October 6, 2011

Why Be A Christian?

What really separates Christians from the rest of the world? This is the question I have been asking myself lately. Not because I dont  already have my own ideas about the subject, but because I am curious to know what the mental status is of the masses.

For me, being a Christian, has everything to do with understanding and replicating, in my own life the ideology, theology, and compassion of Christ. After all, Christ was concerned with those in the community. People were drawn to Jesus Christ because he had something to say, but also because his actions had a huge and wonderful impact on those around him.  If we are to call ourselves Christians, followers of the life and teachings of Christ, then it should stand to reason that our lives should show some effectiveness in impacting the lives of others in a positive way.

Docile should not ever be the mode of operation for a Christian, who is attempting to live a life motivated by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. This does not mean that Christians should be constant warriors, nor does it mean that Christians should be absolutely passive. But what it does mean that we should navigate the impact that our life has on those around us in such a way that we reflect what it is that we say we believe.

Lately I have found myself amazed at how many people who are good church attending Christians, but have no sensibility towards anything outside of their church and home. How can you effectively share the love of Christ when your only concern is for people who are already stepping inside the doors of the church?  Dont get me wrong, there are definitely some people attending church who are not necessarily followers of the teachings of Christ. So yes, there are lives to be impacted from inside the church, but there are masses of people who are walking this earth hurting, lonely and feeling disconnected from God, who could use some insight into how the Good News includes them.

Church as a community of believers is important to strengthening each other, both naturally and spiritually, as we all attempt to navigate this life, but we are also held accountable to the need for those who are not connected by a relationship with Jesus Christ. But in so many ways, church has become just the alternative to the club, where people show up for the ambiance, the music, networking, or just to be seen. Attending church should not have the same agenda as going out to the club. And wearing more conservative clothes does not mean the the agenda of your heart is right.

Church attendance should not be about proving to anyone that you are just as much of a Christian because you are always there. Church attendance should be about a desire to learn more about God through the fellowship and study of the Word of God in the presence of like-minded followers of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Hearing the preached Word is important because it should draw you in to realizing that God is waiting to receive you into a relationship with all that the Kingdom of God has to offer you both in this life, and in the afterlife.

 As Christians, our own relationship with Christ, has limited growth potential until we become active agents of Christ' love and concern for others, and not just the people that we like or the people that we think are worthy. If receiving the love of Christ was based on who was worthy, then none of us would be eligible. In fact, it is realizing how unworthy we are that leaves us in awe of God's willingness to love and provide for us.

Anyone who thinks being loved is based on meeting a certain set of criteria, has missed the entire point of receiving love.  None of us have received loved because we were deserving of it, we received love because of the heart of the giver of that love and the desire to share it.  It is a matter of desire that compels us to want to share the love of Christ with others. Once we truly understand the depth of God's love for us, we cant help but want to share this great love with others.

I am thankful to God that Love was not given to me based on what I deserved, but based on what I needed, even when I didnt know that it was love that I needed. God has blessed each of us with the opportunity to show the Love of Jesus Christ. It is time to stop holding on to what was meant to be shared --- for it is in the spirit of sharing this Love that we find deeper understanding of our own relationship to the Ultimate Giver - God.

September 26, 2011

Rainbow to 2012

First off, let me admit that I am up way to late! Yes I should have been sleep hours ago. But instead I am up surfing through Blogger looking at the different ways that people have designed their page to add a flavor of uniqueness to their page.  It would seem that every idea that I have come across would require my revisiting my html code skills.

I took a class in undergrad in computer programming, but it was not my strong suit at all. Back then, computer screens were dark, off black, and the letters were a horrible shade of green. That was it. That was as far as the technology had reached when I was learning computer programming. And I had absolutely no plans of perfecting this skill because I didnt see where it was going to be very entertaining to my imagination. If only I had know how far the technology would advance.

As I sat thinking about the concept of a 'Rainbow Tea'.... and pondered what spiritual insight could be gain from this form of fellowship, I began to think about where it could be found in the bible. What I did come across was the memory of the most popular childhood bible story about Noah and the Ark.  There was a rainbow in the bible.

The Noahic Covenant is the promise that God is not going to destroy everything on earth by a flood of water. We do still have some flooding, but not the entire earth. It is absolutely amazing to me, when I think about the fact that the pressure of the water in the ocean is holding the water back from the land. That is not a very scientific explanation, and sorry that I cant communicate it any better than that. But let me say it this way, the deeper you go into the ocean there is more pressure, that pressure is pulling things to the bottom. The items that actually make it so deep into the ocean will eventually shrink from the pressure. If that pressure were not holding the layers of the ocean in place the land would be covered with water.

