The full episode transcript is below.
You are listening to the Be the Bridge podcast with Latasha Morrison.
Latasha Morrison 0:06[intro] How are you guys doing today? It’s exciting!
Each week, Be the Bridge podcast tackles subjects related to race and culture with the goal of bringing understanding.
Latasha Morrison 0:17[intro] …but I’m going to do it in the spirit of love.
We believe understanding can move us toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial unity. Latasha Morrison is the founder of Be the Bridge, which is an organization responding to racial brokenness and systemic injustice in our world. This podcast is an extension of our vision to make sure people are no longer conditioned by a racialized society, but grounded in truth. If you have not hit the subscribe button, please do so now. Without further ado, let’s begin today’s podcast. Oh, and stick around for some important information at the end.
Latasha Morrison 0:54
Okay, listen now, Be the Bridge community I am so excited to have…I feel like I can call her my friend. It’s like, you know, I don’t know. People that you know online, or if you’ve had a few conversations with, or if you’ve exchanged a few texts with, you feel like you know him. But I feel like it’s also kindred spirits, and just other female leaders. And I have Miss Lisa Fields who is here who is leading an organization called Jude 3 Project. I’ve had my eyes on her for a while. I think we probably started…Lisa, did we start around the same time leading out? What did you start?
Lisa Fields 1:35
I think so. We started in 2014.
Latasha Morrison 1:39
Okay, yeah. So that’s about the same time that I was starting Be the Bridge. And you know, we got our 501c3 in like 2015, 2016. And so around the same time of growth. And so we could share some stories, right?
Lisa Fields 1:56
Latasha Morrison 1:56
I think our friend BJ Thompson and Jemar Tisby kind of introduced us. We were in a conversation, I forget what we were in a conversation for, I think it was like raising money for nonprofits.
Lisa Fields 2:09
Latasha Morrison 2:09
Lisa Fields 2:10
And before that we had met because we did the singles podcast on Truth’s Table.
Latasha Morrison 2:16
Oh yes. Yes. Yes, we did that together. Oh, we could have a whole podcast around that one. (laughter) But let me tell you this. She is one of the world’s most sought after Christian apologists. She combines her passion for a biblical literacy with a heart for sharing God’s love. And during her college at the University of North Florida…and I think this is important. I know sometimes we read bios, but I think your leading point into forming Jude 3 is really important to your story and what you’re doing now. And you took a New Testament course that shifted your life. You were a pastor’s kid, you were familiar with the church and Christian faith and the importance of reading the Bible. She was also planning a career as a stockbroker in New York City. Sounds like me and my beginnings of trying to be a dentist. (laughter) On the first day of her New Testament class, the professor declared, “I am going to change everything you thought you knew about Jesus.” Throughout the course her professor focused on biblical contradictions and textual criticism. And in every sense of the matter your faith was challenged. And it forced you to kind of rethink what you believed and decide about keeping your faith or abandon your faith. And after college, you continued to wrestle with biblical concepts, her faith while working in the financial services industry. Each day she wrestled with God’s call for her life to further her education. To better defend the faith, she pursued her Master’s of Divinity from Liberty University. Something we have in common. And you see, you still have it on your bio. (laughter) I’m not gonna tell you what I did with mine. (laughter) But no, that’s good. Because God, listen, God has a sense of humor.
Lisa Fields 4:17
He really does.
Latasha Morrison 4:17
And the redemption of that is, you know. Her time is seminary prepared her into her calling as an apologist. And during your last year of seminary, your passion to teach others how to defend their faith was clear. It was then that the Jude 3 Project was birthed. And the Founder and President, Lisa’s primary mission for the Jude 3 Project is to help the Black Christian community know what they believe and why they believe it. And I want to start with that. I understand your why. But I want you to explain it a little bit more to especially our white brothers and sisters that are listening to this podcast now. Why is the primary focus to help the Black Christian community know what they believe and why they believe it? Because I don’t think they may even understand what is broken in that and why that’s such a need. And for an African American person hearing that, I’m like, this is so needed. This is so needed in such a time as this. And so can you explain that to the community for me?
Lisa Fields 5:30
Yeah, thank you for this opportunity. I’m excited to be here. So, when I was first introduced to apologetics, it was me trying to navigate that class. I was in a New Testament class. My father introduced it to me. And I fell in love with it. But everybody that I saw outside of Ravi was white, a white old man, you know, leading it. And I felt like while they were helpful in navigating that course, there were still some significant gaps for things, for the questions in the Black community. And even some of the questions are similar, but the approach to answering them are different. And so I was like, in addition to that, we need to see ourselves leading in this space, to know that it’s possible for us. And so those were the reasons that I thought it was important to focus on the African American community, to answer the questions that our community is asking, to approach it the way our community would be able to receive it, and also for people to see themselves as apologists. Like, you didn’t see many women in this space, and you didn’t see Black women at all. And so now that people see me as a Black woman leading it, they think, “Oh man, this is something I can aspire to. This is something I could be. This is a field that’s for me as well.”
Latasha Morrison 6:52
Yeah. So you didn’t let it take you out, but you saw a problem. And God has led you to create a solution and to speak into that and to change lives because of your faithfulness and because of your yes. And I’m just grateful to be breathing at the same time that you’re breathing, because I don’t even feel like…you know how you always say, “You’re just scratching the surface.” You know, there’s so much I feel that God is going to do. And a lot of this started from a podcast. You know, a part of Jude 3, you do like this series of podcasts and videos going through Christian history. Can you explain that to us? Like some of the podcasts that you’ve done and some of the topics. I know, like you do a lot with hermeneutics and all of that. So kind of explain that.
