Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Is this what it took?

Peace and blessings,

It appears that Paul Mooney (comedian who was the "ask a black man" guy on the Dave Chapelle show and the father of Damon Wayans' character in Bamboozled), decided to no longer use the "N" word and the "B" word. He says that watching Michael Richards use the word the way he did "scared" him, prompting him to critically look at the word's impact. Growing up I struggled with using the "N" word, seeing how on one in it could make me feel so included yet devalued at the same time. I eventually decided to do away with the word. I did so because even though it can be used as a term of endearment, acceptance, or whatever, changing the usage of the word does totally do away with the nature in which the word was formed and used. I also feel that any word that I have to think about using only in certain contexts is a word that should not come out of my mouth in the first place. I guess being called a "nigger" by someone I considered a close friend can do that to you, lol. I pray that all people seriously decide to stop using both the "N" and the "B" words. Although the focus of Paul Mooney's decision will probably focus on the "N" word, I think it is equally laudible that he decided to do away with the "B" word as well. Although i'm disappointed that it took the Michael Richards incident for a prominent entertainer to decide to stop using those words, better late than never. A link to the article is provided at the bottom. Until next time, speekonit...


Sunday, November 26, 2006

News Section Updated

Peace and Blessings,

I included a couple of articles in the "worldwide" news section about the recent beef between Rwanda and France. Some of it stems from the 1994 genocide and some of it stems from more recent incidents. Check it out and speekonit...

On the Michael Richards incident...

Peace and blessings,

I pray everyone's holiday was well. Or if you don't celebrate it, atleast you used these few days off to spend with family and loved ones. I'm sure most of you have heard of the incident involving Michael Richards' racist and degrading comments at the laugh factory. Although I am in no position to past judgement on anyone because there are times where I stereotype other ethnic groups and act out of prejudice(either directly or indirectly, through actions or through thoughts), I especially think that those who are constantly in the public eye (e.g. actors, comedians, etc...) need to be extremely careful for what comes out of their mouth because of their words' potential impact on their listeners. Don't get me wrong, we all need to check our individual prejudices and need to be held accountable, but this should definately be the case for those who have people pay to come hear what they have to say. When you think about it, when we pay (e.g. with our money or time) to hear people speak(e.g. comedians, artists, scholars, etc...), we are in essence paying for the expression of their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. It's the same with purchasing any music artist's cd. Therefore, given the fact that people paid something to hear Michael Richards speak, his motives behind saying what he say are independent of the potential impact it can have on not only those his comments were directed towards, but on his audience as well. It goes back to that scripture that says the power of life and death is in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). We continue to pray (not only for Michael Richards and for those whom his words affected, but also) that we watch not only what we do, but what we say and think as well, because according to the Bible they are all the same. Below is the incident at the laugh factory as well as the his apology on the David Letterman show. Take care and as always, speekonit...



Sunday, November 19, 2006

It's Time to Get "Exposed"

Peace and blessings,

I pray all is well with everyone. About two months ago, a great friend of mine and woman of God, Tiffani Johnson, released an album entitled "Exposed." The album is a hybrid of the most intricate sorts. It successfully and beautifully combines neo-soul and gospel, while incorporating alittle rock where appropriate. I'm a firm believer in the idea that the strength and quality of an album is often determined by its intro. And needless to say, this intro, in which Tiffani proclaims that when it comes to God's goodness, she "just can't hold it in," sets the tone for the rest of the album. The next track, "after the love is gone" starts off as sort of a love ballad addressing the frailty of human relationships and the security of a relationship with God, before switching to a more up-beat, gospel sound towards the end. "My plea," which is undoubtedly my favorite track on the album, features a destiny-type match between the Brandelyn's annointed voice and the smooth, "just sit back and groove"-type beat. This song expresses the hurt and sorrow one feels for their fellow brothers and sisters who are suffering for whatever reason, with Tiffani dropping a verse at the end imploring us to do something about the individual and social injustices we are constantly made aware of. "You gave you" is a ballad about showing appreciation for Jesus' ultimate sacrifice (bearing the burden of our sins), and trying to return the favor by giving ourselves to Him. "I surrender all" picks up where the previous song left off, emphasizing the importance of not just giving God our problems, struggles, and concerns, but striving to give God every aspect of our lives to God. This track concludes with Tiffani charging the body of Christ to lace up our shoes and run this race in the name of social justice: to live not just to attain our personal blessings, but to be a blessing to and advocate for the marginalized and oppressed. The album ends with "David's poem" and "David's song," where the poem serves as an intro into the song, which is a plea for God to continue to shower us with His grace and love, despite our shortcomings.

Overall, the album's themes revolve around the life of David (his trials, triumphs, and his hear for God) and social justice, and how these implications for all of us seeking to know God and thus ourselves, more. Although only seven tracks, this album is a "banger" that challenges not only our conception of what constitutes gospel or Christ-centered music, but our conceptions of what is means to follow Jesus. I recommend everyone cop this album, for either the music, the message, or both. Below is a link to the album's info at cdbaby.com. Take care, enjoy, and as always, speekonit...