Ok, so fast forward beyond basic Sunday School lessons of Noah and the Flood, and my sad regurgitation of Earth Science to the apocalyptic mis-interpretation of the Mayan Calendar.

First let me make clear my personal theology is always grounded in the biblical text. But I am always looking to understand other reading based on how I understand the bible. This means that I am open to reading various writings, but look for how those writings  agree with or contradict the bible.

Secondly, the Mayan calendar is interesting for several reasons related to science, agriculture, and humanity on many levels. The best way to simplify it would be to say this is the Meso-American version of a Farmer's Almanac. I really dont know enough about the mythology that accompanies this series of works to speak well on the subject. There is a lot going on in the way they figured out their system. It includes the human gestation period of 40 weeks, and various other elements that create this understanding of the world and how it cycles.

I have always been fascinated with Teotihuacan and hope to actually go there and see the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. After all building a structure that when the sun is moving through the sky makes shadow that appears to be that of a moving 'feathered serpent'. I mean, seriously, who thought up that architectural design?  When you look at it, it just looks like a large staircase. We are not talking about a small building here, we are talking about a place where almost 100,00 people could live inside the walls around this compound. Anyway, the connection some make with cosmological myths is how you get to the apocalyptic connection. The logic being from 'beginning to end' for some might be more about quantum physics than actually anything related to theology.

The point that I am making here, is that the story of Noah and the Ark is much easier to rationalize and explain than the details of the Mayan mythology. You cant be a surface reader or thinker and even begin to explore the this Mayan concept of 2012. It frustrates me to hear people talking about it as if they have read it, but they are not very knowledgeable about Meso-American culture or any of the various 'pyramids' around the world.

What I can say is that from the 'almanac' stance, the earth is shifting itself. So many natural events are taking place in the last few years, I mean a series of storms producing tornadoes that ravaged a large chunk of the U.S. this past summer is just one of the things that comes to mind, and now there seems to be earthquakes happening in different locations...Reading Mark 13, these days gives some perspective to those of us who look to the biblical text for insight and understanding. . I dont think the world is coming to an end in 2012, the truth is that I cant call it, but I think the Earth is getting prepared for something........... only GOD knows.

"It's Gonna Rain" Andrae Crouch

September 3, 2011

Humanization: Part 1 ( Inter-racial Relationships)

About a decade ago, when I was in seminary, a dear professor stated to the class that the best understanding of inter-racial relationships could be found in the Disney movie, "Beauty and the Beast". As I listened, I understood what he was saying, but now, a decade later, I get it. I now realize that I wasn't fully able to grasp the concept. I saw it no deeper than the socialization aspect. But now I get the impressions of the psyche that are manifested in the concept that was being presented.

What caused my further understanding has been a reflective re-reading of "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" by Paulo Freire.  Amazingly this book dissects some basic experiences in terms of their affect on the psychological thought process of a person. So by taking the concepts presented in this book and framing my understanding of why inter-racial relationships are important for so many in this day and age. I get it.

As a 'free spirit' who does not look kindly on attempts to further oppress me, I now understand all the more the reasons why I have never been that interested in inter-racial dating as a choice for myself. I guess I could slightly correct that statement, depending on what you consider inter-racial, since I have dated persons other than African American. Anyone who knows me personally will affirm that I am truly my own person.  That is not to say that I have not had my own battles with being oppressed because I have, and on so many levels. But at this point in my life, I am enjoying the freedom to embrace who I am, both internally and externally. And in some ways, I realize that I am still working to define my own humanity in this world that sets limitations on individuals not only on the basis of race, but also based on gender.

Ok, so since my point here is not to write about myself, I must return to my topic. According to Freire, oppression is grounded in dehumanization. Seeing one's self as less than human is the ground work that must take place for all parties involved to agree to the situation of being oppressed. With that in mind, upon looking at the stereotypes that people of the African diaspora live with on a daily basis, it only makes sense that some would seek to be viewed on a higher level of humanity.

