POVERTY & The trauma of perpetual poverty.

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

by Kyle J. Howard, 1/29/18.


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/

MULTIRACIAL & Planting/pastoring a multicultural church takes it toll on pastors. See what you can do …

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

by Kyle J. Howard, 1/29/18.


… Tears streamed down my face, and my body shook as I witnessed another man who looked like me die. As I watched Philando Castille’s blood pour out of his body and his life slip away, my own past traumatic experiences with police officer’s flashed before my eyes. I kept hearing a voice inside tell me over and over, “it could’ve been you.” I watched live on social media as the police officer pointed the gun at the black woman’s body who sat next to her dying partner. It was clear that the police officer had lost all control and with a screaming black baby in the back seat, I felt like I was moments away from witnessing a double homicide and the beginning moments of life long trauma in the little girl. The woman’s life was spared, but the killing of Philando Castile broke me. For a few years now, I had witnessed the public execution of unarmed black bodies on a regular basis. I, along with many others, had to navigate living as men of color in a racialized society and a largely racially indifferent church and seminary community. As we felt like we were dying inside, we listened as friends and pastors spoke with racial insensitivity and at times antagonism towards issues concerning race as well as these traumatizing acts of violence. With the little emotional energy we had left, we sought to speak up about how these events made us feel, but many of us were quickly dismissed by our friends and white spiritual leaders as being divisive. Instead of being shepherded, many of us were told that we were threats to the unity of our church and that we needed to remain silent.

Martin Luther King Jr. recognized the psychological and spiritual affects that unjust murder had on the black community. He understood that witnessing the unlawful execution of black people perpetrated by white men in authority like police officers was traumatic. In response to white evangelical pastors telling King to simply wait for equality, King wrote, “BUT WHEN YOU HAVE SEEN VICIOUS MOBS LYNCH YOUR MOTHERS AND FATHERS AT WILL AND DROWN YOUR SISTERS AND BROTHERS AT WHIM; WHEN YOU HAVE SEEN HATE FILLED POLICEMEN CURSE, KICK AND EVEN KILL YOUR BLACK BROTHERS AND SISTERS… THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND WHY WE FIND IT DIFFICULT TO WAIT.” The black community has always lived in a constant state of fear. This fear is perpetuated by the reality that unjust black death has always been made a public spectacle. Whether it be public lynchings or police shootings, the black community is constantly reminded that their life does not matter and this reality assaults the psyche of the black community on a daily basis. The assault on the black mind is perpetuated when they belong to predominately white spaces that do not affirm their value either. Over the past few years, we have seen a generation of new racial trauma victims birthed out of majority white churches. For the black community, the church has always been a place of refuge. For centuries, the Black Church has served as a hospital for racial trauma victims. As more African Americans migrate to majority white churches, these churches are not equipped to care for these traumatized saints and the indifference and antagonism these black saints experience perpetuate and deepen, rather than sooth what I call racial trauma.

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

CHURCH HISTORY & ARDA creates helpful and graphic-based online timeline of Race/Ethnicity & Religion in No. America

Commentary by Prof. B.: It is easy to be put off by the complex and intertwined history of diversity in America. Recognizing this, the Association for Religion Data Archives (ARDA) has created an online and interactive “timeline” here: http://www.thearda.com/timeline/tlTheme1.asp (screen shot below).

Easy to navigate, quick to read with reliable research, this should be your first stop to understand and explain the complex history of diversity in the No. American Church.




CHURCH HISTORY & Why Schools Fail To Teach Slavery’s ‘Hard History’

by Cory Turner, NPR, 2/5/18.

“In the ways that we teach and learn about the history of American slavery,” write the authors of a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), “the nation needs an intervention.”

… the report lays out several key “problems” with the way slavery is often presented to students. Among them:

Textbooks and teachers tend to accentuate the positive, focusing on heroes like Harriet Tubman or Frederick Douglass without also giving students the full, painful context of slavery.

Slavery is often described as a Southern problem. It was much, much more. When the Declaration of Independence was signed, it was a problem across the colonies. Even in the run-up to the Civil War, the North profited mightily from slave labor.

Slavery depended on the ideology of white supremacy, and teachers shouldn’t try to tackle the former without discussing the latter.

Too often, the report says, “the varied, lived experience of enslaved people is neglected.” Instead, lessons focus on politics and economics, which means focusing on the actions and experiences of white people.

States and textbook-makers deserve considerable blame for these problems, according to the report. The project reviewed history standards in 15 states and found them generally “timid,” often looking for slavery’s silver lining; hence a common preference for coverage of the abolitionist movement over talk of white supremacy or the everyday experiences of enslaved people…

Read more at … https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/02/04/582468315/why-schools-fail-to-teach-slaverys-hard-history

INTERNET & A Mature and Biblical Response to Trolls & Cyberbullies #HaleyBodine #ChristianityToday

“We Are the Light of the (Cyber) World: Let’s Act Like It” by Haley Bodine, Christianity Today, 1/10/18.

