Wednesday, January 7, 2009

America's Preacher Problem

First there was Rev. Jeremiah Wright; Obama’s pastor for over twenty years whose combustible rhetoric confronted America with its lingering terminal disease called racism; and now its Rev. Rick Warren, the purpose driven pastor of a purpose driven church named Saddleback. President-elect Obama’s choice of Pastor Warren to give the invocation at his inaugural represents another conundrum in post-Christian America: homosexual rights.

It’s funny after all the kumbaya and pontifications about the election of Obama being the beginning of a post-racial era, that these two “men of God,” invoke demons that our nation has failed to confront historically, namely race and sex.

During the Wright crisis (no pun intended), our nation was slapped with the lingering reality that race and racism continues to be a problem for many people of color. Jeremiah’s words damning America, if the truth be told, were felt at times in spirit by those whose historical experience was one of hate and repetitive discrimination in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Scholar Michael Eric Dyson wrote in a Time magazine article in response to Wright’s verbal fuselage that it was “the pain of spurned lover which echoed from a wound soul.”

The issue in Warren’s case was his support of Proposition 8, the anti- gay marriage bill which triggered vehement opposition from the gay and lesbian community.

Some might dare to argue that president-elect Obama is a political opportunist in his choice of Rick Warren; a gesture of bridge building to an otherwise skeptical evangelical Christian community, who were tepid in their support for him.

On the other hand, I sense something ominous; something happening much deeper than mere politics. The anger, the strong hostility boarding on insanity, the vitriol and meanness heaped upon these two preachers, I believe is an expression of contempt for religion.

The journalistic assassination of the clergy in today’s world, in my opinion, is an attempt by society to control what comes from the pulpit on the weekends. It is group think terrorism which attempts to intimidate preachers from speaking truth to power.

Those in the pulpit and the pew should not be surprised by society’s callous attitude toward them. The Bible, both one of the most revered and hated religious documents, predicted this several centuries ago. It said, “men’s hearts would grow cold (Matthew 24:12). It also said that people would be looking for preachers “to say what their itching ears want to hear,” (2Timothy 4:3).
Make no mistake about it; the church is living in these times. Wright and Warren, while having differences of opinion based on their experiences, represent in the minds of many in this post-Christian era, a disdain for the sacred values of Christianity.

Even recent concerns about Rev. Warren’s possible use of Jesus’ name in the inaugural invocation confirm this reality.
What are preachers to make of society’s aggressive anger against Christian’s pastors?
Take the advice of the one whose name you preach in. Jesus said be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. These times demand that those who proclaim God’s word fall not into paralyzing fear that leads to compromise.
Preach the word with power and clarity, but remember: Watch Your Back.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Modern Day Superman

When I was a child, one of my all- time favorite TV shows was The Adventures of Superman. I’m speaking about the Superman character played by the late actor George Reeves. Reeves in my opinion was the greatest actor ever to play the role of Superman. Nobody, I mean nobody, had a swagger for playing Superman like George Reeves.
I still get chills during the intro hearing the theme music and the voice over by Bill Kennedy booming loudly: “This is the adventures of Superman.”
Man, let me tell you, that series was so influential in my neighborhood that you had children running around with towels draped around their necks, jumping off garbage cans.
George Reeves was the man!
While Reeves, aka Clarke Kent, and Superman, was indeed the greatest Superman actor, there is someone who, in my estimation, is the equivalent of a modern- day version of Superman.
His name is David Goggins.
David Goggins is one of the baddest men on planet earth. You can talk about superheroes; you can talk about James Bond and you can even give honorable mention to John Shaft, who has been called a “bad mother…”
However, none of them touches David Goggins.
Who is he?
Well, for starters, David Goggins is a member of the Navy’s elite Seals team. He’s the only member of this Special Forces unit to go through “hell week” three times. He has completed three tours in Iraq. And David is the only man in military history to complete training in the Seals and the US Army Rangers. And also he has completed training as a Air Force Tactical Air Controller.
Goggins is a physical- fitness phenom. He can do 106 sit-ups in one minute. He does 1,000 pull-ups. His daily workout schedule is as follows:

• Jog 15-20 miles
• Ride bike 25 miles from home to work one way and back home again, a total of 50 miles round trip.
• Lift weights.

