#TreasuresofDarkness, Day 3: Psalm 68:31 and the Stirrings of Revolution – Rev. Kwame Pitts

This week, We Talk. We Listen.is very happy to welcome the Rev. Kwame Pitts back to the blog, and for the chance to introduce the wider public to her dynamic blog series on African and African diasporic thought and life Treasures of Darkness. Originally posted here, Rev. Pitts’ reflection on the richness and power of African-rooted spirituality and ethics is the kind of education and challenge that many white Christians say they appreciate, but so often don’t. Read, comment, and share – and follow the #TreasuresOfDarkness devotional for Black History Month.
Francisco Herrera – Interim Blog Editor, Ph. D. student

“Black was an emotionally partisan color, the handmaid and symbol of baseness and evil, a sign of danger and repulsion. Embedded in the concept of blackness, was its direct opposite-whiteness…White and black connoted purity and filthiness, virginity and sin, virtue and baseness, beauty and ugliness, beneficence and evil, God and the devil….Blackness not only had a distinctive negative connotation but also was personalized as the devil.” from Yorbua Traditions and African American Religious Nationalism, Dr. Tracey E. Hucks

“The missionaries who introduced the gospel to Africa in the past 200 years did not bring God to our continent. Instead, God brought them. They proclaimed the name Jesus Chrsit. But they used the names of the God who was and is already known by African peoples: such as Mungu, Ngai, Olodumare, Asis and thousands more. These were not empty names. They were names of the one and the same God.” Dr. John Mbiti, as quoted by Dr. Peter Paris from The Spirituality of African Peoples

One of the issues that I am rooted in my constructive and valid criticism of Westernized Christianity, is the factor that we, as African Peoples of the Diaspora are not religious or spiritual enough and need to be trained and educated in the right way of worship.

That Christianity was exclusive to Western European ideals, because we were obviously uncivilized because we worshiped the Creator in a variety of ways and languages. That we were cursed because of our skin, and therefore anything that we contributed to the global culture should be eradicated and erased.

Even today, when African Descent peoples here in the U.S. worship and celebrate the Creator God, with songs and dancing and drumming it is still seen as barbaric. When we venerate our Ancestors, it is seen as demonic. And yet, it is through the African Diaspora communities that the communications both ancient, sacred and now, sacred are still being utilized. That many peoples, for that matter of different cultures who have been oppressed and marginalized because of whom they are and that they did not fit the “accepted norm” of whiteness, also have a deeper connection to the Creator because of these rituals and traditions.

“The principle that holds all of these beings together is harmony. Every being, divine and human, is responsible for the nurturing harmony within and between the various levels of created existence and hence with the Great High God. The manifestation of disharmony is considered evil, and not reflective of the Great High God.” Dr. Peter Paris.

In other words, peoples of the African Diaspora, since we were birthed into Creation, have held fast to the practical and ethical obligations both to ourselves as Tribes of peoples, to Creation and to the Creator.

Here below, is my original post and contribution towards the #TreasuresofDarkness African Descent History Devotional.

Ache’.

Amen.

The Revolution has always been birthed in the bosom of Africa

Curiously enough,

by scholars and theologians alike,

Psalm 68 has been difficult to analyze and decipher

Also,

Interestingly

Psalm 68, verse 31

Has routinely been ignored or not included

in much of the lectionary-

Sometimes it is everything BUT

Verse 31.

Let bronze be brought from Egypt;
let Ethiopia hasten to stretch out its hands to God.

Papa Legba, Protector of the Crossroads; a presence for an exile and enslaved Peoples; a presence for Revolution

Rather interesting that the word “bronze” has been substituted for the Hebrew חַשְׁמַנִּים

which means ambassador, envoy

And in other places, the definition has been translated into nobles, Princes and even red cloth.

Curious about how items such as red cloth, bronze and other interpretations came to be, to describe one of the mighty civilizations of the world-or perhaps, it was only the material and the profitable that mattered on describing places in Africa-

because the Peoples of Africa,

where never seen as vital

or important

Or even, related to the colonizing white/European

as even human.

There are two key interpretations. One, cultivated by white abolitionists and subsequently used by Europeans who embark upon an African “civilizing mission”, holds that it is they — white/Europeans — who are God’s children. Hence, it is white/Europeans to whom Ethiopia is stretching for her hands for deliverance from slavery and primitivism. The other, cultivated by the enslaved and their downpressed descendants, holds that the Bible is their story — the “half never told“. Africans will therefore righteously deliver their own selves from bondage. Interpretation of Psalm 68:31

Treasures entrusted to the people of God-Resting place of the Ark?

In the Hebrew, כּ֥וּשׁ

is translated into Cush,

Cush,

Son of Ham,

Cursed for all eternity

This curse passed down to all of his descendants

of being

BLACK,

which because of Ham seeing Noah his father’s most vulnerable moment

Was a sign of disrespect

And the excuse to enslave the entirety of a People.

And yet,

It’s hilarious because this particular Psalm

Speaks of God

FIGHTING

FOR

THE

VULNERABLE

Clearly throughout the Psalm,

God is protecting those who have been abandoned

Abused

And leads out those who have been wrongly imprisoned

By the early part of the 19th century various mystics, poets and preachers begin to proselytize this message in public. Prince Hall, a Barbadian freemason, resident in Boston, proclaims that the Haitian Revolution is prophecy revealed: “Thus doth Ethiopia begin to stretch forth her hand, from a sink of slavery to freedom and equality. Interpretation of Psalm 68:31

The Psalms are songs

Expressing our heartache, our sorrow and our determination

as Beloved of God

Psalm 68:31 then,

Is a Song of Freedom

Because the chosen peoples of God,

in times when humanity pits itself against one another,

In the name of dominance

and greed,

and selfishness

Reach out their arms to the Creator,

Because the Creator indeed,

protects Peoples

counted among the Sacred.

Ase.


75095313_10218587923942285_6894276822024847360_oRev. Kwame Pitts (M.Div. LSTC2015) is empowered and emboldened by the presence of the Ancestors, living out her life as such. Her call is not only to prophetically teach and preach but also experience her Faith along a dual and sometimes complex spiritual pathway, as the Creator has called her. Following and continuing the responsibilities laid out through her Womanist theologian mentors and Elders, her Ancestors both known and unknown, and venerating her namesake in the work of building a nation, Kwame lives her life authentically, as a Woman of the African Diaspora, working and rooted in transformative and social justice. She has been ordained in the ELCA since 2015 and currently serves in Upstate NY Synod both as Pastor and Campus Pastor. She continues towards completion of her Master’s of Sacred Theology (STM) from Chicago Theological Seminary (May 2020).

Also, for those who wish to follow the #TreasuresOfDarkness devotional that accompanies Pastor Kwame’s series, click on and save this image as well as click here.

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