Archive for Jesus

Free in DC For MOW 50: What Happened To God?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2013 by Free Smith

MLK Cross

 

 

Malcolm Mecca

The impact of the spiritual community on the Civil Rights Movement cannot be overstated. Many of its leaders were religious leaders, and the love and peacefulness that helped define the Movement are deeply rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Author of King’s Vision of Justice: Rooted in the Bible, David J. Lull wrote, “Dr. King often pointed out that it was Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that inspired the ‘dignified social action’ of the civil rights movement. His notion of “creative suffering” – borne by civil rights activists who endured persecution and police brutality – came from his Christian faith in the redemptive suffering of Jesus.”

Usage of scriptural innuendoes was favored rhetorical practice for King, especially hopes for “God’s children” he pled for in the “I Have A Dream” speech. Even his ominous, final speech was closed with the biblical allusion of being at the “mountaintop” and seeing the “Promised Land” referencing Moses who, as a punishment from God, could only see the Hebrews’ “Promised Land” from Mount Nebo where he died. Use of this passage evidenced that King sensed his impending death, which was the next day.

Furthermore, Dr. King saw the Church as a microcosm of racism in America. According to Aldon Morris, sociologist at Northwestern University and writer of The Origins of the Civil Right Movement: Black Communities Organizing for Change, cited King’s labeling of Sunday church services as “the most segregated hour in America.” “He felt the church hadn’t stood up enough and supported the movement.  They were needing allies from many different groups, and with the movement rooted in moral and religious precepts it made a great deal of sense to reach out to various religious groups.”

In his book, Gospel of Freedom, author John Rieder examined King’s moving “Letter From A Birmingham Jail,” expressed that King’s letter (also strewn with biblical references) helped to highlight the contradiction of Jim Crow to religious values held by institutions and spurred them to action, creating a “confluence of a major part of the black movement with the larger ferment in American Christianity and Judaism.”

Other some of  King’s more radical counterparts also used spirituality as a foundation to their fight. Muslim doctrine and his post as head voice of Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam heavily influenced Malcolm X’s noble campaign. In his quest to liberate Blacks in America, founder of the UNIA, counterpart to W.E.B. DuBois and the NAACP, Marcus Garvey, put his separatist mission in a religious context, “As the Jew is held together by his religion… so likewise the Negro must be united in one grand racial hierarchy…Like the great Church of Rome, Negroes the world over must practice one faith, that of Confidence in themselves, with One God! One Aim! One Destiny! Let no religious scruples, no political machination divide us, but let us hold together under all climes and in every country, making among ourselves a Racial Empire upon which ’the sun shall never set.’”

Seeing how spirituality and faith were so influential in the Civil Rights Movement, one might wonder, what happened? Today, the leaders of thought in the Black community are predominately entertainers, replacing the ministers who led during times of oppression. According to Yeadon’s Rev. Dr. Harold Dean Trulear (“Uncle Dean” to me), reputable director of Healing Communities Prison Ministry and Reentry Initiative and professor at Howard University, “Media has taken center stage and it’s so powerful that it creates more of a sense of being a spectator and being more passive. The action is up front on the screen. The spiritual people on television are giving more of a message of individual prosperity and individual solutions to social problems than they are looking at the collective.” This focus on the self has been said to be a somewhat destructive imposition of feudalistic, European ideals foreign and incompatible to Black/African culture (stemming from a lesson I learned from Howard University’s Dr. Gregory Carr in his “Black Aesthetics” course). Trulear partially jested, “If Rosa Parks came to church to today and said she’d been discriminated against on the bus, somebody would’ve told her to ask God for a car.” He continued, “That’s an individual solution to social problem, that people overcome individually rather than transform society itself.”

Trulear calls this plight, “uncritical integration,” which he attributes to the Black community’s replication of “rampant individualism”, imperialistic mindsets and discrimination against subsets. “If the society was sick, then you don’t want to integrate into a sick society. You want to transform it. There’s plenty of stuff that we just took a from a very sick society,” he surmised. He deems that Black people have “uncritically adopted” a “flawed” American Dream. “There are number of things we do as Americans that is not the medicine. Rather than challenging the status quo about everything, we just got our piece of the pie.”

