Where is the Clergy on Ferguson and Race Relations?

September 1, 2014

I’m a huge sci-fi fan. I like it all from the cheesy to the spectacular. Some of the content that has come out over the years has been frowned upon by some Christians, but I don’t tend to freak out when I see a “Christian theme” expressed in secular entertainment. I see it more as making a Christian concept understandable in “layman’s” terms. One such concept was delivered in the 4th season of Angel, an episode titled “Sacrifice”.  Episode 86 on netflix.  I wish I had the video clip to share. The demon Jasmine had come to have influence on the human population, with promises of peace and love. For lack of a better description she had basically possessed the people exposed to her. She could see what they see, feel what they feel and control them. She referred to them as the Body of Jasmine.  At the very end of the episode, her soldiers were descending upon the band of dissenters who had seen her true face and were no longer under her influence. As fighting commenced every slash, gunshot, or other wound visited upon those she dwelt in, manifested on her body.  As I watched her demonically laugh, seeming to enjoy all this, it occurred to me that this is what it must be like for the body of Christ when believers indwelt with the Holy Spirit, strike out at each other. The harm is visited upon the whole body, unbeknownst to us. It had such a profound effect on me, seeing the VISUAL, that I’ve never forgotten it, and it always comes to mind when I see Christians at odds with each other or divided somehow on one issue or another.

One such divide resolves around race.  We’ve all seen the historical photographs of black people being lynched or otherwise terrorized. Even now roughly 80% of Americans identify as Christian, so it’s not too far fetched to assume that these same people who could have a family outing for such morbid entertainment as a lynching on Saturday, were probably in church praising God on Sunday, and feeling guilt free.

So when I ask “Where is the clergy?”, I mean where are they when it comes to addressing racial injustice  by perpetrators who identify as Christian.  I know there have been clergy on the ground in Ferguson.  Some have been injured standing with protestors. I saw all the pastors that attended the gathering with Al Sharpton, (when you proudly stood as he asked the clergy present show themselves, y’all weren’t expecting that $100.00 donation request were you? haha…)  and those who attended the Michael Brown funeral services. But where is the national conversation, directed at those who hold racial biases and feel justified in doing so?  Also where is the conversation with the black youth who see Christianity as just another form of “white oppression”, designed to keep black people pacified, and less likely to revolt when they experience perceived (read: real, actual, concrete, and video taped) wrongs? Should they feel they can trust the church when they do not see their white brothers and sisters in Christ even addressed for their actions or skewed thinking?

See,  when there are Christians are being persecuted in some manner, what generally tends to happen is that the victims hear “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” or “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Perhaps, “In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. ”  In other words, be patient they will get theirs. Just stand and watch the deliverance of the Lord.  We hear  promises such as  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Not really convincing when you see the future of an 18 year old ended by 6 shots and no guaranteed justice in sight.  In fact, you hear people opposing even questioning whether or not justice should be even considered for someone who had recently robbed a local store for cigars. This is not to discount the word.  I believe the word of God has power. (I know there are those outside the faith that believe scriptures such as these only encourage inaction and discourage working to change one’s situation, and while there are some who have used the word as such, the bible does not advocate this.)  In times of challenges, these and other scripture have indeed been a real and present help, making it possible for Christians to hold on and weather hard times and injustice. However, when they are uttered as simple platitudes to absolve oneself from taking action to help another, or to allow evil to go unchallenged, we rob them of their power, and bring no real comfort to those who need it.

Where are the teachings that state “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” or “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”  or “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” or “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.” or “But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.” or even a simple “You reap what you sow”? I was always taught that “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” When is the clergy going to call out their congregation for sowing and speaking hate and division? Or do they not recognize black people as their brothers and sisters in Christ?

 “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end leads to destruction.”  is sometimes used to justify/excuse the actions of people. They just don’t know better.  Victims are told to love everyone and not let evil overcome good. The perpetrators aren’t getting told anything.  I was always taught that the word of God convicts you in your heart of wrong doing. You are compelled to change or go crazy rebelling. Yet when it comes to racism, race relations and indifference toward people of color and their experiences,  white folks aren’t hearing the word that would convict their hearts, and possibly lead to repentance around their actions.  People and organizations can shed light on racism, show it’s effects, and pass laws, but you can’t legislate someone’s heart and mind. People have to have their own epiphany, their own “Come to Jesus” moment.  In failing to address this, the church is failing us.

The Church is not supposed to look like “the world”. It is supposed to stand on it’s own biblical principles, regardless of what the mainstream way of thinking happens to be at the moment. Sadly, the world has a lot more influence in the church than it should have.  How else do you explain something like what happened in Mississippi?  Members of a majority white church opposed having a black couple wed there.  Not an interracial couple, which caused church controversy before, even though there is no biblical basis to oppose it,  this was  a basic black couple.  So instead of the pastor telling them all to kiss his backside and the backsides of all the saints throughout all the ages, he gave in and officiated over the wedding elsewhere in order to save his job. Now maybe they don’t make pastors the way they used to, but as I was taught the word of God is the same yesterday, today and forever,  I thought that Galatians 1:10 still applied: For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Guess I was wrong.   

When ever something blows up in “the world”, I go visit Christianforums.com to see what the Christian view point is regarding politics or current events.  I’m almost always saddened by what I read there.  I made a recent trip over there to see what the commentary was around Ferguson. There are always opposing voices on both sides of an issue, and they have trolls just like every other forum, but to see someone argue intelligently as to why we (black people) should be feared (we are huge, violent, and own the sucker punch apparently) is disturbing to say the least. It bothered me to see some of the mindset that Mike Brown couldn’t have been redeemed.  Forgiveness and redemption are throughout the bible.  Forgiveness is not just a get out of jail hell free card when we have wronged someone. We are taught to forgive, as we have been forgiven by Christ.  So it strikes me as odd that while Paul persecuted and killed Christians, and was worthy to go on and be a leader in the early church, Mike brown stole some cigars and is  only worthy and deserving of the 6 shots he received, even if the officer in the situation wasn’t aware of it at the time. This is not to cast dispersion on the site, it’s a good place overall. I’ve asked for and received prayer there, and submitted questions to the ask a Chaplin section, and received very helpful replies. Also, as I said there is opposing views to balance out the bad. It just bothers me that (some) people who are my brothers and sisters in Christ (according to the bible, if not in their own minds) truly believe black people are superhuman, bullet proof, rowdy, violent machines and everyone should fear us coming for your wallets and your daughters at knife point.

In light of all this,  I’d like to see an effort on behalf of pastors who have a national and international audience address these issues.  Reprimand the members who would other wise look down upon and separate themselves from or even seek to harm or discriminate against other members who are all of the same Body.  Get us to stop cutting ourselves, and doing harm to the body of Christ. I’d like them to tell the youth why the church is not outdated, and black youth specifically why it still applies to them. (A word of warning:  Young people have a BS detector that is unmatched in this universe. They know when someone is being real, when someone is speaking on what they truly believe,  and when someone is just spewing talking points because it is what they are expected to say. They are also highly observant when it comes to disparities in how they and others around them are treated, and will write someone off with the quickness who is being less than genuine.)  

