Jun 12020

President Ray’s Message on Black Lives Matter

June 1, 2020

Greetings in the key of hope.

We find ourselves at what is clearly a moment of turning within our society. Our society and everyone in it stand at the intersection of plague and economic calamity, all the while as malice strides among us more brashly than at any point in many of our lifetimes. Laid bare are the illusions many of us held just a few short years ago about the possibilities of building a society in which all might find a place and whose commonwealth would be available to all. I say illusions because it may yet be the case that the work is harder than we thought and the effort requires more than our generation can offer but, the hope behind it may prove to be sufficient to building this future.

If we are to build this future together, we must begin by rejecting the lethal malice which is coursing through our society. We must engage in political and social action that finally rejects the hope of a few that the United States of America, our nation, can ever have any future as a bastion of white nationalist hegemony. This requires that we reorder our political life so that the politics of white resentment and Christian nationalism be driven back into the shadows so that the light of common purpose may shine. We need to reorder our material and cultural relations so that every police department takes as its charge the solemn duty of protecting and serving every citizen and not just those who are white, monied, and armed. We must reorder our economic life so that both opportunity and sustenance are available to all. Finally, we must normalize the basic fact that the public square belongs to us all; not just white people; not just Christians; not just the economically well off; not just people with papers; but, to us all.

At this moment of turning within our society we must not delude ourselves. The powers of evil and malice are seeking to turn this moment to their favor. With every image of the brutality and raw power which is being unleashed on largely peaceful protestors, malice seeks through fear to drive people of goodwill out of the public square. It seeks to drive us into our homes and into the enclaves of alienation which have been created through the years. We must not let malice have its victory. Now is the time for people of goodwill to make our presence known in reclaiming our public square and beginning anew the work of building a society in which we all have place and building a society worthy of our devotion.

Know that Chicago Theological Seminary stands with all people of goodwill in this moment of turning in our society. We are and will be present in this struggle for a new day, a new society. It is who we are and will always be.

Blessings to you all in the struggle.

Stephen G. Ray Jr.