POVERTY & The trauma of perpetual poverty.

“Dr. King, Racial Trauma, and The Church”

by Kyle J. Howard, 1/29/18.

THE TRAUMA OF PERPETUAL POVERTY

Historically, the black community in America has always lived in an airtight cage of poverty. From enslavement to ghettos and now through the agenda of mass incarceration which has robbed many black families of their sons and fathers; the black community as a collective whole is a forcibly impoverished community. This reality is largely the result of racialized systems that are in place that allow white people to flourish while black people fight to simply survive. Dr. King recognized the psychological toll that this reality had on his community, and it fueled him to fight for their equality. King saw economic equality as a key to the cage of poverty his people were in, King states, “WHEN YOU SEE THE VAST MAJORITY OF YOUR TWENTY MILLION NEGRO BROTHERS SMOTHERING IN AN AIRTIGHT CAGE OF POVERTY IN THE MIDST OF AN AFFLUENT SOCIETY… THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND WHY WE FIND IT DIFFICULT TO WAIT.” Witnessing your community suffocating and without hope is a devastating thing to experience. Poverty plagues the black community, and there are racialized systems that have been in place for centuries ensuring that such poverty continues. Families have been broken as sons and fathers have been displaced due to mass incarceration. The pain and angst that comes from being a person of color in a racialized society can lead to various forms of self-medication and the “war on drugs” has seen to it that such self-medicating (racially traumatized) people are locked behind bars rather than cared for and rehabilitated. Once said people are released from prison, they enter into an even darker crevice of their cage as opportunities for work disappear as well as opportunities to be a productive citizen through acts such as voting. School systems in dense minority areas are left without proper funding, and so the hope of education being the key to exit the cage is abandoned at an early age. Living life knowing that you are stuck in poverty and there is no hope of ever flourishing is depressing and leads to deep despair as well. These feelings of hopelessness and despair are compounded as the media and political parties present such people of color as simply free loading criminals who are inconvenient burdens upon society. In light of all this, the black community and other communities of color witness the white community benefit from the same systems that have been put in place to keep them from flourishing. These realities can lead someone to question not only their humanity but their inherent value as well.

Read more at … http://kylejhoward.com/blog/dr-king-racial-trauma-and-the-church/

RECONCILIATION & Billy Graham on his friendship/methods with Martin Luther King Jr.:

“Dr. King was a social reformer, we were personal friends and he understood my position completely – – That I was using one type of method to accomplish the same thing and he was using another type of method.” (Read the context and Dr. King’s comments below.)

WHEATON Archives Billy Graham on MLK 1.jpg

WHEATON Archives Billy Graham on MLK 2.jpgAccess the complete documents at http://www2.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/bulletin/bu1402c.htm

DMIN & Wesley Seminary cohort in Transformational Leadership began their educational journey visiting #MLK birthplace, Ebenezer Baptist Church & Greater Traveler’s Rest Church where #MLK pastored.

Commentary by Prof. B: Below are two pictures from the first course I taught to our DMin in Transformational Leadership students. The course (LEAD 711: Foundations of Urban, Rural and Suburban Leadership) included visits to important #MLK historical sites as well as hearing from a diverse group of pastors.

DMin 2016 ATL Speakers from Poster copy

The first is a picture of our #WesleySem #DMIN #Leadership cohort visiting #MLK birthplace and hearing from @Ebenezer_ATL Church pastor #RaphaelWarnock.

While pictured below are our students @WesleySeminary #DMin in Transformational Leadership students when we began our program in 2016 by attending Greater Traveler’s Rest Church formerly pastored by #MartinLutherKingJr. Current pastor Rev. Dr. Dewey Smith (pictured) hosted a day of learning. @HOHATL #WesleySem

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#DMin DMin cohort Wesley Seminary LEAD 711 712 713 714 715 716

DISCRIMINATION & A Review of James Cone’s theological response to the dark history of lynchings

When He Died Upon the Tree: James Cone’s seminal book gives a theological response to the dark history of lynchings in America.

by Bruce Fields, Christianity Today, 8/16/17.

The Cross and the Lynching Tree is the most significant theological perspective on lynching—which includes not just hanging, but also “burning, beating, dragging, and shooting—as well as torture, mutilation, and especially castration.” Based on impressive research, Cone argues that the lynching tree is a viable reality/symbol for reflection on the cross of Christ. According to Cone, understandings of the cross and lynching tree can mutually inform one another and explain how events of trauma and injustice can still inspire hope for the African American community.

Cone’s book begins by advocating for confronting white supremacy, which is evident even in the church. He claims that the cross placed alongside the lynching tree could “help us to see Jesus in America in a new light.” He first engages lynching in the United States from a historical perspective, which was used a means of reminding blacks “of their inferiority and powerlessness.” Cone then considers the “Christian realism” of Reinhold Niebuhr, seeing a potentially useful theological perspective. Cone applauds Niebuhr’s focus upon matters of “self-interest and power” in human relationships, but faults Niebuhr for not addressing lynching as an obvious example of sinful human abuse.

Cone moves on to discuss how Martin Luther King Jr. saw the cross and the resurrection of Christ as inspiration for his ministry, though ”it did not erase the pain of suffering or its challenge of faith.” Cone then explores the tension between Christian truth claims and the reality of the black experience as expressed in the black literary imagination and also the ministries of women like Ida B. Wells who, at the risk of their own lives, fought against lynching.

Cone concludes with a message of hope: “God took the evil of the cross and lynching tree and transformed them both into the triumphant beauty of the divine. If America has the courage to confront the great sin and ongoing legacy of white supremacy with repentance and reparation there is hope ‘beyond tragedy.’”