Now, I may come off sounding as ignorant as those who question “Where is the outrage about black on black crime?” Who assume because they haven’t seen it, there is none. (Though that is a separate, made up issue,  the existence of such crime does not justify or nullify the existence brutality at the hands of official police authority). Perhaps there had been an effort to discuss race, and I just haven’t seen it. I am not as avid a watcher of television ministries as I have been in the past, and it’s quite possible I missed it. I don’t recall anyone speaking out on race since Fred Price, and even he said he got flack and lost relationships over it. So if you have seen such a sermon, or your pastor has had such discussion please share, as  I’d like my hope renewed. My faith in God is absolute. His servants? Not so much.

~~~~~~~

 

Comments about Ferguson made by clergy I have seen so far:

TD Jakes:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bishop-td-jakes/a-fathers-cry-for-justice_b_5691027.html

TD Jakes daughter, Sarah:

http://sarahjakes.com/ferguson/

 

I thought I had seen a video response posted of Fred Price Jr. speaking on Ferguson. I was planning to watch it later, but I am unable to find it, and searching turned up nothing.

I  came across this just as I was going to post this blog piece. He gets it, I think:
http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/st.-louis-archbishop-the-issue-is-bigger-than-ferguson-america/

 

~~~~~~~

 

Scripture references used:

Galatians 6:9 Matthew 5:39  Isaiah 63:9  Jeremiah 29:11 Galatians 3:28 1 John 4:20-21
John 13:34-35 1 John 2:9-11 1 John 3:15  Galatians 6:7 Luke 6:45  Matthew 12:34
Proverbs 14:12  Romans 12:21 Hebrews 4:12 Galatians 1:10

Get Your Read On! Resources for Free E-books!

March 19, 2013
Photo courtesy of Roch Public Library.

Photo courtesy of Roch Public Library

On various sites I frequent I often post links to free e-books, but that can be very time consuming and no guarantee my interest will match the masses at large. Consequently, I decided to do a comprehensive post of the sites I frequent and info on ways to find free and bargain e-books. For sites that also have a twitter account, that is often the easiest way to keep track of books as they normally update their twitter feeds as books are posted to the main site. Most sites I visit post kindle books,  but I have a couple of nook options below as well.

Free Book Dude:

http://www.freebookdude.com/

http://twitter.com/FreeBookDude

Free and bargain Christian books:

http://www.inspiredreads.com/

https://twitter.com/InspiredReads

Zimmu:

http://www.zimmu.com/

http://twitter.com/zimmubooks

The E-reader Cafe posts 3-4 times a day and tends to have more full length books:

http://www.theereadercafe.com/

http://twitter.com/TheeReaderCafe

The main Free Daily Books site posts free and bargain books, the twitter feed just posts the free books:

http://www.freebookshub.com/

http://twitter.com/freedailybooks

Digital Ink:

http://digitalinktoday.com/

http://twitter.com/DIGITALinktoday

ManyBooks:

http://manybooks.net/

Kindle Spice romance and erotica:

http://kindlespice.com/

http://twitter.com/KindleSpice

Smut Post erotica (often hardcore):

http://twitter.com/SmutPost

Free Par-tay  Mostly romance, some young adult. If you sign up for their email list, once or twice a month they will email you when they have their free book promo.  It’s normally several authors who sell through Amazon for kindle, they agree to make their books free for 3-4 days and link back to the free par-tay site. Also following the links in the email will enter you into a drawing for an amazon.com gift card:

http://www.freeebookpartay.com/

Other Freebie Resources:

http://hunt4freebies.com/free-magazines/nook-books/

http://hunt4freebies.com/free-magazines/kindle-ebooks/

http://dealsandfree.com/forum/forumdisplay.php/21-Free-E-Books

Mobile read is an e-book reader community forum. They have help and support for all models of e-readers. They also have an author section where author’s often will post when their books are going on sale and a Freebies section that posts books as they become available for free.

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/

All major book sites also tend to have free books also. You can normally do a search or pick a category and sort price low to high. Often when a book is free on one site, it will become free on the other sites.

Kobo books:

http://www.kobobooks.com/free_ebooks

Sony Reader Store:

https://ebookstore.sony.com/

http://twitter.com/SonyReaderStore

OmniLit:

http://www.omnilit.com/

http://twitter.com/OmniLit

Smashwords will have e-books in all formats suitable for nook, kindle and other e-readers:

http://www.smashwords.com/

Scribd:

http://www.scribd.com/

All Romance:

http://www.allromanceebooks.com/

http://twitter.com/allromance

Google Books:

https://play.google.com/store/books

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-eBooks/

Amazon has a top 100 free under most categories. I will add books I’m interested in to my wish list and check it regularly to see if the price has dropped.

Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/free-nook-books

Barnes and Noble’s blog usually gives away a free book every friday:

http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/The-NOOK-Blog/bg-p/Unbound

Outside the USA/Canada?

http://ebook.com/shop/search?term=free

Also check your local library. Most have the overdrive service which can download to most e-readers. Many e-readers often have an overdrive app built in.

Need an ereader and can’t decide which one to buy?

Check online reviews. Visit Good E-reader for comprehensive reviews. http://goodereader.com/blog/

http://twitter.com/Goodereader

See also: Mobile reader http://www.mobileread.com/forums/

E-reader King:

http://www.ereaderking.com/

https://twitter.com/eReaderKing

The E-reader King twitter feed hasn’t had any recent activity, but the main site still has lots of good info.

Cnet is always a good standby:

http://reviews.cnet.com/e-book-readers/

If all else fails, search for the device you are interested in on youtube. There will often be hands-on video reviews.

http://www.youtube.com/

Finally, if you don’t have an e-reader, but have a smart phone or tablet, you may have a kindle or nook app available in your app catalog.

Also both Amazon and Barnes and Noble have free e-reader software so you can read from your PC or laptop:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_pc_mkt_lnd?docId=1000426311

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/nook-for-pc/379003591/

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/nook-for-web/379003594/

Happy Reading!!

Pregnancy from “Legitimate” rape: God’s will? My two cents…

October 25, 2012

By now you’ve probably heard the latest ruckus over another GOP hack presuming to know what is best for every woman in America, possibly the world. Back in August, it was Todd Akin with his “legitimate rape”  comment, where he asserted that women have the innate ability to prevent unwanted pregnancy if they are actually, really, truly, LEGITIMATELY being raped.  Thousands of years on the planet, billions of rapes since the inception of mankind who knew that all this time women held the key to preventing unwanted pregnancies?  Got raped and got pregnant? Well you ENJOYED it, you slut you. So not only are women being held responsible for the rape (wrong place, wrong time,  inappropriate clothing, no male chaperone, you didn’t say “No!” like you REALLY meant it, or you did but you didn’t MEAN it) but now we also responsible for not being able to control our biology. I’ve yet to learn if a man rapes a woman and he WANTS her to become pregnant, if his biology overrules her biology, you know with the menfolk being superior and the ultimate authority and all, but I digress.

