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Cleveland 2

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26 may 2010

26 may 2010


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  • Transcript

    • 1. reframing our beliefs for a new millennium
    • 2. a new kind of christianity
    • 3. Question 2: The Bible Question What is the Bible? Or: What is it for?
    • 4. Slavery and the Bible
    • 5. The African slave trade spanned 450 years. It involved the kidnapping of 11.5 million Africans. Billions of people today still profit and suffer in the aftermath of it.
    • 6. “Nothing is more susceptible to oblivion than an argument, however ingenious, that has been discredited by events; and such is the case with the body of writing which was produced in the antebellum South in defense of Negro slavery.”  Eric McKitrick, Slavery Defended: The Views of the Old South (1963). 
    • 7. From 1830 through the 1850’s, slavery was defended in the Old South as just, Biblical, and good. Sources: William S. Jenkins, Pro-Slavery Thought in the Old South (1935) Larry E. Tise, Proslavery: A History of the Defense of Slavery in America, 1701-1840 (UGA Press: 1987)
    • 8. Tise studied the writings of 275 leading pro- slavery ministers of the day. 1. They came from all over the United States, not just the South. 2. They came from all denominations: Presbyterian (almost 30 percent) Episcopalian (20 percent) Baptist (17 percent) Plus Unitarian, Roman Catholic, and Jewish. 3. Old South and Northern proslavery advocates echoed British and West Indian proslavery writers from 1770-1830.
    • 9. In addition to tracts and pamphlets, there were many nonfiction proslavery books, such as … An Inquiry into the Law of Negro Slavery (1858) (reprinted by the UGA Press in 1999), Thomas R. R. Cobb (lawyer from Georgia). Cobb authored the Confederate Constitution and the Georgia Constitution of 1861, and was one of the founders of the UGA School of Law.  In 1860, upon South Carolina’s secession from the Union, he painted large letters on his house: “RESISTANCE TO ABOLITION IS OBEDIENCE TO GOD.”  Became a general in the Confederate army, died in 1862 at the Battle of
    • 10. There were also many novels, counterpart to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, such as: Nellie Norton: or, Southern Slavery and the Bible: A Scriptural Refutation of the Principal Arguments Upon Which the Abolitionists Rely: A Vindication of Southern Slavery From the Old and New Testaments, (1864) by Ebenezer Willis Warren, an obscure 44-year old Protestant clergyman from Macon, GA.  Last major defense of slavery in the U.S.
    • 11. Story begins in November 1859, ends in July 1860. Nellie Norton, beautiful young New Englander, believes slavery is cruel. Travels with mother to Savannah to visit relatives who own a plantation with slaves. She becomes convinced, after long arguments, that … Slave-owners are victims of “malignant abuse” and “wicked and malicious slander” by ignorant, arrogant Northerners.  “the world is wrong [on the issue of human slavery], and the South must set it right;” “the world is in error, and is dependent upon the South for the truth;” “the welfare of the negro is best promoted when he is under the restraints of slavery;” “slavery is the normal condition of the negro.” As the novel ends, Nellie falls in love with a wonderful slaveowner,and
    • 12. 5 Arguments In Defense of Slavery
    • 13. 1. The Inferiority Argument: William S. Jenkins notes: “The entire pro-slavery thought was imbued with the belief of Negro inferiority.”  In Nellie Norton, blacks are said to be “exceptions to the common brotherhood” of man, and are: “sensual and stupid, lazy, improvident, and vicious … an ignorant, degraded, indolent people … [could] never ... be equal with the white man.” Their inferiority was “designed by their creator [i.e.,
    • 14. 2. The Southern Paradise Argument More from Nellie Norton: “The slaves have many rights.  The right of life and limb, the right to be fed and clothed, to be nursed when sick, and cared for in old age when they become helplessly infirm.  They are rightfully entitled to protection from ill treatment…” Slave children are “fat and saucy, jolly and lively [and constantly enjoy] cheerful songs and merry laughter” Adult slaves are “happy Ethiopians” with “bright countenance[s], ... smiling face[s], and ivory teeth” who “are fed bountifully, clothed well, nursed when indisposed, and afforded [a] suitable diet.” They “talk, and laugh, and sing, and pat, and dance,” and are constantly “singing, dancing, laughing, chattering.”  Slavemasters are “highly cultivated ... men of superior general intelligence, refined, polite, [and] genteel … I know of no case where the master lives on his plantation with his slaves but what they are treated with
    • 15. 3. Historical Realism Argument “The truth is, the world never has, and never can exist without slavery in some form… Where is the country or the period of history wherein slavery did not exist in some shape or other? ... Slavery has always existed, and will continue so long as there is a disparity in the intellect or energy of men.” - from Nellie Norton
    • 16. 4. The Ad Hominem Argument In Nellie Norton … Abolitionists are “ruthless” and “fanatical.” They take positions “which embody the worst forms of infidelity ever known to the world.”  They are sounding “the funeral knell of a pure Christianity.” “I tell you, [Abolitionists] an offense against God, the Bible, religion, the peace of the Christian world, and against common sense, and the more enlightened experience of the age.”