Lisa Fields 7:54
Yeah. So when we started the whole Jude 3 Project, it started off as events to train pastors. So we did that a couple of times. But it was localized. And I was like, if I wanted to reach the nations, I need to do a podcast. And so, but I wanted our podcast to be unique. I wanted our podcast to be inclusive. Because I felt like if I was called to the whole Black church, the Black church isn’t a monolith. There’s A.M.E., there’s P.A.W., there’s Church of God in Christ, there’s National Baptist Convention of U.S.A.,
Latasha Morrison 8:29
Missionary Baptist now. (laughter)
Lisa Fields 8:32
Full Gospel, Primitive, C.M.E.
Latasha Morrison 8:34
Lisa Fields 8:35
And I didn’t want us to be in a bubble where we just got the Black people that are popular in one space. And so I started researching who had influence in all of those spaces. And I wanted to interview the people with influence in all the different denominations, not just Black, but white as well. And so we covered topics in a very broad way. And so that sometimes gets us in trouble. Because people are like…
Latasha Morrison 9:02
I can imagine! I can imagine the heat that you get. Yeah. (laughter)
Lisa Fields 9:08
But I’m not called to a tribe. And so because I’m not called to one tribe, I understand that I have to transcend, transcend the tribalism.
Latasha Morrison 9:17
Yes. So good. That, you just gave me language for what I feel like with Be the Bridge because people will try to put you in a box. And you know, and I think transcending the tribalism. I love it. Girl, that’s a t-shirt right there. (laughter) I love it. Go sell it.
Lisa Fields 9:39
Um, and so we’ve covered early African Christianity. Like you said hermeneutics. And I believe in a humble hermeneutic and understanding that we all see through the glass dimly, and everybody has a piece to add. And that’s, you know, that’s why bringing different voices to an unapologetic table is helpful because when you see apologetics dominated by all white men, they miss things because of just their cultural privilege and how they see the world and who they interact with. But then when you bring a Black woman to apologetics, she sees things differently.
Latasha Morrison 10:15
Lisa Fields 10:16
And so you have to take your hermeneutic and say, you know, what, be humble enough to say, “I missed this in the texts because the way I’ve been conditioned and the way I do life in my culture, just certain things don’t stand out to me.” And so that. And then we do courageous conversations. Which is one of our biggest things we have, where I bring the leading Black scholars, thought leaders, and pastors from all different backgrounds on the conservative and progressive side to talk about a plethora of topics. Which has gotten me in trouble as well.
Latasha Morrison 10:51
(laughter) I can imagine. Good trouble, good trouble. That’s good. And I like the way, for those who are listening, because I know, you know, everybody’s not a biblical scholar. I’m not a biblical scholar. But even in using words, like…you know, I’m in seminary now, also, but, like, just even with the word hermeneutics. Like everybody doesn’t know that and what it means. Can you explain what it means to contend to faith?
Lisa Fields 11:23
Yeah, so hermeneutics is the art of interpreting God’s word. And it is an art to it. Because it’s not, we don’t see it in the original language.
Latasha Morrison 11:35
Lisa Fields 11:35
Hebrew and Greek and Aramaic. So we have some work to do sometimes to get to the meaning of the text. As it relates to apologetics and contending for the faith, apologetics comes from the Greek word “apologia.” And I always have to say that because for as long as my grandmother thought I said, I’m sorry for Jesus for a living. And so I don’t want to assume that people know what I mean. But it comes from 1st Peter 3:15, when Peter says we ought to give a defense. And that word defense in the Greek means “apologia.” Give a defense for the hope that we have. But I also always include with gentleness and respect. So if you’re giving a defense for the faith, and you’re not doing it with gentleness and respect, you’re not doing biblical apologetics, you’re doing something else.
Latasha Morrison 12:23
Yeah, yeah. And I like here, you say, “We practice hermeneutics to know and worship God by bringing our lives into harmony with his character and his will.” And then you say, “Once the Word of God has hold of us, we are in a better position to interact with the world around us.” And I mean, taking this class in seminary just really, really gives you a broader sense of the Word of God, understanding all the different parts, and how to look at the Greek, and how to look at the Hebrew and all those languages. So I know it’s been a helpful, you know, I don’t want to call it a tool, but a process for me. You know? Because it is something you bring into your lifestyle, because we take…the lens that we look through the world, is the same lens that we see the Bible. And so the same, you know, glass ceilings that we have is the same ones we’re bringing into our framework of the Bible. So that is great. You did some things like, I think one of the conversations, I want to hear about you just released a documentary called Unspoken. I want you to tell me about how that came to be. Because this story is incredible. And share a little bit about some of the components that are in this movie and why they’re included in the movie.
Lisa Fields 13:56
Yeah, so around 2017, a fan of Jude 3, his name is Chris LaMark, reached out to me randomly, a cold email. And said, “Hey, I’m a fan of Jude 3. I’m also a filmmaker. And I want to do a film on early African Christianity to dispel the myth that Christianity is white man’s religion based on the scholars, and I want it to be a collaboration with you.” I said, “Great. That’s a great idea. I don’t have any money for that.”
