That NEW Adage

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

“Badder Up!”

What are Paula White and Juanita Bynum doing these days? They haven’t been in the news or on tv as much lately. I see Paula every now and then doing her Oprah thing, and I guess Juanita is busy with her make-up line…

One would think that since they are not as visible the Devil has lost and given up.

Nope! Enter this Todd Bentley dude. He is following in their hollowed footsteps and is leaving his own “brand” on the scene. He looks like a biker or a circus performer with more tattoos per square foot than the entire roster of the Denver Nuggets, and more piercings than a dartboard in a bar somewhere in Hell’s Kitchen.

And as striking as is his appearance, his “teachings” are more disturbing.

His crusades from down in Florida (Why is it always Florida?) are always on, and his misled followers seem so sincere and emotional.

Just the other day, I saw this one guy — he was Asian. I don’t know his name — doing the Benny Hinn thing — laying folks out in a phoney display of “the Power of the Holy Spirit,” and he began telling this story.

They all have stories about what happened somewhere else. (2Peter 2:3) “In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up.” Do none of the attendees recall this passage? Read all of 2Peter 2.

So, the “handlers” walk the next pawn up to the speaker, telling him — and us — that this man has been suffering from a bad back since a 1974 car accident. He has metal rods in his back and cannot walk straight and is in constant pain.

But now, praise tha lawd, he is better!

The barker, I mean, speaker shoves the mike under the mark’s chin for further elaboration… “I been in constant pain since ’74, but since I been coming to the meetings for the past few days, I can feel the power of the ‘anointing’ flowing through me, hallelujah!”

The handler intones, “Pastor, he says he’s 70 to 80 percent healed!”

As though this is some indication of the great and marvelous power of God!! No one seems to react as incredulously as I did! Can’t God heal all the way?!? Does He work in installments? Like buying a couch? Did the man Jesus healed take up his mat and LIMP away? Did the woman with the twelve-year bleeding problem leave Jesus with minor spotting? Did the blind man He healed need glasses? What’s UP with these folks?!? I mean, you don’t even have to know the Bible verse by verse to deal with these con men!

And that’s not all…

The speaker began to tell his story.

“I was in China just last weekend, and Saturday, this woman came up to me. She had a broken leg, and it was in such bad shape that they put a titanium rod in it, and she couldn’t bend it or move it or anything. Ohh, the anointing is so strong on me right now! She couldn’t do anything with that leg, and I tell ya, right before our eyes, the Lord melted that titanium rod and healed that leg just like new, and she jumped and danced all over the place!”

The crowd cheered in childlike anticipation, eating it all up like Apple Jacks.

“That same anointing is on me right now,” he said as he turned to the mark. “I feel the pow’r of GOD!!” He slapped the man on his forehead, and those handlers proceeded to — ever so gently, since he was only 70 to 80 percent healed — lay him out on his back softly on the floor.

And that’s the last we saw of him. Only his friends and family are there to see that he was not healed, just taken. Used.

My thing is this: For weeks now, everything Bentley and his cronies have been doing has been televised. Every “miracle” has been logged on video. Cameras are everywhere! If this is true, somebody tell me why there was no video of a woman having a titanium rod dissolved inside her leg in front of a multitude just this past Saturday?!?! We saw this dude with his bad back partially healed on video, we see four and five hour commercial-free healing crusades, but nobody has a camera to catch this great miracle.

I saw cellphone video showing Beyonce trip and fall off stage in Japan somewhere, I heard Obama talking about folks clinging to God and guns in some hotel conference room in San Francisco, Marion Barry was caught on camera smoking crack, I saw Paris Hilton use a racial slur at a house party, I’m sure there is some YouTube footage of Britney Spears scratching her butt in a truck stop bathroom, but someone rises up from the dead, or someone gets a long-broken leg healed and it’s aways somewhere else! There is always some story about some fabulous miracle that the television audience just missed! “Y’all should’a been there!”  No cell phones, no cameras, no verification. Yet the masses are always teeming like grunion on the beach, begging to be devoured, carcasses left rotting in the sun, of no more use to these emissaries of Satan.

Until the Lord mops all this business up, we will never be rid of the lying storytellers who prey on the unaware. If Paula falls, someone else will get up. If Creflo is toppled, another will be built up. Juanita will probably live through another ice age…

But, (2 Peter, 2:13) “they will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done.”

