Sunday, July 08, 2007

Devotions with Du Bois, Day 1

This post announces a summer series, a new venture of sorts. I’ll craft devotionals from W.E.B. Du Bois, Prayers for Dark People, ed. Herbert Aptheker (University of Massachusetts Press, 1980). Perhaps you’ll purchase a copy and read along, offering your own take in the comments section. Think of it as an interactive call and response, with Du Bois in the pulpit. He still speaks today.

The series, what I’m calling “Devotions with Du Bois,” reflects a growing interest in W.E.B. Du Bois, and an explicit investigation into that which constituted his faith--or at least his relationship to Christianity. It also comes from a pedagogical conviction that interactive (literally), organic exchanges constitute learning. I don’t know everything, and conversation is sometimes a wonderful teacher. Third, it is also my conviction that some of the keenest spiritual insight often shows up in the unlikeliest of places. Scholars of religion call this “lived religion,” and theologians call it “practical theology.”

This series also comes as I’m reading through the first book length study of Du Bois’s spirituality, Ed Blum’s W.E.B. Du Bois: American Prophet, recently published with Penn State University Press. (For a summary of posts about Ed's book, read here.)

What do you think? To what extent can Du Bois speak as a spiritual authority, or even a “pastor” today? Can he be called a spiritual leader? Is he a prophet? Why or why not?

[Picture from the online archive at UMASS-Amherst.]

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