black theology, Cornel West, race

Cornel West’s Hope on a Tightrope, Pt. 1

Cornel West has a new book, Hope on a Tightrope: Words and Wisdom, coming out soon. Below are just some quotes I came across that I liked quite a lot or thought important:

I’m a Christian, so I have Jesus in the temple. I have a martyr against the marketeers. (pg. 18)

You’re made in the image of God. You’re a featherless, two-legged, linguistically conscious creature born between urine and feces. Thats us. One day your body will be the culinary delight of terrestrial worms. You know that. Be honest. Put on your three-piece suit if you want to, but thats not armor against death. The question is: Who are you going to be in the meantime, in this time and space? You don’t get out of time and space alive. (pg. 28)

The culture of advanced capitalist American society, the culture of consumption revolves around the market–around buying and selling this process turns everything into a commodity and undermines value and meaning in the name of ever-increasing profit.

This is dangerous because in a marketplace culture, commodification–the ability to put a price tag on everything–dominates more and more spheres of human life. This creates an addiction to stimulation, which is necessary to keep the consumer-culture economy going. (‘Terrorist attack? We’ll show ’em. We’ll protect the american way of life. We’ll go shopping!’)

The marketplace culture of consumption undermines community, undermines links to history and tradition, and undermines relationships. The very notion of commitment becomes more and more contested. Addictive bodily stimulation becomes the model for human relationships. We see it in the dehumanizing exploitation of women’s bodies in the advertising industry. We see it in TV sitcoms and reality TV shows that are fueled by orgiastic intensity. (pg. 30-31)

The vocation of the intellectual is to turn easy answers into critical questions and to put those critical questions to people with power.

The quest for truth, the quest for the good, the quest for the beautiful, all require us to let suffering speak, let victims be visible, and demand that social misery be put on the agenda of those with power. So to me, pursuing the life of the mind is inextricably linked witht he struggle of those on the margins of society who have been dehumanized. (pg. 37)

Humanistic intellectuals are being marginalized in our society by the technical intellectuals, such as physicists, computer scientists, and so on, because they receive funding from huge private enterprises, from the state, and from the military-industrial complex. Why? Because the products they provide are quite useful for a market-driven society. (pg. 38-39)

I am no way optimistic, but I remain a prisoner of hope. (pg. 41)

The very discovery that black people are human beings is a new one. This question of what it means to be human affects each and every one of us. Thats why all of us have so much at stake in black history. (pg. 43)

If you view America from the Jamestown Colony, America is a corporation before it’s a country. If it’s a corporation before it is a country, then white supremacy is married to capitalism. Therefore, white supremacy is something that is so deeply grounded in white greed, hatred, and fear that it constitutes the very foundation for what became a precious experiment in democracy called the U.S.A. … Brother Barak Obama refers to “…this nation’s original sin of slavery.” No, the original sin was the dispossession, subjugation, and near extermination of the indigenous people prior to the founding of the United States. We must never allow black suffering to blind us to other people’s suffering — in this case, our American Indian brothers and sisters, and especially their precious babies.

White supremacy — now that’s the real original sin that grounds American Indian and African oppression. That’s the precondition for a nation that could then be founded on the exploitation, subjugation, and hatred of African people. (pg. 45-46)

Any time you make the cross subordinate to the flag, you have idolatry. Americanized christianity is shot through with forms of idolatry, making it difficult for people to keep track of the blood at the cross, the need to love, sacrifice, and bear witness to something bigger than nation, race, or tribe. (pg. 80)


6 thoughts on “Cornel West’s Hope on a Tightrope, Pt. 1

  1. Pingback: Cornel West – Hope on a Tightrope | Gathering In Light

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