That NEW Adage

A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

Son, Don’t Point it Till You’re Ready to Shoot!

We can leave Max alone to watch educational television on the Sprout, or Noggin networks, but we cannot leave him alone for a second on his potty.

We’re training him to go on his own, and it is proving to be the hardest thing yet about child-rearing! Kathy and I have dealt with colic, wildfires of diaper rash, mounds of “butt mustard”, gallons of re-gurj, waterfallian sinus infections, cuts, all-night feedings, soap tasting and ant eating, penny sucking, picky eating, and nap refusing, but this potty training is kickin’ us in da collective butt!

Put him on the pot and go right down the hall, “Son, don’t move!” and the next thing you know, Max is spraying the bath mats like he’s a hose-fed weed killer and they’re crabgrass, or he’s triumphantly swirling his hands around in you-ryne like he’s filming a Palmolive commercial! “You’re soaking in it!”

 Now, I have to watch out for shiny spots on the floor when I go back in to get him, or I’ll have a disgusting slip-and-fall incident. 

He’s 100% boy, and I just LOVE it! Every exasperating moment! My son!

Kathy’s gonna deevorce me for this!

 

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May 29, 2008 Posted by | Children, Christian Life, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Humor, Kids, Life, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting, Pictures | 7 Comments

Pastor Peas

We have had, in this recent torrid election season, prime reasons why we should not vote for a person because of what faith they claim.

The Religious Right (I really think that, to them, the “RIGHT” is more than a compass point but a perspective. I don’t like it) hold so much sway in politics these days in terms of getting people elected and furthering certain agendas that now every public official has to have a personal pan pastor on his arm like a prom date in order to win, and put at ease, that sizeable body.

“He must be a good person! He parts his hair on the left side, he wears a blue suit and a red tie, and Jerry Falwell likes him!”

Maybe we ARE sheep!

John McCain, after losing his last presidential bid, was known to have cussed out that evangelical body. They didn’t offer him their ring to be kissed, and he felt they cost him.

So, this time, he was running around (like Jim Valvano after winning the NCAA champeenship looking for somebody to hug) trying to get what HE thought were powerful, influential pastors to use as cufflinks and flag pins.

Just to show how unaware McCain is, he chose two of the most theological off-base, Word of Faith, Prosperity purveyors out there!

Rod Parsley is one of the biggest names in the pulpit pimp stables. He raises money for TBN regularly, telling folk that, basically, sending money to TBN will activate the will, blessings, and power of God on their behalf. Basic “Give to Get.”

I saw this tactical shift of his a couple of years ago to issues of abortion and gay rights (two of my own sticking points) and I realized that he was aiming to do just what he has done; get aligned with this powerful constituency. He began writing patriotic books on winning back America and such, and to the untrained eye, he looked to be just as orthodox as Dobson or Stanley or the late Adrian Rogers. His doctrine, however, is still as foul as it ever was. McCain seemed to miss that. No. What made HIM jump ship was that Parsley made negative comments about Islam. That made him sever his ties. As if it is the responsibility of a “Christian” pastor to uphold the tenets — equally– of Christianity and Islam. Or any other faith, for that matter… I have friends who are Muslim, and I dare not water down the Truth of Christianity for the sake of harmony. I respect them, but do not have to believe what they believe, any more than they believe what I believe!

Then there’s John Hagee! This man is cut from the same cloth as the others — Copeland, Hagin, Creflo, Hinn– but he comes across simply as a “fire and brimstone Texas preacher.” What McCain didn’t know, or perhaps care to know, was that Hagee has said that the Jews came to Jesus to be the Messiah to them, and that Jesus “flatly refused!” WOW! He is known to be one of these guys who interprets the Bible with a newspaper. He predicts, with every new disaster, that that is a further sign of the Apocalypse, and that each new dictator on the scene was spoken of in Revelation. Never mind the huge pile of unfulfilled prophecies behind the curtain on the stage…

It is his belief (along with many other evangelicals) that the desire of God is for the current generation of Jews (were these people of Russian and Polish and German descent the SAME people spoken of in the Bible??? Just wondering) is going to suffer His wrath for the Jews who rejected Him two centuries ago. Hagee — and just about every other American Christian church — thinks that the Jews are to be herded back to Israel in order for the events in Revelation, Daniel, Thessalonians, and other parts of Scripture to happen. I believe it is called “Zionism.”

