The latest episode via sogomedia.tv
it has been brought to my attention that the issue of diversity (racial/gender) and emergence christianity has bubbled back up to the surface in some conversations and places. i am deeply invested in this conversation on a more local level for the past couple of years. i have not really engaged emergence christianity in a larger arena for a while. largely because i have been engaged and entrenched in my local context doing gospel work. but a recent conversation with a dear friend has sparked my interest in making public my thoughts on emergence christianity and diversity. in particular, racial diversity.
this weekend i hope to post a series of reflections on emergence christianity and racial diversity. my thoughts on this have changed over the past ten years that i have consciously participated in emergence christianity.
let me be clear: i am no token negro when it comes to emergence christianity. i believe i can speak with authenticity as an emergent christian that just so happens to be black. i am thoroughly invested in this movement. and i am embarrassed to say that i have neglected my duties to support friends that have been publicly challenged in ways that could very well embolden white supremacy and racial narratives and embodiedments that stand in the way of diversity.
to all parties involved in differents streams of this conversation, and you know who you are, i apologize. i did not have your back when you needed me. but now i am here.
so here is the ground i hope to cover this weekend:
1. emergence christianity and the lack of diversity (why?)
2. the legacy of white supremacy in north american christianity
3. why protests/boycotts keep white supremacy emboldened
4. resisting white supremacy will require something more challenging than boycotts: spiritual disciplines. the embodied unconscious habits of white supremacy, i am learning, are best unseated through spiritual disciplines (like spiritual friendships). We will talk more about that.
5. my suggested list of spiritual disciplines of resisting white supremacy in north american christianity.
My good friend and missional linchpin Steve Knight has created and will be curating a new blog, Missional Shift. It will be a part of the Progressive Christian Channel on Patheos, an internet portal that provides entry into several conversations in a variety of spiritual/religious traditions.
I”m excited about Steve’s new project. I’ve known Steve for several years and have been inspired by his passion for the missional church conversation-movement. I believe he has surpassed Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule of mastery as it relates to the missional church. I look forward to reading insights, interviews, prototyping, and I’m sure all manner of missional miscellany at Missional Shift.
If you are curious about the missional church and movement you will want to put this at the top of the list as a reference and vital guide.
This is a fictional letter written to a Christian in the distant future. It was inspired by the book project Letters to a Future Church that is hosted by IVP-Likewise books and Patheos. Please check out some of the great letters composed by thoughtful voices in North American Christianity. Here’s my contribution:
Future Letter to the Last One
Dear Rosa Watkins,
I hope all is well with you. I’ve been wanting to write to you for a while. I’ve been waiting for all the media flurry to subside. I can’t imagine how you emotionally survived the overwhelming attention of being the last professing Christian on our dear planet. I was amazed by the coverage and numerous documentaries of your own spiritual journey and how this ancient faith sustained you to its very end. Are you saddened or thrilled to be the last one? I cannot imagine the emotions you are experiencing as you remain the last disciple of a religious tradition that has existed for several centuries.
I’ve had the coveted opportunity of pouring over global archives on the Christian faith. It appeared to be, and I’d add remains to be through you, a resilient faith for centuries. It had its up and down moments. Seasons of complicity with political and social oppression and exclusion. Missed opportunities to be welcoming to all only to give in to harmful and violent human tendencies. In spite of those less than glorious moments in history it still gave witness to a profound counter-instinctual social and political witness of love in a dying world that was plagued by political, social and religious instability. Your faith survived what many call the Circling. When we all nearly brought our small fragile planet to the brink of political and ecological oblivion.
I came across a sermon written by your now deceased pastor, Reverend Josiah Lee, that talked about the completion of what your tradition called the Great Commission. While you have the distinction of being the last Christian, he, of course, has the honor of being celebrated as the last Christian pastor. He said, in his last recorded sermon, that all the nations now follow the teachings of the revered Jesus. I felt a chill down my back when I read the ancient teachings of this person and considered how it has become a vital part of our global socio-political DNA.
