In 1897, President Grover Cleveland made Labor Day a federal holiday, reacting to pressure from unions following the contentious Pullman Strike. Over the next century, unions fought to win all sorts of benefits for Americans, ranging from widespread employer-sponsored health care to reduced workdays. But this Labor Day, many of these hard-fought benefits are under attack:
blackourstory
profkew:

PHOTOGRAPH BY RUDDY ROYE
Between the World and Ferguson by Jelani Cobb

When I was eighteen, I stumbled across Richard Wright’s poem “Between the World and Me.” The poem, a retelling of a lynching, shook me, because while the narrator relays the details in the first person, the actual victim of that brutish ritual is another man, unknown to him and unknown to us. The poem is about the way in which history is an animate force, and how we are witnesses to the past, even to that portion of it that transpired before we were born. He writes,


    darkness screamed with thirsty voices; and the witnesses rose and lived:The dry bones stirred, rattled, lifted, melting themselvesinto my bones.The grey ashes formed flesh firm and black, entering intomy flesh.
Nothing save random fortune separated the fate of the man who died from that of the one telling the story. Errin Whack and Isabel Wilkerson have both written compellingly about the long shadow of lynching. It is, too often, a deliberately forgotten element of the American past—one that is nonetheless felt everywhere in Ferguson, Missouri, where protests followed the shooting of Michael Brown, who was eighteen years old, by a police officer. One can’t make sense of how Brown’s community perceived those events without first understanding the way that neglected history has survived among black people—a traumatic memory handed down, a Jim Crow inheritance.
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profkew:

PHOTOGRAPH BY RUDDY ROYE

Between the World and Ferguson by Jelani Cobb

When I was eighteen, I stumbled across Richard Wright’s poem “Between the World and Me.” The poem, a retelling of a lynching, shook me, because while the narrator relays the details in the first person, the actual victim of that brutish ritual is another man, unknown to him and unknown to us. The poem is about the way in which history is an animate force, and how we are witnesses to the past, even to that portion of it that transpired before we were born. He writes,

    darkness screamed with thirsty voices; and the witnesses rose and lived:
The dry bones stirred, rattled, lifted, melting themselves
into my bones.
The grey ashes formed flesh firm and black, entering into
my flesh.

Nothing save random fortune separated the fate of the man who died from that of the one telling the story. Errin Whack and Isabel Wilkerson have both written compellingly about the long shadow of lynching. It is, too often, a deliberately forgotten element of the American past—one that is nonetheless felt everywhere in Ferguson, Missouri, where protests followed the shooting of Michael Brown, who was eighteen years old, by a police officer. One can’t make sense of how Brown’s community perceived those events without first understanding the way that neglected history has survived among black people—a traumatic memory handed down, a Jim Crow inheritance.

Read more.

The Queen James Version - Deliberate Mistranslation and a Big, Fabulous Bible

from In Progress, my blog about progressive Christian ideas and theology:

So big. So fabulous.

A few days ago, a Facebook friend tagged me in a link he’d posted about the Queen James Bible (hereafter, “the QJV,” for Queen James Version), which, in the words of its editors, ”seeks to resolve interpretive ambiguity in the Bible as it pertains to homosexuality.” I’d never heard of it, so I clicked on the link and read about it. I ended up having more to say than would fit easily into a Facebook comment, so I decided to talk about the QJV in depth here instead.

Before I say anything else, let me state up front that I am an LGBTQ-affirming Christian. I believe that minority sexualities and gender identities are a blessed part of God’s good and ordered creation, and they should be affirmed and celebrated in God’s church. (I’ve talked about some of the reasons for this here.) At the same time, I am a thoroughly orthodox Christian: I profess the universal creeds of the church on a weekly basis with profound faith in the truth of what I am saying.* I believe that church teaching should be grounded in a faithful reading of scripture, guided also by reason, tradition, and experience.

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Now that you know my biases, dear reader, let’s dig into the QJV.
The QJV is actually just a King James Bible with alterations made to the eight Bible verses that are most commonly used to condemn homosexuals. (The name “Queen James” is an allusion to the fact that King James, the person who commissioned the King James Bible, is thought by some historians to have been gay or bisexual.) It’s not a new Bible translation, but an old one that’s been altered to serve a particular purpose. In this, it’s unlike just about any Bible I’m familiar with, although Bibliotheca, which takes the American Standard Version and updates some of the language for easier comprehension, seems like a distant cousin.

So the QJV is a weird Bible, more like a publicity stunt or a piece of post-modern art than a traditional Bible edition. It’s not clear to me that there’s much demand for a “big, fabulous,” but very slightly modified KJV with a big rainbow cross on the cover. While the KJV is probably the most beautiful, and certainly most influential, English Bible translation, it’s also among the least accurate in its renderings of the original texts.** This makes it an odd choice for making the point that an accurate understanding of the original texts shows that they make no direct reference to homosexuality as we think of it today.

As at least one reviewer has pointed out, if you really want a QJV, you can save money by modifying your own KJV: just scratch out the relevant verses and insert the edits proposed on the QJV website.

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