Where does hope come from?

A blog from Wednesday, January 9, 2013:

Mercedes, Laurel, and Alvaro, students from the University of Central America (UCA) in San Salvador. Overhead posters of Oscar Romero, UCA martyr priest Ignacio Ellacuria, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

You’ve been reading about our extra-busy days and extra-profound discussions and experiences.  Today, Wednesday, was no different.  We began the morning with a panel of distinguished invited guests, the heads of the Episcopal, Lutheran, and Reformed denominations.  These are three of the Protestant denominations who supported the people throughout the times of conflict.  In the afternoon, we visited with three theology students from the University of Central America (UCA), the Jesuit university where liberation theology is still taught by the likes of Jon Sobrino.  Later we met with the former Human Rights Ombsbudswoman of El Salvador, a position that was created by the Salvadoran Peace Accords in 1992 to report human rights abuses of in El Salvador.  In the evening, we attended a house concert by Guillermo Cuellar, a Salvadoran musician who worked with Romero writing and performing songs expressing the struggles of the people, including the Salvadoran Popular Mass.

Right to Left: Episcopal Bishop Martín Barahona, Lutheran Bishop Medardo Gomez, Reverend Santiago Flores of the Reformed Church

In the panel of the three church leaders, Lutheran Bishop Medardo Gomez talked about how he was disappeared and tortured for his role accompanying poor communities during the war. International ecumenical pressure demanded his release.  The leaders talked about the role of the church in the more recent history, including how the Catholic Church helped negotiate a “truce” between the two major gangs in El Salvador in spring 2012.  One leader said that these churches understand themselves as united by a common ecumenical “Theology of the Cross”, which is a commitment to never abandon the most vulnerable.  This refreshed a place in me because I understand my own call to ministry to have such a theology, yet sometimes I feel timid to say it in front of church leaders and committees because I am constantly called on to defend how that is a legitimately “ordainable” church ministry position. The Salvadoran church leaders confirmed that an ecumenical and interreligious coordination between the north and the south of the continent is necessary to change the systems of injustice that are continental and worldwide in scope.  What form will and must that take?

The Human Rights Omsbudswoman was the biggest wake-up call yet for our group to the actual reality of El Salvador.  Our group came on this trip seeking to learn the liberative spirituality and praxis of Romero and his challenge for today.  But this takes for granted that much liberative spirituality and praxis based on remembrance of Romero exists here in El Salvador. Up until now on the trip we have been surrounded by the minority in El Salvador who do care about Romero and practice a liberative spirituality.  The Omsbudswoman laid out a frank reality in which the dominant consciousness has little commitment to follow Romero in a justice-seeking way of life and of being church. As I listened to the conversations in the bus after our visit, I heard such things as:  How could the Omsbudwoman say that the Salvadoran people are not a revolutionary people?  How could she say that the people are more status-quo than seeking to change the reality, after all we’ve heard about Salvadoran history during our visit here?

Lest we think that El Salvador is any different in this regard than the United States, I point out the quandary that the Salvadoran leaders with whom we speak must struggle to reconcile: how delegations of concerned people from the United States come to learn from El Salvador’s history; meanwhile, during the war and now, the US government’s policy toward El Salvador seeps life out of the Salvadoran people.  During the Salvadoran Civil War, the US sent $1 million EVERY day to fund the war that killed over 75,000 of the Salvadoran people.  And today, the United States dictates CAFTA free trade laws and norms of “development” and “aid” that benefit the world’s oligarchy more than change the systems sustaining poverty.  Deregulated flow of capital steals the wealth produced by Salvadoran workers in factories out of the country.

“We have to say the truth, without minding who it will bother. -Jon Cortina, SJ”

To reconcile these ironies, the Salvadoran leaders we speak with say “Oh, we know that the US government is different from the US people.”   But I no longer feel excused by that excuse.  The convicting question to us from the United States is thus:  are we a revolutionary people, with all the positive connotations this word can carry—of seeing through the lies to create domestic and foreign policies that work toward better lives for the majorities both in the US and countries like El Salvador?  Is the government in the US really much different from the dominant consciousness of the US people?  Can we use that excuse today?

