Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Few Thoughtz: In Search of Common Ground

"So to understand why some of the victims of the ruling class might identify with the ruling circle, we must look at their material (i. e. based on concrete things, objects) lives; and if we do, we will realize that the same people who identify with the ruling circle are also very unhappy. Their feelings can be compared to those of a child: a child desires to mature so that he can control himself, but he believes he needs the protection of his father to do so. He has conflicting drives. Psychologists would call this conflict neurotic if the child were unable to resolve it....In a sense, then, that is what we (the Black Panther Party) are all about. First, people have to be conscious of the ways they are controlled, then we have to understand the scientific laws involved, and once that is accomplished, we can begin to do what we want-to manipulate phenomena."

- Huey Newton, p. 36

"We believe that black Americans are the first real internationalists; not just the Black Panther Party, but black people who live in America. We are internationalists because we have been internationally dispersed by slavery, and we can easily identify with other people in other cultures. Because of slavery, we never really felt attached to the nation in the same way that the peasant was attached to the soil in Russia. We are always a long way from home."

- Huey Newton, p. 38

"Huey Newton's main deed, however, and one powerful reason for the appeal of the Panthers' stance both here and abroad, is the turning of a negative identity into a positive one, in the sense in which a cornered animal turns on the attacker. This is what the Black Panther imagery stands for, after all. All of this, in part, is a black-and-urban version of a psychic transformation used by the rebellious youth of other colonialized or oppressed people."

- Erik Erikson, p. 47

"Nothing could divide the respective identities of different people more than the sense of free choice and the sense of being without it; and yet, by the mere dialectics of living here for generations, does not the American black 'belong' here more than anywhere else?"

- Erikson, p. 59

Peace and blessings,

As someone who is in academia but also want to make serious change in people's lives (not to suggest that these two things are mutually exclusive), I was surprised to hear that conversations took place between Huey Newton and Erik Erikson, and were published in a book entitled, "In Search of Common Ground: Conversations with Erik H. Erikson and Huey P. Newton" (1973). Although I do not fully endorse the ideas and theories of either Newton or Erikson, I do think that both have contributed in a positive way to our understanding of individual and societal behavior. And quite frankly, I think that some of their ideas and theories are pretty accurate. For instance, I think that Erikson's notions of the human need and capacity to form identities and the Black Panther's beliefs in empowerment through knowledge of self, self-respect, and accountability are on point.

The first conversation was more formal and took place at Yale University in February 1971. The second conversation was informal took place around April 1971 in Huey Newton's apartment in Oakland, CA. The first conversation, which included a question and answer period from students, was less of a dialogue between the two and more of an introduction into their backgrounds, ideas, and theories. The second conversation dealt primarily with the misconceptions each initially had about the other, as well as the "disappointment" the students probably felt at the first meeting, due to the fact that Newton and Erikson did not "battle" each other, but instead respectfully exchanged ideas.

The common thread through both conversations was that each demonstrated how two people from very different experiences (Erikson the product of voluntary immigrants, Newton the product of involuntary slaves), can be honest and respect one another. Now I don't want to romanticize the conversations because there probably was some level of conflict or tension. The point is that regardless of this conflict or tension, they were able to critique and build on each other's ideas, while offering their perspectives on the plight of American society in general, and of black and other oppressed peoples more specifically.

What do you think? Any other collaborations you heard of or witness that surprised you? Any you would like to see? Stay blessed, take care, and speekonit...

Monday, January 21, 2008

In The Zone

"When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, 'My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.'So Jesus went with him."

"A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, 'If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.' Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering."

"At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, 'Who touched my clothes?'"

"'You see the people crowding against you,' his disciples answered, 'and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?'"

"But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.'"

"While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. 'Your daughter is dead,' they said. 'Why bother the teacher any more?'"

"Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, 'Don't be afraid; just believe.'"

"He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, 'Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.' 40But they laughed at him."

"After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, 'Talitha koum!' (which means, 'Little girl, I say to you, get up!' ).

"Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat."

