In modern imperialism, race, colonization and Christianity have historically been so intrinsically embedded with one another that the connections between them have seemed natural, and Christian theologians have participated in the geographical and geopolitical construction of this imperialism. Willie James Jennings's book is a genealogy of their participation.
I had an English professor who used to get
deeply annoyed whenever students would cite some literary passage but not
bother to quote it exactly. I recall him telling us, "Look, if you're going to
quote somebody, get it right."
This year the lectionary texts will be heard on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. It will be hard for many preachers and congregants to hear this pivotal scripture from Exodus above the rat-a-tat-tat rhetoric of partisanship and triumphalism that still grips our culture at the end of the first post-9/11 decade.
In 1838 the Jesuits who ran Georgetown University sold 272 slaves in order to keep the school afloat. The college relied on Jesuit plantations in Maryland to finance the school, and slaves were sometimes given to the Jesuits by parishioners. The sale of the slaves in 1838 would be worth $3.3 million today. The university is considering what, if anything, it owes the descendants of those slaves. Richard Cellini, a Georgetown alumnus and CEO of a technology firm, has established a nonprofit organization and hired eight genealogists to track down those slaves and their descendants. A university group is also studying how Georgetown could make amends for its involvement in slavery (New York Times, April 16).