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A Hymn on the Texts We Preach

Oluwatomisin Olayinka Oredein

Oluwatomisin Olayinka Oredein is an assistant professor in Black Religious Traditions and Constructive Theology and Ethics and the director of the Black Church Studies Program at Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, Texas.

(Today, we sing a song of holy insistence in the key of confession.)

Verse One
Do we know we are texts
read in the carefullest of ways? 
—lest we forget our constitution,
the declarations
that got us here,
stay us here,
in history’s substantial
yet somber junctures?

(A chorus gathers to our tongues.)
(We) welcome the interrogation of our insides, 
gut-wrenching as they are.
(We) covet catechisms of right confession,
for we are all sobering, serious questions.

What else can we proclaim as truth? 

Verse Two
Do we know we are read—
by communities, close
and afar,
adjacent to us and us-plagued? —
communities scanning body-marks
on their own,
on ours,
summarizing scars
and incarnations
the Gospel has done to them?

(The chorus meets us.)
If news transparents truth,
what makes it good? —
certainly not callow handlers 
or brutish handling.
Why import assumptions
of where the g°od lies?

Verse Three
Do we notice 
our biting textualities,
our past-wearings,
the fracturing
laced in our stories? —
how we tell ourselves,
our parables of progresses,
how close we sound to something else
if we are not careful
in our beings?

(The chorus crescendos.)
is not ours to wear.
Translation-tasks live 
so deeply,

Vamp (repeat)

On the tongues
of another
is our interpretation.

How do they preach us?

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