So, he is a “friend” of the Jews. He seems to make his living from that starting point. It is all he talks about. What he doesn’t say, though, is that these biblical events, in his understanding, mean that two thirds of the returning Jews are to be killed after all the Christians are “raptured” away, a la the “Left Behind” series of books, by Tim LaHaye.

Wonder if they would consider him a friend if they knew that…? Hagee, it seems, believes that the Jews can be saved without acknowledging Jesus as Messiah and Savior. Many Christians today believe this, it seems. This is another subject for another time. I am still studying on it.

He has also regularly appeared on the TBN telethons raising money to support a lie.

It would seem that McCain, who champions campaign finance reform and honest fundraising, would have stayed away from these two men just based on the fact that they have been involved in fleecing the weak in the most egregious type of fundraising there is!

Okay, then there is Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

There is an incendiary preacher here in Memphis, Bill Adkins, who preaches and conducts church in what appears to be the same way Wright did. Liberation Theology. They preach from an Afro-centric perspective rather than a Christo-centric one, it appears. They wear the dashikis and the kufis and lament the ills and injustices of black American life with a little bit of Jesus and the way of salvation and holiness sprinkled on the top.

Listen, to be honest, a lot of the emotion with which they speak, the mistreatment and alienation, echo in my spirit as well. I understand the idea of seeing America from the point of view of an abused step-child who loves the parent but calls him out on the realities of the relationship. But I don’t ever let that supersede my faith! In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free…!

The irony here is that Bill Adkins, the aforementioned pastor, used to be the associate pastor at my old church. He was there when I was a kid. He was over the vacation bible school program, and upon preaching the Gospel and explaining what salvation meant, I — a fourteen-year-old boy– stood up to be saved and baptized, and I made my sisters get up and come, too! In front of all those other kids! In other words, he led me to Christ, along with my family members. I looked up to him and sat under his teaching, but I don’t agree with some of the things he has said in his pulpit. Hmmm…

While a lot of what these guys preach have a secular truth to it, while in the speeches of MLK a lot of the same tones are touched, their theology can sometimes alienate rather than unify. While I may shout, “amen” to acknowledging the injustices, I have to be careful to remember that if I don’t forgive my brother, God said that He won’t forgive me! While I am an activist at heart, wanting to right the wrongs of The Man against mine, I must — if my faith is real — realize that God let’s nothing slide! He will get the revenge that I sinfully want to mete out.

But to be honest, my educated guess is that Obama, wanting to be in a position to do some good in the black Chicago community, wanting to be relevant to black folk who can sometimes be rough to folk who are not just like them, went to this church back then because it fit his criteria. This pastor had influence and charisma, and it was probably to Obama’s benefit to link himself to this inner-city black church. He probably wasn’t going to bible study on Wednesday night! He, as any other politician, was surely not sitting at church every Sunday!

The Mayor here is a member of my old church, and he was there maybe once every two months! 

It sounds opportunistic, yes, but I submit that all politicians are opportunists at heart. I have, over the years, seen dozens of people, white AND black, running for judge or mayor or congress or senate or the school board or sheriff or roach killer or night manager come to my church to beg for a vote only to leave right after they finish talking! 

Hillary didn’t need a pastor. Her church is Feminism, and they are their own gods. 🙂

If these candy dates were truly well-versed in the faith that they claim, they would NOT be in support of killing an unborn baby, or denying real help to those who can’t help, or sanctioning the wedding of two dudes, or racist policies, or teaching evolution, or  any other Democratic or Republican tenet that violates the way of God. Their Faith would inform and influence their decisions in a tangible, visible way. Both parties have Spiritual dealbreakers in their core principles. Jesus is neither Democrat nor Republican. Christians in the Bible pooled all the resources and doled them out as needed! (Hear that, bootstrappers?) But Jesus ain’t a Communist, either! I will vote, but I won’t vote based on who the Christian is. Otherwise, I’d vote for my pastor!

How can Christians be effective no matter which group is in control? That is the question.

My feeling is that we cannot look to any politician or party to be the governmental conduit through which our faith changes the world. These latest “pastor problems” highlight that fact.

