Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Spirit of Laughter

Peace and blessings,

I thought I would share these videos with you because they are pretty funny.

The first one is about the comic Michael Jr.'s experience jogging one night:

The second clip (comedian Tim Hawkins) is about what would happen if major corporations high-jacked some worship songs:

The third clip (Tim Hawkins) is about holding hands in church:

The final clip (Tim Hawkins) is about our food prayers:

What do you think? Funny? Not really? So-so? Take care, stay blessed and speekonit...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Random "Why" Question of the Moment

Peace and blessings,

For those who know me, they know that I tend to be very contemplative and ask a lot of questions (I actually considered majoring in philosophy in undergrad). Some of the questions I ask are real deep and have a real purpose. Other questions are not necessarily deep in the "what's the meaning of life" sense, but I find them interesting enough. Therefore, "Random 'why' question of the moment" is dedicated to those questions that we may find interesting in the "non-meaning of life" sense. Feel free to e-mail me or post questions you have have as well. The only guideline is that they are not offensive or derogatory in any way, and that the language is clean. Also, feel free to offer what you think are potential answers to some of these questions, making sure to abide by the same guidelines. I'll leave you with a question that has been on my mind for a while. Stay blessed, encouraged, and speekonit...

Why do most stalls in (male) public bathrooms contain profanity and/or offensive and derogatory writing on them?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

What Are You Thankful For?

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;his love endures forever."
-Psalms 107: 1 (NIV)

"In that day you will say: 'Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.'"
-Isaiah 12:4 (NIV)

"Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before."
-Daniel 6:10 (NIV)

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."
-Romans 1:21 (NIV)

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
-Phillipians 4:6 (NIV)

Peace and blessings,

Although I reject the historical associations that today may elicit (e.g. the "good" relationship between the Pilgrims and Native Americans), I believe that we should take time out of our busy lives more often to step back and 1) acknowledge the things that we are grateful for and 2) to thank the God, because it is only through His grace, love, and mercy that we can even have anything to be grateful for in the first place. I must note that I am not suggesting that those who feel they have something to be grateful for are "on God's team" and those who do not feel they have something to be grateful for are not. All I am asking is for us to see if, despite our situation, there is anything that we are grateful to God for. I am currently trying to get in the mindset so I can be like "God, if you don't bless me anymore in my natural life, I thank you because you've already done more than I could have ever imagined." I figure the sooner I get to that level, the sooner I can stop "tripping" over the little things in life and start showing more gratitude. Please take some time to think about what you are grateful to God for and post it here. Not just today, but as often as possible. Take care, stay blessed, and speekonit...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Discussion On Some Basics of the Bible

Peace and blessings,

Below is a conversation on what appears to be a Christian TV show and/or station, and a Professor of Religion about the
  • relevance of the bible.

  • Check it out and share your thoughts. Take care and have a blessed day.

    The Complexities and Challenges of the Jena 6 Case

    Peace and blessings,

    I've have been meaning to post these updates for a while, but I just never got around to it. I'm sure there has been many more updates since I first found this information. With that said, I wanted to say a couple of things about the Jena 6 case. In addition to this case being about issues of race and justice, there are a couple of peripheral issues that are related to these more obvious ones. One peripheral issue has to do with how people are going to interpret and respond to the media's portayal of the case. Since Jena 6, there has been a couple of incidents regarding some kind of physical and allegedly race-motivated treatment. The
  • incindet in Palmdale
  • involves a student getting apprehended by a security guard/police officer, and the
  • incident in Norfolk
  • involves a White male getting beat up by some African American males. In light of Jena 6, I think there are a couple of reasons why these incidents are occurring. One potential reason is that some people may want to use this opportunity to get on TV or gain some kind of recognition, or have an agenda that includes minimizing certain viewpoints and maximizing others. Another possibility is that the climate of the Jena 6 case has kind of set off a "chain reaction" in a sense such that similar events may start occurring in various places around the country.

    The other peripheral issue has to do with the our "human-ness." I think that there's a tendency to view people who receive mass media coverage and are portayed as victims as almost above human such that their conduct has to always be "squeaky clean." To address this issue, I think it is important make a distinction between siding with a cause because you believe in your heart it's the right thing to do, and siding with a cause because of the principle(s) or "big picture" that to you, the cause represents. Although I would like for the two to always go hand in hand (e.g. the actors in a cause always behaves in a way that is consistent with those principles that the cause represents), I know that sometimes that is not the case. For instance, when the rumor surfaced that
  • one of the Jena 6 was on video flossing some cash,
  • I would argue that most people (myself included) dropped their heads when they saw it and felt a wave of disappointment. However, the truth is that there are times when we act in ways that appear contradictory to how we are supposed to act in certain situations. The point is that whether or not it is actually one of the Jena 6 in the video should not divert attention from the principle(s) or "big picture," which in this case is the pursuit of authenitc justice for all races.

