Musings of a Postmodern Negro

"During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable, even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism."- Howard Thurman

Location: United States

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Postmodern Black Church (or a church where a Negro can feel at home) Part 2: A thought experiment on being a Missional Negro Christian

In part 1 I indicated my desire to imagineer a church where a negro can feel at home. I want give some of my thoughts on being missional. Here is a portion of writing (rough rough draft) from my presentation I will be giving at the After-Evangelicalism conference next month in Grand Rapids. I am talking about Pentecost:

The pouring out of the Spirit makes way for us to participate in the reality or new creation that has come about through Christ's cross and resurrection. This is dangerous. For this participation is much more than an inner private experience with God. It is also a social-spiritual and, dare I say it, political reality that witnesses to the inner life of God. We are to be "one" as Father, Son, and Spirit are one. The apostle Peter once said that we are to be partakers (I read as dynamic participation) of the Divine Nature. The Spirit-led church is a community, a particular social embodiedment that witnesses to God's intent for human communities.

This participation in the life of God is energized by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Such a gift clothes us with power from on high to be communal sign-posts that point to the kingdom of God. Such a participation is often thwarted by what Paul calls the principalities and powers.

'They [the powers] seek their own goals; they build their own structures; they establish their own domains. Human ambitions, desires, hopes, and fears are their driving forces, and just because of this they become superhuman systems, demonic spiritual opponents of God that subject human beings to their own domination.' (Stormfront, p.89)

The powers, though created by and for Christ, manifest a rebellion against God's salvific will for humanity and creation. For the purposes of this paper one of the powers that has rebelled against God in divers ways is the power of ethnicity (or what a cadre of European scientist during the Enlightenment came up with, the category of 'race'). One of the ways that race has rebelled against God is the emergence of 'whiteness' becoming synonymous with 'universality' and 'normativity'. This has a long history dating back to early modern Europe when cultural elites engineered conceptions with concomitant political and economic practices that buttressed European global hegemony.

This history of universalizing whiteness was embodied in ecclesial practices (e.g. liturgy, church art, worship styles, preaching styles) that were and are assumed to be normative for 'all' Christians. There resides in this practice of ecclesial whiteness a long history for which we don't have space to cover. My point in bringing this up has to do with how the powers of whiteness, as universal normative ecclesial culture, plays itself out in churches where non-European American Christians are told, "forget about color and worship Jesus." What many European Christians don't realize is that such a 'call to worship' is a call to non-European Christians to join in on this universal ecclesial whiteness. Most of the time this is not done intentionally, but done with a sincere desire to see diversity in worship. But such 'worship' is not a diversity I would think is Spirit-led.

Spirit-led worship is a worship that displays the unity in diversity that images God's nature. On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit gifted the worshippers (who displayed a wide array of ethnic backgrounds) with tongues of fire. In these tongues each participant heard his own language being spoken from a person not from their cultural/ethnic background. They were speaking in tongues. What were these tongues?

I said all that to say this. A place where a negro like myself will feel at home will be a place where fellow worshippers learn to speak in tongues. We will be learning about speaking in tongues in part 3 of this series.

Debating the Down Low

Rod Garvin has started a great discussion about "dl" (down-low) brothers over at Soul. Should be a great discussion. One I think needs to happen in Church.

My baby girl's first day of school

Man...starting the day off was difficult. I was emotional as my baby girl, Deborah, got on the bus this morning. Man...I'm getting old!

Added a little video here.

Upcoming Posts

Some upcoming posts:

1. Geography of the Spirit. I want to talk about the potential of Emergent cohorts becoming spaces where we can practice what novelist Toni Morrison describes as "critical geography"...spaces for intellectual discovery, honest inquiry, and I would add places where friendships across race, class, and gender can take place in the Spirit.

2. Wrestling with Whiteness. My attempt to articulate my un-easiness in postmodern European American churches in proximity to the emerging church conversation/movement. My wrestlings with the white, middle-class, male aesthetic prevalent in postmodern Evangelicalism.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Busy...Busy...Dreadfully Busy

I have been wanting to post some thoughts that have been on the forefront of my mind on the issue of race, race-ism, and the Church. I have suspended posting my thoughts for the past week or so for varied reasons. One, the complexity of the issue. Two, in preparing for this conference in September I have been re-acquainted with how pervasive this issue is in the Church...Specifically in the American South. Three, honestly, I don't know what to post other than this past hectic week of getting the children ready for their first week back in school. This will be the first school year in which "all" four of my children will be in school. My daughter finally gets to ride the bus with her older brothers.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A Watershed in Evangelicalism

Thanks Steve. This is going to be good!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Books on the Desk

Me and Sivin Kit have been sneaking pics of each other's respective bookshelves. I thought I'd return him the favor and give him a glimpse of the desk as I am preparing for the conference in September. Most of my books are in the garage (thanks to my wife!). I have no earthly idea as to the number of books I own. One of the chores I give to my two oldest boys is to do a catalogue of my personal library from time to time when they appear to be antagonistic towards each other...a team project ya know! answer Sivin's questions:

1) Total Number Of Books You Own: Don't know.
2) The Last Book You've Bought: The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh by Amos Young
3) The Last Book You've Read: The Gospel in Black & White edited by Dennis Okholm
4) Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me:

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Prophet Jakes?

My friend Rod Garvin has some great reflections on Bishop T.D. Jakes over at Soul.

And also a tribute to the late John Johnson, a trail-blazing Afro-American business man.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Postmodern Black Church (or a church where a Negro can feel at home): A thought experiment on being a Missional Negro Christian

What kind of church would a postmodernegro feel at home with? For the next couple of weeks I plan on talking about this kind of church. I want to go on a thought experiment...a journey of imagineering. I have been really struggling with this...and doing some serious praying about church. I want to be a part of Christian community...a local ekklesia. But I want to feel at "home". Not in a consumeristic sense, but in a sense that it will challenge me, provoke me, encourage me, to be a part of the missio Dei or God's mission of salvation in the Land. When I think about the kind of church community that would draw imagination always goes to images like these. Am I crazy?

Anyways...I hope some of you that read this blog will join in with me on this imagineering experiment. I plan on giving more commentary on these images. Why they resonate with me? why I feel that this is more than just aesthetics, in more than a simplistic sense, involved here? And other thoughts. Even if it doesn't materialize I think this particular use of imagination can and will be helpful.

Here are some quotes from Walter Brueggemann that I saw linked from NextReformation that have started me on this journey of imagineering what a missional negro church would look like.

Compare this to Walter Brueggemann,

"The task of prophetic imagination is to bring to public expression those very hopes and yearnings that have been denied so long and suppressed so deeply that we no longer know they are there.."

"Isaiah gives his people a remarkable gift. He gives them back their faith by rearticulating the old story. He gives them the linguistic capacity to confront despair rather than be surrounded by it. And he creates new standing ground outside the dominant consciousness upon which new humanness is possible."

"The dominant consciousness must be radically criticized and the dominant community must be finally dismantled. The purpose of an alternative community with an alternative consciousness is for the sake of that criticism and dismantling."

Walter Brueggemann in the second edition of "The Prophetic Imagination"

This thought experiment finds bedfellows with these posts from other blogs:

Is God trying to tell us something Pt. 2: The State of the Negro Church (From a Black Male Perspective) by Rod Garvin

Away From and Toward: Emerging Hope and the Dreaming of Dreams. by Paul Fromont