Race Matters Book Club
“The Cross & The Lynching Tree’ by James H. Cone will be the book under discussion for the ACTS “Race Matters” Book Club during March. We welcome all readers to meet for our monthly gathering on April 27 @ 7 PM location to be determined. Parking lot is accessible by entrance off Burt Street. Come once or come often to share your thoughts with others on the journey.
Lent is a time for reflection on the fragilities of our human condition. Systemic racism and white supremacy have been central to the brokenness in our society which we confess as our “America’s Original Sin.” Reflecting on Cone’s use of the key Christian symbol can be a learning experience for persons from all faith traditions.
The Black Theology of Liberation expounded by James H. Cone provides a window for awareness and new insights of our sin-filled situation. Dr. Cone was the Bill & Judith Moyers Distinguished Professor of Systemic Theology at Union Theological School in New York.
A special feature of this session will be a panel of pastors who will offer their thoughts upon the various chapters of the book:
Rev. Dr. Eugene Turner, retired Presbyterian pastor & denominational executive, panel moderator
Rev. Dr. Bruce Burns, Hopps Memorial CME Church, ACTS Board Member
Bishop Colette Matthews-Carter, Zion Hill World Harvest Baptist Church, ACTS Board Member
Rev. David Harris, First Baptist Church of Syracuse, graduate of Methodist Theological School in Delaware Ohio
Here’s what two notable Black scholars have said about “The Cross & The Lynching Tree”:
“James Cone is a world -historical figure in 20th century theology. The Cross & The Lynching Tree is a powerful and painful song for hope in our dance with mortality – a song Cone courageously led for over forty years.” Cornell West, Princeton University
“No one has explored the spiritual world of African Americans with the depth or breadth of Cone. Here he turns his attention to two symbols that dominated not only the spiritual world but also the daily life of African Americans in the 20th century.” Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University
Here are words of James H. Cone from his memoir, “Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody”:
“The fundamental problem that troubled me was the relationship between the gospel of Jesus and the reality of black suffering and black resistance, as defined by the civil rights and Black Power movements.” … Although Malcolm X said that ‘Christianity is the white man’s religion,’ Martin King placed it at the center of his ministry in church and society. Both inspired me; but who was right, Martin or Malcolm?”
Here’s part of his answer to the dilemma from “A Black Theology of Liberation”:
“God’s revelation has nothing to do with white suburban ministers admonishing their congregations to be nice to black persons. It has nothing to do with voting for open occupancy or holding a memorial service for Martin Luther King Jr. God’s revelation means a radical encounter with the structures of power which King fought against to his death. It is what happens in a black ghetto when the ghettoized decide to strike against their enemies. In a word, God’s revelation means liberation – nothing more, nothing less.”