Frank Talk with Ruby Sales

ruby-salesSome highlights from Krista Tippett’s recent interview with Ruby Sales: 

I think that one of the things that theologies must have is hindsight, insight, and foresight. That is complete sight.


I really think that one of the things that we’ve got to deal with is that how is it that we develop a theology or theologies in a 21st-century capitalist technocracy where only a few lives matter? How do we raise people up from disposability to essentiality?


…there’s a spiritual crisis in white America. It’s a crisis of meaning… we talk a lot about black theologies, but I want a liberating white theology. I want a theology that speaks to Appalachia. I want a theology that begins to deepen people’s understanding about their capacity to live fully human lives and to touch the goodness inside of them rather than call upon the part of themselves that’s not relational. Because there’s nothing wrong with being European American. That’s not the problem. It’s how you actualize that history and how you actualize that reality.


…love is not antithetical to being outraged… I became involved in the Southern Freedom Movement, not merely because I was angry about injustice, but because I love the idea of justice. So it’s where you begin your conversation. So most people begin their conversation with “I hate this” — but they never talk about what it is they love. And so I think that we have to begin to have a conversation that incorporates a vision of love with a vision of outrage.


…it’s very obvious when I say black folk religion, I’m talking about a religion that came out of ordinary folk. And I’m also talking about a religion that began during enslavement in the fields of America. It was a religion that offered an alternative view of God from the view of God that empire gave us. It was that kind of beloved community vision.

It was a vision of justice, and it was also a vision that predicated itself on a very strong sense of agape, that even was able, as Martin Luther King would say, was able to find the humanity in people who were slave owners. And it was also a theology of resistance, a theology of reaffirmation. I might be a slave, but I’m somebody. It was a theology of hope.

And I would go on further to say that black folk religion, the kind of resistance movements that came out of black folk religion, have saved America from tilting over into the abyss of fascism. It has been the salvation of a country. It has been the balance to talk about that kind of justice, and god talk, and reaffirmation, and love, and right relations. To talk about that in the heat of empire, to talk about God as a liberating God, has really been an important stopgap to save America from itself.

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