That NEW Adage

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

God’s Mysterious Ways Often Become Clear to Those who Wait

I was born in Florida and grew up in Memphis. I always took pride in the fact that I was born where my father was born, and while I am proud of the music heritage Memphis has, the town always left me disappointed in almost every other area. Racism is in the DNA, the politics and general mindset are archaic and mired in a ditch, and crime is stratospheric. Education is teetering over the abyss, and job opportunities are scarce.

There are thousands of world-class musicians and artists, but in order to be heard by the world one must leave.

As a child, my parents stressed education and diversity of interests. We had books on a wide array of subjects — geography, animals, trees, national parks — and we were given an appreciation of things like nature and solar systems and music and vocabulary and sports and writing and drawing. I wanted that for my progeny as well. The kids with whom I grew up had the most mundane desires and often ridiculed me for liking “white boy stuff” like books and chess and the like. And it was only because I had parents who were teachers and who values education and home-training that I could represent myself fairly well when speaking formally.

Once I got married and had kids, my wife and I always hoped to move to Nashville so that she could have better employment choices and so that the children would not have to go through what I went through. But I wasn’t going to move with no musical contacts and have to wind up getting a job in a factory or a call center somewhere. I wanted to be established first.

Before we moved here to Las Vegas, work was drying up like water in the Serengeti in June. I want to be this famous saxophone player and songwriter, and Memphis was showing itself to not be the place for ME. People just don’t call sax players first for jobs. We are non-essential extras. Kathy was on maternity leave and didn’t want to go back to that dead-end job, and finding a new one — even though she is a college graduate — was proving impossible. Bills were piling up with no prospects of being paid… Life was miserable. We were constantly knocking on God’s door begging for assistance with waning faith.

The best thing about Memphis for us was our church and our families.

My daughter and youngest son have eczema (it had taken a lot of Diana’s hair, and her skin was always breaking out), and my eldest son has problems with all the pollen and such in Memphis. We were also wondering about how they would develop when they started school. I’m a proud product of the public school system, but things are so different now… Homeschooling was not an option for many reasons. I wanted my kids to be broad-minded but proud of their heritage and culture, and Memphis is such a racially polarized town.

Fast forward to now:

Everyone is FLOURISHING!

I have worked in Vegas numerous times over the years, and I never was overly impressed — not being a gambler. The Strip is beautiful, but I thought once you got past that, there was nothing else to see. How wrong I was!

This is a wonderful place! Mountainous (which I always wanted) and picturesque. There is actually an attractive quality to the desert. And there are a thousand things within a few hours’ drive… The Grand Canyon, San Diego,  Hollywood, Hoover Dam, San Francisco, Yellowstone, Yosemite…

The area is incredibly diverse, so my kids won’t have to suffer life in a racist fishbowl to the degree that I did (although…). And they will have interests that extend beyond the usual — TV, video games, and a 9 to 5. They will see so many things that we wouldn’t have been able to afford to show them.

The area is spread out enough that a good neighborhood is not one block away from a bad one like back home. The architecture is interesting, and the weather is more to my liking because I HATE being cold!! And there are more work opportunities for me here if my current gig plays out. I make three times what I made back home, where saxophone players are considered “options” like heated seats in a car, or 50 inch plasma televisions, or shiny, spinning rims.

I feel exactly like a biblical figure saved by God from a famine, a flood, or a fire. He got us out of a place that — for us — was becoming desolate and depressing. He uprooted us and lined events up in so obvious a way that we had no doubt that God was orchestrating them. And then, He showed us what would have been. It is almost spooky, knowing that there is actually Someone else — who we cannot see — in the room doing stuff! God changed so much for us! We paid off our car early, got my son in a great school, got a second vehicle big enough for all of us, and we got a bigger, more comfortable home with nice amenities. Diana’s hair is thick and full, her skin is soft, and Max doesn’t have nearly the issues with allergies as back home. My kids are blossoming before our eyes like dogwoods. Kathy is exercising — even running — and is much, much happier with life than she was a year ago.  And we both have drastically changed our eating habits in order that we may be here for the kids. Little to no salt and sugar, smaller portions, no sherbet :-(, no candy, and no fatty foods.  We have both lost a lot of  lbs. in the past three months. I’m actually writing this between weightlifting sets…

All this came from my saxophone, which was another answered prayer.

But there is a problem… In order to achieve all this we had to move 1,600 miles away from every single person we love! It is incredibly difficult to juxtapose missing mothers, fathers, siblings, church members, and best friends with the advantages existent here. It is like our arms are running while our legs are walking leisurely.

We used to have Sunday dinners at my parents’ house weekly. They got to see the kids on a regular basis, something I never had with MY grandparents and always wanted for my children. Moving so far away meant that they would no longer be able to see the children grow up and develop. They would not be able to see them at the drop of a hat. That alone made this the hardest decision I have ever made in my life. While my folks are happy for us, I KNOW they’re heartbroken but won’t admit it. In order to function, I have to try to not dwell on it too much…

Before I got married, I saw my parents five or six times a week. I would come home from road gigs and go to their house in the middle of the night and sit at the foot of their bed in the dark and tell them stories about what happened and we would just laugh… Once I got married, though, I stopped all that in order to be true to the biblical mandate to “leave and cleave.” But we still had Sundays when we, my sisters, and my nephews would all get together after church. I had a weakness for Bluebell Homemade Vanilla ice cream, and Mom knew that and kept a ready supply for me in her freezer. I treasured those days and never thought about them ending.

But I think about biblical times when, if a family moved away — as so many did — it could mean they would NEVER see their loved ones again! At least we have planes now. My parents moved away from their childhood homes — my father moved almost as far away as I did. That, in part, was why I wanted my kids to have relationships with their grandparents, since I never really did.

Weighing the pros and cons, though, tipped the scales in favor of the move. There were just TOO many signs, answered prayers, and obliterated obstacles! And I couldn’t show myself to be the true head of this family if I couldn’t bear the excruciating pain of leaving “Mama” to give them a better life. I’m not naive! I KNOW this is Vegas with all its attendant pitfalls and dangers. But you should know — as I now do — that Las Vegas is waaay more than The Strip!

I feel stressed sometimes, as the Disciples and the wandering children of Israel did even in the very presence of God, but He has shown Himself  gracious and faithful. My job is precarious in the sense that I have only EVER been fired by THIS particular organization, but God is bigger than all that, and if He brought us out here which He obviously did, He did not do so as some cruel trick knowing what all is at stake… Following Him is like riding out on the wing of an airplane; frightful but exhilarating, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

May 25, 2011 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Fear, God, God's Hand, Life, Life Lessons, Marriage, Parenthood | 7 Comments

…A few Quick Rants…

Living in Vegas now, I see the Sharron Angle/Harry Reid ads a lot. I don’t get how one rich person can constantly point the finger at the other rich person for being rich! That woman makes me itch in a place I can’t scratch!

 

And, why do we vote for millionaires who spend multiplied millions to get temp jobs that pay only a few thousand?!!? Yet they run on TRUSTWORTHINESS!!!

 

Atheism is the coolest — and only acceptable– worldview. If you think a God made ANYthing, you are written off as the very Neanderthal whose existence you deny!!

The talking heads who seem to care about “certain” human rights — poverty, racism, fair access, political integrity, etc. — laugh openly at practicing Christians who claim to be created by Someone who had THEM in mind! If you dare express a thought with which they disagree, you are labelled The Worst Person in the World.

 

The Tea Party (regardless of origin) is the shelter where all the racists ran when that thieving, lying Negro took America from them.

 

When I watch Glenn Beck, I feel cancerous cells forming inside my body from the bile that bubbles up! How dare we sit idly and let him and his insidious ilk co-opt and corrupt the Civil Rights Movement?!?

 

I want to make a significant mark in the world with my life.I want my work to be widely known.  But when I see “The Situation,” and K-Ci & JoJo Coming Clean, and Stupid Fish-Lipped Laid-up Housewives and Gold-diggers of Atlanta or the NBA or Beverly Hills, or

THIS DUDE:

I almost  want to quit the whole shebang! Being famous all of a sudden isn’t indicative of hard work and talent… (White folks reading this… This is not US!!!) Who left the Famous door open?!!?

 

What is comely about a world that claims freedom of speech and thought, but only if you speak and think what I tell you to? Gay people — whom I neither fear nor hate — were once considered sinners and outcasts. Just as others, they once knew their behavior to be wrong. Now that society has, in its inevitable way, relaxed the restrictions and shorn the shame associated with homosexuality, they have banded and forced those of us who disagree with them into the same closets they once occupied. It’s not okay to simply disagree with you, militant gay person, but it is perfectly fine for you to outright hate, and ridicule, and belittle, and oppress me??? Don’t you see the hypocrisy? The irony?

So, we are all forced –at job-point — to become enslaved to lies by nodding our heads in assent! The word, “HATE” is a hammer that makes us all flinch in terror. It’s like McCarthyism, or old Salem, or 1933 Berlin…

 

Sarah Palin. Really?!? Come on!! (Refer to my earlier statement on the inertness of famousness…)

 

I hate that I can laugh so hard at Bill Maher — he’s brilliant — yet become so frustrated at his unchallenged assaults on my Faith.

 

NBA Commissioner David Stern is a serious boil on my unmentionables!! Nobody else SEES this?!!? Classic Napoleon Syndrome!

 

What is up with all these guys cheating around and filming, texting, or voice-mailing the evidence? How can people smart and talented enough to become wealthy be so durn STUPID???

Preachers have enough material to work with these days, with poor and struggling people bursting through the cracks in the walls of this diseased world, without having time to do the sickening things they do in the name of “Thus sayeth the LORD.”

And the people who run to their defense are guilty of aiding and abetting! Pimps would have to get real jobs if the whores got hip to the game!!

 

As always, conservatives miss the mark woefully on love of fellow man, and liberals are wrong on just about everything else. We need rules. Or else, we’re just stray dogs roaming the streets biting people, raiding garbage, and spawning. That’s why the fact that God MADE us and made us with conscience and will matters! But we also need to realize the need for brotherhood and unity. Look at it like this… The stern God of the Old Testament, and the compassionate God of the New are one and the same Person. The unwavering Judge in the O.T. showed a lot of love, and Jesus, while sensitive and tangible, didn’t pull punches. Same God.

So, how can I, living in this paradox of a nation, be all one thing or completely the other??? Much more could be said… and has been, but is not worth recounting.

 

 

 

October 27, 2010 Posted by | Charlatans, Gay Rights, God, Liberals, Politicians, Politics, Racism, Rant, Republicans | 6 Comments

Vegas — Part Deux

The reason I haven’t been able to blog for months is that, as I said in the prior post, I was whisked away to Las Vegas to a two room apartment with no computer access.

The BB King’s club in Las Vegas has been open since the end of 2009, and they have had a number of bands, none of which fully satisfied the owner who is from Memphis. He wanted to stock the club with Memphis musicians in order to give the various locations the same sound the the original one has. Back in April, the house band there (of which I was a member) was informed that we would be flying to Vegas for a month to get that location on its feet.

We got right up to the point of leaving when circumstances beyond anyone’s control caused the job to fall through. I was highly upset, mostly because we had just had a baby (number three!), and Kathy was still on maternity leave, and I was the only one bringing money in. We lost a LOT of money when the gig fell out.

God was surely chuckling at our anxiety, knowing what He was about to bring to pass!

We were getting by on my pay from the house gig and from jobs that would pop up right when the last breath of air was running low. God was really training us on how to rely strictly on Him! By the end of the month of June, options were thin.

Prentice, the trombone player in the Memphis house band was picking up and moving to Vegas to join the band there. Actually, a few of my Memphis musician friends were going.

The lead singer — unbeknownst to me at the time — had signed on, the bass player from my church was to be the bandleader, and the drummer was a long time associate as well. I was at Prentice’s place to look at some of the furniture he was leaving and, having heard that the Vegas band was having some horn section issues, I decided to put in a bid for doing some work out there…

“How is the band out there?” I asked playing dumb.

“They’re okay, but the sax players are apparently not cutting it. They’re not playing the stuff the way we do it, and they are constantly subbing out,” he responded.

“Oh. Well, if you talk to Tommy (the owner), tell him I’d be willing to go out there for a month and get them on their feet. I’ve played with Larry (the front man) for nine years, and I know his arrangements, and made up a lot of the horn parts. Make sure you tell Tommy that!”

Prentice was surprised, “You would?!? You would really go?!? Man, that’d be great!! Yeah, I’ll tell him!” Prentice is a good guy, and he looks up to me, so I knew I had an advocate in him. Turns out, I had a LOT of advocates!!

By the time I got back home an hour later, my phone was ringing! It was Thursday. I was in Las Vegas Saturday afternoon!! Making four times what I made at home!

October 15, 2010 Posted by | Christianity, God, God's Hand, Music, Work | Leave a comment

Lest We Forget…

These last four or five months have been ROUGH! But happy.

Steve was born in the midst of a record cold snap, Kathy has been at home with us since December, and I’ve begun (and am almost halfway through) making my album. This past Sunday, my pastor, Bryan made a great suggestion: Write down the things God does when He does them in order that your kids will know when THEY go through — THROUGH — tough times.

Things have been all on my shoulders financially, and I welcome that, but it is hard to do on a hack musician’s pay! It is Kathy’s desire to take care of the kids and take Max to school in the mornings and be on point for all of his activities. That can’t be done in her current position.

She has what we call, only slightly facetiously, a “Slave Job.” It is decent employment if you need the money, but they treat their people like rented mules — there are a million ways to get fired, and taking off  to deal with child issues is one. They used to get bonuses and incentives before the company was bought out. There used to be programs to help ambitious employees move up. All gone. ALL the workers and lower-level management are black. Upper management — NOT black. Slave job.

 They have this unGodly points system that is blind to particular situations. My wife has come close to being terminated a number of times during rough bouts of morning sickness that had her throwing up for days on end.

They didn’t care. “Get to work!” Her Points Predicament had her going to workup until mere days before she was due.

Not too many black households are able to survive on one income. Ours is no exception. We are juggling bills so well around here that we both qualify for Barnum and Bailey status! But God is in the gaps introducing our ends to one another.

And on top of all this, we have the nerve to want to send our son to a five-figure private school!! Now, My parents are both public school teachers, and I am proud of my public education, and will stand no disparagement of it! But when we found out that Max will be learning Mandarin and violin and guitar and Spanish AND Christian principles and manhood — I was SOLD! (Or bought)

So, with cash being tight and all, this past week, I got a call for a gig on a day when I am normally off. Cool! The roof is leaking, and I can use THAT money to pay a man to patch it. I also had a session to do with a group led by a guy I work with a lot. He’s recording an album, and I am doing it for free. Or at least, for deferred fundage…

The session was at 1 o’clock, and the gig was at 4:30. I was doing only one song, so there should be no conflict. As I was getting dressed to do the session (I had  called the man with whom I was gigging to find out the dress code, but got no answer, so I figured I’d better dress up to be safe), he texted me his apologies and that the gig was cancelled!! As I was on my way out the doggone door! Thanks…

So, no money. Strangely, I wasn’t that angry. I got to the session and found that we would be doing FOUR tunes — not one!!! Seems that God knew what He was doing! Seems that He moved that gig out of the way so that I could show good faith to Scott and Marc who have done right by me.  I’m playing on CYNDI LAUPER’S FORTHCOMING CD!! Out june 22. Scott produced it, and Marc is playing on my project for not one nickel. Had I still had the gig, I would have had to break up the session.

So, we did the tunes, and I’m on my way out the door, and Scott says, “Hey, wait so I can pay you!”

WHAT?!!? Cool! I was cool doing it for nothing, but now maybe I would get enough to buy some oatmeal and bread and dishwashing detergent.

Scott paid me 2 1/2 times what I would have gotten on the cancelled gig! Jehovah suuure knows how to Jireh, don’t He?

See how God operates? He’s a show-off! That other guy could have — SHOULD have — called me days ago to let me know the job fell through. But just like in the Bible time and time again, God shows out: He Let Pharaoh and them get right up on Moses and the Israelites before He did His thing! He exposed the false prophets by having the stone altar DOUSED with water and burned rocks to ashes!

He often lets us get right to the edge of the cliff before a bridge just pops up out of nowhere, so that there will be no doubt who did it.

So, Max, Diana, Steve (and whoever may be next) fear not. God will catch you. And He’s cooler than ten James Bonds and a dozen Houdinis! Love Him like I do!

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Faith, God | 2 Comments

Steven Horace Williams. And the Tempest on which He Came

Now, thanks be to God, I have three children! TWO of them sons!

Steve — named for my lost cousin, and my father — came into this world Tuesday morning amidst a whirlwind of activity.

Usually, when I play gigs, all I have to do is show up and blow. However some church members recently asked the church band to play their wedding reception. And they asked if I would play the wedding, too. I wound up being the point man for the function, which meant I would have to meet with the couple, get their requests for material, negotiate the price, get the music out to the guys, and hire the sound man and players. (Most of the church guys had other gigs.) A lot of extra work.

Now, when I took the job, I didn’t put it together with the fact that it was happening FOUR DAYS AFTER MY BABY’S BIRTH, and that Kathy would be having her third c-section! I just looked at the fact that it was January, and as I had been jobbed out of my New Year’s Eve gig, the money would be cool.

We have experienced record cold temperatures the last two weeks or so. Weekends are tough for me. I usually don’t get to sleep Saturday nights until 5 AM, and I have to be at church at 7:30. We have two services, and I’m usually done at 12:30 or so. I then go home, help Kathy get the kids fed, and we usually go to my parents’ house for dinner. I try to get a nap in there somewhere, and we’re home by 8 to feed the kids again. But I don’t get to sleep until about 4 or 5.

Mondays used to be my recovery day, with the only work I had to do was raise the kids. But the club switched our night from TUESDAY and Thursday to MONDAY and Thursday.

So, with all that, I went to work Monday night, and got to bed after 5 since I was too nervous to sleep. We had to get to the hospital at 7:30 for the birth. I was dead tired, and it was 15 degrees outside! By 10 AM, Steven Horace was here! Another nine-pounder!

After a long day of visitors and everything that comes with having a child, late that night, I decided to brave the sub-twenty degree weather to go get something to eat.

There was no one on the road. The car was driving funny, and I thought it was because the engine was still cold… I pulled into the turning lane to get out and see if a nudging fear I had was legitimate, and I found a blown-out tire! I rode verrry slowly down the turn lane looking for a place with enough light to get my thoughts together, and found a church parking lot. Kneeling on the ground to get to work, the cold crept up into my bones and took residence!

I was done and back on the road in about twenty minutes. But now, the thought in my mind was that tires for this car cost almost $300! And we just had a third baby in three-and-a-half years! I was juggling figures in my mind. And a snowstorm was in the forecast, so I couldn’t be driving around with a donut on the front of a front wheel drive car.

I had a rehearsal the next night at 11:30 PM, so I would have to take the car home, turn the faucets on to keep the pipes from freezing, say hello to my kids (who were being kept by Kathy’s mother Tuesday and Wednesday), get my truck, and go to the rehearsal. As I arrived at the club, the “CHECK ENGINE” light popped on!! What next?!? This could be big, or it could be small. But with single-digit temperatures and possible snow, 2 AM wasn’t the time to gamble!

After — prayer– and practice, I headed home. I had to spend the night at home because Kathy’s mom had to work and couldn’t keep Max and Diana, so I had to get them up early, dressed, and fed, and take them to my folks’ house to stay until Saturday afternoon. Soooo tired. After I did all that, I went back to the hospital for a couple of hours with Kathy and Steve before I had to leave for my Thursday gig.

I drove the truck, so after work, I went back home to check on the house, turn on the faucets, and switch back to the car since I needed it to take Kathy and the baby home in the car seat.

Now, all during the week, I’m corresponding with the groom, the sound man (who thinks he might have pneumonia!!) and the guys in the band. I had to make CD’s with the tunes on them, and e-mail others out to guys with whom I couldn’t contact. I had put together a GREAT collection of players!

Friday was even busier than the other days… After getting Kathy and the baby home, I left right out to get a tire for the car. The wedding gig was far out, and I couldn’t trust the truck to make it. After I got the tire, I came home, got the directions to the venue and headed straight back out to the wedding rehearsal! I wasn’t even home ten minutes!

And it was about 8 degrees outside. On the way home from the rehearsal, I treated Kathy and myself with Papa John’s!

So, we’re sitting at home, chillin’, after a long week, eating pizza, and I get up to go wash my hands, and the doggone water won’t come on!!! The pipes are frozen!! It’s Friday, and my troubles are just starting. Kathy: “Oh, yeah… Mama told me something about the water wasn’t running…”  Would’ve been cool to know that a whole lot earlier in the day. (in fairness to Kathy, she turned the bathroom sink on, and when it worked, she thought everything was cool. But THAT sink never froze.)

I turn up heat, turn on blow-dryers, space heaters, and the ENTIRE STOVE to try to get the water running again. My friend, Tim, came over to help, and I wound up going to Wal-Mart to buy a replacement line for the kitchen sink — which, being next to an outer wall, was the biggest trouble spot.

More running around and less rest for me. And the next day, Saturday, was the busiest day. And the bride and groom and all their visiting family didn’t care about my problems! The show must go on.

I got up very early to go and pick my kids up from my parents’ house, and would head right out to a noon set-up and soundcheck. The wedding was at 6, and the reception was right after at 7. I wouldn’t be coming back home until about 11 PM when it was all over.

Kathy called me at about 2. I thought she was calling to tell me that the faucet was running again. She was at home with three children, 3 years old and under, four days after having a baby cut from her womb, and I had booked a gig at the wrong time!

“You need to come home! You need to come home RIGHT NOW!! There is water coming down through the cabinets and all over the kitchen!! Water is gushing all outside!!!” I could hear my kids laughing and oblivious in the background.

It took me twenty minutes to get home (at 100 miles an hour!), and I couldn’t get the water turned off at the street because the valve was faulty. By the time a plumber got there, another thirty minutes had passed!

When would it end?

The plumber gave me an INCREDIBLY low price and said he would NOT have to cut through the walls! Kathy stopped crying when I told her that.

Turns out, he had to tear the cabinets out and cut through the walls. Still incredible price though!

My wonderful parents came and got Kathy and all three kids, and I went back to the gig.

The drummer got pulled over for speeding and we had to stretch two tunes for twenty-five minutes until he got there.

The gig was cool. Everybody was happy, the band got cash, and the sound man didn’t fall out. And I had to turn around and get up for church with one hour of sleep, work Monday… I still haven’t rested. And Kathy is just as tired, plus major surgery.

