Leonard Lovett, Ph. D
A few days ago we witnessed Bishop Michael Curry delivering a homily at the Royal wedding and mentioned slavery as he avidly described the radical nature of love as a potent fire…few of us realized the meaning of this historical moment in time. Truth is not only irritating, it is also liberating once it is inwardly appropriated. Here is Bishop Curry the son of slaves addressing the Royal remnants of the British Empire whose very existence was built by the fortunes accrued by Colonialism and the Slave Trade…with a Black woman (Meghan Markle) the daughter of slave interaction with access to the throne as a possible Queen.
My mentor the late Bishop OT Jones, Jr. wrote a doctoral dissertation titled, “The Meaning of the Moment in the Thought of Soren Kierkegaard” at Temple University School of Religion. Truth is not only universal it is also personal. Truth is not like clouds of cosmic dust (J. Macquarie) According to Kierkegaard “Truth consists not in knowing the truth but in being the truth.” there are two kinds of truth for Kierkegaard…the kind that can be written down on a piece of paper and instantly appropriated, and the kind which calls for a long and perhaps painful process of inward appropriation. (see his Training in Christianity & Concluding Unscientific Postscript). The rendering of a radical Gospel was more than a wedding homily by a Black Bishop from Chicago…it was Kairos (divine time) encountering Chronos (linear time). Even the actors in the drama do not realize the meaning of this historical moment. The players did not need the role, the moment needed the players. The British Empire can never be the same because the blood of the oppressed has entered its lineage as a part of God’s new future. It is non-sensical to argue about the style of Bishop Curry’s message whether it was too long or just right for the moment…it is the content. God has invaded Royalty. The radical Gospel of freedom has confronted the remnant of Empire in a way that Royalty will never be the same. When God confronts us with His radical nature traditions will eventually become secondary. Jesus must be Lord of all or He will not be Lord at all.
We live in a sensate culture (P.Sorokin) where we miss divine moments because we either focus on the wrong thing or trivialize great moments. In a sensate culture one is guided by the emotions and not rationale thinking thereby devaluing what is really significant. For example, we will spend months freaking out over a basketball player making a winning shot with three seconds to play who is paid millions to run up and down a court shooting a ball through a hoop…but will rarely if ever praise an underpaid school teacher who is trying to teach and rescue your out of control kid. That is trivialization. Sports media said very little about a Lebron James investing millions in youth scholarships for kids who may never have a chance…these same people worry whether he will leave Cleveland and go elsewhere. That is trivialization. When NFL owners infringe upon the First Amendment rights of players (ninety percent are Black persons of color) that is trivialization. Freedom carries with it a price. That is why we must vigorously struggle against any notion that has the scent of tyranny embedded within. The philosopher in me (debating the nature of reality) may be quiet at times when it comes to debating the current state of politics in our nation, etc. The theologian in me (what is the meaning of reality) cannot be silenced. Clare Waight Keller the female designer of the exquisite gown worn by Meghan Markle in a wedding that cost millions may only be known in her profession… her mother Doria Ragland wore her stylish dreadlocks swept back and tucked underneath a modest hat designed by British milliner Stephen Jones was barely noticed. The Gospel of freedom sneaked in during an insert on the program when the preacher Bishop Michael Curry the first African American to preside over the Episcopal Church did something very dangerous. He had the sheer nerve to reference slavery and invoke the name of Dr. Martin Luther King before a Queen who has a Black female Priest in a spiritual advisory capacity to the throne.
I have a few friends in academia who said they could care less about this event and that it had no real meaning for us as a people. I do not negate friendships because of violent disagreements. I love my friends more because in the midst of the volatility of discourse we may be getting closer to a middle ground for our dialectic. The Girl (woman) in the gown now the new Duchess of Sussex cannot fully remain Meghan, although not without restrictions. I read about the twenty-five things she cannot do…She cannot make any statements having to do with political commentary. There will be controversy. In 1534 Henry V111 created The Act of Supremacy stating that the King “justly and rightfully out to be the supreme head of the Church of England” severed his relationship from Rome resulting in the establishment of the Anglican Church. The revolt was political in nature with religious implications secondary. His fascination with Ann Boleyn became the lightning bolt that eventually severed his marriage to Catherine the widow of his brother. In the meantime, those of us with “eyes of faith” must pray seriously for Meghan after the honeymoon is over. In the meantime, do not trivialize her personhood through the wrong stuff. Remember Joseph in the OT book of Genesis ended up in Egypt by accident…but in God’s providence Joseph’s presence was on time (Kairos)divine time pregnant with meaning!
Follow me on the Agora at www.theagora.net “where truth is spoken and never compromised.” Dr. Leonard Lovett, COGIC Ecumenical Officer emeritus