Last June I had the amazing honor of being at the Christian Scholars Conference in Nashville, Tennessee and sitting at the feet of the humble giant, Dr. James Cone, while he talked about the liberating force of Christianity. He was magnificent in spite of my sense of his frailness and a nagging cough that plagued him throughout the conference. Those things were not enough to dull the clear headed manner in which he presented his paper and participated as a respondent to others who were speaking about his work during the sessions.
For over fifty years he brought a clear critique of the culture that has done so much to sully the name of Jesus and the faith that we named after him. Earlier in his life he spoke in passionate defense of the religion that was often characterized as the “white man's religion” by many African Americans who had grown weary of it and sought to find meaning to life's large questions elsewhere. But he argued that, "Christianity was not the white man's religion," he said, “It is a religion of liberation, a religion that says God created all people to be free. But I realize that for black people to be free, they must first love blackness.”
“People have (with the help of conventions) oriented all of their
solutions toward the easy and toward the easiest side of the easy;
but it is clear that we must hold to what is the difficult.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta held to the difficult for the past six years as a small group of faithful folks met every other month to imagine the way forward for the challenging work of dismantling racism in the Diocese. Prior to the installation of a new Bishop and a new Chair of the Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism; the group was known as the Anti-Racism Commission whose major contribution was hosting the training mandated for persons who were seeking to be ordained or serve as leaders in the Diocese.