Good Times in a Cynical World- Thoughts of a Frustrated Nigger…

first appeared in Thyblackman

Any time you meet a payment. – Good Times.
Any time you need a friend. – Good Times.
Any time you’re out from under.
Not getting hassled, not getting hustled.
Keepin’ your head above water,
Making a wave when you can.
Temporary lay offs. – Good Times.
Easy credit rip offs. – Good Times.
Scratchin’ and surviving. – Good Times.
Hangin in a chow line – Good Times.
Ain’t we lucky we got ‘em – Good Times. -(Theme song of Good Times)

I am convinced that the government, the folks with the most and those in charge have lost touch with the real world. As I peruse through the catalog of Good Times, I am reminded of the immense level of poverty that the nation faces in its totality. To be called the greatest nation in the world with a mass proportion of the children without adequate healthcare is a “mockery at best.” High schools are more in line with gateways to prison instead of bedrocks of knowledge. The people are losing hope with the leadership due to uncompromising positions with the mythical elite.

I raise this struggle from the perspective that the show Good Times sends a rally cry from the beginning of its syndication. This show proved to America that a black family could manage and maintain, though positioned in the ghetto. It displayed the power of a father who himself was uneducated (from an academic setting) but yet yielding the best guidance for his three children. A mother with a firm, maternal love and positioned with a pragmatic faith, that was always visible to others. The motif set from the story is a principle of survival with a supreme outlook of love.

The problem comes when the cynical world invites Darwinistic perceptions to overshadow the plight of the marginalized. (The people with medical benefits, start to tell the people without benefits that there is no money for medical benefits for them.) The schools at best are minimally equipped to serve the children which then leads to systemic poverty. So it is no wonder that the ghetto or the “projects” continue to have patrons. Understand the projects were never intended for those who lived in them to actually leave. In the words of Cee –Lo Green, “were the gates meant to keep us out or keep our  ass in.”

I’m in a zone….. Continue reading “Good Times in a Cynical World- Thoughts of a Frustrated Nigger…”

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…

Disjointed Imago Dei (Image of God) Part 4 – Embodying a Race, Religion and Rhetoric Ethos

I struggle to write many times the very feelings that plague me mentally and spiritually. It is at the expense of being labeled that oftentimes I ruminate instead of write. The constant juxtaposing through worldviews can lead to intense levels of ambiguity for others but a since of clarity for me.

Let me try to explain.

My burgeoning Pan-African worldview is reshaping my perspective through a theological lens. My warped reformed theology is locked in a cage with my real life connection with Black Theology of Liberation (BTL). I not only study BTL, I must live it in thess yet to be United States of (a)merica . It is mildly impossible for a black male not to readily identify with BTL because it is their lives being played out in stereo.

I wrestle with the premise that the very natures of white men are evil. (That is the product of 39 years of racism.) I know that the actions of a few do not equal the sum-total of the whole but therein lays the place of tension-reconciling racism to be dead. Racism has shaped my theology more than I realize most of the time. The construct of racism has such blooming possibilities of evil that never lie dormant. It takes the beautification of God to reconstruct the image of those who have oppressed and have been oppressed to re-activate in such a racial climate.

But my theological lens-though warped by my reformed theology-places me at the feet of a God who extends grace. So I am forced through my understanding of BTL to redirect my angst toward the plight of “the least of these”-regardless of race. It is within those spaces where I find that my warped reformed theology finds the most solace and purpose. It is within this context that the expansion of God’s sovereignty begins to trump the very essence of “big problems/issues.” Those big problems/issues become small miracles in the hand of a sovereign God who predestined a graceful finish within my life as well as others. But it is BTL that highlights those ills with a robust sense of urgency that my reformed theology would overlook.

What the Pan-African worldview does in to bring a glocal perspective that makes me view people through a global lens but act locally. The plight of Africa for the Pan African sits as the centerpiece of success- as Africa goes so goes the world. The struggle is not to isolate one people group above another but show the importance and inter-working of all. This inter-working concept unlocks the presence of Hip Hop in my perspective. The subculture of Hip Hop has the ability to transcend racial barriers by connecting people through the flavor of the music. This calculated amalgamation is phenomenon that has mystified many scholars and theologians. This connection with the funk is a communal effort that reconnects back to a Pan African worldview. The very essence of music is interlocked with the presence of community in the African worldview. Through music the community expresses its emotional response to situations- death, birth, war, etc.

My point with this self examination is to try to define the very notion of how race, religion and rhetoric come into play into one person. This appearance of ambiguity to others but acute clarity to self is an unrelenting force to reckon with. They would appear to be irreconcilable differences housed in one mind but in a pragmatic fashion they work together in community. That which would appear to be disjointed is actually different parts working as a whole.

Disjointed Imago Dei- Reconciliation Part 3

We live in a world where entertainment is priority and service is an anomaly. When your world rewards entertainment with greater value than educational and medical services: shallow, hedonistic people are produced in mass. You develop a culture that is disconnected from reality and lives life in world of fantasy. It is this connection with fantasy that makes the market for video games so profitable.

Take an average athlete who is a supreme student that loves the game of football. He does not have the talent to play football past high school but he loves the game. Thus he takes his passion for the game and places it in Madden Football. This allows him to fictitiously be the best quarterback in the NFL without the training or without the large salary that accompanies being a professional athlete.

What we have done is create a climate of superficial experts of nothing. They have become good at educational mediocrity with society constantly at their door for the next fad. Yes, they are redefining culture as we know it. They have taken the concept of liberty to heights that are unfamiliar with times past. They are developing and implementing processes of reconciliation that are unfamiliar to those who marched through life before them.

The term of reconciliation is really unnecessary because many of them have mutated into groups that sit outside of the margin; so their experiences with folks with differing opinions are real and not philosophical. Though it may differ in content, the experience has developed a respect of sorts that develops levels of sympathy and kindness.
This generation has done the very thing that many thought could not be done but they have failed to harness this reconciliation. They accomplished the task but forgot to record the details because they were focused upon entertaining more so than change- they fought for their right to party.

So now we must find the way to take life from the party to the rest of the world.

Disjointed Imago Dei (Image of God)- Reflection Part 2

It is quite possible that the sovereignty of God has an element of cruelty attached if I had to analyze it from my personal perspective. Yes all things to work for my good but the road to that good is sometimes too heavy a price to pay-so we would assume.

It is with this type of regard that many of us enter into the body of Christ, hoping to have God reconstruct our perspective. We presume that connection brings with it amnesia. Our connection with God is not subject or predicated on our forgetting of the past but subjugated to his forgiveness of our past. What God brings to the table is more valuable than what we bring to the table, so it appears he would have more to lose. Herein lies the dynamic of the situation…he brought you to the table. The fact that he allowed us at the table speaks volumes to his perspective of us-his people.

If we could learn to see ourselves like he sees us our worldviews would be transformed completely. It is Karl Barth who denotes, “Man is not created to be the image of God…he is created in correspondence with the image of God.” There is much in that statement to agree and disagree with but Barth highlights the essential need for connection and communication with God. Through the relational capital with God we begin to take notice of others slightly different. The reason is that begin to see others through the eyes of God rather than through our own. We also begin to re-image ourselves in our own reflection because we have started the process of “putting on Christ.”

The chisel in the hand of a master artist is a slow process that may appear to be trash but as time elapse the wood begins to form into a masterpiece.

Do I reflect the image of God?