Tuesday, November 26, 2013
But that's not what Robertson really meant -- the context was that we Christians were losing our privileged status in American society. Trouble is, that isn't something to be concerned about because when you are you often end up becoming a persecutor in your own right.
Let's remember that this took place arguably at the height of what I refer to as media evangelicalism, where the message of the Gospel often ended up being muddied because programs needed to stay on the air -- and the easiest way to do that is, of course, to identify an enemy and try to defeat it. Muddied because the message of the grace of God through Jesus Christ was pushed aside of favor of a more lucrative "culture war."
And that's an issue of theology, as it demonstrates a lack of trust in God for anything except "fire insurance."
Furthermore, political freedom simply isn't addressed in the Word of God; Christians in other countries understand this, so they simply do what they do regardless of what the authorities say. The church in mainland China is growing as an astronomical rate -- in a climate that's hostile to any form of religious faith. (Indeed, it seems to thrive in those conditions.)
On top of that, if American evangelical Christians were undergoing legitimate persecution they would back anyone regardless of faith affiliation that also suffering. I can't think of one instance, however, in which we have.
A couple of generations ago a social movement, inspired by prayer and revival meetings in churches, arose, in the process changing an entire region of this nation. The opposition became so fierce that participants were being killed, churches were being bombed and pastors were being jailed -- and yet the movement stayed strong and prevailed. Most "Christians," however, in that day ignored it, many even opposing it.
I guess you know by now that I'm talking about the civil-rights movement, challenged not just because of racism but that the movement threatened -- yep -- some folks' privileged status. It's one reason for the racial divide in the church.
Early in my Christian life I learned the acronym JOY -- Jesus, Others, Yourself -- as to where our focus should be. Also remember that He said that persecution is inevitable, so we shouldn't worry about it.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Years later, I realized why: I might have well been listening to the devil himself.
It wasn't merely his ideological agenda I had problems with; more to the point, it was the plainly mean things he said about people he disagreed with. There was no grace or peace in his speech, just pure bile. He actually made Rush Limbaugh sound sweet and kind.
Last week Quinn and sidekick Rose Somma Tennent -- whom I met a few years previously at a local Christian radio station where she was on staff and I was doing commentary -- lost their jobs as commentators at a local talk-radio station in what I suspect to be a contract dispute. Their show had been syndicated to seven other stations around the country and even on Sirius XM satellite radio. (I didn't bother to find out what they were saying about President Barack Obama because I knew it couldn't be good.)
My reaction? "Thank you, Jesus."
Two things come to mind.
One, if you want to find the reason there's so much political polarization in this country, start with folks like Quinn & Rose, who stay angry seemingly for its own sake. No solutions, no addressing issues in depth -- just rage against a "them." We know just what they were against, but we never knew just what they were for; and God help anyone whom they targeted. I understand why they did such -- for the sake of ratings because they had to know that people were hanging on their every word. They likely became fairly wealthy in the process; after all, hate sells. (You can't blame "liberals" for this because -- and the conservatives will tell you this -- left-wing talk-radio has never taken hold.)
Two, not forever because eventually people are going to react if you keep treating them like piñatas. Around 2005 I noticed that a progressive populism was becoming evident, initially due to the war in Iraq going bad but ultimately a backlash against the conservative enterprise, and it was fighting fire with fire. By last summer, around the time of the Sandra Fluke controversy, it developed enough clout to cause sponsors, I understand about 70 in all, to drop Limbaugh's show. That wouldn't have happened even five years ago.
But there's also a spiritual principle afoot here. You see, listening to Satan's lies and accusations deadens sensitivity and leads directly to a decline in discernment. Again, the actual agenda doesn't matter; it's the idea of scapegoating people for who or what they are or what they believe that God cannot tolerate. That's why such contempt isn't perpetual; it wears you out and down. In other words, attitudes and behaviors are ultimately more important than worldview, and when you refuse to be confronted about them communication breaks down. Even with God.
I have been saying for quite some time that an awakening is taking place in this country, and one of the signs of such is a rejection of the world's way of thinking. Quinn & Rose's show was definitely "of the world," and they are now receiving the world's reward for their actions. I haven't seen Rose in a while -- I don't know Quinn's religious leanings -- but when and if I do I will remind her that God calls us to a better, more excellent way.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
I understood just what was behind that: His identity was wrapped up in having her; when that became no longer possible he tried to find someone to blame. The trouble is that he never looked in the mirror to find the true culprit as to the demise of the marriage.
I bring that up because in light of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act I see the same reaction to President Obama -- "incompetent," a "tyrant" and other names, some of them too vile to publish; the folks who make those comments don't appreciate that he was legitimately elected president. When I hear them, I always consider the source.
It's one thing to oppose a president's policies; after all, people do have that right. Let's keep in mind, however, that he did gain a majority of popular and electoral votes in both 2008 and 2012; as such, going out of their way to sabotage his constitutionally-mandated obligation to carry out the laws of this country is simply beyond the pale.
Well, we don't agree with him. Fine, but you didn't make your case in the election.
We think his policies are dangerous. A lot of people obviously don't agree.
We think he's leading this nation toward socialism. You'll have to do better than that.
If the media had just told the truth ... They did. You just didn't want to hear it.
We think he should be stopped. By any means necessary? At the cost of your own soul?
I mean that -- if you're that focused on defeating him you end up only defeating yourself. That was a major factor in his reelection last year despite the bad economy and a persistently unstable labor market.