    I'm not sure if these two peripheral issues I raised makes sense, but I just wanted us to look at the Jena 6 case, how it's being portrayed in the media, and how people are reacting to the case and the case updates. By acknowledging the complexity and challenges of the Jena 6 case (and any other nationally televised issues of similar importance for that matter), it could help us make more informed decisions about the case and the side of the particular cause we are aligning with. I'm not trying to discredit these other incidents, and my heart and prayers go out to all the victims and families who have been treated unfairly by law enforcement or the justice system. All i'm saying is that with a case so politically, socially, and morally charged, we should be aware that there are plenty of latent effects that result in these situations, and thus stay pray'ed up so that the "big picture" does not get distorted or diluted by virtue of all these other incidents and rumors that come up. Whether or not these incidents are true, the important thing is that we do not lose sight of the big picture.

    What do you think? Take care, God bless and speekonit...

    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    News Updates: Priest Involved in acts resembling Genocide in Argentina; Torture Complaint Filed Against Rumsfeld; Aliens Anyone?;

    Peace and blessings,

    Below is some information about a Priest being convicted of some "shady business" in Argentina, Rumsfeld being accused of being responsible for torture, and some astronomers are trying to doing some serious long-distance "calling." Take care, have a blessed day, and speekonit...

  • Priest Convicted in Argentine "Dirty War" Tribunal

  • 2) American and European rights groups
  • file a torture complaint
  • against former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

    3) Astronomical observatory specifically designed to
  • listen for alien beacons
  • Sunday, November 11, 2007

    Contemporary/Country/Rock Christian Music Section Added!!!

    Peace and blessings,

    As promised, I've just added a section on Contemporary, Country, and Rock Christian music. It's located right under the Christian hip-hop section. I've only included reviews and samples to albums that I have purchased and have heard. However, a few of the artists previewed below (e.g. Jars of Clay, Casting Crowns) have newer albums out. Below are samples to some of the albums I've heard and can attest to. I recommend that you cop these albums because the music and messages are good, especially Casting Crowns, Mercy Me, and Switchfoot. Check them out and let me know your thoughts? Any songs you're feeling? Not feeling? Why or why not? Enjoy, stay blessed and encouraged, and speekonit...

  • Redemption Songs
  • by Jars of Clay

  • Coming Up to Breathe
  • by Mercy Me

  • If I Had One Chance to Tell You Something
  • by Rebecca St. James

  • Lifesong
  • by Casting Crowns

  • Look to You
  • by Hillsong

  • Nothing is Sound
  • by Switchfoot

    Friday, November 09, 2007

    The Truth of Inconvenience

    "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,'
    declares the LORD."

    -Isaiah 55:8 (NIV)

    Peace and blessings,

    No this post does not have anything to do with Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth," but you have to like my play off of the film's title right, lol? I just wanted to share a few thoughts about an experience I had Wednesday night. After I got out of class, I got something to eat before I started walking to my car. Because of the crazy parking situation near campus, I park about 15 minutes (walking distance) from campus and just walk it, because it's all day parking. As folks living in the Bay know, it is starting to get pretty cold at night. Once I got to my car, I noticed that my gas light came on. My initial thought was "man, I really don't want to stop for gas on the way home." Therefore, I prayed to God that I could make it home without getting gas, and I would get gas tomorrow. The reasons I really didn't want to stop for gas were:

    1) I was a little under the weather, so, given that I was just walking in the cold for the past 15 minutes, I noticed that the cold weather was starting to get to me, so I wanted to get home as soon as possible. Furthermore, I really didn't feel like standing out in the cold pumping gas.

    2) On my way walking to the car I picked up a broccoli and cheese soup bread bowl from Quizno's (yes, I had to give you the specifics because it is off the hook), and I wanted to get home before it got cold.

    3) I knew that I had a lot of work to do when I get home, and I know that the longer it took me to get home, the more likely I would want to chill and procrastinate when I got home. I know how I operate, and if I don't "strike when the iron's hot," then I get complacent.

