Archive for May, 2009

Chuck D, Hip-Hop, Music and Civil Rights

Chuck D. speaks personally about the intersection of music and civil rights. Check D. will be apart of a  PBS special called Freedom Songs. The show will include several other famous African-American personalities including; Louis Gossett Jr. Gladys Knight; Pete Seeger; Ruby Dee; Jerry Butler; and the Blind Boys of Alabama. They will all be exploring the role of music in the civil-rights movement – both personally and socially. Here in Huntington the program is airing on PBS, this Sunday night at 6:30, but I would check your local listings to make sure you know when it is going to be on in your area.

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Co-Working

My friend Kristen tipped me off to an innovated concept called co-working

Seems like a normal, trendy small business right? Well that would be so, but the individuals working “together” are from a variety of occupation and vocations. This area, reminiscent of a coffeehouse, acts as a sort of community working area. There is a board room, offices desks etc.  Co-working essentially provides office space for workers who would otherwise be without a place to work.

As soon as I saw this idea I loved the possibilities.  I can see it being beneficial for adjunct professors, writers, consultants, photographers, artists, small business owners etc.  As a higher education professional, I think I would seek to form a relationship between a co-working space and the adjuncts at my institution.  One of the most frustrating aspects of an adjunct professor’s job is the lack of any office space. Perhaps a combination of shared office space and co-working could ease the stress of their job.

Part of me thinks, “coffeehouses are great places to work, right?”  But it is easy to be distracted by noisy teenagers, cell phone talkers or simply those people with whom you have wonderful conversations. Although there is a joy in the unpredictability of a coffeehouse it doesn’t help individuals finish their work, which is not  pleasing to publishers, editors, clients, deans, and others who have deadlines. This co-working idea, is something in between the chaotic coffeehouse and the sterile office space.

One of the most promising things about this is the potential to renovate older or abandoned buildings. Many of these co-housing networks are in urban space that has not been filled.  But co-working is very flexible, it can be in a suburban strip mall, small town downtown, or  urban center. It gives the opportunity to “re”new instead of” build” new.

Another possible benefit it the cultivation of a creative class within a region, city, community or neighborhood. It has been cited that artists, writers, musicians and such are an impetus towards a vibrant community. Perhaps these spaces will welcome creative people to a community.

I would love to see some of these pop up in Huntington or Fort Wayne. If I had time and/or money I would jump on it. I already have several ideas of where it could happen.  Hopefully someone with money and time finds this idea useful.

Take a listen to this NPR story if you want to hear about a group in NY that decided combine office space

The Future

The Denver Channel

A Denver third-grader will be front and center at the Colorado State Capitol Saturday pushing for same sex marriage in the state. Ethan McNamee arranged the rally as an independent class project.He was concerned about the issue after hearing about anti-gay remarks on the playground and then learning about a same sex couple in his neighborhood that couldn’t get married.

“Everybody is different in a good way,” he said.Ethan believes that if two people love each other that is the only issue to be considered. Ethan took it upon himself to arrange the rally and line up the guest speakers. He admitted it was more work then he thought it would be, but adds it was fun. Administrators at Montclair Elementary have been sensitive to the controversial issue. Parents were notified about Ethan’s project and only students who wanted to get involved participated. A handful of kids helped Ethan make signs on Friday afternoon.Ethan’s teacher, Kyle Kimmal, said he was careful to not impose his views on Ethan. He also told Ethan that his stand could anger some classmates and parents and that he should be prepared for protestors at the state capitol.

Like this or not, this is the future of America.

I still struggle with the idea of Gay Marriage – I personally define marriage as between a man and a women, so does President Obama -,  but I also believe that there is a marked difference between a marriage before God and a marriage before the state. I don’t believe God honors the marriage of two men or two women, however that doesn’t mean the state – which is not an extension of Christian ideology or theology – should have the same reservations. I know that statement opens up a can of worms, but it is what I hold to.

The reality is divorce over anything but infidelity is just as sinful and I don’t know if it matters if you live  a life within the sin of being  homosexually married or if  you live unrepentant of previous sin – divorce.

Although I have the same view – legally – as this child, I am a little uncomfortable with a boy making a speech and leading a rally- just as I would be with a third grade Christian boy preaching a sermon to the nation. Having a child as a public spokesperson seems a little manipulative.  One additional – and fundamental – thing that bugs me is Ethan’s comment

Everybody is different in a good way.

