Encountering Silence
Barbara A. Holmes: Silence as Unspeakable Joy (Episode 26)
June 14, 2018
A Conversation with Barbara A. Holmes, author of "Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church."
How does the encounter with silence usher us into mystery? And how is our relationship with silence shaped by, or challenged by, the challenges and dynamics of social difference and privilege? What is the relationship between contemplation and community, and how is community actually essential to authentic contemplation? How are tears, and moaning, and dancing, and lament, essential to contemplation — especially among those persons and communities who experience oppression? “Silence has power, positively, it’s life-giving... and it also can be a hiding place for people of the dominant culture.” — Dr. Barbara A. Holmes These are just a few of the questions we explore in today’s episode, a conversation with scholar and contemplative the Reverend Dr. Barbara A. Holmes. Dr. Holmes is the author of Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church, and has emerged as a leading voice calling for affirming and celebrating contemplation as it emerges in the lives of all people, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or religious affiliation. “The women in my family were the ones who really seeded contemplation into my very being. I watched them — I saw that mysticism didn’t have to be weird. It was very weird, but you could still make biscuits! You didn’t have to go berserk; you could do your normal life, be loving,  kind, help others, and still host these magical moments, wondrous moments, awe-inducing moments, and still do ordinary things like meet your kids at the stop on the school bus.” — Dr. Barbara A. Holmes Her thoughtful and insightful reflection on silence and contemplation is grounded in her family of origin — coming from the Gullah people of the SC/GA low country — and her work which explores the intersection between spirituality, stillness, and social justice. “Silence isn’t the word that I often use. Just simply because of the problem for people of color, and women, who have been silenced... I tend to use the language of stillness, of centering, and of embodied ineffability.” — Dr. Barbara A. Holmes Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode: Barbara A. Holmes, Joy Unspeakable Barbara A. Holmes, Race and the Cosmos Barbara A. Holmes, Dreaming Audre Lorde, Your Silence Will Not Protect You Jane Elliott, A Collar in My Pocket: The Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Exercise Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander Thomas Merton, Echoing Silence Margaret Barker, Temple Mysticism The Desert Mothers and Fathers, Early Christian Wisdom Sayings Janet McKenzie, Holiness and the Feminine Spirit: The Art of Janet McKenzie Matthew Fox, Creativity Beyoncé, Dangerously in Love Kendrick Lamar, Revolution Music John Coltrane, A Love Supreme Jimi Hendrix, The Best of Jimi Hendrix: Experience Hendrix Taizé, Chants for Peace and Serenity June Jordan, Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan John Stewart Bell, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics James A. Noel, “Being, Nothingness and the Signification of Silence in African-American Religious Consciousness” in Black Religion and the Imagination of Matter in the Atlantic World Stacy M. Floyd-Thomas, Deeper Shades of Purple: Womanism in Religion and Society Kelly Brown Douglas, Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective Katie Cannon, Black Womanist Ethics Howard Thurman, Essential Writings Barbara Ransby, Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement  “The willingness to listen, on both sides, is the beginning of reconciliation.” — Dr. Barbara A. Holmes Episode 26: Silence as Unspeakable Joy: A Conversation with Dr. Barbara A. Holmes Hosted by: Cassidy Hall With: Kevin Johnson, Carl McColman Guest: Barbara Holmes Date Recorded: May 24, 2018