Project 12

Discovering Discipleship in the 21st Century

Archive for the ‘Christian Experience’ Category

Some Pics from the Project 12 Orientation ’08

Posted by Jon on September 30, 2008

I had a wonderful time getting to know our students during orientation. I’ll blog more on my class — “Doing Community” — later on, but for now here are some of the pictures I grabbed with my little digital snapper. If too many of them look like we had fun, well… I guess we did.

Wendi Kaiser discusses dating and sexuality with P12 students.

Wendi Kaiser discusses dating and sexuality with P12 students.

Mornings are tough, but these two look plenty awake.

Mornings are tough, but these two look plenty awake.

P12 Instructor Curt Mortimer asked the students to look for symbols of God in nature. This student's bird's nest offers all sorts of possibilities.

P12 Instructor Curt Mortimer asked the students to look for symbols of God in nature. This student's bird's nest was one such find.

The obligatory campfire photo... because cliches are cliches cuz we like 'em.

The obligatory campfire photo... because cliches are cliches cuz we like 'em.

Looks peaceful, but when two fish jumped in the boat there were screams a-plenty!

Looks peaceful, but when two fish jumped in the boat there were screams a-plenty!

A P12er caught by the evening sun. Thinking... or maybe worn out by a long day.

A P12er caught by the evening sun. Thinking... or maybe worn out by a long day.

Some of our classes took place "in the round" -- a circle, that is.

Some of our classes took place

Project 12ers tossing the proverbial plastic as heaven's beams appaud.

Project 12ers tossing the proverbial plastic as heaven beams down upon them.

Two P12ers who've been married under a year... and have "that look of love."

Two P12ers who have been married under a year... and have that newlywed "look of love" for sure!

Homemade pizza, including the whole wheat crusts.... MMMMMmmmm.

Homemade pizza, including the whole wheat crusts.... MMMMMmmmm.

Looking over the 2008-2009 Project 12 Schedule.

Looking over the 2008-2009 Project 12 Schedule.

Why are all these P12 hikers looking so freaked out?!

Why are all these P12 hikers looking so freaked out?!

An eight-legged UFO!?! No, just a large spider hanging directly over our heads.

An eight-legged UFO!?! No, just a large spider hanging directly over our heads. Thus the wide eyes.

Nearly the whole class grins it up for me on this stairway.

Nearly the whole class grins it up for me on this stairway.

Study and worship sometimes blend.

Study and worship sometimes blend.

Climbing the tree was easy. Getting down left this P12er skinned up with slivers.

Climbing the tree was easy. Getting down left this P12er skinned up with slivers.

Whoa, girls climb trees better than boys? She didn't get slivers coming down, either.

Whoa, girls climb trees better than boys? She didn't get slivers coming down, either.

Sunset over Lake Wildwood, as we think of getting back to Chicago.

Sunset over Lake Wildwood, as we think of getting back to Chicago.

Posted in Christian Experience, Project12 info, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Posted by gkaiser on September 20, 2008

Greetings from lovely Cornerstone Farm, about 3 miles from Marietta and 5 from Bushnell in beautiful west-central Illinois!

We are about to embark on another journey, this year we start with 20 students and a lot of great help from former P12 grads working on staff as well.

The weather is wonderful and forecast is excellent for Orientation week here.

We have a number of staffers ready with a full slate of teaching prepared, plenty of individual and group prayer, worship (several very good musicians this year), bonfires, personal sharing, fun/play, communion and more in the schedule.

It’s another year of doing our best to “ruin them for the world”… which simply means helping all of us together recognize and proclaim in thought, speech, choices and everyday life that Jesus Christ is Lord- and we are thankful and blessed to serve Him and others as His disciples, not merely caught in the typical world which is so very addicted to “self” and mere survival.

The kingdom of God has a King!

Our love and joy is to learn more about Him -and- how to build genuine relationships of integrity with Jesus, one another, then to reach out to those who don’t yet know or believe such a thing is even possible.

I can’t thank enough those of you who stop by this site- for your prayers and in some cases, financial support. Thank you So Much! We want our lives to be gifts to God and to many souls in this deeply needy world. Amen.

Posted in Christian Experience, Project12 info | Leave a Comment »

Graduation- July 13, 2008

Posted by gkaiser on July 14, 2008

The classes have ended, mission trips concluded, Cornerstone Festival over and grounds cleaned up. We were back to Chicago’s inner city and P12’s JPUSA base for a final gathering.

