Saturday, September 22, 2007

Response to Dr. Shayne Lee's Blog Post

This entry was originally posted as a comment on Dr. Jonathan Walton's blog. Dr. Walton is professor of Religious Studies and African American culture at the University of California-Riverside. On September 7, 2007 Dr. Shayne Lee, sociologist and professor at Tulane University did a guest post discussing the response of Bishop T.D. Jakes to the domestic abuse situation of Juanita Bynum Bishop Weeks entitled, "Cowardice is Unholy: Church must fight against domestic abuse and confront abusers." Dr. Lee is also author of T.D. Jakes: America's New Preacher (NYU Press, 2005).

NOTE: The comment below was originally written September 10, 2007

I think that this situation in the broad spectrum exposes the black church and likely the church as an institution in general as once again being morally impotent at a time when the laity is crying and screaming for justice, compassion, and real solutions, not the sanitized appeal that Jakes seems to offer, as Dr. Lee points out.

Too often I find that ministers from the storefront to the mega church are not speaking truth to power. Shackled by greed on one side and fear on the other, such men and women of God are preventing the prophetic word of the gospel from being heard.

The perceived inability of the church to be a true voice of reason is why mystic Howard Thurman penned Jesus and the Disinherited in 1949. It was a response to those who felt that Christianity seemed inept to address the racialized crisis that became the civil rights movement. "To those who need profound succor and strength to enable them to live in the present with dignity and creativity," Howard asserts "Christianity often has been sterile and of little avail" (11). Jakes continued moral cowardice (I have yet to hear him speak about the war in Iraq, Jena 6, among other issues) does nothing to aide those who "stand at a moment in human history, with their backs against the wall"(11).

My prayer is that those who will not be bound by greed and fear begin to speak, and hopefully in the process give persons such as Jakes the courage to be the Timothy's of a contemporary age where so many have cast deaf ears to the epistles of Paul to be money changers who work not for nation or kingdom building, but seek to turn the proverbial temple (the church as an institution) into a den of lairs and thieves.

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