Since Blacks got their “piece of the pie, Trulear says revolutionary attitudes in the church have been tamed referencing H. Richard Niebuhr’s 1929 text, The Social Sources of Denominations, “I do think that Black churches have done what all churches have done which is the more affluent the congregation becomes, the less likely it is that they be involved in activism. They become more integrated in the mainstream society.”

Trulear also pointed out that, at the time, fellow Morehouse alum, Dr. King was not a pastor of a church. For six years, he was a senior pastor Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, but his responsibilities hindered his leadership of the SCLC. “He couldn’t do it. There wasn’t enough time, so when he goes back to Atlanta as co-pastor (of Ebenezer Baptist Church) he has very different duties that allow him to spend time on a movement that he could have had he been confined to one church,” explained Trulear. He credited the work of the organizations’ full-time staffs with helping King and other leaders by “doing the organizing work on the ground.“

Trulear gave his blueprint to attaining “The Dream,” heavily influenced by  Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”): “One thing you can do is refuse to allow society to define you by the fact that you’re homeless or have a criminal record and then you can work with other people who have accepted that and help turn their lives around. That includes accepting the designation of subhuman because you’re Black or gay and because you’re an ex-convict or sitting in a homeless shelter. The situation doesn’t define me, I’m defined by Christ and because I’m defined by Christ, I can handle all situations.”

The Send-Off

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2012 by Free Smith

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The phone rang and aroused Robin from her sleep. She looked at the caller ID and saw that it was Mary calling. It was time. She answered and said, “Hello, Mary.”

The voice on the other end said, “Hello, Robin. It’s time to come see him off.”

Robin answered, “OK. I’m getting ready,” and hung up the phone.

She pushed aside the collection of unreleased Shakespearian works laying on the bed, tossed off her shimmering sheets made of the golden silk and gave a big stretch coupled with a yawn. She looked about her room stocked floor to ceiling with books on top of books on high shelves and saw the eternal light shining through her window. She smiled and felt excitement flutter from her stomach to her head. As soon as her feet hit the floor, the orchestra started playing “Ave Maria” on her sound stage as the great Luciano Pavarotti dove into his flawless aria. She smiled even more, still amazed by the fact that her favorite singer on earth was now her personal crooner.

 She walked over to the bathroom and cleansed herself in the pure waters of her white, marble bathtub with golden fixtures. When finished she got out of the tub, dried off and started through the mansion perusing the paintings, sculptures and tapestries too beautiful for the earthly mind to fathom that adorned the hallways, high ceilings and floors. She reached the front door and her champagne-colored Jaguar was waiting outside. She walked out, got into the car and uttered, “OK, I’m ready,” and the car coasted off down the golden street towards the departure area.

Robin rode along, smiling the whole while thinking of meeting her grandson. She praised the Almighty for blessing her earthly family with a little more longevity and joy. She waved to the people scattered along the rode in front of their mansions. Some she knew as family and friends in her previous life. Some were prominent and famous people that she knew of and admired before (they now held her in high esteem due to her righteous and giving existence on earth). Others were strangers, but all reciprocated her smiles and waves. The car took a turn down the main road and passed by the crystal sea before the Throne from which the light emanated. A thrill ignited in her as she watched the elders incessantly praising the Almighty and casting their crowns at his feet. Robin was now realizing the wondrous images and words that she studied so diligently on earth. She wished that she could show her awaiting grandson the wonders that eternity held in store for believers.

She reached the pearl gates of the departure area, got out of the car, walked to the gate and it opened. When she entered, she was escorted to his room by a cherub on duty.  She knocked and there he was. When he turned around from his seat and looked into her eyes, an emotion overcame Robin that she could not describe, even with the vast wisdom that she attained during her short time in the Kingdom. Tearfully, she walked over and embraced him warmly saying, “Hello, my love.”

Muffled by her arms, he replied, “Hello, Grandma.” Robin clung to him for a bit longer and released. Both stood gazing at each other, eyes pregnant with the seeds of adoration, awe and wonderment that flowed through their minds. An electrical current of emotion passed between the two that tingled the senses. After a few more moments, they both sat Indian style on the ground facing one another. 

Before Robin could say anything he started, “I was watching a big ceremony that they were having for you down there not too long ago.  What was that?”

Robin replied, “That was my funeral, love. That’s what they do for people where you’re going when their earthly body shuts down and can’t go on anymore.”

He continued his query, “I couldn’t understand what was going on. There were a lot of people in that place and there was singing and people spoke, but all the while, people had their heads down with water coming out of their eyes. What does that mean?”