After all, most of the times when we leave a relationship behind, it is about the denial of one's own humanity. When you begin to realize that one is being treated in a dehumanizing way, that is when one begins to look for the exit door to the situation. I would further argue, that those who remain in dehumanizing situations do so because they are not able to fully embrace or affirm their own humanity. This is also the same reason that an individual who treats a person of a different race better than they would consider  someone of their own race as deserving to be treated. Somewhere in their mind, they realize the need to elevate their own sense of humanity, but at the same time, they are still willing to deny another person the same need to be appreciated beyond the status of sub-human.

When I was younger, I would always hear people talk about the people, back then it was mostly men, who chose to date outside of their race, as attempting to 'to socially upgrade'.  But at this point in my life, I would argue that it is an attempt to be viewed as one who has done more than evolved, but who has faced the challenges of the psyche to embrace one's own humanity. It is the refusal to be seen as anything less than human. It is the denial to accept the oppressive forces of being dehumanized. It is the internal self awareness to see one's self as deserving all that is humanly possible in life and love.

So, you might ask, is inter-racial dating necessary for all of that? No, but for some people, it is the manifestation of their internal awareness that they need to be view as fully human with all of the life and breath that comes from living as one who is free to exist instead of one who has to ask the world to pardon their being in the world. It is un-apologetic about the right to have the life and companionship of a fellow HUMAN-being regardless of the outer skin. It is so much more than just the meshing of cultural differences, it is about the embracing of all that it means to live and love and to do so regardless of race or ethnic background.

Those who oppose inter-racial relationships do so because they see one of the races involved as less deserving of what the other race has to offer. And they protest the infiltration into their own race for fear that it will dehumanize by association. It is the struggle to continue to oppression of others by way of feeling oppressed in one's own being.

Lastly, I would argue, that when one fully becomes aware of who they are attracted to and why, then it will never be a struggle to embrace one's own humanity, and therefore the individual can be free to love based on the connections of the human spirit and not just because of the outward skin.

Relationships are about embracing the humanity of each other with mutual respect and admiration. Relationships are about BEING  human together and to each other. Love is about acceptance- as is- but with the growing potential to become better together.  When your ambitions within the relationship fully manifest the humanity of the other person, then both individuals can find the freedom to love. And love definitely transcends race, creed or national origin.

May 10, 2011

Behold The Bride-Groom Cometh!!!!

Have you ever been so familiar with something that you really didn’t look at it with close inspection? Have you ever had that moment when you saw something in a different light, and then wondered why you had never seen it that way before? 


Well I had one of those moments today. I am sure that some of my readers will have the same level of excitement about this as I, and I am sure that some will not like it at all. But to all, I write with peace and grace.


My entire life, being raised in a Pentecostal–Holiness church, I heard about the hope of believers in the return of Jesus Christ for the Church.  The Church is understood to be the Bride of Christ. Matthew 25:6 stirred up expectation in every believer.


At the same time, it was completely understood that leadership in ministry was for men only. There was no place for women in ordained leadership. Women were encouraged and even expected to work tirelessly for the ministry with their gifts and talents, but only in supporting role capacities.


There was no denying that women could handle most of the task that take place in the local church, doing everything from cooking meals to serving meals, to cleaning after the meals were finished, to preparing the programs, ushering and passing out the programs,  and being on the program, to designing the choir robes to singing in the choir in the choir robes. 


As a matter of fact, when the church observed the sacrament of communion, in the days long before the prepackaged communion portions, it was, and still is, the women who prepare the sacred table for the Lord’s Supper. As the service transitioned to the observance of the Holy Sacrament of Communion, it was a woman, a Mother of the Church,  who read I Corinthians 11: 23-34. While she was reading, the women did everything that needed to be done during this sacred time of the service. But when it was actually time to serve the communion to the congregation, in my church, this could only be done by an ordained elder and only men were ordained.


As a child, I never gave this reality much thought. But as I got into my early twenties, the analytical side of my being started to develop. It was then that I began to wonder why it was that women could prepare the food for before and after the service and touch everybody’s plate in serving food to church members,  friends, and family. But suddenly when we were observing the most sacred piece of cracker and grape juice, suddenly the women who had put it on the plate and in the little cups were not allowed to serve it to the congregation of believers – the same believers that they would serve chicken dinners to any other time.


A decade later I would learn about the debate between substantiation and transubstantiation. Ok, fine, but my denomination’s stance on the Eucharist is that of Zwingli, that the elements of the table do not change in essence but symbolize the Body and Blood of Christ. So what does gender really have to do with who serves the Last Supper to the congregation? 


