Courage to Hope by Steve Spain

BMP Class Dr. Alvan Johnson, Instructor
“Courage To Hope” by David Daniels III
By Steve Spain
Faith vs. Historical scholarship
As a “Psych” major (Bachelor’s degree in Psychology) I am inclined towards seeing the world through the eyes of empirical evidence. Scientific observation and verification has made an impression on me.
But I am also and predominantly a person of faith. So I am slightly put off by the authors observation of how some historians view God as a cause of events effecting humanity’s place in history. Daniels says, “…historians consider the appeal to God as the cause of a phenomenon as a sign of intellectual sloth (Daniels, 3).”
He goes on to say, “…God was employed as the means to justify superstition, irrationality, ignorance, tyranny, and dogmatism (Daniels, 4).” The grand shift he says is a transition from an anthrocentric world (view) to a centerless one, or a polycentric view, this view he says is “due to a loss of subject.”
The post moderns and the moderns, use reason and universality from a Euro- masculine perspective. Africa it seems was left out of discussions on history and God as a subject.
Euro-masculine views of this day denigrated God to a post that was less than foundational to one that was viewed as post-foundational. Their view of God is that He is impotent, or only as a symbol. They also see God as a Divine absent entity.
The author asks, “how do we conceive of divine presence? He uses the Civil rights movement of the 1960’s to prove his case.
He says that the movement was a public and private (provocative) display of “belief in God’s involvement in the struggle, that emboldened African Americans … to challenge the legality and morality of state-sanctioned racial segregation and terrorism( Daniels, 7).”
In their view of the Civil Rights movement the historians have ‘erased’ God as a subject. They say that God is only important as a result of the “simplistic faith of a hyper-religious African American community.( 7)”
The empiricist perspective ignores how empowering “telling their own stories was for them as well as how naming and demystifying their oppression turned their meetings into worship events. These worship sessions were opportunities for regular folks to be transformed into genuine activists.
The people saw activism as a call from God; in which they answered fearlessly. The Spirit of God was transferred to the whole nation through television and newspaper reporting. This transference manifested in the inclusion of other faiths and denominations to stand alongside those who were burdened down by segregation.
Finally, the challenge according to Daniels is learn to recognize the presence of God in our midst not just as a matter of faith but also as force, as a subject in history.


Black Theology and Black Power by Steve Spain

Black Ministries Program, Hartford Seminary, Hartford , Ct.
Dr. Alvan Johnson, instructor
Black Theology and Black Power by James Cones
Essay by Steve Spain

Why do I feel sometimes that I or my voice is useless in regards to current civil events in the U.S. ? The author Cones alludes to the idea that the current denominational church is ineffective in demonstrating an attitude that fosters a willingness to die for the cause of Christ. Could it be that I feel this way because I have not been prepared to sacrifice my personal life or values for the cause of Christ?
I have also considered my spiritual gifts. Are my gifts (teaching, counseling, administration, knowledge, wisdom) the type or sort of gifts that line up with the need of the times? By “becoming one of them” (and being born one of them), I am as Cone says, “inextricably” connected to the poor. Therefore my gifts must be available to them. I always come to my senses after experiencing that sickening feeling of inadequacy. Cones reminds us of Bonhoffer: “when Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die.”
My Christian obligations to evangelize the unsaved and build up and edify believers, demands that I use my gifts to encourage the church to “repent, and believe on the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I must convince them that repentance involves “changing ones whole being. Also that there is no repentance without obedience, and no obedience without action!”
What must a White church do to incorporate radical change? It means reorienting their “style” with blacks, it means changing sides, giving up all claims to separation and neutrality. It means they must identify with the oppressed, which should not be hard for them since they historically have evolved from their own dreaded poverty; it means breaking the pattern of “unambiguous identification with the oppressed by sometimes accepting the responsibility of placing their lives in harms way if necessary. I realize that all people are fallible and therefore susceptible to the concept of “missing the mark,” of living within God’s wrath. This wrath will let us push forward in our sin nature and convince ourselves that we are doing something meaningful when actually we have fallen short of the required need of God’s people. Cones calls this a “false kind of religious and political security by equating law and order with Christian morality.
What or how would “breaking the church’s identity with the world by presenting the problem of race or color, contribute to a revolutionary impact on Christian values in America? Since Theology and the church are inseparable regarding reaching and addressing the needs of the oppressed, a critique of the church would surely reveal a flaw in its Theology. Cones believes this leads to revising the ‘language” of the church; The Gospel of Jesus Christ must be at the forefront of any political issues that are worthy of the church’s scrutiny.
Since the church believes that Christ is in the world, the church says Cones, cannot remain “aloof” from the needs of its people in the world. The church’s mission then becomes a “worldly mission,” meaning “making sure that the church is in the world and that its Word and deeds are harmonious with Christ!”
Finally, Cone states, “American Theology has failed to take that worldly risk. It has ignored domestic problems on race, it does not confront society with the truth of the Kingdom in the Light of Christ. Consequently I therefore must overcome any timidity and procrastination to avoid missing the mark and aligning myself with America’s white church by remaining aloof and separated from the oppressed of the world.

