From the desk of Chris Barbera of Jesus the Liberator Seminary

May 4, 2021

We can learn much from the fasting and hunger strikes of people incarcerated. We can learn much from the systematic practice of fasting ascribed by Islamic Ramadan.  One is motivated by acts of survival and resistance and one is motivated by the ritualistic tradition of deepening faith and awareness.   Both affect society by individual sacrifice.  One is extreme and one is tempered.

The concept of Prison Theology weaves and incorporates similar and disparate ideas and practices that challenge the fundamental hegemony of punishment.  Can we fast from the tendencies to judge and punish?   Can we fast from unquestioningly and automatically funding the police, military, and prisons as the first response to social and individual threat and harm?  Can we relearn that fasting transforms our punitive carnal behaviors into restorative, merciful and faithful action?  

April 27, 2021

“I am George Floyd with the beard and the dreadlocks, forget the dreads, just the locks” I am George Floyd, 2020, Lil B

“Cops on my tail so I bail ‘til I dodge ‘em, they finally pull me over and I laugh, ‘Remember Rodney King?’” Soulja, 1991, 2Pac Shakur

“Build your penitentiary, we build your schools, brainwash education to make us the fools, hatred your reward for our love, telling us of your God above.”  Crazy Baldheads, 1976, Bob Marley

Each generation of black men speak out (sing out) against police violence, poverty, and prisons.  A young black woman, Darnella Frazier, filmed the killing of George Floyd in the spring of 2020, thereby providing the crucial evidence that has impacted a worldwide movement for racial justice.  A young black woman, Amanda Gorman, recited “The Hill We Climb” at the 2021 Presidential inauguration.  

These are examples of black arts, testimonies and documents that create a kind of “theology” of the people.  Each of these is an inspiration for Prison Theology.  

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on