WITNESSES TO THE MIRACLE OF BLACKNESS

Sojourners

CommentaryLiving FaithRacial Justice

WITNESSES TO THE MIRACLE OF BLACKNESS

BY DANTÉ STEWART

I had breakfast with my daddy recently. We talked about all that had happened in the past year, how things were going at Walmart, how hard it was for him to work long hours, and how crazy it has been doing all of this in a pandemic. I was glad to be able to sit down with him. We didn’t really do that too much when I was younger, but the older I have gotten, the closer I’ve wanted to become.

“Hey daddy,” I asked, “what got you into politics?” He paused. He bent his head over a bit. He shook it side to side. “Those white boys back then tried to lynch my brother,” he said. “That did it.”

I couldn’t say anything. I was stunned. I had known my daddy to be reserved, quiet. He stands 5 feet, 5 inches tall and has a slight limp from spinal surgery. His beard is grey and black, wrapping around his face like the mask he was wearing. And he felt every bit of the words that were coming out of his mouth. His body, which had been relaxed, tensed up. I knew the memory had come back in terrible ways.

“Daddy, as a pastor,” he continued, “really didn’t get involved in politics.” His daddy, who I barely remember, pastored a small Black rural church in Dillon, S.C. “But for us,” he said, recounting his life in the ’60s and ’70s, “for us, we went from colored to Black.”

I knew what he meant. My daddy and so many Black folks like him had gotten tired of a world that saw them as problems and not people. He had gotten so tired of Black lives being terrorized. He had to find a way through the brutality of this country. And he knew that this was the story that I needed to hear.

“Daddy,” I said. “I’m glad you told me that.”

“That’s the only way we have made it,” he told me. Telling stories is the only way.

Read more: https://sojo.net/articles/witnesses-miracle-blackness

All the Christian single ladies


For years my parents’ church supported a missionary in Nepal who, by all accounts of her ministry, was the definition of badass. But — and I’m not sure where or how I learned to think this way — even as a young girl, I distinctly remember praying that I would never end up like her.

Why? Not because she was a spiritual powerhouse who was doing amazing work among the young girls of a developing country. Because she was single.

Flash forward a couple of decades to the present day. I was babysitting a family of outrageously adorable children and as we walked to the park, one of the girls asked me if I had a little girl of my own. I said I didn’t. The other sister asked if I was married and I admitted I wasn’t. The first girl stopped dead in the middle of the sidewalk and exclaimed, “You mean you don’t have a man?” It took everything in me not to burst out laughing — largely because, as most of us realize when we get older, having a partner often complicates, rather than simplifies your life.

I am a Christian woman in my mid-30s, and I am single. And though I enjoy a life that I would consider abundant — full of friends and family, great professional opportunities, a decent level of financial freedom, and above all else, an extremely deep spiritual relationship with the Creator of the Universe — I recognize that to many younger women, I’m a cautionary tale. Because I am single.

Some of these thoughts came to mind as I read the New York Magazine excerpt of Rebecca Traister’s book, All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation. According to the piece, we are living in a new era in our country in which there are more single women (defined as never-married, widowed, divorced, or separated) than married women.

Traister writes,

“Perhaps even more strikingly, the number of adults younger than 34 who had never married was up to 46 percent, rising 12 percentage points in less than a decade. For women under 30, the likelihood of being married has become astonishingly small: Today, only around 20 percent of Americans ages 18–29 are wed, compared to nearly 60 percent in 1960.”

Curious about the percentage of single women in churches, I decided to look into the numbers myself. According to the Pew Research Religious Landscape Study conducted in 2014, the percentage of unmarried women (including never married, widowed and divorced/separated) amongst evangelical Protestants was 42 percent. Those numbers were similar to that of women in the Catholic Church (40 percent) and among mainline Protestants (45 percent). Those numbers increased in Historically Black Protestant churches to 59 percent.

If I had more time and access to some stats software, I would crosstab these percentages with age in order to get a more complete picture. But as a professional church lady, I’ve also seen these demographics to be empirically true. And any church leader worth his or her salt (pun absolutely intended) knows that communities of faith reap tremendous benefit from having single women — and men — in their congregations.

CHURCH WOULD NOT HAPPEN WERE IT NOT FOR THE DEDICATION OF SINGLE PEOPLE.

Single women tend to serve more in churches than their married counterparts. The apostle Paul’s argument for singleness — that it allows men and women to be more available for God and the church — is borne out time and again when church ladies like me put together service schedules. Church would not happen were it not for the dedication of single people (and to be fair, married couples without children).

And though there tends to be a suspicion of unmarried women and men — at least in the evangelical church (I can’t speak for other branches) — and a stigma that somehow we are less spiritually mature, this has not always been the case. For centuries, the church has seen single men and women join monastic orders or convents and devote themselves to God and to service.

I recently discussed this with an Episcopal priest who spent years in a monastic community. He pointed out that the reason for celibacy in these communities is largely to make oneself more open to divine intimacy with Christ. Certainly this bears out in his life.

I’d never heard a pastor speak more tenderly and passionately about knowing Jesus until I heard this man.

Which brings up an interesting conundrum. I can say from my experience as a single woman in church (again, mostly evangelical branches) that there is much stigma around singleness. Despite the fact that Jesus himself was single and childless, that Paul was single and childless, and that women (many of whom were unmarried) were active in the early church,


marriage still seems to be a preferred status. Read more: https://sojo.net/articles/all-christian-single-ladies

Writer: Juliet Vedral

My Daughter is lying to me about School

An illustration of drooping pencils, pens, and a ruler in a jar
Youthful Magazine
squiggly pencil

Editor’s Note: Every month, Youthful Magazine take questions from readers about family, relationships, education, and other issues. You have one? Email them at youthfulpraiseng@gmail.com.


Dear Readers,

I’m writing about my daughter, a seventh grader whom I’ll call Z. Her school has been fully remote since last spring. Z used to love school, but after a year of remote classes, she is totally unmotivated.

I’m terrified that, with high school approaching, she is falling behind. She used to be at the top of her class, but everything has changed in the past year. To make matters worse, sometimes when I ask if her work is done, she lies to me, as I later hear from the teacher that the work didn’t get done. I can’t stand that she’s lying to me.

But as much as I nag or beg or scold or offer raises in allowance if she does better, nothing seems to make a difference.

What should I do?

Youthful Magazine News


Dear readers,

We can’t receive your payments via our payment links, to Read the Youthful Magazine (April edition) for now. Apologies!


We’ll fix it soon, after approvals


🇳🇬 Nigerians, kindly pay ₦200 to read to 0237428449 Oliseh (GTBank), screenshot payment and WhatsApp +2347085085496 for your password.


🇬🇧🇺🇸🇨🇦 Foreigners, pay £3 (GBP) or $4 (USD) to access the Youthful Magazine. Pay via PayPal to @OlisehMusic (screenshot payment, and WhatsApp +2347085085496 for your password to read) Thank You.


https://youthfulmagazine.art.blog