November 14, 2008

Shame on Who?

There is a saying. “ IF you get over on me once, shame one you. IF you get over on we twice, shame on me”.

But now the question that I am asking myself is what about time, 3 or 4…or even to the point of losing count??. Good Christian teaching is about forgiveness and redemption, but in the midst of all that, how many times do you really allow someone to have the chance to disappoint you. When is it appropriate for a good Christian to say, “I have had enough of this and I wont accept it any longer?”

I have known so many women who stayed in bad relationships for the reason of proving their Christianity by the ability to endure. Whenever I would speak to them about their situation, I would always talk about how a husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. This kind of love does not intentionally harm or hurt others. There is a huge tension between ideology and reality. I don’t know where the two make peace and meet in a way that is reasonable.

IF you look to the bible for the answers concerning forgiveness, you find the concept of forgiving someone 70x7. So you should forgive someone 490 times? I cant help but to think that the point here is that true forgiveness will eventually lose count, and not that you reach your breaking point of not being able to forgive someone after the number of their offenses reach this special number.

Human relationships require a lot of work, even in good times. So what do you do when this work is strained all the more by one of the people involved repeatedly hurting the other – whether it be intentionally or unintentionally? My challenge to the person receiving the hurt is always to reaffirm value in self. Christ love for the church is affirming. Christ love is healing. Christ love does no intentional harm.

There is no easy absolute answer to how or what to do. But what is true and sure is that to find the answer you have to look to Christ. For it is through Christ and His LOVE, that you find the answers and the strength to walk in the plan of God for your life and to find the LOVE that God wants you to have in your life.

I believe that a person who harms others will have to answer to God. But I also believe that a person who allows self to be treated any less than what God would have for the individual to receive, will also answer to God for not living up to the sacredness of being created in God’s own image. For God loved God’s own image enough to share that with each of us. God loves, because God’s Love started with God’s Self.

November 6, 2008

Reality Check

Mic test, mic test….123

Just want to send a brother and sister something to think about. This is an open wake up call to the Black Men of the United States of America. We are proud of the accomplishment of electing this country’s first African- American president, but there are the untold stories that will take place all across this country--- and that is what I am flashing the caution light concerning.

You see, now the bar has been raised, not only politically, but socially and familial-ly . We have an example standing before us of a successful, educated, happily married man. This is something that gives us great joy, but I don’t want to talk to you about ‘Joe the Plumber’ but instead I want to talk to you about ‘Raiquan the Jack of All Trades’. Before there was the example of Obama to follow, we lived with the efforts of the man who might not be able to fix it or afford to get it fixed, but could put some duck-tape on it so that it didn’t completely fall apart.

If it hasn’t started to happen yet, soon there will be sisters all over this country saying these word----“who do you think you are?…. you aint Barack Obama!”. This statement is inevitably going to be resonated across this country and possibly around the world.

We have to be careful what we say, not only because we may destroy someone, but also because we never know what kind of potential we need to be cultivating in this sensitive time when more people now than ever have ‘the audacity to hope’.

Some may never do any better than they are doing today, but I dare say that there are thousands, maybe even millions who have been inspired to make some personal changes in their own life, for the better. Now that we can see that there are limitless possibilities minds are shifting in ways that wont be seen right now, but will manifest in coming days.

As the newly elected President and his first family were waving to the crowd before Obama gave his speech, I thought about how this family is now the model by which America looks for its greatest expectations on so many levels. Michelle Obama has to have the fashion sense that will carry over on to many women in this country. ( I was not a fan of the red and black that she was wearing last night, by the way, but that is just my taste speaking). And the Obama daughters now represent the tweeners of country, and before they leave the White House we will watch them develop into teens.

So for the first time in American History, the life and times of African Americans can be view in a completely different light. But what about the rest of us/ U.S.? Just like Michelle Obama stayed with her husband through some hard years, when it would have made sense to leave, many women will have to decide now to endure the man they have, not only for economic reason in the midst of a bad economy, but also for reason that will vary from situation to situation.

As Michelle smiled and looked her newly headed for power husband in the eye, as they stood on that stage, I am sure that all of the X’s girlfriends who got frustrated with where Obama was in his life years ago were absolutely sick to the stomach thinking that it coulda, woulda, shoulda been her on that stage. But she was not fit for the journey. She was not destined to stand by that man on the journey to the top.

I have so much respect for Michelle Obama because she was the greater money earner in their household, and she was also able to allow time to develop her husband into the man that he is today. If she had walked away from him and his potential--- this story would be very different, it literally would have changed history. Maybe another women would have been standing beside Obama, or maybe he would have given up a long time ago when things got hard. But because of Michelle who supported, lovingly corrected and was his head cheerleader, her husband was able to accomplish a large feat.

This is why, who you attach your life to is so significant, and developing the determination to love and pray for your companion daily are such key elements to fortifying a great future.

So to all those women who are looking at your man, or the man that you are not even giving the time of day- stay prayerful because you never know where God will lead his future and you never know how God can use you to encourage, support and love a man to finding his best self.

To my brothers, I want to say- be careful about the woman you attach your life to, she can be the catalyst for your greatest demise or the right one can be the companion of your destiny.

To both my brothers and sisters---- “ Be careful for nothing, but all things by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving….”

October 6, 2008

Cash, Check, or Credit?

I can remember when this was the question you would be asked when making a purchase at a department store, but now it is almost assumed that you will pay with a card. So now the question is debit or credit?

Everyone gets irritated with the person who is slowing down the checkout line by taking the time to write a check. On top of that, many vendors are not interested in handling cash because of security and accounting issues related to cash. For example - It is much harder for an employee to steal money from their employer when customers pay with a form of credit or debit card. Stolen cash is virtually none traceable with the exception so certain circumstances where the serial number are use systematically or when in a dye bag. But a vendor cant really put those measures into action without a lot of hassle—I wont say it is impossible, but well……

So now you are wondering what all of this has to do with you or with the ‘average hockey mom or Joe Six-pack”. (now there are two turn of phrases that have the potential to get on my nerves just as much as dat Soulja Boy).

