Commentary

The God Who Delivers

From The Harvard Ichthus, April 23, 2015

On Monday I served as guest lecturer in AAAS10, Introduction to African American Studies. Professors Henry Louis Gates and Larry Bobo invited me to discuss the history of African American Protestantism in the United States, a daunting task for a fifty minute time slot. Yet the assigned readings, which included Albert Raboteau’s Slave Religion and James Cone’s Black Theology and Black Power, allowed me to focus on black religion as a tool of liberation from oppression.

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Herbie Hancock & The Ethics of Jazz

The 2014 Norton Lecturer Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hanock, the 2014 Norton Lecturer, will deliver a series of six talks on "The Ethics of Jazz" over the coming months. The first talk, "The Wisdom of Miles Davis," will take place at 4pm on Monday, February 3, at Sanders Theatre. The full series of lectures will be:

THE ETHICS OF JAZZ
4pm, Sanders Theatre, 45 Quincy Street
Set 1 - THE WISDOM OF MILES DAVIS: Monday, February 3
Set 2 - BREAKING THE RULES: Wednesday, February 12
Set 3 - CULTURAL DIPLOMACY AND THE VOICE OF FREEDOM: Thursday, February 27
Set 4 - INNOVATION AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES: Monday, March 10
Set 5 - BUDDHISM AND CREATIVITY: Monday, March 24
Set 6 - ONCE UPON A TIME : Monday, March 31

Visit the Mahindra Humanities Center for more information.

The Gettysburg Address

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress. A detail from a famous photograph of President Abraham Lincoln.This week marks the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s signature speech, the Gettysburg Address.  The two-minute address is widely considered a staple of American history and defining moment of moral leadership for President Lincoln. The president underscores the appropriate themes such as the equality of humanity, a commitment to democracy, and the redemptive nature of suffering and sacrifice. Yet he strikes a sober and somber tone of humility. There is no sense of military hubris or pride of victory. Though the cause may be just, the death and destruction associated with war is always a tragedy for all parties involved.

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Benjamin Elijah Mays

Benjamin Elijah MaysIt is no secret that Benjamin Elijah Mays is one of my intellectual and ministerial inspirations. The former president of Morehouse College, mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr., and groundbreaking sociologist of religion typified ethical leadership on the global stage. This is why it was such a privilege for me to share with the students, faculty, and alums of Howard University Divinity School this week at their 97th annual Convocation.

Prior to his career at Morehouse College, Mays served as dean of Howard Divinity from 1934-1940. When I stepped foot inside of Mays Hall, I was welcomed by this memorial. The Mays quote at the bottom captures the life of a man who was born a sharecropper in South Carolina, yet went on to graduate from Bates College and earn his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

“It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is the sin.” 

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