I understand where he is coming from, but this is a scary thing to be teaching our children. This is relativism at the core. And honestly, relativism doesn’t benefit anyone, it undercuts arguments made by same-sex marriage supports and “traditional” marriage advocates. We need to debate and disagree and come to conclusions, it doesn’t to any good to just give into the every ideology out there. If everyone is different in a good way, then those who believe in “traditional marriage” are different in a good way the same as those who are same-sex marriage advocates. There is no conclusion there, no balance just an amorphous existence which will exacerbate frustrations rather than address them.

I am not trying to break the logic of this kid; thus relativism it is the under girding philosophy behind his words and behind our post-modern (although we distort what that means) American culture. That is dangerous. That view is being praised by some of those supporting the LGBTQ community, but I am not sure they are thinking about the negative ramifications it has on them.

We need – and cannot escape – belief, it drives all of us. This young boy’s views on the LGBTQ community are going to become more and more commonplace. And though I disagree with the LGBTQ lifestyle, the primary issue is the suggestion that everyone can be right. This does work for any belief system “religious”, social or otherwise.  Lets work out are differences and not put on masquerades of tolerance.

The greatest threat to our planet!!!!

This is a great video which recently won a contest for the Congress for the New Urbanism. If you don’t know what New Urbanism is take a quick look at this video and then venture to wikipedia. I don’t think New Urbanism is perfect, but it is a we need to philosophy be thinking very seriously about because its concepts are pretty good.

Jon & Kate + 8 = Shambles

I didn’t read the book – my wife did – but I have seen the TLC TV show. My wife and I are flabbergasted by the embrace that Jon & Kate + 8 has received from the evangelical Christians world. Specifically, what is bothersome is the fascination with Kate – it is interesting that there is no acknowledgment of Jon,  I wonder if it comes from his leadership style, he is not a White-male authoritarian leader he is quieter Asian (though he is multi-racial) leader.

Much of it perhaps spawns from the Evangelical and conservative emphasis on motherhood. How can a mom who is a “Bible-believing” Christian with eight children not be considered as the best mother within Evangelical Christendom?

But I question . . .

Why did the Christian world get sucked into Jon and Kate’s world? Why did we exemplify them? Why are Christian women reading Multiple Blessings – published by Zonverdan (and probably will continue to)? Why did Kate do an interview with Today’s Christian Woman, a part of Christianity Today International?

Critics, both Christian and not point to the way Jon and Kate treat one another and the lac of grace in their interactions, however Kate suggests that that is normal behavior for a family.

Yeah. I definitely know there’s a lot of ugliness out there about us. Honestly, I think a lot of it’s because people squirm at how real we are. I think it bothers some people because it makes them think, If cameras were at my house, what would they capture? Would I be okay with that being aired?

I more than squirm. I am mad that we are allowing this family to represent at “Christian Family” Their marriage is horrible. I of course realize that we don’t see every aspect of their lives, but the way they speak to one another – honestly its Kat’s bossiness and Jon’s apathy – is anything but Christian. They do not work together on issues and disrespect each other. Specifically, they disrespect one another to the camera. Not in front of the camera. It is not that they do disrespectful, unloving things and the Camera catches them – that is real life – they make derogatory comments directly to the camera and to the audience about their spouse.

It would be one thing if they were caught on camera rolling their eyes, disrespecting one another, being ungrateful etc, and then apologized and reconciled with one another. This issue is they don’t do that. Perhaps the cameras just are playing that part, but the book suggests the same thing. As a married man, there is no way my relationship with my wife would be healthy if we treated each other this way. This backbiting is a LONG way from the love of Christ.

Now through all of the mess, there are rumors that Jon and/or Kate has been unfaithful.

Vancouver Sun

With the world’s tabloids salivating over every detail of her husband Jon’s alleged affair with a 23-year-old teacher, Kate Gosselin now finds herself in the adultery spotlight, with allegations she has become more than a little too close to her bodyguard.

According to US Weekly, many people have been noticing the affection that clearly exists between Kate and her bodyguard, to the point where Jon threatened to hire a private detective to get to the truth of the matter.

I don’t know if Jon or Kate has had a physical affair – I think they have been emotionally and spiritually unfaithful for a while.  I sure hope neither of them did, but honestly I don’t believe their marriage offers much for either of them. That doesn’t mean if either of them cheated they are off the hook. I am simply just not surprised.

Apparently, now Kate is considering divorce.

