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Hi, everyone, I'm Renee Brown, and this is unlocking us today, we're talking to Bishop Michael Currie. He is the presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church. And on this episode, we're going to talk about love, messy, hard, complicated love. And I don't know about you, but I need to be focusing on love and hope right now. This is such a fear based, scarcity based culture that we're in right now. So a little love will go a long way.
We're also going to talk about the church, how to build a beloved community and the scrappy, gritty work of love. That is actually my definition of faith.
There's great lyrics from Roberta Flack song, a song that Bishop Curry loves that's on his playlist. And these lyrics, I think, sum up what we're going to talk about today. She sings, This is my quest to follow that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far.
There's also another song in Bishop Curry's playlist that I did not expect. If you already know the ship Curry, you'll just love this. And if you've never met him or heard him, you're in for a big treat.
I can't wait. All right, so my guest today is Bishop Michael Currie, an Episcopal church, we refer to him as the most Reverend Michael B. Currie.
Again, he's the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. He is the first African-American to lead the denomination, which is my denomination, actually, and he was previously bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Bishop Curry is recognized as one of the most popular preachers in the English language. And you will know that very shortly because this episode's like church as the descendants of slaves in the son of a civil rights activist, Bishop Michael Currie's life illustrates massive changes in our times.
He's a noted advocate for human rights and author of several books, including his latest that just came out called Love is the Way Holding onto Hope in troubling times through the prism of his faith, ancestry and personal journey.
Love is the way shows us how this country came this far and more importantly, how it can go and needs to go a lot further.
He and his wife, Sharon Curry, have two daughters, Rachel and Elizabeth. They live in North Carolina. Let's get on to church where late grab the first few you can find. That would be my dad. That's what he would say to us every Sunday.
Actually, what he would say to us every Sunday is get any FPU you can find, but make sure you sit on the end because you're going to leave right after communion.
We were those people.
OK, Bishop Curry, so before you thank me for having you on the podcast, I want you to hold any potential gratitude to the end, because I.
I'm going to need you to help me with some stuff during this hour together. OK, we'll do it together, OK? OK, we'll do it together. So I finished reading your new book, Love is the Way.
Oh, OK. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. Yeah, you may have to I am. I'm struggling and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone. And I want love to be the way, but I I'm wondering if we've been worn down like we are weary and I'm having a hard time getting to love right now.
Is it. Am I alone?
No. Good Lord, no. No. I mean, we're worn down. I mean I mean, we're not even worn down. I mean, there's there's been a lot going on certainly in American culture and society that's worn us down. I mean, on the one hand, you've got the, you know, covid-19 and the isolation and and separation. I mean, human beings weren't made to be separated from each other. I mean, we weren't made for that.
We were together. And right. Even when we're headache's to each other, we're still better off together than we are apart and we've been separated. And then whatever anxiety gets added on top of that, I mean, parents have kids in home. Some folks are living, you know, multiple family generation. I mean, think about I mean, this is not normal. We've not been writing a normal existence for however many months it's been. And then we've been cut off from the things that actually feed us, whether it's family and extended family, if they're not actually living with us.
Folk are cut off from religious faith communities, at least in terms of, you know, being physically present. You know, in the online thing is, you know, people are doing that. But that's not the same as being in the same room and hearing the singing. And I mean, you know, and while people are slowly going back to churches and mosques and synagogues and that kind of stuff in small groups, singing is something you can't I mean, think about all the stuff that actually feeds and nurtures us has been taken away.
And we've had to find it's like we had to find neurolaw roots to even be in touch with God. And, you know, God is spirit and God is. But somehow God gets mediated through community, too, and we've been cut off from it. So I hear I mean, that's real. Add that on top of that, not only the the pandemic of covid-19, but the pandemic, as some have said, is sixteen nineteen of chattel slavery and white supremacy and I mean all that stuff.
And it's just constant shootings and killings. Police, the people who and and again, it's not all cops. I know that. But police motivated violence that makes human life cheap. And the fact that you have to say black lives matter because they're not treated as though they do matter. And that's why has to be said and this has been going on forever and black folk and brown folk and indigenous folk are weary because they've been crying in the wilderness like John the Baptist for generations since I was a kid and before that.
And and now the rest of the country has seen this in isolation from each other.
When you add that's a heck of a lot of stuff. No wonder we're all tired and kind of on edge and and kind of I mean, you know, you have to kind of remind each other, remember, we're all kind of on edge. I mean, I've been in meetings where I've actually had to say, you guys remember, we're like, we really are on edge, all of us. Me, too. So let's be gentle with each other as much as we can.
That Bernie. That's exhausting. We're cut off not completely from the very sources that give us life right now, and we're having to find new routes to them and new ways. And so what you're feeling is real.
There's also just the exhaustion with our politics.
With our divisions, which are deep, let no one for I mean I mean, you know, I mean, these divisions are real and they do stem from past generations.
And decisions that were made have been made about how we were going to be e pluribus unum or not. And so it's hard to exist, much less really live right now. But it's not impossible, but it's not impossible. No, you know, it's it's I wrote down something you just said that God is mediated through community. And you write about that a lot in your book about the importance of community.
And, you know, it's funny, I talk about this publicly a lot. It's probably you know, it's kind of scary when you're an Episcopalian, you're talking to the, you know, the leader of the leader of the leader of our church. But, you know, I always say I go to church. I go to church for three reasons.
To sing with strangers. Yeah.
To pass the peace with people I normally would not like or I'd want to punch in the face. Yeah. And. To go to the rail and break bread with people that I need to understand better, that those are the three reasons I'm sure there should be better theological reasons I go to church, but I never thought about that's how that's that's where I find God in love.
Yeah, you got it. That's awesome.
But it's it's impossible right now. And so I want to go through the new book. So again, the title is Love is the Way Holding On to Hope and Troubling Times. So I want to read a passage to you from you, and I want to dig into it with you.
The way of love will show us the right thing to do every single time it is moral and spiritual grounding and a place of rest amidst the chaos that is often part of life. It's how we stay decent and in decent times. Loving is not always easy, but like with muscles, we get stronger, both with repetition and as the burden gets heavier and it works.
Oh. We get stronger as the burden gets heavier. Yeah. Are you sure? Well, I'm not sure theoretically, but I have seen it experientially. You know, I mean, my grandmother is one of my my heroes, a heroine, and she was a character. She wasn't like always a saint, believe me. But but I watched her. Endure a lot of unbearable stuff. I didn't see her very young children in jail, in childbirth earlier on, I wasn't born yet, but I saw our barrier daughter.
And then in the mid 70s, turn around and his old Focus's area to more Cherlyn and pray, and she did. And that's a no. I mean, I've seen her I saw her bare unbearable burdens, as the song says. And and when I think about how did she do that, some of its personality, I'm sure there's some of that. Some of it having lived through enough hard times that you stop and realize. There's a gospel song that Arethusa saying, how I got over and I don't know the I actually reflected on how she got over the last time she had our bird.
But she clearly learned something from having gotten over or gotten through somehow some hard times previously, and that learning was a building block. That this is me projecting back, but I don't think I'm off base that in some now she was learning.
How did I get over? I was talking to a rabbi, friend of mine who was telling me. He said one of the things you have to do when you're going through a real hard time is stop and say, OK, when was the last time I went through a hard time? How did I get through it? And by doing that. It's like it stops you and you realize, wait a minute, I did get through it. It wasn't pretty.