Dad never remarried, as I didn't think he would, and likely harbored bitterness toward Mom to the day he died; that's no way to live and he didn't. Moral of the story, at the risk of sounding arrogant: If you feel that way about the president, you need to get over it and move on because you can't change the election results. Not doing so might very well kill you.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Reading that piece made me realize just how much of a pioneer I was, especially in the 1970s. And how and why I was.
In 1974, when I was 13, I was "recruited" to play basketball at the Catholic parochial school near me; it turned out that I would be its first black player ever. That said, I wore that status lightly; while I realized that I was making a statement I never felt the burden of being the "first." Having by this time removed any racial resentment that might have caused any problems with my schoolmates, virtually all of them white, I got along with them beautifully and was invited to all of the dances and parties (though, being a tad socially backward, I rarely went).
I didn't realize until the next year, as a high school freshman at a prestigious Catholic prep school, that the barrier had fallen.
I wasn't playing basketball at the scholastic level, so I asked my father about playing Catholic Youth Organization ball for the same parish. Dad waved it off, saying, "They don't allow blacks." A week or two later, the CYO coach called to ask if I were interested in playing. (I didn't.)
At that school I began trying out for plays. Having developed a singing voice the summer between freshman and sophomore years, as a sophomore I made callbacks for the fall play and the director promised me a part in the following spring production. (I ended up with two.) There was one other black kid, a junior, who also was part of the cast; we may have been the first two African-Americans to grace that stage. I developed some popularity at that school as well.
I learned a valuable truth from those experiences that has stayed with me to this day: The best way to "integrate" is not to force your way in but to get to know people on the inside who can vouch for you -- that way folks don't feel put upon and forced to accommodate for the sake of being "politically correct." I took the opportunities that were afforded me at that time, and everyone grew as a result.
Saturday, July 20, 2013
What I found disconcerting is that many of them were supposedly Jesus-loving Christians but clearly hard-core conservatives. It reminded me why we still have a major race problem in the church -- denial.
No, I'm not calling them racists, but they were clearly insensitive to the indignities, great or small, that some of their "brothers and sisters" have had to deal with on a consistent basis.
And I believe that their commitment to a myopic conservative worldview, which seeks comfort for itself but couldn't care less about anyone else's suffering, is the primary culprit here.
Frankly, most of my friends outside my diverse church and the local music community are white. This is especially the case among the three local Christian singles ministries that I've been involved with; I'm one of only two African-Americans who participate, and neither of us are militants who demand to be heard.
But sometimes I wish they would ask me for my perspective on things.
You see, many of them focus on Christian "morality" and "liberty" at the expense of everything else; as you can imagine, they vote Republican. They don't see how or why the conservative agenda that now controls the GOP is considered insulting and injurious, at times even willfully, to African-Americans, who vote Democratic for that reason.
How so? Well, let's consider the phrase "big government." You may not know this, but it originally had a racist connotation -- recall that it was the Federal government that took down Jim Crow laws in the South, specifically through laws and Supreme Court decisions that irritated a lot of people and led to what became known as the "new right," which started in the 1950s and gained steam in the '60s. Propagandists over the years have sought to blame the "Great Society" for the ills of the black community, never mind that it doesn't have the same access to education and employment opportunities (I realized this when I got to college) as everyone else.
Over time these folks have sought to reverse the progress that we've made, especially when it comes to important issue of voting. The Supreme Court's invalidation of a major tenet of the Voting Rights Act didn't help, and right-wing radio's quasi-racist ramblings have inflamed the discourse. (Not to mention the voter-ID laws implemented in many states that are reminiscent of laws in Southern states that essentially barred blacks from voting. (Voting will always remain an issue.)
But my "siblings" don't see that we as African-Americans are often treated differently in the world. While I personally have never experienced being stopped by a policeman for no good reason -- "driving while black" -- or ignored by restaurant waitstaff, I know people who have.
And sometimes it spills over into the church. When I was in college I began attending a campus Christian fellowship that was otherwise all-white. I soon found out why it was that way; a couple weeks after coming -- and becoming chummy with one of the women -- a staff member asked me to leave; it turned out that the ministry actually operated a separate group for black students and she said that I would "fit better" there, my actual church background notwithstanding. (I didn't.) Later on another staff member tried to drive me out but failed.
At the beginning of my last committed dating relationship in the summer of 1999 -- my girlfriend was white -- I had a week off from playing at my church, so I visited hers. In the church was literature from the "Conservative Chronicle," which one of her sons would bring home on a regular basis; upon reading it I detected a spirit of racism. (Which turned out to be correct; I learned long after the relationship collapsed that it was the newsletter of the Council of Conservative Citizens, formerly known as the White Citizens Council, which formed in the South to oppose desegregation.)
I'm privileged to attend a church where some of these issues have been addressed; however, I know full well that it's an anomaly. And even there, some folks still often don't "get it."
We took this on most recently in my Christian Leadership Concepts small group -- CLC is a two-year men's leadership course that ended for me in February -- in which racial reconciliation was one of the last things to be taught. Because the other guys know that I have a passion for and considerable knowledge and experience in that, one of the co-facilitators asked me to lead the first session. As part of the curriculum we used the book "Strength to Love" by Martin Luther King Jr. However, I told them flat-out that Dr. King's opponents were conservatives. I didn't get a handle on how they reacted.
One song that's now being played in heavy rotation on smooth-jazz radio is a cover of Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror," whose message I heartily agree with. But I wish that my conservative friends would heed it -- that when it comes to issues of race in the church they may recognize that their attitudes may be part of the problem.
The same Bible that causes me to oppose abortion and homosexual conduct also despises racism and obliges me to identify with those of lower status. (Not just help -- identify with, for you can't do the former without the latter.) We simply won't solve this problem unless hearts are softened, and may God do so.