Reading King, Reflecting on Teams

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to read one of the great letters/essays ever written, Letter from the Birmingham Jail by Dr. Martin Luther King. Now this was not my first time ever reading this letter but as usual it had a lasting effect upon me. The stark reality that engulfed my thoughts was the seriousness and devotion from which King writes-the tension between sacred calling and civil disobedience vs. human respectability. King denotes how different perspectives has a major impact upon how you see society in general and at-large.

What we find with King’s letter is also a connectedness to a theology that’s usable. He uses his theology to define a movement that changed the landscape of America. Through a Letter from the Birmingham Jail we have the chance to see the in some aspects how the Apostle Paul viewed his surroundings from jail.  Though the audience and occasions may have been a bit different the intensity and mood were similar. As we bring it in to the new millennium, we see Public Enemy give us a another perspective as Chuck D shares his letter  in Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos. Entrenched in all of this presentations is a look into the lives of folks who were devoted to a call but put in places that tried to stifle their voices. But with tenacity and a fight for justice, they prevailed to freedom and implementation of change.

Dr. King and others in the Civil Rights Movement did not balk at the challenge to change a country. They stayed the course for change and wrestled with their own inequalities. But it was only through the help of others that they were able to attend to the challenges that were before them.  It was Bayard Rustin that held the Civil Rights Movement together. He was the glue, he was the great organizer behind the great speeches of King. It was a great Barnabas and Timothy that walked with the Apostle Paul. It was the S1W’s that would come to the aid of a wrongly imprisoned Chuck D. (watched the video Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos)It was a team of folks that would enable great leaders to initiate change.

I do not liken myself to Dr. King but I do see a need to surround myself with great people. It is with the help of others that we build and change societies, communities and cities.

Just my thoughts of the moment…

Tenuous Duality of Election Day-A Conversation with Self and my Alter Ego

So today is voting Tuesday around the country and people are all hyped about voting. I read tweet after tweet of people getting up early to vote and standing in line with pride. I see Facebook post of condemning people for not getting out to vote and a mass of other stuff concerning Election Day.

Well…

I am not sure how I want to digest this moment right now. I am proud that people are exercising their right to vote today. I am glad that people intentionally made efforts to get out early to vote. But I sit in the midst of the economic downturn as a man that is not fully employed without any benefits. I am the man that was unemployed for 6 months and had to get an unemployment check.

So am I enthused about the Obama camp?-by no means. But on the flip side, I see where Romney does not have my best interest in mind as well. He wants to provide legislature that will benefit him as a rich man more than those caught in the midst of this struggle. I am not what you would consider poor but I am part of a working class that is on the brink of losing many of their personal assets because of job loss.

So I have no confidence in the government as it relates to voting one or the other into office. I do not buy the concept of the “lesser of two evils” nor do I surrender to the voting clichés. Yes, many ancestors died for our right to vote but it was just that our right. So if one has the right to vote; they also have the right not to vote. I have seen the rhetoric of some who in so many words have called others stupid because they choose not to vote which goes against the very ethos of the voting privilege. Yes, I think people should vote but if a person chooses not to vote then that is their right as well not to do so.

Those who are for Obama turn a blind eye to the fact that he has not fulfilled many of the promises he said he would complete in 2008. If the tables were turned they would be all over the other candidate for not fulfilling their promises. Those in the Romney camp know good and well that Romney will run America like a business. He will balance budgets but at a great expense to those who need the programs that will be cut. So in the big picture both have holes in the campaign for me. Simple and plain folks just need to be real that they vote for cultural reasons more than political ideology. If I said I was voting for Romney and gave facts why- then many would call me crazy. So this is just not a question of voting but a question of voting for your candidate of choice.

At the end of the day -poor people are ostracized, children are poorly educated, women are still viewed obtusely, gays are left in limbo, Hispanics (or what we call Hispanics) are still considered illegal, soldiers are still in warzones outside of America- and blacks are housed in every one of those categories at alarming rates.

