Archive for the ‘ Faith ’ Category

Perspective: The Rhythm of Silence

The difficulty with silence is the noise of not talking. The sound, which drums up from our soul once the melody of speech, has decrescendoed out of our lives. It is often we misunderstand this melody – the things that we say, articulate, and produce – as the primary part of our personhood. And although it takes much skill and revision to produce a melody – be it simple or complex – the melody simply gives color to the drumming core of the soul. The things that are lived as rhythm. The things only heard by those listening for the baseline, can only be altered by silencing the melody. But when the melody is sliced we must confront the pulsating self, whose tones are sometimes dark and whose sounds clamor. The rhythm, which seemed on point with the melody’s overlay, is understood to be jumbled, wild, and superficial. When listening carefully to the rhythm we see that the harmony between who we are and who we present ourselves to be exists only in snippets. We realize there is a deep disconnect and that the rhythm is plagued by mistakes, unnatural improvisation, and inconsistency. It is only when silencing the melody that we can learn allow God to work in our lives – through our hard work, wisdom from others, open eyes, etc. – to synchronize our self with His symphony.

The Soul of Hip-Hop

I cannot exclaim how excited I am to add another book about Hip-Hop to my library. Not only will The Soul of Hip Hop sit well next to Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, The Hip Hop Wars, Total Chaos Where You’re At (which I plan to someday review), and  others on my office shelf, it will add vital insight to the rich spirituality and faith within Rap music and, more broadly, hip hop culture. Full disclosure , the author, Daniel Hodge, is a friend of mine and I had the honor to have him for a professors while I was studying in Los Angeles.  Nevertheless, I truly believe this book will – for those to take it seriously – provide a strong apology of the compatibility of hip-hop and Christianity. Additionally, Hodge’s analysis will opens us hip-hop to be understood and approached as a culture – with then all the positives and negatives – rather than just a popular phenomena portrayed within popular media.

I just received by book in the mail this afternoon and it has quickly jumped to the top of my reading list. Anyone interested in understanding the depth of hip-hop and its relationship to faith would do well to pick up this ethnomusicological examination.

To get a glimpse of the book find it on google books and check out Hodge’s article on the Fuller website.

Commentary: Mosque Con’t

I found this video of Keith Olberman.

Amen.

Commentary: Ground Zero Mosque

I am sure most everyone has heard about the potential “mosque” near ground zero – in reality it is an islamic-based community center open to all peoples. Newt Gingrich and other primarily politically and socially conservative public figures have becoming increasingly outspoken about their disdain for this idea and claim that it is offensive and un-American – ignoring that 10 percent of those who died in the attacks were Muslim and that the American quilt consist of Muslims. Some have lighter opposition and simply do not want the mosque close to 9-11.

To speak truth, 9-11 was the result of a terrorist attack perpetrated by Muslims. The tragedy is terrorism not Islam. Yes, they were influenced by passages in the Koran, but it is kin to Christian slave owners proliferating modern slavery in colonial and early America. These Christians were inspired by and utilized the Bible as their defense. Slavery, not Christianity, was the issue. Now I am not making a plea for the theological correctness of Islam and I am not an unitarian. Arguments towards such ends are mere strawmen. I believe that the Christian faith, towards which I am unwaveringly committed by the redemption that is in Christ, is concerned with hospitality, even towards those who are quite different. Christianity is concerned with love, even towards – if not especially – towards those who do not know the love of Christ. Christianity is concerned with reconciliation. This reconciliation is perhaps the most potent of points. The terrorists want us to be like them, evil in its simplest, wants to beget more evil. Unjust war begets unjust war. Hatred begets hatred. oppression begets oppression. This is the cycle of sin of transgression. This is the reason why the Father God sent the Christ incarnate; to reconcile us to take us out of the cycle and put us back into right relationship with God. Allowing . . . welcoming, the Islamic center, is a picture of that reconciliation. It is not the full reconciliatory process which we receive through Christ  – to suggest that is blasphemous -,but it is a mirror of that ultimate reconciliation and a means for Christians to be Christ-like and to show the world who the Christ is and what the Christ has done for and offered us all.

