Ways of Knowing
Stardust and A Divine Spark
Friday, February 14, 2020
In her book Race and the Cosmos, Dr. Barbara Holmes presents a new way for us to address oppression by recognizing who we are and the commonality we share as members of the human race. When we encounter other ways of knowing, we may find ourselves discomforted and even distressed by the pain that our nation, our church, or even we ourselves have caused others. Today, I want to offer a perspective that can lead to healing and wholeness, instead of our too ready defensiveness. Holmes writes:
So much has changed since Dr. King expressed [in “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”]. his hope for a “not too distant tomorrow” of radiant human mutuality. . . .
However, the clouds of race and racism in American continue to loom, threatening and dangerous. . . . The ghosts of oppression are shape-shifting into new forms and expanding their territory. . . . Despite the apparent advances of women, people of color (POC), and the LGBTQIA+ community, racism, violence, xenophobia, and anti-immigrant tropes seem to be on the rise.
Although this is a discouraging reality, I am convinced that a community-called-beloved is possible. This is an admittedly fragile possibility, but it is not a utopian dream. I believe that people of good will harbor a persistent hope that our planet can be a place of belonging for all its inhabitants. To view the world differently is to recognize the delusions that we have willingly embraced and admit our own complicity in the empowerment of systems of oppression.
In America, we have encoded the languages of equality, freedom, and justice into our myths of national “goodness,” yet we remain infatuated with power and privilege. Also, we support corrupt and rapacious political and economic systems that prey on the vulnerable. It will take a shift in language and purpose to free us from this limited and materialistic view of human potential.
Perhaps the language of science, cosmology, and physics can help us to see our plight and our opportunity. . . . [With] chaos in our social systems, we are in such dire need of vision, imagination, and love of neighbor that this rhetorical experiment is worth a try. Currently, we are using language to disguise our commonalities and exacerbate our differences. Narratives about POC often emphasize inherent inferiority and criminality, when the truth is that all of us embody stardust and a divine spark with cosmic origins.
We come from mystery and return to it at the end of the life journey. What a gift to be on earth during an era when the universe is making itself known to and through the human race. We are part of an unfolding that is ongoing, yet, around the planet, people and systems are in crisis and we don’t seem to know what to do. . . . Perhaps the first steps require that we free ourselves from negative stereotypes and recognize our common cosmic origins.
Barbara A. Holmes, Race and the Cosmos (CAC Publishing: 2020) 17-19. Race and the Cosmos was originally published in 2002 but has been revised by the author and is now available at store.cac.org.