CFI-Harlem Division

Promoting  reason; opposing superstition in the community.

Lively, knowledgeable discussions about many topics mostly related to secular issues and the community.

This month:

Our guest will be Dr. Anthony B. Pinn an American professor and writer whose work focuses on liberation theology, Black religion, and Black humanism. His doctoral dissertation was entitled “I Wonder as I Wonder: An Examination of the Problem of Evil in African-American Religious Thought.”

The topic of theological responses to evil and suffering in Black religion has continued to dominate Pinn’s later work. Throughout his work, Pinn refers to his approach to humanism as a “religion.” In so doing, Pinn cites humanist Gordon Kaufman’s definition of religion as “that which helps humans find orientation ‘for life in the world, together with motivation for living and acting in accordance with this orientation.’” In other words, for Pinn, religion need not be theistic.


The issue of African American and African Diaspora contributions to humanist philosophy and practice are elements that will come up as a matter of course. Given Dr. Pinn’s past work and our group's interests this will flow naturally. So it won't be our deliberate focus. 

What we will focus on are two things: 

(1) - The question of how those who are not a part of the dominant power structure live and ethical life. Meaning, in part, what liberating choices can those with a history of oppression make to not be victims or become oppressors/victimizers themselves. The basis of an ethical humanist life.

(2) - We get a first preview of his new Oxford University Press book "The End of God-Talk:  An African American Humanist Theology". It deals with the idea that when talking about "God" ceases to be useful, especially when dealing with ideas of oppression and progress beyond suffering, - What role does "theology" still play? One of his perspectives is that humanists need to claim and re-frame theology. To not just de-construct theology but to reconstruct it to serve humanist goals, ethics and values. 

Many of us have disconnected from secular organizations because they to closely resembled religion. Certainly it's understood that 'religion' isn't 'theology'. 

It is an appropriate question - Is the utility of theology a benefit or a burden? Is theology relevant at all to the process of building minds and communities liberated from irrational thinking and the unjust and superstitious use of power?This is a volatile issue for some of us.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Great group of people, great conversation.

    September 26, 2011

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