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June 26, 2008 Posted by | Benny Hinn, Charlatans, Christ, Christianity, Faith Healer, False Doctrine, False Teachers, Florida Healing Outpouring, Juanita Bynum, Oprah, Paula White, Prosperity Gospel, Todd Bentley | 4 Comments

Babee Tawk

“Jlknsphote giso dnb tjiom rhsdder!” Max said to me, dead serious.

“What?!?” I thought.

So, I repeated what he said, word for word: “Jlknsphote giso dnb tjiom rhsdder?”

He frowned and looked at me out the side of his eye as if to say, “Man, what’s da mattah witchou? Speak Englitch!”

Then he said, “No, Dah! Sefcka tehpmfn hse SOAVEX!”

“Oh. Okay. MY bad.”

It was so funny! What he said to me — he always has these extended conversations with us — made perfect sense to him on the inside of his head. Everything makes sense in there! Including putting cell phones and dead leaves in his mouth, using a sharpie on my desk and the washing machine, and pushing and pulling the keys on my horn while I’m playing it. Oh… and getting his big head stuck under the couch!

Whatever he said, it sure wasn’t what I said. What I said was just gibberish, I guess.

June 17, 2008 Posted by | Babies, Baby Talk, Childhood, Children, Christian Life, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, Humor, Kids, Life, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting | 2 Comments

What a Difference a Play Makes

Wow. The world is inside out. Who’da thunk it? Here we are with a black Presidential nominee, me (the perpetual uncle), married with two kids, and I’m pulling for the Celtics, and against the Lakers!!!

“Daddy, who you want to win?” I asked, at ten years old.

“The Steelers,” he answered, eyes never turning from the screen.

“Highcome?”

“Cause they tough! They’ll knock yo’ (bleep) outdowes! Plus, they got a black quarterback!” Daddy loves toughness. So do I. Leopards and rhinos are my favorite animals for that reason.

The Steelers became my favorite team.

“Daddy, who you want to win?”

“The Yankees.”

“Highcome?”

“Reggie Jackson. He can knock a aspirin to the moon, and he got a rifle for an arm (most people forget that). Plus, the Dodgers ain’t got no Brothers on the team.” I hated the LA Dodgers, then.

“Daddy, who you want to win?”

“Ali!!”

For all those obvious reasons. Plus, he was cocky! Not Arrogant! He said what he was gonna do, and he did it! Flat out. He never made one feel as though he were innately inferior as a human being. He was as fun to listen to as to watch. My folks loved Ali, Mom too. So, I hated Frazier, Liston, Foreman — the first one, Norton, and Quarry.

Daddy loved Jim Brown. So much so that he wore the number 44 because that was Brown’s number at Syracuse. (And that was my number when I played basketball in the military) If I had a doggone scanner(!) I could show you how much like Brown he looked.

My parents grew up in Jim Crow Arkansas and Florida. If your team had a black player on it, they liked you. If you didn’t, they rooted against you. It seemed, I guess, that if you had black players on your team, it was proof that you were not a racist. It was one of the signs we had in the new free America where it was all of a sudden not vogue to utter overt racist statements.

So they — and by extension, I — loved USC and hated Notre Dame and Alabama and Ole’ Miss. I Loved UCLA and Georgetown basketball, and hated Indiana and Kentucky. And I hated the Cowboys. And the Utah Jazz. (Utah=Jazz?!? That’s like saying that John Philip Sousa played bebop!) If you didn’t like me, I didn’t like you.

So (Post Bill Russell) my daddy hated the Boston Celtics. And so did I. My whole life. Till now…

Daddy went to coach and teach at an all white school which had always been easy win, and by a string of track and basketball victories,  proceeded to inculcate a thirty year culture of winning that exists to this day. He had those white kids running and shooting to the point that they were whipping black schools all over the county! The track team won so much that the other schools protested (Germantown had their own track on campus) and in a knee-jerk move the school board cut their track program.

As a kid, I never saw so many white folks love a black dude as much as those rich white folks loved my daddy! And not as a servant. He taught their children, made men and women of them. At Christmas time, it was a ritual for my sisters and me to see how many presents he got from the kids and their parents. They loved him and he loved them. He was fine with white folks as long as they were fine with him. Daddy was hard.