Latasha Morrison 14:27
Right. (laughter) I tell you. I know. There’s so much we want to do and say, but money is a hindrance. (laughter)
Lisa Fields 14:38
Yeah. As I would say, money is the answer of all things. (laughter)
Latasha Morrison 14:43
Gives you opportunity! Yes.
Lisa Fields 14:46
And so he was like, “Well, I’ll do it for free.” I was like, “That’s great. I still don’t have money for it because it’s not just you filming it.”
Latasha Morrison 14:57
Lisa Fields 14:57
It’s flying people out. It’s so many. When you’re an organizational leader, you know it’s more than just one dynamic to cost. And so I was like, uh.
Latasha Morrison 15:05
But look he was willing to do whatever it took. Like, I love that. I love that.
Lisa Fields 15:11
Yeah. And so I kind of put him on the back burner. Fast forward a year later. I get a random Facebook message from Adam Coleman who’s an apologist and he says, “Hey, there’s an NFL player who wants to do a documentary. Him and his wife have set some money aside. But he doesn’t know any of the scholars. And he just doesn’t have a filmmaker. But will you meet with him?” He had just got traded from the Detroit Lions back to the Jaguars. Because he started his career with the Jaguars, was with the Jaguars for I think two years, was with the Lions for eight. Came back to the Jaguars, end up tearing his hamstring, but he was only here for 10 days. And one of those 10 days, I was in Jacksonville, because I live in Jacksonville. And I was home because you know, traveling. And so I met him and his wife at a Mediterranean restaurant. And they talked about their vision and the money they had set aside. I told him a filmmaker had reached out to me a year ago with the same idea. We left like, I think we’re gonna work together. And I was like, “Let me introduce you to the filmmaker, because you know, you’re about to invest. I want to make sure you know him and are comfortable with his work.” I connected them. Then we decided we’re going to do the film. And four years later, Unspoken is released. Now we thought that it was going to take a year and a half, two years, it took four. But in God’s providential plan COVID, you know, delayed some things.
Latasha Morrison 16:48
Lisa Fields 16:48
But we’re here now. And it was released on Juneteenth.
Latasha Morrison 16:51
Yeah, and let me tell you, I’ve had a chance to look at this documentary. First of all, I love when people just do things with excellence. You know, what I’m saying? Because sometimes there’s this expectation that because of resources and all these things that, you know, we’re not going to do things with excellence. You know? And just knowing that you, like Be the Bridge, you know, started out probably with not like investment funds. (laughter)
Lisa Fields 17:22
Latasha Morrison 17:22
At zero. From the bottom, yes. (laughter) Same thing, zero. And to look at what God has done. And when I was looking at this video, I’m looking at the cinema photography, like he is excellent at what he does. And just the cut outs, all of it, the way he filmed it, it’s just beautiful. And so that adds to the messaging. That’s important that it adds to the messaging. It’s actually better than some of the documentaries that I’ve seen on Netflix or Prime Video, all those different things. And it’s just so needed for our community. So those of you who are listening, if you have not heard about it, UnspokenMovie.com. You can download it and watch it, share it. There’s also bonus supplements with it. Like I think there’s a curriculum that goes with it?
Lisa Fields 18:19
Latasha Morrison 18:20
So I think it would be even a great thing for small groups, Bible studies, organizations. And this is not just for Black and Brown people. Like this is something where we need to see where things have gone off the rail, you know, in some of these conversations. Because there are still seminaries and churches, teaching about the curse of ham. Like, you know, and I know, the documentary addresses that. You know, it addresses like, you know, the founding Church Fathers who were men of color. It addresses that. It addresses some of the cultural issues within and faith issues within our community. It’s dealing with Nation of Islam and all the things. It addresses that. I mean, it gets down into it. And why did you pick the subjects that you chose, like the topics?
Lisa Fields 19:26
So it was really just what we deal with on the ground. So one of the things we do with Jude 3 is we do a HBCU tour.
Latasha Morrison 19:35
Lisa Fields 19:36
And we go to different HBCUs and host a forum called “Is Christianity a White Man’s Religion?” And you hear students, the first part of our event is called Talkback, where we allow students to talk back. For two minutes they get the mic and tell us what they what they think is wrong with Christianity and why they think it’s a white man’s religion. And you hear kids that grew up in church, “I don’t want this faith. It’s white man’s religion.” “We need to be in Kemeticism, African spirituality, Hebrew Israelism. This is where I find identity. This is for me.” “This is a white man’s religion.” And so you hear that over and over. And really, they’re really just trying to find a faith that affirms their humanity. And we just wanted to address the pain points that we hear on the ground. And so that’s why all of these topics were chosen. Because we knew students in real time – this is not some, like, pie in the sky or we’re pulling at straws, these are actually students that we interact with. So like, in part of the documentary, you see clips from our Benedict tour, where we went to Benedict College in South Carolina. You hear the students saying, you know, “I grew up in church, but this is a white man’s religion.” And so you get to see like, these are issues that college students are wrestling with. And it hits personally for our executive producer who was in the NFL, that his first year of college at Norfolk State in his African American Studies class, his professor was saying all these things about Christianity being the white man’s religion. And he left the faith because of it. And he ended up coming back to the faith years ago, but these are real things that pull at the heartstrings.