And, you know, it may not have been the way I wanted to get through it. It may not be things may not have been solved the way I wanted to, but I got through. I survived. And it's kind of like with who they song I have sort of I will survive. I will survive.
You know, at some point you realize, well, I did survive. I did make it through. And you build on that. That's what I mean by you actually do get stronger. That doesn't mean you don't get we can fall back. Doesn't mean I mean, none of us are super people. We are not Uber Minch. We are not super women supermen and wonder women. We aren't we're normal human beings, but we have the capacity to do super and wonderful things beyond we can imagine.
I just think that some of that just comes with building. God, I'm talking to you now, now, now. I don't want to get out of my territory, but building that internal spiritual and emotional muscles. For the times when we're going to need him and won't have the strength to do it on our own, but I got to tell you the other thing about Grandma, she loved Hesam got. In fact, it was I mean, it was a it was a butt of jokes when I was growing up, I remember my father used to tease her all the time.
He said, you know, you talk about the loads of what you would think. You live next door. I mean, it was just I read that was that. Oh, yeah, I think it is. And it's true.
What I'm beginning to realize and I'm beginning to realize is. That somehow she built on strength of experience. But somehow she was in a partnership with God, in a partnership with the source of real energy in life. And and then she was in a community I mean, she lived a kind of different world than we live in. I mean, community was right around to the point. They were always in your business. I mean, you know, she kind of grew up in a world where you really did live in community.
I mean, that wasn't just a neighborhood or a hood. It was actually a community. So she had three of the source. Is community building on your experiences and God, those are the sources of the strength to get over. And I saw that in her. Grandma had a high school education, and that was it. I've seen what you're talking about. I mean, I've seen it like I I guess when I say, are you sure?
Like, I, I want to I want to believe that as our burdens get heavier, our love gets stronger. And like, oh, my God, reading about your mom and your grandmother were just like spiritual experiences for me in this book, like I can't wait to you talk to you about Dorothy Strayhorn. Like, I just cannot dig into Dorothy Strayhorn.
Like your mom just is what I don't know. I don't know what the good word is for bad ass, but man, what a fierce woman like.
Yeah, but I, I want to go back to.
People are going to listen to this and they're going to listen to you. Explain to us why we're tired. And I think I have a new understanding just in you saying like we've been cut. Not only are we facing trauma after trauma driven by white supremacy, not only are we facing trauma after trauma driven by covid pandemics inside of pandemics, everyone's hard lives just keep going, right? Like people are getting diagnosed with cancer and people are dying and babies are being born like, you know, like life is happening.
In the midst of all this, I feel like people will listen to love being the answer. And in my most cynical moments, I'm one of those people and say, no, fighting is the answer. No, no, like organizing is the answer. But you don't think fighting and organizing and love are mutually exclusive?
No. Oh, no, no, not at all. I mean, the civil rights movement at its best and strongest, was motivated by love. It was a fight for justice and equality that was not a fight to destroy, but a fight to build up. It was a fight to create a new world. So, you know, Mahatma Gandhi used any kind of guy and I know this is a debatable proposition, but I'm about to say, but used militaristic language to talk about those who engaged in the work of nonviolence because you are struggling against something but not against people.
You're struggling against systems and ways of being and ways of living and organizing, a society that are putting some down and the people who are bent think they're benefiting from it. They're being put down at the same time. So you don't struggle against the people, you struggle against the system, the issue, whatever it happens to be, you seek to convert the people. You seek to transform not only oppressed, but oppressor as well, because that's the only way we all going to get free and loose language of fight and struggle to talk about that.
Frederick Douglass, those who would seek freedom without agitation and struggle are like those who want crops without plowing up the ground.
I mean, the nature of existence is a struggle. You get Jesus on the cross. He did. That wasn't the Wiz. He didn't ease on down the road. I mean, it was yeah, it was torture. It was horrible.
I mean, I don't know how much Jesus Jesus gave up a whole lot to come here, to come among us. And I don't know that Jesus was on that cross and we'll be all right by Sunday. That brother was dying when he hollered, my God, my God, he was help. He was crying in the what did Mama watch him die? It was horrible. And, you know, in all the disciple, God bless Mary Magdalene, the Mary Magdalene with like my grandma, she was going to stay at that cross no matter what, even if she didn't understand what was going on.
Peter, I identify with Peter and the brothers. OK, I'm a stay at a nice safe distance because I don't know what's going down now.
I mean, it's this is some real stuff. And yet something happened. Pilot did not have the last word. The empire struck back and lost. Bernie, I don't know how that works. I just trust and believe that it does. Is that faith? Yes. Is that what faith is for us? Yes. Yes, that's. You got it. That's it.
Because you know, when when Dr. King quoting that 19th I've the abolitionist name who said it first and King kind of made it more pipis that we could remember it. But the moral arc of the universe is long, but it is bent toward justice. The only way you can believe is that you can actually work for justice and not give up when it gets tough, not give up when there's setbacks, not give up when, doggone it, we've been through this battle again.
Here we are fighting it all over again, not give up when it's I mean, I remember the riots of 1965, in 1967 and 68, they were precipitated by police violence. And here we are again. And here we are again. Here we are again. I mean, but to not give up because that more are it is long and I don't know why. I mean, when I see God, I'm asking why couldn't you clips a little bit of our free will and just kind of like Dunbarton, you know, how long.
But to believe that in the end, justice will. In the end is some folks they love wins. To believe that and not have proof of it just to take the leap is Kierkegaard leap. I'm going to trust and even if I can't see it, yeah, I believe that is Binay. Sometimes that's enough to keep you going, which is why folks need to go to church and synagogue and mosque, because you need to get the energy to keep believing that because I did a Broadway play, our arms are too short to box with God.
We can't handle this kind of stuff completely, just solely on our own. We need each other. We need God. We need sources of strength and energy and vitality that come from within us. We've got something to give, but we need each other to get some of that other energy and strength.
And we need the source of life and love itself to infuse and energize us. I remember when I was in seminary where this had been in 70s, and it was it was when the energy crisis happened early 70s, I guess.
Yeah, 70s. It was it was early 70s.
Some of it was in that. I think it was the 70s. Yeah.
Well, there was a Krister Stendahl who taught New Testament at Harvard Divinity School, later became a Lutheran bishop in Sweden. And he was it was a great New Testament. I mean, he was like the New Testament. I mean, he was the Dalai Lama of New Testament scholars. And he published a little monograph on the Holy Spirit.
And he and I don't remember anything else in the monograph except that he said the Holy Spirit is the energy of God to go against the curse, to live as healthily as you can and witness to help and vitality and love.
I don't have enough. Michael doesn't have enough. I got some. I'm not diminishing myself. I got some. But I ain't got enough to do it on my own. It takes the energy, the energies of God, the too hard to shut on called the energies of love and Bible says God is love.
We're talking about the primal energy of everything that is that energy being in partnership with that energy that can go cosmic partnership. That is how you begin to get over. And that's what my grandma figured out without even going to one day of a seminary and not reading any theology.
But just listen to a preacher talk about the Bible and love and God like he lived next door. Yes.
Like you lived next door.
So let me ask you said it's really interesting when you talk about Spirit and the Holy Spirit is one of the stories that made me laugh so hard in your book.
