Go over to Jabberbox.tv and check out an article of mine that they posted today on black history month. It’s a new site committed to Real Talk on Faith, Life, and Culture. Also if you hurry you can enter their contest to win a free Kindle!!!
It could be seen as a bit strange to be focusing in on a white person during black history month, right? After all, the whole purpose of black history month is to finally learn about the experiences, culture, and heritage of black people in a culture that only values white history, culture, and literature.
Nonetheless, today on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s birthday, we briefly stop and remember this man who literally gave his life because of his Christian convictions. However, I will not spend most of your time on what he did to resist Nazi Germany (which you probably already know), but rather to remember his time in Harlem, NY.
In 1930, Bonhoeffer studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and also attended Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. Very few white Christians in America have been willing to place themselves under black spiritual leadership (the opposite is much more frequent), yet Bonhoeffer did just that and was shaped significantly by those experiences. He not only loved the Negro Spirituals and culture there (which he admitted he did), but he also had his faith impacted dramatically has he began to see life “from below”. It was here that he fully grasped the Church’s call to pursue justice and its unfortunate participation and perpetuation of racism and segregation.
So why Dietrich Bonhoeffer? Because he offers a model for what can be. People in the dominant culture can indeed emerge themselves into black culture and community, and more than that… they can actually learn and grow from that opportunity. So, I invite you to take the Bonhoeffer challenge, and immerse yourself in black culture, community, and history this month and see how it might impact you. Let me know if you are up for the challenge.
I am currently in a World Religions course at Biblical Seminary (a great place to learn for anyone interested in studying in the Philadelphia area, especially if your interested in the urban context.) Anyway, one question that I am forced to wrestle with over and over again while thinking about folks all around the world who are seeking after God (or gods) through alternatives means than Christianity, is how, if at all, has God been revealing himself for generations to the world. If I assume, which I do, that God is revealing himself to all humanity and that he is close rather than afar from everyone, then in what ways had God’s wisdom, truth, and presence shaped even the most antichrist religions.
I imagine that wherever we can find God’s wisdom and truth no matter the source, we can find opportunity to build bridges from where they are at to the Crucified One.
Tomorrow as part of my World Religions class we will be visiting a Buddhist temple. While I won’t me converting, worshiping Buddha, or practicing any eastern form of meditation, I do want to engage on some level. My hope is that I can empathize with those who will be at the service, understanding what specific motivations draw them there, and how they see this ancient religion as relevant for their lives. If I can empathize and stay engaged, my mission will be accomplished for what I can get out of the experience.