Because of this profound Christian witness the global-state we are both privileged to be a part of can not imagine a world where every human being is not given loving dignity by all for all. We cannot imagine a world where a disproportionate number of people live in poverty. In spite of your beloved Christian tradition’s aiding and abetting global injustices until the end of the Circling, the end of the 21st century, something happened.
Your tradition died and rose again in the beginnings of the 21st century to become a global leader to help facilitate what we now see and hear in this present global moment of peace. A world with no war. Where small provinces peacefully collaborate with larger provinces. A global space where we no longer kill each other for a god, a political belief or a natural boundary.
It seems as though Christianity has died and in its ashes the nations were healed. I thank you for your witness to that kind of faith. However, I am saddened by your being the last Christian. But I guess, as you said in a recent press conference, we do not need the Christian faith any longer. You said that Christianity has finally made its calling and election sure. That it has prayed and bled heaven onto the earth for its perpetual healing.
been here before you
will be here after you
distant yet seen
consistent and unchanging
here for all to see
will you shine like me
say amen to the words we sing
words that have inspired countless bards and holy schemes
when skies preach
the cosmic choir sings
when skies preach
angels spit fire into our souls
when skies preach
nations bow before the Great
say amen to atmospheric prose
the kind that leaves you weeping
in the midst of helpful foes
when skies preach
O’ ye lil soul.
Satisfied with pusillanimity
Look at me
We are great
and still shine for others to see
I love music. I love it so much that even in preparing a sermon I almost always have a collection of songs from different artists that becomes an anthem or sermon soundtrack for the week. In 2011 I’ve been listening to a wide array of artists and musical genres. I just wanted to list a couple of artists, songs, and albums that I have seen God in or just straight-up inspired me to be more than I have been.
This sister has a voice that just reaches down into your soul. If you’ve ever had a broken heart or fallin’ in love Adele’s music takes you back and forward from brokeness to discovering love to healing. She paints a beautiful picture with her voice and lyrics. Deeply soulful. Her latest album ’21′ is a masterpiece of blue-eyed soul. I remember I’d go weeks with this album on repeat listening to nothing else. The chorus at the end of the song ‘One and Only’ has got to be one of those classic verses in soul music. “Nobody’s perfect. I know it ain’t easy. Giving up your heart.”
I have to be honest. Until this year I’ve never seriously listened to Christian Hip-Hop. Lecrae and Sho Baraka have made me a believer. These brother’s gospel artistry is truly incarnational. They bring with them testimonies, the rhythm of the streets, crazy flo, soulful beats, and a powerful redemptive message.
Estonian composer Arvo Part, composer Henryk Gorecki and post-rock band Mono represent symbiotic sub-genres of classical and rock music. Holy minimalism requires a deep attentiveness and listening ear for the sacred. They reminded me this past year that God is literally everywhere. Even in the most mundane/everyday aspects of life.
Particular songs and album: Arvo Part’s song ”Lord’s Prayer”, Henryk Gorecki’s ”Gorecki: Symphony No. 3, Mono’s “Hymn To The Immortal Wind”.
Creative genius is a phrase that comes to mind when I think of Chopin. But this particular piece deeply inspires me. There are three movements in this specific piece that cause me to take a journey inward and outward. Hard to put in words.
Its been a while since I’ve listened to this kind of praise music. But I find something very raw and beautiful with many of the songs on this album. In particular, the voice of Kim Walker-Smith. She’s a very gifted worship leader. Two songs from this album have been a part of my own moments of adoration before God: Holy and Light of Your Face.
Lupe (Wasalu Muhammad Jaco) is my favorite rapper and hip-hop artist. Lupe gives me hope to a genre that was declared by poet Nasir Jones (Nas) as dead. Lupe is one of the few luminaries in rap that anchor the genre in a morass of crass materialism, misogyny, violence, self-hatred, and racism. Every song on this album is worth a listening. Lupe has also taught me how to further respect the cultural and religious ‘other’. Lupe is a Muslim. His stunning and creative lyrics that unveil the systemic corruption in the American empire and gives global examples of hope further reveals the common grace of the Creator.