It was so crazy reading your book, to be honest with you, because I fought it. I was resistant when I was reading.
I'm like, love is not the answer, meanness is the answer. And then you would quote, One of my favorite people are my favorite lyrics or my favorite book. I'm like, Love is the answer. It was, you know, your book for me was a thin place.
Oh, wow. You want to tell people what to in places? I don't know how to describe it, but for me, your book was a thin place like you on the flight when you saw I didn't want you on a flight in the book.
Yeah. Yeah. Oh yeah. You know, the easiest way to think of a thousand places, it's those places, those moments, those people, those experiences that don't happen all the time. But those moments when you get a sense that there's no gospel song, they said over my head, I hear music in the air. There must be a God somewhere. Those moments when you sense. Wait a minute. God just touched me. Wait a minute, something beyond me is just happening here, those moments when I mean, as Howard Thurman and Polk used to talk about those moments when time is intersected by eternity, when when the human is touched by the divine, when God gets real and when God gets real.
Yes. And they may it may be just momentary. You know what I mean? I mean, you know, Moses on Mount Sinai with the burning bush, who knows how long he was on there. Was it two seconds? Hours, days, the Bible has a. Because it's those yeah, you're it does make you sad and those moments are outside of time a little bit, I think like I don't know that I was in a constant then place when I was reading all of the pages, but like, I had a fit, like I had I I was reminded as I was reading, I'm a huge follower of Bell Hooks.
Oh yeah. And oh yeah.
And she talks about when she talks about poverty and injustice and white supremacy, she talks about the problem ultimately being lovelessness. Yeah. And that's why love is the answer, because the problem is lovelessness. And when I was reading your book, I felt so much. Connection between. Like, I don't know, I just felt I had a thin place moment of this is true, but love is really damn hard.
Yeah, like love is not easy.
No, no, it's not. Anybody says it is Ryan. Yeah.
And then get it then. If you think love is like Hallmark cards, it's not, you know. OK, so we're talking about the spirit. We're talking about the Holy Spirit.
Have to laugh because OK, so there's two stories I want you to tell us, if you don't mind, because they were OK. So they're so good.
So first of all, your dad, your grandma, your grandfather, your dad's dad was a Baptist preacher, is that right? He was a Baptist preacher. Oh, yeah. Yes, yes.
OK, so but there's a moment when your mom and this is in the 40s, I think Dorothy Strayhorn, right?
Yeah. Your mom, I mean, is at the University of Chicago study mathematics. Uh huh. And introduces your dad to the Episcopal Church. Right. OK, tell me that story about your dad. Your dad's first time in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, as it were, it really was. And it was it was, I don't know, the year because she had she probably graduated from Chicago and was teaching math at Wilberforce University in BCU, in Xenia, in Ohio, southern Ohio.
And she had become an Episcopalian when she was in Chicago or soon before that. But but when she was there, I think and actually I say I'm putting all this together after the fact. I never asked them this stuff while they were alive, you know? But anyway, so he they met he was at the seminary because he was studying at the old Payen Divinity School to become a preacher. And he was Baptist. He was already licensed, but not yet ordained.
And so they started dating. She was teaching at the undergrad school and he was at the seminary. And I don't know, at some point he found out that she had become an Episcopalian and he didn't know anything about the I mean, everybody was Baptist that he knew. And so he was apparently curious enough to say, well, don't go to church with you. So they were like two things going on. Remember, this is like in the late forties just after the war.
So basically you're in a white church in southern Ohio, which was really up south at that point. So it was kind of surprising to him. He was in a white church. And I don't know if there were any other blacks there or any other people of color, but it could have been. Many of them were and he did. And he had never been in a white church or predominantly white room with white people before. That was interesting. But then when it came time for communion, you know, mommy went up to take communion and he had never seen people take communion drinking out of the same cup, out of the common cup, out of the chalice, because, again, in the Baptist tradition, many Protestant and reformed traditions, you have the individual cups when communion Sunday happens.
So that's the only way he had seen communion. So he sees my mother go up, who was very unambiguous. And my mother was even darker than I am and I'm fairly dark. She was darker than I am. So there was no ambiguity about what ethnic group she was, where she goes up and everybody at the altar rail is white and you know, the priest is given the bread with the bread was easy because that was, you know, if I their own.
But when it came to the cup, he was watching with the cup, he said, oh, I'm waiting. He would tell the story when we were kids. We got tired of hearing the story. But, you know, but he would tell the story and it did enlarge every time he told it. But if it's any preacher story he's going to get, that page is going to get so big, it'll be Moby Dick before it's over.
But so you tell the story.
The Greek gets there with the chalice and mommy drinks from it. And after her, there were white people and he was waiting to see what happened. And, you know, the blood of Christ come salvation or whatever they said in those days and nothing happened. And and that's where he would actually I mean, that really was the reason he became an Episcopal and he said any church where blacks and whites drink from the same cup knows something about the gospel of Jesus that I want to be a part of, and that that was a thin moment for him.
He never use that language, but that's that was a thin place. He saw something of the kingdom or the reign of God, the beloved community in that moment. Now, he later learned that the church didn't live up to that completely all the time. But it was there.
The ideal was there. The vision was there. And and he lived for that vision. I mean, even, you know, even to his dying day, I mean, after a stroke and all that kind of stuff, you know, he was still the same character.
And he you know, I mean, again, he when my mother got sick even I mean, you know, this was, you know, I would have been like not teenage yet, you know, like nine or 10 somewhere thereabouts. She got sick when we were visiting in New York. And she was in the hospital for not quite a year, but almost.
He would do church on Sunday. And Sunday evening, he would take us to a family in the church and we'd stay there for three days at the Bullock's house. He would drive to New York from Buffalo to New York City was an eight hour drive on the thruway. In any would be with mommy, you know, and grandma and all them, and then he would drive back, sometimes grandma would come with him. And do his church thing from roughly Thursday until Sunday, and then there was a point at which when he was eventually they were able to bring it to Buffalo so that she was in a nursing home in Buffalo.
At that point, it was just basically a feeding tube and in that kind of stuff. And but at least she was in Buffalo. So it made it possible. But he he ran out. I mean, I didn't know this as a kid. He was running out of money because once you get back, once you were in a nursing home, BlueCross BlueShield wasn't paying anymore.
And so there was a bill every week in the nursing home. So he started working a second job. So he had a church and then he was working on a second job, teaching and doing human relations in the city and. You know, when, again, he didn't talk about InFocus those days or didn't talk about and I'm not sure he knew at the time, like the song says how I got over, but he kept doing the things of faith.
I think even when he whether he could feel them or not, the rituals of faith, it's like they carry you and you can't carry yourself. And he kept doing that stuff and kept family was around and community was around. And, you know, family is a pain in the neck. I mean, you know, but that. Yeah, but God love them. Can't do with them, can't do it on them, you know. But they were around and there was a community around and I saw it again in him.
And this went on for not quite two years, but almost this whole thing for almost two years. And I know it was part of him. Now, there's no question. I mean, I could see when I would have to it a war down, but he kept going, you know, you keep going.
And while he didn't say that it was love of his wife, his children. And ultimately, is God that kept him going and he was not just existing off fumes. He had to have sources of energy, you know, I mean, there's no gospel songs that somebody prayed for me with, somebody prayed for him. They were folk who prayed for him and kept him going.