 

May 28, 2008 Posted by | Abortion, Barack Obama, Benny Hinn, Christ, Christianity, Church Life, Current Events, Democrats, Elections, False Prophets, False Teachers, Hillary Clinton, Jesus, John Hagee, John McCain, Kenneth Copeland, Liberals, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Religious Right, Republicans, TBN, Zionism | 4 Comments

Niagra Without that First “A”

I was a nigra Saturday night. A good ol’ fashioned, 1932 model, down home, Jim Crow, Miss’sippi nigra. If that offends you, imagine how it offended ME to not just READ it, but to LIVE it.

I play a lot of wedding receptions in the “Band I Don’t Want to Be In.” I hate playing them. The music is cheesy, the clothes are uncomfortable, the stigma itches, and we usually are treated coldly.

Most of the functions we do are white (as a way of denotation…) because for some unknown reason, black folk usually don’t have enough money, generally speaking, to pay a fair wage. We are ALWAYS hired by white folk.

The bandleader books most of our gigs through an agency. There is, on their website, a long list (photos included) of acts available to do any type of function requiring entertainment. Prospective clients can choose who they want.

The gig in question was at a country club. Yes, I hate playing at country clubs, too. The pictures on the walls NEVER have any black faces, as all of the members over decades have always been white. (A young debutante named Cybil Shepard was in one of them) It makes one of my particular hue wonder why we are viewed as we are… The wait staff is ALWAYS all black. Always. Not good enough to join, but good enough to cook and clean. Still. Thank God that God values service over status! I know we’ll fit in in Heaven.

Here’s where the rub is: As soon as we began to play, the bandleader stopped us, “Hey, hey, hey, y’all! When we git through playing, don’t nobody go eat none of the weddin’ food! We been told they got a room for us around in the back, an’ they gone bring us some samwitches to eat. So when we git through playin’, less jus gone to the back.” It may not have been as Stepin Fetchit as that, but it was real close!

I have played hundreds of these things over the years, and when this happens, it is clear what is going on! It is usually offensive enough to me that we are totally ignored until we play some “Motown” or the dreaded “Mustang-doggone-Sally”! (Who made that song the Beethoven’s Fifth of this era!?!?) We don’t even exist. But even then, most folk have had the decency, the courtesy, to let the band partake of the buffet! It is almost understood.

I must tell you that in my younger days, I was what would be — and was — considered militant. Militant not in a racist sense, but in the sense that I didn’t overlook acts of injustice, racial or otherwise. I never disliked white people, but I disliked CERTAIN white people! I was always Christian.

I would be the victim of some mistreatment or another and would try to rally friends to rail out with me and I would only get the chirping of crickets… and a cough from somewhere in the back of the room.

So, now I was hot. I was already frustrated at having to be here, but now I was in Medgar Evers mode. (Keeping in mind that I was to work as though for the Lord, and that this was somebody’s wedding day)

“So they want us to play music for them,” I thought, “They want us to display our natural gifts of rhtyhm and daincin’, but we can’t eat their food, or even remain in their regal presences once we finish?!” I was sure it would have been better for them had we simply vanished through the bottom of the floor rather than walk through the crowd to our quarters!

I’ve done gigs with this band where we were told to eat in the kitchen! (You better believe I didn’t eat in nobody’s doggone kitchen!) And I have done country club gigs where Amos and Andy tapes were stacked on a tv on the stage behind the curtain. This stuff is more the norm than most would care to admit.

So I walked, fuming, past a wasteful embarrassment of victualage to a room around in the back of the building to water, cokes, and– fifteen minutes into our break– cold-cut sammitches a pickle spear, and some random ruffles in styrophoam containers.

That was the black eye. This was the dirty word: After all that, after all the specific warnings not to mingle or eat, while we were performing the second set, a waitress was sent to the stage to tell the band, “to be sure not to eat any of the cake” when they cut it!!

