He Once Told Me

James ConeBy Marc Mullinax

James H. Cone, my professor at Union Seminary (NYC), died Saturday. He once told me something I think about every day. In September of 1987 he said: “Marc, you are too white and privileged ever to be a follower of Jesus. You’ll never ‘get‘ Jesus. You’ll use your privilege always to live apart from and out-of-earshot from the voices of the poor and underside of history. You’ll never be a Christian.” Of course, I immediately got reactive, and so missed his spot-on point.

He’s right, of course. And this one conversation and my internal dialogues ever since (”Is Cone right? Is Cone wrong?”) have done more for me than anything, in helping me to live into the kind of Christianity that might actually be worth something: less white, less privileged, less other-worldly.

Rest in peace, my life-long quarrel partner.

Marc Mullinax is Professor of Religion and Chair of the Faculty at Mars Hill University in western North Carolina. He is a member ofwww.circleofmercy.org. He is now at work on a project now called “The Tao of Justice: A New Interpretation of the Dao de Ching.”

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