Latasha Morrison 21:26
Man, and for those of you who are listening, when she said, the tour that she does at HBCUs. I don’t take for granted that people know anything, but it’s historically Black colleges. And historically Black colleges exists because there was segregation. We were not allowed to go to white university. So that’s why we have historically Black colleges. That is why we have denominations that are particularly Black denominations, like the A.M.E. And it wasn’t that these people wanted to be segregated, it’s that they were not allowed to go to church and worship freely with their God given dignity or have an education just like everyone else. And so that’s, that is why these things exist. And they still have a place today, because we experience a lot of oppression in some of the PWI institutions. And then also what we’re experiencing now in church. And I want to talk about that, like, right now, we see people, especially Black people who are integrated into multi-ethnic churches or predominately white churches, because our desire has always been to be the full family of God, to see us as your equal, to see our dignity, and so a lot of that we have been bridge builders in those spaces in that sense. Or just not even have been in the space to try and bring proximity or understanding or to help a lot of times without power. And what has happened within the last few years, we’ve seen some of the ugliness of really saying that “You’re not welcome here,” or “The fullness of who you are is not recognized here,” or “We want you here as a picture, but not as a voice.” You know? And so we are seeing people that are painful, I have friends now that have left the church but not their faith in that sense. And you do have a lot of some of their kids are really saying the same thing, what you hear kids saying in college. That because of what they’ve experienced in youth group and in some of these spaces, or either in neighborhoods and communities and what is happening in our culture, they are like really dismayed with this faith. And they see it in that, even how we visualize it when they say “a white man’s religion.” What do people mean when they say that Christianity is a white man’s religion?
Lisa Fields 24:35
I think they’re talking about, when people say Christianity is a white man’s religion. I think they’re talking about a heretical brand of Christianity that is so tethered to the U.S. that it tries to mask itself as Orthodox Christianity. And I think we’re uncomfortable with calling the brand of Christianity that many white evangelicals hold heresy. And what we’re trying to do with the Jude 3 Project is point to what Biblical Christianity is. And when I get exposed to truth, I realize the lies I was under. And so, you know, I always think about how people detect fraudulent, how they train you in Department of Treasury to detect fraudulent money. And they don’t do it by giving you frauds. They do it by training you on authentic U.S. dollars. And you spend so much time with the real dollar, that after you spent time smelling it, holding it, touching it, feeling it, they throw in a counterfeit. And the idea is because you spent so much time with the authentic, you can see the counterfeit immediately. On the flip side, though, many people have been born into counterfeit. And so when they see truth, it looks foreign. So that’s why they reject the aspect of biblical justice because it looks foreign, because they have so much connection to the counterfeit.
Latasha Morrison 26:28
Girl, we can wrap the podcast up with that right there, that statement. That is just such a great analogy of the training is not to know the counterfeit, but to know the truth. But when you’ve been born into, what you would say lies or untruth, you don’t even know how to recognize truth. And truth seems wrong. And even if you’re reading, we’re reading the same thing, but the lens that is filtered through is still filtered through a lens without context or a lens that doesn’t expose the truth. You know? That is really powerful. I think when you…and I know, this is something that a lot of us, when we talk about excavating or deconstructing our faith, I think there’s a biblical way to do that, where we’re not, you know, excavating Jesus out of it. You know? But I do see what’s happening, you know, where there’s a longing and a rejection, where people are not feeling seen or loved or known. And we’re so detached, like, even how I think about what’s happening, like naturally, as far as African American history, we’re trying to trying to separate that from history, and then trying to punish people for anything that we say to bring up a history that brings you, that makes you feel bad are calling for repair, is naming it as something wrong or evil it’s similar, the same thing, you know, within biblical history. Where it does, it does matter. And I know one of these things is even the visual. And when I think some of my excavating, like, earlier on in the early 2000s had to be when I visualized Jesus, like if I’m visualizing Jesus, what am I visualizing? And the thing would be, I’m visualizing images that I’ve seen in Sunday school books, pictures, media, and that is of a white Jesus. And I had to train myself to see something different. Because Jesus was not European. And that’s, I know that’s one of the things. What have you seen as it relates to that? Because I remember going to this justice conference, and there was a, at a justice conference, so these are people that know and understand and have done some work in this. And I remember this really popular pastor was just talking about just the awesomeness of God. And they were putting these visuals up there, which probably worked in like certain settings. But I remember seeing like, all these pictures they were showing was of a white European Jesus with blonde hair, you know, blue eyes. And I remember gasping. And that’s what he learned in seminary. I’m pretty sure. But it’s problematic because there’s white supremacy attached to that, but people don’t understand this. Like, “It doesn’t matter.” Well, if it doesn’t matter, then make sure that you’re speaking the truth, if it doesn’t matter. But what are some of your thoughts around that? The imagery of Jesus.
Lisa Fields 30:24
Yeah, so it’s funny because one of the things we do going back to our HBCU tour, is we show video clips in conjunction with our presentation. So we show viral video clips. And one of the clips we show is from Muhammad Ali talking about white Jesus. And you can see that he’s asking the man, “Are we gonna be servants when we get to heaven? Because the angels are white, Jesus is white.” And so you start to see the psychological ramifications that having an image of white Jesus has. I remember talking to a student at FAMU and he was talking to me about faith, and he was struggling with Christianity. And he said, you know, “For me, it’s difficult because Adam and Eve were white. So that makes me feel like my skin color is because of the fall.” And I was like, wow, because of the images that he had seen him, Adam and Eve being white, he logically concluded from that, that Black people are a part of sin.