    So as you can see, stopping for gas that evening would have appeared to me to be an inconvenience. As soon as I start driving, the gas light goes off and I'm feeling optimistic about my chances of getting home before the gas tank gets really low. However, this optimism quickly waned, as right before I approach the freeway onramp, the light comes on again and the gauage looks real "suspect." Huffing and puffing under my breadth, I turn into the gas station to get some gas. Before proceeding with the story, it is important for me to let you know about my "gas station steez." For people who know me (or at least have visited this blog) know that I am a hip-hop head, and have a substantial collection of Christian hip-hop. Given my views on
  • mainstream media's "haterism" towards Christian hip-hop,
  • I make an effort to really blast my Christian hip-hop while I'm cruisin' in Justice (the name of my car). In addition, I tend to blast my music while I'm pumping my gas, while either having the window rolled down or leaving the driver's door open, lol. Normally I do this without giving much thought to those around me. My reasoning being that since we get bombarded daily with garbage that passes for good music or hip-hop, blasting my Christian hip-hop is an act of resistence, as well as my way of introducing people to a healthy alternative they may know little or nothing about.

    This particular time at the gas station, however, was a little different. As I was pumping my gas, I became overly conscious of my blasting of my Christian hip-hop. I admit that this is a result of two ethnic and age steretypes that I held at the moment. Because the woman pumping gas next to me appeared to be a middle aged Asian woman, I automatically assumed that 1) she may not be a Christian and that 2) she would not be interested in being on the receiving end of me blasting my music. I was wrong on both fronts. While pumping gas she asked me who was I listening to. I told her that the artist was Flame and the album as
  • 13 Letters
  • by the 116 Click. After telling her what the song and album was about (the 13 Pauline letters), she said it was good hear something different type of music. I offered to give her my copy (because those who know also know that I keep my originals at home, lol), but she said no thank you, but nevertheless indicated that she was feeling the concept of the music. She then told me that she was on her way to her church to hear T.D. Jakes speak. So hear you have it, a presumably middle aged Asian woman and a young adult African American male chopping it up about Christian hip-hop and church at an Oakland gas station at night. Tight huh? After we parted ways, all I could do was thank God because not only was I trying to avoid going to the gas station, but I had a complaining spirit once I got to the gas station. Nevertheless, God once again reminded me of the above scripture, and that sometimes times of inconvenience (perceived or actual) are in fact opportunities to learn a little more about Him, His children, and ourselves.

    This experience really taught me about the importance of viewing situations as opportunities for God to work in our lives. Who knows, maybe our encounter had to do with breaking down stereotypes and embracing the
  • diversity of God's kingdom?
  • Regardless of the meaning of the encounter, one truth is in fallible: God knows what's best for us better than we do! What do you think? Have you had any similar "interesting" encounters? Has there ever been a time when you didn't want to do something, but once you did you realized that God revealed something to you or about you in the process? Take care, have a blessed weekend, and speekonit...

    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    Ideologies of Intellect

    "One of the world's most eminent scientists was embroiled in an extraordinary row last night after he claimed that black people were less intelligent than white people and the idea that 'equal powers of reason' were shared across racial groups was a delusion.

    "James Watson, a Nobel Prize winner for his part in the unravelling of DNA who now runs one of America's leading scientific research institutions, drew widespread condemnation for comments he made ahead of his arrival in Britain today for a speaking tour at venues including the Science Museum in London."

    "The 79-year-old geneticist reopened the explosive debate about race and science in a newspaper interview in which he said Western policies towards African countries were wrongly based on an assumption that black people were as clever as their white counterparts when 'testing' suggested the contrary. He claimed genes responsible for creating differences in human intelligence could be found within a decade."

    "Dr Watson stated at the weekend that he is 'inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa... because all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - whereas all the testing says not really'. He went on to argue that although one hopes that everyone, regardless of ethnicity, has equal powers of reason 'people who have to deal with black employees find this not true'."

    Peace and blessings,

    The following excerpts were taken from the first two articles below. I heard about
  • James Watson's
  • (link to bio: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1962/watson-bio.html) comments a few weeks ago. In terms of his claim that there may be differences between the intellect of Africans and that of Europeans, I don't see a problem with that statement per se. Given the different experiences of people who grew up in different environments (e.g. Africans, Asians, Indians, Europeans, etc...), I think it is plausible for there to be some differences in intellect to a certain extent. Much of our cognitive development and how we approach and solve problems in influenced by the environment we grow up in and how we interact with that environment. Therefore, insofar as different groups of people lived in different environments, I would expect to see some differences in how their cognitions and their approach to solving problems, namely because certain problems are more or less salient in certain environments, and therefore the type of environment we grow up in will determine the nature and extent of our interaction with that environment. The problem I have is with his statement that Africans are less intelligent that Europeans, because to utter such as thing suggests that certain peoples' intellect is "better" than others. All men were created in God's image (Genesis 1:27) and He shows no partiality (2 Chronicles 19:7; Job 34:19). Furthermore, He instructs us to not show partiality towards our fellow brothers and sisters (Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17). Despite these instructions, however, there appears to be something in our sinful nature that makes it easy for us to not only make distinctions between one another, but to associate value judgments based on these distinctions. Now it's obvious that God created a wide variety of difference cultures and ethnicities, and we should celebrate these differences as reflecting God's beauty and brilliance. The problem comes when we attach more value to certain groups or characteristics than others, because then we are showing partiality.

