Practical Curiosity and Democratic Leadership

I contend that it is our failure to cultivate practical curiosity, our inability to reckon with the complexity of democratic governance and leadership that is responsible for the low numbers of people within the United States who identify as liberal or progressive.

Crucifixion and the Blues

Some say the crucifixion is abhorrent—too bloody, too brutal, too cruel to contemplate. We have to shield our eyes and look away or—as in Mel Gibson’s blockbuster movie The Passion of the Christ, stare fascinated through our fingers at the spectacle. In either case, we avoid reckoning with the real power of the crucifixion, which is a blues power, a truth-telling power that not only holds a mirror up to the blood, the brutality, the cruelty that is our daily fare, but also opens up a way out of the carnage.

An Evolutionary Integral Understanding of the Cross

The idea of substitutionary atonement ends up saying that Jesus saves us from God—Larry Swaim article on “The Death of Christianity” is right. That’s a pickle for Christians who are supposed to believe that God is love and not vengeful retribution. Here is the question: “If Jesus preached we are to love our enemies, does God practice what Jesus preached?” If you are a follower of Jesus, you would think that the answer must surely be, “Yes!”

A New Symbol for Christianity

In my understanding, Jesus died the horrific and disgraceful death of a political criminal because he preached that “the last shall be first.” Those in power were so threatened by that message, and by how Jesus lived it out, that they had to kill him. If the cross as symbol has given anyone the idea that the violence that killed Jesus was good—or, worse, that it was God’s will—then I am all for abandoning that symbol.

A Call for Redemptive Rhetoric

A mentor of mine recently told me that a huge divide is on the horizon for those of the Christian faith—one that centers on the meaning of the cross and the message of atonement. Even the act of verbalizing that thought out loud is considered sacrilege by many in my Christian tradition. To question something as integral to Christian religious history and heritage as the cross will result, to put it mildly, in a variety of responses from a variety of perspectives.

Legacies of the Cross and the Lynching Tree

The lynching tree is a metaphor for white America’s crucifixion of black people. It is the window that best reveals the religious meaning of the cross in our land. In this sense, black people are Christ-figures, not because they wanted to suffer but because they had no choice. Just as Jesus had no choice in his journey to Calvary, so black people had no choice about being lynched. The evil forces of the Roman State and white supremacy in America willed it. Yet, God took the evil of the cross and the lynching tree and transformed them both into the triumphant beauty of the divine. If America has the courage to confront the great sin and ongoing legacy of white supremacy with repentance and reparation there is hope “beyond tragedy.”

Practical Curiosity and Democratic Leadership

Gary Dorrien claims that “Obama governs with deep caution, even timidity, as he pushes for risky things.” I disagree. What Dorrien sees as timidity, I see as genuinely democratic leadership in the face of formidable challenges—not only economic, environmental, and military crises, but also a resolutely recalcitrant Republican party and a deeply divided Democratic party, unable to muster agreement on the contours of financial regulation, economic stimulus or health care reform.

God Sucks as a Campaign Manager

Like Robertson’s Coalition crusaders, we need to make it clear that when the election is over, no matter the outcome, we are not going away; that when we make a call to action, that the call is answered.

On The Obama Question: A Black Womanist Response

Feminist and black womanist reflection have long held that one’s personal experience always has political and universal implications. In light of this claim, the womanist lens that guides my approach to The Obama Question is especially intrigued by Gary Dorrien’s attempt to debunk and redirect racially politicized assumptions that undergird some progressive and leftist perspectives.

Politics and the Limits of Religious Optimism

The manner in which the current political discourse in the United States is marred by shortsighted discussions of the “good” and the nature of morality capable of pushing the nation toward its better self is glaring. While neither seems willing to acknowledge this, both the religious Right and the religious Left have fallen short with respect to these ideological challenges.

The Moral Priority of the Common Good

If Obama can re-establish the fundamental moral priority for the nation of the public or common good to what the founders originally held dear and what the biblical tradition teaches, he might have a fulcrum by which to pry the American moral spirit free from the prison into which the Tea Party and severely conservative Republicans have confined it.