After Akin I thought I’d heard it all, but this week Richard Mourdock took it one step further. To add to the concept that if a pregnancy results from a rape, it was not “legitimate”, come to find out  it’s God’s will, too.  Mourdock said, “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

As a Christian,  and a woman, I’ve also struggled over the desire to please God and be a “good” Christian, and the desire to control my own destiny, my own body and apply biblical principles to modern issues. It’s has not always been easy. Even if I’ve not been able to live it fully,  I was  taught, and I believe,  1Corinthians 6:19-20:

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

That passage deals with sexual immorality, but the principle has been used and applied to other facets of the Christian life.  Then there is Jeremiah 1:5:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

And let us not forget Psalm 139:13-16:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,  I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Now to be fair, I believe Mourdock when he later said that he meant the pregnancy was God’s will, not the rape. We are taught, and I believe,  that God, though not the source of evil,  will use evil done to us for our benefit and can take the bitterness out of a situation. As Roman 8:28 states:  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  I’ll get back to that in a moment, but first I’d like  submit to you a few things for your consideration:

First, if we go by biblical standards, death of a child before it was fully formed and able to survive on it’s own was not considered murder.  In Exodus 21:22 When men have a fight and hurt a pregnant woman, so that she suffers a miscarriage, but no further injury, the guilty one shall be fined as much as the woman’s husband demands of him, and he shall pay in the presence of the judges. If a fetus dies before being fully formed and able to live outside a woman’s body, it was a fine, not a capital offense such as murder would have required. So according to scripture, abortion would not be murder. (Note: not everyone agrees that this is the proper interpretation of this scripture) I think the partial birth abortions qualify, but not the standard ones that are performed. Since the bible says the life is in the blood there has been some saying that life begins when blood forms in the fetus, but that was never the traditional view for Jews or Christians. Traditionally life began with the first breath. In Gen 2:7 man was fully formed, but didn’t become alive until the breath of God entered. …then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. According to scripture you are not a living human being until you draw your first breath and your soul enters. Now people say, “well that was then, now we have modern technology and we know when the heart starts beating, ” and so on and so forth. Either the bible is infallible or it’s not.  God created man. Our biology is not new to Him. He didn’t need ultrasounds to be created to figure out when the heart starts beating.  You mean to tell me He didn’t know how what He put together worked? Any other time science is opposed to God, but now they want to use technology. I’m not saying I agree or disagree, I just wish they’d be consistent.

Second, God is not powerless. God, we are taught,  is all-powerful and  “all knowing”.  He has seen the end from the beginning. Though He allows us free will, He knows what we are going to do before we know we are going to do it. He knows who will live and when, and who will die. If it is meant for someone to live, they WILL live, against all odds: Moses had a purpose. When Pharoh ordered all newborn Hebrew sons killed, not only was Moses spared, he was raised in Pharoh’s household.  Jesus had a purpose. When King Herod ordered all the male children in Bethlehem to be killed, God warned Joseph in a dream, warned the wise men via an angel, and got Jesus to safety.  Man cannot thwart the divine will of God. If you have any fear regarding this, you underestimate God.

Now,  I do believe that God can turn any bad situation around.  I believe all things work together for good. If ever in any situation I have cause to give council, it will be on the side of life. I’m pro-choice not pro-abortion.  Religious upbringing aside,  if there is anyway possible to have the birth brought to term, then that is my preference.  There is adoption, and other family members who will often step up and provide a home. I’m not naive enough to believe though that another woman is mentally stable and  has the support and/or resources to make that choice. Nor do I believe that if she makes the choice to end a pregnancy that it could be done lightly under ANY circumstances, let alone after having been raped.

First, there is the trauma and anger over the rape. Assuming the woman reported it and was believed (and not blamed), she may not have a support network who can help, or the ability and resources to seek counseling. She not only often has to deal with the unfounded shame of the rape (the meme it was her fault),  but then have the additional trauma of a daily reminder as her body changes and she is forced to carry with her a part of her rapist,   and the shame (though not as prevalent today) of an out of wedlock pregnancy. If she was married and someone raped her, she has to deal with all of this and try to keep her marriage together.  I’ve yet to hear men speak of how they would deal if their wives were raped and became pregnant, how they would feel about keeping and raising the child.  Often the ones the most vocal about restricting a woman’s rights, are the most hypocritical when they are in a situation where an abortion is to their benefit. You abuse it, but when it is their wife, their daughter, their sister, their mistress, then it is necessary.

Second, there is the economic impact. Gone are the days where Doc Johnson stopped by to make the delivery and then the stay-at-home-wife’s mother and friends helped with the care until she could get back on her feet tending house. It cost’s thousands to have a child. Married couples with good planning and insurance struggle with the expense. And contrary to popular belief, a woman doesn’t get get raped and then hop up and go on about her merry way as though it is an everyday occurrence.  So assuming the rape victim doesn’t get fired for missing days as a result of her trauma, and has good health insurance since the GOP wants to end medicaid and Obamacare , and even the contraception that could have possibly prevented the pregnancy, she and therefore the child, could end up in poverty. Also since the GOP also wants to end programs that can help women get out of poverty, such has food stamps, headstart, pell grants etc.,  they will most likely STAY in poverty. Wealthy women have always had a few more options.  Whether it is being sent/going away to give birth, or traveling where medical procedures are legal, they have the resources to minimize  negative outcomes  of unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.  (Side note: If you actually think there is a majority of women using abortion as birth control after the fact, make sure actual birth control is available. I know religious folks hate anyone getting freaky outside of marriage but newsflash, this behavior is not new and not everyone is Christian where they should be held to biblical standards in the first place.)

It is not my intention to give anyone a “free pass” for any behavior. However I realize that every situation is different and none of them are as cut and dried as men trying to dictate reproductive  policy seem to think they are.  I’ve not even touched on situations where there is incest or the rape victim is a minor. I can’t say whether it is right or wrong for someone to end their pregnancy. If she doesn’t will the child grow up abused, unloved, poor or on a path to prison? Even two parent homes have this outcome. Will they be they discover the cure for cancer or be the next Barack Obama? Who knows. All I know is that it is a personal decision.  One between a woman, her doctor and God.  I respect the views of Mourdock and others who wish to preserve life.  I agree with the need to do so, though I believe this is better served with preventing the “need” for an abortion. (Education, contraceptives, family planning, programs to help once a child is born) I just don’t respect the way they go about it, forcing others to share their views, when they have no clear authority, moral or otherwise, to do so. God gives free will, I don’t know why the GOP is hell bent on trying to legislate it away.