-Mark 5: 21-43 (NIV)

Peace and blessings,

As someone who is studying to be a developmentalist by trade, I've had considerable exposure to different developmental theorists. Of the many theorists that I have come across (Piaget, Kohlberg), the theorist that is the focus of this post is Lev Vygotsky. While reading a scholar's analysis of his theory and its application to education, I was struck by Vygotsky's notion of Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD, Miller, 2002), which is the difference between what one can learn or achieve on their own and what they can learn or achieve with the help of others who are (slightly) more advanced. I was well familiar with the notion before reading this analysis, but this I read with sort of a different lens (who knows, I may just be "coming up" with things just to say I posted something on my blog, lol). This around around, viewing youth in terms of ZPD sounded to me a lot like how Jesus viewed those he interacted with, and how he currently views us. Further, it was a sermon today I heard at an event at a friend's church (Harmony Missionary Baptist Church in Oakland, CA) that clarified what I was originally thinking when this topic came to mind months ago.

The speaker spoke from the above passage and focused on Jairus' interactions with Jesus. In a nutshell, Jairus approaches JC, worships him, and asks for Him to heal his daughter who is near death. As JC was going to his house, a woman who had been bleeding for seven years had touched JC's clothes and through her faith, was healed. Noticing that someone touched Him ("power had gone out from Him"), he turned around and asked who touched Him. By the time JC makes it to the house, Jairus' daughter dies. JC tells those at the house not to fear, but to have faith, and then He brings the girl back to life.

What stuck out to me when I heard the message is that I could have only imagined what was going on in Jairus' mind during this whole ordeal. What I found interesting is that Jairus sought JC out and worshiped Him before he asked Him to heal his daughter. This tells me that Jairus' faith in and knowledge of JC was such that he knew that Jesus had the power to heal his daughter. When describing the events immediately following his daughter's death, however, I didn't sense the same kind of certainty on Jairus' part. Not to say that I blame him, because after all, his daughter just died. I know in my life there are times when even small feats that have caused me to doubt Jesus' power (thank God for grace, lol).

I think Jairus' experiences are important to our understanding of Christ's love for us because Jesus' love for Jairus is an example of how, like Vygotsky's notion of ZPD, I think that we all have a zone for proximal spiritual development. Just as Vygotsky believed that children could learn and achieve more with the assistance of more advanced others, we can learn and achieve more with the assistance of JC and the Holy Spirit than we can on our own. Similar to this notion is James Gee's (2003) argument that to be a good educator is to educate students in a way where the demands (e. g. assignments, activities, tests) are on the edge of their students' "regime of competence," which is the students' level of knowledge. This way, the tasks students' face are difficult (i. e. on the edge of their regime of competence), but not too difficult that they cannot complete them successfully (i. e. it is still within their regime of competence). I think that Jesus understood both of these notions, which is why 1) He was and is so patient with His disciples and followers 2) He stresses practicing humility and relying on God and the Holy Spirit and 3) He tells us that through prayer, fasting, and communing with God, we can resist temptation, overcome the devil, and "shake some things up" in this world for the building up of God's kingdom.

Jairus shows us how our knowledge of and faith in Jesus is a progressive thing, such that insofar as we are connected with and following God, we will learn more about Him, and increase our relationship with and faith in Him. While initially Jairus knew Jesus as (and believed Him to be) one who prolongs life (healer), it appeared that he did not know Jesus as (or believed Him to be) a one who restores life once it is seemingly "lost" (life-giver). Once JC restored his daughter's life, this increased his knowledge and faith in JC so that it not only includes healing, but also restoring life. It was as if JC knew of Jairus' regime of competence regarding his knowledge of Him, and knew that just with some assistance ('Don't be afraid, just believe'), that Jairus could expand his regime of competence. I think for many of us, our spiritual development may follow a similar trajectory. If I have learned anything since seriously deciding to walk with JC, it is that my knowledge of and faith in Him was not "complete" once I made the decision. However, I have to continually learn about Him (through reading the word, "fellowshipping" with other believers, and looking at His track-record as evidenced in my life) and work on increasing my faith in Him. After all, this walk is a marathon, not a sprint. As a developmentalist-in-training, I really like the idea of constant growth and progression, and there is no better way to grow and progress than in knowledge of and faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

What do you think? Until next time, stay blessed, encouraged, and speekonit...

Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy: NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Miller, P. H. (2002). Vygotsky and the sociocultural approach. In Theories of developmental psychology (pp. 367-419). NY: Worth Publishers.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Few Thoughtz: Speaking of Jesus

Peace and blessings,

"God wants us available to people, not shouting instructions at them. He wants us to get into others' lives. He may not ask us to steal a boat, but he may ask us to cross some conventional boundaries. If we are willing to risk our comfort to get into other people' worlds with the truth we bear, we'll be a more powerful witness than all the instruction manuals in the world."

