Deconstructing and Reconstructing Love by Chasity Jones

Note: This is based on a podcast which can be heard here.

“Black love exists and Black women deserve love that does not require pain.”

What is love? What’s love got to do with pain and suffering? Are they related? Pain and love? Must one always be present with the other? In this blogpost I explore pain and suffering through a womanist perspective (centering the perspectives and lived experiences of Black women) and discuss how to live into wholeness and wellness. This is especially important because the Black community/women in particular’s experience in the US (and globally) has been and continues to be defined by pain and suffering. What are the theological implications?

How have Christian frameworks at associating love with sacrifice and pain justified the pain and suffering of Black women? How can we decolonize love so that liberated Black women are empowered to embrace a love that does not hurt first with false promises of rewards later in life or afterlife? Black women, pain does not equal love.

Continue reading “Deconstructing and Reconstructing Love by Chasity Jones”

An ode to the old me: An ode to Roe v. Wade by Chasity Jones, M. Div 

Greetings Feminism and Religion family! It has been soooo long and I have missed you so much!!

I have been working on a few projects that were rudely interrupted by a heartbreaking divorce, decisions of survival, and the subsequent recovery that followed this period. I have spent the past at least 6 months healing from the shame, guilt, pain, and blame that was placed in my lap for the collapse of the marriage. Needless to say, that shit is heavy and it kept me in an endless and perpetual night- not the beautiful mysterious, infinite, expansive darkness that I have come to know but the night that I was afraid of when I was young. No one could save me from the ways that I tormented myself or questioned my womanhood, motherhood in particular. Even more, no one could save me from being an emotional punching bag from my ex-spouse, who also torments himself.

That being said, I am on the mend and am settled in my own apartment furnished with peace, wholeness, and healing for myself and my daughter. As an earth sign, stable ground and a comfortable home in which I can be myself means the world to me. I am a spiritual advisor at a recovery center in Massachusetts and therefore have studied the art of recovery in many ways. Recovery from loss and recovery of self are two procedures that I address in my upcoming book, Black Gold: The Road to Black Infinity!!

Continue reading “An ode to the old me: An ode to Roe v. Wade by Chasity Jones, M. Div “

Advancing Our Feminist and Womanist Theologies by Xochitl Alvizo

I recently completed a chapter for a book on Latinx theologies; it’s the second edition of the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Latino/a Theology, edited by Orlando O. Espín, but this time with the slightly changed title of Companion to Latinoax Theology—aiming to be more inclusive in its umbrella term. The project has 35 contributors and covers everything from interreligious dialogue and care for creation, to race, racism and latinoax cultures, as well as chapters on such subjects as Christology, the bible, and ecclesiology. My particular chapter was about the intersection of gender, feminisms, and Latinoax theologies—not surprising. But what I loved in the process was a particular emphasis that emerged—decoloniality, like a thread woven throughout the chapter as it evolved; and this I now see as a necessity for Christian theologies. Let me explain.

Continue reading “Advancing Our Feminist and Womanist Theologies by Xochitl Alvizo”

Strength by Chasity Jones Selenga

To be transparent, these last four weeks have unintentionally flown by and have been filled with great pain, sorrow, depression, loss, and grief to be honest. I can feel my own spirit at the beginning of a long healing process and have a feeling that these words kept between you and I will be a tremendous part of my healing. Healing in itself is an essential aspect of Womanism and how I found my way to it. I have been privileged to develop spiritual practices that encourage and assist with healing in emotional, physical, mental, and wisdom ways!

Today, I acknowledge the Africana Womanism (Clenora Hudson-Weems) characteristic of strength. I must admit I have a strained relationship with the word as a Black woman. I was raised by strong women to be strong in an environment in which we will always have to strong. As a result, being soft is interpreted as weak. I mourn that Black women rarely find spaces in which they can turn off their survival mode- fight or flight nervous system responses and relax while being soft. It is so foreign. At this point in my life softness is so inconvenient and also something that I don’t even know how to maintain consistently.