Princess and the Frog, Voodoo, & Evil

Over the past year there has been a lot of buzz about the Princess and the Frog which premiered in December. People were encouraged to see an African-American princess, but many were also disappointed that her suitor was not white (I value the multi-racial/ethnic aspect, but also hope that at some point we do see a black prince, more on that in another post). Some were also a little disappointed (spoiler alert!) that the princess spends most of the time as a frog (A concern I share, but I also believe there is so much fervor around the film and the New Orleanian African-American culture is portrayed so strongly that no one will forget she is Black)

Since the release there has been a new slew of critique considering the usage of Voodoo. From my perspective this has come mainly from mothers and/or evangelical Christians (which for clarification sake, I am not the former and only partially the latter).

I had no problems with the Voodoo given Disney’s propensity to use magic. Disney couldn’t use a witch or warlock because the film wasn’t in the context to use Wicca, it was in the context to use Voodoo. The reality is, the witches that we so readily view as “acceptable” evil characters are the white-European equivalent to Voodoo. There are various similarities in the way the spirit world is engaged and interestingly enough the Christian – mainly Catholic – response to these two sets of beliefs.

If you have a problem with magic or witches,  you should also have a problem with Cinderella, the Little Mermaid and most of Disney’s Princess films. What I think made the difference with Princess and the Frog is that this was a depiction of a culturally unfamiliar, but geographically close magic. Americans talk more readily about witchcraft, which makes it not as shocking. We have TV shows – including kid’s shows – about witchcraft, can you imagine having a TV show about Voodoo? Even the magic in Aladdin had been primed by years of I dreamed of Genie.  Voodoo is a partly American magic, but we don’t discuss it, thus when it is portrayed illicits more fear due to its unfamiliarity. Like with most things, we fear that which we don’t understand or is unfamiliar to us.

Perhaps the magic was a little more intense than what Disney has previously produced, but for whom? Children today are more used to intensity and reality than they were a generation ago. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes adults and especially Christian adults can be a little overprotective of our children. Remember the days when children could actually walk to the park, have adventures in the woods, not have to put on hand-sanitizer every time they stepped out of the house or do anything without helicopter parents swooping in? I believe children are much more imaginative, independent (not individualistic) , confident and mature when they are given the freedom to be themselves, be with friends, and be responsible for themselves and their thoughts. I am not saying we throw our children to the wolves. There is some mid-point.  Watch a child who learns anything, they have to be guided through the process. As adults we have to help children to become human beings who think, feel, critique etc. We are called to “raise” our children. Which may at times mean protect, but those words are not synonomus.

Truthfully, I would rather magic be presented realistically, because whether Wicca or Voodoo, it is real. I would rather have children realize the gravity of Magic as opposed to taking it lightly. Would I take a four-year old to the Princess and the Frog? No. But I wouldn’t take a four-year old to most Disney movies. Would I debrief with an eight year old? Yes. But I would do so for ANY movie we went to.

* By the way, things were intense in the Lion King. Remember that dark musical scene with Scar and the hyenas and the fact that Mufasa was murdered? Talk about evil. And there wasn’t even Magic involved . . . oh yea except for the illusions via Rafiki.

Thoghts about pop-culture, ethics, morality and value ispired from a conversation on facebook.

Although we have moved away from overtly signing songs and telling folk tales or myths as ways to convey ethics, values and meaning in our culture, popular culture has become the town square, campfire and village gathering that the contemporary person covertly learns societal values through. The tragedy is not the vehicle of information. The tragedy is that the stories and songs are no longer mediated by elders seeking to guide the community they are mediated by some guys trying to make a buck.

Vince Campbell

Here are three youtube clips of great commentary on the early church – specifically the divisions that emerged from different cultural perspectives and cultural philosophies.  The video is from a workshop he and Soong Chan Rah led at this year’s CCDA (which I was unfortunately unable to attend).

Vince is currently a PhD student at Catholic University, studying the early African church.

Thoughts?