Album info: http://cdbaby.com/cd/tiffanimarie

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Building of the MLK Memorial is finally underway

Peace and Blessings,

In recent news, the building of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in the National's Capitol has finally begun. Below is a little clip from that news segment. Also, below is a 10 minute clip of his "I've been to the mountain top" speech (the last, prophetic speech he gave the night before he was assassinated). Although he is most notably known for his "I have a dream" speech, I think his "mountain top" speech is one of (if not) the most powerful speeches because during the speech he urges us not to turn our backs on our moral obligation to help those in need. Also, in this this speech I believe he confirms Isaiah 61:1-3, which I think outlines the responsibility of us as believers. Feel free to share your thoughts on King's legacy, and the relevance of his "mountain top" speech to today. Speekonit...

"THE SPIRIT of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] [a]and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,
to grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion--to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit--that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

-Isaiah 61:1-3 (Amplified Bible)



Wednesday, November 08, 2006

News Section Updated

I've added a couple of articles. One is on the first Chinese person to head a U.N. Agency, and the other is on this expert in the field of education who argues that Education alone cannot solve social problems. The first piece is in the "people" section, and the second piece is in the "education" section. Speekonit...

Movie Preview

Peace and blessings,

I pray all is well. Below is the trailer for the movie "The Nativity Story," which is basically the prequel to the life of Jesus. It chronicles the lives of Mary and Joseph, and the social, political, and spiritual climate of the times leading up to the birth of Jesus. It looks promising. I think it comes out December 1st. Check it out and let me know what you think. Speekonit...


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Minority Report

Peace and blessings,

Before I get into this piece, I wanted to start off with the scripture that some brothas and I were discussing that inspired me to write on this topic.

"11Put on God's whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.

12For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

13Therefore put on God's complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].

14Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,

15And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the [a]firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness [b]produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.(A)

16Lift up over all the [covering] shield of [c]saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].

17And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit [d]wields, which is the Word of God.

18Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God's consecrated people)."

-Ephesians 6:11-18 (Amplified Bible)

In our discussion, we focused on the idea of putting on God's armor, especially when it comes to us leading others to Christ. We talked about a couple of situations in which we feel compelled to as well as struggle with spreading the truth and Gospel of Jesus Christ. On an individual level we talked about situations where we have one-on-one relationships with people (e.g. friends, family, others, etc...) who for whatever reason do not believe in God and/or that Jesus Christ died for our sins and resurrected. On a social level, we talked about situations where we may be (or feel as if we are) the only Christian in a particular situation (e.g. classroom, etc...).

In social psychology, there has been a lot of research on the various contexts in which people are more or less likely to influence others. When I originally thought of the idea of influence, I thought it usually occured in two situations. One situation is where the person being influenced is in a close, trusting relationship with someone they consider to be an important figure in their life (e.g. child-parent, mentee-mentor, student teacher, etc...). In this situation, the person being influenced most likely assumes that the person they are learning from has their best interests at heart. The other situation I thought about was where the minority is influenced by the majority. This type of influence occurs often, for example there are times where I get interested or involved in an issue or cause primarily because it affects and concerns the majority of people.

Although these forms of influence tend to be more common and visibile, I learned about an idea in social psycholgy known as minority influence. According to this concept, there are situations where ordinary individuals can exert influence over a group or social context. While attending Pentecostal Tabernacle in Cambridge, MA, the pastor would always emphasize the importance of a shared purpose and destiny. In one sermon that continues to stick with me to this day, he emphasized that as Christians we are all leaders. Further, he said that we are constantly surrounded by people who for whatever reason, are not communicating with and/or do not have a relationship with God. Therefore, these individuals are depending on us to pray to God on their behalf (i.e. to intercede).

Understanding this, and also considering this idea of minority influence, the question then arises: How do we as Christians exert godly influence (i.e. be a light) on others and our surrounding situations when in those situations we are(or at least we perceive to be)a minority? I think the best way to answer this is to refer to the abovementioned scripture, which talks about the importance of equipping ourselves with and utlizing the full armor of God (e.g. truth, righteousness, faith, salvation, scripture) through prayer. Ultimatley, any influence we exert is not by our own doing, but only through the works of God through us. Therefore, we must constantly stay "prayed-up" so that we can be light in ever situation, environment, and relationship we find ourselves in. Below are a couple of clips of the "Matrix" and "Matrix:reloaded," because I think that the whole idea behind the Matrix relates closely to this idea of the minority having the power to exert influence over the majority. Plus, I think everything can pretty much be explained by the Matrix Trilogy, lol. Take care, and please share your thoughts. Speekonit...

Hundreds of Letters to God Found in the Atlantic Ocean!

Peace and Blessings,

In recent news, hundreds of letters to God were found in the Atlantic Ocean. The letters were addressed to a minister at a Baptist church, but they were never delivered to him. You can find more info by clicking on the link in the "Christianity" news section. Check it and share your thoughts. Speekonit...