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Friday, April 28, 2017

Embodying the Good News as Justice

The Starting Point

The setting or place that theology is found in determines what God is doing and how God is involved in the affairs of God’s people.  As liberation theologian James Cone says "Each theology is characterized by its struggle against the dominance of Europe and North America and by its creative attempt to fashion a perspective on the gospel that arises out of the people's struggle to liberate themselves from oppression."  In this time of unparalleled injustice throughout the globe that oppresses, subjugates, and appropriates human life, responses are required that speak life and seek justice in these matters are important for the well-being of human family.  This fact holds true for those who profess a particular religious faith and those who do not, because justice is a common human need for all—no matter if they believe in God or not.  Moreover, this fact is extremely important for those who reside in the urban centers of these United States who experience the injustice of excessive police brutality, food deserts, economic disenfranchisement, and violence on a daily bases.  These folk, who reside in these centers are predominately African American, Latino/Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islanders.  From New York to Chicago down to Atlanta and New Orleans and out to Los Angeles and Oakland folk from these communities are calling for a response.  A response that gives them the good news.

                  The Revelatory Relevant Good News

From a biblical perspective and from the teachings of Jesus, justice is the response of God for all of God's people who are victims of injustice (evil).  The proverbial writer says "When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous, but dismay to evildoers" (Proverbs 21:15).  This is why African Americans exclaim that "Black Lives Matter," as a response to the unwarranted killing of Black men by law enforcement throughout the country.  God's justice tells us that God is aware of the injustices that cause death and distress to Black life.  And, more importantly, that God is ready to act on behalf of Black lives.  In this context, as Latin American liberation theologian Pablo Richard asserts "God's Word becomes a source of hope and life," as it always has been for African Americans since their involuntary arrival on eastern shores of the United States.  And, even though their evangelization was achieved by unjustifiable means, “the Word of God has been a source for survival and resistance for Black people, because it offered them "an inspiration for alternatives and utopias" that gave them hope.  A liberative evangelism or liberative sharing of God's good news tells Black men and women who face insurmountable brutality by law enforcement that Black Lives Matter because the good news," as Cone says "is also a prophetic word about the righteousness of God that must be spoke in clear, strong, and uncompromising language."  In that, the good news speaks the truth to power and proclaims justice wherever injustice shows its despicable face.  Moreover, the gospel "demands that I (we) take a side, and that side is always the side of the oppressed," as Dr. Keith A. Burton says.

                                                       God's justice tells us that God is with us. 

The Good News Addresses the Issue

As a prophetic word about God's justice for African Americans who face extreme police violence, Jesus says very cogently through his recitation of the Prophet Isaiah's words in the Lukan text "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor" (Luke 4: 18-19).  In these prophetic words, Jesus announces God's justice. As evangelistic servants and witnesses of God's word, we are (I am) called to do the same in this time of gross police brutality against Black men and women.  Dr. Mark Teasdale asserts "The Incarnation of Jesus is the promise of God to meet people in every time and place with the fullness of salvation."  Therefore, the evangelistic practices that would breathe life into this horrid matter are found in the model of practice called R.A.P.I.D. that was formulated by D.A. Horton.

Restore Dignity to Blacks in the United States who are impact by police brutality and all forms of injustice.
Affirm the ethnic identity of Black Christians.
Promote "All" Black Lives Matter.
Institute Ethnic Conciliation that build relationships with Christians of all ethnicities.
Develop Biblical Guardrails for Co-Belligerency with like-minded believers, believers who may differ, and nod-believers that embody stewardship and missiological motives that advocate for justice. 

Evangelism as justice opens the doors of the sanctuary to people who lives have been deemed to be killed.  Evangelism as justice embodies the missional work of Jesus, as the transformational work of God that identifies God's presence; and moreover that tells Black men and women, God is on your side.  In essence, sharing the good news is a matter of awareness, not only about scripture and Jesus, but also about being aware of the context.  Thus, being aware of the context (especially where injustice is the order of the day) gives us the ability to share God's good news to victims of injustice, and witness to God's intervention in human matters.