Continue reading “Strength by Chasity Jones Selenga”

We are Not Oppressed Because We Remember Part 2 – Diaries of a young black woman by Chasity Jones

Read Part 1 here.

One of the 18 characteristics of Africana Womanism is being a self-definer. This piece is a sliver of my process to do and be exactly that.

I am striving to be a whole Black woman. I have an awareness that I am a whole person and transcend the role that Amerikkkan* society has given black women. Wholeness is justice and justice/liberation is wholeness. We are unaware of the full extent that racism has impacted Black women psychologically and emotionally. I’m saying racism constricts us in exhausting ways- the results have been wearing on our mental and sexual health, senses, nerves, physical health for years. And it still is.

Continue reading “We are Not Oppressed Because We Remember Part 2 – Diaries of a young black woman by Chasity Jones”

Grown Little Girl, Grow Little Girl by Chasity Jones Selenga

I have newly found myself a wife and in the throes of motherhood. In many feminist circles, I have encountered anti-family and anti-wifehood sentiments. The understanding is that to be a wife, and, to be a wife that chooses to start a family, is an oppressive position to occupy as well as the antithesis of the feminist movement. Though I am not typically a fan of tough physical, emotional, soulful labor, these two positions have been the highlights of my life so far.

My daughter embodies both my husband and me, physically. However, she is and will become her own person-soul. She is so young, but her soul is eternal, and has experienced eternity. I am here to help her navigate remembering who she is. She inhabits the intersection of Blackness, divinity, femininity, and infinity. Motherhood has greatly increased my capacity of appreciation for women and what women are capable of doing. Especially from the intersection of Blackness and woman-ness. From the capacity to create, labor, and deliver life to the task of raising Black children in a country that would have them annihilated, emotionally traumatized, and made to accept they are inferior.

Continue reading “Grown Little Girl, Grow Little Girl by Chasity Jones Selenga”

The Gathering: A Womanist Church BOOK REVIEW by Mary Ann Beavis

Book title: The Gathering: A Womanist Church—Origins, Stories, Sermons, and Litanies

Authors: Irie Lynne Session, Kamilah Hall Sharp and Jann Aldredge-Clanton

Publisher: Wipf & Stock, 2020

Womanist theology is a form of theological reflection that centers on Black women’s experience, sensitive to issues of race, class and gender. It originated in the United States in the mid-1980s and has grown in scope, sophistication and influence, but until recently there has been no expressly womanist church. This book charts the founding and development of a womanist church from the perspectives not only of its pastors (Irie Lynne Session and Kamilah Hall Sharp) but also of its ministry partners (Jann Aldredge-Clanton and others). Continue reading “The Gathering: A Womanist Church BOOK REVIEW by Mary Ann Beavis”

Octavia Tried to Tell Us: Parable for Today’s Pandemic by Monica Coleman

In national quarantine and sheltering-in-place or is it “safer-at-home,” all I could think about was that we were living in a scene from the late Afrofuturist writer Octavia Butler’s book Parable of the Sower. So I texted my friend, Afrofuturist writer Tananarive Due and said: hey let’s do a webinar on this.  And this turned into weekly – then monthly – free webinars on the wisdom we can glean from Octavia Butler as we live through these political days.

Here, I share a recent workshop and dialogue that lifts up Octavia’s Parable of the Sower and highlights themes of prophecy, dystopia, theology and a way forward in times like these.

If you are interested in engaging more intimate work centered on Octavia’s work, visit for more information.



Dr. Monica A. Coleman is Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Delaware.  She spent over ten years in graduate theological education at Claremont School of Theology, the Center for Process Studies and Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Coleman has earned degrees from Harvard University, Vanderbilt University and Claremont Graduate University. She has received funding from leading foundations in the United States, including the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation, among others.

Answering her call to ministry at 19 years of age, Coleman is an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and an initiate in traditional Yoruba religion.

Dr. Coleman offers workshops, lectures and books for your organization, university or church. She warmly connects with people as she shares principles for growth and liberation. Read her story here.

They Too Are America by Karen Leslie Hernandez

George Floyd.

It has been a week.

But, not really just a week. Months. Years. Decades. Centuries.