    Another issue I have with Watson's claim is that his so-called evidence is suspect. For a world renowned molecular biologist to claim in 2007 that Africans are not as intelligent as Europeans, and to base this claim on IQ tests in the 1990s that showed some differences between racial groups, is problematic. For one, many have argued that IQ tests are flawed and biased. Also, I don't see how he can have the audacity to suggest that Africans are not as intellegent as Europeans, given that many humanity's intellectual contributions to the understanding of the world (e.g. science, philosophy, mathematics) either originated or was epitomized and "borrowed" from the Egyptians, who are North Africans. Lastly, no one can dispute the fact that life began in Africa, which would explain why Africa is home of the first university in the world, the
  • University of Timbuktu.

  • In the book Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children (Gloria Ladson-Billings, 1997), the author recalls a teacher who told her students in her math class about the African Orgins of Algebra, and how the first definitive evidence of the use of Algebra were found in the writings of Ahmes, an Egyptian mathmetician who lived around 1700 B. C.

    In closing, I just pray that we get to a point where we can celebrate difference as one of God's may gifts to human kind, and to view these differences not as our limited, flawed nature wants us to view them, but how God our Creator views them. Given that we did not create any aspect of our being (e.g. brain), we are in no position say one group's intellect is better than another's. To start passing value judgments on people's intellect is to suggest that we know everything there is to know about intellect, and history clearly shows us otherwise, lol. What do you think? What are your thoughts on Watson's comments? Do you think that groups of people can generally differ in their intellect? Stay blessed, encouraged, and speekonit...

  • theory on race and intelligence

  • 2)
  • The basis for Watson's assertion

  • 3)
  • Watson responds to critics

  • 4)
  • Watson's institute does not cosign on his theory
  • Sports Edition: The Detroit Pistons

    Peace and blessings,

    I must admit that this post is nothing more than a shameless plug for the Detroit Pistons. I know they haven't won the title in three years, but I really have a feeling that as long as they stay healthy, the title's theirs. Below are a couple of Pistons-related articles, as well as two videos. The first video takes us back to that glorious 2003 -2004 season when they dethroned the Lakers. The second video features two of their top rookies this year, Rodney Stuckey and Aaron Afflalo. I think it's going to be the Pistons versus either Phoenix or Houston, with Detroit winning in 6 games.

    Who do you think has the best chances to take it all this year? Take care have a blessed day and speekonit...

  • Rasheed equates NBA to wrestling

  • http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21505333/

  • Pistons confident about this season

  • http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071030/SPORTS0102/710300307

    Friday, November 02, 2007

    Health Nutz, pt. 2: Joy in the Midst of Pain

    "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

    -James 1:2-4 (NIV)

    "Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly."

    -Phillippians 1:12-14 (NIV)

    "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus..."

    -Phillippians 2:3-5 (NIV)
    "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

    -Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

    Peace and blessings,

    About a couple of weeks ago, I
  • posted a piece
  • about this notion that one of the latent results of following Christ is that our lives will be healthier mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. For this second installation of this piece, I want to focus on mental health. Anyone who looks at the news on a somewhat consistent basis knows just how many "issues" we as a human race have to deal with. From broader issues such as racism, materialism, poverty, conflict, famine, and political corruption to the more individual -level issues such as anger, jealousy, lust, deception, selfishness, close-mindedness, apathy, and so forth, it is apparent that there can be dangerous consequences for being consumed by any of these things. Further, given that each of these issues can affect how we view ourselves, others, and the world, it follows that being consumed by any of these things can also have detrimental effects on our mental health. Studies have shown that stress may affect the
  • heart
  • and may also make us more susceptible to contracting
  • an infection.
  • Furthermore, it is now being argued that the pressures of consumerism may contribute to
  • stress in kindergarten and elementary school-aged children
  • . In other words, that stress is no joke mayne!

