It's an honor to have a book you've written receive such a recognition. When you write a book you hope it speaks to people and into issues in ways that resonate and make a difference. Thank you to everyone who has read the book, plugged it on social media, and have used it for reading groups and bible classes. And Thank You to the Academy of Parish Clergy for recognizing Reviving Old Scratch.
Tonight at the APC awards ceremony I'm supposed to share some comments about the origins and goals of the book.
Per the title of the book, I came to the subject of the devil with lots of doubts and disenchantment. As a progressive social scientist I didn't have much room for the talk about the devil or demons. And yet, when I started sharing life on the margins of my town at Freedom Fellowship, where we reach out to the poor and homeless, and out at the prison, I began to bump into the devil on a regular basis. Suddenly, I was moving and living in a very enchanted world. And all my progressive social justice theology didn't have a lot to say about this enchantment, where the devil was real and active "prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (I Peter 5.8).
This disjoint was one of the reasons that lead me to write Reviving Old Scratch, a disjoint I'll name in my talk tonight as "the colonialism of disenchantment" or even "the Whiteness of disenchantment."
Disenchantment is WEIRD. And by that I mean that disenchantment (doubting the supernatural elements of faith) is largely found among Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic nations and peoples. Most Christians who are poor, non-White and in the Third World believe in the devil. Same goes for marginalized populations in the West, places like Freedom and the prison.
White, rich, educated Christians doubt the devil. Christians of color and the poor do not. Globally and here in America. This is why, for example, Pope Francis talks so much about the devil.
I wrote Reviving Old Scratch to make the devil less WEIRD and weird for progressive Christians.
Thank you so much to the APC for recognizing the value of this work for pastors, clergy and the church.