As the God of Justice, God is calling the evangelistic community to practice a mode of evangelism that embodies the good news.  As witnesses of what God does in the life of Jesus and movement of the Holy Spirit, the church has been called to evangelize God's people not solely for conversion or church membership, "but also for the undertaking of action to release and to liberate" Black victims of police brutality and all forms of injustice.  And, when followers of Christ undertake liberative action, evangelism becomes a practice of restoration, in that, we become "repairers of the breach," sharing the the good news that proclaims Black Lives Matter because God is the God of Justice.  

CLICK THE LINK TO HEAR Pastor's Speak on why Black Lives Matter 

Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in. ~Isaiah 58:12


Cone, James H. “Evangelization and Politics: A Black Perspective.” Black Theology: A
Documentary History, volume two: 1980-1992. eds. James H. Cone and Gayraud
S. Wilmore. Maryknoll: Orbis, 1993. ISBN 0-883344-773-8.

Evangelism Online, Twitter Feed.

Horton, D.A. Viewing Black Lives Matter, Part 4: D.A. Hortin looks at Black Lives Matter missiologically.

New Revised Standard Version.

Richard, Pablo. Reading the Apocalypse: Resistance, Hope, and Liberation in Central America in David Rhoads. From Every People and Nation. Kindle Edition, 2010.

Thompson, Christopher C. Black Lives Matter: SDA Pastors and leaders speak and explain why #BlackLivesMatter and what the church can do to continue to affirm and protect our young black males.

Monday, January 30, 2017

2016 a Random Retrospective

For me, 2016 was a year closure.  I was able to forgive and let go of many things that were hindering me from completion.  I recognize that the Creator has given me the profound gift of resiliency; resiliency not solely from the point of view of not giving up, but from the point of view of completing a cycle.  To put it differently, I would describe it as "Seeing It Through," a play off the great poem by Edgar A. Guest "See It Through."  To back track a bit, I want to say another word about forgiveness.  Forgiveness or forgiving some one is not only about you forgiving someone, it is also about you seeking forgiveness from those you have knowingly or unknowingly offended.  This also allows the doors of completion to be opened.  So, regardless if you are able to ask directly speak the person or by putting it out in the universe--our charge as members of the human family is to resolve all matters of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is a matter of the heart!

I was not as successful with my meat reduction, but I was able to end 2016 and move into 2017 on a raw food detox.  This has allowed me to reduce the intake of meat significantly.  My next objective is to work on my enjoyment of potato chips!  With chips and other snacks like my vanilla and oatmeal raisin cookies, bean pie, carrot cake and other enjoyable sweets I go through phases.  My health had been great up until September due to a slight setback, but I have made a significant comeback!  Graduation is on the horizon!  But, I have some things I need to resolve professional and career wise...   2017 looks to be interesting!  Intentionality*Prosperity*Insight*Focus*Service*Productivity

Peace, Love, & Light!

Monday, January 18, 2016

2015 in Retospect

The past year was a year of confirmation, controversy, and challenge. I have grown tremendously in my faith in Allah (God).  I still believe God is One regardless whatever name one chooses to call the ultimate transcended being.  I recognize I have been prepared to persevere and endure the race.   I recognize I have been prepared to surpass all that comes against me. I am thankful for God's intervention in my affairs.  The line my man Inspecta Deck spit in one of my favorite joints (Above The Clouds) ring relevant "Stand like colossus regardless to whom or what."  That is what 2015 has taught me to stand no matter the situation.  Standing is symbolic in that it is Faith, Confidence, Assurance, Humility, and Strength.  

 My health is well, however, I am looking to take it to a new level by reducing my meat intake to strictly to fish, some turkey, and lamb.  Yes, I am going to put the chicken down at some point within this year (Damn, I love me some Jerk Chicken).  Eventually, it will be strictly fish on my dish, as the great Rakim said.  I have been consistent with my physical training, and that has been a blessing, as I enter my fifth year post transplant.  

2016 looks to be a year of service, growth and completion.  