Well moving right along,-------  I began work to wrap my brain around how God really felt about women. Ended up getting a Liberal Arts degree in Religious Studies from taking classes just to learn and understand about God and Religion. I know that a lot of men are chauvinists, some know they are and others have no idea that they are, but still the truth remains. I just don’t believe that God is a chauvinist.


Now years after graduate school (seminary), having read a lot of theological works and a few on feminist theology, and a few on liberation theology, I still in my own self wonder why the issue of women in ministry is such a hard thing for the church, not just my denomination, but for many denominations to accept?


At the same time, that women are being told that they now can excel in the corporate world, the church is saying that you shouldn’t do that in an ecclesiastical setting. Why does the church encourage women to excel at mediocrity?  I kept wondering why was God calling women to the ministry, only to have them face being ostracized by many Christian denominations. In my own struggle to understand, I kept wondering why the church treated all women as if they were equal. I mean, every woman is not called to leadership in the church, just as every woman is not called to run a secular corporation, every woman is not a great cook, every woman is not a great seamstress, etc.


Each woman has her own unique gifts and talents. Women vary just as much as everything else n God’s creation. It is dehumanizing to assume that there is no difference or distinction on how God created each woman unique and to God’s own liking. This would be the reason that wives are not interchangeable.  Why have so many women become ecclesiastically docile? Hear me when I say being respectful and docile are two completely different things.  A woman is to submit to her own husband, not every man in the world. Seriously, who wants their wife or daughter obeying the thoughts of any and every man? That is a dangerous thought process at best.


I have watched so many women who are movers and shakers in their career become mousy and ashamed in a church setting. Which manifestation is the truly God given identity, and what would God have them use their ability to accomplish for the kingdom of God, if they were liberated to serve God to full capacity?


I am sure by now, if you know your bible, you have your list of scriptures ready to reply to what I am saying…… I know them all. I was raised hearing them.


Ok, so you are asking, if I know about the scriptures concerning women being silent in church, then what is the point of my writing.  Glad you asked. Now I can tell you.


First of all, I am not calling for women to disrupt the worship service of their local church. But if you truly believed that women should be silent in church, why are they allowed to do ANYTHING during the service or in the sanctuary for that matter? If you want women to be silent in church, then why are they singing in your choir and on your praise team? Last I heard, you cant sing silently…….and no one has ever mentioned us all going outside when it was time for a woman to sing. And what about the announcements?  In most churches, it is a woman who reads the announcements. So shouldn’t she be reading them silently?


The truth is that both in the world and in the church, it takes both men and women working together to accomplish the furtherance of the Gospel. There are certain things that each of us does well regardless of gender.


But let us future forward to the day when Christ will return for the Church. It is like this – on the wedding day the bride must be ready for the groom. We all know this in the natural. The bible gives us some insight into the expectations for the Bride of Christ, ‘without spot or wrinkle’.  The Church must not only be well prepared for the return of Christ, but there is a lot of attention given to detail. Everything is prepared. 


I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before now. I guess it was not time…. I am sure that this understanding is all about timing, not my timing but God’s timing.


As a child is growing up, a lot of people impart into the growing life and mind. The mother or grandmother or some mother figure is the first teacher that a child has in the world. Both males and females learn from her.  As a female approaches the age of marriage, some of the knowledge she will need must come from a female in her life.  Both men and women have been a part of her learning and preparation throughout life. But on the wedding day, a lot of preparation that has taken place over time is manifested in the moment that the bride is presented to the groom.  Most of that preparation was done long in advance of that actual wedding day, but all comes together on the wedding day.


 As the Bride of Christ is getting ready to be joined with Christ at his return, everything must be made ready.  The bride must be ready, and a man can’t dress a bride.  Not even the father of the bride, who has protected her from all danger, participates in her dressing for the wedding. When she is ready, the father will present her to the groom. But the father leaves the preparation and dressing of the bride to women. So why wouldn’t the Almighty God entrust women with preparing the Bride of Christ.


It takes a woman to see the revealed body and to prepare it and adorn it to meet the groom. A women, who is attentive to every little wrinkle that might go un-noticed, or to find the spot that might be hidden in an un-obvious location.  It takes a woman to give the attention to detail need to make sure that everything is as best as it can be for the presentation of the Bride to her Groom.


The church is made up of both men and women, serving and growing in relationship with God. As we approach the time that the Bride of Christ but be prepared to meet Him when He come, God is selecting those whom God has equipped for the last attention to details as needed. Women in Ministry have been called by God to dress the Bride of Christ. Let us make ready for soon we shall hear, with expectation the proclamation, “Behold the Bride-Groom cometh”.

