After some thought and prayer, I’ve decided to move forward with a partnership with Dr. Cornel West. I really like the dude and enjoy reading his stuff and ruminating on his perspective of power, religion, politics, church, class, etc. His book, Race Matters, is a must read but be warned that it’ll make you uncomfortable.
What’s the partnership?
Okay…I’m exaggerating a bit. But I’ve joined Dr. West and a list of numerous others including John Perkins, Anne Lamott, and Walter Brueggemann as a contributing editor of Sojourners Magazine. There’s no salary, private jet perks, or other VIP benefits but just being listed alongside West, Perkins, Lamott, Brueggemann and others pretty much sold me.
And to be honest, Cornel or others don’t even know that we’re in this “partnership” since they have no idea who I am but hey, it just sounds great to say that I’m in partnership with Doc West. Maybe, Jesus will love me more because of my resume. Maybe a perk might be to actually meet these folks. Actually, there’s really not that much to the responsibility but to write couple articles for the magazine and that’s something I enjoy doing anyway.
Here’s one of the more compelling quotes from Cornel West.
Read it. What do you think? Reflections?
“I speak as a Christian- one whose commitment to democracy is very deep but whose Christian convictions are deeper. Democracy is not my faith. And American democracy is not my idol. To see the gospel of Jesus Christ bastardized by imperial Christians and pulverized by Constantinian believers and then exploited by nihilistic elites of the American empire makes my blood boil. To be a Christian- a follower of Jesus Christ- is to love wisdom, love justice, and love freedom. This is the radical love in Christian freedom and the radical freedom in Christian love that embraces socratic questioning, prophetic witness, and tragicomic hope.
If Christians do not exemplify this love and freedom, then we side with the nihilists of the Roman empire (cowardly elite romans and subjugated jews) who put Jesus to a humiliating death. Instead of receiving his love in freedom as a life-enhancing gift of grace, we end up believing in the idols of the empire that nailed him to the cross. I do not want to be numbered among those who sold their souls for a mess of pottage- who surrendered their democratic Christian identity for a comfortable place at the table of the American empire while, like Lazarus, the least of these cried out and I was too intoxicated with worldly power and might to hear, beckon, and heed their cries.
To be a Christian is to live dangerously, honestly, freely- to step in the name of love as if you may land on nothing, yet to keep on stepping because the something that sustains you no empire can give you and no empire can take away. This is the kind of vision and courage required to enable the renewal of prophetic, democratic Christian identity in the age of the American empire.” -Cornel West
And for those that aren’t familiar with Cornel West, do yourself a favor and get familiar with him. Whether you agree with him or not, his voice is important to both the church and larger culture. Here’s his bio:
One of America’s most provocative public intellectuals, Cornel West has been a champion for racial justice since childhood. His writing, speaking, and teaching weave together the traditions of the black Baptist Church, progressive politics, and jazz. The New York Times has praised his “ferocious moral vision.”
Currently the Class of 1943 Professor at Princeton University, West burst onto the national scene in 1993 with his bestselling book, Race Matters, a searing analysis of racism in American democracy. Race Matters has become a contemporary classic, selling more than a half a million copies to date. In addition, West has published 18 other books and has edited 13 texts and has received more than 20 honorary degrees.
West earned two bachelor’s degrees from Harvard in three years, magna cum laude. Martin Kilson, one of his professors there, describes West as “the most intellectually aggressive and highly cerebral student I have taught.” After earning his Ph.D. at Princeton, he became a professor of religion and director of the Afro-American Studies program there. West has also taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris.
In his book, “Democracy Matters,” West analyzes the arrested development of democracy both in America and in the crisis-ridden Middle East. In his latest book, Hope on a Tightrope, he offers courageous commentary on issues that affect the lives of all Americans. Themes include Race, Leadership, Faith, Family, Philosophy, and Love and Service.
He also has produced 3 albums his latest CD, Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations is a collection of socially conscience music featuring collaborations with Prince, Outkast, Jill Scott, Talib Kweli and KRS-ONE. West also offers commentary weekly on The Tavis Smiley Show from PRI.
West was an influential force in developing the storyline for the popular Matrix movie trilogy and has served as its official spokesperson, as well as playing a recurring role in the final two films.