Tonight in class we had group presentations over zoom. This was an interesting twist on group projects but was very well handled by the whole class and was a wonderful time of learning in my humble opinion.
We were asked to write about which person and their spiritual emphasis did we most relate to and why.
Well the five people who were presented were:
Otis Moss III
Renita J. Weems
Henri Nouwen was the person my group presented and he is not the person I most related to. Henri has struggles with his sexual identity which led some recent groups to say we should not listen to him, but his writings have had a huge impact on the psychological impact of faith. Helping us all to understand that if we are to be healers of the world we need to come from a place of needing healing to know how to help others heal. And the struggle in my opinion makes this even more profound of a statement.
Nadia Bolz-Weber is a person I have followed over her career and have watched give a new face to pastoral leadership. She has in some ways made it ok for pastors to be who they really are, even though we all know that God calls us as we are and doesn’t want us to act. Nadia shows the world her down-to-earth saltiness while being 100% orthodox. Nadia you might think is who I most resonate with but she is not.
Oscar Romero is a saint of the catholic church who was martyred for his faith. He is one who is said to be one of the fathers of liberation theology even though some history shows that he really didn’t believe in some of the things liberation theology espoused. He was known to “soak his life in prayer” praying for many hours of the night after consulting with others about current events. This is something I feel we all should do. Oscar Romero while a spiritual father is not who I most resonate with.
That leaves us with two people: Otis Moss III and Renita J. Weems.
Renita J. Weems is a beacon of hope and fire in the womanist biblical interpretation movement. She has written many books and is known for her speaking engagements. I had not heard of her until this evening and I will definitely be doing more reading and learning about who she is and how she is impacting the faith. One thing we heard tonight was about her asking which Renita did the people she was speaking to want. Did they want the preacher Renita, or the biblical scholar Renita, or the author Renita because sometimes she would think it was one and that one would be there, but they wanted a different one. And yes all of her personas are one person, but much like the Trinity, we experience people in different ways depending on the circumstances. And that is something Renita brings to us in the understanding that we are many different people all in one and through that, we can help others experience God and their faith in various different ways.
Otis Moss III was another person I had not heard of before tonight. He is the son of a preacher and was given the opportunity to take over for his father or move to Chicago and become the pastor to follow Jeremiah Wright and be the pastor at the church where the Obamas were members. He was a film major and used modern film and music to preach from and with. He wrote a book about the Blue Notes of Jazz and how we live life sometimes in the blue notes. This really resonated with me, being a jazz musician myself, and I can see and clearly understand how improvisation is something we do on a daily basis, and understanding the notes to use is kind of like understanding how our faith works in our lives and the things from our faith that give us the strength and the will to move forward. Otis Moss III also spoke about going on pilgrimages to see how others in faith lived and to understand our history. He led groups every year to South Carolina to learn about slavery and the history of our country and the way slavery impacted faith. He talked about how a pilgrimage was a journey of the heart and that any trip could be a pilgrimage if your heart was focused on how God could help impact your life here and now.
Otis Moss III is the person that most impacted me this evening, because he incorporates current media and trends, with film and music, bringing God into focus in our daily lives, God is already there, we aren’t putting God anywhere. We are using the tools around us to help others see God more clearly. That is what I want to do and strive to do. Using music, films, and daily life to show where God already is and how we can join God in the ministry that is already happening around us.
Can this happen? I hope so. Otis Moss III does it, so maybe we all can too.