Peace, Love, and Light

Saturday, February 7, 2015

It's Only a Test

If you are in a difficult time in your life please trust and believe that The Creator "got chu." Don't fear what comes to test or try you, God knew it would come. Your and my duty under trial is to trust and believe without fear and cowardice. The Scripture says to us:

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you…” (1 Peter 4.12). Chambers says "If we do think the things we encounter are strange, it is because we are fearful and cowardly." The prophet Isaiah said, God said, "So, do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious (righteous) right hand" (41:10).

There's an oft repeated prayer by the Muslims that goes: "I seek refuge in Allah (God) from anxiety and grief, from the lack of strength and laziness, from cowardice and niggardliness. From being overpowered by debt and the oppression of men. Suffice me with what is lawful and keep me away from what is prohibited. And with your grace make me free from want of what is beside you." In times of trial or distress remember that it is only a test; and that God has given you and put inside you all you need to pass it. -Peace, Amen, Ameen, Ase

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Fourth of July: Blackwards...

Universal Greetings & Salutations To The People of The Human Family.  Today is independence day in America.  The historical relevance of this day is intricate and complicated.  For people of color like Native and African Americans the history is a stained and tainted one.  The declaration stated that "All men were created equal."  But those of us in the African and Native American community know this was far from the case.  Especially the fact that many of the signers of the declaration were slavers.  As the great ancestor Frederick Douglass pointed out in his 1852 speech "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" "I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us.  I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary!  Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us.  The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. — The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me.  The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me.  This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn."  The points Douglas makes are points that poke America contemporarily, perhaps not in the same context, but in the same sentiment.  The notion that America has become a post-racial nation is ludicrous.  The systemic evils that have crippled people of color especially Africans Americans suggest the rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by us--in totality."
"The 4th of July is also not Independence Day for people of color.  It wasn't until the 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870 that all men had the right to vote regardless of race -- on paper, that is, not in practice. People of color were systematically, and all too successfully, disenfranchised for another century.  July 4th of 1776 was certainly not a day of Independence or reverence for Native Americans.  It wasn't until 1924 that Native Americans could unilaterally become citizens of the United States and have the voting rights to go with it." -Carina Kolodny

Make no mistake, America has come a long way since 1776, and she is a great nation, but, she has egregiously digressed.  Yes, even with the first sitting African American POTUS.  One may ask, "Why point this out?" "Why bring up the past?"  They may state "You are free, you could be living in a country like Iran or Cuba," or "If you dislike America then go live somewhere else."  I point this out because as a spiritual man, I know like the great Dr. MLK, Jr. knew "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."  I point this because as a spiritual, I know like author of Declaration of Independence knew "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever."  I bring this up the past because as Malcolm X stated "“Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research.  And when you see that you’ve got problems, all you have to do is examine the historic method used all over the world by others who have problems similar to yours. And once you see how they got theirs straight, then you know how you can get yours straight.”  America has not been beautiful for people of color, and when we hear from those who say they want to return America back to what she was or "never appreciated the benefits of local fascism," we tremble.  We tremble because we know what this type of patriotic-talk means.
"Happy white peoples independence day the slaves weren't free but I'm sure they enjoyed the fireworks." -Chris Rock

When people of color bring up or point out America's past, it is not because we dislike or hate America, although some do, but it because we see what America can be.  The greatness that is in America inspires the world.  The goodness that is the America people inspires the world.  But the same can be said about the evil that is in America because there is a thin line between greatness, goodness, and evil.  Paraphrasing Minister Louis Farrakhan "One can be great, but that doesn't mean their good, because good is a moral quality that one possesses."  America's evils are seemingly outweighing her greatness and the goodness found in her
citizens.  All one has to do is look at the world picture screen to get a not so picturesque view of how America is seen throughout the world.  To the world America is at the top of "spiritual wickedness (existing) in high places," she is the master architect of "principalities--powers and rulers of darkness in this world."  In most instances, there is a difference between America and the American people.  Many American people know America has not been be all that she can be, they know that her laws are unjust, and they know that if she is the Christian Nation she claims to be that God's justice will not sleep forever, because it "rolls down like rivers of running water."  Many Americans see what Thomas Jefferson saw that America will have to answer for what she has done and is doing.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Black Business: Why Blacks don't support Black Businesses?