She answered, “That’s called crying. When people are sad there, that’s what they do.”

He said, “Sad? What is that?”

She replied, “Sad is the complete opposite feeling of everything that we feel here, my love. Here we experience nothing but comfort and joy and have no reason to be sad. Where you’re going, there’s still happiness and comfort, but sadness is abundant.”

He continued, “Oh. So why were they feeling that way?”

She answered, “Because they knew they’d never see me there again and they miss me. It was also because of the way that I left. I suffered much pain.”

He inquired, “Pain? I keep hearing about that. Yesterday in orientation, Jesus spoke about pain. He said that he felt a lot of pain to his body, but he also spoke of emotional feelings of pain. What is it exactly?”

Robin replied, “Well, love, there’s physical pain and emotional pain. Physical pain is something that hurts your body. I pray that you won’t feel that for a while, but you’ll probably feel it first when your teeth come in or when you fall or bump your head while you’re getting used to your human body. Jesus felt serious physical pain before he left. Emotional pain is sadness like we talked about before. There’s no way that I can really describe either to you in a way you can understand because neither of them exist here, but where you’re going, it’s abundant. Anyway, how was your orientation? I’m glad that I could get you into Jesus’ session.”

The boy replied, “It was alright.”

Robin giggled, “You sound like my son, your soon-to-be uncle, Ryan. He always gave the short answer. It drove me crazy!”

Now motivated to elaborate, he said, “I mean, he just told us about his life and some of the things that he experienced. Some of the others were in sessions run by Moses, Muhammad, Buddha and others. I wish I could’ve heard what they all had to say, too. Why did you choose Jesus as my lecturer?”

She said, “Because that’s who I followed while I was on earth, love. They all have many followers, but Jesus was my guide here and I wanted you to hear from him.”

The boy said simply, “OK,” then he continued onto the next topic, “You spoke of my uncle, Ryan. Who is that and who are the others that I’m going to meet?”

Robin replied, “Ryan and your future father, Carl, were my sons. They both came to me at the same time a while ago. Didn’t you read my book? You should know.”

The boy said, “I started it, but I only got up to the part where you came to a place called Pennsylvania from another place called Washington, DC. What should I know about them? What kind of people are they?”

Robin gathered her thoughts and said, “Well, your father, Carl, is an extremely talented artist with great ambition. He’s good with his hands and is very creative. He can be surly at times and he’s headstrong, but I know he’ll never treat you badly. I just don’t like the decisions he makes sometimes. As a matter of fact, if I was still there on Earth when you came, I would be upset with him because he’s not living the way that I wanted him to and he’s not ready for a child. I don’t know too much about your mother, Jen. I didn’t really want to while I was there because I thought that they were living in sin and didn’t approve. Nevertheless, I now know that they’ll both do all that they can for you. Carl and Ryan’s father chose not to be a part of their lives and I know that that’ll drive Carl to be the best father that he can. However, the void that their father left in their lives left them very confused as to what manhood actually meant. I pray that you will teach both of them, but especially Carl, what it means to be a man.”

            The boy nodded and said, “OK, what about this Ryan character?”

            Robin replied, “Ryan is a sweetheart when he wants to be. He was my soft child. He is very caring and will love you to death. He has his own problems though. His mind is a little afflicted with an earthly ailment and his moods change. He can be just as mean as he can be nice and he’s also made some bad decisions in life. He’s very confused and still isn’t where he wants to be in life. He is a great example of a sad person. In fact, when I left, I wasn’t very pleased with either of them. They are both very intelligent individuals, but don’t do the right thing all the time. Nevertheless, you can teach him a new lesson in love and bring him a bit of the happiness that has been eluding him. I know that you’ll bring some joy into his life.

             In fact, you’ll bring joy to many, especially my mother, your great-grandmother. She’s gone through some of the worst emotional pain known to the world. She had to watch me die and bury me. Ask around and people will tell you that that is the absolute worst trauma for a parent; to lose a child. My Godson, RJ, who will be like your big brother has already done good work of bringing love and joy to the family when he went there not too long ago. I could see that firsthand”

            The boy inquired, “Love. Something else I’ve heard a lot about. What is that?”