There is no “war” against women

April 11, 2012

War by definition is an open conflict between two or more parties. One may have more and better resources or be more strategic, but  everyone generally  has a good idea of what’s going on, knows they’re in a war and acts or reacts accordingly. Most women are just now being made aware of some of the awful legislation being passed during the last 2-3 years, and are still not aware that it is part of a concerted effort across the 50 states.  A better analogy when it comes to this onslaught against women’s rights would be shooting fish in a barrel. The fish being our basic rights and freedoms and the shooters being politicians seeking to push more of a religious ideal, rather than acting on a political mandate to meet the desires of a majority of their constituents. Oh, and instead of using ammo, they’re using dynamite and blowing our democracy all to hell.

Most of the rights under fire are in relation to our health and reproductive choices. There is the bid to redefine rape. Some want to make it legal to kill doctors who provide abortions.  Others want hospitals to let  women die rather than provide an abortion that would save their life.  Not to mention allowing doctors to lie to women about their health and the health of their unborn child if they think it would prevent a woman from choosing to abort.  Media Matters has a list of more, but I don’t think it is a comprehensive list. I was somewhat taken aback when a t.v. pundit referred to some of these actions as treating women like “second class citizens”, as I’ve always associated that term with treatment toward racial groups,  but after Wisconsin got rid of their equal pay law, I think it might be appropriate.

The Catholic Church says contraception is against God’s will, but viagra is not. Rick Santorum says contraception is a license to get buck wild outside of marriage. I guess no married couples hold off having kids to when they can be responsible and afford to take care of them properly. Man cannot thwart the will of God. If you are meant to be born, you will be.  I’ll take Rick, the rest of the GOP and the Catholic Church seriously when they propose restricting viagra. I call on the republican members of congress to propose an amendment to the ACA and modify their own healthcare insurance polices so that viagra is covered only for married men who have not  had a vasectomy and whose wives are of child bearing age, uterus intact and no known infertility conditions and likewise for the Catholic Church to only cover viagra for married couples that meet that criteria.

I’m getting REALLY tired of men trying to regulate my and the rest of womankind’s “naughty” parts. It just brings to mind all the ways that women are supposed to be the sultry seductress causing “righteous” men to stumble.  They are never responsible for their own actions. The devil made them do it. Like they need any help from us or him. I’m tired of all the language around all these bills implying women are vapid, devious, can’t make their own (sound) decisions, are willing to call rape at the drop of a hat and desire to use abortion as a form of birth control. We can and have the right to make our own decisions to decide and provide for our futures. At least for the time being.  My question is: If God gives free will, why are men trying to take it away?

Make Thanksgiving Easier!

November 23, 2011

Just a quick common sense post.

Keep a Master List.

If you are like me, you tend to make the same dishes each holiday. I don’t always use recipes though, and so trying to remember everything off the top of my head can be hit or miss in my ole age. I have each dish I normally prepare, with a list of the ingredients I use saved in an email. All I have to do is print it up and cross off everything I have on hand. If you have a smart phone with shopping list apps, it’s even easier. Don’t forget to include necessities such as paper towels, foil, etc..

Start with a clean kitchen sink, counters and an empty dishwasher or dish rack.

This will help you keep your kitchen clean as you go. Wash as you go, and/or stow away dishes in the dishwasher. If you wash before the food dries, clean up is quick, and there will be no piles or clutter to stress you out. For more help in managing the holidays, visit http://www.flylady.net

Make sure you know where the basics are.

Cooking used to be stressful for me because I spent more time LOOKING for what I needed than I did actually cooking. I make sure I have my rolling pin, measuring spoons and cups and other odds and ends at the ready. I’m not super organized, but I have all my baking stuff in one drawer so I can put my hands on what I need.

Cook what you can the day before.

I plan on making the pumpkin bread, pies, potato salad tonight. I will prep the candied sweet potatoes and mac n’ cheese so I only have to bake them. The only major things I will have to do is the turkey, dressing, and collard greens.

Enlist help and keep the young ones from underfoot and everyone out of the kitchen

If you can delegate, delegate. Anyone can chop onions, celery and bell peppers or wash dishes. My nieces and nephews are living with me “temporarily”, so I let them watch but if they get in the way I give them a job to do: folding towels, cleaning off tables, carrying things, putting things away. Coloring books are your friends. As are batman dvd’s. Tonight will be pizza night.

 
Take care of yourself and get plenty of rest.

Pace yourself. It’s better to take a 2 hr nap so you can work quickly and refreshed, than to work steadily through at a snails pace, too tired to enjoy the process. I know sometimes rest isn’t an option, though. Avoid sugar, once the high wears off, you are worse off than before. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. As a last resort, I like Five Hour Energy Drinks.

 
Enjoy the Day!

The holidays are times to celebrate and reaffirm family ties. Not everything is going to be perfect, but don’t that that steal your joy. Let’s try to serve each other out of the love we have for one another. Also remember there are a lot of people who are hurting financially or who don’t have the loved ones with whom to share a traditional holiday meal. If you know someone in that position, invite them over or take them a plate. Also consider making a donation to a local food pantry.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Dear Christian Fox News Viewers…

January 11, 2011

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…

Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people

This is an open letter to my fellow Christians. I’ve had most of this on my mind for a while, but the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and 18 others this week, finally made me sit down and compose my thoughts.  Most of this is random so forgive me if I ramble.

You may or may not identify as conservative, you may or may not be a Fox News viewer. Fox News isn’t the issue so much as how we consume, digest, and react to current events in the world, and whether or not it lines up biblically as to what is expected of us as Christians. I use Fox News as an example mostly because they are seen as the news outlet for the “religious right”.  Much of the  anger I hear about tends to stem from stories they put forth with the notion that Christians and our nation are under siege via a concerted effort on the part of the present administration to put other faiths above Christians, or an effort to turn us away from being a “Christian Nation”.  Also because, in my opinion, they have been the source of much of the chaos, confusion and disinformation floating around in the political arena and spilling over into our daily lives.  What I’m about to say applies to all sources of information, not just Fox.

Now, you may already be put off. I’ve noticed a habit of automatically going on the defensive when it comes to discussing Fox News, however Fox News is not sacred. What they say is not gospel. We must be careful not to be deceived.  Not everyone who uses a Christian cause, or calls to rally Christians to a cause, has good intentions. If we are instructed to test and try the things of God (Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1, Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Matthew 7:14) then certainly it is not unreasonable to vet that which is of the world. It is our responsibility to use wisdom to discern truth.

The first thing I’d like to do is make a distinction between news and commentary.  As commentary can be used to manipulate us, it is important to make this distinction. I consider news to be “just the facts ma’am”:  Who, what, where, when, why and how. Just straight reporting. Commentary digests (hopefully) the facts, and then explains or interprets and basically puts out an opinion on those facts and can include thoughts as to what that means, opinions on motives or how you should react. Commentary can advance a personal agenda, issue a call for action, among other things, for good or for ill.  There is nothing wrong with commentary in and of itself. There are several news personalities who are also commentators whom I enjoy.  In the case of Fox News, the station is labeled “news” but much of what is said is commentary. The problem comes in when we cease to think for ourselves. I think we have gotten mentally lazy. I think sometimes we are so over worked and overwhelmed that we want someone to tell us what happened and what to think about it. There is no harm in getting counsel to form opinions and make good judgements. The danger lies in allowing others to think for us, therefore controlling our minds and actions, taking away our free will.

