American slaves were Christians. American slave masters were Christians. How can that be? Are our American slaves like the Hebrews Pharaoh held in captivity in Egypt? Are the slave masters like Pharaoh? Do the 250 years of slavery in America echo Israel suffering under the brutal and bloody boot of the occupying Imperial Roman army? Do the slave masters stand in the boots of the Imperial soldiers?
Fascinating and thorny questions. Answering those questions starts with understanding what slaves believed. How did they “read” the Bible? What voices did they hear and raise up? Could they make their own voices heard? How could their Christianity thrive or even survive under the dominance, control and violence of their masters? How did the slave masters read the very same Bible? What voices did they hear and raise up? The Inclusivity Team’s open forum on “The Bible through the Eyes of Slaves” hopes to shed some light on these questions.
On Sunday, September 20 at 1:00 pm Celene Lillie will talk about the Christianity of American slaves and their masters in an open forum via Zoom. Celine Lillie is a professor in the Department of Religious Studies at CU specializing in the New Testament. She is also the Director of Adult Education and Spiritual Formation at First Church here in Boulder where she assists with worship on Sundays and heads up the Theologian-in-Residence program.
After Prof. Lillie’s presentation on Zoom the forum will be open for questions and discussion. On September 18 and 20 look for email announcements with the Zoom link to this open forum. The Inclusivity Team looks forward to seeing you on the 20th.
Gloria Purvis, a prominent African American critic in the Roman Catholic Church, tells us, “Racism makes a liar of God. It says not everyone is made in his image. What a horrible lie from the pit of hell.” This may be a good place to start as we learn about the Bible of the American slaves and the Bible of their masters. And what should be our destination? Especially when we are righteously rebelling and protesting in our streets against the oppression, violence, and death coming so casually and cruelly from the hands of authorities? Perhaps our sisters and brothers in slavery can be our guides leading us to a place of hope, faith, and works suited for this time of turmoil.
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