Sunday Sermon

Today’s Principle: Pure Potentiality

As I write this, I’m listening to “Negro Folklore From Texas State Prisons”, an album my boyfriend stumbled upon on the Internet. Knowing how I love this sort of thing, he downloaded it for me. The narrator on this track keeps asking for an “Amen over here”, and an “Amen over there”.  So even though I have never been to a revival meeting, I imagine I’m right there. Then I remember these men are in prison. In Texas, where justice for black men seldom holds her hand out for a reprieve. If you enjoyed the soundtrack to “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”, then I would suggest you find this album.

I love indigenous musics (which this feels like) because there seems to be less attention to musicality than to emotion or message.  In “I Shall Not Be Moved” (I’m listening to it right now), there are pleasantly constructed harmonies, but the preamble introduces the idea of everyone working together. Sung in the languid, exacting pace of a chain gang, the song takes on an eternal patience I imagine a wrongfully convicted lifer must cultivate. I am now reminded of The Hurricane. (If you have not seen the movie featuring Denzel Washington, please, please add it to your Netflix queue.)

Where is all this leading? I don’t know. I know I have a great, everlasting affinity with the African American struggle. These stories grip me and tousle my heart like nothing else. Doesn’t matter whether it’s slave trade, Civil War, civil rights, or the unreported injustices that happen everyday.

[photo by Daniel W. Barlow]

I remember reading a book about The Innocence Project several years back that featured cases of wrongful convictions overturned based on the work of The Innocence Project–most of them determined by DNA evidence which had not been previously examined in court. I am so saddened that wrongful convictions happen because of carelessness, because of unreliable witness testimony, and other controllable factors.  And I’m sure that racial prejudice plays no small part, especially in the cases in the South. I have no substantive evidence, but I believe it to be true.

This post is supposed to be about what I learned this week. Well here it is:

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