Latasha Morrison 31:41
Lisa Fields 31:42
And it just showed me even deeper the impact. And he was a sophomore at the time. He’s graduated now. But the psychological impact of him, internalizing these things have seen Bible characters that were white that made him dehumanize himself. And so I think many people don’t realize the psychological impacts, because you couple white Jesus with supremacy and you make it seem like everything that’s white is pure and everything that’s black is evil. I love the way a slave says, Emerson Powery a New Testament professor at Messiah College, was on the podcast and he recounts that there was a slave narrative, when the slave master was trying to tell the slave that you’re cursed because you’re black. The slave that had read his Bible said, “In my Bible, when God punished Miriam, he turned her skin white.” And so he was trying to say that you can’t tell me, he wasn’t trying to say whiteness was curse, but what he was trying to show is that you can’t manipulate the text to try to manipulate me. And so I just think we need to really, really evaluate the ways in which our decisions and how we depict Jesus impacts others.
[Advertisement] 33:10[Latasha Morrison sharing about becoming a recurring partner of Be the Bridge and shopping the online store] If you’ve been enjoying and learning from the Be the Bridge podcast, we invite you to join us in this work. You can support and sustain our mission as a recurring partner at BeTheBridge.com/Give. You can also help spread this word of bridge building by supporting and really sporting our apparel. So if you haven’t gotten your Be the Bridge hat, sweatshirt, all of the things, let’s take the message to the street. Visit our online store at Shop.BeTheBridge.com. And make sure we’re spreading the word about all the work that Be the Bridge is doing and will do. At Be the Bridge, we’re doing the work to empower people and culture toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial reconciliation. And this work is only possible because of the generosity of bridge builders like you. So thank you so much for those of you who are listening and sharing our podcast, sharing our posts, those of you who are giving to this work that’s helping us create resources and material that will transform hearts. So join us at BeTheBridge.com/Give, and let’s continue to build bridges together. Thank you so much.
Latasha Morrison 34:42
Some of my friends, their kids who have grown up in multi-ethnic churches or that were more about assimilation, you know, youth group, neighborhoods, schools. You know, one of my friend’s kids was just telling me, I was just talking to him. And we were talking about college and he was saying, “Well, I think I’m gonna go…” He’s real smart young man, he was talking about going to an HBCU. And I said, “Oh, that’s good. Both of your parents went to HBCUs.” And he said, “Yeah,” and just the school system that he’s in is very white. And he looked at the wall, and the wall was white, he said, “Because this is crushing me.” And, you know, he’s like, “I’m tired of this right here.” You know? And I think about his parents made a decision to leave a predominately white church and go into a church that was more multi-ethnic and multicultural, but the more multi-ethnic and multicultural the church became, you begin to have white flight out of the church. Which is common. Because when we start showing up a little bit more, even our Christian white brothers and sisters get uncomfortable when they’re not the majority in those spaces and you have white flight. So that church that was very multi-ethnic and multicultural now is more predominately African American. I seen that at the Kurt Franklin Kingdom tour with Maverick City. You know, Maverick City reaches like a really diverse crowd, multi-ethnic crowd, and Kirk, you know, that’s like, I grew up on Kirk. Gen X like, you know, that I’m telling you, that is, his music is one of the things, the early things that kept me as a young Christian. But his style of worship is different. You know, we understand that, but a lot of people don’t understand that. So, in that diverse crowd, I was seeing, like, when he was up worshipping and doing stuff, people would sit down. (laughter) And, like, we don’t really know how to kind of like be inclusive in making sure everybody…I think we have to know how to survive and thrive in these different environments, because we’ve had to survive and thrive. And you know, our palette, I think, is just really more diverse as it relates to music, all these things, because we’ve had to do that. But I’ve seen it and you know, and I’m hearing these conversations just from some of the young adults and Gen Zers and the other one after them, I forget who they are, the group.
Lisa Fields 37:40
Alpha. Gen Alpha.
Latasha Morrison 37:41
Yeah, Gen Alpha. And these are some real conversations. So I’m glad that you are speaking into that. And I’m grateful for these tours that you guys are having. And what are some of the other things that comes up in some of the conversations that you’re having?
Lisa Fields 37:58
Yeah, so like you mentioned, deconstruction is a big thing. And one of the things that I kind of try to help people navigate through in deconstruction is to be wary of overcorrecting.
Latasha Morrison 38:14
Lisa Fields 38:14
And so, I always say, it’s like if you saw your parents driving in a particular direction and at the end, they drove off a cliff, you’re overcorrection is to say, “I’m never going that way, I’m gonna go the opposite way.” Well, you don’t know that the opposite way leads off a cliff, that direction your parents were going with the right way, they just missed the right turn. But overcorrection doesn’t allow you to evaluate the life. It kind of, you just jettison everything. And so if they took you to church every Sunday, and there was no personal transformation in their life or it didn’t make your home better, you think, “This faith is not for me. It’s not productive. It doesn’t help. It’s not beneficial. I need to throw it all away.” Instead of investigating your parents life and see where they may have missed a turn or got off. The whole path wasn’t bad, just in the ways in which they drove on the path led them down the cliff. And so I think that’s one way. And also guarding our hearts from bitterness when we’re trying to get the truth. Because I always say that when bitterness has control of your heart, then truth gets distorted in your mind. And you can’t see truth when your heart is clouded by bitterness. And so before you deconstruct, I would say go to therapy. Speak. Process those things out with the therapist. So then we do look at faith, you can see it clearly. And you won’t start conflating a lot of stuff which leads to that overcorrection.
