James H. Cone

I woke up this morning to the sad news that the Rev. Dr. James H. Cone has died.

Cone is often credited as the ‘founder’ of Black Liberation Theology (the stream of liberation theology focused particularly on the experience of African Americans), forever disrupting ‘business as usual’ with the publication of his hugely influential Black Theology and Black Power (1969) and A Black Theology of Liberation (1970).

Like so many others, I can honestly say that Cone’s work has changed the way I think. He helped me see things that, previously, I was simply unable to see.

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Necessary Rights & the Necessity of Laying Down Our Rights

It’s now 50 years since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and his words and example are as relevant—and as challenging—as ever. Though there are constant (conscious and unconscious) attempts to water down Dr King’s powerful words into ‘nice’ sayings and safe and shareable memes, there are numerous voices reminding us how radical were his words and how uncomfortable they should make us if we were to take them seriously.

MLK

I’ve been thinking a lot about Dr King’s words these past few days (I try to read his Letter from a Birmingham Jail on a regular basis), and I’ve kept coming back to this quote of his from an address at Western Michigan University:

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Gambling on a Climate Change Solution

A few months ago, I had the privilege of hearing from (and, later, speaking with) a reasonably well-known Australian economist. This economist, who happens to be a Christian, was speaking to a room full of Christian pastors/leaders about the importance of economics. This is something he tries to do on a regular basis, in the same way that he seeks to  speak to economists about the importance of the rest of life (suggesting that economics is not ‘everything’). I really appreciate this dual strategy, and that he would take the time out of his busy schedule to speak to us.

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Defining Justice

How do us Christians define ‘justice’? How is it defined in our churches (whether explicitly or implicitly)? How, in turn, are our actions defined by our understanding?

It seems to me that many Christians use the word ‘justice’ without necessarily understanding what (biblical/Christian) justice is all about. I sometimes hear Christians talk about justice in a way that makes it sound tangential to the gospel message at best, downright distracting at worst. Others speak of justice like it’s another passing fad, soon to be left behind by ‘the next big thing’. Others situate justice as a kind of subset of the Good News, or something that Christians might be involved with as a kind of add-on to the more core elements of their faith (or, perhaps, just give lip service to).

I don’t think that any of these options will suffice, and here’s why.

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Redeeming My Roots

For almost a decade now, I’ve been thinking about the concept of ‘redeeming my roots’.

Please let me explain what I mean.

Before I became a Christian, I was a reasonably open-minded individual. Working from the foundation of a basic liberal worldview, I was an advocate for freedom and equality and the necessity of a good classical liberal arts education as the corner stone of a strong society. From that foundation, the framework of my political and philosophical outlook on life was built around a fairly strong suspicion of authority, taking the shape of anarchism.

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