Over the past few weeks, probably months at this point, I’ve really been wrestling with what I believe spiritually/religiously (mainly Christian views, e.g. The Holy Trinity) and what I stand for politically (e.g. Black queer feminism & liberation). In the process, I’ve been digging into the work of James Cone, a Black liberation theologian, and some Deloris Williams, a womanist theologian, as their work kind of wrestles with the same questions.
Cone and Williams really rebel against what we’re taught in terms of questioning God and the Bible. Their work, in large part, is all about posing major questions and outright disagreeing with Biblical text and the way they’re taught. In my readings, I’ve been reminded of the common phrase disseminated by the church of not questioning God. Usually refers to the scripture that “God is not the author of confusion”. But if we’re keeping it a buck, life is hella confusing. Especially when you’re trying to apply classical texts to contemporary issues – such as white supremacist violence – it is very confusing and I have questions!
I think the “God is not the author of confusion” text has been weaponized. For me, I don’t think that scripture should be used to dissuade people from asking questions of God and the people that claim to represent Them. I think what is trying to be communicated, or what should be communicated, is that if we have questions, we should ask them to get clarity. It shouldn’t be “don’t question God”, it should be “ask the questions to get some clarity/perspective.”
Also, any time we’re talking about the Christian faith and the interpretation of the text, there must be an interrogation of white supremacist ideology & teaching. The Bible has been used to justify white supremacist violence for centuries. So when you tell people not to question God, it sounds a lot like a justification for oppression, marginalization, and violence. And for the people experiencing it not be question or fight against it.
The reconciliation between religion, Black [radical] thought, and white supremacy is tough and layered. Fellow Cleveland creative and friend Robin Blake (@hyperiusblake), who is also a Buddhist, thought we would benefit from having this conversation publicly. We originally recorded the videos on August 2, 2020. Because of high demand, the videos have been converted to audio and posted to this site to be shared widely.
Our Facebook live “public chats” take place every Monday at 6:00 p.m. Hope you pop in sometimes!