So, it is under that cloud that I find myself where I am today. Living in a paradox.

note: I use the word “hate” here in the competitve sense only

All through my childhood, I hated the Celtics. Havlicek, Cowens, Hot Rod Hunley. Even Jojo White and Tiny Archibald. “How they gone sell us out like that? Playin’ for them white Boston folks who hate black folks!” I was just a kid, y’all…

And in ’79 when Larry Bird went to– where else– the Celtics, I hated him, too. Although I had started to hate him the year before when Indiana State dared to try to beat Michigan State for the NCAA Championship. I couldn’t stand him or Danny Ainge or McHale or that bandwagon jumper, Bill Walton, when he played for them. And I hated those “Oreos”* Cornbread Maxwell, M.L. Carr, Robert Parrish, and Dennis Johnson (whom I loved when he played for Seattle and beat those Washington Bullets whom I hated ’cause I couldn’t stand that fat butt Wes Unseld! I was only a kid, y’all)

I had always said that I wouldn’t pull for them blankin’ Celtics if my own MAMA played on the team!

The Sixers were my team during that time. Along with the Lakers. I rationalized that I would pull for the Lakers unless they were playing Doc and the Sixers. Dr. J. was the coolest display of power on the Earth! Till Jordan came. But Magic Johnson was smoother than Stacy Adams’** on a greasy floor! I loved that dude!

I remember when the Celtics beat the Lakers in the finals in the eighties… I walked outside and felt that the whole doggone summer was ruined. What was the point?

— Enter Kobe Bryant stage left–

 I was still a Laker fan — the Chicago Jordans were my hands down favorite, though– when through a trade, Kobe was made a Laker. I was, however, put off by his high school press conference(!) when, sunglasses on head, he announced his intent to forego college and jump straight to the NBA (cue the screeching teenyboppers…). But I managed to give him a clean slate.

There was a moment, just a fleeting moment, in the finals of the first of their three-peat when I noticed– in a flash — a display of supreme arrogance. I can’t adequately describe it. It was the crossing of that fiber-thin line that separates cockiness, confidence, from arrogance. Arrogance. That flimsy film that delineates pride from excessive pride. I saw it. Maybe he didn’t mean for me to see it, but I did. And I was then and forever through with him and whoever he played for.

As cool as I thought Shaq was, he was on Kobe’s team, so he was the enemy. Sorry, Shaq.

From that point, Kobe proceeded to prove me right. We began to hear rumors about a rift between him and O’neal, the consummate team guy. Kobe went from a guy who shot three or four airballs in a playoff game to the point where he thought he was good enough to not need his big man. He wanted to do it himself. Did Magic run Kareem off?

He has developed a reputation for being phoney. I saw all that.

So, after a lifetime of pulling for the Lakers, I jumped ship.

I will pull for the San Diego Satans before I root for a Kobe Bryant team. I hate arrogance.
I’d root for the Arizona Anti-Christs first.

Sorry, Rick Trotter. I know he is your man, and I know that you will say that (MY man) Jordan was the same way. I disagree. But I can no more explain to you the difference than I can explain the degree to which my right knee hurts more than my left! Besides,he got his whole style, his whole game, from Jordan! He walks like him, uses the exact same gestures, and must have been fed Jordan game tapes intravenously his whole life! Jordan is his DADDY, and you can’t be better than yo’ daddy! (I say this knowing full well that I stole everythang I got from Kirk Whalum! Robbed ‘im blind!)

When Doc Rivers got the Boston job, My pops and I hollered, “NOOO! Don’t do it! Don’t you remember the busing riots of the seventies, and Chuck Stuart who killed his wife and blamed a Brother?!?” When they made the trade this season to acquire Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett, I was like, “Oh well… Garnett, I dig ya, but I gotta pull against you.”

And I was fully prepared to do so until these stars and planets all lined up to force me to make some hard choices.

And here I am, going against my very DNA and rooting hard for them Celtics, baby!

Some say Kobe has matured. I say it is easy to be mature when your team gets you the players you think you want. It is easy to be mature when everything is going your way. As Aretha says, “You can’t prove that by me!”

 My sister and her husband love him. And so do their sons. Me and Daddy hate him! When they asked me, “Unca Bo, highcome you’on’t like Kobe?”

I answered, “There ought to be a point at which your bad behavior costs you something!”  You don’t get to act a fool and still have ME as your fan! Even if you ARE the best player in the league. Which He is. I hope my nephews learn that lesson soon. 

 

*Black on the outside, white on the INside.

**Shoes often worn by black deacons and dime store pimps

June 14, 2008 Posted by | Arrogance, Basketball, Celtics, Humor, Kevin Garnett, Kobe, LA Lakers, Magic Johnson, NBA, Race, Ray Allen, Sports, The Finals | 4 Comments

“What about if…if ya FAMOUS???”

…Uttered that well-known bigamist songster, Dewey Cox, in “Walk Hard.”

Those words must have been also said by R. Kelly upon being charged with videotaping sex acts with a minor child. We are a culture which deifies our celebrities.