The next thing I’d like to do is cover some basics as to how we are to walk in the world.

First, we are to fear not.  The God we serve is not a God of fear. In the bible we are told over and over to “fear not”. (There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18; The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1)

God is not the source of fear. We are not to live under a spirit of fear, which is a form of bondage. Jesus died to free us from bondage. Therefore, if anyone is using fear to get results, this is manipulation, some might say Satanic manipulation. This is not to say there are not things to have concern or even alarm over, this is not to say we should be passive in the face of evil or true threats. It is to say we need to think clearly and rationally, which a fearful mind cannot do. Our nation is so ginned up on fear, that it is being burnt out. By the time something shows up that we should truly be alarmed about, we will either be too numb or over saturated with fear about other things to discern it.

We are to be known for the love we have for one another. ( We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 1 John 3:14; If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:20;  A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34)

The God we serve is a God of Abundance. He created all things, He is the Source of all things. He is the source of the blessings in our lives.  He delights in blessing us. (The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10; Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17;  Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. Psalm 40:5; For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11) We do not need to fear lack, or have fear of someone depriving us of the good God has for us.

We are expected to do good for others. We are expected to look after the poor.  We are expected to be kind to strangers/foreigners. (This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3;  if there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks. Deuteronomy 15:7; You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land. Deuteronomy 15:10,11)

We are to seek wisdom and knowledge.  We are to value learning, study and be curious about the world around us. (Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7; The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace. Proverbs 3:35;  He that gets wisdom loves his own soul: he that keeps understanding shall find good. Proverbs 19:8;  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you shall be no priest to me: seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children. Hosea 4:6 this refers to knowledge of God but the principle applies to all things. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20; Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. Proverbs 12:1; An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge Proverbs 18:15)

One thing that has been disturbing to me lately is the apparent embrace of  ignorance by Christians. There seems to be an almost concerted effort to keep us fearful, ignorant, and anti-science. I’ve seen people say we should be distrustful of anyone who speaks a foreign language. Schools in some states are eliminating “ethnic studies”. There has been an attack on science, as though it is in conflict with Gods word. I wasn’t raised this way. I don’t know where this meme came from or when it originated, but it is so main-stream that even non-Christians have taken note. Let me first say, there is nothing in the creation that will disprove the Creator. If you fear this, see my earlier take on fear, and examine your faith. The bible says that nature declares the glory of God. My mom always told me that science was man’s way of discovering what God had already created. God is a God of order. He is the Creator of both spiritual and physical laws. Being a God of order, it only makes sense that there are laws that can be observed, patterns that can discerned. As God is constant, His laws are constant. Actions and reactions can be studied, and reproduced. (science).   God had given the Jews many laws and rituals, some were cleanliness rituals that included the washing of hands in running water. I read once that in the 14th century when the plague was prevalent, the Jews were not as greatly affected because of the laws that they followed regarding cleanliness. As we advanced, through science , we learned about germs, bacteria and viruses that are naked to the human eye, but which can cause illness and often be avoided by basic hygiene.  Science saves lives. Science does not negate the benefit of God’s wisdom. It can even allow us to understand it, and through this understanding, all can benefit, Christian and non-Christian alike. God is a Creator. We are children of God in His image. We have the mind of Christ. How can we not be creative, build and discover new things? Christians, if no one else, should be able to observe and break down the structure of the world to it’s smallest molecule and explain to the rest of the world the marvelous order of God.

The great commission that we have is to go out into all the world and preach the gospel of Christ.  How do you do that if you cannot communicate? Do we wait until others learn our language? Americans in general can be very arrogant. We expect to be catered to, we expect to have a level of comfort and acceptance. I’m guilty of this, too. Most missionaries go out and live among a people. They learn their ways, earn their trust. Let their character be revealed, do good, (including bringing lifesaving science and medical help) and share God.  Even Paul did this back in his day.  (As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.  We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-9) Stop fearing people. We can’t share God if we don’t get to learn and  know one another, we can’t get to know one another if we separate ourselves.

We are to pray for our leaders. (I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness 1 Timothy 2:1-2) One of the most hateful things I had seen was the call for Christians to pray “for” President Obama using Psalm 109:8. I’ve yet to see someone explain how this represented the love of God, or was in line with the meaning of the original scripture.  One of the most idiotic things I’ve seen was the call for Christians to pray for Obama, a self-professed Christian, to give up his Muslim ways and convert to Christianity. Actually, that is tied with Obama having to be stopped because he is the anti-christ.  Let me start by saying that NO ONE IS BORN CHRISTIAN. Christian is not a race or nationality. Your parents Christianity will not grant you salvation by birth. Being born American does not equate to being born Christian. We all must accept Christ on our own. That said, there is no stamp on the forehead that identifies one as a Christian. We know each other by our fruits, but the only thing you have is someone’s word that they have accepted Christ. President Obama says he is Christian. He may not be “Christian enough” for your satisfaction, but that is your problem not his. Running around with a cross pin, bible in hand and a fish sticker on your car does not make one Christian.  I do pray for President Obama. I pray that he and his family are protected. I pray that he is given and heeds Godly wisdom, and that decisions that are made come out to be the best for our country and in God’s will, even if I cannot at first see the wisdom or logic in them myself.  Now for years every bible prophecy expert worth their salt has said the anti-christ will emerge from the European union.  Suddenly Obama shows up and he’s the anti-christ. Ok. Let’s assume he is. Now, tell me what we as Christians are supposed to do about it. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

If  he is the anti-christ, we can’t destroy him. There is a bunch of ugliness that is foretold which cannot be changed, the coming of the anti-christ is one of those things. If you truly believe he is the anti-christ, that means you should be doubling down on your efforts to bring the word of God to the world. This is not to mean we are not to resist evil in the world, we should always work for good, but fearing the anti-christ, like fear in general,  is another one of those things that should not be on our agenda.

We are to spread the gospel of Christ to help others be reconciled to God and represent the love of God to others. (And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Mark 16:15,16) One thing I don’t think many Christians recognize is the amount of harm that has been done to people in the name of Christianity. Whether or not the perpetrators were “true Christians” can be argued until the end of time, but the fact remains, there are people who have been scarred for life because of experiences at the hands of Christians or other representatives of our faith. Whether it is the molestation of children by priests, psychological scars from a legalistic guardian that didn’t understand the love of Christ, someone who had the word “beaten” into to them, punished for not learning scripture or any other number other reasons, for some the church equals pain. It takes time to get past this, sadly some never will. You have your own experience that may be glorious. They also have theirs which may be the stuff of nightmares.  How many homosexuals see the bumper sticker “GOD HATES FAGGOTS” or hear “kill the gays”? God doesn’t hate “faggots” or anyone else. This is against scripture. (For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16;  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8)  He hates SIN.  Sin keeps us separated from and out of fellowship with God. What incentive does one have to seek God if they already think up front that He won’t accept them? There is not one sin greater than another. You are not less sinful if you are cheating with someone of the same sex vs “bumping uglies” man to man.   “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”  Stop acting like there are degrees of sin. Either you miss the mark or you don’t.   You are not helping bring the lost to Christ so stop. Just stop. That goes triple for Westboro Church.

