My Letter to the Washington Times

Why Even try?  Well the times attack Black theology today writing... if you would like a crash-course lesson in Black Theology see my diary 'Strange Fruit & Black Theology'http://www.mydd.com/story/2008/3/15/1624 29/154#commenttop... the Times Wrote:


The church where Sen. Barack Obama has worshipped for two decades publicly declares that its ministry is founded on a 1960s book that espouses "the destruction of the white enemy."

Trinity United Church of Christ's Web site says its teachings are based on the black liberation theology of James H. Cone and his 1969 book "Black Theology and Black Power.

"What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love," Mr. Cone wrote in the book.

Mr. Cone, a professor at the Union Theological Seminary in New York, added that "black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy.""

This is, in the context the Washington Times put it, sounds terrible.  However Cone is actually speaking of 'killing' the White Theology given to Black Folks.  He is not speaking of killing actual people.  I wrote weeks ago of my concern that this would lead to an attack on Black Theology, and there by an attack on a vibrant and necessary academic field.  And, this is the first article I have seen doing so.  If you have time I strongly suggest you email the Washington Times and call for a retraction.  Here is the Letter I Sent:


S.A,

I read your recent article on James Cone.  I'm the sociology of religion field... my expertise of study is in Religion in America.  I think your article on Cone shows a drastically poor knowledge of the works of Cone.  Perhaps you should report that nearly every student in seminary across the country is asked to read Cone in their introduction to theology courses (I can speak for Union, Harvard, Columbia, Fuller, Duke, and Princeton).  These students do not find it racists.  Your quote from Cone advocating "the destruction of the white enemy," is completely out of context.  He is obviously speaking of White Theology... yet you make it appear that he is speaking of White persons.  I doubt a theologian would advocate killing White people at the very time he was learning from Niebuhr and educating a mostly white student body at Union.  This reporting is either a. ignorant b. racists c. narcissistic... I'm not sure which you find yourself in, but you certainly are not representi
ng the entirety of Cone correctly.  If Cone is racists so is Princeton Theological Seminary, because they proudly teach him.

I suggest you retract your story and offer an apology.  If you throw Cone under the bus, for the sake of this campaign, you must also throw Countee Cullen, Cornell West, Katie Canon under the 'bus.'  When you incorrectly attack Cone you attack a strong and proud theological tradition.  Just to give you an idea of the broad spectrum of persons who have stood by Black Theology

Richard Lamb, head of the Southern Baptists Convention, defended it.

Jim Wallis, director of Sojourners defended it.

Not one faculty member from Princeton Seminary, Duke Divinity, Harvard Divinity, Yale Divinity, University of Chicago Divinity, or Union Theological Seminary has spoken out against it as 'racists' some are against liberation theology in general.  In fact many have defended it.

Martin Marty, an/the expert on religious fundamentalism defended it...

David Kuo, ex Bush WH head of Faith Based Initiatives defended it.

T. DeWitt Smith, head of the Progressive Southern Baptists Defended it.

Anne Lamott, Gregory Boyd, Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, Gene Robinson all have defended Wright.  Mike Huckabee even defended the stance

The fact is that the Theology has payed a heavy price for political ends... it is sad it was dragged into this.  I'm yet to see somebody in the Christian community (save Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council) attack Wright, let alone Cone.  Cone has theological foundations which are not racists by the judgment of nearly every theologian in the Country... yet you in the media has deemed otherwise.  I'm sure you have decide to report on this because it is 'sexy,' but that does not make it right.  You have an obligation as a reporter to tell the entire truth to the best of your ability, and either your abilities are not to high or you have not met your obligations.

Good Day,
BGrant@princeton.edu

Tags: Washington Times (all tags)

Comments

15 Comments

Re: My Letter to the Washington Times

black theology is based on christian liberation theology which pope benedict has previously written in length about and argued that followers of liberation theology tend to deviate from true christianity while pushing for political goals...

by client8 2008-04-01 08:38PM | 0 recs
Re: My Letter to the Washington Times

The Pope is wrong... and addressed the matter as if the Papacy does not have a history of pushing political matters... Take the Time to read my diary on Cone

by CardBoard 2008-04-01 08:43PM | 0 recs
Re: My Letter to the Washington Times

Bravo!  It is appalling that religion is being attacked in this campaign, and that the "quality" of writing in these yellow journalism articles prey on ignorance and low thinking.