Latasha Morrison 39:57
That is so good. I think we need help in that deconstruction process. You know, spiritual guidance from someone that has done this work in a healthy manner. I think we need, I know there’s some some kind of small groups or cohorts that have formed that some people are doing. And like you said, therapy. I think that, for me, has helped. Because sometimes if you surround yourself with everybody who’s struggling with the same thing that adds, but needing leadership. But I think even some of your resources can help guide people as they do this. Like that was the first thing I did in looking at the documentary was send it to that group of friends and say, “Hey, y’all need to watch this with your family.” And a lot of my friends, we’re at an age now where most of the kids are in high school or either going to college, watch this with them. Because this will help answer some of those things that maybe you can’t answer. You’ve done a lot of the theological work that a lot of people don’t have the expert in. They know it’s wrong or know bits and pieces, but this is something that’s visual that they can listen to and watch. And I think it would be helpful in that. And one of the things you talk about in the video, he talked about like the Ethiopian eunich and how words in the Bible to describe Black were like places in Africa. Africa is not mentioned, but places in Africa are mentioned throughout the Bible. You know from Genesis on, those places are mentioned, those people are mentioned. And then he was talking about the Ethiopian eunich, it’s like we forget. And I’ve even heard people – Black people and white people – repeat this saying, “Well slavery was bad but at least your people, or we, became Christians.”
And we were the first Gentile convert noted in the Bible was the African.
Say it again!
Lisa Fields 42:11
Not a white person.
Latasha Morrison 42:12
Say it again! (laughter)
Lisa Fields 42:13
The first Gentile convert noted in the Bible was African, the Ethiopian eunich.
Latasha Morrison 42:18
Yes. And this was how many years before, you know, like other religions. You know what I’m saying? So there’s a lot. I was even reading about this history, I was watching this other documentary. And it was about the story of this British ship that had slaves on it. And the people were made to dance, you know how they would try to exercise the people to kind of, so they weren’t weak when they brought them to shore. And so the enslaved people, they were brought them up and was doing this march that they would do. And some of them they would make them take off their clothes, because it was just the demeaning. If we could understand the brutality of enslavement and what it meant, and then just the mindset of people who executed that injustice is just crazy. But they would make them dance. And this one lady refused, this one woman, these are documented accounts, because slavery was about economics, and there’s documents connected to those economics. And she refused to remove her clothes because she thought it was humiliating. And she had a cross or something that was made on her neck, and she was holding on to that cross. And this is what is described by a European doctor that was on that ship. And she was holding on to it. And because she refused to march, she was hoisted up by her feet, and her head was rammed into the ground. And because she refused, because she was a Christian to humiliate her faith, her body and all of those things. And so when I read that story, and I’m reading it, I’m like, “She was already a Christian. She was already a convert. Already. She was already a person of faith.” And it was kind of like Christianity was in Africa before it was in Europe. And we forget that and some of the thoughts that were borrowed from African scholars, biblical scholars, like that is documented, but most of that is not taught in seminaries. The Schofield Commentary, like in a lot of the commentaries that we look at teach the curse of Ham. That’s one of the things that comes up in our work of biblical racial literacy. That is a question that comes up all the time. In 2022. You know, is the curse of Ham. So Lisa, I want you to just speak to that a little bit. And because I know that’s something that comes up commonly. And you guys mentioned this in the documentary, when you were saying like all the commentaries, majority of the most popular commentaries are written by white men.
Lisa Fields 45:27
Yeah. And that speaks to, you know why I felt like it was important to start Jude 3 Project and have apologetics in the Black space, because there’s so much that you miss if you only are looking at the text of your cultural lens and there’s so much you infer in the text because you’re looking through your cultural lens. When we think about like, one of the things I think about is women and sexual assault in the Bible. And when you look at a commentary, those things are really never addressed when you talk about Levite and the concubine, because they don’t see it. Because culturally, it just, it’s like, “Oh, okay, that happened.” But you don’t realize the impact on a woman that reads that text. She’s going to read that text way differently, because she may have experienced assault or know somebody who’s experienced assault. Similarly, in the same way, when white men look at a text about race, injustice, the curse of Ham, they are thinking through their cultural lens. And a lot of commentaries are written by men that were still in segregation.
Latasha Morrison 46:33
Lisa Fields 46:34
Still, written with slavery…you know, Jonathan Edwards owned slaves.
Latasha Morrison 46:41
Lisa Fields 46:41
So you got to think, “How am I going to justify this part of my life that I don’t want to let God have control of? I have to create a narrative that gets me out of this commandment.” And so you go and pull out the curse of Ham, because that helps you feel okay with your dehumanization and it keeps your money good. How can George Whitfield justify owning slaves? Build an orphanage to balance out. “I’m using this to help kids.”
Latasha Morrison 47:26
Yeah. And we build schools and churches and colleges with that name. Yeah.
Lisa Fields 47:32
And then you got to think that Lisa Bowens, a New Testament scholar at Princeton, she talked about on my podcast that sometimes they would give slaves alternate creation stories. “They say you weren’t created. Adam and Eve, you were created some other way.” Because the first way to justify treating a person badly is to first dehumanize them.
Latasha Morrison 47:33
Lisa Fields 47:33
And so they had to make them less human. That’s the Constitution. We’re three fifths, less human. “If you’re not human, I don’t feel guilty, because God only caused me to love other humans. I don’t have to love you if you’re not, if you’re not like me.”
