James H. Cone

Perhaps a lot of people see religious history or studying religions in purely “past” ways. They don’t see it still a part of the world presently around them, don’t see the effects of historical movements and the implications. I really enjoyed James H. Cone’s excerpt, because I liked the theme of “Where Do We Go from Here?” I think he made a lot of great points about the religious history of African-Americans, and also emphasized that it was not yet over. I think this idea can be seen in so many places, with so many religions…Once the history books end and the documentaries stop, where do you go as a community? The choices made will likely either preserve survival or guarantee its failure.

Another large theme in Cone’s work was the idea of religion being seen through the lense of freedom. He first described himself and his community as “descendents of a black religious tradition that has always interpreted its confession of faith according to the people’s commitment to the struggle for earthly freedom.” Like some others we’ve read and discussed, Cone sees it time not only to continue with African-American religions, but also to take back control of its narrative. It’s his religion, his community’s religion, and because of that, it cannot be dictated or managed by an outsider.

Black theology, for him, was a “theology of black liberation…not created in a vacuum…born in the context of the black community as black people were attempting to make sense out of their struggle for freedom.” It’s all about the black experience, shaped by the past and prepared to shape the future.

I think that Cone was a piece to end on because of his message of a future of change and taking back identity. “To dream is not enough,” he wrote. “Since humanity is one, and cannot be isolated into racial and national groups, there will be no freedom for anyone until there is freedom for all.” I don’t believe it could be better said.

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