… internet troll is a person who intentionally posts inflammatory, divisive, or otherwise upsetting messages and comments online with the goal of inciting quarrels and provoking emotional response. A cyberbully is an individual who attacks another person or people group directly, using shame, threats, and intimidation.

According to a recent study conducted by YouGov, 28% of Americans admitted to online “trolling” activity. The same survey showed that 23% of American adults have maliciously argued an opinion with a stranger, and 12% admitted to making deliberately controversial statements.

Most of us have witnessed this type of behavior. A new Pew Research Center survey found that 41% of Americans have been personally subjected to harassing behavior online, and even more (66%) have witnessed these behaviors directed at others. Nearly one in five Americans (18%) have been subjected to particularly severe forms of harassment online, such as physical threats, sexual harassment, or stalking.

This is a major behavioral problem, especially when 70% of Americans still claim to be Christian. If we profess Christ as King, we have a high calling to demonstrate character fitting for children of the Living God. We are to live as a sent people everywhere we are, including the cyber realm. Antagonistic, divisive, abusive, attacking, or otherwise harmful and destructive words have no place in the online lives of anyone who says they are a follower of Jesus…

Here are four things to ask yourself before posting anything online:

Will my words be useful for building others up (Eph. 4:29)? The power of life and death are contained in the tongue (Prov. 18:21)…

Is my post truthful?

Will my words reflect the character of Jesus? Before posting anything, we should run our words through the filter of the fruits of the spirit. Do our words come from a place of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? We will never regret choosing to withhold words that do not pass this litmus test.

Do my words honor the image of God imprinted on the people who will read them?Contentious online arguments and dissension will probably never cause someone to change their view on a hot topic issue. When we post our thoughts online, we must keep people as the priority, not our positions…

Read more at … http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2018/january/we-are-light-of-cyber-world-lets-act-like-it.html

BLACK BONHOEFFER & How the Black Church in America helped convert Bonhoeffer from his racist roots

Commentary by Prof. B:  The following is an powerful excerpt from Reggie Williams’ powerful book Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus (Baylor Univ. Press., 2014). I hosted Dr. Williams when he visited IWU and was still conducting research on Bonheoffer.  He found prior to the time Bonhoeffer spent in NYC among the Black community, that he considered himself a theologian … but in hindsight not converted (in a similar fashion as did John Wesley).

The following excerpts (quoted at the bottom of the first page and top of the second) show how villainous Nazi ideology had crept into Bonhoeffer’s thinking prior to his experiences in African American churches. Soon after, Bonhoeffer would be converted in a Harlem, African American church. The African American community impacted this theologian so deeply (my students are encouraged to read the book to understand more) that Bonhoeffer became a brilliant and sensitive theologian who gave us among others, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian in Community and The Cost of Discipleship . To better understand how Christians can reconcile in a polarized world, read Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus and then Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian in Community and The Cost of Discipleship . You will find the call to reconciliation is difficult, but a cost Bonhoeffer reminds us that maturing Christians are prepared to bear.

Black Bonheoffer 1

Black Bonheoffer 2.jpg

Black Bonheoffer 3.jpgRead more at … Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance.

ABOLITIONISTS & The Wesleyan Movement of young pastors who asked “Can you give you life for the cause?”

(Notes on a lecture by Bob Black, Ph.D., at the CCDA conference, Detroit, 2017.)

By Francis Asbury’s death in 1802, the Methodist Church had become the largest church in America. Still, the bishops decided not to rock the boat by opposing slavery, so prevalent in the south. A presiding elder, Orange Scott (what we would call today a district superintendent) opposed slavery on biblical grounds as well as citing John Wesley’s strong condemnation of slavery.

Feeling he could no longer remain in the Methodist Church, Orange Scott  started a magazine called “The True Wesleyan.” He also called for the formation of the “Wesleyan Methodist Church,” titled thus because it was “Wesley’s view of Methodism.” There would be no slavery and no bishops. The movement, though organized in the north, began to appeal to anti-slavery Methodists in the south. A church of 40 antislavery Methodists in North Carolina ask the Wesleyan Methodist Church to send them a pastor because not pastor would lead them.

Adam Crooks, a not yet fully ordained 23 year-old minister in this new movement, left to pastor the North Carolina church stating he was glad he did not have a wife or family because he then did not need to worry about surviving. Within six months had built a church called “Freedom’s Hill” in Snow Camp, NC. Soon they planted eight more anti-slavery churches. In High Point Adam found noose with a likeness of him handing from a tree. He was poisoned and in the church he preached there were bullet holes in the door.

The Freedom’s Hill Church and the other churches in the network became stations on the underground railroad.  Many of these young pastors were harangued, attacked and even hanged. Still, the movement grew under the example of young people who, like Adam Crooks, asked “Can you give you life for the cause?”