The Cross and the Lynching Tree by Dr. James Cone. “Where is the gospel of Jesus’ cross revealed today?” Six-week comprehensive Study Guide prepared by . “On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points.” -Virginia Woolf. In The Cross and the Lynching Tree, James Cone points. He points us to. They were lynched by white Christians. My guest, Dr. James Cone, the Charles Augustus Briggs Distinguished Professor of Systematic.

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Return to Book Page. A landmark in the conversation about race and religion in America. In this powerful new work, theologian James H. Cone explores these symbols and their interconnection in the history and so A landmark in the conversation about race and religion in America.

Cone explores these symbols and their interconnection in the history coje souls of black folk. Both the cross and the lynching tree represent the worst in human beings and at the same time a thirst for life that refuses to let the worst determine our final meaning. While the lynching tree symbolized lyncying power and black death, the cross symbolizes divine power and black life, God overcoming the power of sin and death.

For African Americans, the image of Jesus, hung on a tree to die, powerfully grounded their faith that God was with them, even in the suffering of the lynching era. In a work that spans social history, theology, and cultural studies, Cone explores the message of the spirituals and the power of the blues; the passion and the engaged vision of Martin Luther Cdoss, Jr.

Wells, and the witness of croes artists, writers, preachers, and fighters for justice. And he remembers the victims, especially the 5, who perished during the lynching period. Through their witness he contemplates coss greatest challenge of any Christian theology to explain how life can be made meaningful in the face of death and injustice.

Hardcoverpages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Cross and the Lynching Treeplease sign up. Be the first to ask a question about The Cross and the Lynching Tree. Lists with This Book. Mar 12, E. As one of the Associate Pastors at Rolling Hills Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, one of my responsibilities was the bulletin boards in the lynchkng.

I don’t know that anyone gave me that job, so much as I took it on. I really enjoyed putting up various kinds of bulletin boards.

I rarely was only informational. My favourite bulletin board I designed, and one I hung up also at Royal As one of the Associate Pastors at Rolling Hills Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, one of my responsibilities was the bulletin boards in the hallways. Then, around it I hung full-color pictures and texts. The pictures included famous artistic renderings of the crucifixion but also many modern ones.

I also included an image of a lymching man being lynched. The texts were song lyrics and poems. Some of the traditional Good Friday hymns were included and poems directly addressing the cross. I also hung some critical modern poems. Plus, I included “Strange Fruit. In when I was organizing the Good Friday service at Cathedral of Hope, I drew on cros bulletin board and instead of the normal Tenebrae readings, read from these selected poems, including “Strange Fruit” and “American Triangle.


The Cross and the Lynching Tree

I don’t th that any book ever gave me that idea. I created that bulletin board before I had read James Cone’s God of the Oppressed or anything similar. And lately I’ve been reading a lot of books on the cross and atonement, as I prepare for a class we will have on that topic later this year at First Central. It is at once a stunning and a damning book.

At times I wanted to repent for being white. But it is also inspiring of hope and reconciliation. It is a brief book that succintly discusses the connection between the cross and the lynching tree and, through that, the power of the cross in the black religious experience.

The first chapter discusses that black experience. The second chapter is a damning discussion of Reinhold Niebuhr, standing in for white, liberal theologians who have ignored the lynching tree and the role of black experience in developing their American theologies.

Cone likes Niebuhr and has nice things to say about him, but he also exposes his lymching. Niebuhr was the great Christian ethicist of his day, and he never addressed lynching, despite its on-going prevalence and the orchestrated campaigns against it. The next chapter is an interpretation of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Then Cone turns to the black literary tradition and reads the jammes of Countee Cullen, W.

DuBois, Langston Hughes, and others as theological source material. This is the best chapter in the book and its own amazing contribution to the history of American theology. The final full chapter explores the experience of lynchinv women and entertains the critique of the cross posed by womanist theologians, particularly Delores Williams. I liked this chapter and Cone’s narration of the history of black women, such as Fannie Lou Hamer.

