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Home/Rod Dreher/A Rhythm Of Racist Prayer

A Rhythm Of Racist Prayer

Racist theologian Chanequa Walker-Barnes preaches in 2016 at Biola, on 'The Curse of Reconciliation' (Watch the sermon here)

There’s a book out called A Rhythm Of Prayer: A Collection of Meditations for Renewal, compiled by the progressive Christian author Sarah Bessey. It’s been a bestseller. It’s meant for women. Here’s the description from the Amazon site:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • For the weary, the angry, the anxious, and the hopeful, this collection of moving, tender prayers offers rest, joyful resistance, and a call to act, written by Barbara Brown Taylor, Amena Brown, Nadia Bolz-Weber, and other artists and thinkers, curated by the author Glennon Doyle calls “my favorite faith writer.”

It’s no secret that we are overworked, overpressured, and edging burnout. Unsurprisingly, this fact is as old as time—and that’s why we see so many prayer circles within a multitude of church traditions. These gatherings are a trusted space where people seek help, hope, and peace, energized by God and one another.

This book, curated by acclaimed author Sarah Bessey, celebrates and honors that prayerful tradition in a literary form. A companion for all who feel the immense joys and challenges of the journey of faith, this collection of prayers says it all aloud, giving readers permission to recognize the weight of all they carry. These writings also offer a broadened imagination of hope—of what can be restored and made new. Each prayer is an original piece of writing, with new essays by Sarah Bessey throughout.

Encompassing the full breadth of the emotional landscape, these deeply tender yet subversive prayers give readers an intimate look at the diverse language and shapes of prayer.

The book contains a “Prayer of a Weary Black Woman,” by Chanequa Walker-Barnes, an associate professor in the Mercy University’s School of Theology (Mercer is a Georgia Baptist school).

This piece breaks down the prayer. Here are close-ups in the photo of the tweet above:

 

Here are quotes, if you can’t read the shots.

“My prayer is that you would help me hate the other White people – you know, the nice ones. The Fox News-loving, Trump-supporting voters who ‘don’t see color’ but who make thinly-veiled racist comments about ‘those people.’ The people who are happy to have me over for dinner but alert the neighborhood watch anytime an unrecognized person of color passes their house. The people who welcome Black people in their churches and small groups but brand us heretics if we suggest that Christianity is concerned with the poor and the oppressed. The people who politely tell us that we can leave we we call out the racial microaggressions we experience in their ministries.”

More:

“Lord, if it be your will, harden my heart. Stop me from striving to see the best in people. Stop me from being hopeful that White people can do and be better. Let me imagine them instead as white-hooded robes standing in front of burning crosses.”

And:

“Let me see them as hopelessly unrepentant, reprobate bigots who have blasphemed the Holy Spirit and who need to be handed over to the evil one.”

My, my, we have come a long way from Dr. King, haven’t we?

Now, imagine that you are a white student at Mercer, and Dr. Walker-Barnes is your professor. How can you possibly succeed in that class, knowing that your professor is an open racist who asks God to help her hate people like you?

This is not really about the deranged hater Chanequa Walker-Barnes, who, get this, says that her ministry advocates for “reconciliation.” This is about a progressive establishment that valorizes anti-white hatred.

How the hell did the people at Convergent Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, approve this? Is racial hatred fine by them if it’s directed at white people? Apparently so. I’ve read a couple of reviews of A Rhythm of Prayer, and not one of them have expressed surprise or alarm that Walker-Barnes prays for God to help her hate white people, and asking God to help her see them all as Klansmen. Not one. Walker-Barnes would not have written such a blasphemous, hateful, racist prayer if she thought she would face any sanction for it from her university, or within her professional milieu.

My conclusion is that the woke establishment is completely on board with stoking anti-white hatred. This is the fruit of Critical Race Theory. This week, the black Southern Baptist pastor Voddie Baucham published an incredibly powerful indictment of CRT and what it’s doing to Evangelical churches: Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe.

