Red Lip Theology: Candice Benbow’s love letter to Black women in the Black church | Richmond Free Press

Robert Hundley

Candice Marie Benbow came to be a theologian by way of the dying of Whitney Houston, who she considers “the final church female.”

Dressed like they ended up there, Ms. Benbow mentioned, she viewed the well known singer’s funeral on Television set with her mom and grandmother and wondered how and why Ms. Houston was as soon as hailed by the Black church, dissed by it when she had dependancy and relationship difficulties and later on reclaimed by it. When the provider finished, Ms. Benbow started out composing an application to seminary.

Rapidly-forward a ten years, and Ms. Benbow is now a public theologian out with a new e-book called “Red Lip Theology: For Church Women Who’ve Thought of Tithing to the Natural beauty Source Shop When Sunday Morning Is not Sufficient.”

Each spiritual and religious, Ms. Benbow provides a critique of the total Black church but continues to be a member of an Atlanta congregation affiliated with the National Baptist Conference, United states of america.

Ms. Benbow, 40, has her very own design of practicing and producing about faith, even as she problems the Black church “to be its ideal self.”

She lowercases “bible” and does not refer to God with pronouns. And she preaches a theology that calls on Black gals in certain to transfer beyond disgrace into “a a lot a lot more holistic knowing of what it implies to be human and what it usually means to comprehend that we will not get it correct all the time.”

Her e book, which was introduced on Tuesday and was not long ago named amid Amazon editors’ picks for most effective nonfiction, echoes the title of Ntozake Shange’s “For Coloured Girls Who Have Deemed Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” which was revealed in 1975.

“That choreopoem was one particular of my initial introductions of what it seems to be like to blur sacred and secular and how Black women do that so fantastically in a way that enables us to just truly talk to the complete inside of our lives,” explained Ms. Benbow, the new way of living, education and learning and well being writer for Grio, a electronic news outlet about Black lifestyle.

She talked to Religion Information Provider about her crafting about God and Black women, remaining “spiritually fluid” and relocating past an affair with a married guy.

The job interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Around the course of your e-book, you make clear how you created what you connect with “red lip theology.” How would you sum up what that is and how it compares to other theologies?

Crimson lip theology, for me, is the way I see and recognize myself as a Black millennial woman of religion. I was formed as much by the church as hip-hop culture. The methods I would say it differs from other theologies is that there are extremely number of that discuss to women of my era. Even just womanist theology, a whole lot of theology writ substantial, is about drawing from writers who contextualize their ordeals and us hoping to pull from that to suit us, but this basically facilities us in a way other folks did not.

You are a potent critic of the Black church, like homes of worship like your childhood congregation that disparaged gals, this sort of as your mother, who had you “out of wedlock.” What is your principal cost from it? And do you have any hope for transform in it?

I believe part of what has usually been unfortunate about Black church spaces is how essential it has normally been to centre Black adult men and their truths and realities at the cost of women and women. And I really do not think that will ever modify, sad to say. I consider the Black church is fully commited to being a safe and sound space for Black gentlemen, cishet Black gentlemen (who discover with the gender assigned to them at beginning and are heterosexual). And I think in their determination to becoming a harmless room for them to direct, that usually means it is a perilous space for everybody else. When I have close friends who perform quite tricky to improve their particular person church lifestyle, I am not that optimistic about the entirety of the church as an institution.

We have observed too normally exactly where church leaders, mostly men, have galvanized all over troubles of Black men currently being harmed, but have not completed a whole lot regarding Black girls and Black females when they’ve been in the precise identical predicament and for women of all ages, for me, it will become a remaining straw.

Later in your guide, you acknowledge that you adore the Black church. What do you give it credit for, even as you place out its faults?

I will normally adore and revere the Black church because, a single, even as my mom required to stroll absent from a single, she uncovered refuge at a different 1. My oratory competencies, my writing expertise, a great deal of individuals ended up honed in church.

How would you explain by yourself proper now, denominationally, because you reported you are a element of a church?

I’m a member of a Black Baptist church in this article in Atlanta. But my religion is rooted in the teachings of Jesus, the knowledge of my ancestors and the ability of Black womanhood. I am spiritually fluid. There are traditions I attract from that also work in tandem with Christianity for me. I deeply revere the customs of the African standard religions and ancestral veneration. I achieved with a Buddhist religious local community each Sunday for a year and a half. There are tactics from that group I continue to maintain and engage in. I take into consideration myself to be a seeker. And so I think Spirit is everywhere.

So what is Spirit to you?

Spirit is God. It is the divine electricity that guides all of our lifetime. I use God and Spirit interchangeably. In church contexts, I’ll just say “God.” But in a considerably broader context, I say “Spirit.” For me, Spirit is the finest way to articulate the force that grounds my fluidity and is normally contacting me residence and is generally calling me better. And that Spirit is what I have been capable to locate everywhere I have appeared for it.

You be aware that you achieved a settlement with a predominantly white seminary that refused to give you go away immediately after your mother’s demise or to give you a various apartment soon after you experienced a sexual assault. How did that form your perspective of institutional theological instruction and your long run in general?

It 1st taught me that in theological training, that individuals can compose and preach about Jesus all working day and not know him. At the end of the day, these are even now rich, white potent establishments and I’m nonetheless a Black woman. And in this country and in this earth, wealthy, white effective establishments despise free Black women of all ages. I would be lying to you if I explained that practical experience did not scar and jade my viewpoint of theological institutions.

You reveal you utilized to be concerned with a married guy who divorced and then married yet another lady. How do you relate your personalized encounter to the Gospel of John’s account of the female caught in adultery?

I had to set myself in that moment. I place myself in John’s account and I was like, ‘OK, so what acquired Candice here?’ Believing the issues he mentioned to me received me there. But there were also sections of my brokenness — working with my nonexistent partnership with my father, not at any time believing I was great more than enough.

It was about doing the get the job done, executing the get the job done to expose the broken components of me and wounded areas of me that prompted me to make those varieties of selections and then press toward therapeutic those so that I produced decisions that are always rooted in lifetime and in gentle.

Your table of contents labels every single of your book’s chapters with attractiveness supplies, from skin treatment to placing spray. What section of what you simply call “makeup therapy” is most significant to you and is there a way you relate it to spirituality?

Even if I do not do a total experience of make-up, I’m usually going to do my lips. From a faith viewpoint, I usually want to converse the fact and I normally want to discuss boldly and confidently. And I usually want to be able to say when I’m wrong and to apologize when I need to.

But often we will need the courage to be ready to say when we’re improper, the courage to be in a position to name when we’re questioning, the braveness to be ready to name when we’re battling. And so, for me, which is what I usually want to endeavor to do is inform the fact.

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