Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Some Comments on Black Liberation Theology

Rev. James Martin has a thoughtful statement on Glenn Beck and Liberation Theology in the Huffington Post. While there is much to say about this topic--much more than is appropriate here--a correction is sorely needed. Martin, despite his typical erudition, fails to draw the distinction between the liberation theologies of Sorbino and Gutierrez and the Black Liberation Theology of James Cone. The later was not an off-shoot of radical South American Marxism, but a development within African-American churches in response to the civil rights movement. Cone, the father of Black theology, was interviewed by NPR  in 2008. In the accompanying article, NPR noted:

Cone explains that at the core of black liberation theology is an effort — in a white-dominated society, in which black has been defined as evil — to make the gospel relevant to the life and struggles of American blacks, and to help black people learn to love themselves. It's an attempt, he says "to teach people how to be both unapologetically black and Christian at the same time."

It is very important to the national conversation on race that Beck is seeking, that we try to understand Black theology, which is complexly related to Martin Luther King's pacificism and the Black Power movement of Malcom X. Dwight Hopkins gave a lengthy and informative interview on NPR on Black theology. I am sure that there is much for the American polity to gain by a public conversation that genuinely tries to understand the motivations and concerns of Black theology, and that may be the important work of the moment in political discourse that could result from Beck's heated rhetoric.


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