Okay she isn’t really considering a divorce she is just lost in all of this drama. But why is Kate addressing the public (and trashy magazines) by herself, especially if she and Jon want to have a good marriage? This isn’t something that you just do on your own. You do it together.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t envy Jon and Kate. Raising 8 little ones has to be extremely difficult. I understand how they can treat each other poorly and even have an affair. I pray – truly – that their relationship improves. Although they have a multiplicity of issues they need to address – especially Kate’s demeaning attitude and her seeming lust for the limelight and Jon’s respondent apathy. It is not them who need to be taken to task, it is Christian media.

This show is being generalized to represent Christianity. Stuff Christians Like made references to this show being a “Christian” thing. Perhaps Christians don’t want to turn their back on the couple, but I don’t think that fear is necessary. Christian media doesn’t have to claim they aren’t Christians – that would be preposterous – they simply need to stop funding them and state that these are not the values of a Christian family. Jon and Kate never were a good example of how a Christian family should operate and now they are even further from what God desires. Part of love within the Christian faith is calling out those who claim faith, but are not living that faith out.

I am not the first blogger to go at the show and Christian media’s endorsement and I hope I am not the last. Jon and Kate could easily be Christians, if they present that on their show that is a great thing, but we as Christians shouldn’t get sucked into their lives and set it up as some ideal nor should we ignore the ways that their actions are extremely unchristian.

Equity Vs. Equality

Equity

– Fairness: actions, treatment of others, or a general condition characterized by justice, fairness, and impartiality

Equality

– State of being equal: rights, treatment, quantity, or value equal to all others in a specific group

Which value should we promote?

Ming-Taur to Mary?

Think Progressive posted an update about Republican Rep. (Texas) Betty Brown’s recent (a month ago) comments about Asian immigrants and Asian-Americans changing their names so they are easier to pronounce.

Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?” Brown said.

Brown later told [Organization of Chinese Americans representative Ramey] Ko: “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”

There are several issues with Rep. Brown’s statements.

1 – Many Asian-Americans already have names with European origins. This is probably more present with second generation Asian-Americans than recent immigrants because many parents realize that their children will be growing up in an American context. However, even though parents may give their children European origin names they also often give their children  names from their cultural language be it Korean, Thai, Cantonese, Mandarin, Hindi etc.

2- She reduces Asian-American to Chinese. There is much to be said about this, but her reductionism is self evident.

3 – She speaks with heavy ethnocentrism.  We have to adjust to one another, building a society is not about assimilation. That was perhaps the mantra of the early 1900’s, but that was tragically flawed. Societies are formed with diversity being honored and acknowledged. Individuals are enhanced by having to learn and understand languages and cultures different than their own. Even something as simple as learning a name is important and can launch individuals in greater cultural understanding.

4 – Rep. Brown ignores the gravity of language as a form of identity. Changing ones name is apart of losing ones cultures. African slaves took European names of slave masters. While Africans did create unique African-American cultures, this was due to oppression, isolation and injustice. Despite this oppression-breed culture, identity is a complex problem with African-Americans and ties to history are often lost partially from adapting the name of a slave master.

This affects those of European American heritage too. I think part of the reason many Whites don’t consider themselves as ethnic is the issue of name changes. Ellis Island, the gateway to America, brought many individuals in this country, but many of them lost their heritage when their names were made easier to pronounce (probably at school/work etc, not actually at Ellis Island). Some White Americans can track their ancestry and they know when and where their names were adapted, but even then I suggest that regardless of whether you know your original name there is something different living life with the name Kent instead of Kantaruk.

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There could be more to say about the flaws in her suggestion, but I think it is important to point out that I don’t believe Rep. Brown is racist.

Ignorant? Yes.

I think that she believes this suggestion is being helpful. However, the reality is her “help” is confounded by her naiveté and ignorance. I hope that someone has spoken to Rep. Brown and explained the deep issues with her suggestion. And then I hope she realizes her insensitivity and apologizes – specifically to the Asian-American community.

But I don’t think Rep. Brown is alone. It is easy to not acknowledge language as an important facet of culture. We want people to learn English (interestingly enough even when they already know English but feel more comfortable speaking their native language) and become “American”, but what does that mean? Many of us have had our thoughts about “those people” in the supermarket speaking Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, Korean, Polish etc. Perhaps they were not severe ethnocentric thoughts, perhaps it was a sense of minor discomfort, but they were questioning thoughts nonetheless.

Is it “American” to only speak English? Can” American” be defined as a conglomeration of people who speak a number of languages and who have emerged from a variety of backgrounds? Perhaps having a multilingual society is the direction our nation needs to go.