Changing the World, Lessons From Books, Love and Faith, Nonfiction

The Bold and Brave Rebuke of the Slaveholder’s Christianity – What We Can Still Learn from Frederick Douglass

I recently finished a re-read of THE NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS: AN AMERICAN SLAVE for The Musings of Jamie Book Club (you can join here on FB or sign up here for updates via my newsletter) and because it had been so long since I’ve read it, for much it was like reading it for the first time. One quote I’ve always remembered is one you’ll also see below:

“What I have said respecting and against religion, I mean strictly to apply to the slaveholding religion of this land, and with no possible reference to Christianity proper; for, between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference — so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.”

A powerful quote indeed, but I had forgotten the rest of the Appendix, which is a fearless and fiery rebuke, that makes me want to stand up and applaud. Douglass wrote this nearly 20 years before the Civil War would start. His words, his direct call out of the hypocrisy of “Christian” slave owners must have inspired so many to continue the fight. As it is public domain, I am sharing the rest of it here. May we all live with such boldness.

From THE NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS: AN AMERICAN SLAVE:

I FIND, since reading over the foregoing Narrative, that I have, in several instances, spoken in such a tone and manner, respecting religion, as may possibly lead those unacquainted with my religious views to suppose me an opponent of all religion. To remove the liability of such misapprehension, I deem it proper to append the following brief explanation.

What I have said respecting and against religion, I mean strictly to apply to the slaveholding religion of this land, and with no possible reference to Christianity proper; for, between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference — so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity.

I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of “stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in.” I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus.

The man who robs me of my earnings at the end of each week meets me as a class-leader on Sunday morning, to show me the way of life, and the path of salvation. He who sells my sister, for purposes of prostitution, stands forth as the pious advocate of purity. He who proclaims it a religious duty to read the Bible denies me the right of learning to read the name of the God who made me.

He who is the religious advocate of marriage robs whole millions of its sacred influence, and leaves them to the ravages of wholesale pollution. The warm defender of the sacredness of the family relation is the same that scatters whole families, — sundering husbands and wives, parents and children, sisters and brothers, — leaving the hut vacant, and the hearth desolate. We see the thief preaching against theft, and the adulterer against adultery.

We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the poor heathen! all for the glory of God and the good of souls! The slave auctioneer’s bell and the churchgoing bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heartbroken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together.

The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies and souls of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other — devils dressed in angels’ robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.

“Just God! and these are they,
Who minister at thine altar, God of right!
Men who their hands, with prayer and blessing, lay
On Israel’s ark of light. “What! preach, and kidnap men?
Give thanks, and rob thy own afflicted poor?
Talk of thy glorious liberty, and then
Bolt hard the captive’s door? “What! servants of thy own
Merciful Son, who came to seek and save
The homeless and the outcast, fettering down
The tasked and plundered slave! “Pilate and Herod friends!
Chief priests and rulers, as of old, combine!
Just God and holy! is that church which lends
Strength to the spoiler thine?”

The Christianity of America is a Christianity, of whose votaries it may be as truly said, as it was of the ancient scribes and Pharisees, “They bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. All their works they do for to be seen of men. — They love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, . . . . . and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. — But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

Ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers; therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. — Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith; these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides! which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but within, they are full of extortion and excess. — Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”

Dark and terrible as is this picture, I hold it to be strictly true of the overwhelming mass of professed Christians in America. They strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Could any thing be more true of our churches? They would be shocked at the proposition of fellowshipping a sheep-stealer; and at the same time they hug to their communion a man-stealer, and brand me with being an infidel, if I find fault with them for it. They attend with Pharisaical strictness to the outward forms of religion, and at the same time neglect the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith. They are always ready to sacrifice, but seldom to show mercy. They are they who are represented as professing to love God whom they have not seen, whilst they hate their brother whom they have seen. They love the heathen on the other side of the globe. They can pray for him, pay money to have the Bible put into his hand, and missionaries to instruct him; while they despise and totally neglect the heathen at their own doors.

Such is, very briefly, my view of the religion of this land; and to avoid any misunderstanding, growing out of the use of general terms, I mean, by the religion of this land, that which is revealed in the words, deeds, and actions, of those bodies, north and south, calling themselves Christian churches, and yet in union with slaveholders. It is against religion, as presented by these bodies, that I have felt it my duty to testify.

I conclude these remarks by copying the following portrait of the religion of the south, (which is, by communion and fellowship, the religion of the north,) which I soberly affirm is “true to the life,” and without caricature or the slightest exaggeration. It is said to have been drawn, several years before the present anti-slavery agitation began, by a northern Methodist preacher, who, while residing at the south, had an opportunity to see slaveholding morals, manners, and piety, with his own eyes. “Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord. Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?”

A PARODY.
“Come, saints and sinners, hear me tell
How pious priests whip Jack and Nell,
And women buy and children sell,
And preach all sinners down to hell,
And sing of heavenly union.

“They’ll bleat and baa, dona like goats,
Gorge down black sheep, and strain at motes,
Array their backs in fine black coats,
Then seize their negroes by their throats,
And choke, for heavenly union.

“They’ll church you if you sip a dram,
And damn you if you steal a lamb;
Yet rob old Tony, Doll, and Sam,
Of human rights, and bread and ham;
Kidnapper’s heavenly union.

“They’ll loudly talk of Christ’s reward,
And bind his image with a cord,
And scold, and swing the lash abhorred,
And sell their brother in the Lord
To handcuffed heavenly union.

“They’ll read and sing a sacred song,
And make a prayer both loud and long,
And teach the right and do the wrong,
Hailing the brother, sister throng,
With words of heavenly union.

“We wonder how such saints can sing,
Or praise the Lord upon the wing,
Who roar, and scold, and whip, and sting,
And to their slaves and mammon cling,
In guilty conscience union.

“They’ll raise tobacco, corn, and rye,
And drive, and thieve, and cheat, and lie,
And lay up treasures in the sky,
By making switch and cowskin fly,
In hope of heavenly union.

“They’ll crack old Tony on the skull,
And preach and roar like Bashan bull,
Or braying ass, of mischief full,
Then seize old Jacob by the wool,
And pull for heavenly union.

“A roaring, ranting, sleek man-thief,
Who lived on mutton, veal, and beef,
Yet never would afford relief
To needy, sable sons of grief,
Was big with heavenly union.

“ ‘Love not the world,’ the preacher said,
And winked his eye, and shook his head;
He seized on Tom, and Dick, and Ned,
Cut short their meat, and clothes, and bread,
Yet still loved heavenly union.

“Another preacher whining spoke
Of One whose heart for sinners broke:
He tied old Nanny to an oak,
And drew the blood at every stroke,
And prayed for heavenly union.

“Two others oped their iron jaws,
And waved their children-stealing paws;
There sat their children in gewgaws;
By stinting negroes’ backs and maws,
They kept up heavenly union.

“All good from Jack another takes,
And entertains their flirts and rakes,
Who dress as sleek as glossy snakes,
And cram their mouths with sweetened cakes;
And this goes down for union.”

Sincerely and earnestly hoping that this little book may do something toward throwing light on the American slave system, and hastening the glad day of deliverance to the millions of my brethren in bonds — faithfully relying upon the power of truth, love, and justice, for success in my humble efforts — and solemnly pledging myself anew to the sacred cause, —

I subscribe myself, FREDERICK DOUGLASS.
LYNN, Mass., April 28, 1845.

From: Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Dover Publications. Kindle Edition.

If you haven’t yet, please take some time to read the full Narrative. It’s available online and at any book store!

Book Reviews, What To Read

What to Read: Historical Fiction

(I’m sharing more book recommendations as we all work through these unprecedented times. You can find all the lists here. I also post daily-ish Instastories if you want even more recommendations. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Libby, the library’s app to get ebooks. Stay safe everyone!)

I could probably make this list 100 books long since this is my favorite genre, but I decided that probably wouldn’t be helpful! But if you like historical fiction, here’s a few!

Happy reading! 

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 1:9

Book Reviews, Inklings, What To Read

What to Read: Books About the Inklings

(I’m sharing more book recommendations as we all work through these unprecedented times. You can find all the lists here. I also post daily-ish Instastories if you want even more recommendations. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Libby, the library’s app to get ebooks. Stay safe everyone!)

If someone were to ask what books I recommend of Lewis and Tolkien, my answer would be all of them ;), but I thought it would be fun to share some books I recommend that are about Tolkien, Lewis, Middle-earth, and Narnia. Not so shockingly, I have a rather large collection to pull from. There are a couple I still need to read in the list below (like Planet Narnia), but if you are fans of Tolkien and Lewis, I recommend checking some out!

Have you read any of these? Pass along any of your favorites too!

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Book Reviews, What To Read

What to Read: Young Reader/Children’s But Also Fun For Adults

(I’m sharing more book recommendations as we all work through these unprecedented times. You can find all the lists here. I also post daily-ish Instastories if you want even more recommendations. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Libby, the library’s app to get ebooks. Stay safe everyone!)

Another favorite genre of mine! What would you add to the list?

May you all be finding hope and peace during these crazy times. If there’s anything specific to pray for, please let me know!

You are my refuge and my shield;
I have put my hope in your word.

Psalm 119:114

Book Reviews, What To Read

What to Read: Sci-fi and Fantasy

(I’m sharing more book recommendations as we all work through these unprecedented times. You can find all the lists here. I also post daily-ish Instastories if you want even more recommendations. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Libby, the library’s app to get ebooks. Stay safe everyone!)

Y’all know I love my Fantasy, but I’m also always game for a solid Sci-fi book too.