            Robin thought for a moment and said, “Love is another very difficult thing to explain. What you feel here is love. It’s a tenderness that you feel for someone or something. It’s affection and dedication. While it may not feel like it, there’s an abundance of love where you’re going, too.”
            The boy took in the information and said, “OK. I’m a little nervous now. These sound like some crazy people that I’m about to meet.”

            Robin laughed, “Don’t be nervous, love. I just pointed out their faults because those are what you should be aware of. The majority of the time that you spend with them will be pleasant I’m sure. I didn’t raise any monsters.” The boy laughed too.

            She spent the next moments telling him about her life as an educator, religious instructor and youth choir director. She also spoke of her life growing up, falling in and out of love with her husband and other mere observations and analyses that she had on different aspects of life on Earth the way that her father did with her before she went there many years earlier. When she told him all that she could think to tell, she knew that the time had come and closed with, “No matter what happens, no matter what the people of the world tell you, just know that your goal in life is to make it back here. Some lose sight of that and don’t return. I’ll be with you always the way that I am with your father, uncle and great-grandmother. You won’t see me. You may not even remember me, but I’ll always be there, love.” With that, she notified the cherub in charge that they were finished. He came to the door and led them both out of the room.

            Robin and the boy walked silently hand-in-hand to the general area. They were silent, but the touching of their palms and the gentle stroke of her thumb over his knuckles communicated more than any words could. When they were about to split, grandmother and grandson threw their arms around each other again and Robin kissed the boy. She whispered in his ear, “Remember, love, I’m always going to be with you. I’ll be watching.” She kissed him again and as they walked away from each other, she turned and called over to him with a smirk, “Also remember, love, no smoking! You’ll save yourself a lot of pain if you never pick up that habit.” The boy then smiled back and said, “Alright, Grandma.” Then he turned and continued to his destination with the cherub. Robin watched until she couldn’t see him anymore. Then she got back in the car and drove off back down the golden road.

 

 

 

MY VIEWS ON THE CASH

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2012 by Free Smith

ImageFirst and foremost, I want to say, I respect money. We need it to live, it gets us what we want and all that jazz, but at the same time, FUCK MONEY. LOL. It takes our focus off of everything that we SHOULD be doing. People like to throw around the “Money is the root of all evil” quote around just because it makes people do things that may be underhanded/shady/dishonest or what have you, but I think it’s deeper than that. I curse whomever it was that decided to trade a good or service for a piece of paper or metal in the first place. In my opinion, the whole point of business is to make your product/service omnipotent or God-like. Make it the main focus of the buyer. The way I feel about money is the same way I feel about crack. It takes people’s souls. Back to the point, the money is now too God-like for our own good. Shit, even churches NEED it to function. Look at money. It is a shape-shifter (cash or coin). It’s the universal language that can be translated from place to place (i.e. dollars, pounds, yen, etc.). They’ve even made a way for it to be invisible through cards (I guess the credit card would be the priest in this scenario.), but we always have faith that it’s there and will do what it’s “promised” to do.

I believe that we’re all here to use God’s creation to bring people closer to Him, but people did the wrong thing with the money. I always say that it’s Satan’s goal to do all in his power to take the focus off of God with his antics and money has done just that. As I said before, even the churches HAVE TO have it to run, so in a way, the money takes precedence over God at the end of the day. I used to think the Internet was the best that man has done to imitate God. It too is everywhere and you go to it to find out what you want to know (the computers would be the priests in THIS scenario. LOL). But all in all, fuck the money. Use it because you have to in this society, but don’t let it own you. Yes, it is the ROOT of all evil, because, let’s be real, evil is Satan and vice versa and in a roundabout  way, the money is accomplishing Satan’s goal, to divert your attention from God. We spend our entire week working to make money and set aside an hour or so a week to God on Sundays. So, I guess what I’m asking is for you to keep the money in perspective. Like Big Meech said, you gotta blow it because when it’s over, you can’t take it with you.

However, when it’s over, I’m a firm believer that there is God that you will have to answer to and that’s what we should be focusing on while we live these lives we were given.

CHUUUUCH!!!

Posted in Flicks, Holy Moly, The Man, The Tunes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 27, 2010 by Free Smith

Now, I don’t know how much of a shocker this might be for some of you. I’m actually a pretty devout Christian. I may not scream out “Church Guy” when you speak to or hang out with me. I cuss on the regular, get bent, listen to primarily hardcore rap and watch explicit movies/shows and take interest in all types of irreverent, low-life nonsense. However, you better believe that I am a Christian to the core.