In the name of modern technology and modern convenience we have been overly trusting of following the masses. My grandmother understood this concept because she said that credit cards would lead to the “Mark of the Beast”. When I was a child that seemed un-sensible and illogical. But now when I look at what all has shifted in the way that we ‘barter’ and ‘trade’ with merchants and vendors. I can’t help but to take a second look at this theological point of view.

We have bought into or been manipulated into this system of funds management…… but lets bring it home.

The issue this brings up for me----- is that both the credit and debit systems of payment are tied to either your banking institution or another bank that owns the card. So in the midst of the current Wall St turmoil, what is the safest way to deal with money issues?

“Let me clear my throat!..... I hope you don’t mind!” What about payday? Most employers currently only give employees the option to receive their paycheck via direct deposit – one bank sending money to another bank. So what happens if one, or both of those banks go under? Oh yes, I understand the concept of the FDIC, but on a reality of process, how fail proof is this system based on today’s economic and financial systems? Is the FDIC set up to handle the downfall of a large banking institution or several banking institutions at one time? And even if it is, how long will it take until an individual actually gets some money in hand? And will it be cash, check or credit?

October 3, 2008

My Own Audacity

I cant help but to see something bigger and more significant to me in this years Presidential Candidate and Potential First Lady. Don’t get me wrong, the thought of having this country’s first president who is truly African and American, is beyond huge in its significance to me and to history.

But I cant help but to take a more narcissistic thought process to task when it comes to Barack and Michelle Obama. There is something more happening than the political. It is on such a large scale the world’s first glimpse into Black Love.. This Bonny and Clyde dedication to sharing a life together that brings about an affinity towards each other that can be, not only seen, but felt just from looking at a picture of them standing together.

Sure we have seen Beyonce and Jay-z, as the one’s who brought this Bonny and Clyde concept to modern popular culture to express their thoughts towards each other…. and there are other African American couples that have endured the test of time, such as Bill and Camille Cosby, whose brand of endurance is not as outspoken – or viewed as publicly. That is my point, popular culture has been a louder voice, and especially in the African American Community than that of the well educated who are also a part of this ethnic identity and story of American potential.

The Obamas’ represent the other side of African American culture and family life that is not often shared with the mainstream of society. The other thing is that this kind of dedication toward each other seems to have become an image from another generation, but now I am able to see that covenant relationship is possible for my generation. “True Devotion” is not a thing of the past, it is possible in the here and now.

This is why I now have the audacity to find more hope for my own life. For so many years I have felt like I had traded becoming educated for the possibility to have a life long companion. In the African American community it seems quite hard to make those two things a match. (I can only speak from my perspective, it might be the same amongst other cultural backgrounds and ethnicities too, I just cant speak to their experience). The more academic and career oriented a woman is, the less likely she is to be in a long term committed relationship. And most of the women who are, got into the relationship before they really went full force into their ambition. Michelle Obama’s story lets me know the two (career and love) can co-exist.

The next element is that the more progress a woman makes, the less often she comes into contact with a man of similar interest and lifestyle, just because they are not present that often in the same circles. So a lot of factors come into play, proximity being high on the list, as to why my hopes dimmed over the years, but now, if no more than vicariously, I find hope for my own situation in looking at the example being set by Barack and Michelle Obama.

Positive Black Love Still Exist!!!!!!!!!!!

I am glad to know that my theory had been wrong. Because she even made more money than him, and that didn’t keep her from standing by her man and supporting and encouraging him to be the best of his own potential. When you look at them, you can see not only the obvious aspects of their success, but an ability to survive the untold dilemmas that those outside of this ethnic group don’t completely comprehend as part of the African American story.

Regardless to the outcome of this election –the Obama’s have left with me the courage to continue to have “the audacity to hope”.

August 30, 2008

A Republican Woman VP

I am finding the Republican pick of a VP to be very interesting for several reasons. First let me say that I do believe in woman working toward not just breaking the glass ceiling, but removing it all together. For my own personal reasons and as well as for general liberation theology concerns, I have views that not only define my understanding of gender, but also my understanding of social and family structure. I cant hardly see these as separate because I was raised Pentecostal Holiness, and that does affect my frame of reference.

I want to see women represented well when they do excel. I want women to move forward because they are qualified and capable, not because they fit into the picture for the agenda. It makes me proud when women accomplish great things. It makes me proud when women receive acknowledgement for their abilities and accomplishments. But I am offended when people like Rush speak of ‘the babe on the ticket’. Was she chosen for her capability or her looks and gender? Is Palin more than political arm candy?

I don’t want to get into to too many various issues, so I will stick to what is the topic at hand. I am very interested in the pick of a woman for VP by McCain, simply because it is a visual, photo opportunity pick much more than it is of any sound political issues. It is a great counter move to deflect the attention from how wonderfully the DNC went off without any major glitches. Even Hillary and Bill Clinton to the high road to stand loyal to their party and the agenda of making sure that the party gives full support to its candidate.

So McCain had to do something to trump all the attention that was given to not only the political, but the historical context of the DNC. Out of no where comes this woman that not many have ever heard of before the announcement of her as McCain’s choice as a running mate. But she is a woman. That is a direct jab at the fact that Obama didn’t pick Hillary Clinton as his VP. It wasn’t a slightly obscure act, this was obviously what it was, an attempt to rally feminist and woman’s lib votes. And it just might work.

What I am interested to see in this turn of events is how shallow women really are as voters. What I want to know is if women really have lived up to having the right to vote? Will their vote be used wisely or will they vote blindly becoming pawns in the political game? I know this sounds harsh, but I want to argue that the agenda of the RNC is not progressive or gender neutral. This was a move to rally women voters, not based on any concern for women’s issues or the voice of women voters, but simply for political gain of getting a Republican in the White House.

I don’t claim allegiance to either party, but vote according to what I can connect to my own belief system in that of a political candidate. But what I am offended by in this pick of a woman for VP is the sheer arm candy approach of it all. Are women this shallow that they will vote simply because she is a woman, or will they really consider what this woman stands for and what kind of leader she will be in the event that something causes her to have to take on the task of Commander in Chief?