Guillermo Cuellar, a Salvadoran musician who worked with Romero writing and performing songs expressing the struggles of the people, including the Salvadoran Popular Mass.

Sometimes when considering these difficult questions, I wonder if, and how, we’ll ever change dominant consciousness in the US enough to improve our own conditions and those of El Salvador.  It’s a question we’ve asked to many of our speakers:  from where does your hope come?  How do you keep doing the work you do amid frustration and violence?  In a meditative service at the Chapel where Romero was assassinated, our facilitator asked us what word we think best describes Romero. I responded “Inspiration” because I think that he was inspiration to people of his day and to us today to summon the courage needed for the required work to counter the normative power relationships and consciousness.  I accepted the facilitator’s suggestion to adopt this as a commitment in my own life for the next segment.  Thus, in the night, Guillermo Cuellar’s songs washed over my body and into that space where fear and courage negotiate.  He interwove his songs with the stories that inspired them.  He told stories of encounters with Romero and of the faith, suffering, and resistance of the Salvadoran people.  Contained within the Salvadoran organized “pueblo” and in the music that sustains them is the sometimes unutterable, often unspoken, assumption that we will ever seguir adelante (continue forward).

Having been in the city of San Salvador up until now, we have most of the country undiscovered—both its geography and its conditions.  Thus we head to the mountains today.  We have yet to have encounters with so many more things that are the realities of El Salvador:  poverty, young adults with fifth grade educations, scorched earth massacres, communities built in refugee camps.  Que nos vaya muy bien.  (May we have a good trip.)

- Jennifer Wilder, MDiv 2013

A Love that Would Not Let Me Go

When we tell our stories, we are transformed. When others hear our stories, they are transformed. The story telling for Project Union Responds stirred up the Union community. We were stirred up because sharing our stories was an action of liberation, affirmation, by re-claiming our selves, our bodies, and our faiths. We were stirred up because sharing our stories required us to reflect on how we had been (and still are) harmed. As a community we received, held, and honored all that has been stirred up in us throughout the process; specifically during an evening, candle-light service on Wednesday, October 13, 2010, in James Chapel.

The following is a copy of the reflection offered by Barbara L. Rice. Ms. Rice has a master of counseling and is a first-year, master of divinity seminarian here at Union. Her employment portfolio includes working with LGBTQ youth. As a community, we are graced by her presence and voice.


A Love that Would Not Let Me Go

When Zach was a child I loved him. When Elizabeth was a child I loved her. When Luke was a child I loved him. When Erica was a child I loved her.

[Hosea 11:1–12] is one of those passages of scripture that I have always been drawn to, never fully knowing why. I’m sure my 16-year-old interpretations of this text were age appropriately simplistic and egocentric. But there was something in my initial and naïve draw to the passage that was innate—that was calling me back to some womb-like recognition of my connectedness with a love that would not let me go. I would not have used those words, but there was a desire to ingest these images into my being. I wanted to know that type of security, that type of love. I wanted to watch an old home movie of God bending down to feed me when I was a toddler. I wanted to see, feel, and touch these cords of human kindness and bands of love. I wanted to know that they would catch me, would hold that space, would keep me safe. And I wanted the people in my life to know and feel that security and love in their own lives.

And I think in many ways those bands of love were very real in my heart and in my life. At the risk of being stereotypical, I was very much a tomboy, and it was considered cute to run around in my baseball uniform all year long. And I was always picked fairly quickly in the process of choosing kick ball teams in elementary school. I would occasionally be called dyke, but had no idea what it meant, and I didn’t care. I had friends because I learned early in life that if you listen to people they tend to like you. So, I could fit in pretty well and for the most part was spared the personal pain of bullying.