Latasha Morrison 48:20
Which is the basis of the manifest destiny, and then also the Doctrine of Discovery, all of those things do that. Oof, I tell you. And I’m just so grateful to this work of exposing the truth. But like you said, people will not even recognize the truth because they’ve been dealing with a counterfeit, but we have to understand that our faith should produce fruit. It should produce flourishing, it should produce restoration for all. And when your faith is not leading to that, when your faith is leading to the oppression and marginalization of people, then there’s something wrong with that faith.
Lisa Fields 49:06
It’s a counterfeit. It’s heretical.
Latasha Morrison 49:09
Yeah. And I mean, if we look at Christian white nationalism, what is that leading to? And who does that uplift? And who does that marginalize? And that lets you know that God is not in that. And it’s sad because it’s the thing in my heart now, my heart weeps for people who are blinded by that. You know? And it’s like, that is why I’m doing the work that I’m doing. But I cannot change your mind. I cannot create transformation. Only God can do that. So I can create tools that prayerfully will help lead you to that transformation. But I can’t do that. I wish I could go in there and do it, but I can’t do it. That’s the work of the heart, that only the Spirit of God can do. And so, I think just as God is using you to change this conversation and really kind of rebuild the faith in our community. Because like for even after all of the, what you would say the marginalization and the inhumane treatment and all of that, you see people of faith. I’m always inspired by, I mean there’s so many stories I’m inspired by, but I think about Harriet Tubman who was led with basically a slave Bible. And you know, you’ve seen the some of the slave Bible and what was in it and what wasn’t in it. And for her to still be led by the Spirit of God to to be a liberator in the name of Jesus, like she was a woman of faith. Her nickname was Moses. And she was wanted and dime impoverished, after leading military victories, and all of those things. And so when I look at someone like her who, it makes me feel like some of the faith that the marginalized community is, it doesn’t make me feel like, I know that the faith of the marginalized community is a more true faith because only God can do that. What she endured. You know? Man, this is this is incredible. What are some of the things as you are journeying through this and leading this organization with all the push back, kick back, all the things that I know, like, as a African American leading organization, I know finances are a lot of times the issue, but I’m looking at just your story of God, just bringing the finances. And I have stories like that, and other people have stories like that. So it helps you keep your hands like this to God open and prayerful, because you know you’re not doing it by yourself. You are dependent. But what are some things that are encouraging you right now?
Lisa Fields 52:58
I think I’m just encouraged by the response, particularly today of the documentary. I got a message I saw that was on Instagram. A woman said she got swept up in this concept that Christianity is a white man’s religion, left the faith, came back some years later, but she was in Christianity. Went back to church, but still was unsettled, because all her questions weren’t answered. She said she watched the documentary, it answered all the questions she had.
Latasha Morrison 53:31
Lisa Fields 53:32
And it gave her such assurance. And so I remember what it was like to question in undergrad. I remember how painful that was to feel like your foundation is shaken. And that your foundation is about to be pulled from up under you but you have nothing to stand on. And I know that with something comes that gives clarity to distorted vision, it makes all the difference in the world.
Latasha Morrison 54:03
Lisa Fields 54:04
And I’m glad that God was able to use my struggle in undergrad to bring clear sight to other people. And so it’s just like, I couldn’t even imagine, when I sat in that New Testament class. I went into college saying, “I was not. I’m a PK.” And my parents are good parents. But I just, church is such an all consuming thing, that I wasn’t going to be in ministry. I was going off to become a stockbroker. And this was the last thing. I didn’t even know what apologetics was when I went into college.
Latasha Morrison 54:39
Lisa Fields 54:40
And so to see God take that struggle, that I remember crying in my car after class in the parking garage, saying, “God I don’t know what I believe.” And now to help give clarity encourages my heart because it shows that God is working all things out for our good. And he’s using things that I couldn’t have imagined. I told God when I was crying in my car that I was gonna be a stockbroker. I didn’t know that he was gonna use those painful moments to give me the empathy, the compassion to be able to lead a generation to truth.
Latasha Morrison 55:18
Yeah, amen. What are some of the things that you’re lamenting now?
Lisa Fields 55:25
So I think I lament still our access as Black women to capital for organizations. I was in a meeting with the major foundation the other day. And the guy said to me, “I’m looking at your budget, I don’t even know how you were able to get all this done on such a limited budget.” He said, “You’re doing, you’re dancing, you’re going, you’re circling the block doing way more than organizations that have 10 times what you have.” And he said, “It makes no sense that you’re able to pull this off with these limited resources.”
Latasha Morrison 56:02
Lisa Fields 56:03
And the hoops, women like you and I have to jump through just to get a little bit of percentage of what our white male counterparts get is, it breaks my heart to see that. I saw organizations spent more than my whole budget on t-shirts. Because they have that much in abundance. And I lament that it’s difficult for us for fundraising.