I personally don’t want a post partum Commander in Chief. Nor do I want someone with PMS answering the Red Phone. At least Hillary was beyond all of that stuff that distorts perspective. Misguided agendas is what has our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan now- and that was a man’s doing. And I cant remember why we are there, the reason has changed several times, and I know it is not about weapons of mass destruction cause they never found them. I think the last thing that I heard, is that we are there to manage the social unrest. And why is this our concern? Don’t we have other things that our military need to help manage? Have we done all we cant to maintain the social environment in this country? If we are so concerned about keeping people safe then why aren’t our troops being used to secure our borders, or what about the violence in Cleveland, Detroit, and Patterson--- I think there are plenty of things to do on our home soil, if we just
need to have troops active. I am guessing that the police officers in these cities would appreciate having some assistance in alleviating some of the violence and crime. Oh, but we all know why there is little concern for establishing and maintaining lower crime statistics…….

Ok so before I get off onto another issue, let me stick with this concept of a woman as a VP. I never thought I would say this, but I would have rather seen Hillary chosen as a VP than this Palin. I don’t know much about her, but what I already know is bringing a lot of questions to mind for me.

One thing that I might be able to say about her is that she should be able to juggle several responsibilities since she has a family of 5 children, but is she ready to take over if something sadly happens to McCain as president? McCain is old, and that means that the VP may very well end up running this country.

Part of the reason Palin was chosen has to do with her stance on Right to life. I personally believe in right to life, but that is not just about carrying the child and giving birth to him/her. This is also about being committed to the care and rearing of the child. And here is where I personally have an issue with the choice of Palin as VP on the Republican ticket. She has an infant with special medical needs and in the midst of that along with the other four children --- she is off on the campaign trail. So this child will be left in the care of others or traveled all around the country while they campaign for the White House, or a combination of both. It would seem that political endeavors are trumping maternal care for a child with special needs. So is her belief in right to life just about being alive and breathing or about being loved and nurtured also? What is the follow through for her on this concept of right to life? I think we need to
know because this may just carry over into how she functions as Commander in Chief. Priorities is a big factor in how I vote. Priorities is what gives us some indication of how a person will lead this country. What will she do when our country is in crisis? Will the country be turned over to a political nanny?

What about the Conservative Right in the midst of this VP pick? Is the voice of the Republican party changing? Surely not, because ‘Change’ is the other campaign’s slogan. Are Evangelicals and Fundamentalist going to vote for a woman?. If they don’t want a woman in the pulpit, then will they really accept her as leader of the free world? Once a woman becomes VP, there will be a full rally for a shift across the board for women in Liturgical Leadership. The separation of Church and State sounds good, but what happens to women in the conservative denominations once they can point out another place where a woman has risen to a higher level in a position of leadership? What about “a woman should not usurp authority over a man”? And what will they really think of a woman who abandons her call to the needs of her family to go out on the campaign trail, or if they win to work on the needs of this country.

Here is the break down---

Most of Hillary’s base are Pro Choice – Palin is Right to Life.
Most of Hillary’s base are alternative lifestyle supporters – Palin is one man, one woman supporter.
A large percentage of Hillary’s base are Vegans and Vegetarians- Palin eats Moose burgers ( I will pass on that).
A large percentage of Hillary’s base are not NRA supporters – Palin enjoys shooting.

Hillary was a Rhode’s Scholar, where did Palin go to school? What was her degree in?

So will the Hillary supporters vote Republican so they can see a woman as a VP, regardless of her stance on the agendas. Is voting for a woman going to outweigh a solid stance on the issues? Will social, economic and policy issues all become side bar issues for the cause of gender?

I have voted Republican more often than not, but I am personally offended by the thought that I am so shallow as a voter that would vote just because there is a woman on the ticket and not give any consideration to the issues at hand. I was excited to see whom McCain would chose for a running mate, and I am disappointed. I want see a woman in the White House, but not because she is the ‘babe on the ticket’ because she is qualified to lead this country to the next level of greatness.

August 19, 2008

Humble Pie is for Losers

I am watching the Olympics and I am frustrated that there is this criticism of the runner from Jamaica who is outrunning the competition with – well to say ease is an understatement. But the critique is not of his athletic ability, because there is nothing they can say other than he won, but the problem that the commentators have with this runner is his display of confidence and yes arrogance. Doesn’t the winner have a right to that?

According to these experts that commentate the events, the runner should wait till he has made it across the finish line before he starts his display because acting like a winner before the race is completed is disrespectful to the other athletes. Really?

Since when does the winner have to act humble to keep from upsetting the losers? What happened to losing being your motivation to work harder and accomplish more? So now the person who has worked to accomplish their ‘Gold’ goal has to not celebrate so much or so soon cause the losers might feel bad. Are we coddling athletes now too?

We have taken this- ‘everyone is special’ thing a bit too far. Don’t get me wrong, I am not condoning abuse in any way, shape, form, or fashion. I do think something needs to be said for this celebration of those lost in the middle and the back of the pack.

It makes about as much sense to me as the gifts given to the kids that come to the birthday party so they wont be sad that it is not their birthday and that they didn’t get any presents. Really? How about – ‘It aint your birthday and when your birthday comes you get presents’. Maybe that is where this whole thing started, with the expectation that you should get something for no special reason---- oh but wait. I forgot. You are getting something because you are special, don’t worry about standing on your accomplishments cause your special even if you aren’t the winner.

I enjoy watching Usain Bolt run. He doesn’t have all of the technique down pat just yet, he is young and fresh to the sport and is doing well for a beginner. I think his natural ability and dedication to his training have given him the right to display his self appreciation. I think self confidence and self esteem are great tools, not only in sports but in life.

I wont even go into my thought on a journalist who is not and was not ever a professional athlete critiquing the action of an Olympic athlete, cause he is doing his job. I am just thinking that a man who is running the current fastest times in the world has every right to feel good about himself and to display his positive self image.