- p. 37

This past summer I had the opportunity to read "Speaking of Jesus" by J. Mack Stiles (1995), a book that deals with ways in which we as Christians can be more effective in spreading the gospel and building up God's kingdom. Through personal stories as well through an analysis of Jesus' and Paul's ministries in the New Testament, Stiles does a good job of putting some of the usually considered difficult aspects of sharing our faith with others into perspective. He shows us by doing so, we come to realize that many of our self-perceived obstacles to sharing our faith or merely "in our head."

Overall, I would say that the message of "Speaking of Jesus" is that just as Jesus engaged the world (he listened to people's cares and concerns, and learned about their lifestyle), so should we. For Stiles, being one who shares their faith through engaging the world is one who is motivated (wants to share their faith), available (open to divine appointments and talking with others about their faith) and equipped (knows enough about the bible and the tenets of their faith in order to share with others and answer as many questions that arise as possible). Stiles argues that in order for us as Christians to effectively share our faith with those outside the church walls, we must take initiative to learn about people's lives outside the church walls. This by no means suggest that we become nosy or become so concerned with leaning about people's lives that we 1) water down the gospel or 2) put ourselves in situations where we will be tempted to sin. What this does suggest, however, is that we as Christians must do our part because as the saying goes, "people want to o=know that you care before they care for what you know."

One of the things Stiles warns us about is about a particular type of positive thinking. The type of positive thinking that can get us into trouble is the type that claims that we have a positive outlook on things because we belief in our own ability to bring our the desired outcome (in this case, effectively share our faith). According to Stiles, this type of positive thinking is problematic because it suggests that we are the ones making things happen, and not God working through us. Stiles urges us instead to have a type of positive thinking that stems from our confidence that God will always make a way, and is the true driving force behind all that we do that is considered of any worth.

Before I conclude, I wanted to briefly mention one of the stories he recalled about an atheist who came to Christ, and how God uses who we wants, when He wants, and how He wants to bring about His will. This powerful example of divine appointment continues to amaze me to this day. One day the atheist was hitch-hiking and was able to flag down a car. Once he got in the car, he was surprised that the driver was a Christian with a hippie steez. During their conversation they both shared their views. Either some days or some weeks later, the atheist was hitch-hiking again, and again succeeds in flagging down a car. To his surprise it was the same Christian hippie! When the driver pulled over, he told the atheist that man, "God must be after you!" Shortly after that encounter, the atheist gave his life to Christ.

Take care, God bless, and speekonit...

Friday, January 18, 2008

News Updates: Lupe's "Cool"; The Matrix And Notions of The Divine; Blacks Ride Against The Media

  • Lupe Fiasco talks about the motivation and purpose of his new album, "The Cool"

  • 2) For the Matrix fans, here's
  • a 2003 article about notions of God and spirituality within the Matrix trilogy

  • 3)
  • Black people uniting to protest against demeaning images in the media
  • A Few Thoughtz: Abraham

    Peace and blessings,

    The motivation behind my decision to read this book came from a discussion I overheard two years ago between a group of orthodox Muslims and a Christian, all appearing to be males from the African diaspora. The only reason I heard part of their conversation (which dealt with similarities and differences between Christianity and orthodox Islam) was due to a mis-read on my part (I thought the group of brothas were freestyling so I got in the huddle to listen and hopefully spit a little something something myself, lol). After telling a friend of mine about the encounter and how it got me interested in the differences between Christianity and Islam, he (who is also a Christian) told me that it is believed that both religions emerged from Abraham's offspring: Christianity stemming from Isaac and orthodox Islam stemming from Ishmael. This resulted in me copping Bruce Feiler's "Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths" (2002) when I came across it at a book store shortly after.

    This "synopsis" of the book (or of any books I have written about or will write about) is in no way meant to be detailed or exhaustive for one of two reasons. Either it has been a while since I read the book so many of the key points I initially wanted to address I forgot about; or because I do not feel like addressing everything about the book I enjoyed or had issues with. Whatever the case, the purpose of these synopses is for you to hopefully read some or all of it for yourselves and form your own opinions, because I think the books are worth reading. With that said, on with the (brief) synopsis...