That's why I say I've seen people live off of love. I've seen. Yeah, it's not easy. It's not always pretty. I mean, you know, and at the time, you don't know how you're going to get through necessarily, but it can see you through.
You know, I said I said I didn't it wasn't a theoretical, you know, I mean, I'm not a theologian. I'm not a I mean, you know, I mean, I do theology. I learn from theologians, but I've just seen it.
Briney We can make it not not just on our own. We need each other. We need God, but. This kind of love has a power that I can only describe because I've seen it, I can't analyze why I just no, I yeah, I think that like to me, that's all of the pieces.
When I read something that helps me put pieces of my thinking and my experiences together, that makes sense. That's what I'm grateful for it. I think for you, for your book.
I think believing in love and not not rainbow love and and poneys, but like scrappy, gritty fighting love. Yes. And believing that will get us to to me is that's my definition of faith. Believing that is what faith is to me.
Like, I don't you can't as a as a as a social scientist, I can tell you right now you're not going to be able to, you know, quantify love. But my faith calls me to believe. That love is the answer, again, the gritty fighting just as kind of love and the other thing that I learned from your book that a couple of things when your mom got sick, and it's a very traumatic story because you were just hanging out and having fun and an ambulance showed up and took her away.
And you never saw her again until she was back in Buffalo in that nursing home. But it was for you. What I make from the book. So tell me if I'm wrong, the birth of the understanding of the beloved community because people showed up all over your life because your dad was gone going back and there were just people who and they didn't love on you like, oh, poor these poor kids, they were like, where's your homework?
And, you know, like, you know, they they were they let me tell you.
Yeah. They loved loved you.
And so this you know, I am a big I don't know, fans, the right word follower, maybe Dr. Bernice King. And the work she's doing from her dad's work for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s work and the creation of the beloved community. Like I left the book thinking my faith and love is actually faith and I cannot do this alone. And those two things piss me off, just to be honest with you, because I want to do everything alone and I like to judge people.
And and I feel hateful right now toward people like really I mean, coming to the end of this national convention. Yeah. The Republican National Convention, like I was thinking about Jaka Blake and I made a commitment to his mom when I saw her speak that every time I said his name, I would say Jacob Blake. Father, brother, son, cousin, uncle. Yeah. George Floyd. Brianna Taylor. That's going to take a lot. A love.
Yeah, how do we you quote, this movie is really interesting, I've never seen the movie, it's called The Hurricane. It's the true story of Rubin, the Hurricane Carter, one of the greatest boxers of the century. So there was a quote from the movie that you share in your book that I want to ask you about. The quote is in the movie. Carter tells Martin, Just reading that for the attribution, we must transcend the places that hold us.
Yes, I'm going to ask a big question, and it's probably doesn't have an answer. I believe one of the things that holds us right now. Is white supremacy.
That hold on feet, yes, like we're held by this fear of, yeah, how do we transcend what holds us like he transcended his jail cell, like in this movie by reading and being and transcending the confines, his physical confines and learning about the world, like how do we transcend, wow.
Fear, like, I think love and fear. They don't work together well, do they. Yeah.
No, they don't. It's real oil and water. Yeah.
So how do we transcend fear right now. I know it's a question, but it's I think Carter may have answered, and I hadn't thought of that, you know, Denzel Washington plays the character in the movie. It's worth seeing. I'm going to watch it for sure this weekend.
Yeah, it's really it should be on Netflix or something. He I mean, he was bitter for a long period of time because he really was innocent. I mean, it was one of those unjust incarcerations.
But it was he was really smart. He was really very bright. And it was he started reading and he started reading a lot. And he realized as he was reading that the forces that incarcerated him and his incarceration, there were bigger realities and that if he could tap into those bigger realities, if you will, and he didn't use the God language directly, but if he could transcend, if he could, that that there was a freedom that was possible even in the midst of incarceration.
I mean, there's an old spiritual it's oh, freedom of freedom of freedom over me. And before I'll be a slave, I'll be buried in my grave. And go home to my lord and be free. That was a spiritual song by slaves. Before I'll be a slave. I'll be buried in my grave and go home to my lord and be free. That is a slave declaring emancipation before Abe Lincoln probably had been born.
And that's what Rubin Hurricane Carter was talking about. I transend my condition. I'm already free now. I just have to make it a physical, tangible reality by getting lawyers to work on it. But you can't incarcerate my soul. You cannot hold my soul in chains. See that spiritual emancipation that precedes the physical. I mean, I think is it Walter Brueggemann and one and it was one of his early books. There's no going be back at time now.
Talks about the moment of liberation in the exodus with Moses and all of that stuff. It didn't happen at the Red Sea. That's not when the exodus happened. It didn't happen in the plagues of Egypt. It didn't happen when Pharaoh said, you know, you all get out of here and the Hebrew slaves got free. It happened when Moses went up Mount Sinai and saw an alternate vision of reality, that pharaoh static vision of the world of slavery, slaves and masters was not the only reality, was not the own vision.
And Moses saw another vision, another what Boogerman called an alternate possibility to the static gods enslavement of Egypt. When that happened, Moses was free and it was only a matter of time before the Hebrew slaves would be free.
OK, I got it. I got to stop you here. So I got to stop because I got to ask a question. I believe that the Samat emancipation happened in the heart and in the mind it transcended before the actual work of the policy happen. Do you think we're kind of in that moment right now? Do you think we're in a moment where we're like, we I feel like we're in a point of no return right now.
We have seen what's possible. We have seen what's happening. Yes. Especially with the police. Like now we got to put the systems of accountability in place. But what what is the what is the pain and the work between the moment of seeing? Bergmans. Is it alternative possibility and the actual happening, the actual changes that affect our everyday life, like what kind of faith and love is it going to take to get us between what's possible and what the just work that has to be done to get there?
Well, go back to the Bible. What happens in the story? Moses has this vision of alternate reality and what is God say to him now? Don't just sit here and enjoy the vision. He says, you need to go now, I want you to go back to Egypt. And tell O'Farrell, let my people go now, what's going on? There is first of all, you got Moses, who's a conflicted person, because remember, he was born in Hebrew, but he grew up a prince of Egypt.
Remember, he got adopted by one of the of Pharaoh. So here you got he's got what the boys called that double consciousness. You know, he's black in America and he's Hebrew and Egyptian. I mean, and he was actually the reason he was on Mount Sinai was because he was running away from that. He was actually running away from his identity. God was sending him back into his the core of his identity to be a Hebrew again, to use the skills that he had learned as an Egyptian prince.
He had learned the military art. He had learned the political strategies of the Egyptian. He knew how to negotiate with Pharaoh because when that woman princess took him out of the Nile River and raised him as a prince of Egypt, she taught him all the arts and the skills of the Egyptians. And so he went back and negotiated with Pharaoh that now the Bible is in biblical language. He goes back and says, let my people go. Well, now there's more to it than just that one sentence, but let my people go.
Here's the program. We want to be free. We want you to release all the Hebrews that are not at all. We want them to have provisions for their journey. You know, and you can imagine there was a whole pack negotiating package. Pharaoh says no. He says, OK, you say no, I'm going to go back to Montgomery and we going to have a bus boycott. And then Pharaoh gets religion and said, well, maybe I'll let you.
I'll go now.
And so they relent on the century the plagues of Egypt were. And now I have to admit they weren't necessarily nonviolent means of protest. But but the point is, they were means of protest. They were actions that would push Pharaoh in the direction of eventually setting the Hebrews captive free. In the final plague is the night of the Passover. I mean, there are all sorts of plagues, flies come on Vogue and Boilesen. I mean, all sorts of plagues.
That is God negotiating with Pharaoh. And so Moses had a program.
That would lead to the freedom of the folk he went to Pharaoh, offered the program, said if you do, this will leave, will be out of your hair. Pharaoh said no. He said, well, OK, there we go. When the negotiations broke down, this expanded nonviolent negotiating. When the negotiations break down, you have to do something that will precipitate a crisis, that will begin to move the structure, the system to move toward the justice that you want in whatever it is trying to get.
So Moses says negotiate. This is all in the Bible. He's negotiating with Pharaoh back and forth. Pharaoh resisting another plague. Pharaoh, resist another plague of Pharaoh. Resist another plague. Come, let me tell you what's going on. The NBA may stop in its tracks that's negotiating with Pharaoh. If Major League Baseball stops in its tracks, that's negotiate with Pharaoh. If the NFL, which I love, I mean, I love sports, but I'm sorry.
That's negotiate with. And you may see a ripple effect. Who knows where this is going to how this is going to unfold, but it's not going to stop. And eventually the night of the Passover is going to happen. It's going to happen when all these forces, social forces come together and barrel again, it's interesting the Bible doesn't name the pharaoh. We don't know whether it was a Ramses pharaoh, which which it does.
I mean, while Pharaoh is the structure, the system mpower of the system.
And you can put any name in that system and they're going to function like a pharaoh. And that's why it wasn't personal. I mean, that's amazing, but it wasn't about the individual pharaoh. He wasn't them. I mean, was the problem, but he wasn't the problem. It was the system in the structure that he represented, symbolized and had control over.
And it controlled him. And it wasn't until the night of the Passover that finally it was over. And the next morning the Hebrew slaves were set free.
And that's how social change happens.
It doesn't there's got to be pressure.
Of course, it doesn't add up.
This is years ago when I was a I mean, when I was a young bishop. This was 20 years ago. And I had a woman named Susie Miller who's now died and gone on to glory. But she was a wonderful coach and and really spiritual director as well. And she used to say and it was true, you know, coaches and people like that used to say there's I don't know if they still do or not. But she said nothing changes until the pain of remaining the same is perceived as greater than the pain of the change.
Oh, God, that's true. That's hard. That's hard. I know.
I mean, I say, oh, gosh, can't we find an easier way? Well, sometimes there is a way, but.
But systems don't change until remaining the same as the reason the Montgomery bus boycott work was not just because of the moral values that the Montgomery Improvement Association was articulating. I mean, that was part of it. That was a part of it. But it was because business interests saw business getting hurt and the business interests got to the political interest and said, yes, we're going to change this. So it was it was a combination of moral courage with tangible reality that, look, this is bad for business.
Know, that's why I think these sports boycotts really matter right now.
Exactly. Exactly. Do you think I'm just having this weird like I have I'm like, oh, I can't host this podcast right now because I'm at church, like, I am listening. I'm at church right now. I'm at church with Bishop Curry. You are on your own with, like, this podcast. I don't know what's going to happen, but I'm fixing to start singing. But OK, you know, I think about Moses, you know, and I think about he's got the what what do we call that thing again where you can see what's possible.
You had a term for it. Is it Brigman that the alternative reality.
Alternate reality. Yeah. Alternate possibility.
OK. Yeah. And I've seen that, I've seen that term invoked recently while we're talking about when we're talking about defunding the police, like people just don't have the alternative possibility right now the mind to do it. But you don't like when you're telling that story of goosebumps because I'm thinking, OK, we've got our own version of plague's right now, like like the coronavirus. The the the police brutality is is a as a public health pandemic. It is like it is not a it's a it's you know, we have our own you know, the virus doesn't discriminate, but Americans do.
And you can tell by who's dying and who's being ravaged. So like so it is. The alternative possibility, the spiritual imagination of something different, but then a program in place of accountability and also to your point about the Montgomery businesses, you know, talking to people where they live, which is money sometimes, right?
Yeah. They get that then. But as I say, everybody comes to Jesus. Everybody gets religion in this way.
I got to ask this question because I keep thinking about your grandmother, about when she when she asked her daughter, she asked your your dad or your mom, but she asked someone like, how do you all know when the Holy Spirit gets to church? Because everybody is just just real quiet and shuffling around and sitting down and standing up like she's like nobody's singing and jumping up was right.
That was so funny because Episcopalians are so reserved.
And I know we used to be God's frozen, we're thorn. But yeah, it's where in those days, I got to tell you, this was before. I mean, this would have been like nineteen sixty five, sixty six somewhere there about and the Episcopal Church began to thaw a little bit when they experimented with they were called trial liturgies at the time. That included a new innovation that was very much resisted, called the peace.
Oh what. Up until that time there was no point in the service where people interacted with people. I mean maybe the offering, I guess. But I mean, there was no interaction with people. You didn't talk in church. You just said the prayers and the stopped. Stop singing hymns and you stood up. You sat down and you kneel. And that was if there was any talking, it was when you got out of church, even when people came in, there was no talking.
The churches were quiet and people said their prayers. And nobody I mean, nobody.
So there was no that's just the way it was. So grandma was actually describing the way the church act this was before. Again, the piece kind of broke that down where people started talking to each other, shaking each other's hands and greeting each other at the priest. But before that, she was right. So she used to say, y'all look like zombies walking around.
I mean, and she said that he would go back and forth. Oh, they would. They would. I mean, they used to banter back. It was just standard banter.
Oh, but that's it is it's really funny because I took one I, I did a talk on Martin Luther King Day last year at Ebenezer Baptist. Bernice King invited me to go and give a talk. And I took my son, who's fifteen now, and he had never been to a predominantly black church. I mean, there was some diversity in there, but he had never been into a Baptist church before.
And there was like there were people with tambourines and sequined suits and people would jump up and you and the Holy Spirit got him. And I you know, I had I had an experience at many times, but when we got into the cab to go to the Atlanta airport, but Sun was like, look, if you really want me to go to church and get confirmed, we need to move to this church. That that was that was good. I understand.
I was like and so I said, I can see the I can see your grandmother thinking, like, I wonder sometimes just between you and me and, you know, people listening. Let me just say what I'm thinking. And then if it's not good, you can tell me it's not right.
I've also been to traditionally black churches or Baptist churches and funerals, and I see people wailing and crying and holding each other, and then I go to our church with funerals and mostly the white folks just kind of sit in like, could you like Ordain had a decree or something from your position where it says we need to move around some more.
And and like, I wonder if all that reserve gets in our way of, you know, if you're saying we recharge with community, I wonder if all that reserve means we're not fully charging our spiritual selves on Sunday.
So I'm saying sometime I am learning there can be power in the church out and there can be power in the silence.
That's true. That's really good. They really I mean, it's like the spirit has wings in both, you know what I mean? Yeah. I have to admit, I'm not somebody given to I'm my grandmother's child. And I know that it's I'm not I'm not naturally given to the silent. But boy got Britney. I can tell you the times when I get away on retreat and. And in silence, except for the prayers and when you slip up to a monastery and just kind of being I mean, the first day is hell.
