Posts Tagged ‘ Christian ’

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.

Perspective:Excitement

A.W. Tozer, in his book Of God and Man, writes;

If He is who and what the Christian message declares Him to be, then the thought of Him should be the most exciting, the most stimulating, to enter the human mind.

What Tozer calls us to is to first, see God as who God is not as who we have made God to be.  And to second,  be excited when we those real thoughts of God come into our life. Taking these words to heart is imperative for living a whole life. We, as Christians, want to be excited at the thought of God, but what often happens is that our minds and hearts are convoluted with negative thoughts about what we perceive God to be rather than who God is.  We sometimes get lost in thinking God is a divine police officer who is waiting behind the billboard so he can arrest us for speeding. Sometimes we see God as a cosmic vending machine who simply provides what we need in a non-relational way (and we then get upset, disappointed, or disillusioned when he does not respond with what we want when we push E7 = going to church or A5 = service). Both of these views – and many others – take the relational aspect of God away and are the product of the god our culture – and subsequently churches and theologies – have shaped. God is more than just relational, but God is also always relational. He does not turn off on trait for the sake of another, they are in a constant mix. Although God as judge may at a time be more potent than God is father, He is indeed both at once.

Another implicit value within Tozer’s words is the ability to listen and be aware of God.  Before we can be excited, we must listen. I cannot be excited about my relationships with my friends unless I am taking time to listen to them or to think and remember – listening to the past –  who they are. This is true in our relationship with God, we must remove the distractions, silence our hearts, and find excitement in the now and then presence of God.

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: 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.

Return of bloggin

I apologize for not blogging recently; I have just finished graduate school and am now planning to move to Santa Barbara for a Resident Director position at Westmont College (more on this later). I am going to try to start up the blog again however; my wife and I will be traveling out to California on Thursday and will be going to Taiwan (where my wife’s extended family lives) at the end of June.  For organization sake, when I do start into blogging consistently I am going to “limit” myself within four broad categories.

Art for the Soul – I have done a couple of these already. Basically, I am going to post a music video, art work, poem, lyrics, etc. and either talk about the significance to our lives or simply post the artwork and leave it for interpretation/discussion.

Media Reviews – Think book reviews, but I am going to expand to albums and movies.  Most will probably be over newer works, but I will probably bring up some books, movies, and albums that I am revisiting.  Some works may even be discussed multiple times at various angles. It all depends on how I feel and how much time I have.  *

Commentary – These will be my discussion on news and current events. It may be about immigration, church relations, multiculturalism, economics, urban development, higher education (my current career) etc.

Perspective – While in the commentary I will point out specific events in society and culture, the perspective section will focus on things that have happened in my life or something, outside of the news, that has made me think. These may be simple one-liners, or they may be longer blog posts; it all depends.

To those who have read my blog in the past, thank you for the support. To those who randomly or just recently discovered my blog, welcome. Feel free to go back and scan through old posts and comment if you wish to. To all, don’t just read, respond, I want to know if you like or don’t like my thoughts and perspective. Getting, respectful, pushback on ideas is how we grow.

*I am very far past due on several reviews of books I was supposed to write so in the next week or so I will be posting reviews of the following: Friendship at the Margins, Between Allah & Jesus, Education for Human Flourishing, and maybe a couple others.

Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black

Tim Wise anti-racist writer and activist wrote an interesting piece on the Don’t Tea on Me Blog (my friend Timmy tipped me off to it)

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure – the ones who are driving the action – we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington.

Imagine that a rap artist were to say, in reference to a white president: “He’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.” Because that’s what rocker Ted Nugent said recently about President Obama.

Imagine that a prominent mainstream black political commentator had long employed an overt bigot as Executive Director of his organization, and that this bigot regularly participated in black separatist conferences, and once assaulted a white person while calling them by a racial slur. When that prominent black commentator and his sister — who also works for the organization — defended the bigot as a good guy who was misunderstood and “going through a tough time in his life” would anyone accept their excuse-making? Would that commentator still have a place on a mainstream network? Because that’s what happened in the real world, when Pat Buchanan employed as Executive Director of his group, America’s Cause, a blatant racist who did all these things, or at least their white equivalents: attending white separatist conferences and attacking a black woman while calling her the n-word.