Words have power. We can also know a persons character by the words they use. (You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34; The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45;  The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips. Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 12:23,24; Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21; There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18; Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29; I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. Matthew 12:36-37)  I saved this for last but it is really what is uppermost in my mind at the moment. Over the past 2-3 years I have seen an onslaught of lies, hatred, bigotry, racism, etc. spewing from our national discourse, with Christians leading the chorus. Most of the outcry was based on outright lies and distortions, lies and distortions that could have easily been rebuked with a 30 second google search, or the viewing of an actual news report sans commentary. I’ve seen calls for “second amendment remedies”, “the ballot or the bullet”, calls to water the tree of liberty with the blood of our elected representatives. We’ve seen the emergence of a “tea party” who say they are modeled on the original tea party (no taxation without representation) against higher taxes. Well, if we are in fact paying fewer taxes than at anytime ever before, and have elected representation, they  may have legitimate reasons to organize, but it can’t be for that reason.  I have to take breaks from the news at time, and I don’t watch the shows that would bombard me 24/7 with hatred and fear.  We’ve been asked not to “politicize” the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, but she was a political target and as the majority of this hate is rooted and being spread in a political arena, to gain political advantage, I don’t think we can or even should separate it. There is a saying:

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

We know that the repetition of affirmations work. We know that reading the bible renews our mind. We have come out against rap music and violent video games because being exposed over and over can have an effect on our mindsets. Why is the hatred and calls to violence uttered by commentators on Fox News and other right ring radio stations day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, any different? You know someone by the fruit they bear. (Love, joy, peach, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) Well Satan (the accuser of the brethren) has traits too.  (Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8; The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy John 10:10) Use your minds. Are you listening to a news report, or a list of criminal charges?

Extra Random:

~We are stewards of the earth. Yes, God said he would not destroy the world by flood again, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have the free will to make it virtually uninhabitable in the mean time. I’m not against oil drilling, but if we don’t drill responsibly we will destroy the food supply. Bee’s are dying. Birds are dropping out of the sky. The nature we have been entrusted to protect (not worship) is being destroyed. Whole towns have poisoned drinking water,  yet we want to be against epa and other  regulations that would keep us safe.  The oil is not going to last forever. Most agree that every dollar we spend is helping terrorists who want to destroy us, yet we are against green energy. Why would we reasonably be against something that would create jobs,  meet our needs without damaging the earth, and keep us independent so that we can actually remain sovereign since we profess to value sovereignty so much? God gave us other resources: wind, water, sun. Why not use them?

~Jobs are scarce. When this happens people blame other people. We become cliquish. God is abundant, He can supply our needs, and I truly believe if He has a blessing for me no one can block it.  That said we also need to be conscious of what is going on in our country. The jobs are leaving our country, and every effort to correct this is being opposed by (mostly GOP) congress members. The 9/11 bill for first responders was not passed before because it closed a tax loop hole for corporations that send jobs overseas.  It only passed after they found another way to pay for it. We need know why our representatives are looking out for the welfare of other countries but not our own. Well, we already know, it’s about money. We have a problem and blaming the average fellow American is not going to work. Our representatives aren’t working on our behalf to make our lives better.

~Our representatives are elected by the entire USA, not just the Christian electorate. They are there to serve all of us. There are some agendas they are pushing toward that I don’t agree with. There are some things going forward that I do think could cause spiritual repercussions for our country, however it is not our place to subject non-Christians to a code of conduct of a God they don’t serve. This does not mean we should not fight for our values, or fight to keep a moral conduct, or raise our children to think that anything goes,  but we need to realize that we aren’t the only faith being served by our government. We need to stay out of people’s bed rooms. Their sins, like our sin, is no one’s business but God.

~We also need to get a grip on some of the freedoms we have let get stripped away as a result of the terrorist attacks on our country.

I’m sure I’ll have other thought’s later, but I want to stress to you to examine what is presented to you. Even trusted sources get it wrong once in a while.  No man is perfect. Pastors fall into sin. Even those with good intentions can use scripture to their own ends. Weigh what you see and what you hear against the word of God, be mindful of what you expose yourself to. If your thoughts are fearful, you don’t just stop thinking them. Replace the fear with the word of God so that you may see and hear clearly. I strongly suggest a study of Galatians: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.


Words Matter: Speak Life To Your Children

September 26, 2010

This is one of my pet peeves, and it applies to black men and women equally.  Black women: do not sit down in front of your sons, day in and day out, talking about how black men are not worth shytt. Black men: do not sit down in front of your daughters day in and day out, talking about how black women ain’t worth shytt. Hearing it over and over again will make this statement a fact, and sooner or later they are going to look in the mirror and realize that they too are a black man/ black woman and make the connection that therefore they must not be worth shytt either. Mom and dad said it so it MUST be true, right?? Black folx get beat up enough outside the home. Please make the home a sanctuary, something that edifies their spirit and self esteem and counteracts the negative messages that are out there in the world. I know everyone has had a bad experience, but why pass that baggage that can lead to self hatred and other issues on to your kids?

You might raise your son or daughter to be the exact opposite of every gripe you have about black men and/or women. If the mindset of men in general is that black women are only good for sex, when they set their sights on your daughter, that will be the attitude that they have toward her. If the mindset of women in general is that men are only good for money and paying bills, that is the mindset they will have when they set their sights on your son. These ideas do not serve us as a community. They hurt your sons and daughters. Even if you marry out and your children are mixed-race, often they will be recognized and categorized as black and will reap both the benefits, disadvantages and struggle of any other average black person.

I realize I’m being general, and that in individual relationships people can make themselves stand out, but IN GENERAL we are all lumped together as a people, and so collectively these social mindsets affect us all.

Every race has good and evil in it. No one race has a monopoly on virtue or vice. It is far more constructive to teach your child to recognize good, evil and HEALTHY relationships across color lines and not equate them to a skin color. They need to embrace good in whatever shade it manifests, and stand against evil in whatever shade it appears. Black doesn’t always have your back. White isn’t always out to get you. It doesn’t serve them to trust or distrust unconditionally based on race or gender.

Tyler Perry: My Two Cents

September 26, 2010

Everyone else on twitter has commented on Tyler Perry, I may as well also. RT @elonjames: Heh. | Dr. Boyce Watkins: “Are Tyler Perry Films Bad for Black America? No, They Are Not” – http://elonjam.es/f I commented on the article at the original site and decided to post it here also.

I can understand somewhat Spike’s (and other folks’) point, but the things that he accuses Tyler of, is the reason why I could never watch “School Daze”. Wannabe’s and Jiggaboo’s?? I understand he was using that to make a point, but the same principle applies.