The heart rate of the average man is 72 beats per minute. Goggins has a heart rate of 36 beats per minute.

While this is undoubtedly commendable, this modern- day Superman is noted more for his charity work than for his robust athleticism. Goggins runs for the
Special Operations Warrior Foundation which grants college scholarships to children of Special Ops personnel killed in the line of fire.

To date, Goggins has raised over $300,000 in grant money. He has competed in fourteen 100 mile+ races (ultra marathons), and ranks in the top 20 of all endurance athletes in the world.
In a world where so called role models are failing and behaving badly, David Goggins is one man who rises above the rest. He is indeed a superhero.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

President GQ

As mama used to say when she wanted to get my attention: "Look Here!" Well, let me respond in kind to the latest magazine cover featuring our new president-elect Barack Obama. I must say after four years of "you know who," this president looks "GQ."
Allow me to say it like I really want to say it:
Obama is a "bad brother."
The "Prez" has got it all. He's smart, articulate, handsome and tough.
A man of steel and velvet, Obama's going to change the game in elevating and defining the standards of African American excellence.

And I say "Right on."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Suicide is Painless:The Crisis of Black Male Suicide

You had to be shocked or else feel a sense of revulsion after hearing the news of the Abraham K. Biggs, Jr. suicide, reported Sunday, November 23,2008. If not, then I suggest you immediately detoxify from your Play Station and Xbox and stop playing Grand Theft Auto; because like the others who watched Biggs kill himself, you have a major problem.
If you didn’t hear about the story, these are the facts: Biggs took an overdose of pills while broadcasting streaming live on the website This tragedy gets uglier, as hundreds, watching by webcam, urged him to take more drugs, while others debated whether he had taken enough.
The Biggs self-immolation generated 1,379 related articles on the Internet. Protests ensued, as many felt the caldron call to push for Internet censorship. Even comparisons were being made between Biggs and Kitty Genovese, a woman who was also a victim of a violent ending, stabbed to death in Queens,New York, 44 years ago while onlookers did nothing to stop the brutal attack. Psychologists have named this effect: the Kitty Genovese syndrome.

I think psychologists, social scientists, and other mental health professionals might be on to something in making a case between the webcam viewers who egged on an obviously troubled Biggs, and the neighborhood that heard Ms. Genovese’s incessant screams for help and did nothing.

As it relates to the crisis of black male suicide, our society is no better than the rapacious cyberspace peeping toms who watched a human being kill himself. As a matter of fact, we might be judged worse. Statistics provided by the Florida A&M University’s counseling services tell us that suicide is the third leading cause of death among black youth, after homicides and accidents.

According to Florida A&M, a firearm is the primary weapon used in 65 percent of all black male suicides between the ages of 15 and 25.

What is lost in this disturbing story is how a major mental health crisis is growing in the black community and nobody seems to care. In the last 20 years, suicide rates among young black men between the ages of 15 and 19 increased a whopping 114 percent. You wonder if this problem existed among young white males, someone would be calling for a major congressional hearing to urge Congress to pass legislation to fund suicide prevention programs for this “important ethnic group.”

However, the ignorance of this crisis is not just the sole responsibility of white America. The black community needs to step up to plate and take responsibility for this crisis. Like the AIDS pandemic, suicide is slaying “the young, gifted and black,” while we deny in spirit the critical need to address this issue.

Mental disorder and depression are viewed as signs of weakness in the black community. Counseling is eschewed like annual physicals. Furthermore, it doesn’t help that a mere 2.3 percent of all psychiatrists in the United States are African American.

