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Christmas Greetings: Making Nice with the Dead

Even as a priest, I almost lost my Christmas Spirit.

Somewhere among all the Holiday Parties, TV commercials and my interactions with others, preparing for “the Season,” I just couldn’t take it.

You see – as you know: in our politically correct world, you can’t talk about Christ in the workplace, or at school. And, this conditions us to remove Christ from all public conversation. I mean, even Christian clergy give “ecumenical prayers,” which don’t appeal to the love and mercy of God through Jesus Christ.

We don’t want to offend anyone.

Christmas Greetings Must “Respect the Beliefs” of Others

And so, “Merry Christmas” has become as innocuous – as vanilla – as “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.” We’ll say “Merry Christmas” because it’s safe. I mean, after all, the holiday we’re to be happy about is called Christmas. So, we can’t get in trouble with the workplace/schoolyard authorities. We won’t offend the atheistic interest groups who want you to celebrate their unbelief.

“Merry Christmas” is safe. It allows us to toe the line: to fool ourselves into thinking we’ve found a way to be in Christ without offending the world.

We’ll say “Merry Christmas,” but will we wish the blessing of the Incarnate Lord? Will we pray the True Light shines in the lives of others – whether or not they want it?

Not everyone will accept that Light. Some will reject it. That’s their choice. Our choice and our joy is to share the gift of the True Light, Who has come into the world – for the life of the (whole) world.

Oh, what a joy!

To know that “unto us a Child is born, and a Son is given.” How can that joy be contained? How can any of us really be filled with that joy and then confine it to those private and safe moments of life?

Christmas Joy is Buried to Appease the Dead

Everywhere is death. Turn on the news: death. Watch your favorite television shows: death. Go out in the streets: death. Death suffocates us. And, we just want to play nice – hoping that death might leave us alone.

Rather than confronting the dead with the living God, in the hope they too might live, we bury our joy at the Incarnation of God. We make nice with a dead Society and dead people…appealing to the dead to comfort and bring peace to the living.

This time, let Christmas be different!

I pray this message emboldens you to rejoice, at all times and in all places:

The Mark of Christian Wretchedness

On Ash Wednesday, Fr. Ballentine encourages the faithful to not be like the hypocrites who wear ashes as a sign that they are part of the Empire.  Rather, let those ashes and our Lenten fast be an acknowledgement of our personal and communal wretchedness, leading to a sincere repentance.

“God Made a Farmer…” and that Farmer Made a Slave

 

The “8th Day” of which Paul Harvey speaks, must have occurred in the 1950s and 60s with the end of (widespread) sharecropping.

Last night, I was quite offended by Ram’s “God Made a Farmer” commercial during the Super Bowl.  Well-meaning as it may have been, this commercial – airing during Black History Month, no less – made no mention whatsoever of the American Institution of Slavery.  How could such an oversight be made?

Industrial farming was built on the backs of African slaves.  And while critics have duly noted the lack of mention of temporary immigrant workers on whom industrial farming presently relies, it’s even more offensive that no one – including critics – have mentioned the omission of American slaves.

You see: an accurate depiction of American History would note that “God made a farmer,” but that farmer became greedy – became (Western) capitalist – degraded the humanity of the African and made a slave…imported slaves…traded in slaves.

I’m not saying Paul Harvey was entirely wrong…but his quote seems a bit misguided.  God may indeed have said that He needed someone “to get up before dawn…and work all day in the fields…,” but like President Lincoln stated in his Second Inaugural Address: “[i]t may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces…”

But, God made a farmer…and that farmer made a slave.

The problem with this advertisement is more than simply some overly sensitive Black man seeking every opportunity to inject race.  No, beloved…this oversight is the underlying source of the problem which led to critique from supporters of immigration reform and the rights of temporary workers.

If society can ignore the glaring reality of the American Slave and sharecropper, their importance to industrial farming and the need to promote the rights of the slave, sharecropper and descendants, how can we expect anyone to truly show concern and compassion for the Temporary Worker and the rights of that worker?