1,253 black human beings have died at the hands of law enforcement in the United States since 2015. And we just keep watching. Mostly by fatal shootings from on-duty police officers, The Washington Post has kept track of all those killed by law enforcement since 2015. The numbers are staggering.

This indiscriminate killing is not just of black people, but a disproportionate number of those killed, are black and Latino. In fact, according to the Post, “The rate at which black Americans are killed by police is more than twice as high as the rate for white Americans.”

Sons. Brothers. Fathers. Cousins. Husbands. Dads.

Rayshard Scales, 30
David Tylek Atkinson, 24
Finan H. Berhe, 30
Adrian Medearis, 48
Dreasjon Reed, 21
Jah’Sean Iandie Hodge, 21
Qavon Webb, 23
Demontre Bruner, 21
Brent Martin, 32
Shaun Lee Fuhr, 24
Malcom Xavier Ray Williams, 37
Elmer L. Mack, 40
Chase Rosa, 24
Virgill Thrope, 28
Steven Taylor, 33
Derick L. Powe, no age listed
Jasman Washington, 31
Goldie Bellinger, 39
Zyon Romeir Wyche, 19
Joshua Dariandre Ruffin, 17
Dewayne Curtis Lafond, 45
Idris Abus-Salaam, 33
Nathan R. Hodge, 66 Continue reading “They Too Are America by Karen Leslie Hernandez”

Hagar and Intersectionality by Marilyn Batchelor

I began to follow Kimberlé Crenshaw a little more than five years ago when I first learned of her theory of intersectionality as a more concise description of oppressions stemming from race, age, gender, sex/sexual orientation, religion and socio-economic status. 

In Delores Williams’ book, Sisters in the Wilderness, there is a closer look at womanist theology as it relates to Intersectionality. The focus on traditions of biblical appropriation that emphasize liberation of the oppressed “showed God relating to men in the liberation struggles,” Williams says in the introduction. “In some African American spiritual songs, in slave narratives and in sermons by black preachers, reference was made to biblical stories and personalities who were involved in liberation struggle.”  Continue reading “Hagar and Intersectionality by Marilyn Batchelor”

“Do the Work Your Soul Must Have”: In Remembrance of Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon by Elise M. Edwards

One of the things I love most about being an educator is introducing my students to the thinkers who have inspired me.  I am especially delighted when I can share things I’ve learned from meeting and hearing these scholars speak.  One of the joys of “coming of age” as a religious scholar in the early 21st century is that I have been able to meet some of my heroes.  I’ve conversed with scholars whose writings about justice, liberation, hope, love, and religion’s potential to be a moral force in a hurting world inspire me.  I’ve been able to hear them speak at conferences and workshops where I’ve felt the truth and power of their words in my body.  One of the most inspiring women I’ve met in my academic journey was Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon.  She passed away on August 8, and although I was not one of her students, I grieve and mourn this recent loss.  I remember her and honor her for her spirit, her scholarship, and her soul’s work.

Katie Cannon was a pioneer.  Her scholarly work was integral for defining the womanism in religion and theology.  She took black women’s lives, their writings, and their struggles seriously.  She challenged the presumed universality of the dominant ethical systems to identify moral resources and Christian teachings that could address the challenges of people oppressed by their race, sex, and class.  Dr. Cannon’s vocational journey demonstrated her willingness to transgress racial, gender, and class boundaries.  She was the first African-American woman to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A).  She grew up in a North Carolina town she described as “a modern-day plantation,” but excelled in elite academic spaces, earning her Ph.D. and then leading many others in their academic pursuits. Continue reading ““Do the Work Your Soul Must Have”: In Remembrance of Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon by Elise M. Edwards”

Considering Our Spaces in the Pursuit of Justice by Elise M. Edwards

This past summer, my friend and I were perusing the exhibits at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture when she urgently called for my attention.  “Psst… Isn’t this where you are from?” she asked, pointing at a placard titled African American Life in Montgomery County.  Yes!  I grew up, I was educated, and I was churched in Montgomery County, Maryland.  So I eagerly read the exhibit’s description:

