On February 11th we met on zoom for our NADC meeting, which you can check out on a previous post. What is also significant about that day, is that it is the anniversary date of when Nelson Mandela was released from prison after serving 27 years for his outspoken role against South African apartheid. www.nelsonmandela.org/content/page/30th-anniversary-of-nelson-mandelas-release. This is a significant history for, not only South Africa, but also for what got tied up in the story and history of America. In living out Black History month, I have been reading the three books pictured above and have been experiencing some significant wow moments of the heart and mind.
The novel called Homegoing, is one story of the complex lives lived in Africa and subsequent new beginnings in America during the era of the trans Atlantic slave trade. It is a difficult history to learn about what happened on both sides of the ocean, with slave trade staging castles being owned and operated by the Spanish, English and Dutch en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Coast_Castle. It is challenging to learn how colonizing, new world christians, used Black people for power and resource, while justifying it with dualistic views of using the body but "saving the soul."
That brings us to the middle book... the Bible...the Slave Bible. But this particular edition has been conscripted for a specific means, to attempt to characterize the afterlife saving grace of God, without the saving act of justice or freedom in present life. This edition of the Bible was edited so American slave owners could evangelize their slaves but not give them hope beyond their lot. It removed books and passages that would give any sense of hope or ideas of uprising. It only contains 32 of the 66 books in the canon; about 90% of the Old Testament and 50% of the New Testament were deleted. Thankfully, due to the expansion of printing and distribution, this attempt did not last and someway, somehow the Black Church grew and became a resilient community for survival and change www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIpjtLZFBgw&t=198s.
The final book is the writing of Howard Thurman who is a Black theologian, author, civil rights leader and was the spiritual director to Martin Luther King Jr en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Thurman. In this book, Thurman gives insight to the characteristics and perspectives of people living on the margins and through oppression. He talks about deep overarching themes of fear, deception, hate and love. Through it all, as a reader and observer, I am awed and amazed at God's working presence in the lives of His people. I can only try to imagine going through such circumstances and still being able to be known by God, to know and love Him. That is the power of our wonderful and merciful creator, connected to our humanity by the Spirit and the very real presence of our savior Jesus Christ.
May the knowledge of our past, the examination of our present and the restoring Missio Dei of our Creator lead us into the future.