Barbara A. Holmes is a spiritual teacher, activist and scholar who stresses African American spirituality, mysticism, cosmology and culture. She has served as President Emerita of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and served as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Memphis Theological Seminary. Prior to accepting the call to the ministry, she worked as an early childhood educator, a professional actor, and a corporate lawyer in Georgia, Florida and Texas. A gifted and profound speaker and lecturer, she says, “My life is committed to the struggle for justice, the healing of the human spirit, and the art of relevant radical creativity.”
February 28, 2021
At the Crossroads
While black churches and communities struggle for inclusion and celebrate the journey toward a particular configuration of liberation, young people have revised their lives and language structures to reflect clear differences in their personal and ecclesial orientation. I think that I understand at least some of these language revisions. I can hear the existentialist angst seeded throughout Tupac’s rhetoric; I can feel hip-hop beats and relate to their syncopated Africana discourses of alienation and resistance. For me the links are apparent. I cannot hear Aretha Franklin without remembering Mahalia Jackson, cannot watch Savion Glover tap without a cultural recall of step dancers and ring shouters. But there is more: seeded within this reflexive engagement with history is a communal response to faith that has unique expressions in the church but also in the world that God so loves.
Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), a descendant of two important Hasidic dynasties, was born in Warsaw, educated in Poland, taught in Germany, London and United States, and was considered by many to be a prophet’s prophet. He aimed, through his writing and teaching, to challenge modern people to be open to a renewed spiritual dimension and to engage the issues of the day with faith and moral fortitude. His timely writings liberated many and inspired a generation of faith and social leaders whose impact is felt today in the 21st century. His active role in the historic civil rights movement and peace movement of the 20th century created a unique and vital coalition for transformative social change agents.
February 28, 2021
The Mark of Cain
The conscience of the world was destroyed by those who were wont to blame others rather than themselves. Let us remember. We revered the instincts but distrusted the prophets. We labored to perfect engines and let our inner life go to wreck. We ridiculed superstition until we lost our ability to believe. We have helped to extinguish the light our fathers had kindled. We have bartered holiness for convenience, loyalty for success, love for power, wisdom for information, tradition for fashion.
I Asked for Wonder: A Spiritual Anthology
Abraham Joshua Heschel,
Edited by Samuel H. Dresner