May 2, 2011

Birther Fiasco = Attempted Political Genocide

Here we are, well into President Obama’s term in office, and this rumor that actually surfaced during the primaries some years ago seem to have built steam and come back to life – with help of Donald Trump.  The ‘Birthers’ are a group of people
who question the legitimacy of President Obama based on whether or not he was born in the U.S.

This irritates me for a couple of reasons, no, correction, for several reasons. I am amazed at how many ‘Born in the USA’ – Americans were not paying attention in Social Studies and/or Political Science, when we learned the requirements AND procedure to become a legitimate candidate for president. There are some prerequisites and a lot of paperwork to fill out,
which has to be submitted and approved long before a name can make it to the ballot.

So, as I watch all of the people who jump on this board with this theory, I know that they were sticking gum on someone’s chair while this was being covered in school. Ok, so let me be a little bit lenient about it, lets not talk about those struggling puberty years when paying attention was hard because of all of the important stuff that was going on socially, but what about now when most everyone has internet and google in their home, on their job, or maybe in hand due to a smartphone. With today’s access to information, anyone who didn’t know the qualifications to run for political office could
still find out whether or not this kind of issue was worthy of a second of mental energy.

But the truth is that most Americans are mentally lazy and want someone to do the thinking and the speaking up for them. Most Americans function with the herd mentality. Why is it so unthinkable to think and discover the truth for one’s self?  There are people who are declaring that ‘Americans need to take their country back’, but what I want to know is take it back from whom, and where was it taken to by who ever took it?  What are they really saying?

Seriously, if President Obama was not qualified to be the leader of this country, wouldn’t someone have put a stop to his candidacy long before well into his term as president? If there were some scandal that would have discredited his candidacy, wouldn’t they have made sure that information made its way to every news outlet long before now? So what is the investment for Donald Trump or anyone else bringing this ‘birther’ issue up now?  It is obviously because the campaigning is about to begin for the next election and this was an attempt to get President Obama out of office before the end of his term, or at best destroy his potential to be elected for a second term.

So why would I call this genocide? Simply because genocide is an attempt to erase not only an individual but an entire ethnic group. If President Obama could successfully be thrown out of office, it would not only require that his presidency be erased from history, but it would also set the stage to discredit any and every future non-WASP seeking the high office of president.

It wasn’t so long ago that a similar methodology took place in the US, so that one who crossed the boundaries would have to become the example that would let all others know that this would be your fate, if you too get out of line, manifested by an ‘I cant stop you, so I need to destroy you’ mentality. And all though, many want to act like lynchings didn’t take place in this country, they did. And although there are many who have never heard of Emmett Till, it did happen. Sadly there are plenty whose names and faces didn’t make the history books as their lives were taken because of the mentality of those who held true to act upon the sentiments of their heart toward the destruction of others, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen.

So when I see our current president being subjected to challenges of his legitimacy to stand as our president, I have to wonder, what are they really saying, other than they don’t like his policies or what he has done since he has been in office? This is definitely more than an attempt to out campaign the incumbent. This is an attack to discredit his right to lead this country by declaring that he is not American enough to lead America. 

What would make President Obama American enough in their eyes?

What could be changed about President Obama to make him the man that they would proudly accept him as president?

Now that the long form of his birth certificate has been presented, not only to the press, but available online, now what? 

What will be the next attempt to demand that he not go down in history as our first African AND American

Isnt it ironic that with so many Africans brought to this country by force that the president would actually be the child of an African who came to this country of his own free will? It is certain that the sentiments of many regarding certain blends of heritage are present in what is said and what goes unsaid. How do Mitt Romney’s remarks really sound to us?

Lastly, if Donald Trump truly had intentions of becoming our next president or even someone with respect in political circles, why isn’t his energy going towards dealing with his tycoon buddies over in the oil industry, convincing them to help this struggling economy by lowering gas prices at the pump and therefore allowing for more cash flow in the overall economy, which would create economic stability across industries for more than those at the very top?  If Donald Trump or any candidate for that matter, really wants me to take him seriously as a candidate for president, he will have to cut his hair into a normal and reasonable style, and he will have to show that his love for this country is about the lives and economic survival of all Americans.

Should Christians Be Entrepreneurs?

