Episode 152

Dr. Christena Cleveland - God is a Black Woman


November 30th, 2022

1 hr 10 mins 22 secs

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About this Episode

An act of desperation often leads us to revelation, which was also the case for Dr. Christena Cleveland as she set out for a solo 400-mile track across rural France in search of The Black Madonna.

This conversation was so rich and powerful. I absolutely loved unpacking Dr. Cleveland's story and her future vision for what is possible in the world where women permit themselves to find their divinity within their own female bodies.

Christena Cleveland, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, public theologian, author, and activist. She is the founder and director of the Center for Justice + Renewal and its sister organization, Sacred Folk, which creates resources to stimulate people's spiritual imaginations and support their journeys toward liberation. An award-winning researcher and former professor at Duke University's Divinity School, Christena lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

  • What made Christina walk 400 miles across rural and deep France in search of Black Madonna Statues?
  • The world events that became the catalyst for Christena's activism
  • The kinship and devotion Christena encountered in her search for the Black Madonna through the various townspeople and the activation of "the village phone tree."
  • How the Black Madonna has become a center of french village culture and what she offers for those who have reached a state of desperation.
  • How the Black Madonna has helped Christena to unburden herself and why she is symbolic of helping others to lay their burdens down.
  • How Christena's emotions took a role in leading her to pursue the Black Madonna.
  • How Christena unraveled her trauma of white male God and how it impacted her relationship with her family and community
  • We are taught that if there is a problem- it's us vs. the system that conditioned us.
  • How much spiritual and social homelessness we have to go through as we "unbecome" from our cultural and religious conditioning.
  • The process of letting go of patriarchal influences of certainty and perfection and how "she who cherishes the hot mess" became one of her chapter titles.
  • The trap of patriarchal security and how it dampens our creativity and our sense of adventure
  • What happened when Christena began to reclaim her spiritual autonomy and her theological imagination
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