Last night Project 12 celebrated it’s third graduation- very special time- and we’ll post pics soon as we can have a thorough look at them and pick a good representation of the event.

Many friends and family, some even flying in from overseas to attend seemed quite encouraged by the apparent work God has been doing in those they love.

I was blessed by the evening in a deeper way than I’d imagined for a number of reasons.

One I’ll mention here is that our support staff (those who had finished Project 12 terms and decided to stay on at JPUSA in various areas also serving the current P12 staff and students) were also just super gifts to all of us. We have been, in a word, blessed!

A P12 tradition is giving a small gift and accompanying verse of Scripture that relates to each graduating student’s individual attributes. Brian and Ami Moss lead that part of the evening and they’re both excellent encouragers. What was unexpected is that the grads also presented each staff person with a gift, and an encouraging word of thanks
as well. Further, they filmed together two short but very cool and truly funny videos relating to the P12 year that were both a riot to watch.

By the way, the gift they gave me was a fire starter… I can’t imagine why (Ha!).

My short message to them follows here, verbatim.

It was another amazing year of bonding, spiritual growth and struggle- exactly what Jesus continues to do for all who follow Him. I think I can safely say for all staff and students, it was an unforgettable year of growth and learning.

Thanks to all who read this and your prayers as we pray, talk, go over all the good input the students gave us, and prepare for the upcoming P12 year which will begin September 20th here in Chicago.

By the way- our sincere apologies for not getting the 2008-2009 schedule posted here yet- it will be up in the next few days… all of us were out at Cornerstone Farm and the festival took a lot of effort pre-during-post!

GLENN’S PROJECT 12 2008 GRADUATION MESSAGE

On behalf of the staff- it has been our pleasure to attempt to serve, teach and interact with all Project 12 grads this year. You know you are only the third graduating class. Knowing all of us on staff as well as disciples in P12, it’s quite an accomplishment that we made it through! I want to thank each of you and each of the staff for an amazing year! Congratulations to us all!

You already know this- but no genuine follower of Jesus Christ ever really “graduates” from HIS school of discipleship. And so I say to you all- finish what you started.

In his letter to the Colossian church Paul wrote: (4.17) “Tell Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you fulfill it.”

You decided to hang in, to stay put, to study, to learn, to try to get some spiritual growth in the Word of God, in right relationships. For many of you staying put for this long in one place, really listening and growing in the Lord has been a rare and unusual thing. Well done!

No matter where He calls or sends you, JPUSA, elsewhere in the U.S., Europe, a third-world country, no matter what stream of the church you end up in, no matter the spiritual gifts you have- understand that you’ve only just begun. Stay on the path!

Run the race, do the work of ministry, let love make you serve one another.

I’ve told you and have said publicly that we in Project 12 have worked to “ruin you for the world”. By now I think you know I mean the only job description all Christ-followers have is “servant”. It’s not about personal fulfilment.

No matter where you go or how you serve the relationship you have with Jesus is more important than your hopes, dreams or personal goals. It is more essential than your acceptance from or popularity with others.

When Christians have been faithful to God, one another and to the lost during the most difficult times in church and human history, it was due to a burning, growing love for Him, obedience to His Word, The Bible, to the Holy Spirit- right where they were, regardless of personal sacrifice.

Living a status-quo Christianity is not only shallow, it’s false because being a disciple means you both listen AND learn. Love is an action, not just a concept.

Keep your hand on the plow He calls you to and don’t look back.

With love, in part as warning and in part as an encouragement- I beg you to finish what you started. Jesus did and will.

Thank you for your service to Him and JPUSA, and for the pleasure of seeing you each grow in the grace and knowledge of Him this year. God BLESS and guide each of you in living your lives for Jesus Christ! Amen.

Posted in Christian Experience, Project12 info | Leave a Comment »

Love Language Number One

Posted by gkaiser on March 31, 2008

I get a daily devo. emailed to me by a longtime friend. One morning this is what I found in my inbox:”Is life not full of opportunities for learning love? Every man and woman every day has a thousand of them. The world is not a playground; it is a schoolroom. Life is not a holiday, but an education. And the one eternal lesson for us all is how better we can love. -Henry Drummond

MK. 12. 30 & 31
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment.
And the second is like it, namely this, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

We all know that loving, really loving our friends, even our spouse and children is at times a difficult and yes, sacrificial thing. Love is far more than words, feelings, sexuality, more than legal covenants or sharing property. It’s more than the giving of ones time or effort. Love certainly includes all of these and more -but what is love, really?

