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Langston Hughes and Religion

Langston Hughes and Religion

If the churches Hughes attended were less focused on numbers of “converts” and numbers of dollars, perhaps they would have seen a searching soul.

Amanda Harman is a student at Calvary and is from Colorado Springs, CO. She loves to play her violin and entertain friends with her dry sense of humor. 

by Amanda Harman

 

February was Black History Month, and one can scarcely glance at black history without seeing the fingerprints of Langston Hughes. He is best remembered as a poet, but he also wrote novels, plays, essays, memoirs, children’s stories, not to mention influencing the movement that cemented black influence in modern culture. He was at the forefront of the Harlem Renaissance—a resurgence and celebration of black culture through music, writing, and art centered in the New York City neighborhood that inspired its name (“Langston Hughes”). It is tragic that such a great man with such a heavy influence on society was not a believer, so it is imperative that the modern church learns from the mistakes that drove him away.

Hughes spent part of his childhood in Lawrence, Kansas. There, his foster aunt took him to a Black Church for a revival when he was about twelve. Several children sat on a bench close together, and as the service went on, the others stood up one by one and approached the pulpit, declaring Jesus as their savior, until only Hughes was left (Oates). The congregation begged and prayed for him. He did finally give into the pressure and get up, but he felt like he had “failed to see Jesus” and, therefore, believed he had a forsaken salvation (Oates).

This early experience led to a general distrust of religion and its pressure to keep up appearances. As a man, Hughes was able to travel the world to places like Mexico, Cuba, and the Soviet Union (Oates). His travels opened his eyes to the major problems with American Christianity (Oates). In one of his most controversial poems called “Goodbye Christ” Hughes wrote:

“The popes and the preachers’ve

Made too much money from it.

They’ve sold you to too many

Kings, generals, robbers, and killers.”

 

The poem criticizes the commercial nature of Christianity in America, which made religion an impediment to society rather than a vehicle for God’s grace—an exploitation rather than a salvation (Piper).

The American church’s capitalistic focus on empty professions of faith for profit rather than sincere repentance from love impacted his view on Christianity for the rest of his life (Oates), and it is heartbreaking that Hughes is likely not in heaven. But his insight in this area can still be used to further God’s work here on earth (Piper). If the churches Hughes attended were less focused on numbers of “converts” and numbers of dollars, perhaps they would have seen a searching soul, one wanting the truth and finding only empty religion. Maybe they would have reached out to Hughes in love, answered his questions, and led him to a true saving knowledge of Christ. After all, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35 [NLT]).

This is the lesson modern churches and believers must take from the life and work of Langston Hughes. Our conduct should invite others in with love, not repel them with disgust.

_________________

Works Cited:
“Langston Hughes.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 29 Jan. 2021, www.biography.com/writer/langston-hughes. Accessed 22 Feb. 2021.
Oates, N’Kosi. “Religion in the Work of Langston Hughes.” Black Perspectives, AAIHS, 12 June 2018, www.aaihs.org/religion-in-the-work-of-langston-hughes/. Accessed 22 Feb. 2021.
Piper, John. “The Tragedy of Langston Hughes and a Warning I Will Heed.” Desiring God, 2 Feb. 2008, www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-tragedy-of-langston-hughes-and-a-warning-i-will-heed. Accessed 22 Feb. 2021.

 

Calvary student wins U.S. Naval Institute writing contest

Calvary student wins U.S. Naval Institute writing contest

Student Mike Burke, author of “Crowdfunded”, pictured rehearsing the role of El Gallo for Calvary’s upcoming production of The Fantasticks.

Burke inspired by Calvary’s English and Theatre Departments

by Amanda Harman

The year is 2038. An intense battle is raging between the technologically advanced Marines and the genetically-enhanced enemy. The tide of the battle turns against the Marines, and with no sign of help, they desperately use a less conventional source for rescue.