If it walks like a duck…

27 Feb 2017 10:28 AMAnonymous
What are our responsibilities regarding the world that corrupts and wounds the people we serve? Despite our embracing differences and human rights, there was a bit of a hubbub (so archaic but so fitting…) when the CPSP expressed its support of the LGBTQ concerns. And now there have been some interesting letters to me regarding Raymond’s recent comments about the Lord’s Prayer as a political tool.

The CPSP does not back candidates or contribute to political parties. However, we are citizens and religious leaders, and we do have the obligation to speak truth to power. Our priesthood is not reclusive but out in the highways and byways, reaching into places of suffering and imprisonment, providing therapy to individuals and families in deep crisis and chaos. When cruel politics hits us and our ministries, when the state seeks to tear down our chapels of care, we have every reason to resist and speak.

Do we already forget that our new President has filed for candidacy in 2020? The rally in Florida where Mr. Trump had his wife recite the Lord’s Prayer, was entirely political and received tax advantages, the ones we all pay for. The Prayer of our Lord (I speak as a Christian) was used for specific effect and not a reverent act; we should all be offended and even frightened.

The word “narcissist” has been thrown around lately by both professionals and lay people. I am impressed by the “borderline” quality of the actions and attitudes of Mr. Trump. Things like “let’s you and him fight” (furthering the differences between evangelicals and progressives), blatant lies, the denial of any error, all things either black or white, impulsivity and inconsistency, the rejection of boundaries (laws and conventions do not apply) and discipline, no concern for consequences, the use of any tactic in the moment, and the need to have an enemy to attack. He is also brilliantly intuitive about the weaknesses of others, which forms the basis for his nicknaming his enemies.

I lived for 20 years in Palos Verdes, CA. The Los Angeles Trump National Golf Club was built literally in my neighborhood by the ocean; as is his pattern, he took over a failed enterprise already under construction. Mr. Trump continually broke agreements and contracts with our city, which had granted him many concessions to begin with. The art of the deal is pure borderline…make an agreement, break it, make threats, mockingly beg for forgiveness, force concessions, then break that agreement. This caused dissension and sorrow in our community, and most of us wished the thing would fall into sea, which one hole did do. We could call his behavior callous or dishonest or untrustworthy or reprehensible…he calls it business. He assumes the stances of a demagogue. It is also patently clinical…so I say it is a duck.

When a parent acts in these ways, it leads to lots of business for us therapists. We provide care to children and “adult children” that embraces every resource to help the patient cope with that destructive world they were raised in, and find the healthy boundaries that lead to the hope of a good life. Then there are those who cling to this parent and themselves deny and ignore every abuse and lie…they project themselves onto the abusive parent so that any criticism of the parent is an attack on them, thus protecting the authoritarian abuser. And some of us still wonder how the German people could deny the holocaust as it was happening…it could happen anywhere.
We are chaplains and therapists grounded in a psychoanalytic awareness of the human condition. You and I serve in the places where people don’t want to be…the hospitals, prisons, nursing homes. You and I serve in the emotional prisons of addiction, depression, physical and emotional abuse, psychosis, acute and chronic distortions of the reality we believe to be true.

You and I are in a here and now that needs our very best care. Our skills, beliefs, and commitment bring peace and comfort and hope. And, once in a while we must speak truth to power and point out the public actions that harm the soul.



BMP 260
SPRING 2017,


Old Testament Scripture in Exodus regarding Moses and the topic of marriage is misleading in regards to whether Zipporah was his only wife or if he was married to an Ethiopian woman also. This article will attempt to unravel the mystery.

Did Moses have one wife or did he marry twice? We know he took a wife in the land of Midian after he escaped from Pharaoh in Egypt, for killing the Egyptian(ex. 2:11-15). Also does his or her blood line play a part in this quandary; the problem of scripture being contradictory is prevalent here where some books of the Bible I’ve learned may overlap that speak of the same issues; or similar instances which are also perplexing is the use of terms that seem to have different meanings, this article will seek to address all of these possibilities.

While in the wilderness on the far side of the desert, at a well Moses meets seven daughters of a Priest of Midian. After helping the women recover their sheep which had been run off by some neighboring shepherds the women told their father about him and he offered his hospitality to Moses by inviting him to eat with them (ex. 2:13-22).
As a reward for helping his daughters, Reuel also called Jethro offered his hospitality and gave Moses his daughter Zipporah to be his wife.
After a long while living with his family in the desert Moses returns to Egypt. It was the Lord Himself who spoke to Moses to make the return (Ex. 3). He took his wife Zipporah and their two sons Gershom and Eliezer with them.
On the way back Moses displeases the Lord, by not circumcising Eliezer. God’s anger is so great that He is about to kill Moses; but something happened that was enough to spare him from God’s wrath. Zipporah used a stone to cut off the foreskin of Eliezer! And the Lord spared Moses. Zipporah’s action angered Moses so much that he eventually sent her back to her father.
At this point Moses is alone on his way to Egypt, God tells Aaron to go out and meet him. After they meet Moses shares God’s instructions with Aaron, they then go and gather all of the elders of the tribes of Israel( Ex. 4:27-29). This is where we see Zipporah reenter the scene with Moses. Exodus 18:1-12 shows us how Jethro who is motivated by the news of how the Lord has helped Moses and decides to go out to where Moses is and takes his daughter, Gershom and Eliezer with them to meet Moses.
We see here that Jethro a Priest of Midian, not an Israelite is impressed to say the least with how the Lord has blessed Moses and offers up sacrifices to the Lord! His sacrifices are acceptable to God even though he is a foreigner. Even though Jethro is not a Israelite he is knowledgeable of the Israelites ways, and says,” blessed be the Lord who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh…. V. 11, Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other god’s, for He did this to those who have treated Israel arrogantly.”
A word about Midian will help to clarify this mystery of Moses and his wife or wives. In an article from Http:// , I was surprised to find information that could shed some light on this dilemma. The article says,
“Midian is a land which is named after a man named “Midian,” the descendants of “Midian” are called the Midianites. Midian is a son of Abraham and Keturah. He was one of 7-Ishmael, Zimarn, Joktan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.
This writer proposes that Abraham must have taught the ways of the Lord to his illegitimate children as well as his own; he substantiates this position in Genesis 18:19, “For I know him that he will command his children and his household after him and they shall keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he had spoken of him.” Remember, Midian was a son of Abraham of which Jethro (Reuel) the Priest of Midian, was a descendant. Therefore where in Genesis 25: 1-6, tells us, Abraham took a wife and her name was Keturah, she bare him zimran, and jokshan, medan, and midan and ishbak, shuah, [3] and jokshan begat Sheba, and dedan, And the son of dedan were Asshurim, Letushim and Leumim. [4] And the son of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Elddaah. All these were the children of Keturah. [5] And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. [6]But to the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward , unto the east country.”
The Midianites lived in the east country! Consequently, Midian is the son of Abraham the Shemite. The Midianites are Shemites as well. The article reiterates, “Midianites are not Cushite’s from Noah’s son Ham. This leads us to the pivotal incident of Miriam and Aaron , an how Miriam spoke against Moses’ wife. Please note she spoke badly of Zipporah because she was not an Israelite! Not because she was black! The issue of black and white is moot; because Moses was black. Zipporah was an Ethiopian- Midianite or black Midianite.
The logic to this lies in the concept of the term Cush. Ethiopian means Cush in Hebrew which means black! In other places in scripture, the man Cush comes from Ham; here is where this author believes the translators deliberately misled readers by calling Zipporah an Ethiopian. The author believes the European take on Moses’ race is that he was white or Caucasian, also Zipporah’s children were not “100%” Israelite which probably did not sit well with Miriam and Aaron either. Another factor for consideration regarding Miriam’s contention is that she was a prophetess and she knew Zipporah was probably spiritually enlightened regarding the Lord’s ways, as discussed earlier Zipporah being a descendent of Abraham was probably taught the ways of the Lord that were past down through the family over the generations.
All of these probabilities amount to the idea that Miriam was threatened by Zipporah in more ways than one.
The author goes on to argue how the Hebrew word Ethiopian should not be interpreted from the Greek because they do not fit in every instance. Ethiopian can mean “black face or black people. Cush on the other hand means black or burnt, and refers to one tribe or people. Ethiopia refers to all black people, and Ethiopia(n surely cannot be used to describe Cushites!
This author goes on to state “if you try to translate the Hebrew equivalent, to the word Cush, then you are inaccurately limiting this Greek word to refer to one tribe of black people or to one country.” He says that the correct title to the continent called Africa is Abyssinia or Abasha and is wrongly called Ethiopia. He reiterates that in ancient times Ethiopia covered the whole continent up India
Furthermore the black man Cush he says is just one son of the black man Ham, meaning that Ham’s son’s were also black but could never be called Cushites, but they could be called Ethiopians or Aithiops a Greek word that covered all black people. Further still he says, “Shem’s descendants were black too, yet we would never call them Cushites but you could call them Ethiopians because they were black. He also refers to Nimrod’s empire, that because it was black could be referred to as Ethiopian as well as Cushite, he says Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medes, and the Persians were all peoples of color (emphasis mine) including Israel were considered to be black in ancient times. One last reference is found in Habakkuk 3:7 where the word Cushan is used, he says It does not refer to Cushites, but is a place in the east ; he says that this land (Cushan) “dwelt in the land of Midian.”
To close, erroneous translation is the is real issue according to this author, and is at the core of misunderstandings regarding, in this case study whether Moses was married twice. Using this article as a “credible” source I am of the belief that Moses only married once to Zipporah who was a Midianite, which are descendants of Abraham and Keturah therefore when one reference says he married a Ethiopian and another says a daughter of Keturah, I propose that they were still referring to Zipporah a Midianite woman and Moses’ only wife.


BMP 275
FALL 2016,
The Black Ministries Program offers this course with the intention to “reexamine the traditional definitions of manhood and what it means to be male in the midst of emerging female voices.” This course explores perspectives of Male Spirituality, and Sexuality from an Afro-American as well as Euro-American and other multicultural, ethnic, and gender perspectives.
“We are Spiritual Beings having Human Experiences
Believers serving in ministry are expected to connect intellectually and spiritually with all kinds of people, and anger is likely to surface in highly emotional circumstances; therefore, men are especially urged to get in touch with our own feelings and to practice operating in any state of mind and not step out of bounds with potential new converts as well as with seasoned believers. Anger: in a quote from “Developing Our Hearts for God” I write: “Anger distracts, it is a diversion from reality, an escape from what must be done. Anger can be like a fantasy that saps our energy and shames us even to ourselves. Sometimes anger brings clarity and vision and sometimes it blinds us. In anger we see the truth and, we lose sight of the truth (Developing, 8, Spain).”
I have to admit that my anger is somewhat subdued regarding all of the police shootings of young black men. I think that deep down I do not really think that I can make a difference. Even though in the back of my mind I know that empathy and godly care and concern is the path and is at least one method to going through with someone who may be experiencing a tragedy such as those shootings. I know that just being ‘willing to die for a friend’ literally and figuratively, is God’s will for me, I can be a ram in the bush for someone in need.
In “Beneath the Rage In Ferguson” by A. L. Bennett
What am I to do with my anger as a black man in America? Black men need to be mindful of the changing times in America. With terrorism on the rise, the already dormant state of America’s old antebellum institutionalized form of racism is able to find a platform to reenter society under guises of economics, global relations, politics etc. A safe state of mind to operate in these arena’s is to “Acknowledge my grief/loneliness” to quell any potential transference of my negative or defensive emotions to an already fearful Caucasian population.

As I recognize my need for communication with others in the workplace and in my community I feel like must always compartmentalize my personal needs to ensure protection. I will pray continually for spiritual guidance to be able to put God’s will first and trust that my own needs will be met in the right time.
Confronting my grief helps me to “experience my emotions” in a way that allows for ministry to others through a conduit of intimacy. To be more effective in ministry I first must be healed of my own trauma; “Facing my reality is the only way that I can “separate reality from my fantasies” and stand in faith from day to day with persistence and determination to attain right standing with God, and become an effective minister.
As I develop my Heart to serve I am, by becoming a doer of the Word, I am “overcoming my pain and or loneliness.” I am about to pursue a ministry assignment as Deacon in Messiah Baptist Church this will be my second term of service as a deacon. I know that all believers are called to service wherever thy are needed. Consequently, learning and knowing my place in my country, in my community will help me advise and counsel that much more, and then my ministry will be an effective one, one that will bring glory to God and help edify and build up the saints.
According to Bennett and in the eyes of men in this class… Spirituality connotes, “God, faith, prayer, church, women etc. Sexuality – conversely addresses intercourse, (women, men?) intimacy (closeness), partnership, gratification, power, control.
Bennett: God gives us spirituality and sexuality, he says that, ‘satan blinds us to this concept. Also spirituality and sexuality are connected through intimacy, with God/spouse/partner.’ ‘Before the fall, man was perfect, fully whole, and mature and as scripture alludes to, Adam and Eve were not enough – we needed a Savior, Jesus Christ makes us perfect through reconciliation.
Through reconciliation as a black man in America I can start at home to build on my relationships within the reconciliation process. I can begin to restore understanding regarding my health status, my age circumstance, my employment predicament (or lack of), also my place in ministry. Reconciliation means “to restore understanding between people after hostility, displeasure, or disagreement.” (
As I think of these issues more and more I see that I can make a difference. If I buy into the concept of Emmanuel, then I know that by faith I can go forward in victory to inform, persuade, propose, and influence even out there in the world beyond my little place here at home.
If I exert [power over] my own mind by seeking God first and in faith believe that all the other necessities will be added to me I will succeed. If direct satanesque ideas to the Word of God [power under], I will not only achieve biblical-spirituality but become an overcomer in in the process.
Now I am ready to exercise God’s ‘[power-with] my spouse, congregation/Pastor, towards my community, and the world at large.
In conclusion, I must be an example of the concept that exemplifies the fact that I am a “spiritual person having a human experience; I am spiritual and sexual simultaneously and therefore made in God’s image! Therefore I can have a clear conscience about being spiritual person as well as a sexual one.
How can I connect my Spirituality with my Sexuality?
I can begin the process by learning to reminisce about my life with my Dad to share with my son one day, and with young men in my life, church and community.
What I think the author is saying in this chapter of ‘Handbook,’ is that he experienced a void between he and his father even though his dad would share his “intellect”, his ideas about race, and culture, but would not reveal his vulnerable side (Handbook, 70).”
The author’s memories triggered similar ones in me. My question becomes “Is it wholeness?” Is living with parents that are from the Jim Crow era, who raised families with little or nothing, who taught principles from their life that they were not allowed to learn in school, who were spiritually inclined yet in their marriages they sought out other extra marital activities. Are these people whole? What about me, if I were not in need of answers to questions like these would I even need to study the Lord? Would I have “arrived” as Paul stated that he had not yet arrived?
What I think is that the Lord lets humanity experience life in some cases in His wrath, and in other times in His grace. I think that spiritually my major function is to seek God in as many experiences as I can and fix my attitude to serve Him through Christ, for the uplifting of others however that my be possible. As far as sexuality goes I need to remember whose that I am; sexuality for me must qualify as a higher attribute; it must become a factor that does not debase me and my partner (my wife) but elevates me to a place where appreciation for God’s blessings shines through.
This important to me in that knowing God for one’s self overrides the act of sexual lovemaking; so in times where age, health or circumstance (incarceration) are detrimental factors, I will still be able to be intimate with God, through prayer, study, and actions that signify His presence. I can still be intimate with my wife and family, through praying together and operating in the ‘worldly ministries’ which is taking care of home or being there for them.
In closing, This class has made me aware of the importance of ‘wholeness,’ it brought to light concepts such a connectedness, issues for Black men such as sexuality, and how political activism today are important and essential for potential church leaders, but the most important is knowing myself in regards to these issues and gaining skill in sharing and communicating with others about them. At church I can serve with conviction that is founded on experience from relatives who shared their past and from my own experiences and those of the others who shared their testimony with me.

Is it okay?

Is it okay to make changes to something just because you have the right to? Is it right even if it causes problems for others?

Republicans  i.e.  educated politicians are dismantling affordable healthcare even though it is clearly a help to those who cannot afford health insurance in its present form.

Is it okay to put ourselves before those in need who actually depend on the educated and the rich for protection and provision.

I believe that the wealthy are more than able to meet their own needs and simultaneously provide a viable opportunity for those who are less financially secure citizens to work out a decent living for themselves also.

unfortunatly, I also believe in the “fall of man.” This concept explains the propensity of the wealthy to crumble under the pressure of greed and power.

I pray for our incoming leadership in government to be able to withstand the pull of temptation and indifference that will surely rear its ugly head to influence and destroy what good that’s already been done and what is possible in our future.