But you just want me to vote for the sake of voting…come on.

The Reflective Response

So today is voting Tuesday around the country and people are all hyped about voting. I have been repeatedly admonished to vote and some have even smirked in condescension as they layer my indifference with their subtle passing of judgment.

Well…

I refuse to be among the herds that use civic duty as a cliché and propose that a black man in the White House has to be the best of all possible outcomes for black people. What happened to the best of outcomes for all people? What about Obama makes him a black man? I’ll digress on that subject only to focus on the systemic regulation of mankind that seems to assert itself when the impetus for activism falls under the umbrella of “everybody’s doing it.”

Today reminds me of Christmas. Surely my daughters will not ask if I voted but who I voted for, assuming that Obama is the logical gift under the irreverent American tree. I’ll gladly get them what they ask for only in an attempt to protect them from 37 years of removing myself from the abase nature of society in an effort to reconcile myself to that for which being abased is truly rewarded.

I am both Romney and Obama, seeing myself fit for any office to which I am assigned as long as the assignees have no real sense of the balance between my impotency and that of the position. I am the smiling, eloquent businessman with the suit to match any persona I choose for that day. The cool customer slinging barbs to put you at ease along with the dispassionate pat on your back. I, better than the voter, know the difference between what you need and what you need to hear and if you’re patient I’ll make your mind cause the two to align.

I would love to insert a paragraph about government here but it may lead too many to believe that elections are about that. It’s not about candidates, issues, states, or even race. It’s about the illusion of empowerment. The same effect that the notion of “choice” has on so many believers, it gives one a belief in rights that are free (fictionally) from the selflessness that is required to “believe” in the first place. The power vested in the verisimilitudes of an incomplete reality that only makes “ Sandy ” real when it’s seen on TV. Having two options will force you to choose out of necessity, thus emboldening the voter by default. The long lines and racial tension are added fuel that leaves one on an indefatigable high, only to be proffered with sterile promises and hope capped by another four years of momentum; you choose the direction

End Result…I Voted

Theo-Political Tension

I am the first to admit that I am far from being well informed in politics. But as I get older and wiser, I start to understand that there is this theo-political tension that engulfs the life of the believers. There is this resounding intent that God’s sovereignty aligns itself with “the least of these”-in certain cultural containers this collectively embodies different people groups.

The theo-political tension is the reflective of a theological perspective that can consistently agree with a political stance. A theo-political tension is a contemplative, prophetic wrestle to understand how God intersects in the establishing of public policy. This is highly problematic if not impossible in the life of a believer. One is forced to examine either their theology or the politic in order to gather a consensus for the vote. This is a left of center approach that takes seriously the plight of “the least of these.”

God is the consistent factor but the disturbed variable being the person who has to participate in the constant wrestling.The tension is a result of misappropriated expectations of faith. We disguise the tension in our mistrust of the political figure when in actuality we have a mistrust of God’s sovereignty. (Now this does not excuse one from practically engaging in the political process but it gives a defining example of who is really in charge.) “Where is God in the political scene” is not an exact science but a revolutionary act of trust.  It is the theo (God) that gives credence to the political that allows us to deem it with any value. The tension invents itself when the political operates with a false premise that it can influence the direction of the theo.

The end result of the theo-political tension is one that ultimately leads you to divorce from the issue that public policy is the answer. Yes, we should be involved in the political process but due to the nature of our faith, we are not consumed by the outcome, if it runs opposite of our cultural narrative. Engagement in the process actually displays our level of faith as Pastor Wendell Jones shared, “We still have a duty to be divinely positioned to influence the world/policy for God.”

We do not find solace in the narrative but in the narrator. The narrator has the power to re-shape the narrative in accordance to his plan. The theo-political tension should lead us to a more vibrant pursuit and trust in God, as the process unpacks the intentions of the political machine.