    • 17. 5. The Biblical Argument Probably ... the most elaborate and systematic statement of any of the types of pro-slavery argument.”  (William S. Jenkins) Leviticus 25:44-46 (relating to the buying, keeping, and inheriting of slaves) was “the rock of Gibraltar in the Old Testament” justification of slavery. Proslavery characters in Nellie Norton refer to it repeatedly.
    • 18. Leviticus 25: Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land; and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever.
    • 19. Other passages in the Old Testament frequently cited by Old South proslavers-- Exodus 21:2-6 (relating to the slavery of poor Hebrews) Deuteronomy 15:16-17 (also relating to the slavery of poor Hebrews)-- Genesis 9:26-27 (relating to the curse of Canaan to legitimize racism) “There is nothing, not one word, in the Old Testament to condemn, but very much to establish, enforce, and regulate slavery.” (Proslaver to Nellie Norton)
    • 20. Proslavers in Nellie Norton assert that the New Testament confirms the Old Testament witness. The Golden Rule is not inconsistent with human slavery, they say. In fact, slavery is a form of neighborliness because it puts slaves in better conditions than in Africa, and exposes them to Christian influences, a theme known as “the Ennoblement of the Heathen” which was also used to justify treatment of the Native Peoples.
    • 21. New Testament Passages in Nellie Norton: Ephesians 6:5-8 (exhorting servants to be obedient to their masters) Titus 2:9-10 (also exhorting servants to be obedient to their masters) Colossians 3:22-24 (requiring slaves to obey their masters) “…in the catalogue of sins denounced by the Savior and His Apostles, slavery is not once mentioned … not one word is said by the prophets, apostles, or the holy Redeemer against slavery … the Apostles admitted slaveholders and their slaves to church membership, without requiring a dissolution of the relation.”
    • 22. Additional quotes from Nellie Norton: “…slavery is right, and its enforcement is according to the Scripture,” “…slavery is taught in the Bible, and instituted in Heaven,” “…God has ordained slavery,” “…slavery was made perpetual by the positive enactment of heaven,” “…there cannot be found ... in the Bible a single injunction to slaveholders to liberate those held by them in bondage.”  To speak against slavery “is to abominate the law of God, and the sentiments inculcated by his holy prophets and apostles.”  A slave “cannot sunder bonds which bind him to his earthly master, without breaking those which unite him morally to his Redeemer.”
    • 23. Nellie Norton: “… the Bible is a pro-slavery Bible, and God is a pro-slavery God,” “… the North must give up the Bible and religion, or adopt our views of slavery.”
    • 24. John Saffin, another proslaver of the period, wrote: Since Abraham owned slaves … … our Imitation of him in this Moral Action is as warrantable as that of [adopting] his Faith. God set different Orders and Degrees of Men in the World ... some to be High and Honourable, some to be Low and Despicable… Servants of sundry sorts and degrees, bound to obey; yea, some to be born Slave, and so to remain during their lives.
    • 25. 1. The Inferiority Argument 2. The Southern Paradise Argument 3. The Historical Realism Argument 4. The Ad Hominem Argument 5. The Biblical Argument All five arguments …
    • 26. …return to the Biblical Argument: The Oracular Decisions of God have positively declared that the Slave-Trade is intrinsically good and licit, [and that the holding of slaves] is perfectly consonant to the principles of the Law of Nature, the Mosaic Dispensation, and the Christian Law … [Thus slavery has] the positive sanction of God in its support." Raymond Harris, Scriptural Researches on the Licitness of the Slave-Trade.
    • 27. Slavery and the Bible
    • 28. Howard Thurman, former dean of chapel at Howard University: My regular chore was to do all of the reading for my grandmother – she could neither read nor write…. With a feeling of great temerity I asked her one day why it was that she would not let me read any of the Pauline letters. What she told me I shall never forget. “During the days of slavery,” she said, “the master’s minister would occasionally hold services for the slaves … Always the white minister used as his text something from Paul. At least three or four times a year he used as a text: ‘Slaves be obedient to them that are your masters as unto Christ.’ Then he would go on to show how, if we were good and happy slaves, God would bless us. I promised my Maker that if I ever learned to read and if freedom ever came, I would not read that part of the Bible.’” (Struggling with Scripture, p. 58)
    • 29. In Liberty County [Georgia, in 1833] a group of slaves were listening to a white minister hold forth on a staple topic – the escaped slave Onesimus, and his return to his master. According to the report from Georgia, half of the Negro group walked out when the point of the sermon became clear, and the other half stayed mostly for the purpose of telling the preacher that they were sure there was no such passage in the Bible. (59)
    • 30. Slavery and the Bible
    • 31. Has the Bible been used for evil purposes? Is the proslavery way of interpreting the Bible evil? Is our contemporary way of interpreting the Bible any different? How can we be sure we aren’t perpetuating evil today in our use of the Bible?
    • 32. Meanwhile … in France: A song lyric was written in 1847 by Placide Clappeau, a French wine merchant, mayor of the French town Roquemaure. Adolphe Adam wrote the music. Later the song was translated into English by John S. Dwight – It is said to have been the first music ever broadcast over radio.
    • 33. O holy night, the stars are brightly shining; It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth! Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices! O night divine, O night when Christ was born! O night, O holy night, O night divine!
    • 34. Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His Gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother And in His Name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy Name! Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever! His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim! His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
    • 35. Slavery and the Bible
    • 36. The Bible as Constitution • What purposes do constitutions (or social contracts) fulfill? • What problems arise with this approach?
    • 37. Bible as Conversation • The Bible as a cultural library • A conversation with and about God over many generations • Artifacts from stories within stories
    • 38. From Walter Brueggeman: Divine Presence Amid Violence The conviction that Scripture is revelatory literature is a constant, abiding conviction among the communities of Jews and Christians that gather around the book. But that conviction, constant and abiding as it is, is problematic and open to a variety of alternative and often contradictory or ambiguous meanings. …The revelatory power of the text is discerned and given precisely through the action of interpretation which is always concrete, never universal, always contextualized, never “above the fray,” always filtered through vested interest, never in disinterested purity. (ix) The receiving, constructing act of interpretation changes both us and the text. This suggests that Scripture as revelation is never simply a final disclosure, but is an ongoing act of disclosing that will never let the disclosure be closed.
    • 39. It is, nonetheless, the entire conversation in the text that discloses an alternative world for us. Thus Scripture as revelation is not a flat, obvious offer of a conclusion, but it is an ongoing conversation that evokes, invites, and offers. It is the process of the text itself, in which each interpretive generation participates, that is the truth of revelation. Such an interaction is not contextless activity but the context is kept open and freshly available, depending on the social commitments of the interpreter and the sense-making conversations heard in the act of interpretation…. Such a perspective on biblical texts sees the “canon” as a venue for contestation. It takes the canon seriously but recognizes that the canonical literature does not offer a settled, coherent account of reality; rather it provides the materials for ongoing disputatious interpretation. Any consideration of the “culture wars” of our society – wherein both sides appeal to biblical texts – makes clear that the biblical text is a venue for contestation and that the texts themselves are grist for the dispute. (10)
    • 40. LEGAL CONSTITUTION COMMUNITY LIBRARY Uniformity Diversity Preserve order Preserve diversity agreement argument enforcement encouragement
    • 41. LEGAL CONSTITUTION COMMUNITY LIBRARY Rules to live by Stories to live by Conformity Creativity Analyze, interpret, argue Enter, inhabit, practice amendments? new acquisitions
    • 42. Inspiration • what would an inspired constitution look like? • what would an inspired community library look like?
    • 43. reframing our beliefs for a new millennium