A Post-Racist World

Two years ago Jürgen Moltmann was interviewed on his 80th birthday.  The interviewer asked him if young people need to be given more evidence for belief in God.  Looking back over the horrors of the earlier years of the twentieth century and then the amazing changes that came in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he said,

We’ve seen so many signs and wonders in our lifetime.

He referred to the peaceful end of apartheid in South Africa, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Velvet Revolution in Prague, and the end of oppressive regimes throughout Eastern Europe.

Forty years ago it was just a dream that people would be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.  Now it is a reality.

Tomorrow we will inaugurate our first Hawaiian-born president.  The nationality of his father and the complexion of his mother did not matter.  People voted either for or against Barack Obama based on their perception of his leadership qualities and the political platform he espoused.

Of course, there were a few during the campaign who tried to appeal to the race card, those who appealed to base motives, those who promoted racist jokes and songs.  There are still a few who always include his middle name–pronounced with a sneer.  But they had no influence.  The belong with the shrinking crowd of those who still deny that cigarette smoking causes cancer.

Philip Yancey’s book Soul Survivor tells how his faith survived in spite of the failings of the church of his youth, an openly racist church.  The story is heart breaking.  But he also tells how he was inspired by those churches that supported the civil rights movement, those churches and Christian leaders who formed the heart of the movement.

I was asked yesterday what the Bible says about racism.  Racism, in the Nazi sense, was a twentieth-century mythology, a modern invention.  But there have always been ethnic, cultural, religious, and nationalistic divisions among people.  The Apostle Paul devoted his life to proclaiming the reconciling Gospel of Jesus Christ.  One passage that sums it up is Colossians 3:11.  Speaking of God’s intention to create a new humanity, he says,

Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.

The day after the election, my daughter, who lives in Harlem, saw an African-American boy, about ten years old, who was beaming.  “That means I can be president some day!”

It really is a miracle that I have seen the end of racism in my lifetime.

You Don’t Have to Call Me Doktor, Doktor . . .

Dave Black

David Allen Coe

I stumbled onto a blog called Daveblackonline this week–or maybe he stumbled onto mine first. He had noticed my “Theological German” site. I looked at his site and at first he seemed to be a southern preacher, a simple, honest straight shooter. I was somewhat surprised that he had an interest in German, until I looked further.

This is David Allen Black, the famous expert on the Greek Language and a New Testament Scholar. When I started teaching intermediate Greek, the students had been broken in on his grammar. They all knew the rule about neuter plural nouns–the famous page 36 rule, from page 36 in his textbook.

I remember at the time thinking of the similarity of his name to the country singer David Allen Coe, but for all I knew David Allen Black was Scottish or Irish. It turns out that he is a Southern gentleman, who lives on a working farm in Virginia. He is a patriot who has some firm political convictions. For example, he believes the United States began a slide toward socialism when Abraham Lincoln began his “unconstitutional war” of aggression against the southern states in their bid for independence.

He also has more recently written a book entitled Why I Stopped Listening to Rush: Confessions of a Recovering Neocon (here) in which he also describes how he lost faith in George W. Bush.  He is now supporting Ron Paul.

Looking back over his past career, professor Black remembered receiving his doctorate in theology in 1983 from the University of Basel (that explains the German!) He said he had to pledge (in Latin) loyalty to the Swiss principles of democracy. Evidently he is still trying to keep that vow. (See his post on “The Barmen Declaration.”)

Still thinking about the country singer, I went on a search for the lyrics to his song, “You Don’t Have to Call Me Darlin’, Darlin. You Never Even Call Me by My Name.” I think it is very clever, and is in fact the world’s greatest country song. I think the gentleman farmer/professor would have enough sense of humor to appreciate it if I changed the lyrics just a bit to “You Don’t Have to Call Me Doktor, Doktor.”

David Allen Coe is a real country outlaw, having done several years of hard time in prison (not just a few nights in a county jail like Johnny Cash did). I was deeply disappointed to find that he had recorded a couple of awful, vicious “racist and misogynist” songs in the 1980s. I now have a dilemma, because back in the 90s I vowed I would never listen to any music by Marshal Mather because of his racist and misogynist lyrics; so I guess if I’m consistent I can’t even listen to Coe singing “Child of God.”

According to Wikipedia Coe states that the songs in question “are not his works” and he refuses to acknowledge or perform them in concert. He also maintains that he is not a racist, (and for all I know he even admits that some of his closest relatives are women). I don’t know, Konashould I take his word for it?

Professor Black wasn’t always a southern gentleman. He was born in Hawaii, and loves to surf and drink 100% Kona coffee. So I have another thing in common with him. Before she went to work for Mother Earth News, our older daughter served an apprenticeship on an organic coffee farm in Hawaii.

I plan to keep up with professor Black’s blog, and if I ever get the chance to meet him, I’ll hang around as long as he will let me . . .