As I grew into adolescence I had that familiar gnawing sensation that many of you can relate to – that sense that something about me just wasn’t right. And it would creep into my thoughts now and then, this utter terror, that there might just be some tiny chance I was gay. This nightmare sat in the back of my mind and would rear its head, and I would think that if this is in any way true then I probably didn’t deserve to live. This belief that, if I were indeed gay, I would be unworthy of taking up space on the earth, mostly came from my family narrative which was passionately homophobic in the name of following Jesus. So, if this secret, this nightmare, was possibly true then it would mean that I was beyond the point of any repair.

And so I would sit with these images that I sought out in the Bible—pictures from Isaiah of loving protection amidst storms and scary things, the intimacy of Mary washing Jesus’ feet and his defense and love for her, and then this one in Hosea of having been known and loved intimately since babyhood regardless of my attempts to escape. And I would try to connect with that love and tell myself that this was enough, and tell myself that I could get through this life devoting all of it to God, and that I would be given the strength to keep myself together (i.e. not fall to the temptation of living in that ‘lifestyle’) until I died and could experience ultimate union with the Divine. My life was full of sports, friends, mission trips, school work, and service clubs. By all appearances I was a pretty happy teenager and as long as I could keep the terror silenced or distant then I was OK.

I wasn’t externally tortured for being gay, but I was internally tortured. I’ve thought about this a lot these last few weeks. I can’t imagine what I would have done if there had been this added layer of ostracism, of being targeted, or being ridiculed. I truly do not know that I could have survived that, and I look around at my friends in this room, not knowing each story, but knowing that for many of you it was a struggle that words can’t capture. And I sit with gratitude and awe realizing you have survived.

In my therapy practice in Greensboro, NC, I had the privilege of working with many teens and adults struggling to come to terms with their sexual orientation. Their struggles were often based on their understanding of what religion or the Bible said about same gender love, but they inevitably faced peer and family ostracism. In doing trauma work with my clients incidents of extreme bullying would often come up, and these memories would be so vivid that, as they were described to me, I felt like I was there. It was as if in their description I could see, hear, touch, smell and taste the terror, the fear, the punches, the tears, the shame. As if their spirits had been branded like cattle, we would work together to deconstruct the internalized messages left by these incidents. We would work to untangle and heal those messages, until they could become scars as opposed to gaping wounds, and we would work to take away the powerlessness of the memories.

However, the consequences of some of these marks can’t be avoided. I think about a 26-year-old gay man I worked with who suffered such horrendous bullying and abuse in high school that he stopped going to school to avoid being tormented, which led to him eventually dropping out altogether. He completed his GED and now works a minimum wage job while trying to go to community college at night. He struggles with just making it day to day—not only financially but also emotionally. He stays in relationships with fairly abusive partners because, as he would honestly share, if he didn’t have a partner with whom to live he would be homeless. The bullying and peer abuse that led to him dropping out of school has left its mark and he is trying to dig his way out, and it’s a long, dark path.

I recall checking my voice mails early one morning before work, and listening in heart breaking horror, as I learned that a queer mutual friend of several of my teenage clients had hung herself the previous night. I was familiar with this girl, who had committed suicide, because they both frequently spoke of her. When I saw these two clients that same day, they were both obviously wracked in pain with all the things that go along with the ones left behind by suicide—what could we have done, why didn’t we see this coming, why wouldn’t her parents get her help? But, as if that wasn’t enough, one of the girls, who also identified as queer, sat sobbing on my sofa as she told me how unsympathetic her parents were to this devastating loss. By her reports her parents were not at all accepting of her orientation, and did some ridiculing of their own. So, the night my client learned of her friend’s death she was hysterical, and went to her mother for comfort, only to have her mother respond by saying, “well, that’s what happens to gay kids, they end up hanging from rafters.”

Well, I’m here, we’re all here, to say ‘no.’ That’s not the inevitable fate of gay kids. Swinging from rafters, jumping off bridges, shooting themselves in the head… this is not the unchangeable fate of our queer kids!

How I wanted to transmit to these clients, to my friends, and so many others, a sense of the tenderness of God’s love, of these totally devoted images such as this passage from Hosea. I wanted them to know that they too had access to a love bigger than all this pain; that they too could tap into a love that would not let them go. This is our job – to take this love to the people, to be living examples of this determined devotion.