Years ago we heard teaching from several quarters of the church that in short, dealt with the phrase “love language”. In very brief, it addressed the fact that not everyone shares the same primary definition of what it means to be loved by others.

As I prepared a devo. for Project 12 based on all this, I wondered what God’s primary love language might be? In interaction with Jesus while the Lord walked on earth, what was the Father looking for that demonstrated His Son’s love for Him and for that matter, all of us?

Of course we immediately think about His sacrifices, daily, weekly and certainly of His arrest, beatings, utter rejection and final crucifixion that we might be forgiven all our sin and inherit eternal life. But what about His daily relationship to the Father, His disciples and all those who gathered around Him, many in great need?

In years past my wife Wendi named what she believed to be -her- love language. I have come to believe it is probably the same as our heavenly Father’s…

In Luke 22.27b Jesus tells His disciples “…but I am in the midst of you as one who serves.”

Paul writes to the Galatian Christ-followers (5.13) “by love serve one another.”

Ouch! There are a -lot- of verses that speak about serving God and one another in the Word of God but these seem to speak very simply and directly to me. I’m constantly convicted of how poor a servant I can be and often am. That’s just the truth. But serving God in whatever small or large ways is directly linked to serving His children whether or not they walk with Him at the present time.

I could not be more convinced that “serve” may (theologically speaking) be near the top of the list of words that in the end are synonymous with God’s idea of what love looks like and what it actually IS.

May we serve via thoughts, words, emotions, simple or great acts of kindness, time, listening and many other means? Certainly! In the end, it’s likely to be the daily, garden-variety acts of serving that most spell L-O-V-E to God and His children just as they clarify and express what biblical worship is.

I wonder how many of us “get it”? I wonder how often I really -give- it?

My prayer is: God- help me to love as YOU define it. You know I can’t do anything without You… nothing of any real value without Jesus. Lord- help me to love.

Posted in Christian Experience | Leave a Comment »

The Worship of Jesus @ Christmas… and the Rest of the Year!

Posted by gkaiser on December 20, 2007

(Glenn’s personal “book of the year”!)

[Note: nobody put me up to this, it’s not an infomercial and I get nothing from it- I simply love the book and it’s help in my own connectedness with God]

Many of you know I’ve long been captivated by Celtic worship. There are many forms/ways/approaches/worship styles that some will love and others find uninspiring when it comes to seeking and arriving at transcendence and intimate fellowship with the Lord. There are of course various approaches even within those ways/forms associated with Celtic Christian worship.

The past couple years I’ve often turned to a book by Ray Simpson called “Celtic Worship Through the Year” and been superbly blessed. So I pass this bit of info. on to you who may wish to give it a go. Just searching I found the following:

http://www.amazon.com/

Celtic-Worship-Through-Year-Simpson/dp/0340686677

Merry CHRISTmas and BLESSED Worship of the Christ-child!
-Glenn

Posted in Christian Experience | Leave a Comment »

Summer Turns to Autumn… And Good Fruit!

Posted by gkaiser on August 1, 2007

Change. It’s a wonderful and scary thing! It’s an exciting thing too, if you’re me 🙂

I somewhat consider myself an old coot these days, though playing in a rocking band and though often surrounded by much younger people than myself- though not exclusively so. If I rarely hung out with people only as mature as myself I wouldn’t grow much either.

Age of course doesn’t assure maturity. That comes from God, seeking Him with a whole and single heart, and linking with His people, especially with those who you might be a bit intimidated by at times. Just cuz they’re older, they’ve experienced more of life and if following Him, Jesus. They can be really helpful in sorting out your thoughts and choices.

We have a great mix of younger and older people at JPUSA, and most are anything but culturally conservative so things like music and fashion aren’t much an issue. Spiritual growth is of course a huge part of what P12 is all about, so we are doing all we can to help encourage that in all who attend. It’s no surprise that staff are as moved by the Spirit as all others involved are, all of us get to grow together- and this is what makes the journey special, at times stretching but not dull, that’s for sure!

As I type staff are going through a load of applications, we’ve approved many and others are about to be approved as it seems, so it looks like another action-packed year. We’ve some new applicants joining us in the first trimester (mid-Sept.) from Europe also, and that’s a great thing. JPUSA itself has a lot of members from all over the world so it’s fun to see the growth and interaction that happens in such relationships.