The thing is, though, that with all the drama and running around, I had to do… I never got frustrated. I usually would crack a LITTLE bit, but not this time. It was like God opened the valve — pun intended — a little at a time so that by the time the BIG disaster happened, I had built up enough confidence in His work to know that He would come through.

So, my second son, Steve, rode in on a tidal wave of action and turmoil and amid it all, he is the epitome of peace. I can learn a lot from him.

January 14, 2010 Posted by | Action, Birth, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Drama, Family, Gigging, God, Music, Stories, Work | 8 Comments

As John Mayer said, “Keep me where the LIGHT is!”

So, let’s see… In a span of two weeks we have a congressman heckling the President in hallowed halls, Serena Williams gets all un-Jehovah’s Witness on a line judge, and Kanye interrupts a live broadcast to demand a recount.

And now everyone’s lamenting the loss of “civility.” As if it only JUST broke the surface! I was angry at Joe Wilson, ashamed at Serena, and ready to re-break Kanye’s jaw. But these latest incidents are not what we should be decrying. We lost our minds a lonnnnnng time ago! These people are just ratifying what this society has been lobbying for for years.

We wanted fewer restrictions on what was considered “normal” behavior. We wanted to be free to say whatever and hear whatever we wanted on the airwaves. (Remember when, “Frankly, my dear…” was controversial?) Now, you can see a naked butt and have it accurately described at 7 PM. No biggie. In fact, no sexual organ is off limits as to the basest description of it. I’ve heard pretty much all of them. Every few years another of those forbidden words — thirteen of them, I believe — is knocked off the list and available for my three-year-old to perfect. Yeah, I can turn the channel and turn the other cheek, but after a while there will be no channels left, and I’m out of cheeks! And I can’t disappear.

We wanted to be like France, Amsterdam, and other progressive European countries. We got it. We are in the process of being given over to our collective desires. They have legalized drug use and whorehouses set up like Macy’s (I’ve seen them). They have affairs like we have lunch in the afternoon. They have no sexual hang-ups. They have soap commercials with lathered up boobs floating on the water and no one gets uptight.

“If France jumped off a bridge, would YOU?!?”

We’re on our way, though! We have daycares in schools for all the students’ babies, we throw them baby showers rather than counsel kids on the seriousness of the problem they’ve created. Little girls dance like strippers, and every month another leader has to drag his haggard-looking wife in front of a phalanx of cameras to apologize for hooking up with a co-worker! 

 And rather than deal honestly with the growing issue, we laugh at Christians and call them sexually repressed. The deck is stacked.

 

When I was a kid, if we accidentally cursed in front of an adult somewhere, we could expect to get snatched up quicker than the Rapture! Now, kids cuss in front of me and anyone else with impunity. They know their little butts are made of gold. Thanks, Oprah! Your work here is done!

Marijuana and ordinary cigarettes have switched places. Weed is cool, but if you smoke nicotine, folk look at you like you’re fondling a kid!

You can’t tell a child in school his answer is wrong anymore. You can’t even frown at them. You surely can’t spank them! When I was a kid — we used to call them that. Kids — we didn’t have car seats. You put the baby up in the back window, the middle one in the front between Ma and Pa, and the other four or five were in the back somewhere. We could even ride in the back of pick-up trucks (I loved sitting on the hump or the toolbox!)! Now, if you have to get gas and you have more than two children and no debit card, be prepared to haul all those suckers into the Mapco! If Li’l Johnny’s nose starts to run, we rush him to the doctor. They can’t ride bikes in the street or play out of our line of sight.

My point is that we enact surface rules to seem as though we care so much more nowadays, but we poison their minds and make them weak and soft. We give them everything they think they MUST have, but we let them talk to us any way they see fit. (not MY kids!!)

We deify celebrities. They know they are unassailable. They can be on camera in a hot tub screwing around with the wife and the nanny, and it is all good! Cover of “People” magazine the next week! They can leave a heartbroken spouse, shack up with the co-star, adopt a couple of Cambodian babies and be labeled “Humanitarian Power Couple.” We are SO stupid!! They can get married and divorced like we change pants, and we rush to be just like them.

Things which used to be hands-down egregious wrongs, which were debatably errors recently, are now just fine — in fact — laudable! The only sin nowadays is to notice one. We’re eVOLving!

Don’t get me started on that! As if, just because a monkey has thumbs, we used to BE monkeys! Chairs have legs, too! Was my great-grandmama a Queen Anne?!?

The word “Stigma” has been stigmatized. We are ashamed of the word “Ashamed.” It’s wrong to say, “Wrong.” Saying “No” is a no-no.

But we want to have conferences and panel discussions because Serena cussed a heffa out in the heat of battle and denied saying what she said thirty seconds later!

Why should she edit herself (like I do!)? We gave her the license to do it. She re-invented the booty.

Why should we scold Kanye West for running up in an awards show choking a bottle of Hennessey like it was a lifeline and snatching a little girl’s moment away forever? He’s Kanye, fool! He makes the heads nod!

“Don’t judge me!” you all said. And NOW, you wanna judge what these folk did?!? On what basis do YOU judge? Your own  sense of right from wrong? Your own  standard? But don’t you remember, you’ve spent the last few decades stripping away  at that standard so you can say a$$ on teevee! Don’t start trying to make judgements now!!

These folk — and Joe, and Roger Federer,  and the town hall criers and the sexual lobbyists and the teenyboppers on stripper poles and the rest — are but acorns on a giant oak tree of iniquity that threatens to darken us all with its shadow.

Prince pushed the envelope back in the eighties, but now the IS no envelope. We got e-mail… And one heckuva virus!

September 16, 2009 Posted by | Celebrities, Celebrity, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Civility, Culture, Current Events, Glory, God, Joe Wilson, Kanye West, Rant, Serena Williams, VMA's | 3 Comments

When God’s will and mine, serenely intertwine

I have three sisters. No brothers. ALWAYS wanted one.

My father, who was raised as an only child and found out at age 35 that he was adopted, had three sisters and no brothers. One of them had died when they were in high school.

That is a long, good story that Kathy insists I write down.

I have a cousin whom I first met back in the late eighties. He and his wife, Shelene, own a martial arts training studio in Pasadena, Ca. Were he alive now, he would be in his early sixties and would look maybe 38.

He made a profound impact on me from the first. When I did a series of  gigs out west back in ’92 (during L.A. riots), he came and got me and showed me the sights and introduced me to family who treated me like a visiting dignitary. I will NEVER forget that. A few years later, he did the same thing, taking me to Venice Beach, his studio, Rose Bowl stadium, and many other places. We almost hit Kareem Abdul Jabbar when he pulled out in front of us.

He was a multiple-degreed black belt martial artist in many different disciplines, and trained with Bruce Lee. He trained English Mastiffs and Rottweilers to respond to hand signals! Very impressive! And with all of this, he was the most mild-mannered, peaceful dude you’d ever seen!

He and Shelene met Kathy soon after we were married at a family reunion that I missed because I am known for not missing gigs. (I missed out on a lot of things because of that. I’m going to change.)

They swept her up and made her like one of their own! But Kathy has a personality that will do that to you…

A couple of years ago, they said he had cancer. But when I talked to him, he said everything was fine. Never thought I would never see him again.

His death hit me harder than anything I had ever felt. I have been blessed to have all my cousins, both parents, all but one uncle, and all of my aunts still here. My mother’s father died when I was a child. I was grown when my grandmothers died, but one was in her nineties and afflicted with Alzheimer’s, and the other… long, tough story.

I could not go to the funeral. It was in L.A., and I couldn’t afford a ticket, and I had to work. But really, I just couldn’t bear to see my cousin not alive when I still had so many things to learn from him. The funeral was broadcast online, and while Kathy watched it and said how beautiful it was, I couldn’t do it. I lay in the other room — in earshot — and cried so hard my head hurt. All day. Between bouts of vomiting because Max had gotten me sick when he threw up all over me three days earlier. (And I had to go to work.)

His name was Steve Hearring.

 

I don’t think anyone in this entire world loves my daddy as much as I do. And I know he’s flawed. Who isn’t? But, as with God, my cousin, and all my heroes, I admire strength and power. That’s why leopards, bulls and rhinos are my favorite animals. And my father epitomizes strength and power.

Despite the rough time I had growing up (which is a positive story in light of the way things turned out between us) I always sought his approval and respect. I heard the stories about the things he did as a boy and as a man, and I wished I could be as tough and as calm. Indulge me one story…

Back when he was in his twenties, as a high school coach, he and his team had an Away game against a heated rival. My mother, known for her tactlessness in awkward situations, was — according to her — talking some trash in the stands.

Apparently, one of the guys behind her took offense. Someone pointed him out and whispered to my mom that he had a gun and ill intentions toward her. When the game ended (Home team won), my mother made her way to the locker room with the guy following her through the crowd. When she got to the locker room and walked in sheepishly, my pop, who was mad about the team losing and in no mood for foolishness, asked her what she was doing there. She NEVER went back there.

Out of fear for the OTHER guy(!) she refused to say. He made her tell him. Mom pointed the guy out still lurking outside the locker room.

Daddy acted out for me what he did next: Ma had an umbrella — the kind with the point on the end. He, unarmed otherwise, took it from her and went to find the dude.

The thug had his right hand in his pants pocket and Pops figured he was holding the gun. He went up to the guy, grabbed a handful of wrist and pants (He almost sprained mine acting this out. Adrenaline…) so he couldn’t get the gun out!, shoved the umbrella deep up into the soft meat under the guy’s chin and proceeded to threaten his very life with well-chosen words that I can’t repeat! He held the guy until the cops got him, and there was indeed a gun in his pocket!

It was all so unbelievably smart and strong! Even with his finger practically lifting me from the ground, I was smiling HARD! “That’s MY Daddy!” I thought! “Did I inherit any of those guts?” My daddy was like a cross between 007 and Jim Brown!

I’ve got a bunch of those stories — all true — and he won’t even tell me any more. He is so understated and modest about it all, saying that he was just crazy.

He was the biggest, the strongest, the toughest, the bravest, and the fastest, according to those who grew up with him. Yet he stressed reading and learning with my sisters and me. As did my mother. He took pride in figuring things out, he loves brain teasers and The Discovery Channel.  He got up every day and went to work, sometimes spending too much time working his players. They would have basketball practice at 5 AM before school AND after school. But he single-handedly turned them from chronic losers to winners.

He never called in sick, he taught me how to use wrenches and how to box. He taught me stuff that I don’t have the heart to do unless my life is threatened. He made me do push-ups, lift weights, run track, and fight when scared.

He hated, I’m sure, when I focused more on model cars and cartoons and being in the band than trying out for teams, but he loves it now. He was hard! Hard as steel.  Scared me to DEATH!! But he changed.

He learned and I learned. And from the first time I knew what it meant, I always said that I wanted to name my son not after ME, but after him! His name is Horace.

My wife had a very bad time as a child with her father. She says he wasn’t really one at all. From the moment she met my parents, she loved them to death. She raves about how great her in-laws are. But she loves my daddy to the point that I sometimes feel that I have not a wife, but a fourth sister as it relates to him. She sees him as HER father, and is not ashamed to tell it.

 

I love Diana more than my life. But when Kathy got pregnant this current time, I prayed hard for it to be a son. I never had that brother I longed for, and I wanted Max to have someone with whom to stand back-to-back in this sickening world. I wanted him to have that thing that brotherhood means.

I wanted Diana to have two boys to keep the fools at bay! I wanted to be a little bit like Jacob with all those sons.

And I wanted to give my father that legacy. I wanted his name to continue.  Since he was adopted, he was the only Williams. And until I got married and had Max, it was looking pretty bleak for the team! But God apparently said otherwise…

Now we can be sure that there will be more Williamses.

My sisters all named their kids after their maternal grandfather — which is cool! But what about my daddy?

And Kathy, having loved Steve so much for the same reasons I did, saw this as an opportunity to honor what she described as two honorable and strong men. She has already said that the new baby has the pressure of keeping that great name clean!

Two weeks ago, in a dark room, God granted our sweated prayers! We are having a boy. And it means so much more than just having somebody to throw to and wrestle with and teach about girls and smoothness and heartbreak and fidelity (although it is all of that, too!). It means that God actually DOES know me, and LIKE me, and that He does actually act in my life. He is faithful and true!

And if this minor thing is real, I shudder at the thought that He DID create the universe and that He meant — means — all that stuff in the Bible! He is not an illusion or a figment. He is my friend. In every profound way. I am undone.

With that, we await the healthy arrival of Steven Horace Williams!

I’ve got so much to tell him!

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Babies, Baby Names, Birth, Childhood, Children, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Faith, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, God, Heroes, Jesus, Kids, Parenthood, Parents | 2 Comments

God… One Egg. Three Yolks.

The past few months saw God step into my life and circumstances in tangible ways which amazed and humbled me. I have written about some of it… my horn situation comes immediately to mind.

He has provided me with gigs just when I needed them, He worked me through that nasty KWEST (jazz band) thing, He has counseled me in marital situations (more people oughta try this!), and He gave me another SON(!!!!) — about which I will post separately.

All of that set the stage for what happened to my family and me Tuesday.

Generally speaking, everybody loves their kids. No need to go on about who I’d kill and what fast-moving vehicles I would jump in front of about mine.

Max has this thing about coughing and throwing up. He gets it from his mother. He has a hair-trigger uvula. Mopping up his meals has become routine for ME. Kathy won’t do it, or else the house’ll turn into the theater scene from “The Goonies!” But he does not have any asthma or any other diagnosed health problem. He just can’t overeat. And sinus drainage sets him off after time.

Monday night/Tuesday morning I couldn’t sleep. (God) I usually turn in at about 4 AM. I was awake to hear that familiar sound coming from Max’s room. I could tell he was in the launch sequence.

I went in to get him, and as soon as I got him to the bathroom, he let loose.

It tears me up to see him like that and be so helpless. I just pray.

I put him back in the bed and he was fine.

Later that day, Kathy — who didn’t go to work because SHE was sick from being pregnant — was sitting on the couch with him and noticed him wheezing. And the space at the bottom of his throat was sinking in with each breath. (I have two nephews with asthma, so I knew the signs)

She sent him to me to have a look, and what I feared was coming to pass.

Normally, Kathy would have been dozing, but since she was off, she was rested. Usually, Max would have been taking a nap, but for some reason (GOD) I put Diana down and left Max awake. We would never have known!

I would have been gone to work by the time he woke up, but God orchestrated it all so that we would see what was happening.

Let me tell you… when I saw my little boy… wheezing and still smiling… out of breath but playing… I was like cornbread with no eggs in it!! Kathy was tearing up as I made the arrangements for us to take him to a doctor. I had to lie to Max while I got him dressed and while Kathy got Diana together. My son. So little, and such an overwhelmingly big part of my whole world. My son. My SON. Understand?

I had to push all the horrible possibilities out of my mind. No luxury to marinate in what-could-be.

I just prayed. And I told Kathy what I wrote earlier — that all His tangible blessings in the past weeks put Faith in our accounts for withdrawal now. We had seen Him be so true to us, so hands-on, so REAL! And NOW, in the midst of terror, we had to tell Him — and ourselves — that He was the same Person. That He would not operate so clearly in the verses and disappear in the hook!

The end of it is that Max is fine. He has one more day of taking medicines to return his little bronchial tubes and lungs to normal.

MY_boy!

We suspect that he picked up something from a child at church (which irritates me to NO END!!! Don’t take your sick kids to church! They can miss a Sunday!), or else dust or some other allergen in the house set him off.

God is going to HAVE to drive this vehicle for us! As hard as we try to protect our little people from life, we simply can’t. And we cannot live every day in fear of what MIGHT happen to them.

He is faithful!

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Babies, Children, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Faith, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, God, Kids, Love, Parenthood, Parenting | 1 Comment

Yes, God is my Father, but He’s also my Big Brother

Back in May, I bought a new horn, remember? I posted a picture of it…

It came with some problems that I shoved to the back of my mind — not wanting to disappoint my wife, and not wanting to think that all the waiting was in vain.

It was made in Taiwan, which until recently had been known for making substandard quality saxophones. I did over a year of research on this particular brand and came to the conclusion that Taiwan was the new Japan in the sense that where they once had a bad reputation, they now were becoming leaders in the industry with brands such as P. Mauriat competing favorably with the big brands, Selmer, Keilwerth, Yamaha, and Yanagisawa — the BIG 4.

So, I contacted the “owner,” the guy who’s name is stamped on the bell of the horn, and placed an order. The main selling points were that these horns were of pro quality but two or three  thousand dollars less than what a comparable one would cost, and that I would have one-on-one contact and consultation with the main guy. You can’t expect that from Selmer!

The one I ordered was their newest model, a copper horn which was about a thousand dollars more than the ones I had been researching. It was way more than I had prepared to spend, but it was so unique… There was something about having something that no one else has.

I received an e-mail from the owner’s “partner” confirming my order. He told me that the demand for this new model was more than expected, and that I would have to wait at least a month. I ended up waiting almost four.

In May I finally got it! When I opened it, there were some problems… It had been damaged in shipping, and one of the key guards was bent. There was a lot of room for the horn to move inside the case, and it had obviously been bumped around.

I guess there was a look on my face, because as soon as I opened the box, Kathy asked me with anticipation, “So, you LIKE it?!?”

“Yeah,” I said, but there was something in the back of my mind…

The brace that holds the body of the horn to the bow was bent as well, and off track. I assumed this was all due to the shipping.

I got out my tuner to see if the horn played in tune, and it did from the lowest note until I got up to the palm keys (I realize that I am speaking in esoteric terms, but you’ll get the gist), where the Eb and E were waaaay sharp! This was disconcerting, but I attributed it to my not having a new tenor in eighteen years.

And there was a problem with the way the left-hand palm keys fit my hand. One key was too high, and another too low, making it hard for me to move with speed.

I got the horn set up by a technician who called it, “a beautiful lookin‘ little horn” disdainfully. I sneered at him and just wrote his opinion off to not recognizing the name. He fixed most of the damage and lightened up some of the springs, quickening the action a bit. But the ergonomics were basically unalterable.

Long story less long, I contacted the “owner” and his “partner” about the problems (and some others I haven’t mentioned here), and was told basically to keep them appraised. Not the first-hand customer service I expected, but I wasn’t eager to have to box up and ship the horn back and wait months more for it to return.

So I played the horn — which sounds a lot better than my well-run old Selmer — in good spirits ignoring that fading ringing in the back of my mind.

I had been steadily checking the internet for reviews of this horn by other players, when after work one night, I was reading and discovered that the two guys from whom I bought the horn had split!!! The owner was continuing to sell horns out of his home as usual, but under different names. The partner was now in the saxophone business on his own.

Not only that, but I found out that the split was over the very model horn I have!

It turns out that the horn was NOT made in Taiwan, but in CHINA! They are known industry-wide for making junk horns in pink and blue and red and orange that play way out of tune and are basically thrown together.

I did NOT spend all my money for a Chinese saxophone! Shoot, I had JUST grown accustomed to the idea of a Taiwanese one! All those nagging fears had been justified.

I e-mailed the owner in New York, and went to tell my wife what had happened. It was after 4 AM Wednesday.

The next morning, he called me. Now, this guy is not a shill. He has almost thirty years in the business making mouthpieces for well known heavyweights.

What he told me shocked me. He said that I did not buy the horn from HIM! That I bought it from the other guy, and that I should contact him if I wanted my money back, but good luck, “cause he still owes ME money!”

I was groggy from sleep, and did not say the things I would have said had I been fully coherent.

I e-mailed the other guy (I don’t really want to name names based on how this all played out) in Austin Texas(!) and asked what the process was for getting a refund since the horn was basically misrepresented.

HE responded that two months was too long for a refund, but that he would be willing to pay for any repairs. He vouched for the quality of the horn.

Now fully awake, I called New York and got into an only somewhat heated back-and-forth. I told him first how sorry I was that his reputation was being damaged and that this must be awful for him, but that to ME this was world-shaking because it was all the money I had, and that I make my living with my horn.

 He seemed to wash his hands of the matter, telling me repeatedly — as though ANYONE would see it — that I did NOT buy the horn from HIM, that I bought it from the other guy!! I threw every logical point at him: “YOUR name is on the horn! I ordered it from YOUR website with YOUR name on it! YOU advertised that these were YOUR products, and YOU stood behind them. I contacted YOU about buying a horn! He was YOUR partner (He was not my partner! He was just my distributor!) He worked on YOUR behalf…!”

He deflected every argument. “So, I’m basically screwed, hunh? I gave you guys my hard earned money for one thing, I got another, and I’m just screwed?”

“No, no, you’re not screwed. I’m gonna make it right for ya.” in his New York brogue. “All ya gotta do is contact the Attorney General of your state, blahblahblah, blast ‘im on the internet, blahblahblah and when I get proof that you’ve done everything you could, then I’ll see what I can do. Butcha didn’ buy the horn from ME, blahblah…”

I was a ball of stress! I felt awful. But through the whole thing, there was a calmness in me. As angry and stressed as I was, I said to God, “YOU gotta work this out for me, ‘cuz I can’t!” And I didn’t fly off the handle and start cussing folks out like many thought I should.

I had to play it cool withthese guys because they had my money and they were spread out all over the country. I had NO leverage. One wrong word from me, and they could just hang up the phone and act as though I never existed. I couldn’t make unreasonable threats and demands because I — as my father says — had my arm in a lion’s mouth!

I posted the bones of the case on a popular saxophone forum. Nothing slanderous and derogatory. By that night, I got a note from the ex-partner (the owner HAD publically called him that) suggesting that we try to come to a reasonable conclusion… maybe I could swap this horn with one of the ACTUAL Taiwanese models (which cost LESS money).

We talked on the phone, the ex-partner and I, for over twenty minutes the next day. He told me what he had in stock, the properties of the horn, and about all the controversy. He gave me a different perspective, of couse, from the one of the owner. Both of them were angry at each other, and I just happened to be the dude that bought th first horn in this new batch and got entangled on this mess.

He was extremely helpful, attentive, and apologetic. This was the kind of customer service I expected from the owner and NEVER got. It was Thursday.

By MONDAY I had the other horn. IMG_2089

It was GREAT! Undamaged, and in a cool case that allowed for no movement. And it played almost by itself! Big, booming sound, perfect ergonomics, and in tune all the way up. Just a great horn!

This was what I wanted all along.

All that was left was to work out the amount of money for the other horn. There was about a $700 difference in price, and the thought of that last pending battle gave me just the slightest anxiety. “God, work it out.”