“You can’t pee on a fourteen-year-old child, Mr. Kelly.”

“You can’t have sex with young girls, Mr. Kelly.”

“You can’t marry them either.”

“What about if… if ya famous? What if you write songs that make people think they can fly? What if we did it for love, with a Chicago two-step groove? What if… if you write bumpin’ tracks that make booties shake? Ain’t nuthin’ wrong wit a little bump and grind! Even if the grindee is fifteen. Age ain’t nothin but a number. They be feelin’ me in tha hood, feel me? I re-invented Ronnie Isley, n’umsayin’?! I created the twelve part song/video! I got a movie deal for the idea now.

“Ain’t nobody gone convict me! I’m gifted! My lawyers will delay this thang so long that all the witnesses will be in the AARP by the time we go to trial! And those who do talk won’t have nothing to say. A little Velveeta goes a long way! Besides, that wasn’t me! I don’t care if the cops came in and caught me in mid-stream… Deny deny deny! Nope! Wuddn’ me! That was my brother or somebody… I got a mole. He don’t. He ball headed, I got a afro. You can’t grow moles and afros in eight years. What? My history of having ‘relations’ wit all them other minors is immaterial! (Learned that one from my counselors) The wheels of Justice turn slow enough for me to get out the way first, playa.

“I’m famous. We get off. On tape and on trial. Where my parade at?”

I guess it’s NOT illegal, then. I tell you what… Bett’ not be MY daughter!

June 14, 2008 Posted by | Celebrity, Culture, Current Events, Entertainment, Music, R. Kelly, Show Business | 2 Comments

Look at You, America!

Medgar Evers. Shot dead in the back in his driveway in front of his family. Chaney, Schwerner, and Goodman. Civil rights workers, murdered. Four little black girls. Blown up in a church, for goodness sake. King. Shot in the face. Black women and men, sprayed by fire hoses, chewed by german shepherds, beaten with sticks, spat upon, hanged, burned, castrated, terrorized, cheated, miseducated. All these atrocities and countless more in attempts, mainly, to keep black people from that one central symbol of human, American freedom: The Vote.

The crux of the Civil Rights Movement was the right for black people to vote. Voting was the most direct route to economic fairness, education, and basic human rights, and both sides knew it! That was probably why there were so many trumped-up rules and restrictions. That was why so many black folk, and sympathetic white folk, died premature deaths. Voting is more “America” than that fabled Apple Pie.

I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. And I am not a “Bill O’Reilly Independent,” either. I have true non-negotiable differences with both parties.

I don’t support a woman’s “right” to have an abortion any more than I would be expected to have the “right” to kill my two-month-old daughter sitting next to me. But I also think that there are life-and-death repercussions for systematically leaving whole segments of the population to perpetually, generationally fester and prey on each other. Spiritually speaking, I think there are souls being lost in poverty, gang and drug-infested areas of America, and frankly, God says that loss of the soul is more serious than loss of the body to death.

You think white girls are not getting pregnant, too? Look at the “Girls Gone Wild” phenomenon. Look at Ft. Lauderdale and Cancun during spring break. Come with me to an Ole Miss frat party! I submit that if their conservative daddies were not paying for so many abortions, the white out-of-wedlock-birthrate would look like the black one.

I just don’t think that either party is the “Party of Christ.” Were that so, eight years of George Bush would’ve done something to curb — not advance — gay rights and abortion. Twenty years out of the last twenty-eight of Republican presidency would have decreased some of the moral ills that plague us. Practically speaking, Republicans don’t appear to love God any more than do Democrats…

This is not about for whom I am voting or endorsing. Don’t dismiss me as just another Brother voting for a Brother because he is a Brother. I don’t do that. Besides, we black folk have been voting for white guys for years! We don’t tend to discriminate like that. We get or surgeries from white doctors, we get our teeth pulled by white dentists, we get our loans — when we can — from white bankers, we buy our homes — or rent them — from white realtors, we fly planes piloted by white pilots, and on and on…

We even worship a white Jesus! And we don’t care! (melody: I Dreeeam of Genie…) “I wor- ship Je-sus – with the light – brown – hair…!”

But there is a reason why so may blacks were Brooklyn Dodgers fans. There is a reason why so many black folk moved to Detroit to work in the auto industry back in the day. They gave us a chance. That is the reason why so many blacks vote with the Democrats.