By 1900 there were at least eight African American communities in Montgomery County, Maryland. Unlike many rural African Americans, the residents were not tenant farmers—they owned their property and homes.  This gave them greater control over the land and the crops they produced.  They also directly benefited from improvements to their homes, which was an incentive to make additions and to stay in place.  Descendants of these early settlers still live in these communities today. Continue reading “Considering Our Spaces in the Pursuit of Justice by Elise M. Edwards”

“Queen Sugar:” Must-See Ecowomanist TV by Elise M. Edwards

elise-edwardsHave you been watching “Queen Sugar”?  It is a thoughtful, compelling, and gorgeous TV show that evokes ecowomanist sensibilities.

“Queen Sugar” is a television drama in its second season on OWN, Oprah Winfrey’s network. It was created by celebrated filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who is also the show’s executive producer.  The show has an all-female directing team and an inclusive crew.  Like many of the original series on OWN, “Queen Sugar” features a predominately African-American cast, and like many other programs on the network, it delivers content intended to stir the viewer’s soul.  But notably, “Queen Sugar”’s soulful messages are not mediated by the cadre of life coaches and inspirational leaders often seen on Oprah’s network.  Instead, it is the fictional Bordelon family who invites us to reflect on their world and ours. The series’ three main characters, Nova, Charley, and Ralph Angel, are siblings who take over their father’s sugar cane farm in Louisiana after his death. Their narrative and the lush cinematography that captures it offers viewers the opportunity to consider the complexity, joy, and hardship of African-American characters who are rarely depicted on screen.  The show’s themes and aesthetics are expressive of ecowomanist spirituality.

Continue reading ““Queen Sugar:” Must-See Ecowomanist TV by Elise M. Edwards”

A Gift Offered in Faith and Love by Elise M. Edwards

elise-edwards“The day begins with the sun and ends with the moon and stars; what you do in between is your gift to the world.” – Reyna Craig

The new year has begun, and many of us take this marking of time as an occasion to set intentions, goals, plans, or resolutions for the year ahead.  For us feminists, the year ahead holds clear challenges.  We know that the bodies, spirits, minds, hearts, and souls of women, racial and ethnic “minorities,” and all sorts of vulnerable people will be attacked.  We know that the protections secured under the law for these bodies, spirits, minds, hearts, and souls have been eroded and continue to be dismantled in the name of… well, what exactly? Justice? Life? Religion?

We’ve seen voting rights eroded in the name of democratic ideals.  We’ve seen challenges to bodily autonomy in the name of life.  We’ve seen state-sanctioned murder in the name of law and order.  We’ve seen a rise in religious intolerance in the name of religious liberty.  Our work in this age must be to continue to expand our collective understandings of these ideals.  This is the gift we offer to the world.

Continue reading “A Gift Offered in Faith and Love by Elise M. Edwards”

Wisdom Fiction (Part 2) by Elise M. Edwards

Elise Edwards“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

In my previous two posts, I’ve discussed the wisdom that can be found in black women’s literature. Continuing this series, I’m sharing a statement from the most well-known novel written by Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston was an American novelist, folklorist, anthropologist, and cultural critic whose work was first published in the 1920s-1940s. Their Eyes Were Watching God was published in 1937 and has since been reissued and adapted into film.

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” This quote is one that has circled around my mind every New Year and every birthday for many years. These times of year are when I’m likely to reflect on the previous year and wonder what has come from it.

Continue reading “Wisdom Fiction (Part 2) by Elise M. Edwards”

Wisdom Fiction (Part 1) by Elise M. Edwards

Elise Edwards“I was born in a strange little country town that may be like all other country towns, but I do not know. It was the world I was born to. The world is such a place that you need special things to understand it. I do not think I am a fool, but I do not understand life. It is like I am always standing in the dark somewhere. It could be on the edge of a cliff by a deep ravine… Or on a flat piece of all the land in the world… and I would not know. I would not know whether to step stand still. Either one could be a danger… When I am alone. Some lives are like that. Depending on the kindness of everybody.”

-from “Feeling for Life “ in Some Soul to Keep by J. California Cooper

In my previous post, I wrote about the truths we learn from black women’s literary tradition and from listening to the stories of those we too often ignore. Continuing that reflection over the next few months, I’d like to share some of the lessons from J. California Cooper’s short stories. The quote above is taken from the opening paragraph of one of her works.

Continue reading “Wisdom Fiction (Part 1) by Elise M. Edwards”

Truth in Storytelling by Elise M. Edwards

“[ShakespElise Edwardseare] was an alright writer.  I did not always understand him, but some things he said were beautiful and he made some things so clear the way he explained people.  But one thing he was wrong about.  That ‘To be or not to be?’  is not the first question. ‘What is the truth?’ – that is the question!  Then ‘To be or not to be?’  is the second question.”

-from “Feeling for Life “ in Some Soul to Keep by J. California Cooper

This past weekend, I taught a lesson for an adult church group about Christian imagination in the short stories of J. California Cooper. The quote above comes from one of her stories. I was invited to teach a lesson as part of a series on exploring God through literature. It was a delight to participate for several reasons.

Continue reading “Truth in Storytelling by Elise M. Edwards”

Role Play: In Search of the Authenticity of My Being by Elise Edwards

Elise Edwards“I stood in the authenticity of my being: Black, preacher, Baptist, woman. For the same God who made me a preacher made me a woman, and I am convinced that God was not confused on either account.”
– Reverend Dr. Prathia Hall

These words came across my Facebook feed on Sunday in celebration of International Women’s Day. Reconciling Ministries Network put the statement on its Facebook page, along with a picture of Prathia Hall preaching from the pulpit, in remembrance and honor of women leaders who contributed to the US Civil Rights Movement. This past Sunday, March 8, when the quote was displayed, marked the 50th anniversary of Selma’s Bloody Sunday. Prathia Hall was a leader in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and one of the activists on the Edmund Pettus Bridge who were attacked as they began to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Later in her life, she became an ordained minister, professor, and womanist theologian.

For me, this past weekend was about remembrance through many forms. While there were many events commemorating Selma and the important events that unfolded there 50 years ago, my family and I were focused on a more intimate form of remembrance. On Saturday, we held a dinner and informal memorial service for my godfather who passed away last month. I got the news of his death on a day when I’d been doing some deep soul-searching and reflecting about the image I present to the world and its correspondence with who I am and desire to be. Just a few days prior, I’d spoken to my godfather about his health and subsequently, I had been questioning how I might be more connected to him. We lived several states apart, and I wondered how I could be a good goddaughter to him despite the distance. Those questions are left unanswered in the wake of his death. Continue reading “Role Play: In Search of the Authenticity of My Being by Elise Edwards”

To Be an Advent People by Kelly Brown Douglas

Rev.-Dr.-Kelly-Brown-Douglas - Version 2

In my church tradition, we have just entered the 3rd week of Advent.  In today’s blog I share just a brief excerpt from the sermon which I preached on Sunday.  I hope it at least inspires reflection on where we go from here as a nation, as a people and our responsibility in moving forward.  I preached:

On this 3rd Sunday of Advent the stories and testimonies of four women have in many ways pricked the collective consciousness if not the conscious of our nation. These women, mothers all—are names that we sadly have become all too familiar with. They are Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon , Leslie McFadden, the mother of Michael, Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric and added to the list most recently Samira Rice, the mother of 12 year old Tamir.  To call the names of these women and their sons, is to be confronted with the unsettling if not frightening times in which we now live and thus to be reminded of the ways in which our world is broken, the ways indeed in which the sacredness of our very humanity has been betrayed by our separation one from one another. Yet, it is into this unsettled time of brokenness that this season of Advent comes. Continue reading “To Be an Advent People by Kelly Brown Douglas”

Crucifixion, Resurrection, and the Reversal of Power by Kelly Brown Douglas

Rev.-Dr.-Kelly-Brown-Douglas - Version 2

Within the Christian tradition, this week – l known as Holy Week – is perhaps the most significant week on the Christian calendar.  During this week Christians are called to contemplate and to remember the core events of Christian identity—the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  Given the focus of this week for many Christians I am sharing my theological reflections on the crucifixion-resurrection event.

As I begin this reflection, it is important to recall that which I and others have pointed out in other places. In Jesus’ first century Roman world crucifixion was reserved for slaves, enemy soldiers and those held in the highest contempt and with lowest regard in society. To be crucified was, for the most part, an indication of how worthless and devalued by established power an individual was.  It also indicated how much of a threat that person was believed to be to the order of things. There was a decided crucified class of people. These were essentially the castigated and demonized as well as the ones who defied the status quo of power. It is in this respect that I believe Jesus’ crucifixion affirms his identification with the marginalized and outcasts. Indeed, on the cross Jesus fully divests himself of all pretensions to power and anything that would compromise his bond with those most othered in the world. The reality of the cross further affirms the profundity of god’s bond with put-upon bodies..

Continue reading “Crucifixion, Resurrection, and the Reversal of Power by Kelly Brown Douglas”

The Black Christ by Kelly Brown Douglas

Rev.-Dr.-Kelly-Brown-Douglas - Version 2As a “Christian womanist theologian” I was very engaged by the recent dialogue concerning “Gendered Imagery of God” (March 13).  In response to that very thoughtful post, it was asserted that Christian womanist have not addressed this issue, especially as it concerns the maleness of Jesus.  In fact, christological concerns have been a central focus within womanist theology, particularly given the centrality of  Jesus and the cross for the black faith tradition. With this being the case, the maleness of Jesus has not been ignored. It has been addressed by womanist religious scholars from the early beginnings of womanist theological reflection. This issue, however, has emerged not from a discussion of God or Christ apart from issues of “survival and wholeness” for the black community, male and female. Continue reading “The Black Christ by Kelly Brown Douglas”

To Do Justice for Jordan Davis by Kelly Brown Douglas


Theology is faith seeking understanding.  Faith is that ineffable, intangible spiritual apparatus that keeps us in relationship to a transcendent, infinite god. It is, for Christians, the core of their relationship with the god of Jesus Christ. Yet, as Karen Armstrong and others so often remind, faith is not about loyalty to a certain doctrine, or dogma, or set of beliefs, rather it is about a commitment and engagement in a certain way of “living, and moving and having one’s being” in the world.  As the word faith derives from the Greek word “pistis” it fundamentally signals not a way of thinking about who god is and god’s relationship to us, but a way behaving in light of our belief in and relationship to god.

Christian faith is grounded in the theological claim that god became incarnate in Jesus. Faith, in this regard, is not about an intractable and intolerant assertion of that theological claim; rather, it is about a sincere and consistent commitment to live into the implications of that claim. Put simply, “To keep the faith,” is not about holding onto a certain way of thinking, rather it is about maintaining a certain way of acting. The point of the matter is that for Jesus faith did not signal a preoccupation with belief per se.

When Jesus was calling people to faith, or telling them to have faith, he was not calling them to believe in him or in his divinity, rather he was asking them to be engaged in a particular way of living, to be committed to his mission in the world. Their loyalty, their trust was to be in the way of life which he embodied, a way of life that reflected the presence of god in the world. And so it is in appreciating the meaning of this word faith as Jesus used it, that I come to theological task on this day. Continue reading “To Do Justice for Jordan Davis by Kelly Brown Douglas”

Painting Anna Julia Cooper by Angela Yarber

angelaAs we celebrate Black History Month I’d like to honor a remarkable black woman who joins the Holy Woman Icons with a folk feminist twist that I feature each month. Anna Julia Cooper stands alongside Virginia Woolf , the Shulamite, Mary Daly, Baby Suggs, Pachamama and Gaia, Frida Kahlo, Salome, Guadalupe and Mary, Fatima, Sojourner Truth, Saraswati, Jarena Lee, Isadora Duncan, Miriam, Lilith, Georgia O’Keeffe, Guanyin, Dorothy Day, Sappho, and Jephthah’s daughter.

Cooper was born a slave in Raleigh, NC in 1858.  Her mother was a slave and her biological father was her mother’s white master.  After living and working as a slave until the age of five, Cooper began her formal education at a school for slaves.  She would grow up to become one of the most educated and intellectual black women of her century.  In fact, she was the fourth African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in the United States, writing her dissertation on “Attitudes toward Slavery in Revolutionary France.” Continue reading “Painting Anna Julia Cooper by Angela Yarber”

How is it That God Speaks? by Kelly Brown Douglas

Rev.-Dr.-Kelly-Brown-Douglas - Version 2A few weeks ago, after delivering a sermon, a young woman approached me and said she had a question about my sermon.  I of course braced myself for the question as I ran my sermon back over in my head trying to remember what I could have said that might have troubled her in some way. As it turned out, hers was a rather thoughtful question, reflective of an insightful theological observation. She said she noticed as I preached that I never used a pronoun for God. She asked if this was intentional. She went on to say that by not using a pronoun for god I forced her to try to image “the way god is, not the way god looks.” I complemented the young woman for her keen observation and astute theological insight. I responded that my avoidance of pronouns when speaking about god was in fact intentional. I explained to her that given the limitations of our finite language in trying to speak of a god who is infinite, that not only are we better served, but perhaps god is also better served when we avoid pronouns, or even nouns when speaking about god.  Why, because we should try to speak about god the way in which god speaks to us.  And so this begs the question: How it is that god speaks?

The god in which I have faith does not speak to us as a static being. Rather, god speaks to us as a dynamic, restless force in our world. This, for me, is what god’s revelation in Jesus is all about.  The gospel of John tells us that in the beginning was the word and the word was with god, the word was god and the word became flesh. Inasmuch as Jesus is the incarnate word of god speaking to us, then for us to speak about god the way in which god speaks is for us to enflesh that very word that became flesh for us.  What then does this mean? How are we to speak about god? Continue reading “How is it That God Speaks? by Kelly Brown Douglas”

Moral Courage by Kelly Brown Douglas

The time for false solidarity is over…Let’s us stop talking about it, let us just dig deep inside of ourselves and find a way to do it. 

Fifty years ago in response to President Kennedy’s assassination Martin Luther King Jr. wrote: “Our nation should do a great deal of soul-searching …” It is these words of Martin King’s that echo in my mind fifty years later as news headlines continue to be filled with stories of innocent young black bodies falling victim to a social climate that nurtures racialized fears and breeds racialized violence. If the deaths of Renisha McBride, Jonathan Ferrell, Jordan Davis, and Trayvon Martin tell us nothing else, they proclaim loud and clear that we are a people in need of a “great deal of soul-searching.”  For me, this time for soul-searching is nothing less than a kairos time. Continue reading “Moral Courage by Kelly Brown Douglas”

The Little Words by Kelly Brown Douglas

As I contemplate the state of our world from the rhetoric of shut-downs to stand your ground, from the self-righteousness of political discourse to the dogma of ecclesiastic pronouncements, and from the justifications for political inequality to the explanations for ecological disregard, I wonder what has happen to all of our little words?

What has happen to our little words of gratitude? These are words like “thank you,” or “I appreciate that,” or “that is kind of you.” Have you ever noticed how in our world today people rush through it without stopping to say thank you? We have become a taken-for-granted people in a taken-for-granted world. We act as if we are entitled to certain things because of who we are or simply because we are. But here is the thing, that which we take for granted we tend to squander, to abuse, and to easily discard—like our natural and human resources. We take for granted our relationships to the earth as well as to one another. We take for granted our life on this planet and our life in community. It is time that we recover our little words. We must learn once again to speak little words of gratitude, for such little words go a long way in changing our world and to transforming a people from being wasteful, excessive and warring to being conserving, non-indulging, and peaceable. Continue reading “The Little Words by Kelly Brown Douglas”

“Stand Up Straight” by Kelly Brown Douglas

When I was little my mother use to always tell me to “stand up straight.” It is probably because of my mother’s plea that one particular bible story became one of my favorites. It is a story that comes from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 13.  In this story Jesus heals a woman who had been crippled and bent over for 18 years. As he does so he tells her “to stand up straight.” For me, these are some of the most powerful words that Jesus could have spoken to this woman. For not only did they signal that he had freed her from whatever the burden was that kept her hunched over, but they also restored her to a sense of dignity. These are simple, yet powerful words, for the many women in our midst who have for so long have not been able to stand up straight.

I think of the Sarah Baartmans of our world, like a Rachel Jeantel, who are made into a circus act because of their appearance. What happened to Sarah Baartman in 1810 as she was paraded across Europe so that people could examine her buttocks and genitalia—deeming her exotic and erotic, happened to Rachel in 2013 as she gave testimony in an American courtroom while people decried her appearance and mocked her speech—deeming her ignorant and illiterate. Continue reading ““Stand Up Straight” by Kelly Brown Douglas”

Unjust Wars and ‘Innocent’ Bodies by Kelly Brown Douglas

According to a recent online CNN report (15 September 2013) an 8 year old girl in Yemani died from internal injuries after her wedding night. Apparently this was not the first time a young Yemeni girl died under these circumstances.  Despite the fact that there have been various attempts to outlaw child marriage in Yemani, it remains legal.  For some families steeped in poverty, the “innocent” bodies of  young girls becomes a way to make money as these girls are sold for marriage to older men. One Yemeni woman lamented, “this is what poverty can do to people” (CNN online 15 September).

All around the world there are stories of young girls and women whose bodies are being “legitimately” violated.  Even in those places where the violence against women’s bodies is considered a crime, the redress for these crimes fall short of justice.  The story of the Yemeni girls and others like it have raised many theological questions in my mind concerning  notions of innocence,  the meaning of violence, and the implications of just war.  In this blog, I will share my rather fragmented thoughts on these issues as an invitation to conversation. Continue reading “Unjust Wars and ‘Innocent’ Bodies by Kelly Brown Douglas”

Dialogues With Our Children by Kelly Brown Douglas

Son: My friends and I were stopped for going 61 mph in a 55 mph zone, frisked and had our car searched. We thought the police were going after the car of white boys in front of us going at least 70, but they stopped us instead.

Mother: It’s not the first time.

Intergenerational dialogues are key to Alice Walker’s womanist definition. This definition includes a dialogue between a mother and a daughter in which the daughter announces that she is going to Canada and taking others with her. The mother replies that she would not be the first one to make such a journey.  During this Women’s History Month, I as a womanist am reminded of the dialogues that haven take place between black women and their children. These inter-generational dialogues have been fundamental to helping black children to “survive and be whole” in a world that looks down on their blackness and attempts to limit their ambitions. Continue reading “Dialogues With Our Children by Kelly Brown Douglas”

When Feminists Disagree by Linn Marie Tonstad

Linn Marie TonstadA while back I gave a talk on feminist trinitarian theology to an audience of mostly progressive academics, including feminist and womanist scholars of religion. In the course of analyzing what I called the ‘trinitarian imaginary’ in Christianity and its often-patriarchal and masculinist forms, I suggested that transforming that imaginary might require recognizing the hypothetical character of theological statements until the eschaton, a theme that has been developed in depth by a German theologian named Wolfhart Pannenberg. Now, Pannenberg is decidedly neither a feminist nor a progressive theologian. To name just one example: in his three-volume Systematic Theology, his few explicit references to feminist or female theologians include a brief mention of Mary Daly (volume 1, p. 262) in connection with a critique of feminist theologians for projecting (!) masculinity into God in their readings of divine fatherhood, and a critique of Valerie Saiving and Susan Nelson Dunfee’s positions on the traditional Christian doctrine of sin as pride (volume 2, p. 243). So when I mentioned Pannenberg as a resource in my talk, one of the feminist scholars in the audience audibly gasped and flinched – it became clear in the Q&A that she had significant concerns about whether I could count as a feminist at all. After all, to mine someone like Pannenberg for constructive feminist theological work might imply an endorsement of his other positions, or might entail taking over aspects of his system that would taint my own project in anti-feminist directions – all legitimate concerns.  Continue reading “When Feminists Disagree by Linn Marie Tonstad”

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