As some of us have been telling our stories for the video, I’ve wondered about who didn’t make it among us. Who would have been here, sitting with us now if they could have made it a little longer? How has God grieved for the lives cut short due to hate? Who are we missing? What ghosts are among us who dreamed of seminary and theological education, but who didn’t survive the crucible of a queer childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood? Where would they be sitting right now? How would they enrich our community and our lives here at Union? Who would be their boyfriend, girlfriend, their partner? Who would be their best friend on the hall? And so I look out at your faces and am filled with gratitude that you made it, that we have the chance to become the beloved community; that we have the chance to share our stories with each other. I also am grateful to have made it, and grateful that I have been able to cling to my daughtership during dark times.

And out of Egypt I called my daughter. Out of Egypt I called my son. Out of Egypt I called my child. Daughtership, sonship, beloved child…. What does it mean to be called out of Egypt, out of bondage, out of slavery? What does it mean to be called to freedom, to life? Sometimes we prefer the bondage we know over the freedom we don’t know. But we are called, if we can hear – and I believe we can hear when something inside of us is ready to hear – to take the first steps of a journey towards freedom. Sometimes that first step is a commitment to find support, to find somewhere you can be honest.

For me I heard the call towards freedom one day in 1997. I was a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship,a conservative parachurch ministry, and I reached a point after years of being in reparative therapy, where I could no longer live with my internal incongruence. I reached the point where I didn’t care if I was indeed going to go to hell, because I was already in hell – my life was hell, my internal struggle had driven me to the brink of again wanting to be on the other side of this existence into the next one, just wanting Jesus’ arms around me. So I picked up the phone and called my supervisor. And, as I suspected, I was asked to resign, I was then asked to leave my non denominational church, which led to loosing most of my friends, and my family relationships experienced a type of death from which they have never fully recovered. And, it was in this wilderness space that I spent a lot of time reading and praying and wrestling with what to do. Regardless of what others said, what did God say? Could I still have a relationship with God and live this earthly life in a way that honored all parts of me, including my sexuality? I had wanted to be in vocational ministry since early childhood, and I thought that dream was over, and I was not sure who I was without this dream. I knew I did not want to live without a palpable connection to God, because to me that has been the only thing that gives life meaning. So, I decided I would take the first step. I would just move forward with what I could, and live, and see what happened. It was kind of an experiment because I was out of options, other than suicide. Of course what I found was more connection with God, and that God did not forsake me, but met me in ways I could have never known without taking that first step.

In this way, I was experiencing something similar to what Hosea describes at the end of the 11th chapter: “They shall come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will return them to their homes.” The freedom of flying, even though you’re trembling. The sense of soaring even though you’re shaking – but heading to your true home. I happen to believe that home is always and only coming home to that love, that Divine love, that claims us and declares us perfectly made. In essence I believe coming home is a kind of coming home inside of ourselves, to rest in the love that waits for us there. As these tragedies in our queer community have moved us to share our own stories, as we have been moved to do anything we can to give a struggling kid hope for one more day, I have come to feel that we can become, that we are becoming the beloved community. And I believe it is from that grounded place that we move out into the world to serve, to stir, to rage, to liberate, to mourn, and to ultimately heal. As Hafiz said, “God revealed a sublime truth to the world, when He sang, ‘I am made whole by your life. Each soul, each soul completes me.’”

When Tyler Clementi was a child I loved him.

When Billy Lucas was a child I loved him.

When Seth Walsh was a child I loved him.

When Asher Brown was a child I loved him.

When we were children God loved us.

—Barbara L. Rice, MS LPC

©2010 Project Union Responds. Reprinting available with permission.

Sucker Punched II: A Reply

A reader wrote the following in response to my previous post on Glenn Beck, Dr. James Cone and Liberation Theology:

If you actually listened to Beck you would know that he does not stand for any type of violence.  Also, I like how all of the posts i’ve read from your seminary criticize Beck without referencing any scripture to contradict him.  The simple fact of the mater is that Black Liberation Theology is dangerous and that he bible does not advocate government redistribution of wealth but places the responsibility with individuals.  Perhaps your seminary should stop spending so much time demonizing a good person and actually reading the bible.