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/august-web-only/reflections-on-cross-and-lynching-tree.html

ETHICS & The Role of Agape in the Ethics of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Pursuit of Justice #FullerSemDissertation

by Jerry Ogoegbunem Nwonye, dissertation submitted to the Faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA, 1/2009.

Available via ProQuest and at https://books.google.com/books?id=_0b6NTQGcKUC&dq=Where+Do+We+Go+from+Here:+agape&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Thesis excerpt, p. 2:

Ethics agape in MLK.jpgHashtags:  #WesleySeminary #DMinTL

TRUMP/CLINTON & Chaos or Community? MLK Jr. Book Has Insight on Where We Should Go From Here

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel. After a divisive election, people are wondering what to do. The best insights may come from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last book which followed very divisive elections in America. He urged Americans to distinguish between three types of biblical “loves” (eros, philia and agape), suggesting only with agape love (loving the unlovely) can systemic change be brought that will change the situation of the increasingly poor segment of the US population. Here’s an overview of his last and perhaps most relevant book for 2017.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE: CHAOS OR COMMUNITY?

Introducer: Vincent Harding

King believed that the next phase in the movement would bring its own challenges, as African Americans continued to make demands for better jobs, higher wages, decent housing, an education equal to that of whites, and a guarantee that the rights won in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 would be enforced by the federal government. He warned that ‘‘The persistence of racism in depth and the dawning awareness that Negro demands will necessitate structural changes in society have generated a new phase of white resistance in North and South.’’

King assesses the rise of black nationalism and the increasing use of the slogan ‘‘Black Power’’ in the movement. While he praised the slogan, he also recognized that its implied rejection of interracial coalitions and call for retaliatory violence ‘‘prevent it from having the substance and program to become the basic strategy for the civil rights movement in the days ahead.’’ Condemning the advocacy of black separatism, King maintained that there would be no genuine progress for African Americans ‘‘unless the whole of American society takes a new turn toward greater economic justice.’’ Despite King’s impatience with Black Power proponents, he ends the book on an optimistic note, calling for continued faith in the movement.

King maintained that there would be no genuine progress for African Americans ‘‘unless the whole of American society takes a new turn toward greater economic justice.’’

Reviews:

“Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the greatest organic intellectuals in American history. His unique ability to connect the life of the mind to the struggle for freedom is legendary, and in this book—his last grand expression of his vision—he put forward his most prophetic challenge to powers that be and his most progressive program for the wretched of the earth.” —Cornel West

Excerpt, From Vincent Harding’s Introduction:

… From this position of radical engagement it would have been relatively easy for King, if he chose, to confine his published writing to telling the powerful stories of the experiences he shared almost daily with the magnificent band of women, men, and children who worked in the black-led Southern freedom movement, recounting how they struggled to transform themselves, their communities, this nation, and our world. Instead, going beyond the stories, King insisted on constantly raising and reflecting on the basic questions he posed in the first chapter of this work—“Where Are We?” and in the overall title of the book itself, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

…Building on all of the deep resources of empathy and compassion that seemed so richly and naturally a part of his life, King appeared determined not only to pay attention but to insist that his organization and his nation focus themselves and their resources on dozens of poor, exploited black communities— and especially their desperate young men, whose broken lives were crying out for new, humane possibilities in the midst of the wealthiest nation in the world. Speaking later at a staff retreat of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King expressed a conviction that had long been a crucial part of what he saw when he paid attention to the nation’s poorest people. He said, “Something is wrong with the economic system of our nation. . . . Something is wrong with capitalism.” Always careful (perhaps too careful) to announce that he was not a Marxist in any sense of the word, King told the staff he believed “there must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism. . . . ” This seemed a natural direction for someone whose ultimate societal goal was the achievement of a nonviolent “beloved community.” But a major part of the white American community and its mass media seemed only able to condemn “Negro violence” and to justify a “white backlash” against the continuing attempts of the freedom movement to move northward toward a more perfect union. (King wisely indentified the fashionable “backlash” as a continuing expression of an antidemocratic white racism that was as old as the nation itself.)

Meanwhile, even before Watts, King and the SCLC staff had begun to explore creative ways in which they could expand their effort to develop a just and beloved national community by establishing projects in northern black urban neighborhoods. (The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, the other major Southern movement organizing force, was involved in similar Northern explorations by the mid-1960s, but both organizations were hampered by severe financial difficulties.) Partly because of some earlier contacts with Chicago-based community organizers, King and SCLC decided to focus on that deeply segregated city as the center of their expansion into the anguish of the North. By the winter of 1966, SCLC staff members had begun organizing in Chicago. At that point King decided to try to spend at least three days a week actually living in one of the city’s poorest black communities, a west-side area named Lawndale. From that vantage point, working (sometimes uncomfortably) with their Chicago colleagues, King and SCLC decided to concentrate their attention on a continuing struggle against the segregated, deteriorating, and educationally dysfunctional schools; the often dilapidated housing; and the disheartening lack of job opportunities…

In the face of such hard facts, King insisted on pressing two other realities into the nation’s conscience. One was his continuing plea for “a coalition of Negroes and liberal whites that will work to make both major parties truly responsive to the needs of the poor.” At the same time he insisted that “we must not be oblivious to the fact that the larger economic problems confronting the Negro community will only be solved by federal programs involving billions of dollars…”

From Dr. King’s conclusion:

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity . . . This may well be mankind’s last chance to choose between chaos or community.”

Read more at … http://www.thekinglegacy.org/books/where-do-we-go-here-chaos-or-community

See also The Role of Agape in the Ethics of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Pursuit of Justice by Jerry Ogoegbunem Nwonye, dissertation to the Faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA, 1/2009 available at https://books.google.com/books?id=_0b6NTQGcKUC&dq=Where+Do+We+Go+from+Here:+agape&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Hashtags:  #WesleySeminary #DMinTL