Baucham pulls no punches. He writes:

There are plenty of sincere, though perhaps naive Christians who, if they knew the ideology behind it, would run away from the term “social justice” like rats from a burning ship. … The current moment is akin to two people standing on either side of a major fault line just before it shifts. When the shift comes, the ground will open up, a divide that was once invisible will become visible, and the two will find themselves on opposite sides of it. That is what is happening in our day. In some cases, the divide is happening already. Churches are splitting over this issue. Major ministries are losing donors, staff, and leadership. Denominations are in turmoil. Seminary faculties are divided with some professors being fired or “asked to leave.” Families are at odds. Marriages are on the rocks. And I don’t believe the fracture in this fault line is yet even a fraction of what it will be.

No, I am not writing this book to stop the divide. I am writing to clearly identify the two sides of the fault line and to urge the reader to choose wisely.

I’m going to devote a separate post to Baucham’s powerful, urgent book, but let me here exhort Christian readers to buy it and share it with everyone you know. It’s important. What Walker-Barnes and her progressive Christian allies represent is, let’s be clear, the spirit of Antichrist. It is blasphemous to call on God to make you hate people at all, much less on the basis of race. Voddie Baucham is calling them out on it.

I have said for years in this space that the progressives are calling up racist demons that they won’t be able to control. A Rhythm Of Prayer — or at least the Walker-Barnes contribution to it — is an incantation to the demon of racial hate. This is embraced and promoted by a mainstream publisher. Until this morning, when I saw this on conservative websites, there was no criticism of it. This is what these people, these progressives, believe. They are preparing the country for violent racial conflict. Voddie Baucham characterizes the “antiracist” propaganda as follows:

If black people know racism, and white people cannot know racism (and are racist by default as the result of their white privilege), then the only acceptable response is for white people to sit down, shut up, and listen to what black people have to say on the matter.

People like Chanequa Walker-Barnes get away with this because all the white people in their social and professional circles sit down and shut up as a matter of course. And those who don’t — like Kieran Bhattacharya (who, by the sound of his last name, is not even white) — face the full weight of persecutorial institutions coming down on them to destroy their careers and their lives.

But not all white people, and not all people in general, are like those cowardly white liberals. It is time for those who hate this racism to find their backbones and their voices. Do not embrace anti-black racism, which is also the spirit of Antichrist! Stand against all race hatred. Confront managers of stores that sell this hateful book. Tell everybody you know that Mercer University employs an open racist. When your school, or your kid’s school, teaches garbage like this, confront the school’s administration. Don’t let it pass. If your church is teaching it, leave that church. This evil will never stop until and unless people of good will stand up against it, like Voddie Baucham is doing, and demand that it go away.

I remind you that propaganda like A Rhythm Of Prayer is what pre-Nazi Germany did to the Jews, preparing Germany for the Holocaust. It’s what the Hutus in power did to the Tutsis of Rwanda, preparing Rwanda for the 1994 genocide. If a bestselling prayerbook called on God to help one learn how to hate people of color, we would know exactly what we were looking at, and we would rightly condemn it without qualification. But our institutions — academia, publishing, media, and others — have been captured by this evil ideology. If we don’t stand up against it right now, without fear or apology, then history tells us where it may lead.

Again, the problem here is not really Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes. The problem is a progressive-controlled system — academia, publishing, and retailing — that valorizes her kind of race hatred. I believe that she should have the legal right to publish this. But it should be vigorously condemned all the same.

You can buy this book featuring Chanequa Walker-Barnes prayer for the gift of racial hatred through Amazon. You cannot buy Ryan T. Anderson’s sober, well-reasoned book critiquing transgender ideology at Amazon. This is what it means for progressives — not liberals, progressives — to have captured institutions.

None of this moral insanity will stop if the rest of us simply sit back and hope that it goes away. Fight it now, or the fight that’s coming is going to be much uglier, maybe, God forbid, even violent. If that happens, if the shooting starts, remember that progressive elites did this to us, to all of us, black, white, brown, all of us. They are openly teaching us to hate each other on the basis of race. Hell, they’re even praying for it!

