In his review of my book, Sermons in War, Dr. Harris asserted the following: "...they are literary experiences. Michael Bledsoe is a master homiletical, a weaver of often brilliant sentences..." It is always preferable when someone else speaks well of you instead of having to toot your own horn. I am grateful for these kind words. Yet, there is the inclination on the part of most of us to want to know who is behind the print or Kindle screen as it were. Why pay attention to someone's words?
Sometimes it matters not who wrote the words. Words speak for themselves, particularly if they are crafted in ways that catch our breath or ambush us by their truth. Still, some credentials might be in order. I am no different--I like to know a little something about an author and especially a pastor, teacher or proclaimer. Credentials are usually a beginning point for finding a surgeon, lawyer, dentist or car repairman. We don't like the idea of someone unqualified working on us or something we value, like teeth or transportation!
I am happy to begin there: Bachelor of Art in Religion from Stetson University; Master of Divinity and Ph.D. from Southern Seminary (areas of concentration were World Religions, Ethics, Church History, and Missiology and my dissertation was on Marxism, believe it or not. This was just before the Soviet Empire collapsed. I traveled to the Soviet Union in 1983 with Baptist Peace Fellowship and as you can see below, I have a travelogue about some of my journeys though I didn't speak to my visits to Moscow, Kiev, Tblisi or Volgograd). So those are my credentials. Experience matters to us too. What about my experience? Fifteen years as Recurring Adjunct Professor at Howard University School of Divinity, teaching World Religions, Philosophy of Religion and now primarily, Church History. Twenty years as pastor of Riverside Church in D.C. My vocation is lived at the intersection of Church and Academe.
I won the preaching award twice in seminary, published some sermons and articles but none of these measure up to witnessing the birth of my children and their unfolding lives. So yes, enlightenment may benefit by credentials but often as not, it arrives as an ambush within what Barth would call the clockwork of existence. I cannot promise you enlightenment but I do offer thoughtful, crafted and hopefully penetrating prose that might be of benefit as you navigate this urgently desperate age within which we find ourselves. Maybe I could be a companion on your way and you with me. I invite you into my journey and wish you well.