The Madea character actually reminds me of my late Aunt. She was large, fierce, fiesty and loud, quoted bible scriptures (correctly), had a sharp tongue that could shred you to pieces, but a big heart that loved everyone. She often fed homeless and down on their luck folks. I don’t think I’m the only person who knows a “Madea”, and it makes me wonder is what the real issue is: is it a poor description/representation of black life, or an embarrassing portrait of truth?

Tyler got his start with black plays. Black entertainment for black people. Now that the “world” is watching, some want to silence him. I have mixed feelings about it. I want black foks to be viewed positively and I know that the behavior of one tends to be applied to all, but blacks, like whites, are a diverse community.  Whites have their trailer park, “dumb and dumber” characterizations, as well as positive or ordinary roles. In order for us to be accepted as “just like everyone” we need to have diverse images as well. If we want to be judged individually, instead of collectively, we need to stop acting like a single black image or movie or action represents the collective. Put out a counter-image. I do realize “the world” still judges blacks and other minorities collectively, and I’m not totally open minded myself: I draw the line at the “hot ghetto mess” crap that BET was trying to put on the air at one time.  However, in order to diversify our image, we have to start to diversify our image. In real life, we have to accept people for their true selves: some are ghetto, some are high class, most are in-between.  Their accomplishments, or lack thereof, do not diminish or add to my stature.  I believe we gain personal freedom the more we come to realize this.

I often wonder if Tyler is going to have a “Dave Chappelle moment” where he walks away because he realizes that “the world” is laughing AT him, not with him. Regardless, he is giving jobs and exposure to blacks in an industry that is known to be hostile to us. In the past, blacks could only get roles as maids in the movies. Let him get a foot in the door, so he can drag others in with him, and then change the landscape. He’s only been at this (nation wide films, studio etc) for a few years. He has good mentors, like Oprah. I think eventually he will do very well and give even the naysayers something to be “proud” about.

A Girl Like Me

September 26, 2010

(Repost from my old yahoo blog)

It’s a sin to be ashamed of what you are.

~Annie, Imitation of Life

Black children, self-esteem and beauty standards. This subject matter is so exhaustive and correlates to so many different areas of our lives that I just didn’t know where to start. I am not going to even begin to try to touch upon everything, but I think this is an issue which needs to be bought to everyones attention.  Recently, a short film was made by a 16 year old African-American teen, Kiri Davis, on the subject matter of black girls and self image. For those of you who haven’t seen the video you can check it out here:

http://www.mediathatmattersfest.org/films/a_girl_like_me/

If you have children, daughters in particular, or have young children under the sphere of your influence please watch the video. In the film she gets reactions from other teens about their experiences and thoughts about being black. She also recreates the “doll test” initially conducted by Dr. Kenneth Clark, used in the desegregation case, Brown vs. Board of Education back in the 1950’s. In the “doll test” a child is presented with two dolls, a black doll and a white doll and asked which doll is the “good” or “nice” doll and which is the “bad” doll. In one scene a little girl is presented with the test and selects the black doll as the “bad” doll, and when asked, said it is bad because it is black, the other doll is nice because it is white. The she is then asked which doll looked like her. I tell you, my heart broke as she silently slid the black doll forward. Of the children Kiri worked with, 15 out of 21 preferred the white doll.

Being balanced, when children that age are presented with a choice, they may assume those are the only options. I would have preferred for her to have asked them if one of the dolls were good or bad, and then if they made that decision inquire as to why. The way the question was posed, the children may have thought one HAD to be good and one HAD to be bad. Even so, to see a black child say the black doll was bad, simply because it is black, is very disturbing. This is not simply about a black child wanting to play with a white doll, its about why. If its a preference, or they just like the doll, thats fine. If its because they think to be black is ugly or “bad”, then we have a problem.

It all starts at home, though. We have access to and the responsibility to shape the minds of our children, so when they are faced with outside images that would paint black folks in a negative light, there is a frame of reference that has been internalized to offset that. We need to be able to help them understand the images, attitudes and stereotypes they will be faced with. We have to do this, society at large is not looking our for our children.

We also need to remember that children take in EVERYTHING. Just because they have not been explicitly told that black is “bad”, that doesn’t mean they have not come to certain conclusions. How are you referring to other blacks? Yourself? Are you something that needs to be fixed: Is your hair “too nappy”, skin too dark? I know some people who will not go out in the sun for fear of getting dark. I know a woman who was told by her mother not to bring a dark-skinned man home because “we are trying to progress and improve the race, not regress”. She was told she could date them but not reproduce with them. I’ve read experiences recounted of lighter siblings being favored over darker siblings, and times the darker ones were completely ignored.

I have come across similar issues in other arenas. Author Joanne Cornwell, in her book “That Hair Thing” discusses black beauty, and it’s affect on our lives and relationships. She noted that when she attends movies and a dark skinned actress comes on the screen how someone always says that she is ugly, and will talk negatively about their features: wide noses, nappy hair, thick lips, dark skin. She also noted that in the instances she was able to get a look at the person hurling the insults, they often had similar features. I’m sorry folks, but this is self hate no matter how you slice it.

Cornwell poses the questions: “What have we become when the physical traits of our women are acceptable objects of ridicule in our culture? What have we become, when our women feel that covering up or correcting nature is the only way to make themselves lovable, or even acceptable, both to men and to other women?” She calls this an “aesthetic crises“, where to a greater or lesser degree, we have lost our ability to see, believe in, and be empowered by the physical beauty that is unique to our own kind. She continues,“Although it is related to other external factors, I believe it has more to do with how we experience two things in our lives that are basic to all human beings. These are Beauty and Truth. Our experience of these two forces affects us through out our lives on a very deep level. As humans, we have a strong natural urge to connect the two, but as African Americans, too often in our daily lives, Beauty is not related to what is True for us at all…”

She goes on to state that growing up on media images given to us by Hollywood, we have internalized the images that are celebrated as beauty in mainstream culture, creating what is considered “normal” for the standard of beauty, stating “normalcy [is]a precondition to beauty, and our task is to ensure that our true images get included in what is considered normal.”

Going forward, tell your daughters they are beautiful. Also teach them that they don’t have to hate others to celebrate themselves. It’s not about being “better than”. As one woman put it, you “don’t want her subconsciously associating beauty, refinement, and ‘specialness’ solely with white skin.” Another puts it this way “its not about denying the differences, its about not making what is different bad, about not being inherently bad because you exist.”

You can expose your child to positive black images. If you conduct the doll experiment, and your child has a preference, find out why. I don’t recommend taking your child’s toys away if they do not choose how you want them to. That will only make matters worse. Just teach them. Teach them to love themselves, and each other. Teach them their value, that they are “enough” in and of themselves, and show them their beauty. In one forum a member stated: “When I was young, I told my mom I wanted a white doll. She politely turned me around and asked ‘Are you white?’ ‘Are your parents white?’ Of course I replied no. She told me she wanted me to have a doll that was as beautiful as I am. I never wanted or asked for a white doll since.”