UPDATE: Reader Coleman Glenn comments:

Rod, I think you and Ryan McAllister are misunderstanding what Walker-Barnes is doing here. It’s pretty clear to me that she’s expressing a desire to God that she knows He will say “no” to – crying out and saying, “Relieve me if this burden of having to forgive — nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done.” It’s telling that she compares herself to Jonah, who does everything in his power to avoid calling Nineveh to repentance but eventually does it anyway. This becomes most clear in the following paragraph:

Free me from this burden of calling them to confession and repentance. Grant me a Get Out of Judgment Free card if I make White people the exception to your commandment to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

She knows it doesn’t work like that, and this part of the prayer is her wearily acknowledging that to be the case. And so immediately after this comes the “nevertheless, not my will” — “But I will trust in You, my Lord.” She acknowledges her calling to justice and reconciliation. The answer to her prayer, “Make me hate” is “no,” and she knows it.

There’s plenty of things in the prayer that reasonable Christians can disagree about, and it’s worth asking whether Walker-Barnes should publish a prayer that can be so easily misconstrued. But it’s not fair to misrepresent it as essentially saying, “The Lord will make me hate whites,” when in reality it says the opposite: “Lord, I want to hate Whites, but you won’t let me.”

I see. I’m not sure I buy it, though. I need to think about it. I see your point, and you might well be right, but Walker-Barnes’s writing is so muddled on this point that it’s not clear to me what she’s saying. Or rather, given the fact that she has written such a long and vivid version of an imprecatory prayer, one fuzzy paragraph saying, in effect, “They deserve all this, but I need you to keep me on the straight and narrow in my denunciations of them,” is pretty puny. It reads to me as completely insincere, though obviously I can’t know my heart

Put another way, it reads like a kind of pornography: a detailed and highly-charged prayer about lust, with an obligatory, “but I know I can’t have that” graph slapped on to pass the censors, so to speak. Still, I will concede that that may have been her intention, however badly executed.

UPDATE.2: Think of it this way: if a white theologian had written a “prayer” that was a lengthy, lurid discourse on how black people deserved to be hated, but saying in a single paragraph at the end, “but Lord, I know that I can’t have what I’m asking for,” would we think that it was unproblematic? Again, if Walker-Barnes’s sin here is not moral, but aesthetic — that is, if she simply did a poor job of saying what she meant — that is important to note. But that potentially exculpatory graf seems awfully weak.

I remember when I was writing about the black radical professor Tommy Curry at Texas A&M a few years ago, and the many awful, racist things he was saying, some who came to his defense argued that in some cases, technically, he was simply quoting others, etc., and that we can’t say that he really believed these things. This was maybe — maybe — plausible in some of the instances, if you squinted and applied the strictest possible hair-splitting logic. But it was clear what he was doing. I think the same thing is happening here. Reading the entire “prayer,” I don’t believe for one second that Walker-Barnes struggles with her anger at white people. She does not sound like the sort of person begging for deliverance from her anti-white passions.

UPDATE.3: A reader writes:

I have read your articles over the past few years and learned a great deal from them. I am a student at Mercer University. My institution advertises itself as evangelical Baptist or partially Christian to students from conservative backgrounds. However, the administrators and the faculty reject traditional values in favor of diversity, inclusion, and equity.

Two days ago, [law professor] bragged in class about how the law school faculty hiring committee of which he is a member chose not to consider hiring straight white men for three new professorships. They threw out categorically applications of straight white men. He stated that this behavior would be illegal for a public university. He expressed his thought that nondiscrimination provisions in public employment are white supremacist, Jim Crow laws.

He attempted to bait straight white male students into saying something that he would define as racist through asking again and again whether or not it was racist for the law school not to consider straight white men for these three job openings. He is attempting to identify dissenters and to punish them.

Routinely, he demeans straight men who are white and criticizes traditional masculinity as toxic. He expresses his disdain for “whiteness” every class period. He also called Clarence Thomas the whitest man on the supreme court and claimed that this stereotyping was antiracist. He ridiculed conservatives in class including a Korean student who tried not to make everything about racial identity.

Please tell the wider orthodox Christian community to stay away from Mercer. It is a hell hole. Keep fighting the good fight.

Record these racist, abusive classroom conversations, reader. Send them to me. I’ll broadcast them wide. I did not include this professor’s name because without proof, I would not want to libel him. But if you can send in a recording of his voice, and if I can verify that it is him in a classroom setting, then I will share it with the world.