You clearly have a scholarly knowledge of important theologians in our American History.

It's a pleasure to read a diary like this!

by URKnot 2008-04-01 09:04PM | 0 recs
Re: My Letter to the Washington Times

are you willing to defend all religion from attack or just "some" religion like rev. wright's?

by tofriends 2008-04-01 09:08PM | 0 recs
Re: My Letter to the Washington Times

I'll defend nearly all religious expression, unless it impedes on somebody else's rights beyond rational... Obviously the Conservative Christian movement tries to force everybody to believe what they believe. Black Theology is arguing that Black folks have to right to believe what is unique to the Black experience.

by CardBoard 2008-04-01 09:14PM | 0 recs
Re: My Letter to the Washington Times

conservative christianity folks think they are right and black theology folks think they are right...so they are both right..o.k. i get it.

by tofriends 2008-04-01 09:17PM | 0 recs
Re: My Letter to the Washington Times

Sort of...except Black Theology does not (often) advocate the taking over of government institutions to further religions goals.  They do advocate voting liberally to help all people, because that is right...

by CardBoard 2008-04-01 09:19PM | 0 recs
Re: My Letter to the Washington Times

i think precisely because the papacy has flirted with politics a bit too much in its history, it is in a good position to speak out against the fusion of christianity and political goals or aspirations and how this becomes perverted

by tofriends 2008-04-01 09:05PM | 0 recs
Re: My Letter to the Washington Times

I do not think the papacy is in a good place to speak to non-catholics... the papacy has just as much right to speak to non-catholics as muslims to the papacy.

by CardBoard 2008-04-01 09:18PM | 0 recs
Re: My Letter to the Washington Times

since catholicism created the idea of liberation theology which it experimented with in central america, don't you think it can contribute to the conversation of black liberation theology?

by tofriends 2008-04-01 09:21PM | 0 recs
Re: My Letter to the Washington Times

Well, they were actually concurrent trends...there is certainly a theological discussion.  However, simply because the Papacy says something does not make it right... nor some sort of authoritarian standard for all of theology.

by CardBoard 2008-04-01 09:24PM | 0 recs
Re: My Letter to the Washington Times

well, again, liberation theology is unique to the catholic church and recognizes that the gospel message of liberation does not blend well at times with "political liberation"...i think as a student of religion you are missing a rich asset to your studies if you are so dismissive of this part of church history

by tofriends 2008-04-01 09:28PM | 0 recs
Re: My Letter to the Washington Times

A. "Liberation theology is unique to the Catholic Church"

This is not true.  Catholic Liberation Theology appeared in South America in many facets (and even in Dorothy Day in N.A) yet it was not fully theologizes in 1972 with Gutierrez... James Cone's first book was published in 69 and was more influenced by Niebuhr and Columbia Social Scientists that the Latin America Movement.  A type of liberation theology is unique to the catholic Church, but liberation theology is not.  I'd actually suggest it began, in the U.S., with Countee Cullen in the late 1920s.

B.  Your notion that the Catholic Church recognizes that the gospel message of liberation does not blend well with political liberation is unfounded if you read Benedict and JPII.  The fact is both use(d) 'liberation' passages to advocate for Political Stances.  What Benedict does discount is an entire theology based on political activism, largely because of his opinion the the Catholic Church is the Kingdom of God on earth.  Obviously Protestant do not think the same of their Church's.

by CardBoard 2008-04-01 09:44PM | 0 recs
Re: My Letter to the Washington Times

Good letter. The way Black Theology is being demonized by the MSM is disturbing. I don't pretend to be an expert (I dislike religion in general and tend to avoid discussing it), but I know all these attacks are more than just a little unfair. White people wonder why African Americans are pissed? Well, gee, I wonder whether it has anything to do with things like this.

As a side note, I really, really hate it when religion becomes a huge issue like this. Why is it that religion is always used as a weapon? Hillary and Obama can worship the damn devil, for all I care, as long as they've got reasonable positions on policy. More power to them.

by sricki 2008-04-01 10:15PM | 0 recs
Re: My Letter to the Washington Times

I have been enjoying your discussion of this subject since the early Wright controversy days and hope you continue to add your well-informed and illuminating perspective to religious topics here.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-04-01 11:25PM | 0 recs

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