Two days ago, I sent an e-mail to Texas, saying compactly, “I LOVE this horn! What is the next move from here?”

This was his reply:

I have been trying to think about what would be appropriate and fair to you regarding the situation you got caught up in.  

 I continue to believe the MAC 20 is also a great horn.  It is different but still a terrific horn.  I know you have had your MAC 20 adjusted and that you have it setup for you etc.

Derrick, I think in view of all you were put through that you should just keep both horns. The MAC 8 is my gift to you.  All I ask is that you be fair with your assessment with both horns on any reviews you may wish to write.  I am not asking that you say anything you don’t believe in your heart and if you really feel the MAC 20 is not a good horn you should simply state your reasons.  I respect whatever your opinion is good or bad.  

Blown away was I!! He went from “No refund,” to “just keep both horns!!!”

I never thought it would work out this well. At best , I thought I would have to make an even swap. At worst, I thought I would just have to come to love a horn I only liked. My wife would have felt forever that we got beat.

I can’t express the emotion that I felt as I read that e-mail. Not that I get to keep these two pretty things, these material items — but that through seemingly insurmountable circumstances, God pushed me out of my way and fought the unseen bully into submission.

He made me keep my cool, showed me the moves to make — the perfect balance of firmness and compassion — and he worked it all out.

Some may say that the guy in Texas only made a smart business move. I agree it was smart to treat a customer right.

Some may say that he only let me keep the horn because he wouldn’t be able to get rid of it. But I say that were that the case, why send me another one? The horn is in better shape now than when it was new, and he could have sold it as new, or taken a few dollars off it and gotten a LOT more than the difference in price between it and the one he sent me. But he let me have both.

GOD did this. And there is no remaining doubt in my mind that He really does fight for me. He really is concerned about the ins and outs of my daily life. He really does intercede.

I never had a brother. I had to fight my battles and learn all the hard knocks myself. But in God, I HAVE that Brother. In fact, He has ALWAYS been there… Like the time when that gang of boys surrounded me at the bus stop and had a three inch long pin a millimeter from my eyeball. I had to smooth talk my way out of that close call, and the LORD was in my ear telling me what to say.

He has always told me when to fight, and when to get out of the way and fight the bullies who were too big to engage.

Closer than a brother.

August 7, 2009 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, God, Jesus, Music, Music Business, Near Misses, Saxophone, The Nature of God, Work, Writing | 2 Comments

Who’s God IS God? (or do they work by committee?)

A couple of days ago, on facebook (of all places), I became involved in a discussion on a hypothetical scenario:  If a Non-Christian saves 3 children from a burning building and dies…And a Christian saves 3 children from a burning building and dies…Who has the most favor from God the Christian or Non-Christian??

I was greatly distressed — but not surprised (is this possible?) — by the responses.

I don’t expect most people to be Christians. But it is sobering to see how unsaved so many of us are. And how unconcerned they seem to be at the fact.

These were black folk, and most of them seemed to filter their views through the screen of their race. That is, their pro-blackness seemed to take precedence over who God may or may not be.

The responses were relativistic and pluralistic. And, of course, the Christian POV was lambasted. We were called arrogant and short-sighted.

There were a couple who told the hard truth — No Jesus, no Heaven — but most of them put the emphasis on the goodness of the deed and judged that they BOTH should go to Heaven.

I said:

“I’m glad God is not like us, judging on personal merit, or else no matter HOW many good deeds I did, the stuff I did wrong would overwhelmingly condemn me!”
I naively thought that that was a debate-ending argument. I leaned back with pride and read and RE-read what I wrote. I usually try to formulate those kinds, but I constantly forget that most people don’t debate by the Marquis of Queensbury rules!
They went on, saying things like, “Who’s to say that Christians have a monopoly on what is the right way? I believe in Jesus, but who am I to be so arrogant to think that my belief is the only way to ‘The Creator’? Religion is what separates us and causes problems. I’m not bashing Christians– I grew up in the Baptist church — (So! If I grew up in a can would that make me sardines?!?), but who wrote that book? Was Jesus a Christian? There are people who have no religion at all who are more Christian that most Christians I know?”
 
I said: One thing I can’t STAND is arrogance! So that’s not me. But in matters like this, I try to say what GOD says, so when He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” I say, “Okay,” and get on board! If a dude can lay His life down and pick it up again, I tend to believe what He says.
God may not label us as WE label ourselves,
but He has this book called “The Lamb’s Book of Life” in which HIS are written. He sent His Son to save us, and if we reject Him, we get to spend eternity just as in life — separated from Him — according to our OWN will.
The end of it all for me is this: We all leave our fates in the hands of an Infinitely fair Judge! He will deal squarely with us all… even those in the remotest corners of the Earth (whom we seem to mention only during debates like these). I trust that He will judge us based on the degree of light and revelation we have through Him. All of us on FACEBOOK have heard the name “Jesus” and know what Salvation means.
 
I thought that was pretty good. But they just totally ignored what I said and continued with the idea that good deeds should be the measure of eternal life.
 
I guess I knew that that would be the way it would go, but I just wanted to leave no one with the idea that they had never heard the Gospel.
 
The guy who brought up the whole subject basically told me that I was narrow-minded and had my nose stuck in a book somebody wrote and corrupted, and that I pretty much bought whatever the preacher said on Sundays. He thanked me for being reasonable and told me that I needed to get out more and think more critically.
 
This was, to me, an hiLARious mischaracterization of who I am! No one scrutinizes what preachers say more than I! But as I told them:
Thanks, man! It is ALWAYS good to be reasonable! (I DO look at more than just what I hear on Sundays. Christianity is waaaay more than just a Sunday worldview! Plus, I have to try to understand where others are coming from and not be myopic. But at some point, a person has to reach a conclusion. Based on study and information. Nothing wrong with that.)
I don’t know… This kind of thing bothers me. It is the main reason why I write this blog. I hate to see people NOT GET IT!!! What seems so obvious to me is foolishness to those who are perishing, and I  just want them to see the logic and seamlessness of God’s methods as it relates to soteriology.
And I rail against racism largely because young, progressive black folk take the hypocrisy,evils, and mistreatment of our national history — and present — and cast Christianity out with the dirty bathwater. They assume — erroneously — that the White Man’s God (born in Africa!) must be bad because His messenger is bad.
We got work to do!

August 6, 2009 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Evangelism, Faith, God, Jesus, Race, Racism, Religion, Salvation | 6 Comments

What Groom Would want His Bride Insecure?

I’ve been having a discussion with a friend who was wondering about how we can know God will not spurn us. Or HAS not.

It is a feeling I have struggled with before myself, and as I was praying, the thought came to me: What kind of God would establish marriage as an unbreakable covenant and yet be so quick — according to many Pentecostals and so many others — to throw us (His BRIDE) over if we transgress against Him?

Throughout my time as a Christian, I have heard and read that the Body is the Bride of Christ. The analogy is clear and unmistakable. And while there are so many legalistic (possibly well-meaning) Christians who claim to believe that divorce is a sin that God hates, they would characterize Him as being so capricious as to divorce Himself from those he has grafted into a marriage of sorts.

This is really irritating to me! I have heard it so often said by these people that if you commit (not exhibit a lifestyle of) a certain BIG sin, “you GOTS to go to Hell!!!”

I mean, God is the author of LOGIC, and that is what I am applying here, according to the things He has shown in His Word.

He even made a prophet go out and marry, and not divorce, a harlot — a whore — a FREAK, to use the current vernacular, to mirror His relationship with Abraham’s seed. Basically us. What He was saying was, in essence, “You will repeatedly cheat on me (sin), but I will not leave you because I will not have it said that I break promises!”

 And Salvation is a PROMISE that is effective at that MOMENT, not once you die! 

Now, a Christian will not live a life that is characterized by sin, simply because a real Christian is a fruit-bearing entity. But the fruit will, from time to time, be infested with worms. Real Christians are being tended — watered — by God, and will therefore grow.

And just as I will not leave my wife, God will not leave those He has saved.

I used to wonder if she really loved me. I wondered about the possibility of her birthing children with me and then eventually taking them. The thought made me shudder. I don’t anymore. But just because I have her trust and assurance doesn’t mean that I treat her shabbily, or cheat on her, or neglect to esteem and value her! No license to sin!

And God, so much more perfect at relationships than we, would not have His bride walking around the house scared and trembling at the possibility that He might come home one day and say, for WHATEVER reason, “It’s over.”

This I say with confidence.

July 7, 2009 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Eternal Security, Faith, False Doctrine, False Teachers, God, Good Works, Legalism, Marriage, Relationships, Religion | 5 Comments

“Oh, How I Love Jesus…”

“…because He first loved me?”

Well, that’s how the song goes, but I was asking myself why I love Him, and I don’t think that that was why.

I’ve never seen Him face to face. I’ve never heard His voice.

Why do we love anyone? Because of how they look? For their personality? Are they cute or fine, strong or confident, vulnerable or expressive, smart or cool?

I think I loved my parents for the same reasons my kids love me: because I am there to provide them the attention and care and affection and provision and correction and comfort they need. I am there every day, unchanging, no matter what. My parents did the hard things without giving up, and would still readily die for me. Check one for Jesus!

I loved my wife because I saw her heart and her coolness, and I wanted to just be around her all the time. Check two.

I loved my children because they share my particular nature. Check three for the Lord.

I loved my uncles because they were so cool! They knew the right things to say at the right times. They were capable and competent and had muscles. Girls liked them. Check four! (Look at how many women there are in the church…)

I loved my friends — the REAL few — because they were down for me. No matter what I did, they would not abandon me. They put up with my immaturity and selfishness, and corrected it. Check five.

I became a Michael Jordan fan because he was flawless at what he did. He was singularly focused and mastered his occupation. Likewise, my admiration for certain musicians and public figures usually stems from the same root. Six.

I love my family because, to them, I am special. To them, I am who I think I am, that person the world ignores. They listen to me, they ask my advice, and they let me flourish. That’s a round, complete seven for Jesus.

Jesus is all of that and more.  I don’t care about how cute He is. He provides for me — even though I selfishly take the credit, He is never too busy to listen to me vent, and He died — DIED — for me!

Who cannot, upon seeing the heart of Jesus, come to love Him? He is selfless, giving, and attentive.

He was completely God, but completely man as well. He is in me, and I am in Him.

You can say what you want, but there is no Rat Packer, Bruce Lee, or Nat King Cole cooler than Jesus! Never rattled, quick-witted, and never at a loss for word or action. When His enemies tried to corner Him with sly words, He wriggled out with Truth. When they tried to stone Him, He simply slipped away. When Lazarus was dying, He did not panic or even skip a beat. And though He sweated, He didn’t let ’em see it. I just want to hang around Him.

He is a true friend, telling us when we’re wrong, but telling us how to fix it. He doesn’t water down a Truth to spare our feelings, but He will go through a wall for us. He gives loyalty and expects it.

He came to Earth for a singular reason. He had the hardest job in existence and finished it with NO help from any of us! The whole plan was executed with more synchronicity than all the 007, Indiana Jones and Danny Ocean plots put together and exponentially multiplied. Every contingency was accounted for with not a single hitch! SMOOTH!

We are the crown jewel of God’s work, and are worth — to Him —  all the pain and torment of a task such as this, yet it was done without hesitation before we even came to be. And awaiting us on the other side of this vaporous life is an eternity in which we will blossom to full gloriousness forever.

Who cannot love someONE who embodies every positive attribute such as this?

THAT’S why I love Jesus.

May 18, 2009 Posted by | Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, God, Jesus, Love | 12 Comments

New Adage

Life is just a bad neighborhood I have to go through to get home.

March 17, 2009 Posted by | Adage, Advice, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, God, Jesus, Wisdom, Words, Words of Wisdom | 9 Comments

I built it — where ARE they?

I haven’t stopped writing. I am just busy. And a little frustrated.

I’m raising two kids, trying to start a band — this blog got me (thankfully) fired from the other one — learning what it takes to master my horn (thanks, Kirk!), and trying to be fully worthy of the gifts I’ve been given. I’m playing in a jazz band that works once a month but takes a lot of my time, I just finished a demo, and I’m attempting to be worthy of the great wife I have who lets me do all I have to do to get what I need out of life.

I am frustrated because most of the people who used to visit my little hole here in cyber-space have stopped coming by after the first week in November. Hmmm. But I have not changed… My moral stances are just as conservative as they always were. And my views on those with less-than are just as NOT conservative. I am just as biblically conservative as I ever have been, and my opinions on Christian fellowship among ALL Christians are just as liberal, if you will. Yet, for some reason, I don’t have the company I used to have.

I don’t have but two or three friends — despite what facebook says — and I don’t see them much. Life gets in the way. I am not a social butterfly like my wife. I don’t get asked to hang out a lot. So this blog, in addition to being a journal of sorts, and a way to hone writing skills, is a way for an extreme introvert like me to interact in a non-intimidating fashion with people of like and UNlike mind.

But after the abomination, I don’t get a lot of visitors. The weather must not be as fair as it was on the third of November.

I still have a lot to say, and I will say it. I love writing this blog!  However, I also have a lot of things to get done, and I want to do proper justice to them all. Thank you who do for continuing to share your valuable time here with me. Please continue to do so.

February 20, 2009 Posted by | Christianity, Conservatives, Elections, False Teachers, Frustration, God, Liberals, Life, Obama, Words, Writing | 13 Comments

How I Learned the Bible

“How you gone just sit there and let all them people in front of you? I got somewhere to be! D&%n Good Samaritan! If you ain’t gone drive it, park it!” exclaimed my father, stuck in traffic behind a courteous slow driver.

“Ohhh.” I thought, putting two and two together… “A ‘good Samaritan’ is someone who helps someone else for no apparent reason.” My parents used to use that one a lot.

“G@d! Je$us! Man, PASS the ball! Quit being so d&%n selfish!!” Shouted my father at Andrew Toney, who played for the Sixers back in the day.

“Ohhh!” I realized, “Jesus is God in the flesh, and He committed the most unselfish act of all. I get it now.”

“If I come in this house and these dishes ain’t washed, It’s gone be Armageddon up in here when I get back!” Said my mother upon reaching the end of the rope.

“Ohhh! Armageddon is the battle that occurs at the end of the world!” I discovered after a few times of failing to meet a deadline due to procrastination…

“I don’t know why you askin’ ME for no money! I’m poor as Job’s turkey!”

“Ohhh!” I gathered. “Job was a man, like Daddy, who had had a lot of kids, and was incredibly poor at some point. And if HE didn’t have nothing, you KNOW his turkey was broke! Sorry for asking, Dad.”

Great teachers I had.

(How I learned Civics) “Bring less than a ‘B’ in here if you want to! It’s gone take a act of Congress to pull me off you!!”

(How I learned what color rice was)“Boy! If you don’t turn off that TV and do your homework, I’mma be on you like white on rice!!”

January 14, 2009 Posted by | Bible, Childhood, Children, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Family, God, Humor, Life, Life Lessons, Parenthood, Parenting | 2 Comments

Merry Christmas

No profound or erudite or smartly worded phrase can embrace the so seemingly mundane birth of a poor baby to poor parents so many incalculable days ago.

No gift given to child or friend can equal the present wrapped in human flesh and blood.

No act of kindness one to another is as sublime as that of a willing shameful death on a tree that others might live.

No forgiveness of great transgressions says as much as one man’s act of substitution.

But to try is to admit that we know, in some small way, that this day, this time, is much more than we are able to signify.

Thanks, Jesus. I love You so much, but if I loved You with every ounce of my being, it would not be enough to exchange for the gift of kindness, forgiveness, and love You showed us all with one excruciating, blessed act.

December 25, 2008 Posted by | Christ, Christianity, Christmas, Faith, God, Jesus | 4 Comments

A Wolf Calling a Pit Bull Canine!

Phil, at Theology Today, put up this post. I am reminded of him predicting that Jesus Himself would be appearing on the platform with him, that by a certain year all homosexuals would be destroyed with fire, and that the dead would be raised by placing them in front of televisions on which he was preaching.

In response to criticisms, he said the following: (watch the video)

(It was right after this clip ended that Hinn said that he wished God would give him a “Holy Ghost machine gun” with which to shoot ’em all down. Hence the picture on Phil’s site…)

This dude, the PRIMARY source of skulduggery on Reverend television (I won’t call it “Christian”), has the raisins to say of Todd Bentley and others, that “signs and wonders do not prove what is being preached is truth.” !!! He is the ringleader of a fake circus of false healings and slayings in the Spirit,

and he is telling his entranced followers to watch for false moves of God, calling those who fall for this stuff, “simple-minded!” Wow. Can’t believe it!  What follows is part two of a six-part YouTube clip that I found at the aforementioned Theology Today. The hypocrisy and gangster-, pimp-type boldness just floored me…

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and whether you translate that “fear” to be supreme reverence or outright dread, Benny Hinn — on the strength of his own actions — has neither version!

December 3, 2008 Posted by | Benny Hinn, Charlatans, Christ, Christianity, Faith Healer, False Prophets, False Teachers, God, Hypocrisy, Pulpit Pimps, Rant, Religion, Televangelists, Todd Bentley, Word of Faith | 18 Comments

Ingreat?

I want to be great.

I struggle with this. I know that God says that He will give His glory to no man. I ask myself constantly if the reason I have not yet achieved my goals is that I want to be glorified in some way. Maybe God knows (I want to say, “Maybe God THINKS,” but I know He doesn’t wonder) that I would not be as humble as I need to be if He allows me to do the same things as those as whom I know I am at least as good. (prepositions! whew!)

Or maybe I simply have not worked hard enough.

I play music and I write words. I often think, when I see humorists and columnists and hear certain saxophone players, “I KNOW I can do this! I’m at LEAST that good! Why can’t I get a break?” I know I’m kind of good, but I want to be great. And not obscure. And I begin again to wonder if what is blocking me is simply my thought process.

Maybe my thinking has to change… Maybe I have to think more about what greatness will mean for God than what it will do for me.

From day one I have been Charlie Brown. I was the insignificant kid, the ridiculed kid, the unremembered kid. I was the one who the girls looked at from the edges of their eyes. I was the one who either ate alone at lunch or went and found others with whom to eat.

I was never at the center of the action, always at the outer ring. Never the life of the party.

When I started to play music, it wasn’t to get girls or to be cool. I just wanted to learn how to play an instrument — something no one in my neighborhood did. All through school, the fact that I could hear a tune and reproduce it and improvise a little bit did nothing to initiate me into that cool musical circle.

When I grew up and began doing it for a living, my mother, who worked at my high school, would ask me to come back and play for assemblies. My own band director (with whom I rode to school EVERY DAY for three years!!!) was shocked when he heard me, remarking to my mother, “I had no idea Derrick could play like that! When did this happen?”

He had not bothered to notice or nurture my talent. He never pushed me. While the cool kids were taking theory classes and playing in the jazz band, I was at home picking out Grover Washington and Spyro Gyra solos. Teaching myself.

When I was in the eighth grade and on the verge of academic mediocrity as a student in the first Optional School class in Memphis, my English teacher brought a knarry tree stump into the classroom and asked us to write a story based on what we saw. I, thinking myself a failure at English, got the highest grade in the class. In me was born the love for words I now have. I changed at that moment. And a lot of the arrogant kids in the class looked at me differently — although being good at English doesn’t make you cool.

Writing didn’t become cool for me until I began getting paid to write love letters for guys — something I was scared to do for myself for a long time.

This very blog is all about me trying to be great. It is more than a geek with a computer corrupting journalism. It is me trying to not just rant, but to make literature. I want to leave my children with something that shows them that their father did not just consume resources, but that he THOUGHT. I want to not get to God’s throne and have Him disappointed because I left unused some gift He gave to me.

I want to MATTER — to be necessary. I want to be great in His eyes AND send my kids to college. Can’t you do both? There is the rub… That which makes ascent uncertain…

Being so consistently rejected bred in me this thing, this need, to prove them all wrong. To prove to — whomever — that I was worthy of note. Not of exaltation, but just valuable enough to be heard, to be listened to. It is the same drive, I think, that led Michael Jordan to prove wrong the coach who cut him when he was a kid. The same drive that made my father put cement and a pole into buckets to make his own barbells back in the fifties when kids laughed at him and called him scrawny.

I hate being treated as “less-than.” HATE it! I am the first one to esteem my neighbor as greater than myself, as long as my neighbor doesn’t presume to assume that position! I’ll get in the back seat as long as you don’t insist that I belong there. It is for this reason that arrogance is one of the things I hate most in the world.

 I want to show all those who belittled me and dismissed my contributions that they are what is wrong with the world. (But it doesn’t consume me as much as it may sound)

Maybe in a twisted way, though, that is revenge… I don’t know. I mean, I don’t have a desire to hurt anyone, or to repay in like fashion, so maybe it’s not vengeance. But maybe my thinking is wrong. Maybe I need to focus more on how GOD would be proved worthy of note if these things happened for me the way I want them to… I know I am not arrogant — I am PROUD of how humble I am! I make way too many mistakes to have an exaggerated idea of myself.

God, however, sees things in a different way than do I. Maybe my thinking is out of synch with His. Maybe if I can figure out how greatness and fame intersect, that last door will open.

Or maybe it is just not time yet.

I know He has not closed the door though, because I have continually been able to support myself, and because step by agonizing step, I have done a little bit better. I have worked with some pretty big acts and have played as though I belonged there.

We all live and eat by having people give us money to do something we are good at doing. Our gifts make our way for us. That is all I want. No Bentley, no floor length mink, no gaudy jewels. No breathless fans or VIP status.

Just ample recompense for art rendered. Commensurate compensation.

Lord, I don’t want Your spot or your shine. And if I don’t speak up enough, it is of shyness, not of usurpation. Create in me that right way of thinking, and even closer fellowship with You.

I’m not so haughty, reader, as to think that my life is so compelling that you just HAVE to know about it. I just hope the words are interesting enough to keep you reading them.

November 26, 2008 Posted by | Arrogance, Artistry, Christian Life, Christianity, Fame, Food for Thought, Glory, God, Greatness, Humility, Life, Music, Saxophone, Words, Work, Writing | 9 Comments

What’s Been on My Mind

I haven’t written anything here in a couple of weeks for a few reasons. (I thank you kind people for continuing to stop by in the meantime)

Some of the things I have posted in the past have had a slightly negative financial impact on me. No sweat. Christians are made of rubber, and rubber bounces rather than breaks.

The last few posts were getting kind of serious in light of the pending election, and I kind of had to breathe a little bit. There is a lot at stake here, and history is on the verge of happening, one way or the other. Some people hold tightly to their old ways of being.

