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!

Ink & Willow

New Ink & Willow Release: GET OUTSIDE

Get Outside is now available from Ink & Willow!

This awesome and fantastic release is extra special because @maxieisfamous is in it! A few of us wrote up the photography piece for the GET OUTSIDE Nature Journal and we even got to use some of our own photographs. This was one of the ONLY photos I could find. #totally

But seriously, GET OUTSIDE is the best nature journal out there and you should all get one. That is a complete unbiased opinion. Then get one for a friend. And if he must, Max will sign copies.

ABOUT THE BOOK: For nature lovers seeking a greater appreciation of God’s creation comes a guided journal featuring inspirational quotes, thoughtful journaling prompts, and valuable information to enhance every outdoor adventure.

Designed to be sturdy enough to be taken along on nature hikes or any outdoor excursions, this beautifully designed guided journal will help you become more attentive to the handiwork of God in the great outdoors and in your own heart.

An activity log provides space to record every outdoor adventure, while guides to cloud formations, flora and fauna, navigation by the stars, outdoor photography, and wilderness safety give you the confidence to wander off the beaten path. Additional features include the top ten outdoor survival myths, a state-by-state list of top outdoor destinations, dos and don’ts of day hiking, how U.S. mountains compare in elevation, and hidden or often overlooked locations throughout the country.

Whether you’re an expert adventurer or you simply enjoy a quiet walk in the nearest park, Get Outside will make your time in nature more memorable and spiritually fulfilling.

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million | Bookshop.org

Follow Ink & Willow on social: Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

Ink & Willow

New Ink & Willow Release: 40 DAYS OF INTENTIONAL LIVING!

As I’ve mentioned countless times, working on Ink & Willow products is absolutely a favorite part of my job. With a new year comes new releases! First up is a devotional journal that’s perfect for Lent and Easter (or any time of the year!). With so many voices featured (and even a handful by yours truly), my prayer is that this will draw you in deeper and closer to Jesus, no matter which 40 Day season you spend doing this.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Cultivate intentional faith practices with this 40-day guided journal that features thoughtful reflections from well-known Christian authors, inspirational quotes, and beautiful illustrations designed to set your mind and soul at rest.

The practice of developing intentional faith habits is not a natural tendency. It requires focus, discipline, prayer, and persistence to grow in our walk with God. We may have great intentions, but often the busyness and chaos of everyday life force our spiritual growth to take a back seat. Fortunately, 40 Days of Intentional Living offers both a practical guide and an inspiring resource to deepening your faith.

Divided into eight themes central to the Christian faith—such as hope, joy, surrender, and rest—these 40 devotions draw from the writings of a number of bestselling and beloved authors of faith, including C.S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr., Louie Giglio, Jennie Allen, Mark Batterson, Brennan Manning, Randy Alcorn, and more. Partnered with daily Scripture reading, thought-provoking journal prompts, and practical action steps to encourage you toward a more intentional faith lifestyle, this 40-day resource is the ideal companion for walking through the seasons of Lent and Advent, as well as for use in personal or group study.

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million | Bookshop.org | ChristianBook.com | Lifeway

Follow Ink & Willow on social: Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

book club

Next Book Club Read: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Another Book Club discussion in the books! Really appreciate all who come, share their insights, what’s they’re learning from the books we read! I am looking forward to more book clubs!⁣

Next up: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass – An American Slave. It’s been a long while since I’ve read this and I thought it would also make a great read for Black History Month. Plus, with this being in public domain, there are plenty of places to snag a copy (whether free or very affordable physical copies). We’ll be meeting in March to discuss, so do consider joining us!

Join the Facebook Group here

Family Life

It’s Been 30 Years

I often wonder what the dreams of my Grandma were. When you’re young and lose someone close, understanding all that was lost comes later. Often years later. My Grandma died on December 31, 1990 when I was only 8 years old, so while I do have some concrete memories, most of my memories of her are hazy- almost dreamlike – of a quiet and sweet woman who loved all of her grandchildren.

That’s me in the top right.

I remember her smile, and the way she would often use my Grandpa’s nickname and say with a smile “Oh Red,” when my Grandpa was doing something only my Grandpa would do.

I may not have had the words in my young vocabulary when I running around causing chaos with my other young cousins, but with age comes wisdom and and looking back, I can see the ways sickness affected her body (she had open heart surgery before I was born and again when I was little), sickness that would eventually take her in the early hours of a cold California day, the last day of the year.

Did she see her dreams fulfilled? In those final months did she know her time was short and wonder what would become of her grandchildren? I have a feeling she did. I wonder too, if she knew that 8th grandchild and second granddaughter (myself) would be one of the feisty introverts and have much of the same passionate spirit as my Mama, my Grandma’s second born?

That’s my Mom my Grandma is holding in the left photo and others include my Grandpa, great Aunts and Uncles, and my Great-Grandma.

Did I get my love of Spanish music from her too? Was it both her and my Grandpa who left a legacy of music that included voices like Luis Miguel, Perry Como, Keely Smith, Eydie Gormé y Trio Los Panchos?

If she were around today, I’m sure we would chat often about these things, along with talking about our faith and how that has shaped our lives. I wonder, would we talk about favorite foods and if my albondigas tasted anything like hers? I know there would still be lots of hugs.

It’s amazing how love will always stick to a heart, to a soul, even if experienced for such a short time.

