At the dawn of new ways of thinking about about God…and perhaps most often not thinking about God at all…leading Southern intellectuals Ellin Jimmerson and Jeff Hood come together to discuss what it means to be Baptist in their particular context and beyond.
Jeff Hood and I have been friends ever since we discovered each other. He knew me as an immigrant rights advocate and film maker. I knew him as an idiosyncratic, unpredictable wild man of a Baptist minister, a peacemaker and lgbtq ally. Over the years our friendship has deepened in no small part because each of us is curious about the other’s ideas, especially, about the interaction of faith with politics. Or, maybe I should say about the fullness of what it means to be a person of faith in a world that is both beautiful and terrifying. Of how to speak of a faith oriented to life in a context of bodily and spiritual faith-sponsored deaths on so many fronts.
The following discussion is about how we understood what are called “Baptist distinctives” in the past and how we understand them today. Jeff and I come from very different faith backgrounds. His family were old school Baptists comfortable with their church and their culture. My family were the opposite—uncomfortable to the point of overt conflict with their church, their families, and their culture. How we both evolved in our thinking about what it means to be a Baptist here in the South and beyond is what this book is about.
The Rev. Dr. Ellin Jimmerson
December 28, 2021
The Rev. Dr. Ellin Jimmerson is a Baptist pastor (ordained in a Southern Baptist Church), filmmaker, public theologian and activist living and working in Huntsville, Alabama. Dr. Jimmerson serves as the Professor of Liberation Theology at The New Theology School. Dr. Jimmerson wrote and directed the award-winning migrant advocacy documentary, The Second Cooler, narrated by Martin Sheen. Dr. Jimmerson gained international attention when she officiated at the first same sex wedding in Madison County, Alabama. Following the wedding, she was forced to resign her position as Minister to the Community at her home church…after they were disfellowshipped by the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Jimmerson is a brilliant liberation activist and strategist.
The Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood is a Baptist pastor (ordained in a Southern Baptist Church), public theologian and activist living and working in Little Rock, Arkansas. Educated at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv) amongst other institutions, Dr. Hood serves as the founding Dean of The New Theology School. The author of over 50 books, Dr. Hood’s work has also appeared extensively in the media, including in the Dallas Morning News, Huffington Post, Fort Worth Star Telegram, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Los Angeles Times, WIRED magazine and on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR amongst a whole host of other outlets. Dr. Hood is a radical mystic and prophetic voice to our closed society.
Excerpt (from conclusion):
EJ: You know, Jeff, it’s so obvious to me that you’ve thought about these things much more than I have. You really have which I think is a good thing. We compliment each other. I mean, our experiences are similar in some ways, yet very different in other ways. And I think that’s what creates the, the beauty of this text we’ve created. I grew up blissfully uninvolved in whether I was going to heaven or hell or whether I had to get baptized, didn’t have to get baptized. There was just basically, as Mama said, Jesus is about freedom. And that was about the end of it. But you grew up on the seriousness, even the life or death consequences of these things.
JH: I hope that my children can grow up in a world in which there is no heaven or hell, there’s only heaven. And that whatever hell there is, it’s here amongst us. If we vanquish evil, then we vanquish hell.
EJ: Amen, Jeff. Beautiful way to wrap this up.