I mean, because, like, I'm looking can I find a TV or something? But then some then there's a point. There's a point of turning. Where there's a you just present in a different kind of way. It's true, and I know God is around whether you can feel God or not. I don't know. I just know that I'm being present to that moment in a very different way.
And there's a I mean, that's a thin place I've been and I've known it, and it was a while and there were moments when I would just take a Retha album.
Amazing Grace is that well, it was probably I don't know when she did it in late May, but yes, I got it.
I didn't know how to get on a play.
And it's like I don't I somehow it's like I feel like the energy that gave grandma energy infuses me when all I have to do is listen to it. And I don't know. I have no there's no her voice.
You know, where she talks a little bit. Mm. There's something I mean it's it's almost as though it takes me back to a world that's not really here anymore that's actually changing. I mean, even in the black church, the reserve has gotten real. It's not completely not everywhere. But but it's it's it's it's just the culture is changing. I mean, the culture is changing. Yeah. I mean, I remember as a kid more on my father's side than my mother's side, but more on my father's side of the family family funerals.
I mean, you just knew somebody was show somebody's going to pass out and and there was going to be a lot of catharsis. Now, sometimes people would go overboard and, you know, OK, she does that every funeral, you know, and there was families know who know who's right when they're going to die.
I mean, all that. But there was something about it that was healthy. I remember getting to remember and taking pastoral care course is not going to stop. And I'm like the need to get stuff out. I mean, just let Folk Express stuff, don't hold it. And I said, I'll be doggone.
I guess my family did have something right that we used to get giggle about. Guys say, oh Lord, there she goes again. But we are human.
Mm hmm. And we do feel stuff and we hunt and and we hurt.
And let me tell you, when I'm in pain, I wanna scream. I don't want to numb it because then I carry it forever.
Yeah. I mean, I'm way out of my feel, but I do I know that sometimes when you just get it out just. Mm hmm.
I mean, there's some freedom in that that we've been in a wailin I mean, I can hear the street. I can hear them much anymore.
Not as much I can I can hear them too. And I can remember for me as a young person for the first time in a black church at a funeral, when I heard the the the the wailing and the weeping and the screaming it for me, it was the first sense of God congruence in my life around grief because it matched what I felt. It didn't it wasn't like pull yourself together, gain control, emotional stoicism. I tell you, I ask about this.
It doesn't seem a random thing from our conversation for me, because I think people in pain caused pain. I think people who hurt hurt people and we don't know what to do with our pain. And we're not we're so not allowed to express it or feel it or wail or weep that we end up working it out on other people. And I think that's also part of the great divide and what's happening today. Like, I don't know if it's 25 years of doing this research, but it's like instead of beer goggles, like we used to talk about when we were in college, I got fear goggles.
Like I see when I see people enraged. I see fear. Yeah. And I think and pain. And I'm like, work that out. Wail and weep and gnash and follow your knees. But don't. Club over other people over the head with your pain, it's like we got to be better at that, right?
Yeah, you are so right. And it's like you do and being present with each other, I mean, you know, Bob has to bear one of the burdens. I got a feeling some of that is just just holding each other's pain, just holding each other so we can. When you got to weep, weep, and we weren't runaway, no shame, no judgment, no and when I got to weep, I weep. And you all I mean, that's community.
I mean, that actually is.
You know, it's funny, you talk about few was there were I think there are a couple of stories there are in the book. But but one thing that's not in the book, I don't think I can't remember if I actually wrote it in or not, but I at the old time, for you, it's a little bit different now. But old time funerals, there are all these sensory experiences I have. And and it's the shower, which is almost like an invocation of there's something transcendent going on.
There's something beyond the normal happening here, even as we're burying Anchalee or whoever it is. And that that's a suggestion of transcendence for me.
But there's also there's also the family dynamics going on in the family, which is always soap opera in and of itself. That's guaranteed. But then there's this.
And I don't know why I just thought of this, but I can smell frying chicken, the smell of fried chicken somewhere else, church building. That is that's just part of the funeral experience. And it's like that's life.
You know, that's life. It's all in there together.
You real I mean, you write a lot about food in the book. Yeah.
I tried to keep it healthy because I'm going to give you a solid C minus on keeping it healthy, because I was like I was getting so hungry at some point. I was like, OK, Gretz. And, you know, all the stuff that it was. I have to tell you this funny story, because it's it's so it's so part of what you talk about, about. About the love and the sameness that we have that I when I was working for AT&T, I guess in my late 20s, I was they sent me to Kansas City for a month to work and my co facilitation partner, there was a black woman and we became really good friends.
And she said, I'm going to invite you over to my house. And I said, that's great, because now you're the white first white person I've ever invited to my house.
And I said, oh, my God, that's so I'm honored. Thank you. Yeah. Yeah. She said, I'm going to cook for you, too. And I said, Oh, my gosh, what are you going to cook? Said, I'm going to cook soul food. And I said, Oh, my God, this is so exciting. Great. So and we were going to go out that night dancing with a bunch of her friends.
And I said, that's so fun. So I get to her house and I'm spending the night I'm staying the night her house is first like this. So I got my bag and it was just great. So I've been up in a hotel for a month, which was terrible. And so when I got to her house, she put dinner on the table and I was like, oh, this looks, this looks, this looks I mean, this looks delicious.
I thought we were going to do soul food. She says this is country ribs and greens. And I said, this is Sunday dinner at my house every Sunday. And she goes, Yeah, yeah. I was like she said, What do you mean? I said, this is country ribs and greens made with like, I'm assuming you make it with bacon grease because that's what we use out of it, out of a Folger's can that we collect it.
If I break.
She was and she just looked at these shows and your name's Bernie. Are you sure you're not black somewhere?
And I said, yeah, I'm sure. But but so when you were writing about food, you wrote this sentence that, you know, your family left the South and Jim Crow, the Great Migration.
And you have this sentence that made me laugh that you said we lived north, but we ate south.
Oh, yeah. It really was true. In those days, you could buy grits, but only in black communities, I mean, anywhere but Buffalo. But back then, you had you had to go into an ethnic community to get ethnic food, and it was imported from Canada where they got it wrong.
But oh, yeah, that was imported healthily. So food is the new art of it. It's coming. You know, when we had the family, you know, Thanksgiving dinners and my wife's aunt would always come and she would always bring the Greens, but she transitioned from the ham hocks to turkey, you know, the smoked turkey, wings and legs and how that go with the family.
It's everybody. It just it because everybody needs because they want to live, you know. I mean, they want to live. Yeah. They want to live.
And everybody I was reading grits and grits and it was like, you know, my grandmother actually coded our fried okra and grits, not Carmelle.
So she she saw our fried okra was cooked and grits. So it was like grits three times a day. You got it in the morning. You got it with eggs. You got it. OK, so let me so I want to I want to do two things before we go into I have like a ten rapid fire question I want to do with you before we do that. Yes, it'll be fun. You talk about one of my favorite philosophers and theologians in the book, Howard Thurman, and you talk about his first brush with the Divine when he watched Halley's Comet and it was 1910.
You right. There were no lights in his town to dim the heavens. He and his mother watched the comet, filled the darkness with light as it made its journey across the sky. Thurmon felt terror for a moment. After all, for weeks, everyone had been talking about the possibility of a terrible aftermath of the comet falling from the sky. But his mother was calm, reassuring him that God would keep them safe. Something shifted in Thurmon, and the fear left him.