    A few weeks back I was reading an article on stress and coping for my public health class, and the authors discussed this notion of positive reappraisal as a healthy response to stressful or potentially stressful situations. In a nutshell, positive reapprasial is the act of discovering opportunities for personal growth (an perceiving actual personal growth) in the midst of experiencing a stressful or potentially stressful situation. Furthermore, it involves seeing how one's own response can benefit other people (Folkman and Moskowitz, 2004). When I read this, I immediately thought about how we as Christians (as demonstrated by the above scriptures) are supposed to give God the glory in the midst of our trials and pain, knowing that we have the victory and He will bring us through. Reacting this way not only strengthens our faith in God and better equips us to handle future situations, but it also ministers to those to whom we may be connected and/or have influence. As I continually get reminded of God's love and grace towards me, I am gaining a better understanding of why it is so important for us as Christians to handle situations in a way that gives God the glory. For one, I think that because of how badly the Christian faith has been distorted and mis-appropriated (historically and presently), we as Christians are probably the most watched group in the world. People are waiting for us to fall or slip-up so we can be called hypocrites and for our faith to be discredited. Second, I think that one of God's primary purposes for us is so bring about character change, so that we become better people. Now I am not suggesting that everything that we go through is "caused" by God because I personally don't believe that. What I do believe, however, is that there are times where God puts us in certain situations to show us some things that we need to see in order for us to be the people He has called us to be.

    To conclude, I pray that when we go through trials, we ask ourselves "What would Jesus do? How can I respond to this in a way that gives Him glory? Who will I influence by my response?" By doing so, I think that we, as well as those around us, will be better off spiritually, mentally, and physically. What do you think? How do you tend to handle trials? What works for you? What doesn't work? Until next time, stay blessed and speekonit...

    Source: Folkman, S. & Moskowitz, J. T. (2004). Stress, positive emotion, and coping. In T. Oltmanns & R. E. Emery (eds.), Current Directions in Abnormal Psychology (p. 83-87): Prentice Hall.

    Thursday, November 01, 2007

    News Updates: Brittany Spears' CD Pics; Marriage Formula

    "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved."

    - 1 Corinthians 10: 31-33 (NIV)

    Peace and blessings,

    Below are a few news updates. The first link discusses Brittany Spears' pics for her new album, which includes in seductive positions with a man acting as a Catholic priest. I want to make a couple of brief comments about the pics and why I have issues with them. For one, despite what the headlines say, it should be assumed (unless evidence proves otherwise) that the man in the pic is merely acting as a priest, and is not actually a priest. I know on the surface this disctinction may be seem unnecessary to make (e.g. A real priest wouldn't put themselves in that position to begin with), but I felt that I had to put that out there. Second, I feel that another disctinction must be made between the notion of human susceptibility to temptation, and how that temptation is portrayed by forms of media such as these pics. My problem with these pics is not based on a belief that priests are too "holy" to be tempted. On the contrary, I believe that we are all tempted, and to the extent that we are earnestly trying to follow Christ through our living, we are tempted more. However, the problem with how temptation is portayed in these pics is that Brittany and the priest are positioned in a way to where Britanny (via her "seductiveness") is in control, and the priest is at her mercy. Therefore, people who look at these pics first glance may only see a priest being seduced, and this pic alone is powerful enough to influence some viewers' perspective on God and faith more broadly. In particular, these pics may further contribute to the growing perception of Catholicism as "suspect" given the incidents of the sexual molestation of children. While these incidents are evidence that even priests can succomb to sin, the "big picture" doesn't end there. The big picture is that our susceptibility to sin is more proof that we need God, and that even if there is a time where we succomb to temptation, that God can, in the words of Marvin Sapp, make us "stronger," "wiser," and "better." It's funny how when it comes to people of faith, the moments of weakness are always heavily publicized, but the examples of righteous living (e.g. promoting social justice, representing the faith, healing hearts, minds, and souls, loving and caring for others) rarely gets media attention. But it's cool, because as Jesus' prayer told us what to expect:

    "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one."

    -John 17: 13-15 (NIV)

    Furthermore, whether or not it's true that
  • Brittany Spears actually claimed to be the anti-Christ while attempting to commit suicide,
  • the constant media headlines "detailing" her life shows that she is really going through some personal, spritual warfare and need to kept up in prayer. I also find it ironic that the same media what kicks her when shes down is the same media she is in turn using to "get back up."

    The second clip is about a mathematician who claims that through a mathematical formula, he can characterize marriages and "predict," with extremely high accuracy, whether a marriage will succeed or fail. I found this funny and interesting. What do you think? Take care, have a blessed day, and speekonit...

  • Brittany's pics stir controversy

  • 2)
  • Marriage formula