Racism

Bob Hulteen 9-01-1996

For generations which begat generations, the Bible has been translated into the languages of the people. Soon to follow were commentaries to aid in interpretation. Since the "language" of our day—the medium of communication—is visual, the popularity of biblical resources on video cassettes is not surprising.

What may surprise us is the quality. Excellent at setting the context and naming the basic principles of scripture, the following two video series should be viewed by clergy and lay alike.

Bill Moyers and Public Affairs Television are offering a gem, a pearl of great price if you will, this fall. Genesis: A Living Conversation is a tremendous social contribution to biblical studies, both in substance and in style.

Each one-hour segment of the 10-part series opens with a relevant introduction by Moyers and a retelling of the Genesis story discussed in the section—Cain killing Abel, Sarah mistreating Hagar, Jacob stealing from Esau, Adam blaming Eve—by expert storytellers (and actors) Mandy Patinkin and Alfre Woodard. The discussions—with Sojourners' contributing editors Roberta Hestenes, Eugene Rivers, and Walter Brueggemann featured prominently—are driven by their diversity. Difference of opinion, and even civil conflict, are viewed as a positive, and so open the possibility for creativity to emerge. In several instances the participation of people of different faith traditions brings new clarity for all involved. For instance, the Muslim view of Potiphar's wife in the Joseph narrative allows the discussion to take a step further for all those of Christian or Jewish background.

Joe Agne 7-01-1996
Churches stand against arson attacks.
Kentucky Abolitionists in the antebellum South.
Mark Pettigrew 5-01-1996

I AGREE WITH Andrea Ayvazian and Beverly Daniel Tatum when they call for meetings in which participants of all races are encouraged to express their ideas and feelings about racial issues in a safe atmosphere.

Dinesh D'Souza and the end of rationality

It's time for a new conversation on race in America.

Jim Wallis 1-01-1996

After the 1992 riots following the first Rodney King verdict, I joined a delegation of international church leaders to Los Angeles.

Julienne Gage 1-01-1996

Tiesha became nervous as Ann and I took her trick or treating through Columbia Heights. "I hope they don't shoot you two!" she said.

Jim Wallis 12-01-1994

When I first heard about The Bell Curve, the new book by Charles Murray and the late Richard Herrnstein, I remembered an incident last year at Sojourners Neighborhood Center.

What is happening in South Africa is not just a conflict between church on the one hand and state on the other. There is a conflict within the church between those reactionary forces that continue to seek to domesticate the church and those forces within the church, represented by people such as Desmond and Allan and Frank, who are affirming the radical gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a struggle for the soul of the church.

It is very important to ask, if Desmond and Allan and Frank do not represent the entire church, as P.W. Botha charges, why is it that they are perceived as such a significant danger to the status quo and to the state? I believe P.W. Botha is absolutely right when he says they are a danger to the state--for three reasons.

First, they are articulating a message that is instinctively understood and responded to by the majority of the oppressed people, who make up the majority of the church. They recognize that message to be, in fact, the message of the residual gospel of liberation which has been suppressed for so long within the life of the church. It's the gospel they read about in the New Testament, even if it's not proclaimed within their pulpits.

Second, what we are experiencing within the life of the church today is an organization, a mobilization, of the church of the poor and the oppressed in a way that we've never seen before. For the first time in South Africa, there is an overt and explicit attempt, by recognized church leaders to mobilize the oppressed within the churches to be on the side of the broad liberation struggle.

Desmond Tutu, the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town and winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize when this article appeared, was interviewed at his home in Bishopscourt outside Cape Town.

Jim Wallis: We would very much like to hear your perspective on what people speak of as the new era for the church in South Africa, the new level in the struggle against apartheid as the church moves to the front lines.

Desmond Tutu:
In many ways the church—perhaps less spectacularly in the past—has been involved in this struggle for some time. Church people have been responsible for bringing the Namibian issue [South Africa's illegal occupation of neighboring Namibia] before the United Nations. And they have brought the plight of squatters very much to the fore.

For instance, the church was involved over the issue of forced population removals, particularly in Mogopa, one of the villages that the government "moved." The South African Council of Churches, with a number of church leaders, was there. We went and stood with the people to try to support them at a time when they were under threat.

Perhaps the government had not yet learned how to be thoroughly repressive so that the church did not need, in many ways, to be quite so spectacular. There were other avenues available for people, avenues that were more explicitly political.

What is different, perhaps, now is that the government has progressively eliminated most of the other organizations which legitimately could have been around to articulate the people's concern. And their repression has intensified. They have chosen the military option.

Jim Wallis 11-01-1987

The Legacy of White Racism

Joyce Hollyday 8-01-1987

"Does anyone live in the neighborhood in which the alleged crime was committed?" the judge wanted to know.