Why Blacks don't support Black Businesses?

According to late psychologist Dr. Amos Wilson "Identity is essential to economics..." In other words, if one does not identity with one's culture its easy to spend your money with others. African American businesses often fail because we no longer identify with being Black holistically.  We've been Americanized in a way that has taken us from the idea of collective work & responsibility (Ujima) and cooperative economics (Ujamaa) as a people.  You darn for sure won't see the Chinese spending a ton of money outside of their community.

Dr. Umar Johnson says "teaching your child that they have a shared identity with their enemy is one of the worst things you can do."  Essentially, what Johnson is saying is, by assimilating ourselves into a system that constantly and consistently attacks Black culture, we are serving a death sentence.  Question is like Joe Madison - "The Black Eagle" often asks "What are you (we) gonna do about it?"  And, the reality is, we can do something about it, if we so choose, in spite of the obstacles.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Normalization of Sexual Orientation

The onslaught of media attention over one's sexual preference has hit a level of polarization that makes me wonder.  Why is the choice of one's sexual orientation a big to do?  Is there an agenda behind it?  Of course, I have some understanding of why, and we can run the issue from end zone to end zone.  That is not my undertaking here.   I believe it is one's right to have a preference, and I'm not opposed to that. But, to presuppose that being gay is the new Black, is extreme.  Notably, the LGBTQ community has experienced suppression in various forms, but not to the level of the Black community.  As one of my colleagues said, "There is no comparison."
African American Men wearing "Gay is the new Black" T-Shirt

If I decide to come out like radio host Rickey Smiley as "heterosexual."  Will that make the news or be written off as mere comedy?  When one decides to "come out" such as former pro athlete Michael Sam it truly is their decision, and everyone doesn't need to know.  It's the individual's business and responsibility to be comfortable with the skin their in--not mine, or anyone else's.  I am not an advocate of homophobia, and anyone who chooses to harbor ill feelings against those in the LGBTQ community must stand down.  Constructive honest dialog is the order of the day, and this is the approach I choose to take.

Theologically speaking, transgression is transgression, and the human family shares a common bond when it comes to wrong doing.  The question was raised in my theology class last night: Is being gay the sin or is the sexual act the sin?  There are strong arguments on both sides.  I don't believe being gay in "name" or "title" is a sin because gay, lesbian, etc. is one's sexual preference or orientation--not the sexual act.  According to the standard that the scriptures set biblically and quranically--the "sex act" is the sin.  Therefore, one cannot judge or condemn the LGBTQ community based on a "title."  Many hear the name or title, and automatically think sin.  At the end of the day, we all will have to present ourselves before God as one approved, and give account of our record.

Former Pro Football Player Michael Sam
The reality is, we are in a media age that puts the public into dissemination overload.  The attempt to "normalize" sexual preference and orientation makes me question the agenda.  

Do those in the LGBTQ community deserve the universal and inalienable human rights given to others?  Absolutely!  But, to normalize the obstacles the community endures as having something in common to the plight of the Black struggle is far from the crux of the matter.  Gay, being deemed as the new Black has become the new slogan... But, that is very offensive, misleading, and problematic on many levels, as being gay is not a badge of racial pride, especially when one thoroughly examines what it means to be Black and gay.  In fact, in many cases Black folk who are a part of the LGBTQ community have been alienated and marginalized because of their race, and not their sexuality.  *Originally written Feb 2014, Updated Feb 2016.

Further reading to consider:

‘No Blacks’ Is Not a Sexual Preference. It’s Racism

The People’s District: 5 Reasons Gay is Not the New Black

Are Gay Men More Racist Than Straight Men?


‘You’re Really Nice, but I Don’t Date Black Guys’: Racism or Preference? (VIDEO)
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