At the risk of being mis-labeled, I wanted to talk about other tings than race for a minute, but all I saw in the news and around me — this crazy (or drunk, or both) white dude outside of Kroger said to me, “Ni@@er! F**K you, man!!”  I got kids to raise, so rather than kill this defenseless bigot, I called my wife, who told me to just go on into the store. — so I had nothing to write. Someone I know has already called this “An Angry Black Man Blog.” Yes, I am sometimes angry, and ALWAYS black, but I don’t fit the criteria for that tag. So I backed off for a moment.

Also, we went through a series at my church in which the pastors (we have three) took a poll of our most pressing issues and boiled them down to the “Big Ten.” Some of the topics were, God and politics, marriage, the end-times (I diverge on this one in a non-essential sense), and the top two, homosexuality and predestination.

I have my views on the whole Gay Rights issue which I have rarely expressed not wanting to be written off as a hater. I do think they (as an organization) play on this feeling and thereby further empower themselves and shut down debate. I am dead set against gay marriage, and I do not think one is born gay.

But I do not hate them. After the sermon on the subject, I began to think about how my “No Wiggle-Room” stance on gayness looked from the outside, and how I could be effective standing for capital “T” Truth while displaying appropriate compassion without seeming to give the “thumbs up” to the lifestyle. Complicated.

Christians — Evangelicals in particular — have lately been more apt to point the finger than to lend a hand. We are quick to point out errors in doctrine and separate ourselves from “The World” believing it to be a place not to be reached but to be repelled.

We, in our self-righteousness devoid of compassion, have given the non-Christian every reason to keep doing what he is doing while claiming to desire to make more Christians.

We picket and protest and put out warning notices for certain movies with unwholesome content. We keep our children from the slightest chance of interacting with “those” kids. We show not the least measure of the Godly love we claim emanates from Him. Why would a gay person want to come to us for advice on changing?

This blog has been a way for me to shout through what I see as maddening, increasing Godlessness in our society. I have been able to state my position unwaveringly and back it up with Scripture and common sense, the two being not mutually exclusive.

I have railed against crooked preachers, racists, lenient parents, atheists, black miscreants (more to come. Pacman Jones, grab your playbook and come to the office.), rappers, and stupid drivers. But I don’t want to come across as just another fundamentalist Christian close-minded fool. Unjustifiably. Truth without love is a bunch of baking pans falling out of a helicopter onto your driveway at 5 AM.

I have love, and don’t want that to be lost in all my diatribes. I think righteous anger and love can co-exist. Ask my boy, Max. The main reason I do this is that I hate to see people deceived. From withIN or withOUT.

But pastor Loritts’ sermon on how Christians deal with the gay issue — along with conversations with my friend and fellow church member, Kirk Whalum — made me think about how to be truthful yet winsome. It is easy to do face-to-face, harder to do on a computer.

I went to vote Thursday. At a white Church with nothing but pictures of stiff looking white folks on the walls. Not diverse in the least. I stood in line for exactly two-and-a-half hours! And I later found out that that was peanuts compared to other places.

What struck me was that the hundreds of people in that serpentine collective were engaged in dozens of conversations. The area was largely white and overwhelmingly conservative, but there were all races of Americans there. I’m sure assumptions were made as to who was voting for whom, but there was an air of joviality there. People who, moments before, had never seen each other were all of a sudden laughing and sharing life together in the midst of the most potentially explosive event in any of our lives. Events which could potentially put us all at poles even further apart than before. And there was civility, kindness, and even affinity.

Old white ladies who first voted in the fifties were engaged with black men who probably only ever voted once. There were, in those hours, no conservatives or liberals, but Americans. While the principals and their surrogates fought on like stray dogs over a bag of garbage.

I’m not a “flag pinon the lapel” guy. You won’t see a flag waving on my house. I don’t tear up during the National Anthem. Unless the singer is really great, or really bad (Carl Lewis). But as I wound my way through that maze, I was proud of that group of people. I was proud to be American. NotthatI’veneverbeenproudbefore!!!

American people can get along in spite of deeply held differences. I saw that. And, as a Christian, I try to show on this weblog that while I disagree with a whole lot of what I see and hear, I can do so without being hateful. I can state my case or cast my vote and still love my neighbor.

So, yeah, I’ll still rant, and still shout, “WOLF!” when I see one. I’ll still state my position on issues like race and abortion and Affirmative Action and crime and the rest.

But if I don’t love you, I’m wasting my time, and time is like buffalo nickels: There ain’t no more!

November 3, 2008 Posted by | Barack Obama, Christ, Christian Life, Elections, Evangelism, False Teachers, Food for Thought, Gay Rights, God, John McCain, McCain, Obama, Politics, Voting | 5 Comments

Caught Between Iraq and a Hard Place…

Just as I began to berate the Republicans for “enabling” racism, the word came that noted militant, arrogant atheist, Christopher Hitchens has endorsed Obama, ridiculing Palin for her Christianity!

I’ve always said that I can’t fully embrace the GOP because they give “aid and comfort” to racists. And Hitchens’ endorsement reminds me that the Democrats also provide God-haters a soft spot to land.

I have many, many problems with Palin, but her professed faith is not one.

October 14, 2008 Posted by | Atheism, Barack Obama, Christianity, Christopher Hitchens, Conservatism, Conservatives, Current Events, Democrats, Elections, God, John McCain, Politicians, Politics, Republicans, Sarah Palin | 3 Comments

Supersized Jesus

Can somebody please explain to me what is up with the whole “One church in three locations” thing?? Is it just a black mega-church phenomenon? There are a number of these in my city.

It is just about the most irritating thing to see preachers like Michael Freeman , Bishop Paul Morton, and Brandon Porter (here in my town) advertise all their locations like they are opening Wal-Marts or McDonalds’. What, the Lord can’t call another preacher? Is the force of your personality so strong, are you just so popular that people won’t come unless YOU are there preaching? Can God not Get His Word preached unless YOU are the one doing it? We let these dudes get away with anything!

I have friends who play at these franchises, and they tell me how the pastor has to preach the nine o’clock service at one church, leave before the benediction to make the ten thirty at site two just in time to preach the sermon, and rush back to the first for a noon service, and finally preach a six o’clock at the third! Morton said that he takes a helicopter or a plane from one place in Georgia to New Orleans every Sunday.

How can you be any good to any flock at that rate? Let somebody else preach! Christianity looks like just another business when it is done like this. It looks like you are just collecting three paychecks.

One church here has one location that is in the middle of a community that is falling apart and rife with crime. Isn’t there enough work to do there without having to make a giant triangle across the county to “help” those in the outlying areas?

One might think that it is because you have to maintain your nearly million-dollar estate, with your five figure home theater and sound system, and I wouldn’t want anyone to think you were pimping the Gospel. I wouldn’t want anyone to think that because you are going so far as to suggest that people pawn their jewelry and such, you are struggling to maintain a lifestyle and that this is why you keep opening up new franchises. (You know who you are. I know, because I know the guys who installed your system, and I know what they think of Christ as a result of seeing how you live versus how your church communities live.)

Memphis, where I live, is a town with nearly one church per person! It makes me sick to see churches, often of the same denomination, within a rock’s throw of each other. Some of these preachers could shut down and work at one of the franchises. But nooooo! Everybody has got to be the HPIC! Just greed masquerading as shepherding. Even Jesus delegated! My goodness!

Why do we put up with stuff in God’s name that we wouldn’t let a cop or a congressman do if he were in our own family?!?

September 16, 2008 Posted by | Bishop Paul S. Morton, Brandon B. Porter, Christ, Christianity, Church Life, False Doctrine, False Teachers, God, Hypocrisy, Michael Freeman, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Rant, Word Network, Word of Faith | 11 Comments

…On the Other Hand…

“Sarah Palin doesn’t reflect the views of most women! She is not in favor of abortions even in the case of rape or incest!” (Most Democrats on many cable news shows)

I ask, “How is this a bad thing?” These women act as though it is traitorous to womanhood to not believe in killing a baby! Let me ax you this: “If YOU  were in the womb as a result of a rape or incestuous act, would YOU want someone to stab you in the back of your skull and suck your brains out?  Or would you want to live?” (Hospitals are so full, doctors are so rich, because people — fetuses, too — want to LIVE! That is the default position.)

Wouldn’t YOU, as the viable fetus, want the CHOICE(!) to decide for yourself?”
Pregnancy may be about the woman, but abortion is about the baby. It is about the BABY.

I know it may look as though I’m contradicting myself, but I’m not. I’m with Palin on this one. If we were picking a President based on the issue of abortion solely, I would surely side with her.

Democrats don’t endear me with this kind of argument. Neither do they when they say, as they so often do, that, “She has some awfully extreme views, like Creationism…”

Whoaaa! Hold it! It is far more plausible — and provable — that somebody created something, than to say that something created itSELF! 

They kill me acting as though their extreme, radical views on life and God are shared by everyone — at least everyone rational.

Once again, if we were choosing Presidents based on how the world was made, I would be a Republican. But to choose that party would be like trying to eat ice cream after it had been dropped in a sandbox!

September 11, 2008 Posted by | Abortion, Christianity, Conservatives, Creationism, Democrats, evolution, God, Liberals, Politicians, Politics, Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, Religion, Religious Right, Republicans, Sarah Palin | 67 Comments

Man of Steal

Kenneth Copeland,

Creflo Dollar,

Mike Murdock,

Benny Hinn:

Used to be that thieves wore masks and did their dirt in the dark. Nowadays, they do it in shiny suits, and on satellite teevee before God and millions!

I had tears of laughter in my left eye, and tears of sadness in my right watching this clip…

“Seeds” are not dollars, folks. “Seeds” are DEEDS. Don’t try to buy God.

Don’t let these guys with their “Aw, shucks,” cracker barrel twang, or their Philly cream cheese voices lie to you AND steal from you! You may not be able to stop one, but you can certainly stop them from doing both!

Steve Munsey:

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Benny Hinn, Charlatans, Christ, Christian Life, Christianity, Creflo Dollar, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, God, Jesus, Kenneth Copeland, Mike Murdock, Pulpit Pimps, Religion, Steve Munsey, TBN, Televangelists, Word of Faith | 8 Comments

Forgive Us Our Trusspasses…

Kathy had to sing at a wedding this past weekend.

At the rehearsal Friday, the bride-to-be informed her that the woman who was to sing The Lord’s Prayer ghosted her, and she — right then — begged Kathy to sing it.

Having grown up COGIC, she said that they never “sang” the song, that they only recited it in prose form (Amelodically, if you will). She came home and told me this, and my heart went out to her. I HATE doing weddings! I have played a bunch of them, and have seen my share of calamitous mishaps.

Like the time I did a wedding with my best friend, Kevin, who sings

The building had three walls of brick and a fourth one of glass. Thirty feet high and probably a hundred feet long. Of course the wedding party would make use of that wonderful view of nature as a backdrop. They were all set up in front of the window.

Everything went smoothly right up until the preacher began doing the vows.

There were, on this late spring day, trees right outside full of birds chirping and singing. Something must have startled them.

In one synchronous move — you know how birds do — they all took flight. It was at a very quiet and solemn point in the service (maybe somebody was praying…).

At the very moment when they would have slammed into the window, all the birds veered right.

All but one.

Now, Kevin and I should have been deep in prayer, I’m sure, but we weren’t.

One near-sighted bird missed his turn and hit that window like an open hand —SPLAPPA! — and, just like a cartoon, slid down about twenty feet to the ground. It was very quiet in there.

My boy and I were THROUGH! He sniggled and tried to catch it but didn’t. I think some snot came out a little bit. I held my breath and started praying myself like somebody had sprinkled some anthrax in the room. People started looking at us. Glaring at us. “Silly musicians.”

In order to play it off, at times like these I always start fiddling with my mouthpiece, or my reed, or something to distract me from all the laughter that is dammed up inside my mouth. It was cool in there, but I was sweating and thinking that if I closed my eyes no one could see me.

There was another time where this arrogant lady singer who thought she knew it all and didn’t bother to show up for the wedding rehearsal, and she waved off any pre-ceremony run-through with the piano player. As a matter of fact, she said haughtily that she would be doing the tune a capello. When it all got going, she got lost, and with her hand at her side, waved for the piano player to start playing. He flipped through the wedding program, and acted like he didn’t even see her!
When she got through dropping that stinkbomb, you could have heard folks thinking up in there it was so quiet!

So, back to Kathy…

I had a gig and couldn’t be there as intended, but I couldn’t stand the thought of my girl up there laying eggs and getting laughed at. So we spent hours trying to get that melody ingrained in her head. I found some clips of people on YouTube singing it. Some were good, some were… not. But we found two that were good enough to give her the gist.

She sang it, and sang it, and sang it. And Max started to pick it up, too. Kathy kept running through it after I left for my Friday night gig, but by the time I got home at about 2 AM, she groggily told me that the melody just didn’t sink in. I sang it with her, and she did fine, but when left on her own, she was sort of all over the place.

I was feeling bad, but I told her that since I had prayed for her, she would do fine. The Lord didn’t want her to be up there messing up the song He wrote!

I had an idea! I would write the words on paper, and put lines above each syllable to indicate whether to go up or down, or to stay on the same note as the one before. Like such:

We tried that for a while, but as she doesn’t read music, and the lines above the words didn’t tell her what notes to sing, it didn’t work. And she was now falling asleep.

I had one final epiphany: I went into the living room and got my old micro-cassette recorder (which I still use to write horn lines), re-wound the tape to the beginning, and sang the song in a key in which I thought she would be comfortable. I went and woke her up and gave her my plan knowing she wouldn’t go for it. It was too risky.

The wedding started. Kathy was in the back left side of the room by the DJ table. When her turn to sing came, she took her ipod earphones, stuck one in her left ear under her hair, away from the crowd (She could do this because their backs were turned until she got going.), she ran the cord down the side of her dress somehow, and plugged it into the mini recorder which she held behind her back, looking all formal and stuff! She pushed play.

“Baby! We sang that song!!” she told me on the phone afterward.

“We? Who else sang it wit you?”

“YOU!! I said ‘we’! I hit that button, and we rocked it! You got a little ahead o’ me at one part, but I just waited till you paused, and I caught up wit ya!”

She was so happy. And so was I. I couldn’t let my baby fall.

Yeah, she cheated. WE cheated, but I can’t help but think that the Lord was leaning on the windowsill chuckling at His kids.

September 3, 2008 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Embarrassing Situations, God, Humor, Life, Marriage, Music, Singing, The Lord's Prayer, Wedding Songs, Weddings, YouTube | , , , , | 6 Comments

This’ll Be Funny in a Few Years

I’ve been quite busy since Diana got here. (When she starts doing stuff, I’ll be writing about it. She’s just lying there being cute right now.) I haven’t had the freedom to write a frequently as before.

I want to tell you about what has been going on musically lately. Aside from the fact that I have NO movement on my record and starting my band.

I’ve been playing in a band called KW’EST, headed by bassist, Charles Johnson, which plays jazz (fusion) with a Christian focus. This is a different group than the one I gripe about.

We played a gig this past Sunday night that we do at the same place on the third Sunday of every month. The last date was interesting because of everything that went on surrounding it.

When Diana was born, I pretty much did all the nighttime stuff (and much of the daytime stuff, too) because Kathy was recovering from a c-section. Being a night owl made it a little bit easier until the weekends came and I had to work. Most of my work starts on Fridays, but occasionally there is work during the week, too. Plus, there are always some rehearsals and sessions that come up… Sunday mornings were especially rough because I play in the band there, and we have to be there at 8 AM and play both services. We are usually through at about 12:30. I got NO sleep on Saturday nights (not one minute!) because Diana required a lot through the night. She was not happy with being out of the womb! And the foreclosure crisis and astronomical gas prices had her so upset that she could not sleep.

I dealt with this arrangement knowing it would be only a few months before she began to sleep through the night. So on Sundays, I would usually get three or four hours when we all went to my parents’ house for dinner.

When Kathy was set to return to work, however, her shift was changed (this is one of the many dastardly aspects to her job!) yet again. Now, she has to get up at 4:45 AM(!), and so she has to go to bed soon after we really get rolling with family stuff at the house. Our agreement with taking care of Max was that she would do the nighttime stuff, and I would do all the daytime stuff.

Being a person who has always — since childhood — stayed up past two or three in the morning, I had to try to adjust. I have failed. I routinely stay up till past 4 AM against my own will. Obviously, though, my work schedule makes it logical that I watch Max during the day.

“What does this all have to do with music?” you ask. Bear with me.

I quietly made the decision that I would put Max to bed when the time came (he sleeps later than the norm so that I can.), and that I would care for Diana too so that Kathy could get some sleep. She routinely gets about four or five hours.

So, that being the case, I get two or three hours a night on average.

About four months ago, Kw’est booked a recurring gig, and I received three or four cd’s full of music, 95% of which I had to lead. Max won’t let me practice. He tries to climb into my lap every time I pull my horn out, and he pushes and pulls on the keys (and scrunches me in the scrotum, dads) to the point that I can’t get anything done. So when can I learn this catalog of tunes that I have never heard before?

So, to the present. Last weekend ( August 15-16) my family had a reunion in Nashville three hours away.

When my folks — and wife — asked me about going, I said that I would go if I didn’t have a gig. I don’t miss work. I got that from my parents. The band, A-440, in which I regularly (seldomly, lately) play usually has a lot of weddings and private functions this time of the year, and I wanted to be sure that I wouldn’t miss one.

As time passed, though, I thought about all the family functions I had missed over the years, and how many of my beloved relatives I had not seen in so many years, and I decided that we would go. I wanted them all to meet my kids, too. I would just have to miss whatever gig came up. So I thought…

Actually, what happened was that three weeks ago someone called me about doing a job, and I said, “I don’t know. I heard we are workin’ that night. Let me call you back in an hour to see if we are.”

I found out that I couldn’t reach the boss because he was on vacation with his family.

When Kathy heard THAT, she flew off the tracks while she was chopping onions; “Awww, so HE gits to go on a vacation with HIS family while his band is sittin’ at the house, huh?!? Y’all ain’t hardly worked all summer, and he’s been constantly workin’ wit everybody! (that was true) You sittin’ around here talkin’ about you not gonna go see your family that you ain’t seen in years, and you gittin’ ready to turn down some work bein’ laid in yo’ lap cause you got integrity! ‘Cause you tryin’ to keep yo’ word!”

“Well, I jus…”

“You betta call him back and tell him you’ll do that gig!!” And that was that on that!

My bandleader is what we black folk call, “triflin’ ” when it comes to handling the business. A-440, I mean. We would routinely not find out about a gig until the day before. And that was if WE called to inquire! Not to mention allll the other stuff that frustrates the “goodness” out of me.

So I decided then to go to Nashville on Friday and return Sunday, the 17th, to make church. I knew I would be tired, but by now, I was used to it. I could get a couple of hours Sunday afternoon before my Sunday night gig with Kw’est. Or so I thought…

Thursday, Kathy and I realized that due to some “financial mishaps” we were waaay short on some bills that were due to be removed from our account on Friday, the 15th.

“I can’t go to the reunion, ” I told Kathy. She refused to go without me. Okay, so now, we aren’t going. I would not get to see cousins I played with as a child. I would not get to see the uncles and aunts who love me so much and whom I love so much in return. This was my knee jerk reaction. After a couple of minutes of thinking, I called the bandleader. Now, by this time I had already told him that I would not be able to do the Saturday night date.

“Hey, John, this is Derrick. You find anybody to sub for me Saturday yet?” I asked.

“Naw. I got some possibilities, but they ain’t called me back yet.”

“Well, call ’em back. I can’t afford to miss Saturday, so I ain’t goin’ to the reunion.” Now, here, I expected a sympathetic reaction something like, “You ain’t goin?!? Aw, man, I hate to hear that. Thass my bad! I know we ain’t been workin’ that much, but I’m gonna do better…”

What I got was: “Aw. Thass cool! I had called Alan, but he didn’t answer the phone. I’ll call him back and tell him ‘thass okay’.” No regret at all in his voice.

“What time does it start,” I asked.

“8:30 at the Germantown Country Club.”

“Cool. I’ll see you then.” I hung up.

When I told Kathy how the conversation went, she made the “Sister Mouth” and said, “Um” skeptically in the back of her throat and left it at that. (Ask your black friend.)

Upon further thought, and council with the Holy Spirit, I decided we would go to the reunion and just leave at about 4:30 in the afternoon. Which was right when everything was getting going good, it turns out.

I made arrangements to get some money till the weekend was over.

So, I was up all night Thursday night to make sure Diana got fed at about four, which I do every night, and Kathy went to work Friday morning. I got about two or three hours of sleep before Max woke up, and when Kathy got home, we packed and left.

I drove through the rain (I got sleepy about thirty minutes in), and we arrived at about ten. We fellowshipped with family, checked into the hotel, and I got to sleep sometime after 1 AM. I thought I would finally get eight hours of sleep. I thought…

Diana, used to that 4 or so AM feeding woke up angrily at five griping about all the negative campaign ads airing on TV. She, being so dependent on outside help, is a Democrat right now.

So after getting four hours of sleep, I wasn’t able to fall back.

I felt like I was going to have a breakdown. We went to the picnic, and as I said, right when everyone was getting settled in for a day (and night) of fun, I packed up my dejected wife and crying son and drove the three hours back to Memphis to do a gig at a place I hate with a band I don’t enjoy for some money which I shouldn’t need but do.

The gig was over at 12:30 Sunday morning, and I had to go buy diapers afterward because both kids were out of them. I got home at about 1:30, and had to at least listen to the material for church Sunday morning and the gig Sunday night, practically every song of which I had to lead. When did I have time to learn these songs? When did I get to sleep? Well, at least I would get a couple of hours after church, right?

On the way home, I got a text message from Charles, the Kw’est bandleader, stating that since the band wasn’t able to rehearse Saturday (I was excused from that one), we would have to rehearse at 2 o’clock Sunday afternoon! No excuses.

Okay. At least I would be able to come back home and get something to eat and maybe lie down for an hour. So I thought.

The saxophone is the quietest instrument in the band, relying on the vibration of a three inch reed to produce the sound. Everything else is amplified electrically except the drums, which are loud enough by themselves. So, in order to be heard in a group setting, I need a microphone!

When we got to the rehearsal, which was at the venue at which we were playing, there was no sound man, so while everyone else had their own amps, I had to resort to simply blowing harder in order to be heard. The drummer asked me to turn and face him because he still couldn’t hear me.