Calvary University English Literature and Creative Writing Major Mike Burke’s contest-winning short story “Crowdfunded” follows this platoon of Marines as they navigate through an abandoned city, avoiding ambushes, using every trick up their sleeves to hold off the enemy, and generally just trying to stay alive. Burke, a retired Marine himself, cowrote the story with his friend Nicholas Nethery, who is still on active duty in Europe with the Army. Their piece “Crowdfunded” won first prize in the U.S. Naval Institute-CIMSEC Fiction Essay Contest.

“There are so many talented people out there with great stories to tell; it never occurred to me we would do so well,” Burke says. “The notion that we wrote the kind of story they want to read feels great.” The coauthors are already talking about their next story on explosives disposal techs and smart munitions.

On the inspiration behind the winning entry, Burke says, “Our story addresses a number of issues the future military might face, including moral and ethical issues.” He adds, “All the tech in the story actually exists or is in development.” Another source of inspiration was English classes at Calvary, where Burke learned how to outline a plot in Creative Writing and how to write purposeful dialogue in Playwriting.

Besides writing, Burke enjoys being part of the Theatre Department at Calvary, and he will be starring in the upcoming production of The Fantasticks. Burke says that English and Theatre have so much overlap that “When I write I feel like a gunfighter with a pistol in each hand.”

Burke’s advice to fellow writers comes from experience: “Good writing has been drafted and rewritten a bunch of times so it’s okay if yours is too. It’s also fine to write a draft of something and set it aside for six months and look at it with fresh eyes. Just don’t do that with your homework.”

You may read “Crowdfunded” by following this link to the U.S. Naval Institute website.

 

Box Office Opens for Calvary Theatre’s The Fantasticks!

Box Office Opens for Calvary Theatre’s The Fantasticks!

Adam Weeks, Ashley Huseby, Rebekkah Harms, and Leah McNabb rehearse for the upcoming show.

Box Office Opens for Calvary Theatre’s The Fantasticks!

Calvary Theatre Arts is proud to present the longest running musical in the world, The Fantasticks. A beautiful coming of age story, The Fantasticks tells the story of the young lovers, Matt and Luisa, as they fall in love, realize that happily-ever-after isn’t always so happy, and grow stronger together for it. With romance, comedy, and sword fighting, this show has it all, even . . . vegetables?

The Fantasticks will run for two weekends with performances March 12 – 21, 2021.

We are also excited to announce that we will be hosting our performances in a different space this year in order to best follow Covid-19 guidelines and continue to bring this story to life while also keeping our guests safe. In-person performances will be held at Calvary University’s Student Life Center, and streaming options will be available for those who wish to experience the magic of theatre from the comfort of their homes.

For more information and to order your tickets please visit our box office page.

CU Press seeking writers for IJOBA

CU Press seeking writers for IJOBA

IJOBA is a platform to articulate the biblical worldview 

Dr. Mike Dodds is looking for writers for the Spring 2021 edition of the Interdisciplinary Journal on Biblical Authority (IJOBA).

“IJOBA exists to provide a platform for Christian thinkers to articulate the biblical worldview,” Dodds wrote in a recent statement, “concerning issues in their chosen discipline as well as to evaluate trends and topics within that discipline using the biblical worldview. Its articles and reviews are intended to encourage Christian thinkers in their chosen fields to remain faithful to Christ and the biblical worldview.”

Authors are expected to follow The Chicago Manual of Style and A Manual for Writers (by Kate L. Turabian) as to style. See further submission guidelines at https://www.calvary.edu/calvary-university-press/journal-submission/.

The submission deadline for the Spring edition is March 12, 2021. Correspondence and manuscripts can be submitted to the Editor, Dr. Tommy Ice, at tommy.ice@calvary.edu. For more information, contact Dr. Dodds through his faculty profile, or call 816-322-5152, ext. 1348.

You can order the most recent edition of IJOBA through Amazon at this link.