August 10, 2008

I love Black Men

This weekend has brought two shocking bits of bad news. First it was a rumor, that within two days was actually true.

I got a text message on Thursday night that Bernie Mac had passed. It was only after I had forwarded this message to the majority of my contacts that I started getting calls from friends telling me that this was an error - only a rumor. But Saturday morning, as I went to work at the hair salon, the sisters were all buzzing about how he was really gone. I think the false alarm of Thursday took some of the edge off finding out on Saturday that Bernie Mac had really passed on.

So in the midst of just letting that lingering in my processes, on Sunday afternoon, my daughter tells me that Isaac Hayes had died. I didnt want to believe it. I made her verify this information with several websites before I was willing to believe it.

But now, I am simply thinking about two men, Black men, whose friends and families will miss them. I, as well as, plenty of other fans who admired the talents of these individuals, are in our own phase of mourning.

As quite of a secret as it is kept, Black men are loved. Not only for their professional abilities, but simply for their presence in their family and community. We recognize that some dont make the positive contribution to the world that they are capable of, but we recognize their potential. We hope for them to realize their own potential, and even follow through with reaching the top of their own capability.

There is something beautiful in the Black Man. Something that cant totally be explained, that words really may not be sufficient to express, but it is the recognition that allows us to appreciate the ability to survive. Black men survive. In the midst of stress, and social misconceptions, economic hardships, racial profiling, and against all odds statistics- Black men survive.

The resilience that come from adversity, builds character in a way that a silver spoon lifestyle could never produce. This political election brings about a continually unspoken question from the mainstream - 'where did Obama come from'. Really what they want to know, is how did he complish so much, so fast, and how did he receive so much attention for doing right and positive. It is quite funny, because the story is being told over and over about his being raised in Hawaii and so forth, but that is not really what they want to know.

Somewhere along the way, there has been this idea that only a few will survive, but what they didnt realize is that since the first Africans were brought to this country, they were looking at survivors. The ones who made it to the auction block had already survived the elements and situations of the journey to the Americas in the belly of a ship. Every African that stepped off those ships was already a survivor, just for living through the journey, the mistreatment, and the emotion of fear brought on from facing the unknown outcome.

So when there are those who 'make it' and come up from the 'hood', and into mainstream fame, we respect them for their ability to function in the world, as well as for their ability to use the gifts given by God.

I cant help but to believe that with continued love and support, more Black Men will find their way to reaching their own dreams, and flourishing in every aspect of life.

Two men who are respected for their individual contributions to the Arts will be missed. I cant even imagine how my own appreciation of music would have developed without the influence of 'Black Moses'. And I wonder if I would have ever really paid attention to other comedians without having noticed the 'real' stage presence of the 'tell it like it is' style of stage presentation of the man who I will always remember as 'Jangle Leg'.

I am thankful to all the Black Men who are making positive strides in the journey of life. I respect the strength and courage it takes to be a Black Man in this world. As far as I am concerned, the Black Man is God's greatest creation.

Bernie Mac
Isaac Hayes

August 6, 2008

I and Thou

Today I was browsing the used book store, not really with any specific book in mind but just wanting to see if anything caught my eye that was priced in the range of what I was willing to spend.

I started out looking in the music, and not finding anything that I really wanted, I moved on to the books, first in the Christian and Theology section, then to the Judaism section. There I found a copy of I and Thou by Martin Buber. I picked it up and the price was right so I decided to purchase the book.

Strangely enough I have read it, or shall I say skimmed enough to participated in a class discussion and write a review back in undergrad. I wasn’t very interested in a German Theologian at that time in my life, and I am not sure that I am much more interested now, accept for the fact that it does tie into the larger frame of my ethnic and theological understanding of self at this phase in my own journey.

Relatedness and relationship with God are always within the frame of self perception, so as I process reading this book now, will be totally with a different world view than the one I had at 21 years of age. Therefore I do think the work is worth revisiting, and actually being read thoroughly.

After all, developing a theological understanding is framed in how one perceives their connectedness or lack of connectedness to God. The stories in history are different, but at times have common threads of how a people viewed themselves as greater than another people. I would are that there is not as large of a disconnect with the events of the Ancient Hebrews, with Modern Jews, and with African’s brought to America.

If you look the traditional cultures of each and the distain for the peoples by another specific group, the treatment, and the struggles – can you really not see a few commonalities? I wont argue this point, because if you don’t see it you just don’t- or are not willing to. Which ever the case may be I will just give you a few buzz words to ignite your thought process on the matter: Genocide, Concentration Camps, Middle Passage, Slavery.

Each were hated simply because of their identity- ethnicity and/or belief.

So now, over a decade + later than my first introduction to the work of Martin Buber, I cant help but wonder what I will take away from my sitting with his writing. Now everything is sifted through my affinity for myself and my ethnic identity. They are not separable from my perception of my own identity. Therefore these elements are key to my understanding of my own relationship with God. I bask in knowing that I am ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’.

There is no need to envy the way that someone else was formed, because I am exactly how God meant for me to be created. That is my personal belief- my personal theology- but also the way that I view the world also. I am able to respect other peoples and cultures as being evidence of God’s love of variety. We are not all clones of one model. Each of us are a combination of the DNA of procreation that can not be replicated with total exactness.

Scientifically, they claim to be able to clone animals, but I not totally knowledgeable on this science but it would seem illogical that the clone is exactly like the original. My thought is based on what I know about twins. Twins may be identical, but they still have very much so their own personality and individualized characteristics of being. As someone told me once, the only reason people cant tell twins apart is because they don’t take the time to get to know them as individuals. I believe this to be true, because I had aunts who were identical and to me it was ludicrous that people actually got confused about which was which.

I will stand on my personal theory concerning cloning until they can prove that not only genetically, but characteristically they can document that they are exactly the same. I am just skeptical on this matter. And I am definitely leery of eating cloned animal meat. Altered cells, to me, seem abnormal from the beginning- so how can you eat cloned meat and the way your body processes the proteins in the meat not lead to a higher risk of your body forming abnormal cells = cancer.????