For those of you who know me, this may truly seem to be a rhetorical question, but bear with me as I work through this thought.

Just as an entrepreneur, to be legitimate, must have the proper credentials to work in a geographic region or state, so does any corporation that would hire someone to do the exact same job as an employee of that particular company. In the corporate setting the individual may or may not need to have a license to perform that job. There are many aspects to being an entrepreneur that differ from being a corporate employee, more than I actually care to go into at this time. But it is safe to say that 'it cost to be the boss'. To be an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to invest in your own success or failure.

Now that being said, there are all kinds of people who are capable of performing a specific task or job, who lacks proper training or licensure (what some would call 'boot-leg'). But to truly be defined as an entrepreneur some steps had to be taken to operate or function as a business. For example, as a licensed cosmetologist, I have a license from the state that lets anyone know that I have completed to proper training and met the requirements to have my name on that license. With that license, I have the choice to set up shop for myself or to find a place to work for a business that will allow me to function within the boundaries of my licensure.

As I pondered my heartfelt theological stance on a statement that a friend made, I had to formulate what my stance was on this ideology. Not just as one applicable to business practices, but also as it applies to ministry. It began with hearing someone, who is an entrepreneur repeat what her pastor says regarding those who decide to found or pastor a non-denominational church.  The person I was speaking with made the statement, 'a non-denominational church means they dont want to obey leadership'.

My first instinct was to defend the misconception that all non-denominational churches are not in fellowship with other like-minded ministries/organizations and therefore accountable to that organizations structure. I do realize that most people have been lead to believe that non-denominational churches are all part of some pseudo-christian gypsy like cult.  But the truth is that leaders and churches, do at times, liberate themselves from mainstream denominational obligations for a number of reasons. This does not mean that their ministry is illegitimate or demonic. 

Are there cults out there? Yes.  Are there churches who severed ties with their denomination because they had issues with a  or some of the leaders? Yes.  And there are those who for what ever reason decided that their ministry would function with some level of autonomy, free from the propaganda of denominational politics. All in all, there are many reasons that a church may not be part of denominational affiliation.

Let me be clear, I am not supporting any Jim Jones type situation, but I am saying that there must be some liberty in God. For example, when I was a little girl, I heard a lot of talk about how no one other than those of certain denominations or christian lifestyles would be going to heaven. This kind of talk is hardly ever spoken with the fervor that I recall from back a few decades ago. This seems to have transitioned from an 'if you are aren't with us, your going to hell' mentality to an 'if you arent with some brand name denomination then you must be a treasonous defector of the faith'.  Pastors and churches run the gamut, everything from great to horrible can be found in the mix, but even that is relative to the needs of the people who attend that congregation. We should all be concerned when church becomes the mechanism to destroy people's lives and families, but aside from moral and literal destruction, we should hope and pray that a Christian church will teach true Christian principles regardless of denominational affiliation.

This makes me wonder if Christians are ready to, and truly able to, develop a justification for any type of entrepreneurship. After all, if anyone who is not submitting to the leadership of another is in error, then what does that say to the business entrepreneur? Or is  the entrepreneurial spirit only applicable in business and not appropriate for ministry?  Why is the Church so adamantly opposed to any congregation or leader who is not a part of a mainstream denominational affiliation?

Should all Christians give up their entrepreneurial dreams and conform to the job description and identity given to one by a corporation? Should all Christian leaders only define their call to the ministry according to the perimeters establish with in the denominational structure?

How many people do you know who are working for a corporation, but not fully using their abilities because of the restrictions of the job or the organization? Is that the mindset that one should have about a church or denomination?  Isnt Christianity truly about Liberation from Oppression? Isnt Christianity about being free to walk and live in the fullness of one's God given identity with out being socially obligated to the political and religious legalism? Arent we all accountable to God? As Christians arent we optimistic and hopeful that we can learn to walk in the Liberty of Salvation? If a Christian church is non-denominational does that make the church or the congregants any lesser as believers and followers of Jesus Christ? Did Jesus always go along with the religious order of his day?

April 5, 2011

From BoomBox to BlueTooth

This afternoon as I lay on the couch listening to NPR on my cellphone, my mind drifted backwards to a day when my favorite sounds came through a boombox. Now if you have no idea what a boombox is, then you are really to young to appreciate this written memoir. 

