Back in my seminary days, I loved reading and writing about James Cone. He was one of the few theologians I would call fierce. He would not accept a theological idea that could not be connected to everyday human life and suffering. He did not live or concern himself with a disembodied world of ideas. While it’s been a while since I did much theological reading, I’ve discovered his most recent book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree. And yes, this book is a powerful and provocative as its title suggests.
I’m still in the midst of it so I won’t do anything approaching a review here. This book requires some slowness and reflection. But this book does what I have always loved about James Cone’s work– it connects us all. He starts from a place that sees us all as connected. What we do, what we don’t do, affects everyone and everything around us. There are no static ideas for James Cone. This is a kind of brilliance lost in many academic disciplines today. Also, James Cone believe deeply that the present can be redeemed and improved when we admit and know our past. In this very readable book, James Cone draws connections between the nuances of Christ’s death on the cross and the brutality of America’s history of lynching. The journey of this book, so far, is fascinating, interesting, challenging, and rich. Just what I remember from James Cone.
This book does not require a degree in theology. It does not even require the language of academic theology. You can be enriched by this book if you have an interest in a world liberated from its worst behaviors– by courageous and brave people. Take a look.