Didn’t we already know this? Weren’t we capable of taking a hint in the form of a brick to the head? Did we not see the disdain with which we were held? The upturned noses? The downturned mouths? Why did they even hire us? Why not hire some white guys to do all these black songs and not have to worry about us ogling the young girls? “Don’t eat the cake!” I knew where I wanted them to put the cake. Prob’ly wouldn’ta fit though… But I only thought it. This Christian bit in my mouth…

Here is what made it worse for me: I am no stranger to this kind of treatment. But there were at least two members of my church in attendance. The church I rave about. This is no indictment of the church or the people. I know that any human organization will have to get the oil changed or the head gaskets replaced from time to time.

I met one member who was very nice. I didn’t even recognize him since we are growing. He thanked me, and complimented the band.

But there was another guy whom I knew by name. I see him and his wife at church all the time. He works with the the kids sometimes and is crazy about Max. When he passed in front of the stage, I thought, “Hey, I know him!” and tried to make eye contact. He “didn’t see me.” And he kept right on not seeing me the rest of the night. Even though — aside from the newlyweds– we were the focal point of the whole deal. I am the tallest guy in the band, maybe in the room, but he didn’t notice me. Or seemed not to… I just wanted to wave.

Now as the night played out, I thought: this is the world he REALLY lives in. Not the one where races are forced to live out the Gospel. Not the one where issues are lain on the table, splayed open for autopsy.

In this world, the only faces that matter are the paler ones, unless tanned to brownness from a trip to Cabo or Greece. He would probably not have recognized the waiter serving him who manicured his grass either. In this world we don’t exist unless we are on the news or approaching down a dark street or booming bass in the adjacent Crown Vic at the red light.

Maybe now I know how God feels… to not be there until and unless there is a problem…

Whether my church member ignored me or not, the problem was that he was, by appearances, friends with these people. Or a business associate. But he was in lockstep with the behavior that had us in the band — including my friend Marc who is white– feeling so less-than. This may sound unfair, but it seems that lately people are being held accountable for their associations, so… 

So here is where my activism kicked in. On the second set, we played “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” and during my solo, I shoved my horn way up into the mic and played boldly, “Weee Shaaall Overco-o-ome”! Dadgummit! On somebody’s wedding day. Guys in the band were howling! “He crazy, man!” The bandleader wasn’t laughing, though… Only a tight nervous slash of a grin/grimace. Even if I swing and only hit air, at least I swung.

On the second break, I noticed that the guys were huddled together outside, and when I approached them to see what “revolution they were cookin’ up,” I found that they were only telling a dirty joke about… well… a dirty joke.

Once again in the face of injustice, we were content to just let it slide. Once again when presented with the opportunity to strike a blow against racism, we found stuff to laugh about instead.

That, I think, is what has lead to the mistaken assumption that black folk aren’t hurt by things like being slaves or being poor and uneducated. “They are so resilient,” they say, letting themselves off the hook, “Look. After a whole day of whippins and work, they jus’ huddle under the sycamo tree an’ sing Spirituals. See, they’re po as dirt, but they still tell jokes and jus’ laffff! They don’t care what you do to ’em, they jus’ shake it off! Our nigras are happy.”

Maybe I should just let it go, too. But I rock these kinds of boats.

 I told them that I had to do something. So when we went back for the third set, we were told by the coordinator to announce the departure of the bride and groom. As they were leaving, I got on the mic and said, “Save me some cake! Is it okay to git some chicken fangers now? Can I have a couple of wings?” No reply. A small gesture to be sure, but they heard me, and they were exposed. I know it was a little bit unprofessional, but I had to let it be known, as I always say. It was kind of like dealing with a roomful of hecklers. Sometimes real life gets in the way of the minstrelry.

The bandleader was not happy that I did that, but the guys were.

As was said by Marc, the bandleader could have put a stop to that kind of thing a long time ago. All he had to do was tell the booking agents that if those kinds of requests were made, book another band. I don’t need your money. I don’t need the kind of money that comes with cork smeared all over it.

Yeah, I was a nigra Saturday night. According to them. I can live with what they think. But can they live with their secret shame knowing God, and now we, know?

 

May 19, 2008 Posted by | Arrogance, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Music, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Weddings, Work | 8 Comments

Max’s Mother’s Day Sentiment

This is the card Max “wrote”* to Kathy yesterday:

This is Max

*Actually I wrote it (he dictated…) with my off hand. It took almost an HOUR! My hand is still hurting! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 12, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Humor, Kids, Life, Mother's Day, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents | 2 Comments