And here is my response:


Thank you for your defense of Glenn Beck’s statements about Liberation/Black/Theology and this engaging conversation.  Once again I lump them together because that is how they were discussed in Mr. Beck’s the initial presentation.  I don’t think you quite understand my point; it is not necessary for Mr. Beck to advocate any type of violence.  By taking statements out of context (for example all of his clips of Dr. Cone’s interview were taken from a separate interview on a completely different topic about which he was writing 30+ years after his initial writings on Black Theology) and using them to provoke fear and anger, Beck has not taken seriously his role in the media and the responsibility that said role carries.  History has proven that a leader does not have to explicitly tell his or her followers what to do in order for mayhem to ensue.  And Mr. Beck is one of our social leaders.

As for the bible verses about those who should care for those who do not have…please don’t assume that a verse quoted here and a verse quoted there tells the whole story of Jesus’ words to us about social justice.  Please read Matthew 23, all of it, to see how Jesus responds to the government that he recognizes as spiritually legitimate for his time and place—those who are in charge of his people and the synagogue.  (Of course Jesus doesn’t speak of government redistribution—he is not Roman nor of the power structure in the Roman Empire that has any say over that.)  Jesus spends most of the Gospels showing people how they have gotten away from the laws of the Torah, which made it a societal sin not to take care of those less fortunate and the alien.

“If there is among you a poor man, one of your brethren, in any of your towns within your land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother.” (Deuteronomy 15:7).

Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow.” (Deuteronomy 27:19) New Revised Standard Version

And please don’t take just my quotation of these passages, but take a look at other passages that Jesus upholds from his nation’s book of Law, the Torah.

But I know that as “Christians” we tend to hold what Jesus says more important than what he practices.  So, again, please closely read Matthew 23 (the whole chapter), the warnings or “Woes” that Jesus speaks to those in power.  And then take a look at the following on your own, and study the teachings of Jesus through this parable as it is written (not my interpretation):

Matthew 25:31-46

“31 ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.

32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,

33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;

35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

37 Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?

38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?

39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?”

40 And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

41Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;

42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,

43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.”

44 Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” 45 Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’              New Revised Standard Version

I understand that you might be afraid of the language of Black Liberation Theology agitation it seems to cause in this country.  I find it an odd juxtaposition that even with all of the angst over Black Liberation Theology, many people still don’t find it odd that most of Western Christian society is based on taking over other people’s lands and telling them that their gods are insufficient for its purposes and therefore must be done away with.  And if you are worried about what Dr. Cone’s influences are then check his resume and see that it was pre-eminent White scholars that shaped his thought.  He validated his own experience through the academically sanctioned pathway of study.  It is why his work is still so volatile today, because his work is in the mainstream academy.  But I don’t have to justify Dr. Cone’s works, to you or anyone else, because they speak very clearly for themselves.

I am sure that the works of Dr. Cone from 1969 will never prove as disastrous as some may think, for any race.  They will certainly never justify the subjugation of any people into slavery nor will they delineate humanity by races that humiliate and condemn there very existence, like a certain Western Enlightenment scientists of the 17th and 18th centuries which “scientifically” fueled biblical justification of slavery and the declassification as anyone of African descent as a human being.

“In 1684, French physician François Bernier attempted to classify human bodies by skin color.  He divided the races into four distinct groups.  But it was not until 1735 that race became a theoretical scientific assumption with the work of Carolus Linnaeus, the founder of binomial nomenclature, the naming in Latin of species.  “For Linnaeus there were four races, Homo Europaeus, Homo Asiaticus, Homo Afer and Homo Americanus.”  (An original source for this information can be found here: William Bingley, Natural History of Animals: Illustrated by Short Histories and Anecdotes and Intended to Afford a Popular View of the Linnaean System of Arrangement, (Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing), 2008.) And this is a short excerpt written for a Systematic Theology course, not taught by Dr. Cone but by Dr. Morse, that I took in 2008.”

