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The Cross and the Lynching Tree Paperback – January 11, 2013
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"Once again James Cone demonstrates why he is indispensable as an interpreter of faith, race, and the American experience." --Bill Moyers
One of the Top 11 Religion Books of the Year. --Huffington Post
"Based on impressive research, Cone argues that the lynching tree is a viable reality/symbol for reflection on the cross of Christ. According to Cone, understandings of the cross and lynching tree can mutually inform one another and explain how events of trauma and injustice can still inspire hope for the African American community." --Christianity Today
About the Author
James H. Cone, Bill and Judith Moyers Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary, is widely regarded as one of the most influential theologians in America. His books include Black Theology & Black Power, A Black Theology of Liberation, The Spirituals & the Blues, God of the Oppressed, and Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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And Lynchings done without any flinching of the Christian conscience.
It's an ugly and difficult vision to face up to. And then Cone easily makes his thesis of the actually (blatant) similarity of lynching and crucifixion--that somehow managed to escape connection "back then".
I think it is a cliche to say that we all have the capacity for evil but this is an opportunity to examine the face of evil in our time and to notice how people can be willfully blind to evil.
It is something every white person and every American should read about. While the temptation is to talk about other evils and other victimizations, it is well worthwhile to sit with the spectre of this evil and to resolve to recognize evil in the other incarnations where it still manifests.
1) Theology: Cone discusses the absence of an overt discussion about the lynching tree in theology and by prominent theologians such as Reinhold Niebuhr. "What we say about the cross remains at the level of theological abstraction" (p. 63).
2) Martin Luther King: "King saw the cross of strength and courage, the ultimate expression of God's love for humanity" (p. 85).
3) Literature: "Black artists and writers. . . have made the lynching theme a dominant part of their work, and most have linked black victims with the crucified Christ as a way of finding meaning in the repeated atrocities in the African American communities" (p. 97).
4) Women's Lives: "For black women, running away was not an easy option. It was difficult for them to leave their children. . . . They often stayed where they were and made the most of a bad situation, trying to survive with dignity, as they wrestled, with limited resources, against the virulent expressions of racial hatred" (p. 125).
If I needed convincing to study whiteness as a racial construct....Cone's book sealed the deal. Per Cone, "The cross, as a locus of divine revelation, is not good news for the powerful, for those who are comfortable with the way things are, or for anyone whose understanding of religion is aligned with power" (p. 156).