, it is matter of practice and upholding human dignity and worth as Christian organizations. To continue to memorialize these four individuals (James P. Boyce, John Broadus, Basil Manly Jr., William Williams) is to bring dishonor to the gospel and to bring shame to the Church of Jesus Christ. This is a matter of great urgency; it is also a matter of great significance for the future and public witness of the Seminary and the Convention, correspondingly.

Bibliographic References

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, “Report on Slavery and
Racism in the History of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,”
https://www.sbts.edu/southern-project/. the complete document can be
accessed on the website of the Seminary.

Los Angeles Times Staff and Wire Reports, “Where have statues of
Confederates, and other historical figures, been removed?” Los Angeles
Times, June 19, 2020,
https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-06-16/confederate-statues-removed;
Ivan Pereira,” Here’s where Confederate statues and memorials have
been removed in the US,” ABC News, June 19, 2020,
https://abcnews.go.com/US/confederate-statues-memorials-removed-us/story?id=71200382

Bonnie Berkowitz and Adrian Blanco, “Confederate monuments are
falling, but hundreds still stand. Here’s where,” The Washington Post,
June 20, 2020,
https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/confederate-monuments/

Marlene L. Daut, “Tear Down that Statue, Mr. Macron!” History News
Network, June 14, 2020, https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/175963

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, “The History of the SBTS,”
https://archives.sbts.edu/the-history-of-the-sbts/

Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives: Biographies,
https://www.sbhla.org/bio_eymullins.htm

“Can Evangelical Christianity Be Redeemed?John MacArthur’s Racial Insensibilityand His Disregard for Black Humanity and Dignity”

“Can Evangelical Christianity Be Redeemed?
John MacArthur’s Racial Insensibility
and His Disregard for Black Humanity and Dignity”

On Sunday, June 7, 2020, prominent Evangelical leader and pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church, located in Sun Valley, California, delivered a powerful sermon at his home church entitled “Who’s to Blame for the Riots?” His basic objective was to provide an analysis on the recent events happening nationwide; more particularly, he was concerned about the protests and strategies of the Black Lives Matter movement. In the sermon, MacArthur made references to four major passages in the Bible to condemn street protesters, street rioters, and those who are marching for justice and life in the American streets. The supporting texts include Isaiah chapters 1, 5, and 28, and Romans chapter 3. In this post, I will summarize the key points in MacArthur’s sermon; the format to be followed is bullet points.