Yes indeed, God made a farmer…and that farmer made a slave.

That farmer also aided in the creation of the market for Temporary Workers that immigrate legally and illegally to the United States looking for opportunity.  So, in some respects ignoring the slave dooms America to repeat the egregious mistake of dehumanizing another of God’s children…wringing their bread from the sweat of other disinherited men and women.

Again, the people at Ram likely didn’t intend to offend.  Yet, we must be true to history if we are to have any hope of making progress in society.  The efforts are noble – even if unknown.  Ram has partnered with Future Farmers of America to raise money for its Feeding the World – Starting at Home initiative.  The initiative is designed to raise awareness on domestic and global food insecurity.

I’m definitely supportive of efforts to raise awareness to issues of food insecurity.  Matter of fact, I recently preached a sermon to children about meeting the needs of other hungry children (I Will Share the Lord’s Bread).  But, the glaring omission of any mention of those who are victimized by industrial farming begs the question: how can any initiative serve its purpose if it is blind to the existence of those it claims to serve?

In other words, how can Ram, FFA and the Feeding the World initiative benefit those who suffer food insecurity if they ignore the contributions of those Black and Brown who actually labor to plant and harvest the crops of which they – themselves – are unable to eat?

God made a farmer…and that farmer made a slave.

For any initiative to work in alleviating food insecurity, we must acknowledge the realities of those who live with those insecurities.  We cannot pretend that the people who actually did and do the labor are nonexistent.  We have to acknowledge the existence of the Other, so that he and she might be brought out of the shadows and coerce the larger society to compassion.

God made a farmer…that farmer made a slave…and the resultant economy keeps that slave – that temporary worker – hungry and marginalized in society.  But, when we acknowledge that the slave and the temporary worker are the ones who actually till the soil, then we can lovingly integrate them into Society.

Now that Barack Obama has Won a Second Term – A Wish List

First, congratulations to President Obama.  Yet, I am sitting watching the election results, feeling a bit “blah.”  I see folk on social media talking about shedding tears of joy and cheering.  I watch the pandemonium on the television.  Yet, I don’t feel any of that emotion.  I remember that emotion.  I felt it after I voted for President Obama in 2008.  I felt in when myself, an ex-wife and two small children (ages 4 & 5) rode to Ohio on a bus and knocked on doors throughout the state for Barack Obama.

I felt the joy when, as an Alternate Delegate to the Republican National Convention in 2008, I was asked what it was like to be a Black man supporting John McCain, when Barack Obama was running on the other side.  I told the NBC reporter, “I am no supporting McCain!  There is far more to inspire my children – Omari Jahi, Ajani Omar, and Khalil-Lullah – to participate in the advancement of our Country by the election of Barack Hussein Obama, than electing John McCain (or, Bill Clinton) could ever accomplish.”

But, this time…I don’t feel the joy.  And, when I mentioned that $6 BILLION has been spent this election cycle in order to maintain the status quo, a friend tells me that I should simply “enjoy the moment.”  I couldn’t help but ponder: why should I enjoy this?  What did we gain, besides the satisfaction of re-electing a Black man?  Yet because I’m not caught up in the euphoria of the moment, people are accusing me of self-hate and hating Black people!  Wow…that’s laughable.

Don’t get me wrong – I couldn’t vote for Mitt Romney…couldn’t vote for the present iteration of the Republican Party.  The GOP might still (unfortunately) be “old,” but it’s certainly no longer “Grand!”  It’s small-minded and petty…blinded by hate that has all but rendered it irrelevant.

Nevertheless, I definitely have my differences with President Obama.

His foreign policy is more hawkish than George W. Bush.  See here and here and here.  The President has authorized the domestic use of drones as part of the “War on Drugs.”  Rather than ending the “New Jim Crown,” Barack Obama is devising ways to strengthen it.  When it comes to the plight of Black and Brown people, the President has done his best (at least in his first term) to prove to White society that he’s not about to upset the established social order.