Wow – I have walked a long way from my topic- let me get back on track. The relationship between the Creator and the creation is much broader and widespread than an hour or two on Sunday (or Saturday- cant leave out SDA). Ok so there might be someone arguing that I am still leaving others out, but that is not my intention, I am just speaking from within my own frame of reference and not necessarily from a completely ecumenical ideology.

To make it clear, I am quite aware of the reasons that I am a Christian. Not just based on my personal theology and my personal understanding of predestination, but from a historical stance also. What I mean, is IF my ancestors had not been yanked for the continent of Africa the probability of my being a Christian changes drastically – depending on what country or geographic area my ancestors where originally from on the continent.

So with geographic location, ethnic orientation, skin color and personal theology all affecting my world view, I now revisit - “I and Thou” by Martin Buber.

August 2, 2008

Speak their language???

As I sat last night in Red Lobster with my mother and my son, we were almost finished when the host showed a group of 6 to the booth behind us. The host stood there with this plastered on smile as they chitter-chattered about who should sit where. The couple at the table directly to my right was almost staring, the man more so than his companion- since her back was to the scene.

After the group got situated at the table, the waiter came to the table for drink orders, and the man to my right was beginning to curl his lip. I was watching and listening to this whole scene with more entertainment than I should have been experiencing on a Friday evening.

I began to watch the body language of the man to my right. And even at one point, our eyes met and at this point his expression seemed to be much more friendly and I felt his search for empathy. What he didn’t know was that internally I was enjoying myself at his expense. I thought to myself, how ironic.

Here in the Red Lobster, this 50-ish year old Caucasian man was seeking an un-spoken camaraderie from me- a late 30’s African American woman. I let this atmosphere continue, on its own, for about 5 more minutes. Lingering conversation in the air, as the people at the booth behind me chatted away, amongst themselves, as they discussed what they would order and other topics of small talk. The man to my right is almost rudely staring at the group in the booth by this time.

Still I sat entertaining myself with watching and listening to the body language of the man to my right. Again, he looked at me as if we were unspoken team mates. By this time, the host came back through to seat another couple, I began to laugh as he seated the couple and ask the gentleman, ‘ is this table ok, Mate?’. The gentleman said that the table was fine, and asked where the host was from. After a simple answer of ‘Australia’ – he walked off to continue his work.

The man to my right was not looking happy at all. I couldn’t help myself. The potential to irritate him more than he already was, became more than I could bear. I could no longer contain myself. I was not going to be able to sit watching this scene simply as a bystander any longer. I could have been good. I could have simply left it all alone, but I just couldn’t help myself.

Playing the situation, I look around at the group behind me with a long obvious turn around to the booth behind me. Then I caught eye of the man to my right, who game me this sheepish smile. I sat for a few more minutes, letting it all linger. I knew what I was going to do. And I knew that it would shift everything in this unspoken tone in this area of the restaurant. I knew that I would be having my own comedic moment. I was, after all, entertaining myself.

When I couldn’t wait anymore, as if seeking out the punch line to a great joke—I finally turned completely around to the booth behind me and said, ‘perdona me, de que pais’? A lady in the group replied ‘Honduras’. I nodded and turned back around with a Cheshire cat smile on my face. As I looked to the man at the table on my right, he was now a nice warm shade of beet red and was intently looking straight ahead, no longer fixed on the people in the booth.

After watching the man sit red faced and not eating his food, my mother and son were finally ready to go. So as we got up, and I walked past the booth, I said, ‘buenos noches’, which was met by several ‘adios’.

I never looked back, but I knew in my heart that this man who was already fuming was probably sick to his stomach not only with distain.

I walked out of the restaurant feeling very Ice Cube – ‘Today was a good day’.

July 10, 2008

Reverend? Jackson said what???

This morning, as my radio alarm clock woke me to the talk radio, I was sleepily attempting to piece together what was going on with Jesse Jackson because twice as I was attempting to hit the snooze button his name was mentioned. What I know about the show that I listen to ----is that anything of little interest gets tossed to the side for a topic that keeps the callers calling in. So I knew 20 minutes later when I was still hear the same names that something must have happened.

So on this day, as many others, I neglect my reps of aiming at the snooze button and let the radio stay on as I lethargically made my way to power up the computer to see what was going on. It didn’t take long at all. Google is so awesome. There were plenty of links to choose from…..

Now that I have given you some background into my initial knowledge of Jesse Jackson’s statement, I will gladly throw around my view.

At first I thought of it as just another hater on the job. But the more I thought about it during the day, I realized that this was not about politics this was personal. Jesse felt like it should be him, that he should have been the first serious contender of African –American decent getting this close to the Oval Office.

Envy is a terrible disease, it can ruin your ability to enjoy the now. I heard someone once say that “envy is you trying to tell God who should be blessed”. And who is Jesse to defeat God’s order and timing for any event personal or political?

But the more I gave this issue mental vigor, I came to realize why this was so personal to Jesse, it wasn’t about the road to the White House, or at least it was not only about the road to the White House. Wasn’t is Jesse who a few years ago had an “outside child” to surface due to lack of support? Oh yes, this was personal. Jesse was upset because this was personal. Jesse was feeling the pressure from the heat seeking missile on his own back.

This was an issue of reproductive responsibility, but it was now a finger pointing…not intentionally, but aiming at all that were not stepping up with pateral responsibility—and this just happened to include Jesse. All of this stemmed from Obama’s speech on Father’s Day, where he made several statements about family responsibility and involvement. He wasn’t speaking as an outsider, but as an insider--- a man whose own father had jumped ship, and as a devoted father to his own family, and as an African-American. So who was feeling like the outsider in all of this---- Jesse.

This was not just about politics, but about being a role model. Jesse is losing his grip on the political arena--- well I am not sure that he had a good grip anyway—but never the less…. Obama is standing up as not only a political candidate, but as a role model. And this is the reason why I have paid so much attention to this man’s campaign. This was my hope for his campaign in all of its potential- not just political accomplishment. I had already written about it as a matter of fact—

As the role model I had hoped for him to be------------Once again Obama maintains his composure under pressure. The media circus of news story hungry journalist piranhas were hoping for something…. But Obama maintained and as a gentleman accepted the apology of Jesse Jackson concerning the remarks. Let’s be real. Jesse is not sorry for what he said, he meant it… but he is sorry that he got caught on mic. One bad moment can twist everything for you. Jesse, I am sure, is upset that his name is not being tossed around for VP, in the midst of everything else.

Where is the theological piece? Well there are several but I will only highlight one at this time------

I Timothy 5:8- lets us know the deal. An infidel is defined as an unbeliever or one who believes there is not God. Someone who does not take care of his own is worse than someone who is lacking in more ways than one.

So now that we have had a glimpse into the real Jesse, the one who doesn’t take care of ALL of his children, who is envious of another’s accomplishments, and one who feels like a man who takes care of his children and encourages other men to do the same is less deserving of reproductive genitalia----


June 26, 2008

Neuter, Neutral and Annoying

WARNING- I am on my soapbox. I have some things on my mind and I am venting.

There was a day and time when there were some clear and unshakeable boundaries of gender roles. But as time has progressed these boundaries shifted and moved, and now have almost become unclear to determine. I am annoyed, first off, that someone spoke for me to accomplish their own agenda. And secondly that I have to be punished for someone else’s intentions and agenda.

I think femininity is a wonderful and beautiful gift from God. I like being a woman. This morning I was already frustrated about some things related to people not keeping their word, and not being dependable, when I realized that the tires on my car were low on air. So I stopped at the gas station to air up the tires. I noticed several men getting gas, who never even glanced in my direction. I proceed to get into this squatting position so that I could comfortably maintain the position as I checked the pressure on the tires and added air. I thought to myself that it was a good thing that I didn’t have on a skirt because there is no way to reach the tires and not do something that is inappropriate while wearing a skirt. I thought to myself that these kinds of dilemmas are part of the reasons that I rarely wear skirts and dresses. I love wearing skirts, it is actually my personal preference.

I don’t want to have to see about the air in the tires. But necessity dictates differently. I don’t want to have to figure out the psi….. I don’t even know what this acronym stands for, but I have to worry myself with these things--- and why?

There are plenty of things that I have no desire to do- construction, mechanics, etc. There are certain things that I have in my mind to be more fitting for men to do, and that I believe that men do better than women. Now to those women that want to construction or landscaping—God speed--- but I don’t want to. I would prefer to cook any day.

These hazy boundaries annoy me because they are not by my choosing. I am a victim of a societal mindset that says we are all equal in ability. This is not true. There are plenty of couch potatoes that will not be the star quarterback. Even among other athletes, every one has strengths and weaknesses. It is natural. It is the same reason why the lion is considered the “king of the jungle”. Every species doesn’t serve the same purpose. So it is with the genders of humanity. Men and Women serve different purposes. This is not about lack of equality, but about contrasting and yet complementary characteristics.

If we put forth this agenda that we are all the same, then it leads to what we have now, and that is a lack of appreciation for the contrast. I don’t want a man go with me to pick out nail polish for my pedicure… watch the game, go fishing, change oil in the car or something… and just notice and compliment my pedicure after the fact. I don’t want a man to function like a girlfriend. Nor am I extremely excited about exchanging recipes with a man. If a man can cook that is a good thing, nice quality and all, but I am not giving a man as many points for cooking as for building a bookshelf. A man gets more points for getting his hands dirty, building, fixing, or assembling than for interior decorating.

There are plenty of things that both men and women can do equally as well, that is not what I am saying, but some things I don’t want to do. I don’t understand these men that are afraid to get their hands dirty. I do believe in equal pay for equal work, but I don’t understand why women want to do some of the kinds of work that in my mind seem to be task for fitting for a man.

One of the things that I miss about living in Georgia, was the ability to appreciate the southern gentleman. There is nothing better than a man who enjoys being a hero. It is the little things, like being in the company of a man whose nature it to open doors for a woman or to walk on the outside of the sidewalk or who would see a woman needing air in her tires and offering to be of assistance. There is something to be appreciated and admired about a man who enjoys his own manhood. If he enjoys his own manhood, then he sets a woman up in such a way that she cant help but to enjoy her own womanhood--- without the burden of trying to accomplish things better left to a man. -----It brings to mind the song “ Treat her like a lady” --- the singer boast “now I like opening doors, picking up her hanky of the floor…..”.

I cringe at what I am seeing in society that presents this neutral approach to assigning identity. Yes women can do more than bake cookies, but I don’t get for the life of me, why a woman would want to run a country. She might be able to do the task, but why would she want to? That is what I don’t get. There is nothing degrading in my mind about letting men be in leadership. It is the mis-use of authority that makes things problematic- and that is whether it is a man or a woman.

To attempt to do man things detracts from the admiration due femininity. And to be fair and equal, I must state that for a man to attempt to do woman things detracts from the admiration due masculinity.

Somewhere in this everything is ok for everybody - you get what was recently in the media- where a man is pregnant--- but once you find out details of how this is possible you learn that it is a man who was once a woman but decided that she wanted to become a man, but kept the woman parts so that she, as a he, could still give birth to a child. How confusing. This is just the product of this neutralized social thought about gender identity. I cant help but to see this as confusion. How confusing is this approach? Is there something other than confusing that this can be labeled as? Or is it just inappropriate to give it a label at all? If that is the case, then what is threatening about the label?

Masculinity is not determined by promiscuity, nor is femininity. These men who think because they have more than one woman that they are manly are dealing with an identity crisis that has lead them to attempting to prove their self worth by seeking acceptance on a level the denies then the opportunity to enjoy really being an expression of their own masculine nature. Masculinity is about more than sexuality. Femininity is about more than sexuality. The number of sexual partners one has is not indicative of one’s gender identity. I say that so that it can be clear that what I am discussing is not about sexual prowess. Media has boxed in the understanding of gender to a sexual diversion that lead both men and women away from the responsible use of one’s gender identity and its potential to be appreciated by others.

