Adé, a West African-born woman adopted in America will tell a story in #TheBounceBackRDU, June 19, 2020.

He was a ‘son of the soil.’ Of the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria, Stainless was a devout Christian business leader and a church planter.

He also despised African Americans and wanted them to get over slavery already.

One day in our “African Roots of Black Theology” seminary class, the professor showed a clip of Alex Haley’s classic movie “Roots.” It was the scene where Kunta Kinte (LeVar Burton) had been recaptured after he escaped. Fiddler (Louis Gossett, Jr.) plead with the slave master (Lorne Greene) to have mercy on him. He got down on his knees in front of the…

Audre Lorde — poet, prophetess, sage

It all works out in the end.”

I’m looking for a reason to keep believing that’s true. But it’s hard when my reasons to keep hope alive takes a bullet to the chest every time someone mocks hope, calling it naive.

Without hope, what are we left with? Facts? (We all know the power of facts to save us, right? NOT!)

How about another option? A holy union of facts and hope?

I’m pitching solutions in 2020 — looking back for insight, moving forward with faith and hope.

We’re not the first to live in a “WTF” context (NOTE: Mom…

Lex at daybreak.

“When we have pleaded for understanding, our character has been distorted; when we have asked for simple caring, we have been handed empty inspirational appellations, then stuck in the farthest corner.” Alice Walker, “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens”

I tried to explain the bizarre support for my attacker as himpathy.

While his cheerleaders were few, they were vocal and deeply invested in their support for him.

My DMs were lit with friends trying to see how well I knew these “apologists for that punk muhfucka.” They were hella shooketh.

Not me. I’m rooted in certain disciplines that keep me…

Photo by Atlas Green on Unsplash

It was Saturday night, and we’d just left a party at the Sheraton. Three floors of well-heeled sisters and brothers mingling and dancing. Celebrity DJ Kid Capri had just wrapped his set. The hotel staff turned the lights up, a subtle nod to the party closer: “you ain’t gotta go home, but you gotta get the hell out of here.”

To avoid traffic (and inflated valet fees), I parked my car in front of my downtown Raleigh office and took Uber to the party. …

Three young women — all of them in their early to mid-20s — stood in front of me at church and worshipped freely. Unspoiled by life on life’s terms, they lifted their hands and engaged their full body in worship. Moving like tall blades of grass blowing in the wind, they reminded me of myself at that age, convinced of the trustworthiness of the lyrics on the screen.

“Our God is greater…our God is stronger…”

“If God is for us, then who could ever stop us?”

“If God is with us, what can stand against (us)?”

They sang from the…

Alexus Rhone — bare-shouldered and less pious after close to 50 years around the sun.

We referred to it as “hitting the quarter-century mark”; most of us were too cool to simply say we’re turning 25. “Quarter century mark” sounded like we were the embodiment of wisdom, savvier than others. By age 25, we’d paid-off our cars, leaving surplus money for last-minute trips to Jamaica or Cancun. We were single and selective, comfortable in our skin, none of us cookie-cutters of the other — just complementary.

Everyone did something special to mark turning 25 (though, strangely, I can’t remember what I did). But I remember Ki’s celebration. …

This is a picture of me at 14; I use it in my workshops about guilt, shame, and storytelling.

Growing up, I witnessed adults in my family solve every problem one of two ways — with Jesus or Jack Daniels. For that reason, I hated family gatherings. Jesus and Jack were opposite extremes. Both teams dug in their heels. Of course, being drunk on Jack was never a cute look and the same for being drunk off the Holy Ghost. But the “bible-thumpers” made all of life appear suck-ass. Every wrong decision could send you to hell — from how you danced to how short you wore your shorts in the grueling Texas summers. It really got tricky for…

Chapter heading from “Rising Strong”, by Brene Brown

In January 2011, I entered grad school to study theology. There were a few obvious differences between me and the other students. First, I’d just terminated a 12-year love project (also called divorce). Second, I didn’t walk around with my head hung low because of it. I was neither sad nor ashamed; I was free. I’d pushed the reset button on life, and was ready to live it to the fullest. And that confused many of my student colleagues. Still, they were good people — different, but good.

There was something else about them I couldn’t put my finger on…

(This letter was spurred by Facebook posts written by two young women I’d ministered to in the ’90s. Talented, successful, and living their best lives, in celebration of their birthdays, they both posted praises to God with the added statement “I’m not worthy.”

Like my grandma used to say, “The devil is a lie!”

I could argue their language about worthiness is connected to American Christianity, or, as Howard Thurman called it, “(that) strange mutation of the religion of Jesus.” I fear, however, the real culprit is me.)

Dear beautiful women,

In my zeal for you to live holy lives…

Images from Unshackled Productions’ adult storytelling events

When I graduated seminary with a master of arts — theology degree, I was hungry, REALLY hungry, for one thing: the truth. Raw, unfiltered, and plucked from the earth (although I did at least want to rinse off the dirt). I was living in LA at the time, land of a thousand casting calls. And so I submitted casting call number 1,001. I was looking for brave folks to feature in Tellebration-LA, a night of adult storytelling I was producing.

Why adult stories? Well, because they’re real. They’re honest. And using the word “adult” in anything had the same effect…

Alexus Rhone

Executive storyteller. Artistic theologian. Curator of true, first-person narratives. “Truth, meet Story.”

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