Chicago and much of the mid-west is hot right now, but I think the Holy Spirit will once again bless, sometimes cranking up the “heat” in our daily life together, and the discovery of our Father, of the Son and the Holy Spirit as well as continued growth as biblical disciples and actual workers in this part of God’s kingdom will serve as always- to work more of His character, desire and passion in our lives.

And so soon we begin another year of “ruining people for the world”! We admit we’re here to wreak havoc on the status-quo, the dull and surface “life” that so often clings to us and chokes out the passion, fire and loving service God calls ALL followers of Christ to. As and if He leads, join us!

With prayer and excitement for the new Project 12 season, -Glenn and Staff

Posted in Christian Experience, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Good Friday

Posted by gkaiser on April 6, 2007

FRIDAY
glenn kaiser

why?
how could they call this friday
“good”

it was just another grind for me
I had nothing to show for it
it was bloody, unkind
yet a dripping not a downpour
in fact a boring rather dingy day among days
in the race of rats

good!
good God it’s over
thank God it’s friday

‘eh?

(Reprinted from “Unpublished Poetry” at glennkaiser.com/pastor/worship/more worship/unpublished poetry)

Posted in Christian Experience | Leave a Comment »

Project 12 ’07 Outreach/Tour- General Report and Thanks!

Posted by gkaiser on March 25, 2007

What an intense and wonderful trip we’ve had-

At Hebron Center with folks in rehab near Bloomington, Indiana; Trinity Church (Covington) and Castle Rock Church (New Orleans) in Louisiana doing follow-up, clearing of debris, evangelism and praying with people directly affected by hurricane Katrina; visiting the old Jesus People Farm (now The Rocks Cry Out Christian Retreat) near Doniphan, Missouri and nearby Pilgrim’s Rest Church in Fairdealing, Mo..

The beauty of this trip was of course, Jesus being so present in all places. Then there was the gift of bonding of the 15 people on the team, great interaction of leaders, meeting old and making new friends, our Project 12 Worship Team leading worship, myself getting to do concerts and all of our sharing with pre-believers as well as fellow Christ-followers in each place. It was a blast!

There are so many to thank that we must apologize for not listing them all, but in Indiana, Allan Bobbett, Dennis, Burt and -all- at Hebron! Thanks for the opportunity to make friends and pray with so many people seeking to grow as disciples of Jesus, breaking the bondages of addiction as they learn loving obedience to Him. We miss you.
We thank our dear friends (and former JPUSA members) Frank and Lauri Fasullo who along with our new (and kind) friend Jack, housed us in Baton Rogue on the way to Covington and N.O.. Jack worked alongside us for two days there and we already miss the Fasullo family and Jack!

Kudos and hugs to Wayne Rogers, both Marys, Joe and so many more at Trinity Church- what a great interaction and encouragement to the P12 team to see the huge work of restoration- both practical and spiritual- that you’ve undertaken all over your part of Louisiana. Ya’ll have inspired us so much!

BLESSINGS on our friends at Pilgrim’s Rest and The Rocks Cry Out Retreat- Alan and Angel Allen are gems, treated us like family and welcomed us with real affection. To be able to see what you’ve done (and are doing) with the lodge and property JPUSA built and used for so many years is such a blessing to us! The family of God truly is a family, that’s clear.

We thank all the JPUSA and P12 family who were back in Chicago praying for us, ditto the families of several P12 students. We’re certain your prayers sustained us on this couple-thousand mile journey.

For me, it was just awesome seeing the joy, team-work, multi-faceted witness and plain old camaraderie between the team. They worked very hard and kept quite “in the Spirit” over some tough and long drives, work periods often with little sleep. From the comments our leaders have heard, God did and continues to provide lessons of discipleship via these experiences.

A principal concern of mine for the trip was to give them truly varied ministry and church experience and exposure- rehab work in (and Clove and crew’s painting of a very cool wall mural) in Indiana, working alongside many hundreds of Christians doing spring break in practical as well as direct verbal ministry re. Katrina in Louisiana, interaction with a rural church and just down-home good Christian people as well as outreach to local kids in Missouri. This and more took place -in spades!

What a God we serve! What a team I’m blessed to serve with!

We’ll post pics here via my photobucket.com account. Enjoy 🙂

http://s164.photobucket.com/albums/u40/kaizbucket/

-Glenn

Posted in Christian Experience, Evangelism / Missions, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

The Words for Today Are:

Posted by gkaiser on March 6, 2007

(Disclaimer: Please don’t get the idea that I’m miffed or somehow responding to difficulties in Project 12, not so at all! In fact we’ve had amazingly few issues in P12 to date and recognize real fruit in those attending. I had the idea to write this blog for several months and simply decided to post it here as well as a few other spots online 🙂

TOURIST someone who travels for pleasure.