Feminine and masculine are labels. But they are also a resource for self identity and pride, just as much as ethnic identity. Trying to promote this everybody is equal concept, in my opinion, is why there is such a low percentage of marriages and successful marriages in this country. Neutrality leads to lack of appreciation and lack of appreciation leads to more disconnectedness. If there is no system, things get out of order, out of order leads to chaos. Socially things are looking chaotic. But this chaos has been so gradual in its onset that it has gone unnoticed and appears to be normal. And normal is always relative.

I look at examples of successful marriages, and there seemed to be some set understandings of what each brought to the table. I believe this is missing today. Both the man and the woman want to be the bread winner. Women don’t want to give birth to children for the sake of their career. Or if they have children they have to rush back to work to keep the job- which is an economic necessity. Women don’t want to cook and clean house. Men don’t want the responsibility of providing for a family. So the house is dirty, the children eat fast food and everybody is obese with allergies and a specialist has to be paid to fix everything because nobody wants to get their hands dirty.

“God is not the author of confusion”----and from where we stand now, what is the way to bring things to a more settled and orderly function? I definitely don’t have the answer, but what I am observing is a problem that needs of adjusting.

Where have all the heroes gone?

June 22, 2008

Physically Attractive

Every single person has something that they find attractive in another person. Some people don’t even realize what it is that they are attracted to unless a friend points it out to them that there is a pattern in the type of person that any one person prefers to allow into their personal life. And even then the observation might be met with great protest and denial.

Attraction can be for many reasons and about many things. Most everyone is unconsciously making an effort to compensation for some internal portion of self-image or perception. But then there is just plain old lust. I would still argue that this type of attraction is about some need to compensate in some way. This may seem to not make much sense but the best way to explain it would be with a rhetorical question----- haven’t we all seen someone who is absolutely unquestionably attractive with someone that was the complete opposite? And what is the first thought that comes to mind? Naturally the mind questions what does that person SEE in the person that is so opposite. Next we try to rationalize with a thought process attempting to make a fit our understanding about motivation instead of attraction.

I might be wrong, but I believe that attraction has a lot to do with the level of activity in one’s life. The people that are considered naturally attractive (no medical assistance) are more often than not ----athletic or otherwise active.
Scientifically, there some understanding of how endorphins work in helping with the endurance of someone participating in physical activity, but the side effect is that this release sends out a signal of attraction to others.

When have you heard a woman say- “oh he is so lazy and I find that really attractive”? I know it is sad and shallow, but the truth is that physical activity makes a person attractive. I will even make a statement, that I am not going to completely defend at this time by stating there is even a difference in a person who’s lifestyle is active from the person who goes to the gym. A person who works out at the gym can develop muscle mass and tone, but something about it still seems artificial. Something about the person’s character or the way they carry themselves give away the fact that they are in the gym and not in an active lifestyle. I think it might be the person who goes to the gym moves with some stiffness or awkwardness that lets you know they are not completely free flowing in movement. Whereas, the person who plays basketball or works construction has more ease of movement or walks with a gait. It is more natural.

Now, so let me get to the theological connection so that it doesn’t seem that there is none. Genesis 3 ---in the midst of God letting Adam and Eve know the consequences of their action, Eve is told that her desire would be for her husband? Which leads to the question of what would her desire have been otherwise? And do we have any clues about it? And secondly, there is the promise to Adam that “ Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it……in the sweat of your face you shall eat bread”. Before then they could just eat from the provision of the garden, but now they have to work for what they will consume.

I am not going to point fingers or blame anyone for this set of events, but what I am going to do is to argue that there is some connection to this portion of text and what we find physically attractive.

A few years back I saw something that will forever be branded in my memory. I am guessing that I may never see such again. When I saw it, I found myself in a daze, because it seemed impossible….I saw a man with an ax cutting down a tree. Not a small tree in the front yard, but a huge tree, probably three feet thick and about 50 feet tall. I came across this because I kept hearing this sound that I couldn’t figure out what it was. It was a sound I had never heard before. When I finally found the sound, I was in some form of shock because I had seen plenty of men with electric saw in hand, but never testosterone in full throttle taking on nature. I didn’t believe that it could be done. Somewhere in my mind, I shrugged it all off with doubt that more than a dent could be made in this tree.

Then it dawned on me, this is what testosterone was for. I had wondered what purpose it truly served, but until that moment I had seen it lead a man to do a lot of things that just didn’t make much sense to me, but I knew that it was testosterone at work, but at this moment I saw something different and more theological. Human beings are not meant to sit in front of the TV and watch others do, but we are actually supposed to be doing something.

I look at how many jobs require sitting at a desk or being sedentary in this day and age. Our mode of transportation is other than on foot, because everything is such a sprawl. So instead of our life requiring us to move about, we have to make time and schedule in doing that which is best for not only our life, but our health.

I am guilty, because in the morning I will take the first part of my day off ---to hit the trail in an attempt to resolve the math of calories that keep me in a Plus. And why? Because I know that physically active is more attractive. I don’t do it for anyone else, I do it because when I look in the mirror, I prefer to see myself image as more active than stagnant and stationary. So you might be saying, but that scripture in Genesis is about Adam, and I am not a man…. And you are right. So I counter with ----- Proverbs 31, doesn’t seem to describe a couch potato.

June 15, 2008

Respectful Journalism?

I have some things on my mind that I must set up with some background information-

1. Rodney Dangerfield was a stand up comedian who was renowned for his catch phrase “I get no respect”. He would then go on to give some examples in his on stage performances to prove this working theme.

2. Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?”

In recent days, Fox News made reference to Michelle Obama as Presidential Hopeful Senator Barak Obama’s “Baby Mama”. I am wondering where are the boundaries between political coverage, social banter, and blatant insult. It was not an infringement of FCC regulations, but morally it was not journalism with the greatest integrity possible.

What have we really heard about Mrs McCain during these elections? And if we put it beside what we have heard about Mrs. Obama, how would the coverage of these political spouses compare in tone and accuracy?