• In the sermon, he directly blames the individuals who are associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, particularly those who are protesting and rioting in the streets.
• He characterizes them as “lawless mobs of criminals attacking the police.”
• He states that the police are put in a state where they “can’t act to protect property;” nonetheless, “rebel mobs are allowed to destroy it.”
• He continues by noting, “You can’t shop in a store, but you can loot it. You can’t work, but you’re free to steal. You can’t attend church, but you can burn it down. You can’t eat in a restaurant, but you can demolish it. Now we’re seeing charges being brought in these riots, not against the rioters, but against the police.”
• He calls the protesters those who “worship the god of anger, the god of hate, or the god of vengeance.” In other words, he does not ascribe any human dignity or humanity to those who are risking their lives in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to demand justice and to put an end to police brutality and systemic racism in this society. To put it bluntly, black people are angry, ungodly, and vengeance seekers.
• For MacArthur, these individuals not only hate this country, they also hate the Police force. They are seeking vengeance because they’re ungodly, that is, they are not Christians, according to MacArthur’s definition of Christianity. Interestingly, the street protesters included both evangelical and non-evangelical Christians from all racial, class, and economic background; there were also other members of the Christian clergy, and other individuals and ministers belonging to non-Christian religious traditions marching for national justice, internal peace, and the respect of human rights in this country.
• MacArthur did not make a distinction between street rioters and street protesters. Everyone falls under the same category, MacArthur’s non-Christian category.
• He argues that the Police are “the protectors of the good and the punishers of those who do evil.” Therefore, to call to abolish the police is a “perverted solution.” He also notes that the police are the ones being insulted and ridiculed. Here, MacArthur seems to prioritize certain lives by undermining other (Black) lives. In other words, by inference, some lives have more values and dignity than others.
• According to MacArthur’s logic, the reasons street protesters are protesting police brutality, systemic racism, and the violations of Black rights in the United States has nothing to do with education, not even the economy. He reiterates that it is not even “a problem of social inequity.” In other words, MacArthur denies three major issues in the American society in regard to the Black experience: (1) the denial of economic inequality or wealth (mis-) distribution, (2) the denial of social inequity, and (3) the denial of the problem of inclusion and the misrepresentation of Blacks and people of color in the nation’s education system and higher learning.
• MacArthur infers that that proponents of the Black Lives Matter movement and the street protesters are individuals “without a conscience.” They are “criminals [who have] become heroes.” By contrast, the police as “the real heroes” are vilified because everything is upside-down” in society.
• He continues by observing that the reasons Black people and others are protesting is “not related to a lack of opportunity. It’s not related to a lack of money. It’s not related to a lack of privilege, a lack of education.” Once again, MacArthur denies three other important factors in respect to the experience of Blacks/African Americans and people of color in society: (1) he denies white privilege, (2) he fails to acknowledge that white people have more privileges and opportunities than people of color in the American society, and (3) he undermines that white people have more educational power and influence than Blacks and people of color in this nation. For MacArthur, there are no systemic problems or structures in place in society that privilege whites or people of European descent in this country.
• Furthermore, MacArthur calls street protesters and those associated with the Black Lives Matter movement as “people [who are] opposing God.” He underscores his personal conviction by stating, “I don’t care what their ideological issues are. I don’t care what it is that they think is unfair or unjust.” In other words, he is encouraging injustice and unfairness toward Blacks and African Americans, and people of color. Thus, these populations should not fight against mistreatment and racial justice. This is a radical misunderstanding of the doctrine of divine providence in society through the established government.
• Therefore, he could infer that to oppose police brutality, anti-black racism, systemic racism in the American society is “opposing the authority that God has ordained, and they are opposing God.” To put it bluntly, Blacks and people of color in this country should keep their mouths shut and swallow whatever they give them. They have no rights to resist oppression and state-sponsored violence toward them, no rights to defend their humanity and dignity, and they have no rights to claim their right to exist by opposing racial injustice and bigotry toward them. To act otherwise is to sin again God himself.
• Within the same line of MacArthur’s reasoning, the protesters who are countering police violence “have opposed the will of God.” Because of that, they “will receive condemnation upon themselves. God keeps accounts; you don’t get away with it.”
• As he states boldly, “Resistance to authority is rebellion against God, not only government. Resistance should be, must be punished; and when it is punished, they are doing the work of God. This is why there’s a justice system. This is why it’s so horrendous when we don’t trust the FBI, we don’t trust the Justice Department, we don’t trust the people who have that power.” This is destructive theology at best, and a theological system that promotes abuse and injustice toward the weak and the racialized other.
• Finally, for John MacArthur, Black people and people of color who have been mercilessly targeted and even killed by the police is consequential of their own actions, including their failure to “maintain good behavior” and “to fear (of) authority,” appointed by God himself. This is another form of imperial and neocolonial theology, folks. It must be rejected and combated with sound thinking and liberative ideas. This is a theology that destroys black life and postpones black future possibilities. Here are the direct words from MacArthur, “Things happen in arrests. Things happen, conflict with the police. You don’t need to fear them if you maintain good behavior. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you’ll have praise from them.”
• John MacArthur closes his long sermon by asking the starting question: Who is to blame for the riot and street protesters? John MacArthur does not provide a direct answer to his initial question. Nonetheless, he does infer that those who are protesting and rioting are the products of “families who [have] failed to raise virtuous, [and] disciplined children in loving marriages.” This is a direct insult on Black families and to all Americans who believe there is something systemically wrong with the way things are in this society.

Words of Conclusion

In his 1 hr. and 18 minute sermon, John MacArthur never addressed the roots and causes of street protesting and street rioting. He never acknowledged the problem of systemic racism, mass incarceration, police brutality toward black and brown people in the American society. He never mentioned the name of George Floyd who was violently lynched by the Minneapolis Police force or Breonna Taylor who was shot aggressively eight times in her home by the Louisville Police force. MacArthur never acknowledged there are structural and systemic issues connecting three related institutions in this country: the Police force, the Judicial system, and the Prison system—leading to black criminality, mass incarceration, and black death. Pastor John MacArthur failed to articulate any theological and moral reasons to hold these institutions and systems morally accountable. In the sermon, John MacArthur never said a word about how injustice has radically transformed the black condition in society nor has he made any allusion to the perilous threat of white supremacy in this nation. He made no reference to the racial trauma and terror intrinsic to the Black experience in the United States nor did he articulate any words of consolation, comfort, and compassion to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Marquez Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and others who are still mourning and undergoing racial suffering. This form of Christianity with no justice and no compassion must be rejected. It’s not worth preserving and it is not liberative, prophetic, and Christ-centered to emancipate Black people and people of color in this nation. Its basic premise is the denial of Black humanity and dignity, and Black rights and future possibilities in this society.