But never did I really think that even democratic white voters, West Virginia notwithstanding, would en masse vote in favor of a black dude with an African name for the highest office in the most powerful nation! I am nonplussed! My wife cried her eyes out as she listened to his ostensible acceptance speech. This was US up there! Our dead sharecropper, housekeeper grandparents. Our lynched great-uncles and stepped-on progenitors.

I am so proud! Michelle Obama was skewered for daring to hint that her American experience was anything but idyllic. But as someone who was — and occasionally is — persecuted for my pigment, I totally understand her perspective. I have never been ashamed to be an American. In fact, when I was in the military and overseas, I was almost overconfident in my Americanness! But black folk see the country from under the stairs. I am overjoyed that America has come this far in this struggle to take an unknown black guy and rocket him past a woman who started this race five feet from the finish line.

I really feel like an American now, like I have a chance, however remote… And if you ave a problem with me just now saying that, I am not bothered. 

I never once thought I could tell my son that he could grow up to one day be President. Now, I can. My folks told me that if I applied myself, I could be a lawyer or a doctor or an engineer. They never told me I could be the President, though. If they did, it rang hollow like knocking on a pressboard dinner table with an aluminum spoon. That ceiling was plaster and concrete! They never thought this day would come. In a way, the nomination is more significant than the general election would be. It speaks of possibilities, of what might be, of living on stars.

When he first got into the race, I was totally dismissive, not believing that this country would ever let a Negro run the show. And then he won the Iowa caucus… I never thought I would see it.

The Republican machine can be treacherous though. Sean Hannity, et al, will not go gently into that good night to be sure!

This nomination definitely does not kill all racism, not even most of it, but it shows that the ship is actually turning.

Hank Hanegraaff, a theologian whom I admire greatly, and from whom I have learned a countless amount, often is known to have said that “the Bible says nothing about race except to run the race.” The problem that I have with what appears to be only lip service to the realities of racial disharmony is that he does not address the fact that we still have to live. We still have to “do life” in this country. How does his statement make those people feel who have had to start from a mile behind the starting line? How does that statement play out in this current predatory lending crisis? How does it work when I have to read racist jokes written by co-workers in a black magazine? What does it do when a racist neighbor confronts my wife?

It is fine to say that when you get to come and go as you please, and play golf at whatever country club you please without stigma, but it does me little good when I have police walk up on me with their hands on their guns because my tags were out.

And the Bible certainly does deal with race! Moses’ own sister was struck with leprosy when she rebuked her brother for marrying a Cushite — a black woman. And Peter, Jesus’ own disciple, was reprimanded by Paul for showing racial prejudice towards non-Jews. So, while Hanegraaff is a kind of mentor to me, his seeming dismissal of racial issues hurts those like me who expect a prominent “evangelical” to echo the heart of God on the practical application of Christians on everyday racial issues.

It makes it look as though “evangelicals” don’t mind us serving the same God as long as we do it from our own neighborhoods, our own churches, and with our own women. Surely this is not the case!

But regardless of the political ramifications, regardless of how this affects potential Supreme Court demographics, how doggone cool is it that people of all hues can truly look past exterior differences and cultural unfamiliarity to nominate someone unlike themselves? THAT is America! That is a glimpse of what this country can truly be! Irrespective of how you see the role of government, how great is it that the most historically oppressed group of people in this country can be finally equal enough to win the nomination of a major party in a cycle when the OTHER major party has so alienated people that it is highly likely that the latter will likely lose power?!?

No, Obama is not someone to whom I would look for Spiritual guidance, but neither was Reagan or Nixon or Clinton or Carter or Bush. Maybe Huckabee, but definitely not Romney or Gore. But we are not electing pastors. We are trying to find someone to competently run this nation’s business. To govern and legislate justly in the best interest of every American, not just the rich, the Spiritual, the privileged.

Race doesn’t determine my politics. But I refuse to be angry that someone who lives life through the same prism that I do has a chance to sit in the Top Chair.

I am exceedingly proud to finally, really, be able to tear up my Three-Fifths of a Man card and step into this full surrogate American humanity.

This is like Joe Louis versus Max Schmeling. Jesse Owens versus Hitler. They run, they fight, for themselves, but for the rest of us, too.

So, gimme five, America! On tha black-hand side! You got soul!

June 4, 2008 Posted by | Abortion, Barack Obama, Christian Life, Christianity, Civil Rights, Conservatives, Democrats, Elections, George Bush, God, Hillary Clinton, Humor, Martin Luther King, Obama, Politics, Pro-Life, Race, Racial Reconciliation, Racism, Religious Right, Republicans, Sean Hannity, Vote | , | 8 Comments