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Resurrection City

By November 28, 2012 3 Comments

Dr. Tricia Sheffield (minister at Middle Collegiate Church), Dr. Cornel West, and me – Rev. JKK (minister at West End Collegiate Church)

Last night was theological Christmas!

Living in New York City affords me the opportunity to rub shoulders with theological and philosophical giants on a regular basis. One of the cool things about these events is that most of the giants that I enjoy meeting have heard of The Collegiate Church of New York City which allows for some wonderful partnerships at our congregations. As a progressive/Reformed/feminist minister, I totally dig these theological converstaions.

The Micah Institute at New York Theological Seminary hosted a conversation with Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Peter Heltzel on Heltzel’s book Resurrection City: A Theology of Improvisation (Prophetic Christianity). Heltzel explores and calls forth the prophetic voice of Christianity that is boldly rooted in love of neighbor and actively addresses racism, inequality, injustice, and embraces the poor and marginalized as seen by the example of Jesus. He focuses on the ways Jazz is a metaphor for seeking Shalom Justice in the city today. West and Heltzel are spirited pilgrims of the faith, one can’t help but be inspired in their presence and to be bold while creatively seeking the common good of the beloved city.

Here are some twitter sound bites from last night & Resurrection City:

The Holy Spirit is a spirit of justice, not personal piety. – Heltzel

Our theology needs the sound and feel of improvisational jazz. Blues talks about the pain of the past; jazz looks ahead and improvises a way forward. – HeltzelResurrection City: A Theology of Improvisation (Prophetic Christianity)

I’m called to love my enemies and I tell my enemies to come and get it. – West

I live in the dialectical tension of living in this reality but not living of it. – West

Shalom Justice is rooted in a worshipful acknowledgment that God is present in all creation and is graciously working for the redemption & reconciliation of the world. – Heltzel

The task of prophetic theology today includes dismantling whiteness and following the Jewish Jesus who is leading an intercultural movement of love & justice. – Heltzel

The politics of love lead us to a moment of awakening. They make our theology come alive; they set our souls free. I know this because I have lived it. – Heltzel

Conversations like last night ignite my hutzpah infused soul to boldly proclaim the inclusive & subversive reign of God, to be deeply rooted in love, and to creatively seek the common good of the beloved city. Check out Resurrection City. If you’ve read it already, what do you think? How are you practicing prophetic Christianity in your contexts?

Jes Kast

The Reverend Jes Kast is an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament and serves West End Collegiate Church as their Associate Pastor.


  • Daniel Meeter says:

    Jes, I hope that Reformed theology can do better than Heltzel's needless dichotomies. The Holy Spirit does both, and more. We need blues as much as jazz, and ska too.

  • Jes says:

    Blues, jazz, ska, hip-hop, folk, classical, bachata and more…! I agree. Still figuring out how country and Reformed Theology go together but others can inform me on that one.

  • Daniel Meeter says:

    Aksherly, Jes, that's what we specialize in. Bluegrass in Reformed worship. Calhoun Calvinism.

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