I’ve been in the Episcopal Church my entire life where I have actively served in many capacities. Among said activities, the most prominent in my church life is acolyting (you might know it better as being an altar boy, but I’m a grown ass man). Yes, every Sunday, I vest in my alb and cincture and usually serve as crucifer though now I’m a BAWSE (sarcasm but I am a head acolyte) and help the youngins by giving them direction and filling in where needed. As a sidenote, I always wanted to be a thurifer, but I’m too short and uncoordinated to do a good job at that. I would really be peeved if we did it THIS big during services and I couldn’t do it.

With all that said, In the words of the most venerable Sam “Ace” Rothstein: “There are three ways of doing things around here: the right way, the wrong way, and the way that *I* do it. You understand?” Let’s leave it at that.

After I got dressed, I headed out. This is one of the joints I was listening to:

These special services are always awkward to me. I’m a “meat and potatoes” type of guy when it comes to church services. All I need is an organ, HYMNS (sorry, but I’m not a fan of the popular, redundant, nursery school gospel songs) and incense. It irks me to hear drums during the processional hymn personally. It’s kind of like making a hybrid between this and this. It’s just weird to me, but that’s just the way I was brought up. Not knocking anybody.

But here’s the order of the service:

The First Reading:
Amos 6:1a 4-7:
Lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, They eat lambs taken from the flock, and calves from the stall! Improvising to the music of the harp, like David, they devise their own accompaniment. They drink wine from bowls and anoint themselves with the best oils; yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph! Therefore, now they shall be the first to go into exile, and their wanton revelry shall be done away with.

The Psalm
Psalm 146 (read beautifully by yours truly)
1 Hallelujah!
Praise the LORD, O my soul! *
I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

2 Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, *
for there is no help in them.

3 When they breathe their last, they return to earth, *
and in that day their thoughts perish.

4 Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! *
whose hope is in the LORD their God;

5 Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; *
who keeps his promise for ever;

6 Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, *
and food to those who hunger.

7 The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind; *
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;

8 The LORD loves the righteous;
the LORD cares for the stranger; *
he sustains the orphan and widow,
but frustrates the way of the wicked.

9 The LORD shall reign for ever, *
your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.
Hallelujah!

The Epistle (or Second Reading)
1 Timothy 6:6-19
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 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. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time–God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

The Holy Gospel
Luke 16: 19-31
There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

The sermon was given by Min. Vernord Mark Cowan of Salem Baptist Church in Jenkintown, PA. Of course it was a call for men to step up and be men. By now, to me, these sermon’s are becoming like surveillance videos in cornerstores. If nothing happens, they just get re-used over and over again until something does, but each time it’s copied over, the quality get worse and worse (Oooo! The bul deep!)(and that’s not a diss by the way if you were gonna take it there).

The most important part of the service for this hombre is Communion. We get to take in the body and blood Christ (no cannibal). Though I do all the time, this is the point of the week that I make sure to pray most sincerely. I put it ALL out on the table, the good, the bad and the ugly. This is the best time to do so to me because I have just COMMUNED with my man Jesus. It find of reminds me of that boy Luca Brasi at Connie’s wedding. He could thank Don Corleone any time he damn well pleased, but it meant a lot more on that special day. I doubt the Divine would ask me to go try to double-cross a Sollozzo though.

Much to my pleasure, one of the songs during communion was Blessed Assurance which is surely on my top 5. Here it is below. I picked a video with the simple melody (the way I like it) and the lyrics. REALLY read the words. Beautiful (no homo):

After church let out and I did the meet and greet deal with everyone, I walked over to my car when I saw something that caught my eye. It was a guy carrying this sign:

The guy was one of the more throwed individuals that I’ve encountered. He was rocking red-lensed shades, mad cobra logos and, um, knee pads. Yea. He was cool though. I tried to get a picture of him and tape him explaining what it meant, but he was solidly reluctant. I even tried to trick him, but he didn’t go for it. I could try to tell you what his explanation was, but I would not be able to. Let’s just say it was extremely elaborate. I’m not even going to touch it. So, interpret it for yourself. I suspected atheism, but when we parted ways, he told me that I was in the right place (church).

I hopped in the whip and coincidentally, this was the first track to come on on my system: