Okay, tonight was a revelation. I can testify our class received a revelation from God, and we are trying to figure out what to do with it. I am so grateful for this moment, and I want to write my own experience to back up the important point that was brought up tonight through the black experience that James Cone speaks to. I really hope people will listen, especially faith leaders.
First of all, tonight we got to submit questions, and I submitted one that was read with so much dignity and care. It astounds me that my heart can be heard in the Christian world now. My therapist notices I am surprised by every word of affirmation. I am always surprised when heard or validated. I have never known validation outside my own family until now, and every word of encouragement shocks me. She noted this is probably why I struggle with critique. I am already critiquing myself so harshly already and I don’t need more of it. I am going to tell you why this matters to this story and my question I submitted.
My question aimed at the notion of using scripture as the first source of inspiration to God. What happens when man appeals to scripture to degrade your humanity, and if you argue they just say: Sorry, word of God. How do you get around that?
The response was so kind, and he honored that scripture does get used, and never should be used, to dishonor anyone’s experience or who they are. But his response was to appeal to scripture more and speak the truth to refute.
This doesn’t work when you don’t have a community on your side to speak to that. Or you haven’t been taught Scripture to speak like that. Plus, why would I appeal more to a scripture that tells me I am subordinate, and I am watching my faith community largely vote for a sexual predator and say nothing in the debates when he is talking over his female opponent, and is just being an ass with no coherent policy-he is just a bully. And what happened to me in soccer by mostly Christians. Why would I alone want to appeal to Scripture to talk to this crowd? And where is their call to repentance in this? And to appeal to abortion and not think about our kids watching this horrid debate on TV should strike us as odd.
James Cone gives voice to this through the black experience. The revelation of God comes to the oppressed community. This makes people upset because they feel he is saying only one community can receive the revelation of God and is using a contextual approach to his systematic theology. So there is no common language to get on board with experiencing God as a whole -oppressor and oppressed.
I did not hear in James Cone’s spirit say no one else has access to God. What he is saying is there has to be solidarity with the oppressed community. He is being judged for harsh language like all people who mourn and have been shut out do. Cone is giving voice to people who never had one, and it is life-giving for that community.
An argument was made that we need a common language about God, because we can never understand the experience of another group. I hear this all the time. Instead of hearing pain, people worry I am exclusive or going to become the oppressor. This frustrates me to no end because it favors the oppressor, and our pain is dismissed b/c it makes people uncomfortable. Cone is offering a way that we can hear the language of God – through the oppressed community. Join them and hear God through them.
Women are being abused at an astronomical rate in church and society. And we are taught we cannot be church leaders, pastors, or get paid the same as men. This doesn’t seem to be urgent to anyone because we are so damn used to it. We hear God as male constantly in our theology. If we are created in the image of God, too, then where is mother God. For the LGBT community, where is their vocabulary?
Also, and Cone would agree with me here, all of us as Christians would fall under the label Oppressor. There is Christian privilege in America. At the King Teach Ins we do with Friendship West and Wilshire, Rev. Dr. Freddy Haynes said we must identify every privilege we have and make sure we aren’t using it to serve Empire over those who suffer. Maybe this would help clarify, but I think Cone’s work is to intentionally disrupt, and it woke up two suffering women who aren’t silent in their pain.
Even Jesus had to be disrupted by a loud suffering women who knew who he was.
PS: I found Scripture through my tears and Twitter. Jonathan Martin was on Twitter speaking scripture to my pain every day. He did not even know me then! Scripture came to me.