He felt one with a comet and a sudden awareness and all of what created and controlled the comet.
In reflection, Thurman gave name to his awareness that given ness of God, yeah, the given giving of God, which the human heart, by its very nature, hungers to connect with when we succeed you. Right, we feel it. He's got the whole world in his hands. Yeah. Yeah, that is so beautiful and then then to make things even more amazing on this page, you write, I'll leave you with the hymn His Eye Is On the Sparrow, made famous today by the singer Lauryn Hill.
The lyrics you share with us in your book, I sing because I'm happy. I sing because I'm free for his eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me. You conclude by saying God's love is everywhere in all things. And that includes you.
Yeah, it's. It's true. It's really true. Amazing, it's funny, it's really true and just living life out of that. Whether you feel it or not. Whether you feel it or not, dang it, that is that is say that again. What do you mean whether you feel it or not? Like are you saying that, like, really take the mystery of faith leap and just say, I don't feel it right now, but I believe I believe it.
Yeah. Yeah, it was Karen Armstrong and one of her books talks about her struggle with faith and believing, and she's a historian, theologian but a historian.
Yes, she talked about wrestling with depression herself and she said the intersection of her faith and all of that, and it's really the spiral staircase is the name of the book. And at some point in the book, she talks about realizing that faith and belief, that belief that even the word believe is not about assent to a set of propositions. They may be true, but that's not what it means, that it actually the root of it is, in the words, the Latin Cordeaux heart that to believe.
Is not necessarily, first off, to give my mental assent to to believe it's Cordeaux is related to Katia is to give my heart to. Oh, man, I think that just that realization that that's the root of the word of Croteau up to believe, it's just I give my heart to I got my doubts. I got my fear. I got all that stuff going to crowd. And that's that's human. But darn it, I give my heart here.
You got me.
Got that briney that's that's life. Right. That's life changing. It really is. You know, and because none of it I mean, I don't know, I mean, although I think about going time travel is probably not a good idea because I got a feeling there were viruses and all sorts of things back in other ages that we couldn't handle if we got plus I got a feeling the world really probably stunk a couple of centuries ago. I mean, people get into deodorant.
Yeah, I know you can get friends, and that's it's probably not we would not survive long, I suspect.
But I think you go back and even the stories of people in the Bible and all that kind of stuff, if you start looking at them as people. And how does a normal human being react, people like me, how do I react and then look back at the biblical descriptions? You actually start to see, wait a minute, I put a stained glass there that when the stained glass looked through the glass. Oh, my God.
Oh, I get that reaction. That's the reaction. You know what I mean? That there actually are human IMOS, human actions and very human stuff. We've just put stained glass on them and you can't see it through that. You can't see through stained glass. You got out and glass away. Look at the real people. I mean, the Moses. Who tries to get out of going back to Egypt? The Mary Magdalene, I mean, Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, the other Mary Fussin with Jesus Lord, if you have been here, my brother would not have died.
I mean, you know, she is pissed off. These are people. Yeah, I.
Were you been exposed to the Lord. So, yeah. You know, I brought it up. Yeah. Yeah.
I mean, you get these, these are real people. And to realize they they somehow did walk by faith, not by sight. In the end they gave their hearts and just said, here, take me. Warts and all, that for me is free for me, I mean, because I know Michael, you know, and Mike Galanos, Michael, you know, I mean, I know when I get mad and I'm a pretty good guy most of the time, but hit me and you'll say find another side of Michael, you know what I mean?
That's people. Yeah. And we can't give up on us. We're all we have, you know, it's like we're in danger and bad news. We're all we've got.
OK, all right. You ready for the quick ten?
I'm scared to death, ok. Oh, please. Come on. All right. Number one, fill in the blank. Vulnerability is. Just getting real. OK, number two, you're called you, Bishop Curry, are called to do something really difficult and you have to be really brave, but your fear is real. You can feel it right here in your throat. What's the very first thing you do? Sit on it. Sit on it, actually, sit on it.
Yeah, yeah, don't decide to do anything, kind of sit on it, sit well, OK.
What is something that people often get wrong about you? That I'm wise?
No, they don't get that wrong. They know I'm not OK.
They know that already. I don't believe it. But I'm going to keep going. No. For last show that you binged and loved. What. Something on TV that you've watched that you really loved watching.
Oh, well, the Jack Ryan series, the. Yeah. Jack, I think is on Amazon Prime, right? Yeah, it's on Amazon. Yeah. Yeah. One of your favorite movies.
You know what, I've got a new favorite movie. It's Night Shift with Kevin Hart and Tiffany had I mean, I know I was supposed to say a mini film. Of course I know. But actually I love that movie. It's it's it's funny. It's pure comedy. And but it's also, you know, that I go back to get his GED and it's all this awkwardness, night school craziness. Yes. That's cool. That's cool.
OK, yeah. Oh my God. That Yeah. OK, got it. That's funny that that's your favorite movie. I love that. Tell me a concert you'll never forget.
I was in high school, we went to a concert and I can't remember who the headliner was, I mean, who we actually went to see.
But there was a warm up guy doing the warm up. You know how they sure would have up and comers. I don't remember who the heck I really don't. Whether the O'Jays or the Temptations. I don't remember. The warm up was Barry Manilow. And I've never forgotten Barry Manilow.
He came on and like he said, and now we introduce Barry Manilow and everybody that we came here to see the Temptations or the O'Jays or somebody who.
Who is this? He tore it up.
I mean, people went crazy. They said we don't need to see whoever we came here to see. It was he hadn't gotten big yet.
That's awful warm. That is awesome. I've never forgotten that. OK, favorite meal.
And you don't have to be a favorite meal like in heaven has no calories, no carbs, whatever you want.
That would be fried chicken, chitlins, macaroni and cheese. My wife is a good boy. She's going to kill me for saying this in public. Macaroni and cheese. Collard greens cooked the old fashioned way cornbread with Mallarino in it. Sweetie, what's for dessert?
Oh, some sweet potato pie. Real sweet potato pie. The screen. You know, that kind. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, gosh, yeah. I wish I could meet you for dinner. OK, what's on your nightstand?
Eddie Gloves book on James Baldwin. Oh God. I'm reading through it now. Yeah. Yeah.
Give me a snapshot of an ordinary moment in your life that brings you joy. Just a single snapshot of a moment that just really brings you joy.
Oh, playing with my grandson when he's on good behavior, when he's deflation. Go back. Go back to your mother.
OK, what's one thing that you're deeply grateful for right now?
Oh, you know, I mean, I have to admit, I'm just grateful to be alive. I mean, you know, I mean, at this stage of life, I. You know, I jokingly say I will say to my family, but if I drop dead tomorrow, I'd have nothing to complain about, you know, I really would. I've been blessed and I and I know it and and I'm in the good, the bad and the ugly.
I've been blessed. And and just knowing that and getting up the next morning, you keep on going. Keep on going. Like, oh, OK. You say woke me up again.
You woke me up again. I got to ask you this last question. We've got a playlist that we're going to put of yours on Spotify. It's got your six most favorite songs, The Impossible Dream by Roberta Flack. That's Life, Frank Sinatra, Glory by Common and John Legend If There's a Hell Below by Curtis Mayfield. Mary Don't You Eat by Aretha Franklin.