I do think that the critique of Williams and others deserved a more developed response, however. The thrust of his response is that in the black religious experience the cross is not experienced as a justification for suffering but as an empowerment to fight for one’s liberation. That seems a little too simple.

The epilogue wraps ups the book and Cone’s entire theological career. It seems lgnching this will be his last book, though he does not say it. In this epilogue he opens up some possibilities to interpreting the cross that I have not quite encountered before. I will treat of them in a separate post. I have one, and only one, critique tthe the book. Trwe chapter three he writes about Mamie Till Bradley and her powerful, confrontational response to white supremacy when her son Emmett Till was lynched.

I immediately thought of Judy Shepherd and her powerful response to homophobia after Matthew’s death. In the book Cone mentions lynchings of non-blacks, but he never mentions the lynchings of queer persons.

I know that generally these lynchings do not occur as major public spectacles and are definitely against the law, qualities which make them different. But they do exist in their own fashion and should invite their own theological reflection. Cone himself writes that we must have the ctoss necessary to “relate the message of the cross to one’s own social jamez. Which is all the dross reason I was surprised by his silence on queer lynchings. I know one purpose of this book was to offer hope and healing for American’s racism, but doesn’t this recent and on-going form of lynching deserve at least something?


Is Cone, then, guilty of a similar failure to Niebuhr? Names powerful an impact Cone could have, as the leading black theologian, to make that connection and confront the homophobia that entraps many African-Americans.

Jan 20, Amy Hughes rated it it was amazing Shelves: As a theologian I need to teee able to explain for the sake of myself, my students, and the church why white supremacy is fundamentally anti-Christ. While there are many ways to do this, I’m grateful to Cone for helping me to do this and to understand the cross better.

This book is easily one of the best theology books I’ve read in the last 5 years. I’m looking forward to picking it up again this crozs since I’m assigning it in my Trinity and Christology class. Maybe I’ll be able to get through As a theologian I need to be able to explain for the sake of myself, my students, and the church why white supremacy is fundamentally anti-Christ.

Maybe I’ll be able to get through the last chapter without crying this time but that’s very unlikely.

Mar 28, Andrew Marr rated it it was amazing Shelves: Lynching was a public spectacle where people took pictures and made postcards out of them. Cone goes on to argue that the lynching tree was a series of grisly re-enactments of the crucifixion of Jesus. He also demonstrates on how very di “They’re selling postcards of the hanging They’re painting the passports brown. He also demonstrates on how very difficult it has been and still is for Americans to lyncging this truth. Reinhold Niebuhr, arguably the greatest Lyncjing theologian was, in spite of his social concerns, blind to this reality.

Even black people have had trouble seeing this connection, though Cone shows how some black women, especially Ida B.

The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone

Wells articulated it powerfully. See my article Violence and the Kingdom of God http: Cone shows us this truth in spades. Dylan goes on to sing that “the circus is in town” and then catalogs Western Civilization turned topsy-turvy, suggesting that lynching does this, thanks to the “blind commissioner.

Cone’s book is written calmly, even gently. There is no mincing of words, yet the words are somehow full of forgiveness. The forgiveness in Cone’s words, the forgiveness proclaimed by Jesus, should be enough to undermine our trust in ourselves and our ability to see what we are doing. We must repent not only of lynching, but of our collective hatred of enemies today. Nov 24, Ben De Bono rated it really liked it. To say that James Cone an I are theologically far apart would be a fairly lyncuing understatement.

I am a conservative evangelical while he is one of the primary voices behind black liberation theology, standing well within the liberal theological tradition. Despite those differences, I was very excited to read this book and, after finishing it, am very glad that I did.

The reason for that is simple – I came to this book not to critique Cone’s answers I lynchibg going in we would largely disagre To say that James Cone an I are theologically far apart would be a fairly significant understatement.