The children are our future. Give them the tools they need to create a happy and prosperous one which validates their identity and helps them recognize their own power to be successful as their own person on their own terms.

Eddie Long Pt 2: We Are To Worship God, Not Man

September 25, 2010

As I was saying earlier, there is a rock star mentality in the Church now days, where church leaders are almost like celebrities. Jesus is the Rock Star, however you would not know that to go to many of the churches today. Often the pastor is the object of all the adoration. I have much respect and reverence for men and women of God. I like nothing more than to sit at the foot of someone who can dispense Godly wisdom. However we are to worship God, not the pastor. We always brag about our religion. We aren’t like the others, we don’t worship wooden or golden idols, we have a LIVING God. It sounds good, but human nature is human nature. We like to have an object of focus, so often the pastor has become the idol. God will not share His Glory, so it will never last long, but this is a common occurrence.

To the saints:  this is yet ANOTHER wake up call. Worship God not man. Do not go into despair, do not say to yourselves, “if a man as great as Bishop Long cannot follow the precepts of God, what hope is there for me?” This isn’t about Bishop Long’s relationship to God, it is about your own. If your spiritual stability is dependent on the spiritually stability of anyone but you and God, then you have problems. Men cannot solve these problems, seek God.

Likewise, do not be proudhearted and look down on Bishop Long. Just because you do not have a problem in a certain area, does not mean you do not have other strongholds. ANYONE can sin. In fact, it’s just a matter of when and under what circumstances. You do not know anyone else’s history, or weaknesses or how they were tempted.

Now, this is the part where I get hate mail and accused of blasphemy.

Yes, I believe homosexuality is a sin. However, I do not believe it is any greater or lesser than any other sin. Do you lie, cheat on your spouse, have sex outside of marriage? Well, congratulations! Sin-wise you’re in the same boat as homosexuals.

While I do not believe a homosexual lifestyle should be encouraged or promoted, I also do not believe that those individuals should be singled out, discriminated against, marched against, violently attacked, stoned, or kicked out the church, etc.. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, but politically I can support civil unions. I don’t discount their love for one another. I’m not going to belittle them and tell them what they feel isn’t “real” because it isn’t love for someone of the opposite sex. I understand the reasoning that love is love, regardless of gender. I understand the confusion, despair and desire for approval when people ask, “If God is a God of love, how can He be against this?”  The bible says, “there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end leads to destruction.” I don’t know the reason it is sin, but it is, and I trust God enough to believe that it is sin for my benefit and not to keep me from experiencing something really good.

I think that the Church’s answer to homosexuality is to shame the individual. To get them to renounce what they see as a natural part of themselves, and if they can’t do that, then they ostracize them. After all, if they TRULY believed in God, REALLY had a heart after God, then they could put that part of themselves away, right? All they have to do is read the right scriptures, say the right prayers. If they can’t overcome it, then they are weak, it is THEIR fault. They just aren’t trying hard enough. How come the Church can understand, and often even condone, other forms of sin, but not the sin of homosexuality?  Easy: its not their weakness, not their poison.

Now, here is where the blasphemy comes in, or the calls for a padded room, depending on if you are a believer or not. I believe I had a revelation though, so I’m going to share it. I have no scriptural basis for this, just my own thoughts/opinion/personal revelation.

The first time I ever heard God speak, actually the second but the first time I realized Who it was, was several years ago. I was going through a very hard time. I had lost my job. I was depressed. I was preparing to leave the next day to go to Switzerland, as my sister had sent for me to get me out the States for a month or so. I was very emotional, and stopped at the store for a few things. Browsing the books I came across God.com by James Alexander Lanteaux. I read the cover liner and started crying. Driving home, God spoke a promise and a blessing to me. My first thought was, “Where did THAT come from? It wasn’t my thought, it was transposed over my thoughts. In my mind, but not my mind. Once I realized Who it was, my spirits lifted and gave me encouragement. I couldn’t stop smiling. I finally understood what the bible meant by the “still, small voice”. I really needed that word to keep me going. It did and still does encourage me.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the book was about James’ relationship with God, hearing God speak and obeying God.  Had I not had that experience of hearing from God at the time I bought the book, I would have dismissed it. You always hear people say, “God told me this, God told me that”.  Not having experienced it, I would always be like yeah…um…ok…as I back away a little, or if I believed them, I just couldn’t relate. I just figured I wasn’t spiritual enough. It hasn’t happened since, but it made my heart open to hearing and receiving the message of the book on a level I would not have appreciated otherwise.

Anyway, James was gay, and the book is about his struggle with obeying God and coming to terms with his sexuality. At one point in the book, he basically says, Jesus was tempted in all ways, so he knows Jesus will be with him. If the bible says He was tempted in all ways, then it was ALL ways. That stopped me right there. Did I believe that or not? I mean I’ve quoted the scripture before, but did I BELIEVE that Jesus understood MY temptations, let alone someone’s else’s homosexual ones? Also, I’m not a bible scholar by any means, but I was pretty sure I hadn’t heard about Jesus and the apostles getting extra cozy. I expected Him to be tempted sexually by women, after all he hung out with prostitutes, but tempted by men? I pondered this over and over again, trying to figure out where in the bible it says that Jesus was tempted by a man. I couldn’t get past that part of the book. So after a while, I pulled out the bible, and sat down, opened up the book, and my eyes fell on the passage: “John, the disciple whom Jesus loved.” I kid you not when I say the passage was practically highlighted.

Then things clicked.

I had heard a teaching from Joyce Meyer before about Peter and John, and Peter’s temper and how he angrily questioned Jesus about John when Jesus had foretold Peter about his (Peter’s) future death.  “Lord, but what of him?’ (meaning John)  Jesus replied: “If I want him to wait until I come, what is that to you? Your business is to follow me” (John 21:17-23) Peter’s question and his anger now made sense to me,  if in fact John was a temptation to Jesus. Now, I’m not saying that Jesus was a closet homosexual, and obviously Jesus DID NOT SIN with John or anyone else, otherwise he would not have been the perfect sacrifice for our sins. I understand how people in close working relationships can get into a emotional muddle, especially when spiritual things are involved and if people could understand that JESUS UNDERSTANDS the temptation, then that can make a huge difference to people struggling with homosexuality and other sins. Instead of hiding from Him, they would seek Him out.

The problem with the Church and homosexuality is that the CHURCH does not “understand” this temptation. For most, its not their weakness, not their poison. When it does come to light, in cases such as the catholic church and other prominent leaders, instead of shedding light on the situation, cleansing wounds, we go into denial and act like it doesn’t exist. Shame and sin continues to fester in the darkness. I don’t know the answer for how to resolve this. I do know there are many people hurting, rejected, condemned because of the treatment they have received at the hands of the CHURCH, the place they are supposed to get healed, not condemned and destroyed. We need to stop doing further damage to the people we are supposed to save. We can still embrace them as brothers and sisters in Christ while God works with them to bring about any changes needed in their lives. God can handle this.  Jesus brings freedom, not condemnation.


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