So what can be done to intelligently combat this growing nihilism among our youth? Dr. Alvin Poussaint suggests the first thing to do is to become acquainted with the signs leading to potential suicide:
• Irritability
• Changes in appetite and sleep habits
• Chronic fatigue
• Social withdrawal
• Lingering sadness

If these signs exist for a noticeable period of time, ask a mental health professional to diagnose the problem. It’s better to be safe than sorry. This is a crisis that is too critical to ignore.
If you need further information contact suicide prevention, you could be saving the future of a community that is on the verge of destruction.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cure For Post election Madness

Now that the election is over, I can take a deep breath, relax and get away from the incessant, addictive news Babel which had my wife screaming at the TV like she was at a prize fight. Not only do I no longer have to hear my wife’s rants, but also the loud supercilious war of words articulated by talking heads and political pundits that, when you get really down to it, are just as dumb as the rest of us.
After this election chaos, my mind returns to those halcyon days of my childhood, when I didn’t have to worry about who would be the next president of the United States.
During the presidential campaign, I saw a spoof of Obama that had me laughing like crazy. It was on the cover of Mad magazine. I remember being introduced to this publication by my late uncle Chet. My uncle was a Mad magazine fanatic.
I used to be haunted by images of Alfred E. Newman, that gap-toothed, goofy-grinning icon all over my aunt and uncles’ home.
Seeing that Mad magazine cover boy had me thinking what Howdy Doody would look like if he were on crack.
The Obama satire brought me back to the days when humor was far removed from political and racial connotations. One could tell a joke and not be crucified before the press and the court of public opinion.
So if you are bored and suffering post-traumatic election disorder, let Alfred E. Obama tickle you out of election brain fatigue.
Long live Mad magazine.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama Win= History

389 years after our African Ancestors came to these American shores in chains. 232 years after the American Revolution. 145 years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. 54 years after Brown vs. Board of Education, which ended legalized segregation. 45 years after the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech. And 40 years after the assassinations of both Robert Kennedy and Dr. King, America has done what no one thought could ever happen in their lifetime: elected its first African American president.
Who would have imagined Barack Obama would become the leader of the free world?
Who could imagine that a man of color would be known as “the most powerful person on the planet?”
As I heard the news, I desperately tried to hold back my tears; but to no avail, as the levees of my soul broke like the levees in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina. I cried like a baby hungry for his mother’s milk. I could not believe the election of an African American was possible, or even a reality in my lifetime.
Now I can tell my children without fear or hesitation, that you can be whatever you want to be —even the president of the United States of America.
Let us keep the new president in our thoughts and prayers as he leads our nation to the change we all desperately need. Check out the transition website at Change.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Go Ahead Sister Cooper!

If you ever needed inspiration and motivation to vote in this very paramount presidential election, look no further than to an 106 year old woman of substance and style named Ann Nixon Cooper.
I saw her yesterday on the CNN weekend interview with host Don Lemon. My heart, was as the old folks in church would say, was "Strangely moved.”
Mrs. Cooper was born in Shelbyville, Tennessee, 1902; which was 39 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and 37 years after the 13th Amendment, which made slavery illegal in the United States of America.
Ann Nixon Cooper is said to have known the giants of American history who are not only considered great African Americans, but great Americans period. Such notable’s like W.E.B. Dubois, E. Franklin Frazier, Benjamin Mays, and John Hope Franklin, were part of Ann Nixon Cooper’s social network.
If you lived as long as Mrs. Cooper, you’ve seen the slow but steady transformation of America into a nation that has nearly achieved its ideal of “liberty and justice for all.”
That’s why this story of a woman excited about voting for the first president of color is so powerful.
Just in case you might have forgotten, America was not always a pleasant country that respected and protected the rights of African Americans. Mrs. Cooper lived through the years between Jim Crow Segregation and Civil Rights. For her to live to see the potential next president of America to be a Black Man, is tribute on how far our nation has come.
Her story must inspire those of us who stand on the shoulders of her suffering and resilience.

While viewing Mrs. Cooper’s story, I thought about my late grandmother Mrs. Sallie Mitchell, born 1915 in Greenville County, South Carolina. Like Ann Nixon Cooper,she grew up in the times of Jim Crow. When she was alive, she told me stories about the “old south.” It was her hands callous through picking cotton and cleaning floors on the “other side of town,” which gave me spending money while I attended Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama

When November 4th comes around, I’m going to cast a vote in her memory and in the memory of others who did not live to see this day like Ann Nixon Cooper.