Sunday, September 30, 2007

New+Addition: A September to Remember

It seems hard to believe that I had a similar post about two years ago. Well, here's another.

Nathaniel Luke arrived last Thursday. Everyone is thrilled, and doing well, and my wife is an amazing woman. Nathaniel joins big brothers Matthew and Alex, and big sister Madeline.
Nathaniel is far too young to have his own blog, but a fine youngster named Will is already at it. Good work DEG!

Friday, September 21, 2007

"He watching over [us] slumbers not nor sleeps": Du Bois, Jena, and Friday Prayers

Many continue to stand in solidarity with those in Jena. I find encouragement from the spiritual musings of W.E.B. Du Bois, and so I offer these prayers (The page numbers below refer to this book].

Although they were written nearly a century ago, the words, ideas, and petitions that comprise these prayers—like so much of Du Bois’s work—remain as relevant and as salient as ever. This is further attestation to Du Bois’s role as an American prophet. As the liturgy says, “Lord, hear our prayers……”

1. A prayer for the Jena DA and other decision makers involved in the case:

Give us grace, O God, to dare to do the deed which we well know cries to be done. Let us not hesitate because of ease, or the words of men’s mouths, or our own lives. Mighty causes are calling us—the freeing of women, the training of children, the putting down of hate and murder and poverty—all these and more. But they call with voices that mean work and sacrifice and death. Mercifully grant to us, O God, the spirit of Esther, that we say, I will go unto the King and if I perish, I perish—Amen. Esther 4:9-16 (p. 21)

2. Prayers for the Jena 6, their friends and families, and other persons who stand in solidarity with those who suffer injustice:

O Lord, teach us who love Liberty and long for it, to realize its cost and purpose. There can be no freedom in a just and good world, if freedom means to do as we please, when we please, and where all about us in this life, as in this school, lie bars and bonds and limits. The free are those who know the rules which God himself has set and go their way within these metes and bounds full freely. Truth is the knowledge of these strait and narrow ways. It is the Truth that makes us free and this it is we linger here to lean, O Lord. Amen. John 8: 31-36 (p. 52)

Once they tell us, Jehovah, that in the great shadows of the past Thou has whispered to a quivering people, saying, “Be not afraid.” He watching over Israel slumbers not nor sleeps. Grant us today, O God, that fearlessness that rests on confidence in the ultimate rightness of things. Let us be afraid neither of mere physical hurt, nor of the unfashionableness of our color, nor of the unpopularity of our cause; let us turn toward the battle of life undismayed and above all when we have fought the good fight grant us to face the shadow of death with the same courage that has let us live. Amen. Psalm 121 (p. 57)

It is my hope that these prayers offer solace, meaning, and encouragement for those who happen to read or recite them—as it is my prayer that these petitions will help achieve justice.

Lord, hear our prayers.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Weekend Reading for the Soul

Some reading from around the web....The Amish who suffered great loss last year are now offering support for the widow of the man who killed members of their community. (See my previous post on the event here.) And Daniel Bell argues here that Jesus and justice are inseparable. (HT: SM)

I'm amazed, encouraged, and inspired by the Amish, and Bell makes a cogent case for the necessity of action, engagement, and solidarity. Any thoughts?

NEW: Sign a Jena 6 Civil Rights petiton here. For more on the story read this article, and visit the Free the Jena6 website here.

In other news, Mara shares a few thoughts from her forthcoming book. Check it out here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Baldblogger Interviews Edward J. Blum, Part 7

This post, unfortunately, brings us to the end of Baldblogger's interview with Ed Blum. The book was a fascinating read for me personally, and I learned a ton about Du Bois. This interview, I must say, has been in so many ways equally enlightening.

A special thanks to Ed for sharing his thoughts and his time--please keep the conversation going. I think the comments about music and writing are really intriguing; what tunes inspire you?

Baldblogger (BB): What projects are currently in the works for you, and when might these works be available for interested readers?

Ed Blum (EB): Future projects are always hard to determine because I’m never quite sure where my passion will go. Right now, I’m writing a book with the fantastic southern historian Paul Harvey on Jesus Christ and race in American society and culture. It examines how ideas about Jesus and what he looked like played a role in everything from slavery and Native American removals to white flight, suburbanization, and anti-Communism. It also looks closely at how African Americans, Native Americans, and others have related to Christ in American history. We’re building off of Stephen Prothero’s, Richard Wrightman Fox’s, and Kelly Brown Douglas’s tremendous studies of Jesus in American culture. Ultimately, we want to show scholars, ministers, laypeople, and others that race and religion cannot be understood separately in American history. This won’t be available for a while because it is a pretty mammoth topic.

BB: Any closing comments, or other topics of discussion?

EB: One thing I wish more authors would talk about is what music they listen to (if they listen to any) when they write. Many books and chapters have soundtracks – and they inspire the shape of the work, I think. For my Du Bois book, for instance, I was inspired by “Redemption” a song by the band Jars of Clay for my fourth chapter on lynchings and black Christs. Oftentimes I listen to movie soundtracks to write as well – like A Beautiful Mind. I find this fascinating because I think writing prose is very similar to writing music – that one should try to write musically, to hear the rhythm of the syllables, to groove to the spirit of narrative. I guess I hope that people can hear a little bit of music in my writing.

Thanks so much for your questions. This has been a blast.