Imagine that a black radio host were to suggest that the only way to get promoted in the administration of a white president is by “hating black people,” or that a prominent white person had only endorsed a white presidential candidate as an act of racial bonding, or blamed a white president for a fight on a school bus in which a black kid was jumped by two white kids, or said that he wouldn’t want to kill all conservatives, but rather, would like to leave just enough—“living fossils” as he called them—“so we will never forget what these people stood for.” After all, these are things that Rush Limbaugh has said, about Barack Obama’s administration, Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, a fight on a school bus in Belleville, Illinois in which two black kids beat up a white kid, and about liberals, generally.

Imagine that a black pastor, formerly a member of the U.S. military, were to declare, as part of his opposition to a white president’s policies, that he was ready to “suit up, get my gun, go to Washington, and do what they trained me to do.” This is, after all, what Pastor Stan Craig said recently at a Tea Party rally in Greenville, South Carolina.

Imagine a black radio talk show host gleefully predicting a revolution by people of color if the government continues to be dominated by the rich white men who have been “destroying” the country, or if said radio personality were to call Christians or Jews non-humans, or say that when it came to conservatives, the best solution would be to “hang ‘em high.” And what would happen to any congressional representative who praised that commentator for “speaking common sense” and likened his hate talk to “American values?” After all, those are among the things said by radio host and best-selling author Michael Savage, predicting white revolution in the face of multiculturalism, or said by Savage about Muslims and liberals, respectively. And it was Congressman Culbertson, from Texas, who praised Savage in that way, despite his hateful rhetoric.

Imagine a black political commentator suggesting that the only thing the guy who flew his plane into the Austin, Texas IRS building did wrong was not blowing up Fox News instead. This is, after all, what Anne Coulter said about Tim McVeigh, when she noted that his only mistake was not blowing up the New York Times.

Imagine that a popular black liberal website posted comments about the daughter of a white president, calling her “typical redneck trash,” or a “whore” whose mother entertains her by “making monkey sounds.” After all that’s comparable to what conservatives posted about Malia Obama on freerepublic.com last year, when they referred to her as “ghetto trash.”

Imagine that black protesters at a large political rally were walking around with signs calling for the lynching of their congressional enemies. Because that’s what white conservatives did last year, in reference to Democratic party leaders in Congress.

In other words, imagine that even one-third of the anger and vitriol currently being hurled at President Obama, by folks who are almost exclusively white, were being aimed, instead, at a white president, by people of color. How many whites viewing the anger, the hatred, the contempt for that white president would then wax eloquent about free speech, and the glories of democracy? And how many would be calling for further crackdowns on thuggish behavior, and investigations into the radical agendas of those same people of color?

To ask any of these questions is to answer them. Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it. When the dangerous and dark “other” does so, however, it isn’t viewed as normal or natural, let alone patriotic. Which is why Rush Limbaugh could say, this past week, that the Tea Parties are the first time since the Civil War that ordinary, common Americans stood up for their rights: a statement that erases the normalcy and “American-ness” of blacks in the civil rights struggle, not to mention women in the fight for suffrage and equality, working people in the fight for better working conditions, and LGBT folks as they struggle to be treated as full and equal human beings.

And this, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.

THOUGHTS?


DeepSpace5 ‘The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be’

RAPZILLA just dropped the information that Deepspace5’s new ablum , The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be, is available for order. If you don’t know about Deepspace5, they are a Christian Hip-Hop collective consisting of Beat Rabbi, Manwell?/DJ Manwell, Fred B, Listener, manCHILD & DJ Dust of Mars ILL, Playdough, Sintax.the.Terrific, Sivion, and Sev Statik.

Also check the video for From The Outside a song on the album.