Good morning, Netizens...
I was not going to fire this thread up until I had time to adequately prepare myself since I knew, from having read several of his rather profound messages in the past, that Casey King would certainly bring an alternative opinion to this discussion thread, but would probably also make me think a great deal about my past involvement with organized religion and theology in general. Short of figuring out how to migrate three critical and challenging messages that Casey put forth yesterday to this thread, I felt our discussions merited a venue of its own, a potential seed for future discussions.
First, so that there are no misconceptions, I spent two years studying at Chicago Theological Seminary, first as a summer volunteer (my grandmother helped set this up) where I worked extensively in the heart of the ghetto with disadvantaged kids while residing at the seminary, which was my first major involvement with racial issues and theology. Then, once I began classes at the University of Illinois Circle Campus in 1965, again deferring to my gracious grandmother's wishes, I enrolled in several classes at the Theological Seminary. Subsequent to several other life-altering events, including running out of money, I left the seminary after two years, and eventually transferred out of the University of Illinois entirely.
Since that time, nearly 40 years ago, I have been involved in a number of different theological and philosophical events, and since 2000 have been uninvolved in any Spokane-regional organized religions, regardless of their philosophies or names. The only exceptions to these rules are I am still a practicing Buddhist, a theological misfit in that I tend to keep the counsel of only a few, and that I generally avoid discussions regarding comparative religions. My only totem to religion as far as education goes is that I hold a minor in Far Eastern Studies.
In this case, I will make an exception to the latter simply because I have known and participated in some of the Chicago African-American congregations we may be discussing, and I feel that some of the participants in this blog will make this thread one of the most-controversial, vibrant discussions of its kind and, hopefully, a learning experience for some.