Latasha Morrison 56:39
Yeah. And, you know, even, you know, like, we bring in less than our white male counterparts, white female counterparts, and Black male counterparts. You know? And that’s a real thing. I was, we’re having some of those conversations now as an organization. And, you know, and it’s just like, my prayer has been, “God we have to deal with so much. The push back, you know, all of the things. We’re in such a tough conversation. I mean, it’s a firestorm in this conversation that we’re in.” And I’m like, you know, that’s such a burden in itself. I’m like, “God, don’t let us have to worry about finances.” It’s like let that be the least of our worries. Let us have abundance to do the things you know, that we want to do. We want to do some documentary on some of the life transformation of people who are leading Be the Bridge groups and having this conversation in their churches and stuff. And I have a friend, another one who’s a filmmaker, but it costs to do those things. But, you know, believing God for the, at the right time, the next step, all of those things. And so I lament that with you. But you’re doing good work. And I know, God is going to multiply the work that you’re doing. And so I know that thing I was like, because I was trying to watch the video before. And I was like, “No, I want to invest in this.” Invest in the $12.99 of the video, download the video. And make sure you guys don’t, those of you who are listening with access to the video, don’t be sharing your code with nobody. You know? (laughter) Make them pay for it, because this is what goes to support the work so that more videos and and stuff like this can be produced. Because it takes money. And those of you with resources and access, see how you can come alongside organizations so that we can continue this good work. What are some things that you are hopeful for as it relates to your work?
Lisa Fields 59:28
I’m hopeful about the next generation.
Latasha Morrison 59:30
Lisa Fields 59:31
I think once they really catch on, they’re going to turn the world upside down. I remember a prominent speaker said one time. He was in the room at a university, there was about 3,000 in the room. And he said, “Look around.” Everyone was looking around. He said, “It was the same amount on Pentecost. And they turned the world upside down. And that same Holy Spirit power is available to us.” And so I think that when people catch on to the truth of the gospel, and that’s to biblical Christianity, it provide for hope. This world is getting more and more dark, but God has called us to be light. And the more dark it gets, the more we’re going to be those lights that people come to. They’re looking for hope. Depression in Gen Z is higher than any other. Suicide rates are up. People don’t see any reason for living. And it’s not just about amenities, because we’re talking about wealthy kids. So if it was just in stuff, then they wouldn’t have any problems. But there is a hope that’s needed beyond what this life, what access, what wealth can give, and that hope is in the gospel.
Latasha Morrison 1:00:58
Yeah. So good. Well, thank you for the resources. We will list all the things. I know you have Courageous Conversations curriculum is out. You have Courageous Conversation Conference that’s happening in September the 2nd through the 3rd in Washington, DC. Courageous Conversations Jude 3 Projects gathering that pairs Black voices trained in conservative and progressive spaces to discuss topics that are relevant for the church and culture. And I love the fact that like, you know, like how you said, your transcending tribe. And I love that, and, you know, and people must allow you to do that because this is needed in all the different spaces. People always talk about in eternity, “There ain’t gonna be no such thing as no A.M.E and all that.” (laughter) We keep saying, but our ethnic story does follow us there. And so, you have the Unspoken documentary that is out now. If you go to UnspokenMovie.com. And, you know, then there’s, tell me a little bit about the upcoming partnership with Axis.
Lisa Fields 1:02:29
So yeah, so one of the foundations we work with, wanted some collaboration amongst their grantees. And they put us together. I had never heard of Axis, but I told the foundation that we partner with, there’s not curriculum, I feel like, to help Black Christians think about sexuality for kids. So how do to explain, how parents can talk to their kids about sexuality, gender. I haven’t seen that for the Black church. I know, some white evangelical organizations have done that work. And I thought it was important to create that. But also, one of the things we do is a “Why I Don’t Go” series that went viral across social media where I sit down with young adults who left the faith.
Latasha Morrison 1:03:21
Lisa Fields 1:03:21
And parents reach out to me. One parent in particular reached out to me, I think she was in Chicago, she was like, “Hey, I’ll fly you to Chicago to talk to my daughter. She’s left Christianity.” I’m like I can’t make those kinds of, I can’t make that kind of precedent. (laughter) But I realized that when kids leave the church, it really is very difficult, it becomes very difficult for the parent child dynamic.
Latasha Morrison 1:03:47
Lisa Fields 1:03:48
Parents don’t know how to talk to their kids. They don’t understand why they don’t see church as beneficial. And we wanted to create a resource that helped them talk to their children in a way that will bridge the gap. Maybe they won’t come back to church, but at least the relationship can function.
Latasha Morrison 1:04:07
Lisa Fields 1:04:07
And so, Axis already does in white evangelical space, they curate conversations between parents and children. And so they’re well known in that. And so partnering with them, I think, just seemed like a very helpful and beneficial partnership on both ends. So we’re looking for the resources that we produced to come out in early 2023.
Latasha Morrison 1:04:34
Okay, cool. Okay, I love it. Thank you so much, Lisa, for taking the time. Thank you for all that you’re doing in this space. And we are grateful. We are a better body because of it, you know, because of your work. And congratulations on just the release of this documentary.
Lisa Fields 1:05:01
Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
Tandria Potts 1:05:03
Go to the donors table if you’d like to hear the unedited version of this podcast.
Thanks for listening to the Be the Bridge podcast. To find out more about the Be the Bridge organization and or to become a bridge builder in your community, go to BeTheBridge.com. Again, that’s BeTheBridge.com. If you enjoyed this podcast, remember to rate and review it on this platform and share it with as many people as you possibly can. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Today’s show was edited, recorded, and produced by Travon Potts at Integrated Entertainment Studios in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. The host and executive producer is Latasha Morrison. Lauren C. Brown is the Senior Producer. And transcribed by Sarah Connatser. Please join us next time. This has been a Be the Bridge production.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai