James Cone, one of America's most influential and interesting theologians, just cancelled a speech he was scheduled to make at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio.
He has a fabulous new book--The Cross and the Lynching Tree--and all first year students were required to read it [and the whole community at Trinity had been invited to read it] in anticipation of his visit.
James Cone is also black, and the reason he cancelled his appearance is that he had received threatening letters and phone calls that made him--as well as the staff at Trinity--fearful for his safety. I don't know the whole story yet, but I do know that race and gender continue to play a major role in terms of the kind of credibility and weight certain theological views are accorded, and whose voices are valued around the table. It's a loss to Trinity that he was not able to come in person, but the community will be well-served by the knowledge they gained from the book. It is provocative, true, but the argument is also compelling and powerful: What does it mean for us as Christians and for our understanding of the cross to bring together the cross and the lynching tree, seeing Christ in the body of a lynched black man or woman? I would argue that this image helps us see Christ in a new light, and imagine new ways of being faithful to Christ in the 21st century.
It's a great book--and if you haven't already read it, now is a great time.