But just to give you some perspective, think of a time when there were no cell phones and the house phone was shared by everyone who lived in the home. There was no answering machine or voicemail, but a pad and pen laying next to the phone. Yes, back then we had to write with a pad and pen on actually paper.  And everyone in the house knew from whom you had received a phone call, either by reading the pad looking for one's own messages or by hearing the words of the person who answered the phone when they said to the caller, 'May I ask who is calling'.  Yes, this was in the days of polite etiquette, before Caller ID. Back in those days, you had to actually answer to phone if you wanted to know who was calling. And you had to answer the phone because the call might be for someone else in the house other than yourself. This was a time when you actually had to talk to the people who lived in the house with you because after all there was no email or text messaging, matter of fact there wasnt even a computer in the home yet.

Computers did exist during this time, but they were off in the mystery locations of scientific labs and used only by techs and geeks for crunching physics numbers and such.  I remember when the IBM computer came to the public. It was beige and bulky, had to weigh about 30lbs, at least......and the screen was black and the writing on the screen was a pea soup green. I also remember when no one really got the concept of the new computer that hit the scene a few years later called Macintosh, no one thought it would be around for long because it seemed to be just something for geeks and nothing that would interest the average person. If you had told me then, that Macintosh would, in a few decades, be the product everyone wanted in their office, car, backpack, pocket and purse, I wouldnt have believed you. And I wouldnt have cared because I had more important things on my mind..... like who was cooler Prince or Morris Day or how I was going to play the drums like Sheila E.  After all, I knew how to moonwalk and I liked a boy who lived up the street because he could pop and lock.

So the boombox, was part of being 'in'........which meant you had to have to newest and best music, if for no other reason, you were the supplier of sound for the household and those who you passed as you walked down the street with the boombox on your shoulders......yes, you could purchase the music from the local record store, but this was the age of the cassette and with a boombox, you could record the song right off the radio. The trick was to get all of they lyrics on the recording, but none of the DJ talking over the intro. There was an art to backing up the tape just enough so that there were no gaps in the songs on the cassette. You also had to make sure that no one was talking in the room while you were making your recording, since the boombox was not connected by wires and there was no such thing as wireless anything back then....not even TV remotes, all the of background noises in the room would be forever stuck on your latest music if everything didnt happen just right.....
But, if you were really talented, you could sit the boombox next to the TV and record the music off of the t.v. shows like American Bandstand, and Soul Train. If you could do this, you were almost guaranteed to have at least one song that no one else had on their boombox.

So fast forward to today, when this generation of mine has somehow made the passage of time into a world where music can just appear on your computer or cellphone for a nominal fee.  And most listening is done through ear plugs or a bluetooth. Yes, back in the my time, a good pair of headphones covered your entire ear like an ear-muff-suction-cup and had a cord which meant you couldnt go but a couple of feet away from the source of the music. Back then looking at someone and talking to them on the phone at the same time was just something unrealistic and only on the Jetson's.

So you can only image my bubbling joy, when I figured out how to actually get my laptop to make a bluetooth connection to my cellphone and transfer a podcast from the computer to the phone. It was like magic right before my very eyes. Suddenly, I didnt have to sit at the computer to listen, I could actually carry this podcast around on my cell. I am slowly learning some of this modern technology and just like Macintosh, I hope to change with the times for the better.

My only regret is that I cant still make a collage on the wall with album covers.............

January 18, 2011

Are you a Thinker or a Numb Scull?

How do you develop your own dream when you are constantly following behind the aspirations of another person? Let me add this disclaimer before I go any further: I realize that there are leaders and there are followers and that this is the natural order of things. I would also add, that even good followers should have asset that they bring to the vision of the one that they are following.

What I am finding is the most of our current social trends are at the hand of what someone says is the right look or the right style or the right motivation or the right neighborhood or the right kind of vehicle, etc.  Most Americans brag about the liberties that are afforded to those of us in this country, but I would argue that most Americans dont really take advantage of such liberties. For example:

1. America does not completely censor the books that are allowed to be read by its citizens, but the average American doesnt read a book a year.

2. American society allows for the freedom of speech, but most American allow someone else to speak on their behalf- not just on minor issues, but on the major issues that affect society, government, and human rights.

3. Americans claim that we represent quality in the treatment of all humanity, but we feed our pets food with prime cuts of meat, all the while showing little to no concern for the starving and destitute human beings in this country.

