Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Deep Christianity"

Hope on a Tightrope: Word and Wisdom by Cornel WestHope on a Tightrope: Word and Wisdom by Cornel West by Cornel West

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'd seen Professor West's books on shelves in bookstores and was interested. Why Race Matters and why Democracy Matters seemed like important discussions that we still need to have in the United States. But I confess my own racism/prejudice- I saw his afro and I wondered if as a middle class, middle aged, Midwestern White male I could relate to him. I worried that his politics would be too liberal even for a left-leaning centrist Democrat like me.

Then I caught his appearance on a late night talk show and he wasn't talking with arrogance or anger about race or politics- he was speaking about Jesus. He was speaking about faith and love and forgiveness and suffering.

When I fount this book, with the word "hope" right in the title, I wondered if it would be about President Obama or about the civil rights movement. It's not. It is about us, all of us. And in it, West introduces us to Jesus.

Not the confident, indignant, powerful Jesus that Pat Robertson and James Dobson talk about- the strict, White American, Republican patriarchal Jesus who opposes government regulation, taxes, and gay marriage and supports the troops and the Tea Parties and the NRA.

Not the optimistic, affluent, sexy, successful Jesus that Joel Osteen and Creflo Dollar talk about, waiting to solve all your problems and shower you with material blessings if you just believe enough.

West reveals the Jesus who is humble, genuine, unpretentious but more importantly the Jesus who is brutally honest, patient, kind, just, loving, and wise. The Jesus who turns the other cheek, walks the extra mile, offers the shirt off His back, loves his enemy and was willing to risk everything and sacrifice everything for the sake of others.

Yes, West talks about race and politics, history and economics in this book. He talks about institutions and empire, families, education, and culture. But mostly he talks about depth. Deep Learning, Deep Democracy, and Deep Love, deep enough to sacrifice everything for the sake of justice, equality, and hope.

West says that he's made it his mission to make the world safe for Martin Luther King Jr. That's awesome, because anyone who's read King's 'Strength to Love,' knows that King had made it his mission to make the world safe for Jesus.

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