A Sabbatical Story: Part 3
Looking back at the Civil Rights Movement, one of the most troubling things for me and the reason I chose this subject, is the role of the churches, black and white. Congregations, mostly Baptist, that would have affirmed the same confession of faith stood on opposite sides on matters of equality and racial justice.
I visited black churches that were right in the middle of the movement, sometimes providing the only resource or protection their people had from the violence.
"Our churches are where we dip our tired bodies in the cool springs of hope, where we retain our wholeness and humanity despite the blows."
- Richard Wright, 1941
Not all but most of the white Baptist churches across the South remained silent, choosing to "stick to the Gospel" rather than actually applying the Gospel and God's love for all people, regardless of the color of their skin.
"I asked for your churches and you turned me down,
But I'll do my work if I have to do it on the ground.
You will not speak for fear of being heard,
So you crawl in your shell and say, 'Do not disturb.'"
- Poem by Joyce Brown, 1964
Some of the more brazen pastors openly opposed equality and desegregation, twisting and distorting scripture to support their bigotry. It points out how our culture and our upbringing often supersede and overwhelm our theology. And, of course, it still happens today.
But fiction on the other hand sneaks up on us, surprising us with experiences and thoughts we may have never considered. That's why many of the great movements in our history have been instigated and influenced by novels. I'm not likely to change the world, but that's my approach.
Thanks for sharing my sabbatical journey. Two weeks to go, running away with Suz to see our son in Italy. What could be better than that?