“What Must I Do About this Current Racial Chaos: A Brief Note to My White American Friends”

“What Must I Do About this Current Racial Chaos: A Brief Note to My White American Friends”

A lot of you, my white American friends, have messaged me and asked for book recommendations to understand the current racial crisis in the American society. I’m happy to know that you are committed to taking some radical steps to create another country in this place and improve the human condition, especially race relations and the condition of Black people and people of color in the American society. Yet remember this, friends: America has always had a racial crisis since the beginning. We just didn’t want to talk about it or admit it altogether. The American society is, in fact, a racial crisis and was born in racial bloodshed and genocide. This is the first historical truth in the American memory and archive that must be acknowledged toward better race relations and freedom. The suggested texts below try to look at America’s long-overdue racial trauma from multiple perspectives and with an interdisciplinary lens. In closing, I make some propositions to contribute toward the common good and human flourishing.

  1. “Stamped from the Beginning” by Ibram X. Kendi
  2. “How to Be Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi
  3. “The Color of Compromise” by Jemar Tisby
  4. “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson
  5. “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo
  6. “The Color of Law” by Richard Rothstein
  7. “Raising White Kids” by Jennifer Harvey
  8. “Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” by Beverly Tatum
  9. “So You Want To Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
  10. “White Rage” by Carol Anderson

Finally, let me say this to you, friends! Books are great resources to help us think about difficult and complex issues in society; yet they are inadequate without you being actional toward change. In other words, don’t just read good books and do nothing positive about what you’ve learned from them! Cement the life of the mind with some good actions (praxis) that will radically transform your community and this country. Remember this! Radical transformation and the process of conscientization must begin with YOU. Here are a few things you can undertake to change yourself and this country.

  1. Be an ally for justice and Black lives by holding the Police force, the Judicial system, and the Prison system in this country morally and legally accountable. Remember systems are created, maintained, and enforced by human agents. If you’re white or a person of European descent in this country, consider this hard truth: these systems are in place to protect you. You have “white privileges” and “white blessings,” as compared to the way these systems and institutions disfranchize and (mis-)treat Black people and people of color. You should also acknowledge that your white privileges and white blessings are not only systemic and structural; they’re pervasive in all spheres and areas in this country: the economy, education, family, sports, leadership, church, politics, healthcare, higher learning, housing, ownership, history, military, lifestyle, fashion, etc.
  2. Fight injustice and racism wherever you are and in all places. This requires the process of reassessing your personal values, interests, and judgments as an individual and an ally for truth and justice. You must recognize that non-White and European people have human rights, black rights, for example. Those rights must be protected and defended at the threat of racial injury and all forms and manifestations of injustice.
  3. Do acts of compassion and kindness toward the vulnerable, especially people of color. There’s a difference between paternalism and the practice of intentional compassion. You must reject the former; an attitude of paternalism not only will hold back progress. It will give you too much power over the individual or/and the community you are helping. Paternalism may lead to manipulation and abuse. It will hinder your own much-needed self transformation and spoil all the good fruits in the basket.
  4. Do not compromise justice and human dignity when it pertains to engaging and treating non-White people. Justice is a complex and wide-ranging concept. Its various aspects include legal, economic, political, racial, religious, linguistic, and cultural justice. To practice holistic justice will entail your consideration of all these relationships. You must understand that every person is a human being and that human dignity is an intrinsic quality in all individuals and all races, sexes, and ethinic groups. To compromise justice because the individual is not white or European descent is to deny that person (or that community or racial/ethnic group) of his or her most fundamental human characteristic: dignity.
  5. Repent and forgive, and be an agent of reconciliation and an ambassador for peace. Unfortunately, the solution to our current racial wound and other complentary crises in this country will involve a long process of recovery. We cannot create another nation untill we learn how to repent of our racial sins and our acts of compromising injustice and violence toward the vulnerable and people of color, especially Black and African American people. Repentance should accompany forgiveness, and genuine forgiveness in the context of this political state would urge the process of reparation. Reparation is not only necessary for political stability and internal, and social justice; it is imperative for economic justice and the practice of these three inseparable virtues: repentance, forgiveness, and justice.
  6. Be a learner and a good listener, and always try to reform yourself in the process of change; remember that change is always a possibility and the possibility for change always begins in your community and with YOU.
  7. If you’re a person of faith, seek the face and will of God in all of these things through prayer and fasting. One of the central characteristics of God is lovingkindness, which simply means his disposition to practice justice and defend the cause of the weak. God is always in solidarity with the oppressed. As a result, he has called his creation and those who believe and love him to do justice, show compassion to the poor, and defend the vulnerable in society.

