When I was a little boy I tried to wash the darkness from my skin when I bathed because it was manifestly evident to me that God does not love me. It was clear to me that my life would be an endless cycle of one humiliation after another... like the kind my parents and their parents endured. The cycle started with being told I could not swim in the same pool as others and would end with my bloody body collapsed on a street where I had participated in my last violent protest.
Malcolm X made more sense to me than Martin Luther King, Jr., who I thought was an enabler for an unjust God. Even as a pre-teen, while outwardly being a poster boy for “integration”, I did not hold out much hope for true racial equality in my lifetime. I saw no evidence for it and I blamed God for that.
Fifty years later I find myself at the Starr King seminary. Of all the many books I have read here so far, I must say that two have had the most profound effect on me: “My Grandmother’s Hands” by Resmaa Menakem, and now “Is God a White Racist: A Preamble to Black Theology” by William R. Jones. Jones wrote the book that I would have, had I been smart enough or taken the tickle to write about theology more seriously in my past. Just as I reacted to Menakem’s book with long flashes of recognition, Jones’ book has also awakened in me a deep stirring... an affirmation that this is the place I should be and the work I should be doing.
“Is God a White Racist” is a book that, admittedly, caused my old Catholic bones to shake at the title. What I found between the (electronic) covers was a clarity of thought and beauty that caused me to weep at times. Jones gave voice to my long held unscholarly intuitions. Of course God is a white racist. Of course God is misogynistic. Of course God favors the rich. Of course God hates humanity. Of course God is... because we are as God is as us.
As for my long held, unspoken, ungenerous, decidedly unscholarly, kid who tried to wash the darkness from his skin observation... of course black theologians who countenance this God are masters of cognitive dissonance. Consider just one Jones statement of many in this regard: “This principle [that man is the sum of his acts to God] presents apparently insurmountable difficulties for the black theologian, for it forces him to identify the actual events in which he sees the benevolent and liberating hand of God at work not for man in general, but for blacks. This is not easily accomplished in light of the long history of oppression that is presupposed by each black theologian.”
The advertised stunning insights to be gained by an intersectional approach towards theology had, frankly, escaped me until now. Seeing, examining... indicting... God in the way Jones did has opened new vistas into an understanding of theology that truly are stunning. Jones’ clear, unblinking writing is brilliant. It did should be raised up in the UU denomination as a beacon lighting the path towards the future.
Clovice A. Lewis, Jr.
About this blog.
This blog is a place where many of the confluences of my life can be shared. I am, at the core, a creative person. I approach everything from that basis... whether composing symphonies, playing the cello, being a serial entrepreneur, writing sermons and essays, flying airplanes, or creating software apps. I am deeply passionate about creativity, issues of social justice, and spiritual enrichment. These are fundamental to everything I do. Welcome to my journey!