As I’ve been in California for awhile, I was hoping to explore some of her spots around L.A. with my Mom, but with all that’s going on, unfortunately I haven’t been able to. But even while the explorations are on hold, being home has included many chats, memories, and stories from both my Mom and Dad about all of my Grandparents. Many, I quickly learned, I didn’t know (or quite possibly I forgot). And even stories they heard from their parents about their Grandparents (many who sadly died young).

Seeing old photos of my Grandma with her sisters (my great Aunts), I again can’t help but wonder, what did they imagine for their future generations? Sisters doing life together, much like my sister and I.

Hortensia. That was her name, but many stories from my Mom over these past several weeks, tell me she never went by her full name. It was always Grandma from my cousins, siblings, and I, “Mimi” for others, and even other nicknames for her siblings and parents. My cousin who was born not too long after her passing is her namesake.

Even if I never called her that, I love her name. The history it encompasses, the stories it’s always ready to share.

I wish I remembered more and had more time with her, but I am thankful for the faded memories I do have and I see her legacy in my Mom, my Aunts and in my cousins. In the importance of family and the importance of love that comes with it.

I hope that if you are blessed to still have your Grandparents in your life, and, come to think of it, your parents, take time today to send them a hello and “I Love You.” The days are long, but the years are far too short.

Ink & Willow

To Read Or Not To Read: The Best Reading Journal In The World

Where to Buy: BAM | Amazon | BN.com | Christianbooks.com | Walmart
book club

Next Book Club Read: The Color of Compromise

The next read for Musings of Jamie Book Club will be Jemar Tisby’s THE COLOR OF COMPROMISE. This is such an important book and I hope you’ll join us! Since December naturally gets busy with holidays, we’ll be connecting mid-January for the discussion! Join the Facebook Group here.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
In The Color of Compromise, Jemar Tisby takes readers back to the roots of sustained racism and injustice in the American church. Filled with powerful stories and examples of American Christianity’s racial past, Tisby’s historical narrative highlights the obvious ways people of faith have actively worked against racial justice, as well as the complicit silence of racial moderates. Identifying the cultural and institutional tables that must be flipped to bring about progress, Tisby provides an in-depth diagnosis for a racially divided American church and suggests ways to foster a more equitable and inclusive environment among God’s people.

WHERE TO BUY: Amazon | BN.com | Christianbooks.com | Books A Million

Bookish Radness

It’s THE NIGHT CIRCUS Party 🖤

“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it…It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”⁣

This past weekend, I decided to go all out for book club this month with The Night Circus. Mainly because I love this book 🖤. I first read it in 2013, but I had forgotten so much it was like reading it for the first time 😆. It’s just so magical! ⁣Anyway, thought I’d share some photos in case you’re looking for some book club party (or just book party!) inspiration!

Also, if you’re a fan of magic, fantasy, and love a love story, then be sure to check this one out.

Have you ever hosted a book theme party? What was the theme? I’d love to hear!

Bookish Radness

Why read? Here Are 7 Reasons

Let’s all pretend to be shocked that I would choose to write an article on reasons to read, but what can I say? I love to read and I love to talk about why I love to read and books, but I promise this article will be more than just an excuse for me to talk about why reading is the absolute best. So here we go! Seven reasons to keep on reading!

1. Your brain will love and appreciate you a lot more.
Not only does reading help with memory and critical thinking skills, according to Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, it can also slow the rate of decline and has been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. According to PBS’s Great American Read, those who read regularly are 2.5x less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

I love a good binge watch, but TV does not do this for your brain (also reading burns more calories than watching TV #extrabonus).

2. Knowledge is power.
This might be the most cliché reason to add to this list, but I wouldn’t have if it wasn’t true. As we read more, not only are we learning more on whatever the topic of the book is, we are improving things like our vocabulary and critical thinking skills.

3. Reading reduces stress.
Some might say stress is one of America’s favorite pastimes. Well, reading only a few minutes a day can reduce stress up to 68%. Reading angry Twitter rants does not count. I have no science *yet* to back that up, but pretty sure Twitter triples stress levels.

4. Empathy.
This is one thing the world needs so much more of. Whether it’s taking time to read about the experiences of immigrants are like or the memoirs of someone who has lived a completely different life from you, developing empathy makes us better humans. What so easily divides us is when we forget each other’s humanity.

5. Let us all escape for a quick minute.
Well, if 2020 didn’t prove that we need a place to escape for a few…

6. There is nothing quite like laughter.
A well written book that has humor throughout is always an absolute favorite. When I have to stop reading for a few minutes because I’m laughing so hard, I’m positive I just added a day to my life. (Some books that I have legit laughed out loud? Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, Melanie Shankle’s books, and Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren)

7. Book discussions are one of my favorite reasons.
I’m in three different book clubs and I love it. You need people in your life where you can text any of the following (with, of course, matching gifs) and there will be instant understanding:

  • I read the first chapter and I cannot go on.
  • I think I just fell in love with [Enter name of fictional character]
  • Why did my life have to include reading this TRASH?
  • I think I just cried my eyes out.

Another reason I love book discussions? When people have disagreed on a book, those turned into some of my favorite discussions.

What are some of your favorite reasons to read?

(Sources here and here)

Ink & Willow

I Helped Write a Book! MY PRAYER JOURNEY and Why You Need This