    The basic premise of the book is that three of the world's major religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, stem from Abraham's offspring: Islam from Ishmael, and Christianity and Judaism from Isaac. Further, Feiler (2002) argues that some (or many) of the major similarities and differences between these three religions are reflected in their depictions of Abraham's life. For instance, one of the things I found striking is that whereas the Bible's depiction of Abraham focuses on his "adult" life, the Koran's depiction of Abraham, according to Feiler, contains sufficient information about his life as a child. Another example lies in way in which Feiler suggests that how each religion views Abraham's relationship with God sheds light on how that religion views the role of humans in relation to God. The bible's telling of Abraham's life stresses his enormous faith in God, whereas the Torah and Koran's telling of Abraham's life emphasizes Abraham's submission and obedience to one God.

    In addition to comparing and contrasting depictions of Abraham through each religion's canonical and ancient texts, Feiler also situates this discussion within the contemporary context of the current discourse about each of these religions. Contrary to the media's tendency to heighten differences and downplay similarities, Feiler does the opposite. While he gives considerable attention to the differences between these religions, he also gives much consideration to the similarities, in particular how each religion is at the core about promoting peace and unity, despite the presence and actions of fanatics in each. As a result, after reading the book I developed an increased sense of hope that one day, we will realize that in most if not all cases, there are more similarities than differences between us. I'll conclude with a quote from the book that I think sum's it up best:

    "You could not have written a script that would say that today, after thousands of years, with all our technology and sophistication, we would still be fighting a war over this place (Jerusalem), over the legacy of Abraham. But the reason is that this is the place of relationship. This is not only the spot where it is possible to connect with God, it's the spot where you can connect with God only if you understand what it means to connect with one another. The relationship between a person and another human being is what creates and allows for a relationship with God. If you're not capable of living with each other and getting along with each other, then you're not capable of having a relationship with God. So the question is not whether God can bring peace into the world. The question is: Can we?"

    -David Willna (p. 12)

    Take care, God bless, and speekonit...

    Thursday, January 17, 2008

    Fearful Consumers

    "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

    2 Timothy 1: 7 (NKJV)

    Peace and blessings,

    One of the things I have noticed since being in higher education is the importance of being critical of one's surroundings. That's not to say that one has to be in higher education to be critical, but that it just when it happened for me. Among other things, one of the things that I have been extremely critical of is the American media (e. g. talk shows, news, etc...) and the overt and covert messages they give to us as Americans. It is my belief that many of the messages put forth by various mainstream media outlets (most of which are owned by the same small group of wealthy elites) try to condition us into developing to two distinct yet related "dispositions." On one end, we are constantly being bombarded with news about violence, the threat of violence, and other things that are considered dangerous to our way of life. It has gotten to the point where we are afraid of or suspicious of others wherever we go. Now I know violence and danger are a part of reality, as my heart and prayers will forever go out to anyone who has lost someone to violence. Therefore, I am not saying that the media should sugar-coat things and make them seem better than what they are. However, I just find it strange that news related to violence and the threat of violence over-whemingly outweighs the news about good, positive things that we as individuals and as collectives do all the time. Can we get a little balance here? I believe that the reason why the answer to this question has in the past and is currently "no" is because unlike feeling good or positive, feeling afraid has deep psychological effects. It is this psychological effect that I think certain media giants bank on to help them maintain their profits. When we are afraid, we are often willing to go to great lengths to alleviate that fear. It is this consequence of fear that leads me to the other disposition I think we are often being conditioned to adopt...

    What does someone who is afraid of not being popular, someone who is afraid of getting old, and someone who is afraid being vulnerable have in common? Each of them will likely go to great lengths to alleviate their fear. In American society, it appears that one of the best ways to capitalize off of this fear (and I think certain major corporations understand this a great deal) is for us when we are afraid to consume or purchase things we believe will provide us security and comfort. There are times when I have to check myself and ask "do I really need this, or am I just afraid of going without it , or of how others would view me if I did not have it?" Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we are dumb and easily conditioned into doing whatever. There are tons and tons of money that goes into marketing campaigns for various companies, and many times than not the people working on these campaigns are very knowledgeable about human behavior. Whether it's a deep-dish pizza or a 2008 Porsche or a whatever, the goal of many marketing-based commercials is to make us as viewers feel that we need to purchase that product. In others, it's like they want us to be afraid of how our life would be without that particular product. Before I conclude let me clarify something. I am not pointing any fingers at those who work in marketing because I have major respect for the profession. In fact, I considered majoring in it in undergrad and would like to personally learn more about what all goes into marketing. The point I am trying to raise is that as with the news about violence and threats to our lifestyle, there is a such a proliferation of commercials promoting consumption that I rarely expect commercials to be about anything different. Of course there are different types of commercials out there with other messages (e. g. health issues), but again it is about balance. This lack of balance has led me to believe that one of the major goals of mainstream media outlets is to keep us afraid and to keep us consuming. In other words, make us fearful consumers.