Next, I would like to see some comparison to both of their backgrounds in relation to what they have to offer, to not only the campaigns of their spouses, but the potential governing years in the White House. I would argue that the harshest critics of the Obamas’, for the most part, have not come close the level of accomplishment of the Obamas’. The bar is raised the higher up the food chain you go, so it stands to reason that anyone participating on politics on this level has to meet certain criteria. That is a given.

But they are both this close to the White House and I want to know more about who I might have to look at for the next 4 or 8 yrs. Is Mrs. McCain as educated as Mrs. Obama? Who is more accomplish in their personal career? Wasn’t McCain married to someone else when he started seeing his current wife? We know Mrs. McCain comes from money, but is she more than arm candy? Or is this the main qualification for the potential first lady?

Fox News boast of offering coverage that is “fair and balanced”, but what does that mean, and who decides where this balance takes place? So--------- is this election about “home-wrecker” vs “baby mama?” I want to know from Fox News where is the other side of this fair and balanced coverage?

Then I would like to draw your attention to the concept of the American Christian Value System. If the policy of the leader of this country is connected to their person Christian belief system, is there a connection to family values? How many times has McCain been married? How many times has Obama been married? How will this affect their policy making? And if we say that we want more traditional nuclear families in this country because that represents our value system, doesn’t it stand to reason that the first family of this country has some potential to affect the model that American’s follow in creating their own family???? Wouldn’t an increase in traditional nuclear families alleviate some of the strain on Social Services?

When I think of Nancy Reagan, I think of a woman that stood by her man. She was more of a silent soldier. I think of Ronald Reagan’s leadership as being enhanced by the level of companionship shared with his wife. I believe that she is respected to day, because of how well she carried herself as First Lady.

Back to Fox News------It might have been a slip of the tongue, but have no question that it was taken to be a derogatory reference. Mrs. Obama has been married to Senator Barak Obama since 1992. Michelle Obama as not been, nor is she now, some tawdry secret rendezvous of procreation….she is the WIFE of Barak Obama, and should be respected as such. She has to potential to be the first lady of this country and deserves the same respect that any other man’s wife, and any other government leaders wife. What is this kind of news coverage saying about the concept of family in the United States of America? What is this kind of news coverage saying about the view of the Black Marriage in the United States of America?

This election has frustrated me on many levels, simply because in many ways it feels quite polarizing. I think that many of us were hoping that it wouldn’t happen this way, but over time it is starting to feel like it is forcing some issues that shouldn’t be primary in a political campaign of this day and age. Lyndon B. Johnson’s speech concerning the American Promise is just as relevant today as it was during a phase of extreme social tension that took place decades ago.

A former seminary professor of mine always told us that a person’s actions toward other people were a direct reflection to that person’s relationship with God. If there is some validity to this thought process, are there some areas where we still need to seek closer relationship to God? Are there still some areas where the reflection of our morals and values are calling us to further prayer and meditation?

In a world of Utopia, every human-being should be able to celebrate their own God given individuality and rich cultural ethnicity. God’s creation proves that God loves variety, because we don’t all look the same. And when we look at how many different types of plants and trees and animals there are in this world, the signs are everywhere that the Creator created with variety. In the midst of variation, there are some common laws of order that still reign.

The evolution of how we ‘form a more perfect union’…..leads us to greater potential. Various states go back and forth with some controversy over the display of the Ten Commandments----- but I wonder if anyone would support displaying the 42 divine principles or the virtues of Ma’at?

June 12, 2008


It has taken me some days to figure out the topic for my first writing on this blog, and as I sat contemplating a phone call that just ended moments ago, I realized the theme that is not only on my mind but on the mind of most Americans right now. It is this concept of survival.

African Americans are resilient. The unspoken portion of this countries history has proven that. There are many things that took place during the years of slavery that would lead innocent minds to think that it was just about being a service worker or farmer. The history books have left out many of the harsh realities of what the institution of slavery really looked like. It is only through reading such documents as the Willie Lynch Letters or the Mary Boykin diaries that you even begin to see some of the truths that could not even be contained in the movie series Roots.

I said all of that to point to the fact that many African Americans don’t realize the valuable ability to survive that has been given as a gift from God. It is time that we start telling our children and our neighbors the truth – “ You shall live and not die”. Then we have to go on to help them understand the full extent of these words. It is not just about physical, this includes a well-rounded and balanced concept of every aspect of being.

This model of survival is grounded in the honesty of one’s own strengths. In your strength you find the ability to augment not only your own strengths, but those of others around your. Isolation is not the ideal situation under which to attempt to survive. Human existence is depended on various and multi-dimensional relationships. This is what makes African Americans capable of survival in the midst of situations that are much less than ideal. This is what allows people of African decent to find happiness in the midst of what others could not survive. We are survivors.

Society raises the bar. We just go over the intended expectations, or even abandon the effort to create a working dynamic of our own that suits our taste more directly than what was set in place by the larger portions of society.

I think instead of living in an arrogance of division, humanity must learn to face one another with empathetic eye-sight. In time gone past, this is what inspired neighbors to make sure everyone had food or clothes, or what ever was needed that could be assisted with, simply out of a sense of community that lead to a larger accountability.

That being said, I would like to declare-
----- autonomous individualism is the path to emotional morbidity and next come selfish ambition without human regard for the needs of others. Separation leads to a sense of gloom that challenges one’s self worth. Then there is a challenge to counteract this internal bareness. And finally the pressure becomes to re-invent one’s value through a mode of ambition that requires a disregard for others who face many of the same challenges as the self. There becomes this internal tension that society offers to mend through career and economic accomplishment to the extent of detachment instead of re-attachment. So when it is all said and done, and great accomplishment has been attained via career or economics there is the vacancy of not only the soul but of the lifestyle that cant be named or diagnosed.

One must be careful to stay grounded and maintain the balance in life and lifestyle that leads to a bountiful and abundant life. Yin and Yang? For me this is the foundation to my understanding of what it means to exist in the world as a Christian of both African and American decent.