“I Sent a Letter to the Moon”

My Summer A classes/Teaching schedule will officially end tomorrow: June 17. That explains why I have been grading essays all day. Nonetheless, I had to take a short break to meditate upon the possibility of black hope in the future world through the language of a poem. In the poem, I employ a number of metaphors and symbols associated with the heavenly hosts and natural phenomena to describe the black experience and voice my complaints to the moon, to whom I penned the letter in black ink, entitled “I Sent a Letter to the Moon.” Good night, folks!

“I Sent a Letter to the Moon”

Last night, I wrote a message to the moon with my black ink.
I sent a text to the four corners of the wind,
it has no end.
I spoke about a world with no sun,
a community absence of the stars
a city full of rough winters and summers
no spring to light the pace
the flowers die of a savage season.
children in homes sleep in tears.

Last night, I wrote a message to the moon with my black ink.
I offered up my parole about ten thousand fragments of despair,
notes that fill up the galaxies in blood
complaints that make the rainbow in the clouds hide.
I sent lilies in the heavenly high,
to be heard,
to reach life above.
I bent my heart to receive hope,
as the highest form of sacrifice.
Blinded by the beauty of the moon,
the angel of death gave access to the gates of light,
the angel of deception sat on the top of the heavenly ladder.
They led me to the Queen of heaven,
where freedom in black does not die.

“I’m Tired of RACE”

“I’m Tired of RACE”

Racial oppression is exhausting.

Reading about racial bigotry is exhausting.

Talking about racial injustice is exhausting.

Protesting racial violence is exhausting.

Challenging racial inequality is exhausting.

Opposition racist laws & policies is exhausting.

Writing about racism is exhausting.

Living a racialized life is exhausting.

Thinking about race is exhausting.

Ending racism is exhausting.

Race exhausts you and me.

***We’re tired of RACE. Race is dominion and domination. Race is control and power. Race defines you and your place in the world. Race shapes our identity and underscores our behavior and disposition. Yet we must talk about race and resist racism, and we must end racial oppression and injustice in this nation and in the world. We must create another country that is racially unbiased and another world that is post-racial. This is the only possibility in front of us in these urgent moments.

“Race/Racism is More Than a Church or Religious Issue”

“Race/Racism is More Than a Church or Religious Issue”

Arguably, the Christian church in America is part of a wider national problem: race relations in the American society. It is important that we should hold other institutions and systems of domination (i.e. the University, the Judicial system, the Police Force, the Military, the Financial system, Public Education, Religion) in society equally accountable to America’s racial crisis. As a social institution, the church can certainly contribute to both democratic and racial progress in society. Yet it is not the only solution to America’s racial dilemma.

The racial crisis in the American culture is more than a religious or spiritual matter. Racism is more than a problem of the human heart, contrary to what most christian pastors traditionally believe. The race problem needs more than a spiritual solution. When we examine the nation’s race plight only through the lens of the Christian Church, especially in reference to the church’s moral standard and contribution to race dynamics, I believe we are asking too much of the American church that it is able to deliver in society. In fact, the American Church is very racist and racially segregated; unfortunately, the doctrine of racial difference is a fundamental characteristic of the Christian church in America. However, while the Christian Church is part of the racial crisis in America, it is certainly part of the solution to the race concept–only if American Christians desire it to be so or contribute to this end. The Christian church in America has more than a moral obligation to the race problem.

Moreover, we should remember that race is ideological, legal, economic, educational, and also involves class and gender issues. In other words, if we desire to improve racial problems in society, we have to have a deliberate conversation about how other institutions and power-structures in this nation have also contributed to where we are right now in society. For example, we have to address the critical issue of equity both in public schools and higher education in this country. The issue of gender, ethnic, and racial representation in the nation’s institutions, companies, or workplace is more than a church problem. Further, we have to make our legal system work for everybody and challenge its racial and gender bias so that justice would be fair and equal to all, both men and women. We must also tackle the structures and systems in society that favor the rich and disfranchise the poor and the economically-disadvantaged populations; it is important to ask this vital (economic) question: why does 1% of the American population own 46% of the country’s wealth? Also, urgent questions about income distribution and inequality in wages, health issues, and living conditions are important matters that transcend the religious aspect of our racial problem. Finally, we should be thinking about how various ideologies continue to fuel and sustain the American government and its political systems, as well as the great divide in the nation’s political parties. These matters are beyond the scope and responsibility of the Church; they need to be treated in their own terms.

When we consider race as an integral feature of the American society–not just a church, spiritual, or religious issue– like other equally important matters of gender, economics, or class, we would certainly have a better idea on how to improve race relations in this country. In the meantime, we should remember that race is more than a theological or religious problem. The Christian church is not the end of race prejudice in America; yet the Christian church must make reparation for its role in sustaining chattel slavery and racial segregation in the American society.