As I stated in “The Conundrum of Blackness and Voting When the President is Black,” President Obama says nothing of his plans to deal with economic and societal disparities that diverge on the basis of race.  Rather, President Obama (and his advisers) still want Blacks to believe that a “rising tide lifts all boats.”  The funny thing is that while Black Americans never accepted President Reagan’s “trickle-down economic theory,” Black people accept the same “trickle-down” ideology when it comes from the mouth of a Black man.

So, I ask again…what moment am I supposed to be enjoying?

But, now that Barack Obama has won a second term maybe we can hope for some action on racial disparities and income inequality.  Now that President Obama doesn’t have to worry about his poll numbers for the upcoming election, maybe he will now be courageous enough to bring about the change that will ensure equal opportunity so that everyone has a fair shot at creating the outcomes that are possible in this great Nation.

Now that Barack Obama has won a second term, maybe we can hope for some change in the justice system so that it no longer preys on the poor, the Black and the Brown.  Maybe he might muster the courage to dismantle the New Jim Crow and the system of Mass Incarceration that profits off the poor and disinherited.

I cannot enjoy the moment because so many in this Country suffer.  I cannot enjoy this moment because so many across the globe suffer.  I cannot enjoy this moment because I’d rather be vigilant.  Rather than be fooled again, I choose to keep my eyes on the prize and press on!

Rather than be swept away by the euphoria of the moment, I hope now that Barack Obama has won a second term he might be the transcendent President he (and we) made himself to be.  American truly needs great leadership and I believe (with my 2008 vote) that he can do it.  But, the version of Barack Obama we witnessed in his first term was not the Barack Obama I envisioned.  The Barack Obama we witnessed was a politician as usual.

I don’t expect him to be a Black President.  He never could be.  But, I did expect that his Blackness would help him to understand how the structures of America needed to change so that it could be inclusive to all people – foreign and domestic.  I did hope that his “non-Whiteness” would give us the opportunity to have a President who would shake the stigma of Government for “some” people.  But, four years later the scene is still a dog-eat-dog, mud-slinging, slugfest.  Such a shame…such a wasted opportunity.

Maybe now that Barack Obama has won a second term he will understand that he is free to be the man he was created to be.  Maybe he can be a man worthy of all the laud and honor.  Maybe now he can usher in the culmination of the Civil Rights movement and post-Racial America that had heretofore been prematurely declared.

I cannot enjoy this moment because if Barack Obama, himself, doesn’t reclaim his own hope and embody his own change, all this moment will be is just that – a moment in history.

Negroes, We are Free to Use Our Natural Minds in Electoral 2012

I continue to receive emails from fellow Black Republicans trying to sell me – and others – on support for Mitt Romney.  The most recent was from the Chair of a Black Republican organization entitled, “Prominent Black Mormons.”  The email (and post) is styled as an attempt to dismiss charges of racism against Mormons.  The defense used by the author is that there are Black Mormons.  Hence the title: “Prominent Black Mormons.”  My response is…SO WHAT?

So, because some Black people decided to ignore the bigoted ideology of the Mormon Church that means Mormon ideology isn’t racist? There were Negroes in the Confederate Army…does that mean the Confederacy wasn’t racist? We must be smarter than this and stop selling ourselves for the crumbs of our (former) masters.

Negroes…we are FREE to use our natural minds! We shouldn’t have to shovel crap any longer. Stature, standing and prestige in the eyes of Whites shouldn’t be of such importance that scholarship, integrity and truth go out the window.

The example that would refute racism in Mormon theology IS NOT the presence (nor absence) of Black people. It would be a refutation of racist scripture in their texts. For instance, from the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 5:20-25 states:

20 Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be bcut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.

21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.

24 And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.

25 And the Lord God said unto me: They shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in remembrance of me; and inasmuch as they will not remember me, and hearken unto my words, they shall scourge them even unto destruction.

I have fervently searched for a refutation of Joseph Smith and this passage.  I have found none.  If you know of any, please post it to the comments!  Nevertheless, this passage remains in Mormon Canon.

