The Womanist Theology of Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon

An excerpt from a reflection on the life of Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon by Angela D. Sims. Re-posted from Religion and Politics, February 2019.


In every generation, a “remnant” of scholars emerges that challenges status quo perspectives. Their critiques of normative constructs serve as models for subsequent scholars who learn how to work not only to eat but also to work in a manner that enables others to eat. The Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon was indeed such a person. She loved life, loved people, loved laughter, loved food, loved imagining the not yet, loved calling things into existence. The progenitor of womanist theological ethics, Cannon was a brilliant scholar, a mentor extraordinaire who possessed an ability to discern what was most needed, and generous (almost to a fault) in the sharing of her time and resources…

…Born January 3, 1950, in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Cannon became the first black woman to be ordained in the United Presbyterian Church, a precursor to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). After earning her doctorate at Union Theological Seminary in New York City—the first African American woman to do so—Cannon laid the foundation for womanist ethics in her 1985 essay, “The Emergence of Black Feminist Consciousness.” Many black women in theological disciplines, including Cannon, have gravitated to the use of author Alice Walker’s term “womanist” as both a challenge to and a confessional statement for our own work. Womanist, as defined in Walker’s In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose, contains elements of tradition, community, self, and a critique of white feminist thought and provides a fertile ground for religious reflection and practical application.

Continue reading “The Womanist Theology of Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon”

Rosa Parks: Presente!

Today is the 65th anniversary of the arrest of Rosa Parks. When she was forty-two years old, she refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus after working all day as a seamstress at a department store. Many Black folk had done the same thing before. They were arrested, kicked off or killed. Her act of divine disobedience sparked a successful bus boycott that lasted 381 days. But her co-workers refused to speak to her and she got fired from her job. She received constant death threats. When she moved north to Detroit a year later, the threats and intimidation continued. In 1965, a conservative organization plastered huge billboards along the Selma march that depicted Dr. King and Rosa Parks as “Communists.”

Continue reading “Rosa Parks: Presente!”

Resistance 2020: Tether and Release

This begins a new series focused on hope and resistance leading up to the election.

by Kateri Boucher

Outdoor liturgy set at the Day House, the Detroit Catholic Worker.
Photo credit: Kateri Boucher

How are you organizing yourself and others for what faithful resistance might require in the aftermath of the election?

For me, the work of the last few months has not often looked or felt much like “organizing” in the typical sense. It has felt like preparation, though, of a slower and quieter kind. 

Perhaps ironically, as I have looked ahead to this fast-approaching future, I’ve found myself turning more inward // downward // back. I have felt the urgency of more contemplative preparation. Of the immense work that is required to simply, as Merton said, “open my eyes and see.” 

Continue reading “Resistance 2020: Tether and Release”

A Curriculum of Backyard Funerals

A collection of animal skulls for beauty and natural history study collected by Kristin Hugo in the hills of California. Credit: Kristin Hugo

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann. This piece first appeared in Geez 58: Breath and Bone.

“It’s okay to go slow,” he says. His four-year-old feet step gently in silence. “That way you can see more things.”

The air is still chilly but the snow has melted. Walking nudges us to take off our sweaters. Below the still-bare branches, wet dirt reveals stories of what has passed in the woods over winter.

Named for this very stretch of land in the thumb of Michigan, my son, Cedar, searches for stories . . . for friends . . . for bones.

Continue reading “A Curriculum of Backyard Funerals”

Pamela Rush. Presente.

pamela
PC: Catherine Flowers

Re-posted from the Montgomery Advertiser. Passed along by the Poor People’s Campaign.

On the afternoon of June 12, 2018, Pamela Rush found herself in Washington, D.C. She had traveled a long way from Tyler, a rural community of about 1,200 people in Lowndes County, to testify in front of a coalition of elected officials convened by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and late Baltimore Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Rush had come to share her story and that of 140 million more like her. As a part of the Poor People’s Campaign — a continuation of the organizing Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. began in 1967 to unite the nation’s poor — Rush had traveled about 700 miles to D.C. to demand Congress do something to eradicate the crushing poverty that so many American families had come to know well. Continue reading “Pamela Rush. Presente.”

Class During COVID: A Modest Proposal

CLASSROOMBy Kim Redigan 

I am a garden-variety high school teacher who has spent the better part of the summer trying to get back on my feet after wading through the weeds of a semester marked by the COVID crisis.

Most teachers would probably agree that stepping over the demarcation line between the classroom and COVID country last March was traumatic for everyone involved. Most of us found a way to do it – and we did it well – but throughout the semester my gut was screaming that this way of doing school was brutal, untenable, unhealthy.

Most teachers work harder than people know. Our classrooms are sacred centers of hospitality. Places of grace and, on most days, gratitude. Continue reading “Class During COVID: A Modest Proposal”

The Movement Must Begin Inside Each of Us

LewisA rare Sunday read. From Ric Hudgens. A reflection on the life of John Lewis. This is Quarantine Essay #58 from Hudgens, the Cal Ripken of RadicalDiscipleship.net.

When I want to understand the potential a human being might have or the difference that one person might make in this world, I don’t look to celebrities or billionaires. I look to John Lewis.

Someone who refuses to wear a face mask because it threatens their liberty doesn’t know the price of liberty. Their understanding of freedom is narrow and malignant. John Lewis understood. He paid the price, not once but time again, because freedom is not a one-time thing. Continue reading “The Movement Must Begin Inside Each of Us”

I Asked the Redwoods

I-Asked-the-Redwoods-by-Nichola-Torbett_800_600_90
The face of the Redwood. Alameda, California, January 2015. Pussreboots CC.

By Nichola Torbett. This article appeared in Geez magazine, Summer 2020, Geez 57: CO₂conspirators: Communing with Trees.

A couple weeks ago, walking in the redwoods with a dog, at the suggestion of adrienne maree brown, I decided to ask the trees about COVID-19.

Basically, what I heard from the trees is that even this virus has a message for us if we are willing to hear it. No, they were not saying that “God created a virus to punish us” – trust me, I checked, because I have not forgotten the 1980s. But they were clear that there was a message. Continue reading “I Asked the Redwoods”

On Racial Justice and Evolution

jyarlandBy Jyarland Daniels, executive director of Harriet Speaks

*Re-posted from social media (June 9, 2020)

One day I will write a book (as too many people continue to ask me to do). And a chapter of that book will be my evolution as it relates to race, racial justice and racial equity work.

That chapter will go something like this:

For much of my child and young adulthood, I was suffocated by racism, but didn’t recognize it as such. Later, I had my own personal awakening. The removing of the scales that clouded my vision started in college and in my early corporate life. In my protest, I walked away from a very lucrative career in business. I have receipts of what I have given up to do this work. Yet, I have no regrets. I only regret that I left bodies in my path. In my harshness and reactionary ways, I didn’t stop to consider that power is important to making change and somebody still needs to have a seat at the table; because, if you aren’t at the table then you are on the menu. I didn’t stop to consider that speaking up to in a way that allows you to heard is just as important as speaking up. Continue reading “On Racial Justice and Evolution”

No churchbells here

94240524_246901160023028_5591200460431163392_oa poem for Day House in these days of missing our Sunday evening living room mass
By Kateri Boucher

No churchbells here
this morning
but a doorbell,
yes,
and it sure is
ringing

No wafers,
but hands outstretched
and the five-buck
refrain:
“yeah we got it”
“oh god bless”

And don’t you
smell that Holy
smoke drifting
down the stairs?
Continue reading “No churchbells here”