If racism is America’s Original Sin (according to many), then overcoming racism must be one of the key goals of salvation for U.S. Christians...True? Agree? The founder of Black liberation theology, Professor James Cone, on May 24th will give a major address on this important topic through his scholarly exploration and comparison of Jesus’ cross and America’s lynching tree. You will never think about American history or Christian theology in quite the same way after you hear this challenging book talk (so be prepared). But the suffering of Christ will become real to you in a new way too (which helps us move beyond sentimental, superficial views of Jesus’ ministry, mission, and crucifixion). A Q & A period and book signing time will follow.
Five DC churches are sponsoring this major book talk, and they’ve formally invited us to participate. Event is free, but please RSVP to help with planning. We’ll have a group sitting in the back right hand side of the sanctuary near the big front doors where you come in. For those who are interested in more conversation, we’ll head off to nearby Laughing Man Tavern (click here) afterward for a beer & appetizers, and continue talking (I’ll wear a blue W ball cap so you know how to connect with us as we leave the event and go to the pub).
What the book argues: When we see the crucifixion as a first-century lynching, James Cone argues, we are confronted by the re-enactment of Christ's suffering in the blood-soaked history of African Americans. With accessible allusions to Jesus, the sufferings of Old Testament figures, the lynchings of at least 5000 African Americans, and reflections of notable 20th-century Christian thinkers, including W.E.B. Du Boise, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Martin Luther King Jr., Cone points out that while many ordinary Christians, black and white, saw the cross "as the defining heart of the Christian faith," they were oblivious to its parallels in America's lynching tree. Cone forcefully shows that Jesus's cry to God after his crucifixion/lynching, "Why hast thou forsaken me!" speaks to the condition of blacks in America especially during the Jim Crow era and civil rights struggles. He notes that most white theologians have been blind to any analogy between the cross and the lynching tree and that lynch mobs were made up mainly of God-fearing Christians. His conclusion: Cone calls for us to remember the lynching tree now to foster a Christianity that goes beyond empty pieties and fully embraces Jesus's teachings on suffering, the poor, and faith.
About the Speaker: Rev. Dr. James H. Cone, known as the founder of black liberation theology, is the Charles A. Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary.
Dr. Cone is best known for his ground-breaking works, Black Theology & Black Power (1969) and A Black Theology of Liberation (1970); he is also the author of the highly acclaimed God of the Oppressed (1975), and of Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare? (1991). His latest book is entitled The Cross and the Lynching Tree. Naming it one of the top religion books of 2011, Huffington Post editors said: “One of the great theologians of the late 20th century, Cone forces us to look hard at suffering, oppression and, ultimately, redemption.”
Professor Cone holds a B.A. degree from Philander Smith College, an M.Div. from Garrett Theological Seminary and an M.A. (1963) and Ph.D. (1965) from Northwestern University. Dr. Cone has been conferred thirteen honorary degrees. Dr. Cone is also an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Location & Parking: The event will be held in the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church sanctuary. There are several parking garages in the immediate area, including an PMI Parking Garage at 900 New York Ave NW, Washington (click here for other PMI Garages in downtown DC). Please call the garage to confirm they are open on Friday nights.
Child Care: Professional Child Care will be available.
Metro: New York Avenue Presbyterian is about 2 blocks away from the Metro Center Station which serves the Red, Orange, and Blue metro lines. If you leave the exit at 13th and G Street, you can head north a block to H Street. Once on H Street turn west and walk a block. You will see the church where H and New York Avenue come together. Enter the front doors where H St and New York Ave merge (there's a small urban tree park in front of the doors).
Book purchases: Books will be available for purchase at the event.