Forget the fact that Mormons…the descendants of Moroni (the Mormon prophet – NOT Jesus), son of Mormon, believe themselves to be descendants of Jacob – and a lost tribe of Israel – who migrated to the Americas in the 600s BCE. According to their theology and history, in the 6th century AD, Native Americans came is slaughtered all the Europeans – stealing this land from Whites. Their messianic vision is to reclaim America for “it’s rightful owners” (i.e. White European Americans). Joseph Smith hoped to effect this petit-apocolypse by running for US President in 1844. Herein lies the parallels and problems with Romney’s candidacy – sans a refutation of problematic Mormon theology/ideology. And, Frances, this is not an “angry Black man” speaking…this is Mormon theology that can be researched, traced and verified. For more info, see [amazon_link id=”0670021261″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years[/amazon_link], pgs. 906-908.

It’s disconcerting that few on the Right – especially Blacks – took no issue with the Mainstream forcing President Obama to refute the Christian Liberation Theology of Rev. Wright, which was the same theology of Dr. King (who Black Republicans love to hail as one of their own), yet we want to silence any who present a similar challenge to the non-Christian Mormon theology. It’s interesting that President Obama was considered ineligible (by some) to stand for the Presidency because he might have been a Muslim, yet faith has no bearing when it comes to Gov. Romney’s (AND Harry Reid’s) Mormonism. And for those who think Mormonism is a “branch” of Christianity, I present Flava Flav: DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE!!!! If they revere a prophet other than Jesus, they cannot be Christian. Moroni is the Mormon prophet, so they are no more Christian than Muslims (who, like Mormons, also believe Jesus to be a prophet – just not the final prophet).

For a group of people who are against paternalistic politics typically exemplified by Democrats, it’s striking that simply because a White person may have marched for Civil Rights, we are supposed to ignore their paternalistic mores. Many have argued in support of Abolition and Civil Rights without believing Black people to be of equal humanity, i.e. [amazon_link id=”1566195519″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Harriet Beecher Stowe[/amazon_link], among many others. Additionally, many in the GOP would argue that by being in the Democratic Party, Blacks have signed up to support their own demise. So, why does the presence of Blacks in the Mormon faith automatically validate Mormon ideology?

Negroes…we are FREE to use our natural minds! We shouldn’t have to shovel crap any longer. Stature, standing and prestige in the eyes of Whites shouldn’t be of such importance that scholarship, integrity and truth go out the window.  We must be smarter…those who struggled before us fought too hard for freedom, for us to simply cede our intellect to the whims of the Mainstream.

This is not to say that Mormons are bad people.  It is a question of where individual Mormons – especially one running for President of all Americans – stand in their “core values.”  The text from the Second Book of Nephi in the Book of Mormon does wreak of racism.  Mitt Romney was a Bishop and President of the Mormon Church.  Eventhough some may say that position might be misinterpreted, he certainly had the gravitas to make profound statements refuting various doctrine that are degrading to the humanity of individuals.  Yet, no one has yet posed that question and challenged Governor Romney.  Moreover, no statement exists from Mr. Romney, refuting the distancing himself from Mormon Scripture on the issue.  Rather, when speaking with the late Tim Russert, Mitt Romney stated he would not distance himself from his faith.  See the video:

So, for Blacks of good sense – and any person of conscience to simply excuse this connection is puzzling.  Maybe some may not see it important enough to sway their vote.  But, surely Blacks of stature within the Republican Party should be faithful to their Charge they have to Keep, and pose the questions that would make Mr. Romney a more viable (and authentic) candidate for Blacks to consider.  This issue is of critical importance, because it shapes the very way policy will be developed.  And, as we have seen by both Parties through the course of history, even well-intentioned policy has the potential to cause harm if not informed by sound ideology at the foundation.  Certainly, we should have answers that satisfy the questions on this issue rather than dancing around it as if it is of no consequence.  We should not simply be rubber-stamping a Party nominee so we may continue to eat from the trough.

Negroes, We are Free to Use Our Natural Minds…let us use them!  (Part II to come…later this evening)