    What do you think? Stay blessed, encouraged, and speekonit...

    Friday, January 11, 2008

    Words, Worldview, and Works: The Search for Consistency

    "In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

    "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

    -Luke 10: 30-37 (NIV)

    "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former."

    - Matthew 23:23 (NIV)

    "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence."

    - Matthew 23:25 (NIV)

    "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean."

    - Matthew 23:27 (NIV)

    "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

    - James 1:22-27 (NIV)

    "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

    - James 2:14-17 (NIV)

    Peace and blessings,

    Out of the many topics I have been blessed with the opportunity to write on over the past two years (by the grace of God), this one has probably been the most pressing on my heart. I originally thought of the idea for this topic last summer, during a time when God was speaking to me in "unique" ways so to speak.

    Throughout the years I have learned (through sermons as well as through personal experience), that a common misconception about the Christian walk is that once we "join the squad" (i. e. give our lives to Christ), then things will generally go smooth from there. Sure there are a few bumps or minor setbacks along the way, but for the most part, life will not really be difficult. Although the bible tells us that as believers that all things will work out for the good (Romans 8: 28), it also tells us that the things we experience in life can help built our spiritual character (Romans 5: 3-5). Taken together, I interpret these scriptures to mean that for Christians, we will inevitably experience hurt and pain, but that all of our experiences (good or bad), insofar as we seek out God in the midst of those experiences, can yield spiritual rewards for our life on earth and for our eternal life in heaven.

    In general, I feel like God has been showing me that many of our experiences as Christians are sort of like "check points" to assess the extent to which our lives are consistent in three areas:

    our worldview (how we view the world, our place in it, others' place in it)

    our words (the things we say,, words we live by, the advice we give to people)

    our works (how we act in the world, treat others)

    Let me preface this by saying that I am not arguing that we as Christians have to be perfect, because Lord knows we can't be (lol). What I am arguing, however, is that many of our experiences provide a measuring stick for us to assess in what ways our worldview, words, and works line up or do not line up. This level of consistency is a difficult task because there may be certain areas where we are more or less consistent. For instance, in certain contexts it is more easier for me to be consistent in all three areas, others more easier to be consistent in two of the three, and other areas where there is no consistency. The goal in my opinion is two-fold. One goal is for us to continually work on those areas that we have partial or not consistency and build on those areas. As mentioned in
  • New Beginnings,

  • one of my prayers this year is for God to help me view things the way He views them, because there are times when I find myself telling others to view setbacks through a spiritual lens yet I myself am viewing my obstacles through a purely human (limited) lens. Second, our goal is to recognize those areas in which we do have consistency, and learn from them so that we are able to live our lives in a way that best pleases God; through our expression of love, faith and humility in how we view the world, the things we say, and how we live.

    What do you think? Any areas where you see consistency? Inconsistency? What are some steps you think yourself as well as us as Christians in general can take to achieve and maintain consistency? Take care, God bless, and speekonit...

    Shopacalypse Now

    Peace and blessings,

    My Fiancee' put me on to this movie,
  • What Would Jesus Buy?
  • back in December and we decided to check it out. The premise of the film is that the
  • Church of Stop Shopping,
  • led by Rev. Billy decides to embark on a nationwide tour hitting up major retailers and malls throughout the country trying to convince people to stop and think before they purchase something. They acknowledge in the film that it is nearly impossible to ask people to stop shopping completely, because frankly speaking, we have to purchase some things. Instead their message is that we should not get into the habit of purchasing things (especially during Christmas) excessively or in ways that suggest that an item purchased at a store is more important to human relationships (e. g. parent-child, friend-friend) than human love and affection within those relationships. In addition, their message is that excessive purchasing during Christmas brings us one step closer to the "shopacalypse" and further away from appreciating and representing Christ's birth (and subsequently His life and resurrection). I don't think there is anything wrong with getting and receiving gifts because I frequently engage in both (lol). I just think our focus in doing so needs to be on the relationships we are thankful to God for, and not because we add unnecessary value to those things we purchase. Below is a pic from the film (hilarious) and a trailer for the movie. It's comedy with social commentary but at times there are some pretty serious parts to the film (like when Billy's wife is discouraged because she doesn't think their campaign is effective).

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

    Monday, January 07, 2008

    A Look Back: 2007, pt. 2

    Peace and blessings,

    Here is the second half of the '07 postings. Stay blessed, encouraged, and speekonit...

  • What Does it Take, Pt. 1
  • (Don Imus, Hip-hop, and moral responsibility)

  • What Does it Take, Pt. 2
  • (Hip-hop artists' moral responsibility)

  • Loving to Agitate
  • (The Gadfly and the call of Christians to be agitators)

  • Worlds Apart
  • (The separating power of classism)

  • On The Immigrant Debate, Pt. 2

  • 6)
  • An Interesting Way to Look at Intercession

  • 7)
  • A Few Thoughtz: The Tipping Point, Pt. 2

  • 8)
  • A Christian, a Muslim, and an Atheist

  • 9)
  • Technology and Society

  • 10)
  • Health Nutz, Pt. 1
  • (How Christian living is healthy living)

  • Of Water and Diamonds
  • (Juxtaposing the intrinsic value of water with the extrinsic value of diamonds)

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

  • 13)
  • Truth of Inconvenience
  • (Why I think odd encounters are sometimes God's way of speaking to us)

  • The Complexities and Challenges of the Jena 6 Case
  • A Look Back: 2007, pt. 1

    Peace and blessings,

    Below are half of the selected postings from '07. Take care, God bless, and speekonit...

  • Beacon of Light
  • (A woman gives her life to Christ and ministers to exotic dancers)

  • A Dream Preserved
  • (MLK's dream will forever live on in and through us)

  • JC, MLK, and SF: Who Would Have Thought?

  • 4)
  • More Than a Month: Good Looking Out Carter G.

  • 5)
  • A Lesson in Social Psychology: The Children of Israel

  • 6)
  • Fly Like an Eagle, Sort of
  • (A juxtaposition of biblical conceptions of an eagle and the "eagle" dance)

  • More Than a Month: Good Looking Out Dr. Phillip Emeagwali
  • (The "father of the internet")

  • Has it Really Come to This?
  • (A false teacher leading people astray)

  • Two Sides to a Coin: The Video Game Dilemma
  • (Video games about Darfur and Columbine)

  • Holding it Down: Bishop George McKinney

  • 11)
  • Heaven for a Gangsta

  • 12)
  • The Universal Importance of Unity
  • Friday, January 04, 2008

    A Look Back: 2006

    Peace and blessings,

    I thought it would be good to identify what I think are the most significant postings of 2006 and 2007. Below are the postings for 2006. Peace, blessings, and speekonit...

  • More Than Meets The Eye?
  • (The potential social, moral, and political implications of superheroes)

  • Wake Up Call
  • (The historical and contemporary stereotypes of black women)

  • Everyone Playing Their Part?
  • (V for Vendetta and Michael Resnick's educational technology)

  • Access Not Granted, Pt. 2
  • (Christian hip-hop's lack of mainstream access)

  • When It's All Said And Done
  • (God's divine providence)

  • Unpredictability of Prayer

  • 7)
  • Minority Report
  • (The power of a small minority to influence the majority)

    News Updates (God At Work): Man Freed After 27 Years; Man Falls 47 Stories and Lives

    Peace and blessings,

    Here are a couple of news updates evidencing how God is still at work during times of danger or injustice. On a side note, let's pray for Dallas, TX because I think their city has one of if not the high rate of falsely incarcerating people. Stay blessed, encouraged, and speekonit...

  • Man freed after 27 years in prison

  • 2)
  • Man falls 47 stories and lives
  • Thursday, January 03, 2008

    News Updates: The Bush Camp And Torture; The Pentagon And Evangelism; Politicians And Fear

    Peace and blessings,

    Here are a few news updates:

  • The Bush Administration and U. S. policies on torture

  • 2)
  • The Pentagon violating the Constitution in the name of Christian Evangelism in the military?

  • 3)
  • How many politicians are banking off of the "fear" doctrine
  • The Sex Trade

    "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness."

    - 1 Timothy 6: 9-11 (NIV)

    "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."

    - John 10: 9-11 (NIV)

    Peace and blessings,

    When I normally think of slavery and its manifestations, I usually only think along race and class lines. Most of us know about how various peoples throughout history were enslaved based in part on their skin color. Similarly, many people are also aware of many corporations who operate sweatshops where people work in inhumane conditions and get paid next to nothing. There is another form of slavery, however, that I tend to overlook when I consider matters of love and justice: sex slavery. I mean I've heard of the term before and I am aware that it exists in the U.S. and throughout the world. However, for some reason it wasn't on my "radar" like other forms of slavery were. Could it be that sex is so heavily promoted through music and media that I'm sort of subconsciously desensitized to the idea that sex slavery is just as prevalent as race- and class-based slavery? Regardless of the reason, I appreciate the video (see below) sent to me a month ago by this one person, asking that I address this issue on the blog. Come to think about, given that the devil's primary purpose is to distort and corrupt the things God created (because the devil has no power to create things), it makes sense that the devil would distort one of the most the sacred things God created for a man and a woman, and associate it with greed and lust, things that Jesus often spoke out against and warned us of.

    In addition to the video, here is an article on a
  • potential sex trade business in San Francisco. CA
  • Two organizations that are heavily involved in the fight against the evils of sex slavery and its dehumanizing effect are
  • Not For Sale
  • and
  • Standing Against Global Exploitation.
  • Let's continue to pray against all forms of slavery, and for the power and love of Jesus Christ to heal the hearts of those involved, and bring an end to this corruption of God's creation. Take care and speekonit...

    New Beginnings

    Peace and blessings,

    I pray everyone had a safe, wonderful, and blessed Christmas and New Years. For those whom for whatever reason had a difficult time during this holiday season, I pray that God continues to shower you with His love, peace, and comfort (Psalms 55:22; Matthew 11:28).

    It seems fitting that I would begin my first post of the new year on the birthday of my late grandfather, who was one of most admirable and honorable men of God I will ever know. I pray that through my life I will make you proud...

    In 2006 while attending a church in Cambridge, MA I was prophesied to. When I approached the pastor right before he laid hands on me I can honestly say that while I believed in the gift of prophecy, I did not put too much stock in someone speaking into my life about specific areas in my life that were "cut off" from those around me. To my surprise, however, that's exactly what happened. I think for all of us there are some things we believe without witnessing it first hand, and other things we have to witness first hand to believe. For me, prophecy was one of those things.

    After I told him the three things that were weighing on my heart at the time, he told me what God was telling him with regards to those three things. It wasn't until he "changed course" in a sense that I truly felt the presence of God. He basically said that before I come into what God has for me, God had to "take the lid off and show you some things." Once he started revealing what one of those things was, I suddenly felt encapsulated by the Holy Spirit to where I literally couldn't move (i. e. my legs felt cemented into the ground despite me trying to move them). It was at that moment that I knew that only God could have told Him that, because no one else knew.

    After that experience, I have since been wondering what were some of those other "things" that God had to show me. In 2007, I feel like some of those things have been revealed to me, as well as the purpose for me experiencing those things. Given that "7" is the biblical number of completion, I feel like the ups and downs of last year occurred the way they did because for me (and I am only speaking for myself), it could not have happened any other way. In other words, I believe that there are some things that we each must experience in order for God to straighten out our "character-kinks." Put frankly, God loves us such that He is always concerned with building our character and making us better people, and thus a better reflection of Him.

    There are some things in my spirit that if left unchecked, can do tons of damage to myself, to those around me, and to my relationship with God. Through experiencing the ups and downs of 2007, and seeing God reveal Himself to me in many different ways during those experiences, I can honestly say that I am a better, stronger, wiser man of God this year than I was last year. This is only the beginning, however, because God will never stop working on us because we can never be perfect on our own. Understanding that what defines us is not who we are when things are going "as usual," but who we are when things in our life are anything but usual, I am really looking forward to this year. Therefore, my new year's resolution is three-fold:

    1) To work on viewing people and myself the way God views us

    2) To work on viewing the situations and experiences that come up in life the way God views them

    3) To work on viewing the world the way God views it.

    What about you? Anything you've learned in 2007 that you think will make you a better person in 2008? Any new years resolutions? God bless, happy new year, and speekonit...