Numb = unresponsive, unfeeling

Thinker = one of evolved intellectual power

We turn a blind eye to many injustices in this country or we justify why we dont make more effort to address the situations.  There was a time when educated people took pride in the ability to discuss and debate topics. Educated people sharpened their minds and their critical thinking skills by engaging in dialog. It was ok to disagree, with the understanding that there were proofs to validate one's perspective. They even congratulated one another when someone had defended their stance on a subject well. This was a proud thing for educated people to do. Now fast forward to the present, when people are afraid to disagree, afraid to discuss anything with someone of a differing mindset, and surely not willing to debate for the sake of pointing out the factors to each side of a given issue.

I stand amazed at the number of educated people who cant express themselves well on paper or verbally. I stand amazed at how few educated people are able to discuss basic topics of world issues, and even the basics of etiquette. Much of today's common function is what people of yesteryear would refer to as uncouth. But yet, the caste system is very much at work in this country, whether we are willing to admit it or not. I would argue that our response to admitting that the caste system really still exist in this country has manifested in the counter move to dumb down the entire social appearance of American citizens on every level so that it appears that we are all equal. Everybody wears blue jeans. There was a time that jeans (and overalls) were the attire strictly of blue collar works, but now it is fashion with great jeans reaching into the $100s.

What I mean to say, Americans have transformed from dinner at the table with a complete place setting to eating drive thru in the car.  We have exchanged face to face conversation with text messaging (which is totally ruining our ability to spell, use proper grammar, and express complete thoughts).

I am amazed at how many children are graduating from high school with little to no knowledge of classic literature. And now with the current popularity of the 'two years - get a four year degree programs' all over the place, even college educated people are not very familiar with classic works of literature. It is no wonder that we are losing our ability to compete in the world market. What ever happened to the pride in accomplishment that came from having an EARNED DEGREE?  Now it is fashionable to just have a degree, regardless of if you got it by buying it or by attending some drive thru version of academia.

Do I sound bitter?  Well I might just have a right to.   When someone says they have a college degree, I get excited assuming that I have a great opportunity to engage in healthy dialog and most of the time, they cant even discuss the Nightly News. I enjoy learning from others who may have more knowledge than I on some topic or concept........Simply because I spent some good years of my life reading Socrates, Dante, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Barth........etc--- the list could go on. I even had to take Astronomy in college, why because I needed credits in Science and thought it would contain less to memorize than taking another Biology course (I was wrong). I really had no interest in the sky to that extent, but I set looking at slides of sky that all seemed to look alike to me, in an attempt to understand how to look at the sky with a trained eye. I still cant do much more than find the North Star and the dippers. But at that time, I learned enough to pass the test and I can still remember some of the concepts- enough to enjoy a great sci-fi movie, at least.

 But all of this was based on the fact that the University took pride in graduating well-rounded, educated citizens into the work force of America. The school had a reputation to uphold, and therefore set the standards by which achievement in the learning environment would indicate that an employer seeing the University listed on a resume could assume that the individual was not a walking unthinking, only able to accomplish one type of task individual.

Being able to put a respected institution of higher learning on one's resume sets the tone for what the world should expect of that individuals ability to function in the working world and in society at large. I can remember students protesting policies on campus and setting up rallies to address and make people aware of world issues = students had a voice and used it wisely. Students were aware of how their actions or lack of actions affected the social tone of the world. I remember having classmates who wanted to impact the world with interaction in world affairs and local concerns.

Now I am amazed at how few people are aware of the beginnings and transitions that have taken place in Liberation Theology. Most Americans are not aware of the injustices in Latin America that lead to the writings by Catholics regarding the treatment of human beings for the sake of economic, social and political greed.  Many dont know that this would later become the concept used by writers and voices of the struggle, such as James Cone. Many dont realize that much of their own theological need is for a current voice of Liberation. The world is in need of a savior, but the world is also in great need of theological virtues.

But yet, more people tune in daily to listen to a chemically dependent college drop-out who spouts hatred, fear and propaganda, than are willing to invest in their own mental thinking ability. It speaks to the laziness of not wanting to seek out answers and just waiting for someone else to give you the right answers or the life that you want..... It scares me that we are so arrogant in this country that we dont realize how far we have gotten from setting personal standards of accomplishment - other than to see who can go into the most debt to have the newest car or the newest thrown together ply-wood covered with siding house or carry the newest color of Coach on our arms. 

What do we as individuals stand for these days? What do we represent by our own actions? Are we moral or just full of morale? The brain that God gave you, what good to yourself, and society, is coming from how you make use of your God Given Mind?