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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Naming His Grace: Facing Racism and Heresy in the African American Community -part 2

Naming His Grace: Facing Racism and Heresy in the African American Community -part 2

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

“A Slave Family in the Old South”: Historical Reconstruction, Revisionism,or Something New?

Bernell Wesley History 3210 July 9, 2012 This is a recent 19th. Century US History "Reader Response Paper" Assignment. History Professors always assign papers that are inline with their particular specialties. It just so happens Tennessee Tea Party is pushing rewriting History. If Republicans win this is likely to happen. Introduction The primary argument, I believe, is that Sally Thomas could buy “freedom” for her three bi-racial sons, yet remain enslaved in pre-civil war Tennessee could not possibly be invented. However, this argument leads to a series of questions whereby such an invention might be contemplated. For example, the editors tell us the authors “have uncovered a remarkable story”. But, later in the book (Franklin, Schweninger, Sources, 262) we are told that John Hope Franklin became curator of the Thomas Documents in 1948. So, we are led to believe that these important documents remained in archives for more than five decades. The obvious question of course is why would such “a remarkable story” remain “uncovered” for 50 years? Another important argument is what might be called evidenced-assertion i.e. that although the Thomas-Rapier family was the “exception” they were not alone, because “Nashville offered good opportunities for a few privileged blacks” (Franklin, Schweninger, 14), and that there are other narratives just as exciting waiting to be written. If there are other similar unwritten slave narratives could exception be the best word to describe the Thomas-Rapier experiences or should rare be a better descriptor? The authors listed several examples such as Robert (Black Bob) Rentfro who owned a food and liquor business, Sophy, a free “mulatto woman and Temperance Crutcher, a born slave who later was able to “petition” and win her freedom in 1837 (Franklin, Schweninger, 14). Assertions maybe appropriate for fiction but employed in Wesley 2 historical narrative they lead to more questions, questions that are more distraction than (signposts) leads to uncovering historical relevance, i.e. – who were Black Bob’s suppliers? Did he make his own liquor or was it made locally by someone else? Who would want to supply a man of color? Again, why introduce In Search of The Promised Land more than fifty years after the documents were remitted to John Hope Franklin especially since the editor James West Davidson had been an advocate of “new narratives” (Barry Mehler, see Conclusion) since the early 80’s? The pervasive theme of In Search of the Promised Land was the introduction of a new technique of retelling slave narratives by reconstructuring primary documents using what I call secondary - primary documents (examples are court records, affidavits and other primary documents not written by the subjects) as narrative fillers, a mixture of biographical sketch written like historical fiction, first person bravado, and “detective work”. For example, embellishments such as telling the reader how a character “thinks “or allowing the character to speak with more believable authority than was common for the time, “During the winter I have spent several weeks in this the city of fires with A young gentleman who has more money than he wants and is anxious for me to help him use it” (Franklin, Schweninger, 166). This type of narrative could be considered Revisionist but in a different way, it allows the subject to re-interpret history instead of the historian; as a technique it shifts the burden of proof from the historian to the subject and allows the subject to redefine him or herself based on their individual experiences. This “new narrative” makes it possible to conceive of different levels of enslavement and freedom. Wesley 3 Sources Many of the primary sources were either missing or lost. Consistency in presentation such as numbering pages was also a problem as was identifying the author of the “partial autobiography” (Franklin, Schweninger, 262). Although it is recorded that the Thomas-Rapier Papers were given to John Hope Franklin in 1948, to be remanded to “a negro University” Howard University Moorland-Spingarn Research Center does not list them as a gift until 1957. Where were the documents for 9 years? Overall, the authors made use of a wide variety of “additional primary sources” in developing “interpretative breath”; probate court petitions, census records, state, local, and federal documents, almost any legal documents of the period, it seems, were rich sources of information. Analysis The most striking comparisons between In Search of the Promised Land and the Online Primary Reader Documents are found in Primary Source Document #3 in Agriculture and Slavery in the South at Midcentury. Virginian, George Fitzhugh, wrote in 1854, that slavery was a “positive good” and a source of Southern pride. James Thomas reflecting on his “travels in the North and West” also extolled the many Southern advantages he enjoyed and the utter “humiliation” he experienced during his travels with Andrew Jackson Polk; not being able to visit museums, theatres or other cultural venues or the fact that he was openly “ridiculed” in public; experiences that were foreign to him as a Southern free slave. James Thomas concluded Wesley 4 that he would rather live as a sort of free man in Tennessee than to escape to New York (Franklin, Schweninger, 78, 79). Conclusion There is too much incongruence within the narrative. Readers are introduced to “virtual freedom” and “quasi” slaves. Readers are given examples of virtual freedom through the lives of Black Bob, the liquor seller and Sophy, a wheeling and dealing “mulatto woman” but virtual slave is never defined. However, quasi slave is defined as a sort of privileged slave “who had not obtained a formal deed” of freedom. Hence, the ambiguity of freedom for enslaved people, with or without documents of freedom. The fact that James Thomas a “respected” free slave could be “summoned” by a white man and not refuse him his service is also strangely inconsistent within the narrative as well as traditional historical slave narratives. The mere fact that Andrew Jackson Polk could buy James Thomas’ property legally by force and “shut it up” is a stark reinforcement of the infamous Dred Scott Decision that Black people have no rights that white people are bound to respect. Can a narrative be invented or reinvented from primary sources? It is certainly possible. In order to better understand how In Search of The Promised Land relates to traditional narrative about slavery and why a “new American History narrative” was necessary I decided to explore the concept of “new narratives in American History” series by examining at least one of the editors of the series and each of the authors of In Search of the Promised Land. I chose two reviews of monographs in order to establish evidence. The first was written by Barry Mehler of Ferris State University Institute For The Wesley 5 Study of Academic Racism on ‘They Say” Ida B. Wells and the Reconstruction of Race, a 2007 work by James West Davidson, one of the editors of In Search of the Promised Land and the second monograph was the 2000 Lincoln Prize Acceptance Speech by John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger. As stated in my introduction Davidson began advocating “narrative history” in the early 80’s. Davidson’s technique in “They Say” was to write about Ida B. Wells without writing a biography. Davidson accomplished this by using an “epigraph” of James Baldwin, which simply states: “If I am not what you say I am, then you are not who you think you are”, in order to examine how Blacks redefined themselves after the Civil War and in so doing redefined white people as well. Empowered, Blacks declared that how whites had once defined them was no longer acceptable, therefore who whites said they were was equally unacceptable. Paradoxically, this “crisis” of American identity required a fresh narrative, a fresh collaboration. Franklin and Schweninger was the perfect couple to extend Davidson’s “new narratives”. Franklin and Schweninger had worked closely together since the 60’s. Franklin had even supervised Schweninger’s dissertation James T. Rapier and Reconstruction but neither had ever written a complete “full length historical study”. Concentrating on “runaway slaves” Franklin and Schweninger discovered something very interesting; most slaves escaped to nearby plantations, or remained in the same “area as their owners”. However, although most slaves never really “escaped” their punishment upon recapture was often brutal and “sadistic” (‘They Say’). Viewing some of the gruesome documents made Davidson “uncomfortable”, but instead of confronting his uncomfort, he, like most whites suppressed it. New Narratives in American History has opened the door to the exploration of the “psychology of white Americans (Mehler) especially in dealing with racial issues. Can New Narratives in American History be exploited negatively? Of course, but I believe the positive aspects of this approach just might Wesley 6 be the catalyst for the paradigm shift that can usher in the racial healing America so badly needs. To paraphrase a Biblical aphorism that encapsulates New Narratives in American History: new wine should never be put in old wineskins – Matthew 9:17.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Dishonest Steward: Luke 16:1-15

Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free
John 8:32

This parable is said to be one of the hardest to teach or explain. On the surface it is about a dishonest steward who is found out. He then manipulates the accounts in his favor in order to appease his master. The Bible says we are slaves to whatever controls us. This dishonest steward was enslaved to his passions to amass wealth for himself by using his office of steward to conceal his "iniquity". The only skills the steward had was being a steward but because he did not respect his master he was eventually brought to account for his failure as a steward. The Bible says this steward "couldn't dig and was ashamed to beg". He couldn't do manual labor and he was full of pride, so asking, begging for help was out of the question.

This parable is about trust and accountability. It's about judgement.  The master trusts that the steward will have his best interests at heart. Until it is brought to his attention (by some or they)  the master has no reason to doubt his steward. Some or they, depending on which translation is being referred to, means the same. Co-stewards. These fellow stewards went to the master. The Bible tells us to worry about nothing and pray about everything. Philippians 4:6. So, we don't confront pastors or preachers outright when we observe something that does not line up to The Word  but instead we make our requests known to God on our knees.  Did you know that in some cultures preacher and pastor are different offices with different functions. For example in the Chinese church a preacher must prove that he is capable of leading the church before he is considered a pastor and a preacher is restricted in that he cannot administer sacrament, holy communion or baptism. You have to prove that you are trustworthy. The European (Greek, Roman) church confused the offices in that they understand all offices to be the same with different functions. A bishop and elder are not equal but their function is considered the same.  In the natural the parts of the body are different with different functions. Hands and feet are different and serve a different purpose.  Promotion in the modern church too often is based on how well you meet the criteria set by the title holders in the church. 1 Timothy 4:14 is an overview of the standards of biblical promotion.  Modern stewards (pastors) many times  are groomed to inherit churches, congregations and lands as an inheritance package. In Acts 16  Paul meets Timothy for the first time, begins to groom him, sets himself up as Timothy's "spiritual father" against the admonition of Jesus Christ himself who said in Matthew 23:9 - And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. He then ordains and makes Timothy Bishop of Ephesus. Were the other Apostles consulted? When Judas was replaced the apostles acted only under the unction of the Holy Spirit after conferring among themselves. The practice of church appointments is Pauline in its origin and can be traced back to the church of Acts and its first bishop Timothy.

The modern church has taught inheritance totally out of Biblical context. A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children, but a sinner's wealth is stored up for the righteous. Proverbs 13:22.  1 Peter 1:4 says our inheritance is kept in heaven. Inheritance and wealth are two different things according to Proverbs 13:22. Biblical inheritance is heavenly, spiritual and eternal.  Wealth is earthly and temporal. We (believers) are admonished to use the wealth that sinners trust in. We don't chase wealth like the unGodly. If we are living in the perfect Will of God, God will cause wealth to find us.

Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered a rich man claiming to want salvation. Jesus replied;  "No one is good-except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'" Mark 10:17-22.  "Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."

Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

One commentator has observed this: being an elite, the dishonest steward had never really wanted for anything, therefore he was at a disadvantage for committing  to true service as an honest steward. Why? It's easy to keep the commandments if you have never been tempted materially  to break them. That's why Jesus presented him with a challenge that he had never encountered before. Give up the stuff that makes you comfortable and happy.  And, if you pastors and preachers, really want to learn to be the kind of stewards that the master approves of  you have to give up amassing earthly wealth as an inheritance. The Kingdom of God is not a Mom-and-Pop shop or family business.  You expect your congregation to give  out of their poverty while you live like a pastor. You can't continue to live above your congregation . As the sheperds you have to find a way either to live in the pasture with your sheep or bring them up to where you are. God has promised He will change the sheperds for some that are willing to lead His sheep according to His Word. Jeremiah 23. As always seek ya first The Kingdom Of God and don't worry about the rest...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Modern Stoicism,Epicureanism and The Religion Of Oprah

What has been will be again,

what has been done will be done again;

there is nothing new under the sun

Ecclesiastes 1:9



See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

Colossians 2:8



Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of Epicurus (c. 341–c. 270 BC), founded around 307 BC. Epicurus was an atomic materialist, following in the steps of Democritus. His materialism led him to a general attack on superstition and divine intervention. Following Aristippus—about whom very little is known—Epicurus believed that the greatest good was to seek modest pleasures in order to attain a state of tranquility and freedom from fear (ataraxia) as well as absence of bodily pain (aponia) through knowledge of the workings of the world and the limits of our desires. The combination of these two states is supposed to constitute happiness in its highest form. Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism, insofar as it declares pleasure as the sole intrinsic good, its conception of absence of pain as the greatest pleasure and its advocacy of a simple life make it different from "hedonism" as it is commonly understood.

http://wikipedia.org/

Basic "hedonism" (lust) does not lead to "happiness in its highest form". Lust leads to physical, emotional and spiritual degeneration. Hedonism is the opposite of suffering, something a cross-bearing Christian is supposed to welcome. The philosophy of hedonism is the belief that "pleasure" is the most important thing in life. Hence, the belief that everything is acceptable bewteen consenting adults. In a http://youtube/ presentation Oprah not only proudly denounces Jesus Christ but claims she is a "christian". A Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ not someone who denies Him. She is a follower of Eckhart Tolle, a high school drop out New Age author and modern wizard. He has taken every modern "religion", dropped them in his philosophical pot and convinced far too many that he is enlightened. The Bible teaches us that the "spirit of antichrist" is among us. The Bible also teaches us to - Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15 . Too many Christians misunderstand the scriptures and therefore rely on the safety of The Word to protect them from the "wiles of the devil". How does one rightly divide the word of truth. By practicing a relationship with Jesus Christ Amen through The Holy Spirit.

With all the influence Oprah has she lacks the ability to study for herself. It seems that she instead finds people with whom she agrees and then promotes them. If Oprah knew anything about philosophy she would have known that Eckhart Tolle was bringing nothing new to the table but instead was presenting old philosophies (Stoicism and Epicureanism) to a modern philosophy challenged audience. It's unfortunate that The Bible, the greatest book ever written , is not taken more seriously by modern so-called educated people. When The Bible states that there is nothing new under the sun or to stay away from "deceptive philosophy" it is clear that God in His infinite Wisdom is in complete control of His Creation and all the Eckhart Tolles or Oprahs have no clue...