On August 11, 18, and 25 from 7:30-9pm, Katherine Davis will lead a discussion of Reading While Black by Esau McCaulley. Extra copies of the book are available! Read her thoughts below and sign up here to join the discussion.
I am thrilled for us to gather for August (even august) discussions on Dr. Esau McCaulley's Reading While Black. Per usual, by the time I found this text, most of you had already digested it.We are primed for a chat on the beauty and instruction of Black biblical interpretation.
The question lingers, though, why we spend time in book clubs. Would Jesus have us sit with the biblical commentaries of Howard Thurman, or Beth Allison Barr, or Esau McCaulley, when our powers combined could be out serving with our hands? Yes. Yes, he would.
The Good Book is clear: "though it cost all you have, get understanding" (Proverbs 4:7, NIV). The savior revealed to us as a racial and religious minority was disciplined in scriptural study, both alone and in community (Matthew 7:29, Luke 2:46, John 7:14). Nothing harshed his vibe like folks who went out into their communities purporting to speak for the church but who did not "know [their] Bibles or God's power" (Matthew 22:29, Kingdom New Testament).
You have my word: service will spawn from this discussion series. But first, we will sit with our ignorances and prejudices—the siloed, muted hermeneutics presented to us by church leaders whose motives were murkier than we realized—and we will hold it all up to the Light. We will invite the Spirit to give us fresh eyes, deconstructing in community so that we can remind each other that God is still good and the gospel is still true, even when the church has bridled our worldviews and broken our hearts. We will return relentlessly to scripture with what McCaulley deems "a hermeneutic of trust."
"The path forward is not a return to the naivete of a previous generation, but a journeying through the hard questions while being informed by the roots of the tradition bequeathed to us. I propose instead that we adopt the posture of Jacob and refuse to let go of the text until it blesses us. Stated differently, we adopt a hermeneutic of trust in which we are patient with the text in the belief that when interpreted properly it will bring a blessing and not a curse. This means that we do the hard work of reading the text closely, attending to historical context, grammar, and structure." McCaulley, Reading While Black, 21.
On Wednesday, August 11, we will discuss chapters 1 and 2. Join us.
~ Katherine Davis