“Blank Slate” : Systematic Theology from Death Row : (Casey McWhorter & Jeff Hood)
*Casey McWhorter is scheduled for execution on November 16, 2023.
Our understanding poisons our mind. We assume that what we can consider is all that must be. Theology exists far beyond the limits that we place on our thoughts. Indeed, theology exists when we allow the borders and boundaries of understanding to explode. There we meet something more than what is. Namely, what was and what can be.
Those of us who interact daily with the mechanisms of death cannot allow our minds to be imprisoned. We must place our hope in whatever is beyond death. We must allow our theologies to be more than comforting. We must allow them to be revolutionary. The closer one travels to places of death, the more one can see…what was and what can be.
In creation, God created with a blank slate. The very breathe of divinity was pumped through our nostrils. There we began to think. We start to move. We start to learn. We experience triumph. We experience failure. We experience…. Through it all, God’s breathe accompanies us. We are never alone. We are always we. There is no I. In both triumph and failure, there is only God and I…us.
In creation there is life and in life there is creation. One of the great mistakes of modern understanding is to believe that creation ever stops. Daily, we are new creations. We are constantly returning to the blank slate and starting over. We exist in a cycle of creation…and we do not exist alone. We exist with God.
The question of responsibility is primary in all thoughts about God. Who is responsible for tragedy? Who is responsible for disaster? Who is responsible? Such questions are also primary in our thoughts about the self and each other. We want to understand responsibility with cause and result specificity. The blank slate makes such determination complicated. Such responsibility is constantly getting wiped away. God returns to the blank slate and so do we. Who can measure an endless cycle of hope?
God leads us back to the place where God resides…the blank slate. We constantly are new. We make decisions. We make mistakes…sometimes huge ones…but we keep going. The blank slate reminds us that we are not done. There is still more responsibility to be wiped away…and more hope to be found.
God is a blank slate.