And just as Mr. Beck spoke to in the introduction of his piece, please don’t lump us all together in the seminary.  As you can see from all responses, we are a diverse group of people with different interests and issues we support and don’t support.  I also take exception for those of us who consider ourselves conservative, evangelical and even fundamental.  Your assumption that our “seminary” demonizes good people is just that, an assumption.  By the way, I took great pains in my response to speak from my own personal experience and the reaction to the ramifications I see in my life and for those I care about.  How my personal reaction to issues raised becomes turned around to an attack on a good person is just the kind of “telephone” game  that worries me when it comes to lack of clarity and compassion for one another.

And so, I wish you God’s speed.  The following is meant in all sincerity—I have a few more bible verses for you that speak way better than I can.

“God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”  II Corinthians 9:8

“The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:  The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

(King James Version)


Read all the responses from the Union community to Glenn Beck’s episode on Dr. James Cone and Liberation Theology at www.utsnyc.edu/glennbeck.

Or add your own comment to Derrick’s post below.

Black Theology and Interreligious Dialogue

My colleague here at Union Theological Seminary, James Cone, wrote the following way back in 1992:

Although I am a Christian theologian, I contend that a just social order must be accountable to not one but many religious communities. If we are going to create a society that is responsive to the humanity of all, then we must not view one religious faith as absolute. Ultimate reality, to which all things are subject, is too mysterious to be exclusively limited to one people’s view of God. Any creation of a just social order must take into account that God has been known and experienced in many different ways. Because we have an imperfect grasp of divine reality, we must not regard our limited vision as absolute. Solidarity among all human communities is  antithetical to religious exclusivism. God’s truth comes in many colors and is revealed in many cultures, histories, and unexpected places. — (James H. Cone, “Black Theology and Solidarity” in Lorine M. Getz and Ruy O. Costa, eds. Struggles for Solidarity: Liberation Theologies in Tension, Minneapolis, M.N.: Fortress Press, 1992, p. 47.)

What a ringing endorsement of the need for inter-religious dialogue and for a more “pluralist” Christian theology of religions!  And it’s coming not from a scholar of comparative religions or from a John-Hick-type philosopher of religion — but from the father of Black Liberation Theology. His words are powerful and challenging for any Christian theology: there can be “no just social order” unless many religions are contributing to it…Ultimate Reality is too big for any one religion… liberating solidarity is “antithetical to religious exclusivism” …  the Christian vision, like all religious visions, is “limited” and cannot regard itself as “absolute.”

Well, if James Cone has served up this endorsement of a more pluralistic theology and dialogue of religions, I would say that the ball is now in the court of us so-called theologians of religions and inter-religious dialoguers.   Cone is basically saying that there cannot be any effective liberation without interreligious dialogue.  I believe that those of us given to the dialogue of religions must respond with the admission that there can be no authentic dialogue without liberation.   If a truly world-wide struggle for liberation calls for the dialogue of many religious communities, then the dialogue of religions must respond by making sure that when religions get together to talk, they don’t just talk about religion.  They have to also talk about the realities of human and environmental suffering due to injustice.

When religious people come together to “dialogue,” the topics must be not only “ultimate reality,” “life after death,” “prayer and meditation;’  the dialogical agenda must also include human rights, poverty, housing, economic disparity, political policies.  And as Jim Cone told me in one of our first conversations after I came to join the faculty here at Union Theological Seminary,  inter-religious dialogue here in the United States must also talk about White Supremacy.

And of course, when religious people come together to talk about liberation and overcoming injustice, they can’t just talk.  They will also have to act — to walk the talk together.   James Cone, occupied all his life with the reality of racial and economic injustice, recognizes that he also has to engage in inter-religious dialogue.   Christian theologians of religions (also called “comparative theologians”), occupied with the need for dialogue, must recognize that they have to engage in efforts toward liberation.

“Liberation and dialogue” — the two have to go together.  James Cone realized that back in the early 90s.   I hope that more and more people — theologians or whoever — can share that realization.