SCAMMER a person who swindles by means of deception or fraud.

SWINDLER from the German word “schwindler”, meaning an irresponsible person, promoter of wildcat schemes, cheat, derivative of “schwindeln” to be dizzy, dizzy-minded, irresponsible.

SLACKER one who evades their duty or work, shirker, educated young person who is purposeless, apathetic.

DISCIPLE follower, actively embracing and assisting in spreading another’s teachings, to grasp intellectually and analyze thoroughly. Biblical Greek: “listener, learner, pupil”.

I’m thinking of the rather negative words here and remembering the scene in “Raising Arizona”… “That’s one bone-head name… but that ain’t me no more, no way!”.

First, this is no diatribe against “the younger generation(s)”! The negative stuff you read in the above definitions can very often be applied to people of any age, any culture or subculture, any “form” or stream of church or local group of people, Christian or otherwise. The only thing that can and must be applied to all who profess to be lovers of Jesus Christ is the last word: “disciple”.

I’ve thoroughly ranted on Christian “tourism” vs. actual missions travel to other lands and cultures elsewhere in my blogs, but here I just wanted to contrast words that seem to shed light (and yes, perhaps heat) on what I think pre-believers sometimes see in we Christians.

I have nothing against tourism as such, but spiritual tourism isn’t something I think is helpful to the cause of Christ and His gospel. Too many tourists complain when things aren’t to their liking. Loving unlovable people, local conditions of food, shelter and entertainment won’t often measure up to a tourist’s whims.

A lot of people don’t want to face their own motives and therefore while a great many aren’t conscious that they’ve fallen into “scam mode” and certainly not into “swindler” status are in fact… out for Number One and if they (as #1) don’t get what they feel they want/desire/(need??) they often move on or plateau out into slackness. Know whut ahh mean?

I totally get (and approve) of people praying, travelling, seeking God on what they ought to be doing, sampling various experiences around the world and even to a degree, “trying to find themselves”. But if most of us find ourselves we’re in for a shock and rude awakening. Self is not God and is in fact often -the- principal enemy of your (and my) spiritual growth as a follower of Jesus.

Seek God, not self, you’ll feel and -be- better off for it!

I find the more I focus on Him and His beauty, grace, compassion and heart for those in the dark, for the poor, for widows and orphans, for those in serious need, I feel FAR better than if I stare in my own mirror, continually focus on/trust my own feelings and get into self-pity or self-righteous judgment of others and the sometime reality that “I didn’t sign up for this”!!

Ha, WHO SIGNS UP FOR A CROSS KNOWING WHAT A CROSS IS REALLY ABOUT?? Not me, that’s for sure.

A serious follower of Jesus so often goes against the flow of -any- culture or subcultural “norm” that DIScomfort and a sense of “I don’t know if I fit here” will be a common thing. This is where The Comforter, God the Holy Spirit comes in. He comforts like nobody else can but also leads us to embrace crosses that promote death to self and growth in Christ.

Being a disciple of Jesus and His Word moves one further and further from the first four words (above) and their characteristics.

Never forget that love literally -makes-… that is, re-creates- a person. If we are “God’s field” (1 Cor. 3.9) we can expect over time good fruit will appear. This indeed means planting in good soil, getting the roots in deep.

If, on the other hand we try to content ourselves with shallowness we’re sure to be “blown about by the wind”. Where thorns and weeds pop up the truly caring farmer works to get that stuff up and out. In fact, if he doesn’t, those very weeds will begin to adversely affect the good grain right next to ’em.

Hey, I didn’t particularly dig school either! How very interesting that God brought me to one… and here I am directing one. What was HE thinking?!!

Posted in Christian Experience, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Phillis Wheatley – Black Writers, part 3

Posted by Jon on February 26, 2007

I’m taking my time getting back to the novelists. Today, I’m swinging back to one of, if not the, first African-American poet, Phillis Wheatley.

Phillis Wheatley’s name, as with so many slave names, unintentionally mapped her history. Phillis was the name of the slave ship that brought her to America; she was only (according to her eventual owner in a 1772 letter) between seven and eight years old. John Wheatley, her owner’s name, became the rest of hers.

She apparently learned English at an astonishing rate of speed. And it wasn’t long before she showed abilities as a writer, though it also seemed for some more an amusement (Look, an African can write words!) than art. Thomas Jefferson in particular found her poetry worthless (but seemed, as his affair with Sally Hemmings proved, to have strong opinions on what young African slave girls were for… writing not being among those talents).

Looking back, it is easy to criticize Wheatley from the opposite end of the spectrum. With our hindsight we might think of accusing her of caving in to the white narrative regarding her own race and personhood. But that seems more than a bit simplistic to me. Sure she was a product of her culture, just as we are of our own. But she also gently challenged, or at least bent from their otherwise rigidly defined norms, the way in which she and her race were viewed by the white culture she was embedded within.

Consider this poem as an example:

On being brought from Africa to America.

‘TWAS mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither fought nor knew,
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
“Their colour is a diabolic die.”
Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain,
May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.

Today’s reader will be perplexed by some of the above and annoyed with some as well. The reference “black as Cain” refers to the theologically erroneous belief that when God marked Cain after the latter murdered Abel, He marked him with black skin. Thus, believers in this doctrine drew a corollary that all Africans and/or dark-skinned peoples were offspring of Cain, marked with his mark of sin. The fact that Wheatley accepted such a doctrine isn’t surprising in light of the lack of options she likely had to it.

A deeper issue, likely to perplex and irritate readers, is Wheatley’s suggestion that her enslavement is part of a redemptive Divine Mystery. Those waters are too deep for this very white and male human being to go paddling about in. But one thing I do resonate with over the vast expanse of time, race, and gender separating us… meaning and beauty can indeed be drawn from terrible suffering. While I don’t want to fall into the usual patronizing nonsense regarding blackness as victimhood (which those of us white folk who have allegedly “tender” hearts love as a narrative!), Wheatley’s own words do more than plead.

Christianity is subversive of all authority, though the nature of that subversion works from within as often as from without. In fact, the work within is where new birth originates, a new vision and new interrelationship between human and God, human and her fellow-human. Wheatley’s vision was a seemingly passive one, yet not as passive as it seemed. Like the Apostle Paul, so easily misunderstood on the issue of slavery, the message of equality undeniable lies at the heart of things.

Wheatley expressed this in various ways. Perhaps one of the more striking I could find comes in her eulogizing over the death of evangelist George Whitfield, and her recreation of what his message of redemption said as well as to whom it was said:

“Take him, ye wretched, for your only good,
“Take him ye starving sinners, for your food;
“Ye thirsty, come to this life-giving stream,
“Ye preachers, take him for your joyful theme;
“Take him my dear Americans, he said,
“Be your complaints on his kind bosom laid:
“Take him, ye Africans, he longs for you,
Impartial Saviour is his title due:
“Wash’d in the fountain of redeeming blood,
“You shall be sons, and kings, and priests to God.”

[from On the Death of Rev. Mr. George Whitfield, 1770]

Impartial Savior? The One who promises not only to American (that is, to white) but also to African slave, “You shall be sons, and kings, and priests to God”?

This is the most gentle, whispering subversion. Yet at its core it contains a mustard seed enough to overthrow the greatest darkness of heart this nation ever knew.

Wheatley did occasionally let her inmost heart express itself more freely than even this. Attempt to imagine with what care a black slave woman in America had to guard her words when her owners and benefactors were all around her, as well as being her only audience. Then imagine she had only the tools of her captors to express herself with, their thoughts, even their religion (though in truth it was often not their religion–or, to subversively quote Nietzsche, “Christianity is a religion of slaves and women”).

Phillis Wheatley’s life after the American Revolution began to unravel. When her master died, she shortly afterward married a freed black man, John Peters. But John eventually left her.
In 1784, after giving birth to her third child, Phillis died. Her child died hours later.

A complete second volume of poetry had been completed, it is said. But those poems have never been recovered. Perhaps that serves as a metaphor of sorts for not only the life of one brilliant lonely woman, but for the lives of a people who, in each of their unique and individual ways, had to find the words of poets and, in speaking them, discover the strange and lonely path of the prophets.

I dare not suggest I know such things. At best, I know of such things. But that of is all the difference between Stephen who, as he was stoned cried out to God, and Paul, who stood by holding the coats of those casting stones. For Paul, there remained the need to be knocked off his high horse and to hear the mouth of murdered Stephen — the mouth of Jesus Christ — sigh out truth and forgiveness.

This is the quiet, secret subversion of Phillis Wheatley which is also the subversive love of Christ for even the persecutors of his beloved.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Posted in African-American, American History, Art & Literature, Christian Experience, Feminism, Poetry, racism, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »