Liberation Theologies: Decolonizing the Masters’ Tool

On August 21st, 1831 Baptist preacher, Nat Turner, lead one of the largest slave insurrections in the history of the United States. In an explosion of prophetic and apocalyptic rage, Turner overthrew his legal owners ruling by fighting back, killing the elite colonial slave-owning families who had subjugated his life to a hell on Earth. With more than 70 other liberated slaves, Turner’s insurrectionary self-defense sparked brutal repression from local white vigilante militias and the State. After six weeks of freedom, he was caught and brought back to Southampton County, Virginia to be put on trial; his revolutionary actions were recorded by white lawyer, Thomas R. Gray, later titled, The Confessions of Nat Turner.

And on the 12th of May, 1828, I heard a loud noise in the heavens, and the Spirit instantly appeared to me and said the Serpent was loosened, and Christ had laid down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and that I should take it on and fight against the Serpent, for the time was fast approaching when the first should be last and the last should be first! (Gray)

Being Born into slavery as the chattel property of Benjamin Turner, Nat or Nathaniel (the Hebrew meaning, “gift from god”) Turner inherited two conflicting yet syncretized versions of religious expression; the first, and most obvious, being his Christian identity as a Baptist preacher, sharing the religion of his slave masters (he was bought and sold between 4 legal owners); the second, being his Mother Nancy’s African folk-traditions brought directly over in the year 1799 when she was purchased by a Methodist slave owner. Further in his recorded confession he details multiple mystical experiences: talking to spirits, having flash backs to previous lives, practicing divination through tree leaves, and deciphering hieroglyphic characters all of which direct his passion toward revolt. In an act of religious syncretism Turner used knowledges from Baptist Christianity (individual freedom and soul freedom), the Hebrew prophets (histories of prophetic witness), and past-life ancestral mysticism (possibly informed by indigenous African traditions) to act upon his direct liberation from slavery. In this way Turner used the religious tool of his master and the indigenous traditions brought over from Africa by his Mother to subvert and challenge the legal slave-system for collective emancipation. For Turner, God had judged the materiality of slavery as demonic and condemned the institution to exorcism; it was God who actively directed him through revelation, signs, scriptures, visions, and dreams to defend himself from slavery. Turner embraced the counterviolence of God against slavery and dehumanization, igniting violent insurrection to advance the Kingdom principles of freedom, equality, liberation, justice, and salvation for the common good. “It was not motivated by hatred, racism, fanaticism, or evil. His revolutionary violence was the self-defense of the oppressed slave and God’s counterviolence against the inherent barbarism and violence of slavery” (Lampley 3). Continue reading Liberation Theologies: Decolonizing the Masters’ Tool

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Anarchism: The Jesus Way

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace?” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”    – John 2:13-19 (NRSV)

Introductions

Gathering a following of working class fishermen and people with disabilities the Middle Eastern God-peasant the Gospel of John portrays just a few stories into the narrative heads to the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and starts a riot. With his homemade whip, Jesus aggressively threatens the money changers, flips over their tables of sellable goods, throws their coins all over the Temple, and releases the commodified animals from their cages.

Fast forward 2000 years and we have a similar story with a very different reaction from the supposed followers of Jesus today. In the early hours of the morning before their Sunday service on the fourth of September 2016 Christian Anarchists smashed the windows of a Starbucks inside 12 Stone Church in Atlanta Georgia (for the second time that year), leaving hundreds of signed letters of resistance to their absurd mixture of Capitalism and Christianity. “We acted this way in accordance with Jesus’ example of driving the businessmen out of the temple…We implore you to reject buying and selling in our places of worship, and to ‘take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a pace of business!’ as Jesus commanded.” (Anonymous 2016) Continue reading Anarchism: The Jesus Way

Military Industrial Complex to Blame for Pulse Massacre

The Orlando Massacre at Pulse Nightclub was a complex web of crazy. You know the story so I won’t re-hash the nightmare. In the vigils I’ve attended around The Castro in SF, articles I’ve read shared on Social Media, conversations I’ve had with a few friends, and videos I’ve watched on the interwebs this has been addressed far too little so I want to “Say it again for the people in the back!!”

First, the murder of those 49 people by Omar Mateen (and then his own suicide) was not merely about queer people and homophobia – sources have come out to say he had a complex relationship with his wives, Pulse was one of his favorite Gay Clubs, the Latin night was one of his favorite nights to get drunk and party, he was known to have a Grindr and sent sloppy messages to other men hoping to hook up with them. Continue reading Military Industrial Complex to Blame for Pulse Massacre

Leave Your Evangelical LGBT Welcoming Church

Evangelicals running around with book tours and t-shirts promoting their blogs about how they once were straight but saw the light and are now queer, make me want to vomit…but only because they do so parading God and their new found theology as if it’s any better than the one before. I hate to break it to you but it’s not. It sucks. It’s just imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchal theology, to borrow some of Bell Hooks’ words.

Here’s an example: a female pastor from San Francisco at City Church named Laura Turner wrote this article for Esquire. It’s got a catchy title, I‘m Evangelical, My Church Welcomes Gays, and I’m Not Voting for Trump, and some great points so it’s been going viral.

Continue reading Leave Your Evangelical LGBT Welcoming Church

Make Every Day Earth Day

This essay is from a larger draft I am working on. 

On February 14, 1990 NASA engineers turned the Voyager 1 spacecraft back toward our home planet for one last look. Approximately 4 billion miles away and 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane, Earth can be seen floating off in the distance as an infinitesimal point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixels in size. It was this picture that astrophysicist Carl Sagan made famous, he saw the pale blue dot and reminded us,

Continue reading Make Every Day Earth Day

Sermon: Make America Great Again

First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marines.

Giant American flags were waving across the stage;
soldiers with fake guns came marching one by one into the building,
the children’s ministry came adorned with red, white, and blue ribbons of celebration. Hundreds of voices sang the Marine core anthem at the tops of their lungs. It was at Van Dyke United Methodist Church, in Lutz FL, where my best friend Morgan Clark and I were working. It was our 11am worship service and while everyone else stood to sing our many national anthems

Continue reading Sermon: Make America Great Again

Keeping the Christ in Christmas, or something

In what will go down as “The Great Starbucks Cup Controversy of 2015,” a video posted on Facebook that went viral with millions of viewers, it was a man attacking Starbucks for its decision to remove holiday symbols from their cups.

Joining the video in its attack, Republican presidential nominee and reality TV star, Donald Trump was quick to rally a crowd of thousands,

“Did you read about Starbucks? No more Merry Christmas on Starbucks…maybe we should boycott Starbucks!”

Continue reading Keeping the Christ in Christmas, or something