News & Thoughts on Yoga in DC

Gospel of the Penniless

In Poets & Preachers I Like, Social Change on January 16, 2012 at 7:27 AM

James Cone, pbs.org

Being Christian is like being black,” theologian James Cone says. “It’s a paradox. You grow up. You wonder why they treat you like that.

And yet at the same time my mother and daddy told me ‘don’t hate like they hate. If you do, you will self-destruct. Hate only kills the hater, not the hated.’

It was their faith that gave them the resources to transcend the brutality and see the real beauty. It’s a mystery. It’s a mystery how African-Americans, after two and half centuries of slavery, another century of lynching and Jim Crow segregation, still come out loving white people.

So writes James Cone, perhaps the most important contemporary theologian in America, says Chris Hedges reviewing his new book The Cross and the Lynching Tree  in truth dig.

“I like people who talk about the real, concrete world,” Cone says. “And unless I can feel it in my gut, in my being, I can’t say it.

The poor help me to say it. The literary people help me to say it—[James] Baldwin is my favorite. Martin King is the next. Malcolm is the third element of my trinity. The poets give me energy. Theologians talk about things removed, way out there. They talk to each other. They give each other degrees. The real world is not there.

So that is why I turn to the poets. They talk to the people.”

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