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.”
April 18, 2021
Black Lives Matter and the Black Church: Twenty-First-Century Contemplative Activism
Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons (and daughters), become as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mothers’ sons (and daughters) we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.
In this famous quote, Ella Baker, civil rights activist and organizer, reminds us of the reasons that we continue the struggle for justice. It is for fairness, equal treatment under the law, and the cessation of violence against innocent black and brown bodies. Another generation is on the rise, and they are confronting police brutality and advocating for black lives through the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLMM), its contemplative activism and deeply spiritual resistance. BLMM’s call for contemplative confrontation is also the call to change lives.
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.
April 18, 2021
The self is silent; words are dead, and prayer is a forgotten language … we are losing the power for self-expression, because genuine self-expression is an answer to an ultimate question, but we do not hear the ultimate question any more. We have lost any understanding for man’s supreme concern, because such understanding is found not through self-introspection but though self-attachment to Him who is concerned with man. To be sensitive to the ultimate question one must have the ability to surpass the self, the ability to know that the self is more that the self; that our highest concern is not our own concern; that our supreme standard is not expediency.
Quest for God: Studies in Prayer and Symbolism