I have arrived in the UK amid a tube strike in central London! It was a mess getting to the trains but ultimately successful. The British have a way of grousing about life’s circumstances with a restrained moderation that I find uncovers a central core of Englishness!
Tomorrow, Cleve and I will begin teaching. We found out that our course has been over subscribed, and we will have double (40) the students! We will start each day with a meditative exercise that is intended to move us towards social engagement. I am becoming more aware and convinced that the spiritual practices are deeply connected to the transformation within society. Often the practices are conceived of as “internal” practices that are primarily meant to deal with our interior life. While this is true, it’s not the whole truth! This is what Kenneth Leech, author of The Eye of the Storm: Spiritual Resources for the Pursuit of Justice, is getting at in his book that I recommend (see my blog post from Jan. 8). There is an indivisibility of spirituality and social engagement that must not be split off – in doing so we create a type of “suburbia religion” that keeps us insulated from the world.
Cleve will present the first lecture on the “Racial Formation is American History” riffing off Baldwin, DuBoise, Townes and others. I will lecture on “Deconstructing Whiteness and White Supremacy in Modernity." Our hope is to frame the various historical and conceptual elements of race in America and to unpack the notion of race as “this is just the way it is.” We want to suggest that race is a social construction that can be transformed by a vision of the gospel of Jesus. To do so involves what Paul terms as metanoia – a paradigm shift of massive proportions. Metanoia or “repentance” is not only a personal process but also involves a journey of deconstructing privilege, economics, race and the multiple divisions that emerge from what Jim Wallis of Sojourners terms “America’s Original Sin” of slavery. This is where I am heading with my lecture – I will tell you how it works out!
Thank you for your prayers and for the opportunity to represent St. Paul’s and our community in this way. It is a profound honor!