February is Black History Month. This is a month when we’re encouraged to broaden our perspective of the African American experience and honor their unique contribution to our world. I have an idea for how I’m going to celebrate, and I invite you to join me.
I’m going to read Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made, by Eugene Genovese. It is a history of how slaves shaped the world primarily through the church that I stumbled across through a recommendation from a friend and mentor who is a seminary professor with a PhD in history. What intrigues me is how Dr. Eugene Genovese uses the direct experiences of the enslaved to interpret how the enslaved church exerted power and influence upon the world, even though I do not agree with his worldview. As a result, he offers us a window into the experience of the enslaved with the added bonus of how they found great strength and great influence by gathering as a church to praise God, renew their faith in Jesus Christ, and then live out the challenge the gospel gives. Here’s the book’s official description:
“Displaying keen insight into the minds of both enslaved persons and slaveholders, historian Eugene Genovese investigates the ways that enslaved persons forced their owners to acknowledge their humanity through culture, music, and religion. He covers a vast range of subjects, from slave weddings and funerals, to language, food, clothing, and labor, and places particular emphasis on religion as both a major battleground for psychological control and a paradoxical source of spiritual strength.”
So, if you’re a history buff, or simply curious about a lesser known aspect of church history, then I encourage you to join me in February by reading this book. If history isn’t in your wheelhouse, then is there another book you can pick up to learn about the African American experience (like I Take My Coffee Black, by Tyler Merritt that is more of the PG-13 variety*)? Is there a video on YouTube (like the Oscar winning 7-minute film Hair Love, which you could watch with the whole family*), or a movie recommendation on Netflix that you’d watch (maybe High on the Hog, if you’re into cooking shows*)? If you’re wondering about another recommendation, then feel free to email me and I’d be happy to connect you with people who have a vast resource library for you to pick from.
This is our chance to learn and broaden our horizons. It promises to build empathy in us, and also inspire us with stories of fellow believers who have profoundly shaped the world we live in. Looking forward to growing with you, Steve Luxa
Senior Pastor Credit where credit is due: The recommendations with an * come from our Pastor of Discipleship & Women: Bronwyn Lea.