And then the outlier right here would be Old Town Road, which is also on your list that you gave us.
I love that. I love that. And I love the video. It is the greatest. If not, it's beyond absurd. It's wonderful.
It's so tell me tell me what this play and in one or two words, tell me what this playlist says about you.
Well, there's the fun side. Yeah. There's just something that's just pure joy. I mean, just pure fun joy or whatever. There's there's merit, don't you? We don't do monteil. Tell Martha not to moan. Pharaoh's army got drowned.
I mean, there's a faith side I think of I mean, of a God who's pretty deeply integrated.
Mm hmm. But that I was, you know, but now I grew up in a it was in the book I to share that story from member from Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun. Oh, you have a daughter, you know, God. And the mother slaps her. And we had this debate with the publishers, but we were doing it. They said, you know, she slapped her. Should we include that? Because that sounds like parental abuse.
It's in the play. I don't know. It's like like fifty years ago, she was an adult. She wasn't a little kid.
But, you know, with the mother kind of hits her, says in this house, there is no God or is always God. You know, I kind of grew up in that. We're just. And he's saying to grandma, you talk about loads of what you would think he lived next door, it was like. Jesus was next door with a neighbor, which in a weird kind of way, I think my grandmother had this integration where it wasn't, you know, there wasn't separation of church and state in her, so to speak.
Yeah, but she was Sacranie religious. I mean, she wasn't I mean, she could be goofy. She loved Moms Mabley. If you listen to mom, maybe these jokes. I mean, now, that would be nothing. But they were they were borderline. They were on the edge, cutting edge with albums of moms. Maybe when we were kids, of course, when the adults were gone, we listened to them.
But Grandma love those things and she would go out, sneak out the back and smoke a cigarette, you know? I mean, so there was all these just real human things.
And yet God is in that mixed I mean, that's that's incarnation. That's integrative.
That's just God in the word became flesh and dwelt among us.
And I got a feeling that this is part of that there's there's yes. That mix. But there's just pure human joy and entertainment. And, you know, I mean, the Frank Sinatra thing, it's funny because my father loved Sinatra, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Washington.
There were a whole bunch of that he loved. And, you know, when you're a kid, you really don't want to hear your parents music. And in 1967, daddy got a new car. This is after Mommy died and he said, I'm going to get me a car. And he got a nineteen sixty seven Chevrolet Caprice and it had air conditioning in it.
Oh my God. It had air conditioning. And we drove from Buffalo to Birmingham and air conditioning and it had an eight track tape in it and one of the eight track even listen to half the almost all the way was Frank Sinatra. I did it my way. He loved that song. I did it my way. That's life. Fly me to I'm I can hear those songs. And yet there's a part of me actually there. In there. In there.
In here. Yeah, there. In here.
And so that's I just love I love some of those, those, some that songs now. And there are two young guys on YouTube, the two black kid, the twins, and they listen to music that they haven't heard before.
Oh my God.
I'm obsessed with them. Yeah. Aren't they incredible. Oh my God. They listen to it like I watch them watch Bohemian Rhapsody from Queen for the first time.
The first time they ever heard it. Yeah. It's like a religious experience.
It's amazing to watch the two of them. I mean, I love these kids. They just and they they you can tell they're they're they they they're not just enjoying it. They're experiencing so pure.
It's so pure. It's I don't know what their names are but but I was I'll go and see what they do now and it's. But that that playlist, no one's ever asked me that before when when Nancy sent me that, I said she wants to know what.
And so I think music is a thin place. Right?
You know, it is. I I have a feeling I'm not flying on airplanes now, so I'm not writing sermons on airplanes, but there are time. There's some music. And I don't know, I mean, well, I haven't tried to figure out there's some music that I can write sermons to and I don't know completely why, but like I've got the soundtrack of the Ten Commandments.
Hmm. Now, part of that, I remember as a kid watching the tango, I used to come on, like around Easter Sunday or Easter. Yeah, it was Easter Egg. And Grandma used to love to watch it. It would be on ABC. I think I used to sit down and watch it. My sister and I would watch it with her and all that. So it may hark back to that. But there's something about that. There's a romantic, a 1950s romantic in me that in those movies that were made in that era, I mean, they're kind of hokey now and yes, a little bit hokey when you look at them now.
But there's something about the music that says, you know, something, everything you see in this world ain't the whole world. There's more to it than what your eye can see. And there is a God. There is a God.
And, you know, and I think that I have no idea. All I know is Briney.
I have written more sermons on planes with my earphones on, listening and stuff like that.
I mean, not just that, but stuff like that. As long as it doesn't have too much singing, if they're singing right, that interferes. But the music, the sweeping music, the sweeping ness of it.
And I get wrapped up in I mean I actually yeah. And I have literally flown for hours and not even paid attention to a flight attendant comes or something. I've flown determiners million thing about it and and it's you're right, music is a thing. I hadn't thought about that.
It's a really fun place for me. And that's why I'm so glad you shared this with us. And let me tell you that this was one of the greatest 90 minutes of my life talking to you. I am grateful for you.
I love your book. This was this was so important for me personally, so I'm really thankful for you spending this time with us and with the unluckiest community. Thank you.
Well, thank you. You have no idea. This was just extraordinary to talk with you about. We were just sitting in your. Family Dan talking. Well, it feels like maybe that's what we need right now. Yeah, all we're missing is the food check, which your wife but your wife won't hold to.
You know, I'm having salads for lunch. Oh, I've lost weight, which is also good. But I'm going to ride at some point.
We won't tell anyone. All right. Thank you, Bishop Curry. Thank you. God bless you. God bless you.
Now, I don't know about y'all, but for me, just hope, love, fresh air again, like going to church, singing hymns from Roberta Flack, Frank Sinatra, Curtis Mayfield, Aretha Franklin, AHAM.
Oldtown Road Wood did not see that coming. Y'all check out his book, Love is the Way, holding on to Hope in troubling times. And if you want a daily dose of love, you can find Bishop Curry on Twitter. He's at at PBH Underscore Currey on Instagram again at PBH, underscore Currey and on Facebook at P, b, m, b, c, u, r, y.
You can find all these links on our episode pages on Briney Brown dot com. It's much easier.
I think it has been a big week. We announced our partnership with Spotify. You can continue to listen to unlocking apps for free and there's going to be so much music, including these many mix tapes for all of our guests, which are really fun. You can link to the mix tapes again from Bernie Brown dot com, where you can listen to the episode and link to the music. We also announced that I'm launching a second podcast, Dare to Lead, coming October 19th.
I cannot wait for this podcast.
We're just going to between unlocking us and dare to lead, we're going to cover living, loving, leading and parenting.
We're going to wrap this up, y'all. And little lead is going to be real and actionable things that we can do that are tactical and practical. And just in case you missed it, I had a great conversation with Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow and Gabby on the season premiere of Red Table Talk, Three Generations, One Table.
And let me tell you for sure, no filter. You might want to check out that, too. I'll put a link on this episode page. Thank you, friends.
Look for the love. Stay awkward, brave and kind and don't give up on people. We're all we have you all. And thank you. Last of the team that puts us together. This is a Spotify original from past. It's produced by Max Cutler, Kristen Acevedo and Carly Madden and by thirteen Sound Design by Kristen Acevedo. He'll take care of each other.