Several years ago, while reading David N. Livingstone’s book Adam’s Ancestors I wrote a piece entitled Father, Forgive Us. While Christian history includes many honorable incidents, many Christians viewed the abolition of slavery as a mandate of their faith, our history is far from clean. Christians have often used faith as a tool for oppression and the history of race in the church includes a lot of dirt. We should not see this as a evidence to dismiss Christian faith – after all many oppressed people have found hope in the gospel (as they should).
Idon’t have a great deal to add to the discussion today, but I wanted to highlight an outstanding piece by Joel Thompson and performed by the University of Michigan Glee Club under the direction of Dr. Eugene Rogers. This dates from five years ago (it was premiered in 2015) – but is oh, so timely today. The movements focus on the last words of seven African-American men who were killed by police or by other authority figures. Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Kenneth Chamberlain, Amadou Diallo, John Crawford. We could add to the list … and it is rather telling that the words of the Eric Garner in this piece were repeated so recently … I can’t breathe.
I know Eugene (and a few of the students who were involved in this performance). Dr. Eugene Rogers is currently Director of Choral Activities, and Conductor of Chamber Choir at Michigan and starting this summer Artistic Director for the Washington Chorus. This is a powerful performance piece. You can find more at this site: Seven Last Words.and also here.
The video ends with a performance of Glory
Now the war is not over, victory isn’t won
And we’ll fight on to the finish, then when it’s all done
We’ll cry glory, oh glory
We’ll cry glory, oh glory
Another fully orchestrated version of The Seven Last Words of the Unarmed is available here, also featuring Dr. Eugene Rogers and the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club from 2017.
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This post is also visible at Jesus Creed now at Christianity Today.
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