Introductions to Theology

Me and a Womanist Sister are working on a webinar for the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education where we introduce the community to Black Liberation Theology. It’s part of a series of didactics that’ll be accessible to our pastoral educators and CPE students.

The series is called 8:46 and will have 8 webinars that are 46 minutes long–in sober and theo-ethical acknowledgement of Brother Floyd’s murder and how ministers, clinicians, and leaders might nurture our work in everything from the social construction of race to the psychological implications of racism and other sins.

I’m working with a practitioner from North Carolina and we’re offering an introduction to (Black and Womanist) theology. In the preparation, I found a sentence Dr. Stephanie Mitchem wrote where she said that theology begins not in studying in the classroom but in living a life.

So I’ve begun journeying over the beginnings of theology, the origins of my own, lately. It’s resting with me that the origins provide a long shadow over the rest.

If theology begins in a word, who wrote it or spoke it or claimed its authority? If theology started in a person, was that person relatable, relatable in every way or particular ways? If discourse about the Sacred started in practices, were those practices exclusive, open, and are they relevant? The questions continue when you think and live theologically, right?

Think about yours. From where have your best understandings of the Transcendent come? How were you introduced to your “theological” world? We could keep going. These are the kinds of questions that need answers.

World Makers

Yesterday Rev. C.T. Vivian died, and at the age of 95 he joined a community beyond. I have thought about his life, his record, and the public ways in which he lived. I didn’t know him and have never met him, but I’ve always been drawn to ministry leaders whose lives have been full and long.

In a day when theological visionaries and ethical leaders can be hard to find, it is even harder to support those folks throughout lives that contain many days. Our godly leaders end early, die young.

I think of a remark that Rev. Dr. Emilie Townes made about the how powerful and politically corrective it is to live a long life. When I contemplate the life of Rev. Vivian and when I recall the pictures of people like my other preaching hero, Rev. Gardner C. Taylor, I’m drawn to lengthy trails of service and the even longer lists of persons who have also made those ministries and lives possible.

The private and the popular are on those lists. So many people make a long life of ministry doable.

May we remember Rev. Vivian and all the people whose names are alongside his in the cause of justice and better world-making.

Loyalty to Openness

I have often heard myself saying to people that I don’t like to change my mind. It is true.

Part of it is that I make decisions slowly. I choose carefully. At least, this is also what I tell myself. So, when I make a choice, that choice is done with the weight of consideration, deliberation, and care coming out of a patient direction.

The other part is that I’m stubborn. I tell people that I’m committed, that I’m committed to the move in martial terms, but it’s a soft way of saying that I’m stubborn. I think most humans are this way.

Most people are committed to their views of things. We are loyal to our own worlds, loyal to our own beliefs, committed to those things we’re comfortable with. Change is hard on us.

I could say this in spiritual and moral terms. The consistent practice of making up one’s mind leaves a person open to pride and closed to change. Making and maintaining your mind leaves you vulnerable to the same loyalty.

So, changing your mind, seeing a thing with fresh eyes with an openness to what’s truly there, may be the most powerful moral and spiritual act of your day. It’s a little like being loyal to openness and opposed to it’s enemy, it’s soul antonym.

That feels like generosity to me.