Do you find yourself getting more reading done during these times? It depends on the day for me. But this week I got caught up for my book clubs, so it’s been good so far.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

Book Reviews, What To Read

What to Read: Suspense, Thrillers, and Mysteries

(I’m sharing more book recommendations as we all work through these unprecedented times. You can find all the lists here. I also post daily-ish Instastories if you want even more recommendations. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Libby, the library’s app to get ebooks. Stay safe everyone!)

Some of my favorite reads are in this category. They’re fast paced and the good ones keep you guessing!

What are some of your favorite thrillers?

*heads up on some language

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Book Reviews, What To Read

What to Read: For Your Faith

(I’m sharing more book recommendations as we all work through these unprecedented times. You can find all the lists here. I also post daily-ish Instastories if you want even more recommendations. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Libby, the library’s app to get ebooks. Stay safe everyone!)

Since it’s the weekend, I thought it would be fitting to share some books that are encouraging for your faith. I’m reading through the first two books right now for Easter season and they are exactly what I have needed. Books have a way of doing that no?

Be sure to share any books you would add to the list too!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Book Reviews, What To Read

What to Read: The First Edition

I hope you are all staying safe and taking care of yourself and family! These are strange and scary times indeed, but we’ll get through it. I’m praying you feel more peace and hope than ever before. I know I need it!

As we work through these unprecedented times, I thought I would start sharing some book recommendations. I’ve seen quite a few people ask for recommendations around the internet, so thought I could be helpful. Today’s is a mix from a recent list I shared, but I’ll also work on more themed ones in the coming days. You’ll be able to find all the lists here.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Libby, the library’s app to get ebooks. Also, Audible right now has kids books available to stream for free. You can find out more here. (I also post daily-ish Instastories if you want even more recommendations).

Happy reading and stay safe friends!

“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV)

Book Reviews, Fiction

What I’ve Been Reading | Early 2020

I admit, I didn’t get much reading done in February. 😦 But still wanted to share some recent-ish books I’ve read! A few in the photo are for INSPYs (so no reviews), but I’ve been loving the variety!

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster: How did I never read this as a kid? Such a treat! Dictionopolis and the banquet scene made my English and literary heart so happy. The use of phrases and slang had me chuckling while reading. And since it’s a kid’s book, what a fun way to learn (like in Digitopolis). Great to help a kid’s imagination!

The Girl in the Glass by Susan Meissner: A re-read because SOMEONE SEND ME TO ITALY. PLEASE.

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery: Loved it even more the second time around.

Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers (just realized I forgot to include them in the picture): I was in a reading rut at the beginning of January, so turned to a long time favorite for a re-read. Always helps.

Book Club Books

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite: This ended up being a no for me even though I was hoping it wasn’t. I really liked the whole idea and there were so many ways it could have gone, but I really didn’t like how it ended up. It does make for some great book club discussions though!

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier: Always a fun one to discuss. Can’t wait for the movie!

What have you been reading?

Book Reviews, Fiction, Nonfiction

What I’ve Been Reading | Fall 2019 Edition

I would like to give myself a high five for blogging this week! Granted it’s a recap of books, but hey, it’s a new post! Have you read any? Would love to hear what you thought of them!

Legendary and Finale by Stephanie Garber – Really enjoyed this series! While the conclusion felt a teeny bit rushed, I think it was more because I was sad to say goodbye to so many characters. Maybe we can get some short stories of a few years down the road :).

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl – This was a fun one for book club. It’s a quick read and produced lots of reactions. My take – if you’re looking for a fast read with some interesting historical pieces and foodie culture of NYC, it’s worth checking out.

The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden – She continues to be one of my favorite historical authors. She always finds little bits of history I know nothing about and creates a fun story. If you want a bit of romance and history, be sure to check this one out.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – Even though I hadn’t read it yet, I was really excited when I heard this was becoming a movie (I read her debut), but honestly I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. This may be a slight spoiler: The story itself is interesting, but there was a character I felt she tried to make the “perfect” character, even when their decisions were actually terrible.

Endless Night by Agatha Christie – When I started reading this book, I wasn’t sure what to think. It wasn’t what I was expecting and it was in first person (which I’ve never read from Agatha), but I trust her books, so I stuck with it and I have to say it was worth it. Super eerie! Of the several I’ve read, definitely her most creepy!

The Dream Called Home by Reyna Grande – I really enjoy memoirs. No matter if you agree with every point and/or every decision a person makes, I truly believe there is always something we can learn from reading people’s stories. Grande’s is a story of an undocumented immigrant and the journey of a writer. If you’re looking for a memoir, check out this one!

State of Lies by Siri Mitchell – I’m a big fan of Siri’s historical fiction novels. As that’s her go-to genre to write, so it was so much fun to see her step into suspense and thriller!

Happy reading everyone!