“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:12-13 NRSV
“Do you have time to talk? I would like to discuss something that is really important to me.” The stomach drops. Instinctively, you expect a difficult conversation –the “difficult” conversation with a friend.
The United States needs such a conversation. We need an honest, heart-wrenching conversation about race in America, and yet, it is the very conversation that we Americans run away from the most. It seems there is no way to have a true dialogue, a true sharing of experiences between members of different races in this country.
Last week the African American Presidents and Deans of Theological Schools in the United States posted “An Open Letter to Presidents and Deans of Theological Schools in the United States” in the Huffington Post. In it they wrote,
We invite our colleagues—presidents, deans and leaders of all divinity and theological schools—to arise from the embers of silence and speak up and speak out as the prophet of old, ‘let justice run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream’ (Amos 5:24). We encourage you to endorse this statement by responding in your own particular context to our theological call to action with curricular programs, public forums, teach-ins, calls to your congressional leaders, writing op-ed pieces, and more.
In the well-known biblical passage quoted above, Amos reminded the people of Israel, and reminds us, that there is no status that places one above the demands of justice. Amos challenged Israel’s belief that divine election allowed them an assurance of divine favor over against their sinful, pagan neighbors who were going to feel God’s wrath on the “day of the Lord.”
I want to talk about Eric Garner.
I want to talk about Michael Brown.
The Rev. Glenice Robinson-Como currently serves Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, TX as the Canon Pastor. Ms. Robinson-Como received an MDiv from Southern Methodist University and a Diploma of Theological Studies from Seminary of the Southwest in 2010.
Fifty years ago, the civil rights act was enacted as a means of ending discrimination. Today we stand at its anniversary perhaps pondering the question how much has really changed? As I reflect upon those she-roes and heroes who lived and died for the sake of freedom, I tremble at the same time about events in Florida and throughout the world. These are reminders that we must continue to move forward until the bells of liberty clang loudly and until truth and mercy pours out into all people in all places.
Mrs. Ora Houston is a member of St. James Episcopal Church, Austin, serves on the Black History Month planning committee at Seminary of the Southwest, and is president of the Myra McDaniel Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians.
WOW! Can you really believe that 50 years ago the federal government had to enact laws to give equal rights to people who were born in the United States of America? These are the same rights that another group of Americans have had since the signing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Sadly, others were denied those basic rights because of their ancestry – until 50 years ago.
Lecia Brannon is a junior in the Master of Divinity program. Lecia and her husband came to Seminary of the Southwest from Diocese of Camino Real.
Southwest’s Master of Divinity Program requires a January Term course entitled Encuentro: Mission in Latino Contexts. Encuentro or encounter is a keyword to what this course is about, however there is so much more. Over the three weeks of this course our class was presented with people and experiences that will require us to absorb, process and discern. Where might we fit in?