UPDATE.4:

 

Seems to me like Dr. Chanequa is divided against herself. Can you imagine being her white friend, always being regularly challenged by her about your whiteness? Dr. Chanequa appears to be obsessed with race, and the sins of others:

She’s so race-obsessed that she determined not only the motivation of the sex-obsessed mass murderer in Atlanta, but determined also that he was a white supremacist — and is so certain about her judgment that she urges people whose pastors didn’t preach about the killings to abandon their churches:

Sorry, but I don’t believe Dr. Chanequa is who she says she is. A reader disagrees, e-mailing:

I have read your essays and books over the years with gratitude, so I was alarmed to read your post today that went after Dr. Walker-Barnes’ prayer. Your reading of her prayer seemed to willfully misconstrue what it was intended to be.
Yes, it was a call for white Christians to consider whether we have participated in racist hatred and passivity. Yes, it was a cry for recognition that Black people have been overlooked and mistreated and abused, even within our churches, for centuries.
But it was also a prayer modeled after our Psalms. It was written in a deeply biblical manner, calling forth the same language of the Psalmists who pray that God would dash their enemies to pieces, praying in the spirit of the ones who drew their swords even when Jesus said to walk the way of peace.
And it is a prayer that turns on the word “but,” as so many of the Psalms also do: “But I will trust in you, O Lord.” And then she goes on to pray so differently, just as the Psalmists do when they move from their own desires to God’s vision for us. She prays for the beloved community. She invites us to hope.
You excoriated her without acknowledging that she wrote out of a long tradition of prayers of lament and imprecation that nevertheless land with God’s love and hope. And you read this–and told your many followers to read it–as a prayer of violence rather than a desperate cry for God’s peace.
UPDATE.5: I can’t quit rolling this thing around in my head, thinking about it from different angles.
Back in the 1990s, I had a housemate, a white guy who was severely beaten in college by three black guys. My housemate was an RA, and had asked the three black men, all bigger than him, to leave the common area of the dorm because they were acting rowdy. They dragged him outside and beat him badly. They broke his jaw and shattered his eye socket.
My housemate was a Christian. It never would have occurred to him to hate black people because these three black men had beaten him badly. He was beaten not by “Black People,” but by three black individuals. If that temptation to hate black people had been in his heart, he would not have written it down in the form of a public prayer — even if he had said at the end, “But Lord, you won’t let me hate. I have to love black people too.” He would have felt his racial hatred as something shameful. I knew this man well. He was a Southern Baptist, really one of the most loving, compassionate Christians I’ve ever known. Had he written a “prayer” about what happened to him, and listed other episodes of black violence against non-black people, but then added at the end, “You won’t let me judge them, Lord, even though they deserve to be judged” — you know good and well this would never have been published, and if it had, that white man would have been savaged for his statements.
When I worked for the New York Post, I once visited a Brooklyn apartment owned by a Hasidic Jewish slumlord. It was shocking. I spoke with the tenant, a black woman and her children. She told me about having to fight off the rats to keep them from biting her little kids, and how the landlord wouldn’t do anything about it, no matter how much she asked. It was a horrifying situation, and that slumlord had a number of properties like that one. Had that poor woman composed a “prayer” like this about Jews, repeating all kinds of horrible things Jews had done to non-Jews, but then added at the end a paragraph saying, “But you won’t let me hate them, Lord, even though they deserve it,” it never would have been published. Even if it were in some sense true, it would have been seen as provocative, and her ironic twist at the end dishonest.
I think about the struggles I have had over feeling spite for specific people who wronged me. I have prayed hard against this spirit within my own heart, and taken it to confession many times. I know that God would not allow me to hate, and that my hate condemns me. It would be grotesque for me to write a “prayer” listing all the sins this person or people have committed against me, and then to say, self-righteously at the end, “but you have kept me from giving in to hatred of them, Lord.” It would have been a bizarre exercise in self-righteousness, allowing me to list all the reasons I had to hate the people who harmed me, but then patting myself on the back for not having done it, because I’m such a good Christian.
That’s how I feel about this prayer of Dr. Chanequa’s: it’s phony.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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