One keyboard player — we have two in the band — neglected to show up till over two hours later. (When I called him at 3:40 to see whee he was, he was at home asleep!) Two problems; HE was the one who needed the most work, AND the rehearsal was supposed to only last for two freekin’ hours!!! Rehearsing during soundcheck is a professional no-no.

We ended up having to run over everything we had already done when he got there, and it ended up being a four hour rehearsal for a three hour gig!

And I didn’t get to go back home. No food. No sleep. And I haven’t slept for almost five months. And I have already played two church services, and a four hour rehearsal with no microphone. My mouth is SHOT! (imagine squatting for four straight ours…) And I have to be up front entertaining people, playing unfamiliar material confidently and alertly. But “The show must go on.” No excuses.

Oh, yeah, and the person after whom I have patterned my entire professional life is going to be there. And my tank is empty. Here is my chance to have Kirk see me in the environment I claim to be born for, and I have been sapped of all my mental and physical strength. And HE is the one I remember saying that to get that big shot is to be prepared at all times. I wasn’t hoping that he would sign me or anything like that. I just wanted him to know that I was ready. And I wasn’t. And no excuse was sufficient. People spent their money on a product, and they don’t want to hear, “Oh, the food isn’t as good because the cook is sick.”

I couldn’t even remember the horn line to, “What You Won’t Do For Love,” which I’ve been playing for fifteen years! My brain was fried. I felt that I had let myself and the band and the audience down. And the sound man was taping the show! I kept thinking that I surely didn’t want to hear that monstrosity.

Kirk (Whalum) sat in with us and played the paint off the walls! He was great. My parents, sisters, and church members were there in force, and they loved everything. I remember praying to God during one song that He get me through this night because I couldn’t hold myself up. I think He carried me.

The one thing about playing music is that when the audience is caught up in the moment, they can sometimes see the colors but can miss the lines that separate them. Ask Simon Cowell. Listening to a recording can often tell a different story.

The sound man forgot to tape the show! Look at God!

There is no overarching moral here. I just wanted to write about my weekend. But I DO know that God lets adversity occur in order to tone up the muscles. And I don’t mind that. I’m getting pretty strong in my soul bone lately!

August 21, 2008 Posted by | Children, Christian Life, Christianity, God, Humor, Life, Music, Parenthood, Playing Music, Work, Writing | 6 Comments

O’Reilly and Darwin — of Like Mind*

The conservative ideal of self-reliance is, oddly, out of line with the Christian idea of helping those less fortunate and IN line with the evolutionary tenet of the survival of the fittest!

Bill O’Reilly himself said, with derision, that being a liberal means using government programs to “level the playing field.” WHAT’S WRONG WITH THAT?!?  Who doesn’t want a level playing field? And why not?

This is the definition of a paradox.

God said for us to cast our cares on HIM. He said that HE would make straight that which was crooked.

The Israelites out of Egypt received the ultimate affirmative action! They were allowed to pillage the government and take whatever they wanted! For 400 years of oppression and horror they got more than a level playing field. God Himself was their constant defense and provision. He had to MAKE Pharaoh do what he had consistently shown he would never do on his own.

How about this; Jesus, the King of Kings, (Isaiah, 9:6) embodied affirmative action for us all! We who were lost at the starting gate (Adam), and losing the race from that day till Zero A.D. were allowed to catch up because of a Supernatural quota system that took a “Chosen People” and moved them to the front of the line of eternity.

We elect, who are just as wretched as anyone else, will be separated from those who have ephemerally reveled in the wealth of excess and given that which we did not toil to get. All based on the recognition that without a Hand UP  we could never, ever get what we should have had because sin would never of its own will give up its advantage.

This is the thing that makes me part ways with the conservative movement. The other stuff is cool, but a person who claims to be “Evangelical” yet ignores the obvious fact that some people have had the path swept clear for them while other people don’t even have a butter knife to clear the jungle obscuring theirs leaves me skeptical.

Hey, I’m just saying… Since the Religious Right, Evangelicals, seem to be in a three-legged race with the Republican Party… It looks like there is a whole half of the Christian message that has been overlooked.

And don’t blast me with a bunch of racist stuff! I just noticed the fact because I saw it in the actual BIBLE!

 

*No, I am not a liberal.

July 28, 2008 Posted by | Affirmative Action, Bill O'Reilly, Christian Life, Christianity, Civil Rights, Conservatives, God, Hypocrisy, Jesus, Justification, Racism, Republicans, Sean Hannity | 17 Comments

This is Your Soul on “Ignorant”

I got this YouTube clip from my friend, Phil, at http://phillyflash.wordpress.com/

We sin daily, and I know that when I bend my knee tonight I will have to clear from my account all the sinful wishes I had for Todd Bentley when I saw him here kick a stage four colon cancer patient in the colon! People are so desperate and often so ill-informed, and this is how they are treated.

Actually, Bentley is just doing physically what all the hucksters do spiritually.

The Lord takes no pleasure in the fate of the wicked. I ain’t God, and I’m earnestly working on that aspect of myself…

Any questions?

July 4, 2008 Posted by | Charlatans, Christ, Christianity, Creflo Dollar, E. Bernard Jordan, Eddie Long, Faith Healer, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, Florida Healing Outpouring, God, Joel Osteen, John Hagee, Joyce Meyer, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Paul Crouch, Paula White, Praise-a-thon, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Rant, Robert Tilton, Rod Parsley, T.D. Jakes, TBN, Televangelists, Todd Bentley | 14 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

A Porpoise-Driven Life

Are you like me? Do you sometimes find that you live your life like a dolphin, holding your breath the overwhelming percentage of the time waiting for trouble to come?

I have to constantly tell myself that my Faith is the engine that drives me, and that God will see me through whatever disaster awaits me at the surface. I often am not able to enjoy even long periods of peace for holding my breath dreading the next calamity.

“Max might get sick.” “Diana might get bitten by the giant Great Dane that lives next door.” “My parents might die soon.” “Kathy or I may get fired.”

Things could happen. Things will happen. Bad things will happen. The point is that they will happen whether we shy away or stand there.

I am telling myself and you that it is okay to live in the face of the wind. God is able to transport us through what travails may come, and if we spend our time flinching from a blow that may or may not be on the way, we will miss the joys of life; watching kids grow and become independent, seeing parents become grandparents, relying on the Lord for sustenance when men cut you loose. “Fight back,” my daddy used to say, “They gone hit you anyway, whether you flinch or not!”  You might as well get some licks in.

Life is so much more good than bad, even for the most unfortunate of us, when we have an Eternal Point of View that sees through pain and around obstacles. Life is so much more Florida than Seattle.

All is not lost for the Christian even at the point of death. But you only die once. You live forever. Trust God. He is hurt when you don’t. I have to tell myself this from time to time, so I figured I’d tell you, too.

Come up for air.

April 24, 2008 Posted by | Advice, Christian Life, Christianity, Death, Depression, Faith, Family, Fatherhood, Fear, God, Life | 3 Comments

How About Making the BIBLE the Next Book Club Selection?

Oprah is a brilliant woman. This is indisputable. But it is possible for one to out ‘smart’ her own self. I think that this is what has happened here.

I also think that her experiences have led her to adopt a misconception of what true Christianity — which she here clearly rejects — is. For instance, in the video that follows, she says that when she heard a preacher talk about God being jealous, she began to question the Christian faith as it is conventionally practiced.

The point I think she missed there (which can be an indictment of the Church as far as not discipling members once they join) is that God is the only One who CAN be jealous! Jealousy is a sin on our part because we are not flawless! We make mistakes. We are not ALL- anything like He is. How dare we have a worship relationship with any one or thing ahead of Him?!? He is Perfect! The best thing for us, and the best thing to us. And we would cheat on Him with money, or pleasure…?

If there were another God, more than one, who was omni-everything, I daresay God would probably say, “Go ahead. Pick one of us to worship and praise.” But since there is not, He has the right to demand that we “worship” only Him.

Oprah, I think, made the mistake of thinking that the preacher meant that God was insecure. How absurd is that?!? I believe that if one has an understanding of how to reason through and interpret the Scriptures, these kinds of misunderstandings would not happen.

Plus… How about we give the God of the goodness-gracious universe the benefit of the ever-lovin’ doubt!!! Sure, He can stand up to micro-observation, but a true seeker will not be given a rock to eat. He would have given her the knowledge she sought had she asked. Instead, it seems that she gave more praise and credit to her intellect than to what is obvious to the common believer.

A few years ago, it was Gary Zukav, now, it’s Eckhart Tolle.

Watch this disturbing video…

And this one which goes a little deeper…

 

There is still hope for Oprah. She is probably, at the time of this writing, breathing slowly, in and out, in deep slumber. But she needs folk to beseech the Lord on her behalf for her to wake up and for the scales to be removed from her eyes.

The older she has gotten, it seems that she has gotten more and more outlandish belief-wise.

These practices are all touchy-feely-flower child-’68 San Fransisco-New Age-pantheistic-nebulosity. “The Jesus Consciousness”, “What we call ‘God'”. This is publicly shown stuff. She is not running and hiding from these teachings.

Just saying the word, “Jesus” (somebody get Osteen on the phone…) does NOT mean Christianity is being discussed.

“I am a Christian who believes there are many paths…” she says! How does that make sense? “I am a fish that believes that there are many different ways of breathing. I don’t think you have to stay in water.”

Well, you are either a DEAD fish, or NOT a fish! You cannot be a “Christian” and take “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” out of the Bible. Christianity is not a watermelon! You can’t just spit out the seeds.

This bothers me because I think — man-dogging aside — Oprah is a nice person. Funny and charismatic. And without a true saving faith, she is just as lost as any other pagan. And she is a Guru who is leading so many others to ruin. Think of those who have followed her over the years who are no longer living…

April 11, 2008 Posted by | Christ, Christianity, Common Sense, Eckhart Tolle, Faith, False Doctrine, God, Guru, New Age, Oprah, Oprah Winfrey | 9 Comments

Two Bears and a Cub

The Parents were both sleeping soundly when out of the silence, a horrified — and horrifying — cry shot like lightning through the dying darkness. The Mother immediately leapt into action, while the Father lay there not moving, thinking he was dreaming and praying it was not the Baby.

The Mother returned to the bed with the Baby in her arms. The Baby, wide awake now, and smiling, was unconcerned with the fact that the Father had only just two hours ago gone to sleep, and had to get right back up in two more small hours.

The Baby was talking to the Mother in a cute, nineteen-month-old kind of way and the Mother, unaware that the Father could hear it all, whispered back to him in an effort to soothe and drowse him.

“O-Mommee!” he said, as though he just realized she was there.

“Go to sleep, Baby.”

“Ohh Kayyy,” he whispered, resigned. This went on for minutes, as it does when he has a nightmare and the Parents go get him to put him back to sleep.

The Father was desperately trying to hold on to the greasy rope of sleep that slid, ever more rapidly through the fingers of his mind. His head was facing away from the Action and towards the clock, whose ten-foot-tall numbers screeched in neon, “5:38 am.”

“Well,” said the Father to himself, “Almost two hours… That’s a LOT of time left to sleep.” As though he would drop to sleep that very moment. The thing about sleep, though, is that you don’t get to experience all that good time when you are asleep. You go to sleep, and the next second, the alarm goes off. It doesn’t FEEL like eight or ten hours just went by.

In the waning darkness, the Baby realized that the Father was right there. “O-Daddee!” he said, elated.

Something that felt like a little Baby arm smacked the Father on the back of the neck.

“Don’t hit the Daddy, Baby. He has to get up in a little while.” It was a little Baby arm, then.

“Ohh Kayyy.”

They went back to their back-and-forth.

“5:47 AM!”

“I know, “ the Father retorted sharply, on the inside.

Something that felt like little Baby fingers began to wrestle through the tangle that is Sleeping Black Father Hair. “Aaa Da-Dee!”

“Leave your daddy alone, Baby,” said the Mother in a vain effort to forestall the inevitable. “You suuure love your daddy, don’t you?” she whispered rhetorically, as much to the air as to the Baby. The Father heard this and thanked God for giving him stewardship of a son who thought absolutely the world of someone so unworthy as he.

The Father, like the rolling of a tidal wave, at the rising of some leviathan, gave up on sleep and turned over and took in his arms this thirty-five pound wriggling onesie full of all that the Parents hold dear. “Come on, Baby. Time to go to sleep.”

Ohh Kayy!” smiling.

The Father began what was known as “The Kansas City Shake” which no baby could resist.

“Go to sleeping, Baby,” he said, in a lilting,  nonspecific, somewhat French, somewhat German accent.

His eyes soon began to slide closed. The Baby’s eyes did, as well.

In the bluing light of the morning, something like a little Baby arm reached up and lay on the Father’s neck. The Father looked and noticed that it was, in fact, a little Baby arm. And the Baby was asleep.

“6:24 AM!”

“Da-Dee…”
 

March 3, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, God, Kids, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents | 10 Comments

God is the Fireman

God is the fireman.

We just put the ladder against the wall.

In other words, we don’t save anyone, not even ourselves. God does.

What we do is provide the tools — the hands and feet. 

February 26, 2008 Posted by | Adage, Christianity, Eternal Security, Faith, God, Jesus, Metaphor, Proverbs, Redemption, Salvation | Leave a comment

A Mighty Rushing Wind Saved My Ceiling

This is about God, not the people involved.

There is a line from one of my favorite movies, “The Count of Monte Cristo”, that often pops into my head when I think of how the Lord always looks after me: “Once again, God sees you out the corner of His eye!”

We’ve had some crazy weather these last couple weeks. One day, it’ll be sunny and warm, and the next day will be sub-freezing. About a week and a half ago, the wind was blowing high, breaking branches, causing accidents, and blowing down a large portion of the six-foot wooden fence in my back yard.

I didn’t even know it until my neighbor, Keith, told Kathy when she was coming in from work three days ago. I haven’t been back there much since Max got here, and it is quite a bit more neglected than is the front yard.

I asked my friend and church member, Tim (who, by the way, is the reason I blog at all) to come and look at it when he got the chance. He is in the process of putting up a fence of his own at his house, and I figured he would know how to do more than just nail it back up, which is what I was going to do. He came today.

While I was looking at the fence, which Keith said he would take care of, Tim noticed water leaking from the soffit (haha! Soffit! I know this word because I was on track to becoming an architect before I got bit by the starving artist bug!), the overhanging part of the roof.

“Hey, Derrick, let’s take a look at this…” he said, pointing to all that water dripping from somewhere inside my attic on this sunny, cloudless day. This could NOT be good. I stiffened my upper lip and set my jaw for the financial disaster dripping like sulfuric acid from my roof, or attic.

“Is your water heater in your attic?” he asked.

“Yes,” I answered weakly, trying to hide the dread I was suddenly feeling. “What genius thought to do THAT?”

I mean, yeah, you save space, but there can’t be that much security in having forty gallons of boiling hot water two feet above your head!

Okay, Kathy and I own our little three-bedroom house. That is, the BANK owns it, and lets us live here as long as we pay the mortgage (Fixed-rate. Really low interest rate. That’s another whole story…). There is no way that any two other people who make as little as we do, and who are as deep in debt as we are, could live where and how we live! She is a tech-support/customer service rep for a cellphone company, and I play music “from time to time.” Yet we do it. We have two cars — one of which we bought new two years ago — and we have never missed a payment. This is what God does. Kathy has two loaves of bread, and I have  couple of fish, and God stretches it to an unbelievable degree! Plus we are almost the parents of two children! We have no business being as blessed as we are! It is amazing to watch how He, in Indiana Jonesian fashion, brings us through one near-miss after another. It is incredibly faith-building!

We had AHS appliance insurance, but I cancelled it after we paid a 500-some dollar yearly payment and our dishwasher began leaking and we called them and they came out (for a $50 DEDUCTIBLE!!!) and ran the washer through three rinse cycles and told me that the problem was soap suds from diswashing liquid and left!!! Heck, with my payment plus the deductible, I bought a dishwasher and a washing machine! All for the guy to tell me to use different soap! Insurance is a racket! But what can you do?

Anyway, Tim got out his drill, unscrewed the grate from the soffit, and found that the water was coming from a pipe in the attic, probably the runoff from the overflow pan. Me with no appliance insurance. My game of “Chicken” was about to come to a head! I was 911’ing the Lord as we took the death march into the house and up to the attic.

I tried to display some inner faith: “Whatever happens, the Lord will work it out. I won’t really worry…”

We get up to the attic, and sure enough, there is about an inch of water in the overflow pan. There is a stream of water running down the side of the water heater, and after some inspection, Tim sees that the cold water pipe on the top of the heater is squirting out a thin stream.

He turns off the line, removes the hose, and shows it to me. As we are loading into the car on the way to Home Depot, he says in that cool Texas drawl, “Man, the Lord shooore does look after YOU!” The hose looked to be moments from bursting and spewing water all over the attic!

“Yeah,” I said, “I couldn’t possibly be an atheist, as many times as He’s pulled me through!” The replacement pipe cost $4.89.

Had that windstorm not blown down my fence, and had my neighbor not just happened to see Kathy coming into the house, and had not Tim agreed to come and take a look at it, and had I not gone with him into the back yard (which I rarely do) and had he not been looking around and had he not noticed that leak, there is no telling what would have happened, and how much money it would have taken to fix it.

THAT is how God works through events and through people to work His magic. Yes, bad things often happen. People get hurt and they sometimes die. But because I have seen how He works, my faith (not my WORD of Faith!) is increased. Driving a new car inspires confidence, but nowhere near the confidence that God will see me through soundly to my destination. God always sees me out the corner of His eye.

February 3, 2008 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Church Life, Faith, God, Jesus, Life | 4 Comments

“I Have My Ph.D In The Rejection of the Obvious!”* — Hitchens

It seems as though one must be a genius to be an athiest. One must have an exhaustive knowledge of astronomy, physics, history, biology, chemistry archaeology, as well as every other belief system, mustn’t one? 

You gotta know a lot to be your own god!

To be a Christian, one can be a genius, but it is not a firm requirement!

One simply has to KNOW Christ.

*or, “Lalalalalalalalala! I’m shutting my eyes! Lalala!I can’t hear you!Lalalala!” he said.

January 4, 2008 Posted by | Atheism, Bible, Bill Maher, Christianity, Christopher Hitchens, evolution, God, Humor, Religion | 2 Comments

What Do You Get When You Cross an Apple With a Banana?

My needs are a red line extending from  me to God.

My wants are a yellow one.

My goal, my hope, is to live a mostly orange life.

December 23, 2007 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, Faith, God, Metaphor | 4 Comments

Good Deeds ain’t Fireproof!

The problem many, if not most, people have in their conception of the Christian worldview is that of the Fall, and the way of Salvation. People think that they MUST do something! All other worthy accomplishments require some work on our part.

To pass a test, we must study.

To make the team, we must work out and practice.

To get the job, we must pad the resume!

Just kidding.

Yet, to be saved, we must only allow God… This goes against our method of operation. Surely we must do SOMETHING. Trim the hedges, armor-all the tires, make the bed, rinse the dishes… something.

This is what makes Christianity so foolish to the unregenerate.

It makes no sense, as some Muslims say, that one Person can pay for the sins of another person.

Oprah Winfrey, by most accounts, is a good person by human standards.

She gives away cars.

She gives houses to poor people.

She provides college scholarships to deserving youth.

She builds schools.

She informs us about health, weight, and interior decorating.

She has, by all indications, a beautiful heart.

But the universe, which she claims is god, is NOT God. The universe is scientifically shown to have had a beginning, which requires that it is subject to its Beginner. The universe has no personality. IT does not get angry. It does not THINK. It does not experience joy or pleasure. It only exists. Like a tree, or a river.

Oprah says that she does not need Jesus to get to heaven, because her good DEEDS will get her in. She says that there are milllllions of ways of getting to what YOU call God, and that there can’t POSSIBLY be only one way! She said it with such surety and conviction, too! (So, at that statement, we now have Jesus, that “good guy” they all tout, telling a HUGE lie! He is well known to have said that HE is the only way.)

Jesus is the God of the universe. Like it or not, just as, like it or not, George Bush is President. We accept other things with which we don’t agree — gas prices, death, ’80’s music, insurance (a racket!), “The Flavor of LOVE”!, line dances

Jesus is not just a cool guy walking around in dusty sandals, talking softly, with birds fluttering around at His shoulders. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  He is badder than Leroy Brown, even! He says that good works don’t save us. They don’t even help with the burden.

Jesus bore the FULL weight by Himself on the cross.

Oprah or Farrakhan or Richard Gere or Joseph T. Blow do Jesus no favors by claiming that He was a prophet, or a good and wise man who came with a message of peace and looove. Ahhhhh!

No one gets to the Father but through Him. As He truly is. God.

We didn’t just fall down on the ground from a standing position. We fell, and have been falling, from the infinite height of perfection, gaining momentum from Adam till this instance. There is nothing to hang onto, nothing to break the fall. Nothing between us and the Dragon’s mouth. We have no parachute. We cannot reach up and grab the ledge, for there IS no ledge. There is only God.

Do you realize how long an arm He must have in order to catch something that has been falling for millenia?

But this is the beauty –and the truth — of it. A man-made religion would not leave man’s works out of the equation! I mean, if Christians were going to fabricate a religion, we certainly would not invent one where we don’t get at least some of the credit, some of the glory. God gets it all. “Jesus paid it ALL.”

So all the school-building, and advocating, and car-giving, and donating, and photo-opping count for NOTHING apart from a relationship with Jesus. Sorry. Not my rules. Yours either.

Without Jesus, all you are doing is sweeping a dirt floor. Dusting a mud hut.

Our good deeds don’t get us through the door, they only furnish the room.

December 14, 2007 Posted by | Atheism, Atonement, Christianity, God, Good Works, Jesus, Justification, Oprah Winfrey, Salvation | 5 Comments

Words of THIS One

The Word of God is like duct tape:

You can know its properties and purposes,

but it won’t stick until you apply it.

Derrick L. Williams

December 13, 2007 Posted by | Adage, Analogy, Axioms, Bible, Christianity, God | 5 Comments

Swimming Lessons.

My good-hearted 16-month-old son, Max, stands tottering on the shore of an ocean of sorrows. He has what appears to be the most friendly personality of any child in the world. He beams at the sight of other kids, never fights over toys, and when he smiles, he does so with his whole body! He loves to have fun, and possesses a wide-open heart. Life and this World are gonna KILL him!  Beat him to oatmeal! Waiting for him is a sea of sharks, jellyfish, and other predators seeking to drag him under and rip from him all the innocent, uncorrupted joy he now possesses.

Though I could bail him out and be a vessel by which he could navigate this ocean, I can only guide him while he swims alongside. It is with great sadness that I realize this. I have swum this way before, only barely making it without being consumed by rage, hatred, and selfishness. I didn’t know if I would make it, and I don’t know if Max will.

But God knows.

It is He who has given me the map by which I will lead my son. It is He who will instruct me as to what to say when the waves roll high and threaten to swallow him.

”Don’t let Life win, Son.

“Don’t let situations cause you to give up and become that which seeks to destroy you. Don’t be led by those unworthy. Make God your conscience. Know the right answers. USE them. 

“Every girl won’t like you. Some will hurt you. On purpose. Be nice anyway. Don’t let matters of the heart submerge you.

“Pain passes. Laugh when you need to. Cry when you have to. Keep swimming!

“Don’t let people be the riptide, the undertow that pulls you in an unGodly direction.

“Sit up front. Don’t back down. Don’t sell your friend out. You won’t have many.

“Life is hard. Often unfair. God is the prize. Know Him truly.

“Have your fun, but put in your work first. Stand flat-footed on your word.

“When you get tired, God will buoy you by the Spirit-shaped float inside you. 

“Keep this joy you have, only coat it with a veneer of strength with which to defend yourself. With this, you will be able to brush off the arrows hurled by those who will hate your love.” Daddy.

November 19, 2007 Posted by | Advice, Childhood, Christian Life, Faith, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, God, Life, Life Lessons, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents, Words of Wisdom | 2 Comments

F.O.D. Not What You Think… Wait. It MAY Be.

Okay, this one may get a little scatological…

I used to be in the Air Force in one of my other lifetimes. I was a missile technician. Sometimes we would work on the flight line and be around the fighter jets. We were constantly warned about foreign object damage (f.o.d.). Screws, gravel, ink pen caps… all this type stuff, anything on the runway that can be sucked into the jet engine, is considered FOD.

A few years ago, well after my time in the service was completed, I played in this band, Three Nice Guys, that used to do all kinds of stuff;  jazz, pop, country, r&b, everything. An executive at FedEx here in Memphis had an idea of incorporating live music into their monthly (I believe) status meetings. I’m not a corporate guy, so I’m probably not calling it what it was.

We would meet at the front gate of the “Hub” at the unGODly hour of around 7 am, get passes, and drive our vehicles onto the highly restricted and secure flight line to set up for the 9 am meeting. It felt kind of cool to see the stares of the working stiffs who seemed to think, “Who are these guys who get to drive their vehicles onto the highly restricted and secure flight line?”

What was to happen was that we would, in this room that seated about 50 people, play while the corporate types drank coffee and ate and mingled and such. When the main speaker got up, we would do some Johnny Carson-type fanfare stuff. When each new person was introduced, we would play something appropriate from a TV show, a commercial, or anything. For instance, If the person was from Chicago, we would break into “Chicago” as he approached the podium. Breck, the keyboard/keyboard bass player, is a genius and knows a million songs. He has perfect pitch (google it) and almost perfect recall, so we had a library of tunes at our disposal.

Now, what I must mention here is that the band was set up in the front of the room on the stage. Directly next to the podium. Remember that.

This one particular meeting is the point of this post. A lady got up to talk about the status of “foreign object damage” and what improvements there had been in its reduction. She spoke about how important it was to be vigilant in the prevention of foreign object damage and how much money was lost at each incidence of foreign object damage. After a while, she abbreviated the term to F.O.D., and a minute or so later, she just shortened it further to “fod” to save time.

 It is important to note that White folks and Black folks speak differently. This woman was White.

FedEx is a company known and admired for its fairness is diverse hiring practices. at least half the room was Black. The band was all Black.

The speech went something like this:

“I just want ya to know, you’re doing a bang up job in keepin’ yer fod to a minimum. But we can do better. The Memphis hub has had a 30 per cent reduction in fod over tha last quarter, but in tha last month, you had 3 cases of fod. What happened? Why the increase in fod? You managers are gonna have to do whatever it takes to keep the fod down.”

Right here is where I tell you that, phonetically, the word WE use for the Godly act of passing gas sounds UNCANNILY like “fod”. Now, I pride myself in not being inappropriately silly. Certainly, as a musician, I have heard all the stereotypes about how irresponsible we are. I did not, sitting right up front in front of all these corporate executives, want to appear silly. But this woman had “fod” on the brain. And being White, she appeared to have no IDEA that what she was repeatedly saying was like poking us in the side. I’m ticklish right there.

We were cool the first couple of times she used the word, but Lord have mercy, she talked for about thirty minutes!!!

“Fod damage is dangerous and costly, folks. It costs us in lost equipment, but also in lost man hours. I can’t tell you how much looking at the fod numbers leaves a bad taste in my mouth! When a plane has to be repaired. It’s cuzza fod. When guys haveta do extra duty (doody?)? It can usually be traced back ta fod. We GOTTA keep it down folks! Fod is a stench in the nose of a company like FedEx!”

It started with a shiver.

We in the band were set up in somewhat of a circle, facing each other. I could see every attempt they made at trying not to laugh. It only made it funnier.  When something embarrassing happens onstage, I usually try to avert my attention by fumbling with my reed or mouthpiece, or by otherwise occupying myself.

Like the time when Kevin, my best friend, and I were doing this wedding…

The church was set up so that the whole back wall was glass. CLEAR glass. From floor to ceiling. The preacher’s back was to the glass, and the audience was facing it. Kevin sings, and while we were waiting soberly for his turn, we noticed this big flock of birds sitting in a tree outside. A squirrel or something scared the birds and they suddenly flew away in our direction. Now, the preacher was praying, I think, so everyone’s eyes were closed but ours. We were working. Playing soft music.

Most of the birds veered sharply away at the last moment, but one       missed. He didn’t see the glass.

BAM! flutterflutterflutterflutter. Dead. I squeezed my eyes shut!! Tears forming. Shuddering. Bowing, praying now. “Lord! Pleeeeeze help me!” I snorted and snotted a little bit… I fumbled with my reed to busy myself.

But Kevin outright laughed. In the middle of that solemn prayer. For just a nanosecond. But that was all it took for him to get glares from a lot of the people there… So when I have moments like these, I PRAY to the Lord to take the funnyness away.

Breck shivered. He and Herman, the drummer, weren’t saved back then, and they didn’t seem to have the compulsion to be serious. I fumbled around with something or other, praying to the Lordthat this woman wouldn’t say “fod” no more, and I think He was laughing, too! I had to close my eyes. It worked for a few seconds. I thought it was over. “Cool. Okay. I’m cool”

“So, what can we do to prevent fod?”

I know you all have had those moments. In class, or in church. You tell yourself it’ll be funny later, but it suuure ain’t right NOW! Even though it is.

We were all looking at each other pleeeading for something to make it stop! But she just kept on, culturally blind to what she was doing to us! I mean, we were in the front of the room! And I could clearly imagine what would happen if one of us undisciplined musicians lost control.

“What can we do to keep the fod down? Fod fod fodfodfodfodfod.” She would    NOT    STOP!  

Herman, who was crying, let out a squeak that sounded like when someone steps on a dog’s foot. My face was mashed all up as though someone really waspassing gas, and when Herman squeaked, Breck, who was sitting on a swiveling stool, jerked around, away from the audience in this small room.

At that point, the Lord heard my prayer. Someone in the audience, someone Black, probably heard Herman and broke out laughing, and the room erupted! Exploded in laughter! Relieved and thankful, we all did the same! It felt like making it to the bathroom juuuust in time. We spent the next two or three minutes in uncontrolled head-shaking, knee-slapping tripping!

I was just so glad that it wasn’t one of us musicians who broke that particular iceberg. What surprised me was that so many of the rest of the people in that room were trying to fight off the same onslaught. White and Black. The only person clueless was the speaker, who looked up, startled, trying to see what had happened. The head guy, who was Black, came up and whispered it all in her ear. She was mortified!

Those times happened to me a lot. It is proof that God DOES have a sense of humor. He HAD to have been laughing. Flatulence was His invention, although the word for it is probably ours…

It is cool that in spite of all our supposed differences, we of different races find common ground in times of humorous adversity.

God invented laughing. He is all right wit’ me!

October 27, 2007 Posted by | God, Humor, Life, Music, Race, Work | 8 Comments

Wailin’ like Whalum!

In what field do you work? What activity do you wish you could make a living doing? Is there someone you admire in a particular arena that is the epitome of skill and expertise?

Are you a sports fan who admires A-Rod, or Jordan, or Peyton Manning? Are you a painter who loves the work of Rembrandt, or Picasso? Are you an aspiring actor or playwright? Do you work in the restaurant business, or the automobile design industry, or the cosmetology field?

If you think about it, every one of you has at least one person who is the icon of your admiration in a given area. I am a musician. By profession. I am of a blessed few who get to do the one thing I LOVE for a living, meager though it is right now. This means that the person I most look up to in the entire musical world does both what I love and what I do.

I am a saxophone player, and hopefully not a hack! I am not a poseur. I don’t walk around town with my horn on my shoulder, and I don’t dance when I play. I MOVE, though… For me, it is about getting better on that horn, and the musicians I most admire are serious about their discipline. My two favorite singers are Sam Cooke and Nat King Cole. My favorite female singer is Lalah Hathaway. Or maybe Sarah Vaughan. It’s pretty close. My favorite piano player is Phineas Newborn, Jr.. My favorite trumpet player is, I think, Clifford Brown. My favorite guitar player is, maybe, Wes Montgomery. My favorite bass player is Marcus Miller. I don’t have a favorite drummer.

There are a million sax players in this town alone. I love that the Lord gave me that instrument to play! It is so complex and so expressive. There are so many who play it well; Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Stitt, Coletrane, Joe Henderson, Grover Washington, Wilton Felder, Branford Marsalis, David Sanborn, Eric Alexander, Phil Woods, Paul Desmond (Take 5), Kirk Whalum, Bird, Stan Getz (Human velvet), Dexter Gordon, Chris Potter, Johnny Griffin, Kenny Garrett, Gerald Albright, and scores more.

The thing is this: Of all the singers I like, but didn’t mention, and all of the other musicians whom I just love, the ONE who is my favorite– out of all who have ever sung or played a single note– is Kirk Whalum. You can agree or disagree, you can argue and present your case for the brilliance of Bird or Trane, and you can cite the mastery of Sarah Vaughan and Stevie. You can talk about Jimi Hendrix and Marvin Gaye and Brother Ray. You can plead the case for David Ruffin, or Billie Holliday, or Wynton Marsalis, or Sinatra, or Donny Hathaway, and you will have some valid points. But for my money, the one who resonates with me is Whalum.

He has the ability to convey pure, raw emotion in a single note. His horn sings and cries and shouts and growls. He is at once soulful, and harmonically competent. Not many can say this. They are usually one or the other. It is an awful thing to hear a straight-ahead cat (musicians say “cat”) try to play some soul! And vicey-versey. He is the leader among guys who can make a sax sound almost human.

The moment I first heard him in a Denver record store way back when guesting on a Bob James record, I immediately asked the store manager who it was. I was hooked. That was how I wanted to sound! It sounded like he was wringing the notes from a wet towel! Every note was urgently played. I thought that if I could play like that, I would be able to tell girls with music what I was too scared to utter with words.

A year or so later, I heard him on a Luther Vandross album, and this one song, “Anyone Who Had A Heart, ” by Bacharach, repeatedly put me in the saddest mood. Beautiful! I have followed his career since the first day, waiting on album releases, and buying every record I saw his name attached to. Some of them were duds with the songs he soloed on being the only ones I dug.

Somewhere in there, I decided that I wanted to do what he did. I wanted to drop out of architecture school and become a musician. It was the only thing I felt that I could really do and do well. I wanted to make people feel whatever emotion I felt when I played a song or a solo like Kirk Whalum did. I had a long, long way to go. (I only have a long way to go now.)

I started from scratch, not having any guidance. I began to teach myself licks, and turns, and scales, and phrases. And most of all, I worked on my TONE– the way I sounded. I gigged with my friends who were grass-green like I, and we used to play at family house parties with just a piano amp, and no gear for no money. I graduated from there to playing for a gospel artist for no money. But we had gear, though.

After a year of that, I got a gig with blues singer, Denise LaSalle. I was on my way! I was making money, but the gear was AWFUL! I continued to teach myself by practicing the solos of Whalum, and my other “teacher,” Grover Washington, as well as any other artist that inspired me. I played lead vocal melodies, piano solos, guitar solos, and everything. The main thing, though, was to always be soulful. And to have that pretty tone.  

Friends would tell me (they still do) to be more of a showman, to walk into the audience, or to wave my hand like Dave Koz does. I just couldn’t. “I just wanna get better on this horn,” I always reply. If I am feeling what I am playing and move accordingly, sincerely, that is honest. For ME, it felt phoney to use gimmicks to get a response. I was trying to please musicians! If THEY dig you, then you know you’re doing something. I may be wrong.

Now, from time to time, I get the comment that I “sound like Whalum.” What was to be expected? I had played, really, millions of Kirk Whalum notes! Now, though, I have to find my voice out of all that emotion and wailing! There is already a Whalum. It’s hard to be discouraged by hearing that, though. I kind of get the same feeling as when someone tells me I LOOK like my father. How can I not like that? My pops is the MAN!

So… my question is this: How would you, as a golf fanatic, like to play a round with Tiger, or Ernie Els? How would you, as a basketball player, like to be on Jordan’s team? How would you, as a real estate person, like to spend time with Trump? Singer– Stevie Wonder? Cook–Emeril, or Rachael Ray? Actor– Hopkins, Hepburn, or Denzel? How would you feel if you, an average citizen, were called upon to perform with or for your greatest hero? How would you feel if, out of ALL the people in the world, the ONE person you most admire watched you do what HE does? And what if that thing that he does is not just your recreation, but your VOcation? How would you feel?

Well, today, at the church at which I play, the musical director said at the last minute, “Hey, let’s play that Whalum tune we closed with last week!”  That being the song from his just-released album that we sort of butchered up last week. At that very MOMENT Kirk Whalum and his wife walked in!!! Ohhh Lorrrd! I pride myself on not being scared of a musical challenge. How can I call myself worthy of being a contemporary of the masters if I am scared to do what I can do musically?

I was as scared as my little son, Max, when those guys in the hamburger suits come on the teevee!

Tim, the m.d., was like, “man, whass wrong witchu? I ain’ neva seen you like this!”

“I ain’ neva been like this,” I said, knees sounding like dice about to come up snake-eyes. “I ain’t prepared. That song has a crazy pattern that’s hard to follow wit’out a chart!” It was 9:57. Church started at 10:00. No time to practice, and I couldn’t punk out. So, I prayed, and we played. It was okay. Only minor mistakes. I do this for a living. But I didn’t want to sound like a scrub with the icon of my artistic life sitting 20 feet away! There was a problem, though, and that is the reason for this post.

The service was about GOD. What about GOD? Isn’t HE a greater audience than Kirk Whalum? Kirk, being a Godly man would say, “yes.” (I know this because I have met him a few times, and he occasionally comes to my church. More pressure?!) All I could think of during the musical portion of the worship was, “Don’t mess up, Kirk’ll think you’re a scrub. Play that flat 5 lick right here, Kirk’ll think that was cool. Don’t overplay, ’cause Kirk’ll think you’re into your self. I wonder what Kirk thought about that tag I put at the end of that last song?” I mean, I was in the same room as my hero, and I was playing HIS song, his style, his instrument! It was too much.

And I was so ashamed of myself. I kept apologizing to God for making Him ride in the back seat so Kirk could sit up front. “I’m sorry, Lord,” I kept saying, and I kept shifting my focus back from God to man.

“I wonder if he heard that bad note? I wonder if he heard me play that cool run? Oh, Sorry, Lord.”

My wife consoled me, saying tht the Lord understands, that I’m only human. True, but that fact didn’t keep Him from holding us accountable for the fact that we sin. Without Jesus, we still suffer the repercussions of our actions. Humanity is no excuse for faults.

I know God forgave me, but the thing is that we need to be aware that God is always sitting on the front row. For every scene. Good AND bad. We should conduct ourselves according to the fact that the One universal Celebrity requires us to serve, worship, praise, and perform for HIM. And He deserves it. Look at all the stuff He did. All the things He made…

Kirk Whalum is not an idol of mine in the sense that he occupies God’s throne of glory. His skill and talent, as are ALL of ours, are a sign of what God can do. That is why God gets the praise for the made putts and three-pointers, the Grammys and the Oscars, the pictures and the sculptures.

At the end of service this morning, as we played the benediction music, I felt someone come up from behind the chair in which I was sitting and grab me, choke hold style, around my neck.

“You blessed me, man! You really blessed me by playing my song!” Imagine Jordan telling you that you played well… Imagine that you felt that he meant it… That made my WEEK! And I thanked GOD!

I wanted to ask him a thousand questions… about mouthpieces, and horns, and chords and solos, and sessions, and about helping me make records. But I didn’t get to. I don’t like to crowd celebrities when I see them. They have lives. People are always trying to get something from them, and I feel that if I am good enough to do this on a higher plane the time will come when God says so. If I really CAN play, he, or someone, will give me my shot.

So what I have is the memory of his gratitude. And my OWN gratitude to God for being so cool and merciful and Beautiful. And for inventing the saxophone and putting it in my hand.

October 8, 2007 Posted by | Art, Christianity, God, Heroes, Jazz, Kirk Whalum, Life, Music, Saxophone | 2 Comments

Sean Hannity or Rosie O’Donnell. Pick Your Poison.

Anyone who knows me, or has read my words, knows my positions on most issues and knows that I stand outside of any particular demographic. I am watching Sean Hannity and forcing down the bile that rises, and wonder:

Where’s MY party?

 I am a Christian.

I am a Black male.

I am actually MARRIED to the mother of my son.

I was in the military. I’m not a pacifist, but THIS war is creating problems, not solving them.

I make my living in the arts.

I believe Affirmative Action is the best known way of closing the opportunity gap in America. (Uh Oh…)

I believe in gun ownership, and tough crime enforcement.

I believe that there are policemen who abuse their power, and let their racial prejudices influence their work. I have experienced it. Recently.  

I believe in abstinence before marriage, and that Godly marriage is between one man, and one woman.

I hate taxes.

I think that the government owes me protection and opportunity since they take my income before I even get it.

I don’t hate, or even dislike, White folks.

I HATE racism, though. I don’t ignore it when I see it, and I talk about it when it happens.

I think that (this will probably hurt some of you…) The “Christian Right,” is populated by a LOT of people who are flat-out racist. 

Abortion is a dealBREAKER!

So, I ask you: Where do I go? For whom do I vote?

Democrat? I can’t, because as I stated, abortion cut that tie. Also, being a Christian, I do not agree with many other of the moral positions they, as an organization, take or endorse. For example; school prayer, gay marriage and all things pro-gay, EMBRYONIC stem-cell destruction, partial-birth abortion, (the regular kind is bad enough!) feminism, and the eradication of my faith from public discourse or display. Besides, any voting atheist would likely vote democrat. Even though atheist Christopher Hitchens is in favor of the war, he’d rather drink a gallon of holy water and tattoo the Cross on his right cheek than vote for Mitt Romney! How can I vote with those who hate God?

They are cotton-soft on the punishment of crime, to the point that practically NO murder is heinous enough to warrant the death of the perpetrator, even with indisputable evidence. Prominent democrats are known to bash active Christians to mush at every opportunity. The Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John Kerry kind of Christians are cool though, because their faith has never been taken out of the package. Christians are the last group that it is still politically proper to ridicule.

Democrats (and once again, I am generalizing…) would tell me that if I hear an intruder in my house, I should cower in the closet and wait for the police to come rather than shoot him myself. That’s because they have enough money that the cops will come RUNNING if they call. I shouldn’t even own a gun, according to them. But who’s going to stop the crooks from getting guns? THAT bell can’t be un-rung. 

The only time they quote the Bible is to mis-quote “Thou shalt not kill,”and “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

If you are engaged in almost ANY immoral activity and need an advocate… Get a democrat! You want to smoke weed? Get a democrat.  You want drug use legalized? Get a democrat. You want to marry another YOU? Get a democrat. You want to say all manner of foul things on the air, or join NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association ), or teach second graders about using condoms, or get rid of all those offensive nativity scenes at Christmas? Call the ACLU. The PUPPET of the democrats. Are you a female who wants to join a football team, or are you a gay male who wants to teach young boys how to camp in the woods? Get a democrat. They’ll get it done for you!

You make a lot of money? Get a democrat! They’ll take a third of it before you get a penny and propose to spend it on some unGodly enterprise you abhor. They don’t care, they don’t have to tithe. Let the ignorant Christians worry about all that junk. Rather than actually care, they simply throw money at a problem and pat themselves on the back for it. 

Maybe they weren’t about this stuff in the past, but they are now.

The Democratic party came into my awareness as the party of those who freed us from the bonds of Jim Crow. They were the Kings, and Kennedys, and L.B.J.’s of the sixties who obtained for us the right to vote, intermarry(!), and attend any school. They were the party of fairness and equality. Generally speaking, of course. My parents voted democrat, and so did I. But in the last few years, as society has become more permissive, the party has done the same. 

They are populated by a lot of passive, pacifist, communist-minded, put-all-our-resources-into-the-same-pot, anything-goes-except-for-anything-I-don’t-agree-with folk who don’t see that there is no perfect society, and that their way of operation is plunging us all into an orgy of moral debauchery that is rotting us from the inside out… WHEW! They love animals, but hate fetuses. They think that men and women are exactly the same. Democratic women value career over family, and sex over marriage, abortion over the right of the unborn.

Ask Rosie O’Donnell who she votes for. Susan Sarandon. P.DiddyPuffDaddyPuffyCombsHoneyCombsPufftheMagicDragon*. Oprah. Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Eddie Murphy, any rapper, or pop singer, (if they even vote at all!) Gloria Steinem. Ask Madonna, or the head of Planned Parenthood. Ask Al Sharpton. Jessie. Ask any atheist, or random college professor. Democrats don’t worship God, they worship their own Righteousness.

 I don’t care what anybody says, my vote is a mark of my loyalty, and I refuse to align myself with those whose beliefs and sentiments are diametrically opposed to the God whom I worship. I will not give my loyalty to those who operate in contradiction to my worldview. As stated in an earlier post, my beliefs inform all my decisions.

So… Does all this mean that I am a         republican?

NO! Just as emphatically, if not moreso.

Yeah, republicans say that they believe in upholding the same moral values I have, but they repulse me in other ways. (again, for you knee-jerks, I generalize)

I mentioned Sean Hannity at the outset. For the purpose of this lesson, he will be my prototype. He claims Christ, he is clean-cut, and fiercely patriotic. He loves the police, and is willing to give them as much rope as they need. Until, like tonight, one is caught on tape threatening a motorist with trumped-up, made-up charges for sassing him. (I don’t dislike police, some of my friends are cops, I just happen to be of an ilk that has seen what those with “God Complexes”- a term a cop friend gave me- can do when motivated) Hannity is, apparently, God first, America first, family first. But it is my considered opinion that, after exhaustive research, he, Laura Ingraham,  Ann (tiChrist) Coulter, and Rush (to judgment) Limburger will be riding the four horses at the Apocalypse! I’m just sayin’…

Hannity appears to be a nice guy, but there is something in he way he speaks that bothers me. When he interviews someone with whom he disagrees, he does so only in an attempt to corner them, not to advance the discourse. He is a shill, a sycophant for his party, and (facetiously) if I am better than anybody, I am better than he, because I at least try to look objectively at all political sides! He may not be a racist, but he looks just like one!

Republicans, in general, are the party of the Cold. They ignore the plight of the haven’t gots. They are sincere in that, unlike democrats, they don’t care and don’t care that you know  that they don’t care. And rather than throw money at a situation, they just throw empty platitudes, peppering their rhetoric with terms like, “bootstraps,” and “self-made.”

Republicans are the party of law enforcement. As I stated earlier, I am Black. I know some of you may have wondered what difference THAT made. (many republicans view the “Race Card” the same way Dracula looks at a Cross!) Being Black makes me sensitive to issues of wrongful incarceration. Being Black also has made me a victim of unfair treatment. In the last few years, DNA has acquitted many unjustly imprisoned Black men. Republicans would have said, “Why are we wasting so much time on this case? He was convicted by a jury of his peers!” They forget that juries are populated by people. Not twelve Jesuses!

I am in favor of the Death Penalty insomuch as it is justly applied. Which it is NOT. I have a friend who, when working for a public defender, was involved in a case in which a mentally retarded teen was put to death for accessory to rape and murder. He was in the car and was not allowed to get out when the incident began. He did not have the reasoning skills to make the right decisions. He WAS RETARDED! and now he is dead. This has happened many times. We are a country that executes mentally deficient Black people. Republicans look at the news and say, “He’s Black. He’s on the news. He’s guilty.” Tell me I’m wrong, Hannity.

I was in the military, so I cannot be accused of being a pacifist. War is sometimes necessary in order to restrain great evil. I understand that it is not an exact science, and that sometimes innocent people die. But there is point at which talking is done, and one must fight.

When those planes hit those buildings, I said, “Let’s get whoever did that. Not arrest them, but kill them.” Terrorists are punks.  I think all terrorists need to go see the Lord. Flat out. I was on board, honestly, when we went into Afghanistan, but when the President started to turn that big machine left towards Iraq, I jumped off. When he said that they had WMD’s I gave him the benefit of the doubt -more doubt than benefit- until it became apparent that Iraq was on the table from the beginning.

I am against this war now, not for the pacifist’s reason, but because if you ask me to loan you my car to go to the store, and you drive right by the store and proceed to Vegas, I will rebuke you and doubt your word in anything else. I will not, as Hannity does, hang in there with you truth or lie, right or wrong. And that does not make me a bad American. (Hannity regularly calls those he agrees with, such as Ollie North, G. Gordon Liddy, Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott, or Charlie Daniels, “Great Americans.”)

The Religious Right are republican, and as I said earlier, I agree with their moral stances on certain Christian issues, i.e. abortion, sexual purity, gay rights issues, self-protection etc. However, there are other moral issues, too. Jesus commanded us to care for the poor, and parentless, and to show compassion for the weak, but I don’t see them crusading about that. It is often said that the (late) Falwells, and such tend to love the fetus and hate the baby. This seems to be true.

It appears that the Religious Right say all the religiously right things. But when I see you in the street, or in the store after church, or in your schools, or dating your daughters, your actions and glares tell the TRUE story. Your faith has a loud, powerful-sounding motor, but no transmission! You say that you love the Lord, and follow His tenets, but your lives rat you out. You say racist things, you think racist thoughts, you live apart from any unlike you. On purpose. You go to all White churches, send your kids to all White schools, if at all, join all White country clubs (are there any other kind?), and live in all White suburbs. I know whereof I speak: I am the only Black man on my street!

When you close your bibles, and speak on political, social matters, you begin to sound like a party full of Archie Bunkers. You eschew government programs clearly designed to help the poor, neglecting to notice that there are more White folk on welfare than Black folk, and you talk about quotas as though someone made you eat mud. You take your kids from schools that get too Black, and you defund them and wonder why Black kids are undereducated. I have even heard some of you, in true Bunkerian fashion, dare to say that White men are the most discriminated against! REALLY?!

So you get profiled, and shot 51 times while unarmed, and targeted for predatory loans?

YOU have to ask permission to sit under a tree, and get charged for attempted murder for a school fight, too?

Oh. Is this about a JOB you didn’t get?! Is that all?! You know how many jobs I didn’t get?  ALL of ’em! Except for the busboy job, or the stockboy job. You’ve got the world at your FEET! You know how long my WIFE has been trying to get a better job? And SHE graduated magna cum oh lawdy! Did YOU have to disguise, change, or alter YOUR name because it sounded too WHITE? Miss me with all your boo-hooing!

 Government programs, such as CETA, gave me, and countless other inner-city teens, jobs when I was a kid. That ended under the reign of the Great Reagan. That is just a fact. When I was young there were NO gangs in my city. Crime, drug abuse, and teenage pregnancy were anecdotal and not ubiquitous, as they are now. We had government mandated programs to provide us with the diversionary activity not needed by privileged republican children. That was one significant block in the Jenga pile that, when removed, began to topple Black youth. Republicans don’t like government programs.

 I’ll have to do another enitre post on Affirmative Action, but I’d like to ask an honest question. Give me an honest answer: How would you, Hannity, or Hannitite, propose to FAIRLY deal with the opportunity gap that has been in the very DNA of this nation since its inception? How do you propose to even up a race that has been going for generation after generation after generationaftergenerationaftergeneration? Someone whose father’s father’s grandfather was allowed to obtain a grant or land rights or inherited a plantation or a Harvard admission that allowed him to enrich his great-great grandchildren when my great-to the third power-grandfather couldn’t, by law, learn to read, or own a horse, or vote, or get a bank loan. Those are the cold hard facts. We are here now, all of us, and we have to figure out the best way to do things.

When you ignore the pus-filled, bleeding pimple on the nose on your face, and tell me to “Get over it! None of you were slaves,” you expose yourself as heartless and worse!

You know what? When Beaver Cleaver was going to school in an air-conditioned building, and learning from new, state of the art books and equipment, my mother was being taught by a woman who didn’t even finish high shcool, in a school in the weeds, with inadequate books, if any at all! This still happens to this very day! My grandfather “worked hard,” according to your simple formula, and HE didn’t get to live out the fulness of the American Dream. My mother had to watch him call eight-year-old White kids “Sir.”

My sister, an aviation major, had to endure having a flight instructor LIE and tell her that the plane in which she had to train in order to complete her flying hours for graduation was out of order for months. When we had a White woman call to request the same plane, he said, “Sure! When can you come in?” My sister is now an elementary school teacher. You want more? I got a million of ’em! 

It is a cold and heartless person who can look at this evidence and say that all that needs to be done is to hire the most qualified person regardless of race. By that reasoning, you know, Hannity, that the Haves will Get, and the HaveNots will Get Screwed! Being poor doesn’t equal being stupid. Those with none have the same capacity to learn and achieve if given a fair shot as those with everything.

One final point: Who do the racists vote for? Who do the KKK that vote, vote for? What party does David Dukes Claim? What was Strom Thurmond’s affiliation? After the civil right’s era? Stop someone with a rebel flag in their back window and ask them whether they voted for,

Bush or Clinton.

Clinton or Dole? 

Bush or Gore?

Bush or Kerry?

The prosecution rests. Racism and hypocrisy, like abortion, are dealbreakers.

I will not be voting alongside those who hate me! That would be the same as going to the Grand Wizard’s restaurant and orderin’ up a mess a’ fried chikken an’ greens! What would be the chances of my getting some added substances, some special sauce along with my order? I won’t vote for who the racists vote for, because their programs and such might cause harm to those who don’t share their hue. They might ignore real cases of racial mistreatment in order to feel good about themselves. Republicans don’t rock those kinds of boats. I will not look ahead in the line and find out that I and the disingenuous, dual-faced Hannity are buying the same items. 

I will not vote with those who claim Christ, but don’t SHOW Christ.

So, to my earlier question: Where is my party? How do I vote and maintain loyalty and integrity. I recognize the sacrifices made by those courageous forebears of mine. Blacks, of all Americans, have an obligation to vote. But what do I do? Independents are often irrelevant. How would Jesus vote? Would he align Himself with the baby-killers, or the racists? With the militant lesbian feminists, or the dispassionate Pharisaical hypocrites?

Where is the party of the morally upright (sex, crime, punishment, pro-life, family), fiscally sound (reasonable taxes, programs), socially compassionate (education, underprivileged compassion, racial fairness) American? Show me. Tell me. Write me.

 Before I close, I want to say that I attend a church that is iconoclastic in the sense that they tear down every negative stereotype about the interaction between Blacks and Whites! They are multi-racial, mostly White, and WONDERFUL! Our church has actively plunged into the torrid waters of racial reconciliation. They love me and I love them. They have almost made a liar out of me in this post, which is partly why I continually stated that I was generalizing. If the whole world were MY church, I dare say, we’d all be living just one floor below Heaven!

*Sean Combs, a hip-hop performer.

September 13, 2007 Posted by | Abortion, Ann Coulter, Barack Obama, Christianity, Conservatives, Democrats, George Bush, God, Hillary Clinton, Humor, Liberals, Mike Huckabee, Political Correctness, Politics, Race, Racism, Religious Right, Republicans, Sean Hannity | 9 Comments

On The ’08 Predilection- excuse me- PresiDENTial Election. sorry…

Maybe politicians who claim to be Christian and approve of abortion do so because a fetus can’t vote!

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” (The Lord, Jeremiah 1:5)

September 12, 2007 Posted by | Abortion, Al Gore, Barack Obama, Christianity, Current Events, Democrats, Dennis Kucinich, Faith, God, Hillary Clinton, Humor, Immorality, John Edwards, Juanita Bynum, Liberals, Morality, Oprah Winfrey, Planned Parenthood, Politics, Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, Religion | 1 Comment

Oh! I’m Sorry, God. Was That YOUR Sandwich?

How do you expect to spend eternity in

Someone’s house and not bother to get to know HIM?

Get to know the real God you claim.

September 12, 2007 Posted by | Advice, Bible, Christianity, Evangelism, Faith, God, Humor, Intelligent Design, Monotheism, Polytheism, Quips, Religion, Salvation, The Bible, Truth | Leave a comment

Juanita: The Transparent TeleVANDAList.

You ever had a feeling about someone, an inkling, an undelineated indication that you can’t specifically identify? I know you have. We all have from time to time. I have had this feeling on numerous occasions, and have been wrong a couple of times. However, I have been right a LOT.

 The person about whom I have this feeling currently is Juanita Bynum, the -self-proclaimed, self-fulfilled (pun)- prophetess. This feeling does not stem from my bitter aversion to her abuse of doctrine, or of her OBVIOUS prostitution of the Word and name of the Lord for her own personal accruement of wealth. (No, I am NOT jealous of her! No more than I would be jealous to usurp the position of anyone who would dare put a millstone around his own neck in the enterprise of misleading baby Christians!) No, this is not about her abominable doctrine.

I’ve heard her screeching at the top of her shrill voice countless prophecies that did not come to pass.  I’ve heard her say some of the most inappropriate, titillating things on the altar of the Lord that appear to be only for shock value. The shrieks of her mostly female audience prove my point. To her proponents, she is only being “real.” She intimidates those in her presence in a quite masculine manner. I’ve heard her demanding folk to empty their bank accounts and send them in. I’ve heard her speak of having “intercourse in the spirit(!)” with a male televandalist, and heard her justify this statement by saying “you have to have a male and a female” to do this! I’ve heard of her blessing out a woman in front of an entire assembly who DARED enter a thousand-dollar line with only fifty dollars! I have heard her torture the Scriptures in a more efficient fashion than an abattoir overseer!

I have heard all this and much more that I’ve forgotten, but her heresy is not my issue right now… When I hear her speak, I hear a profound arrogance. A pronounced self-importance! I get the sense when I hear her, that there’s no one in that room on her level. No one as important as she. The words she speaks seem to roll syruptitiously (my word) down her surgically reconstructed nose to the longing ears of her eager thrall.

I cannot STAND arrogance! How dare we seek to take credit from the Lord for any ability or blessing? Yes, one may claim to give God the glory, but their actions usually spell out the truth. She may claim humility, but she fairly drips with hubris.

I remember her relating a story one time recently where a niece of hers asked for a key to Bynum’s house. Bynum reproved her shrieking, “Naw, honey! I got MILLIONS in my house!” Her audience hummed approval; “Yeh, she DO! Umm-Hmm. Thass right, gurrl.” ARROGANCE. She often has her audience at the point where she can say just about any crazy thing without fear of reprisal. 

I come from a neighborhood where a lot of “worldly” guys lived. We had a pimp named “Percy” who lived down the street and always kept a yellow Cadillac and a woman with a rabbit fur coat on. Percy the Pimp!! The man next door did time for accessory to murder in the commission of an armed robbery. His son would lie and say, “He gone to the Army,” or, when we found out he was in prison, “He stole a lawn mower.”

There was a housing project in the neighborhood behind us, and when it was built, bikes mysteriously began coming up missing, and fences were erected in previously open yards. There were people who had a little, and people who had nothing, all living in the same neighborhood. We had police officers, teachers, like my parents, laborers, drunks, and hustlers, all there on Gainsville. There was a time when I was fairly gullible. I was quick to trust and believe the word of someone I thought my friend, because I thought the world was a nice place when I was five. I soon learned that if I were going to make it, I would have to be able to discern the truth from a lie. You see, a liar is not going to come straight out and say, “Okay, I’m gittin’ ret ta tell a lie, but ack like you believe me anyway*!” I had to get burned a few times before I figured out how to spot a liar. I had a guy in the second grade tell me that if I gave him my Hot Wheels ’68 Cougar, he had this machine at home that could turn it into a fancy CORVETTE! I’m STILL waiting on that car… You don’t have to have grown up on the streets to recognize a hustler when you see one, but it doesn’t hurt. (I saw Kobe’s arrogance WAY before he got into trouble!)

Watching Bynum on video doing an interview on her recent, alleged, beating at the hands of her Rook-I mean-Bishop husband left me with the sense that something was amiss. She was double-talking, contradicting earlier public statements in which she stated unequivocally that, “even if we KILL each other,” she would not leave her husband. Here, she emphatically pronounced the marriage over. She seemed the perfect victim: a few tears, an uncharacteristically calm, demure demeanor… All who know her story know that she is the dominant partner in the union. Just look at some of their photos.

 She has spent most of her on-air time since then touting her new destiny as the “Face of domestic abuse.” Not a scratch to be seen on that face. Now, I don’t expect her to come right out and say, “I’m gone ride this hoss till it DROP!” (that would be counter-productive) But something in her words and manner says just that! Growing up as I did makes me kind of recognize when someone is “Runnin’ Game,”** as we say.

I noticed that she said repeatedly, on the video, that she would not disparage Weeks, “As long as he is my husband.” (transparent statement) But I also heard her repeatedly refer to the occurrence as “a parking lot incident.” Over and over. I was reminded of Mark Antony’s clever speech in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” He claimed that he came not to praise Caesar, but to bury him, all the while subtly turning the crowd’s wrath on the men who murdered him while constantly repeating that they were “All, all honorable men.” I don’t know if the “Prophetess” ever read the play, but I recognized the strategy, and she employed it deftly!

I have seen the faces of beaten women, and they look just that. Beaten. Why do I have to pause here and say that any man who hits a woman is a punk? Of course that is the case. If he did it, HE needs to be medicated in the same way, so to speak. But I suggest that even if he just pushed her down, or tripped her, she can SAY that he did whatever to her, and will automatically be believed. I have seen it happen. Why were there no pictures of her face?

Why did she go after him when he chose to leave?

If you are going to fight in a parking lot, you’ll fight in a restaurant. If he was that angry, he would have done it inside. They are both public places.

The bellhop said THEY were fighting, not just that he was beating her.

She has used her platform as a motivational speaker (that’s all she really is) cleverly enough so that her legion of fans need nothing but her word that he did whatever she says he did in order to be convinced. She is so arrogant and prideful, that she, supposedly a minister, adamantly pronounces the marriage over- with NO adultery, the ONLY Biblical reason- and states that she would have to give 250% to her union in order to save it, while her ministry, her DESTINY, is more important, requiring only 190%! Does she not know that God says that you sin if you forsake marriage for ministry? Is it more important to be the the face of domestic violence than to lead souls to Living Water? Or, is it simply more lucrative?Does not Christ and the Gospel suffice? Should she not concentrate on proper exegesis and marital soundness? Should she not learn how to-Biblically- submit her pride and arrogance as a proper wife? 

Has she not made a cottage industry out of “teaching me how to love you,” and counselling couples and “ministering” to hurting women who need a good man? Should she and her husband already know how to navigate such waters as these? Don’t they know that God can fix anything? Are her “millions” more important than her standing before the God she claims to serve and obey?

I guess I write this because I know that she is about to milk this incident dry. At the expense of women who really have been brutally abused and murdered at the hands of their husbands and boyfriends. I am tired of her ubiquitous presence on “Christian” airwaves. I am sick of hucksters, pimps, and dream-sellers abusing those really in need, and unlearned. I am sick of the arrogance and pride with which they so boldly bilk the multitudes. It is just another business angle for her, and I’m frustrated because it is all so transparent.

There is just something about her demeanor and attitude that rubs me the opposite way. Something in that shrill, croaking voice that does not impress upon me the love of God… There appears to be a character chip missing from the programming. I don’t see that she truly respects people. Certainly not the ones whom she demands empty their bank accounts and such! There is refuge for her, I guess, in the fact that I’m not a prophet, not a mind-reader. But I know I’m right, and many of you feel it too. Is that what the Bible calls, “discernment?”

Maybe. However, I can’t stand arrogance in people. It’s okay if I esteem you, brother, as better than me, but humbug it if YOU esteem yourself so! How dare you, Rosie O’Donnell, or Trump (Paula White’s landlord), or T.O., or Bynum, or anypuffed-up “Apostle,” or “Bishop,” or any other phoney prideful prognosticator seek God’s prominence for yourself based on how much money, or power, or influence you have?! I don’t hate you, but according to I Cor. 5, specifically, verse eleven, I wouldn’t, don’t have to, even EAT with you, or anyone so haughty and disingenuous as to claim Jesus and be so obviously, repeatedly, out of His will. Get fixed up. Quickly.

Pride goeth before the fall, baby girl! Thass Proverbs 16:18! 

*”I am preparing to prevaricate. Conduct yourself as though you are benighted to this fact!”

**Being deceptive

September 9, 2007 Posted by | Bishop, Bishop Thomas Weeks, Character, Charlatans, Christianity, Commitment, Common Sense, Current Events, Divorce, Faith Healer, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, God, Humor, Jesus, Juanita Bynum, Language, Marriage, Morality, Paula White, Personal Responsibility, Prophetess Juanita Bynum, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Rationality, Religion, Respect, Sin, TBN, Televangelists, The Bible, Thomas Weeks, Word of Faith | 6 Comments

Charlatan’s Web

I’m sitting here at this very moment listening to Creflo Dollar telling his congregants that the only way to deal with negative or sinful thoughts is to use words. And that if you say a negative thing such as, “I don’t believe I’ll live past 35,” you’ll die at 34 1/2. He has seen it happen!

This is the core of the Word of Faith lie: that the world is governed by the words you SAY.

A thought occurred to me: What about people who can’t talk? Can they not be delivered from negative thoughts? Can a mute person not be healed because he has no tongue with which to speak? What about someone in a hospital who is bandaged up and unable to say words out loud? This is some stupid, un-thought out theo-illogical materialistic madness! Please, people, stop giving these charlatans a foothold in your minds and pockets, and THINK!

This is ridiculous! And so many have bought into it because THEY want to be in control of whether they are healthy, or wealthy enough. When I was a child I would sometimes sneak and do something without asking my folks, because I knew there was a possibility they would tell me “no” if I asked. We are often scared to ask, “if it be thy will” because we know that He may not desire that we get the high-paying job, or the big house, or the flashy car. He may tell us that His “grace is sufficient,” and we may not want to know that.

Christianity is not about jobs, cars, breakthroughs, situations, and other sloganistic foolishness. It is about serving God, worshipping God, SUFFERING for, and like, Christ, and for telling everybody else who He really is and what He really DID!

He says that the Christian does not want the responsibility of changing their own situation. That we want to see what GOD’S gonna do for us.

That is very clever. To take what God has told us is  HIS job, and make it seem as though it is a sin to act that way, but proper to command God to do OUR will.

“See, you still think GOD’S in control!” He says boldly. Creflo thinks that we need to know that God has given US the control. Blasphemer! What kind of god does he, or you if you follow him, serve who gives up the wheel?

These Word of Faith hucksters weave a web of lies that ensnare the greedy and selfish among us. They are infecting the entire world with this counterfeit brand of Christianity, and the only way to stop it is for REAL Christians to learn the Word of God-book by book and not quote by quote- and to stand up and sit these spiders down!

September 7, 2007 Posted by | Benny Hinn, Charlatans, Christianity, Creflo Dollar, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, Frederick Price, God, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Paula White, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Religion, Rod Parsley, TBN, Televangelists, Word of Faith | 10 Comments

The Charlatan’s Mantra

 “Have a need?

Plant a seed.

Stop! Don’t read!

Put on speed!

Feed my greed!”

Sheep, take heed!      Derrick L. Williams

September 5, 2007 Posted by | Benny Hinn, Bishop, Bishop Clarence McClendon, Bishop Thomas Weeks, Charlatans, Christianity, Creflo Dollar, E. Bernard Jordan, Faith Healer, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, Food for Thought, Frederick Price, God, Hermeneutics, Immorality, Joel Osteen, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Kerney Thomas, Paul Crouch, Paula White, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Quips, Religion, Robert Tilton, Rod Parsley, Salvation, TBN, Televangelists, The Bible, Thomas Weeks, Truth, Word Network, Word of Faith | 5 Comments

Jazz- Proof of God.

I was watching Phil Woods at the recommendation of a friend, and it struck me that something this beautiful could only have been created in us by Someone as sublime as a God. THE God. We didn’t rise from primordial slime to this!

I am glad someone was inspired to invent this instrument, and this vehicle.

I’m glad I play it, and wish I sounded this good! Yes, I’m baised, but I ain’t wrong!

Take six minutes or so, and be carried away.

Thanx, Lord.

August 31, 2007 Posted by | Art, Atheism, Christianity, Entertainment, evolution, God, Intelligent Design, Jazz, Music, Phil Woods | Leave a comment

“Check, Mate.” He said with his hand out.

The Christian journey can be like a real-life chess match,

 and one must beware of Rooks* posing as Bishops!

*A trickster, or cheat. Hint, hint…

August 27, 2007 Posted by | Benny Hinn, Bishop, Charlatans, Christianity, Common Sense, Creflo Dollar, Current Events, False Doctrine, False Profits, False Prophets, False Teachers, Frederick Price, God, Humor, Joel Osteen, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Logic, Paul Crouch, Praise-a-thon, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Quips, Religion, TBN, Televangelists, The Bible, Word of Faith | 1 Comment

The Passion of The Christ II: THIS time, It’s PERSONAL!!

I’ve got this great idea for a movie: This hero comes to save mankind and is wrongfully put to death. He goes to hell and engages in this epic three day battle with Satan, the ruler of hell. It is a war of unrivalled proportions, the hero wrestling the devil for his keys to death and hell emerges victorious with the keys clutched in his upraised hand!

One problem, though: that script has already been written by Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Frederick Price, and their brand. While the Bible says that it wouldn’t take God three days to whup NObody, and that Jesus paid the whole debt ON the cross, the Word of Faith faithful feel the need to punch up God’s script with an extra action scene. ( The archangel Michael already beat the devil once!)

And another thing; Satan doesn’t rule hell! Hell is where he and his folk will be cast at the end of all things. If he were “in” hell, how was he “slithering” through the garden whispering in Eve’s ear? How was he in the presence of God debating Job’s trust or lack of trust? Why should we beware a roaring lion who lives in hell? How could he seek and devour us from there? He is not omnipresent! Revelation says that Satan was hurled to the EARTH with his angels. Even a little common sense and logic would shut these guys up.

And down.

These people kill me! Putting spinning, chrome rims on a Gullwing Mercedes! Gold-plating the Hope Diamond to make it shine! Putting rhinestones on an Armani suit! Putting wallpaper on the Sixteen Chapels! (I know!) Trying to shellac the Mona Lisa! (Personally, though, I don’t get her. She looks like Benny Franklin.)  The Atonement is a flawless fact as it is.

The Bible is a wonderfully woven tapestry.

Why try to make it better than God already did?

“It is finished.”

“Absent from the body, present with the Lord.”

“This day you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Jesus’ work was done on the cross. Price says that ANY man could have died on the cross if that was all it took, that He had to go to hell to finish the work. Yeah, any PERFECT man! You know one? Another one?

Let’s study our bibles, folks, so we can shut these racketeers- I mean- raconteurs down.

August 27, 2007 Posted by | Atonement, Charlatans, Christianity, Common Sense, Creflo Dollar, False Prophets, False Teachers, Frederick Price, God, Hell, Hermeneutics, Humor, Jesus, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Logic, Pulpit Pimps, Redemption, Religion, Salvation, TBN, Televangelists, The Bible, The Nature of God, Word of Faith | 2 Comments

Scrutiny Is Mutiny!

The following is a letter I wrote to the famous Word of Faith preacher, Creflo Dollar a few years ago. He is a prosperity preacher in the line of Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Clarence McClendon, Frederick K.C. Price, Rod Parsley, and many others. It was in response to a horrendously unbiblical doctrine he and his ilk espouse which suggests that mankind can and should aspire to Godhood. It also makes God submissive, in a way, to men in the “earth realm.”

 This appears to be a foundational tenet of the WOF movement, which is marked by a desire, not for God, but for the STUFF God has. Prosperity. Health. They also characterize “faith” as a substance one uses, through words, to accomplish one’s personal will. It is my opinion that they are charlatans, who have become rich at the expense of their uninformed followers. They populate the “Christian” airwaves to the point where they have become what many, if not most, mistakenly believe to be true Christianity. TBN, with their periodic “Praise-a-thons,” often feature the aforementioned “celeverends” along with other false prophets such as, Benny Hinn, Juanita Bynum, and Paul Crouch. We are often the butt of ridicule because of them. Rolling old women for their last dime! I am sick of it. We have to defend God in the face of this wanton materialism.I spent so much time complaining about this particular program, that one friend suggested that I do something about it, so I, having recorded the program (I still have it), wrote him, going line by line. The letter is, therefore, quite long and if you do read it, you have my gratitude. The crowning insult is that after having done all this work, sending this uncomplementary letter (14 handwritten pages!) via hardcopy AND email, What I received in return was a FORM LETTER THANKING ME FOR MY FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION AND ASKING FOR MY INFORMATION SO THAT I COULD MORE EASILY SEND MORE!!This guy cannot fear the God he claims to know! Thank you in advance for your time. Feel free to be outraged.

Dr. Creflo Dollar Worldchangers.orgI was recently watching your program (Developing Faith in the Anointing, the week of February 19-23) and I saw a number of things that disturbed me greatly. I was frustrated and dismayed at what I heard, and at the behest of a friend, was left with no option but to write you.

I am a Christian who takes seriously the exhortation of Jude to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” Jesus left us with a Gospel that was pure and in no need of our embellishment, and daily I see the outline of that Gospel fading and changing into something base and tainted.

It seems that the average “Christian” today has only a cursory knowledge of the belief system he lays claim to. Just enough to send him down that, wide path that leads to misery and teeth ground to powder! They glance sidelong at the light God put in us all, but instead of walking toward it, they head in the opposite direction toward the gospel of Earthly Pleasures.

Everywhere I turn, I seem to bump into someone who thinks that what Christianity is about is doing enough good deeds to go to heaven. And more and more, I run into amateur poets naming and claiming, believing and receiving, blabbing and grabbing, confessing and possessing ad nauseam! They treat the sovereign God of the universe as some sort of pinata to be smashed open and pillaged at their own will. They ignore the fact that God has never agreed to grant us ANYthing outside of His will. The Bible teaches us repeatedly that we are to ask of God those things that fall within HIS will, not ours. If I want a wife, and God says “no,” I cannot simply reach up and symbolically snatch it out of His hand! If I want a new job or a new car or a house, no amount of faith will give it to me unless God says so.

We are to wrap ourselves around the desires of the Lord, but instead you and an increasing number of others are teaching, in a transparent attempt to appeal to our basic human desire for material possessions and physical well-being, that God is a piece of string to be tied around our fingers. We with the wisdom of gum wrappers!! And when our prayers are not answered to our liking, you make us feel that our faith is lacking rather than noting that perhaps an all-knowing God knows what is best for us. Or that perhaps the “preacher” is not who he claims to be.

These and other of your teachings are disillusioning countless millions, and turning them from the true Gospel that has for us far, far more than our ephemeral satisfaction! “Store up for yourselves treasures in HEAVEN. . . .” “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him. . . .” But bibles are left unread and multitudes leave their churches (if they even go at all) and God until next Sunday. They don’t study His word, and therefore, place themselves at the feet of whatever wolf wears the best sheep suit.

Our culture is hopelessly materialistic. We run ourselves ragged in pursuit of the sybaritic lifestyle Epicurus spoke of. We want as much money as we can get and all it can buy. We want offices on the top floor, personalized parking spots and license plates, mansions with views, fame, glory, and bodies free from pain.

And, seemingly, in response to this societal hue and cry, certain men of the cloth have created a god that answers all these demands. This god is not unlike the genie in the Arabian tale, only this one will grant an unlimited number of wishes. If you want a promotion, click your heels together! If you want your debt wiped out supernaturally–fold your arms and blink! If you want your cancer healed–wiggle your nose! If you want a loved one raised from the dead–say abracadabra! Presto! If you suffer in your life in any way, it is only because you don’t have enough Faith in the genie to invoke his power. He is at your beck and call, there to be bent and twisted to your will! Isn’t that wonderful?!

Where was he when Paul was suffering imprisonment, torture, and infirmity? Where was he when all those disciples–those who ate, slept, and walked with Jesus–were killed for believing in Him? Where was the genie when Christians in the early church days lived in the catacombs beneath Rome to escape persecution? Where was he when martyrs throughout the ages willingly gave their lives in the fellowship of Christ’s suffering? If only they had known, it could have all been avoided; the lions, the suffering, the misery, the beheading, the burning at the stake.

Instead, they held fast to a God that taught that to follow Him would bring suffering. This God says that in our weakness His strength takes center stage. This God says that, for many of us, a life of ease can bring forgetfulness and self-reliance. This God says that rather than laboring and hoping for corruptible material possessions, the true prize is unseen and unfathomed. This God says that in following Him, you forfeit your life for that which is greater. This God is not a respecter of men and cannot be bent to the will of any man. His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not ours. Our genius is less than His foolishness. His love is for our souls, not our pocketbooks and our soft bellies.

My point is that so many Christians today are easily led and misled by what they see and what they want. They don’t know the whole truth, and so much of what is out there is–at a glance–just an unreasonable facsimile. We have so much blind faith in the man in the pulpit that–unlike the Bereans–we are subject to whatever he says without scrutiny (scrutiny is mutiny!). If the pastor says “ask and receive,” we believe it without exploring the CONTEXT that proper interpretation demands. If the pastor says “move mountains,” we don’t wonder why none of us has ever moved one. We just go along to get along–at the expense of proper exegesis and countless souls.

As I mentioned at the outset, your program bothered me to the point of response. While I possess no doctorates or ordinations, I consider myself a member of the priesthood of all believers. How could I watch problematic teaching go forth and not be moved to some kind of action? While you may or may not agree with the content of this letter (if I pray–in Faith–that your doctrine changes, will it?), the Bible speaks loudly enough. It is my desire that you take a look at your teachings and their potential harm to your followers.

At the beginning of your program, you stated that God has set in motion laws that He Himself can’t contravene. While this is partially true in the sense that two plus two will always be four, and that God, being Holy, cannot sin, your purpose for making this statement is an attempt to make the sovereign God of the universe subject to something or someone other than Himself. This is evidenced by your repeated and persistent use of such terms as “illegally,” and “no legal authority.” How appalling to suggest that the God who owns the earth and the fullness thereof, (Psalm 24:1) the God who does whatsoever He pleases (Psalm 115:3, 135:6), the God who dresses Job down unequivocally can be constrained by anything!

You say that God cannot do anything in this “earth realm” without a physical body, but you provide no biblical basis for the assertion. Remember that even if you were able to twist some verse from the Bible to support this far-fetched claim, context demands that it be reconciled with the overwhelming number of verses that proclaim God’s ultimate “authority!”  The God of all that is will not contradict Himself.

You say that Adam was created with blood type “G,” insinuating that he was some kind of  direct representation of God. As though when you looked at Adam, you saw God. You appear to take the fact that God gave Adam “dominion” to mean he (Adam) was in ultimate control. However, Adam was in dominion in the same sense that we “own” our bodies, and that we “own” our material possessions, and that the house I rent is mine. Once again, the context of the Bible as a whole makes this unmistakably clear. Rather than Jesus being the last Adam, you seem to view Adam as the first Jesus. Any baby Christian knows that Adam sinned, God cannot sin and therefore Adam can in no way be God. Besides, God Himself said that there is, was, and will be, only one God–big “G” or little “g.”

A little later on, you go to Matthew 5:1, where Jesus drives the demons from the man at Gerasa. The Bible says that the man, seeing Jesus and immediately knowing Him, ran up to Him and fell to his knees in the posture of genuflection, and begs the Lord not to torture him. By all indications, he appears to react to Jesus the way a subdued bully would his conqueror. Verse ten says that he “begged Jesus again and again.” He is in the presence of the Almighty God and knows it.

You, however, place the demons in the position of telling Jesus where He can and cannot be (to the amens of your flock), and what He can and cannot do, “You can’t touch me!” (Wagging his finger in Jesus’ face!) You say that where the demon was right was in the fact that God has no legal authority to be “on this planet if You don’t have a physical body.” You assert that God can’t operate in this “earth realm” since Adam supposedly gave God’s power to do so over to Satan when he sinned in the garden. Were this true, how does God destroy the earth by flood, or destroy Sodom and Gomorrah by fire, or cause the walls of Jericho to fall, or protect the Israelites with a pillar of fire, or part the Red Sea, or rain manna from the sky, or cause Balaam’s donkey to speak, or interact with Old Testament figures on dozens and dozens of occasions? This is an absurd assertion. Your scenario plays out like a novel, and a bad one, full of contradictions and loose ends!

I am led to believe, and I may be wrong, that the fact that you (and those of the same ilk) express the need for God to have a “physical body” in order to operate “on this planet” is some desire to elevate humanity to the level of some kind of deity. You would not be the first. Creation has been aspiring to the throne of God from the beginning. Satan told Eve that to eat of the forbidden fruit would make her like God. Satan himself was tossed out of heaven for that desire. The builders of the tower of Babel attempted to reach heaven. So you may be in well-known company.

You go to 1John 4:1-6, which illustrates that those who deny that Jesus Christ (God in human form) came in the flesh are false prophets. You use this passage to promulgate your theory that God needs a physical body to cast out demons. In your dramatization, you have demons with their hands on their hips sassing God, saying, “What in the world are you doing here, God? . . . I don’t have a physical body, and You don’t have a physical body. . . . You can’t fool me with that body on.”

Now, according to you, the demons are addressing Jesus (they called him “God”), but they say He doesn’t have a body. Then, in the same statement, you say He has a “body on.” This seems like jibber-jabber, but I’m just a layman. You seem to have my Lord and Master relegated to playing a cosmic game of  “Simon Sez.”

Next, you send Jesus to hell “illegally” to orchestrate a prison break. Jesus is like Richard Burton in “Where Eagles Dare,” dressed up as a German officer, or a damned soul sneaking around the dungeon unlocking cells and finally throwing off His disguise in triumph, to Satan’s horror. Trumpets blow a fanfare as Satan realizes he’s lost! Even though your god triumphs in his undercover cop role, your version of events is not biblical, and that is the point. The nature of God is the crux of this issue.

You say Jesus was in hell for three days and nights, but nowhere does the Bible advance this assertion. You use as confirmation Acts 2, saying “He suffered the pains of death.” Acts 2:24 actually says that “God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death. . . .” Obviously, this passage speaks of Jesus’ torture and suffering on the cross, and the manner in which He died, so your declaration that Jesus went to hell for our redemption needs, and will not find, further proof.

Jesus said “Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit.” When He breathed His last, He said “It is finished.” Was He just talking about His life? Or the work He came here to do? The context confirms the latter. He told the thief on the cross that “today” he would be with Jesus in paradise. When the Bible spoke of Jesus being in the heart of the earth for three days and nights, clearly it was speaking of the grave, not hell.

It seems to my uneducated ear, that when you say that Jesus was the “first born of many brethren,” you are implying that “since there is a first one . . . there’s got to be a second one . . . like Him and a third one . . . like Him ( and a) fourth one . . . like Him,” that you, a mere mortal man in no way deific, are “somewhere in the number” of beings like God. This worries me, and seeing the cheering thousands in your congregation, and the frequency with which you appear on the air, I would hate to think that this throng of humanity could be led to believe they could possess the attributes of divinity, as well as believe these other misconceptions of God’s nature.

“Did Jesus come to this earth functioning as God?” you ask. The Biblical answer is “yes,” but in perhaps the cleverest twist of the program, you say “no.” Here you walk your listeners through a mine field, deftly avoiding true facts that could blow your whole tale to oblivion. You say that He had to come as a man in order to be an example to a man. First of all, Jesus came to earth to be the perfect sacrifice, the sinless Lamb, not to show us how to walk on water, and raise the dead and to be perfect. Those things, along with His other miracles and proclamations served to prove He is God.

Of course, His humanity was an example to us–service, humility, love, self-control–but He came as God and said so! Jesus said “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), and the Jews tried to stone Him, saying He claimed “to be God.” These people, well affiliated with Scripture knew what Jesus was saying. He said in John 8:58, that “before Abraham was born I am.” “I Am” is the name of God told to Moses in Exodus. Philippians 2:5-11 has Paul asserting Jesus’ deity. His deity is precisely the reason He was able to be sinless, despite what you say, otherwise we wouldn’t have needed Him, and somewhere else in history there would be evidence of perfect, sinless people.

It seems once again, in my crude thinking that this is a further attempt to snatch for yourself the attributes of God: the ability to do what He did, and to “develop your Faith to do any of the things you read about.” To those like me who would claim mere humanity, you say, waving your hands in praise, “I’m trying to tell you you ain’t just a man.” Dangerous.

Next, you move to James 1:13 in your first step in busting Jesus from His Supreme position to that of mere human. James 1:13: “God cannot be tempted by evil.” Question: Did Jesus come as God? (See where this is going?) You then go to Psalm 8:5 where David, in praise of God’s glory, says “You made Him a little lower than the angels.” While you say that the word “angels” in this verse is translated “Elohim,” there are a few definitions for this word, and the CONTEXT once again determines the meaning. (The cynic in me sees that in order to complete your scenario of Jesus being less than God, for however short a time, you must twist passages to make your case.) Man is created a little lower than angels, and Psalm 8 is speaking of man, based on verses 6 through 8. While “Elohim” does mean “God in Hebrew, it also can describe representatives of God, such as judges, and angels in this case.

The New Testament passages, Hebrews 2:7 and 2:9 use the Greek word, “Angelos” (It is very slick how you went to the Old Testament to get the word “Elohim!” Wasn’t the New Testament written in Greek?), meaning “angels.” (Notice the plurality of the word, while there is only one God) While the Psalms passage is speaking of man, the Hebrews passage is showing Jesus in His humanity. Since the Hebrews passage uses the word “angels,” the Bible, not contradicting itself, is clearly quoting the Psalms passage in a parallel comparison. Therefore, Jesus in Hebrews was made a little lower than the “Angelos” as was man in Psalms. He kept His deity (Philippians 2:5-11).

And what is that mish-mosh about birth certificate? You inquire of the devil, “Do you have a birth certificate?” And when he cannot produce one, you order him out of your house. Concerning the current practice of addressing the devil, many of today’s Christians could benefit greatly from reading Jude v. 8, and 2 Peter 2.

By the time you get to Hebrews 2:9 you have taken what thousands of years of biblical scholarship interpreted, and changed it in a matter of minutes! How proud you must be to have corrected such a glaring oversight. Now, men are “more than just men,” and Jesus is less than God!

How many of your followers go home and check for themselves–as we are instructed to do–to see if your new revelations are true?

Now, with the table set, since Jesus is apparently not God anymore (for a little while), you can have Him subject to the pressure of temptation. You have Satan presenting Jesus with all the kingdoms of the world. You say that it had all been turned over to him, which is false. Remember, the earth and everything in it belongs to God, according to Scripture. You say, “that’s exactly what Jesus came for,” and Satan says, ‘You bow down and worship me, I’ll give you everything back!’ “Don’t you think that was pressure on His flesh?!” you ask. First of all, Satan can’t give God what already belongs to Him! Secondly, Jesus didn’t come into the world and endure unimaginable suffering for stuff! Finally, was it pressure on His flesh? No! If it were, we’d still be in our sins waiting for someone better to come and save us.

You further attempt to demonstrate your point by illustrating an example where Jesus, when challenged by Satan that He turn stones into bread, reaches out to do it with His right hand and clamps His left hand over it to stop Himself. You are clearly saying that Jesus almost commits this act. You portray Jesus as almost taking Satan at his offer, which clearly contradicts Jesus’ own teaching that we sin even when we think of committing a sinful act. So, if Jesus mulls over the possibility of giving in to Satan’s temptation–for even a nanosecond–we are doomed. God cannot sin. (Were the “angels” who attended Jesus after his temptation in Matthew 4:11 “Elohim,” too? If so, do you have gods attending God?)

Many people mistakenly think that this “temptation” means that Jesus rubbed His chin, cocked His mouth to one side, rolled His eyes upward, and at the last second said “. . . Naw, no thanks.” This would violate the law of contradiction that a perfect God cannot break. What “temptation” means in this instance, is that Satan held a fresh, hot loaf of bread under Jesus’ nose, and the Saviour didn’t sniff. Jesus was made an offer–one that He didn’t consider accepting. If a moth threatens a Greyhound bus on the highway, does the bus even for an instant feel threatened? Context goes a long way toward eliminating apparent contradictions in the Bible.

If you haven’t torn this letter to pieces by now, God bless you (even if you have). A lot more could be said, but this is a letter, not a book. All that I am attempting to do in this undertaking is shed some light on some problematic issues. The body of Christ is plagued enough from without with heresies of many varieties. If we claim to be of Christ, our doctrine and teaching need to be evidence of that.

The vast majority of Christians seem to be as vulnerable to flawed theology as non-believers, and those called to teach should be careful when tampering with the unplowed field of naive, searching minds. Teachers are held to a stricter standard and are responsible for leading or misleading God’s children. I would hate to think that you are fully aware of this fact and purposely say such disturbing things.

The true Scriptures are infinitely more interesting, suspenseful, and dramatic than any story invented by our weak human brains. Those thousands and millions drawn to your church and your telecasts will be just as enthralled by the truth, and their souls will be eternally more advantaged.

“With gentleness and respect”

Derrick L. Williams

He still preaches this stuff to this very day. Just check YouTube.

August 21, 2007 Posted by | Atonement, Benny Hinn, Bishop Clarence McClendon, Christianity, Creflo Dollar, Faith, False Doctrine, False Profits, False Prophets, False Teachers, Frederick Price, God, Hell, Jesus, Joel Osteen, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Paul Crouch, Praise-a-thon, Prosperity Gospel, Pulpit Pimps, Religion, Rod Parsley, TBN, Televangelists, The Bible, The Nature of God, Word of Faith | 26 Comments

“What Building? All I See Is A Wall!” said the Ant

Let me get this straight: The farther we get away from an event, the LESS true it becomes? This is Bill Maher’s logic. That because somebody told somebody else that some guy named “Jesus” allegedly lived two thousand years ago, and allegedly rose from the dead (how ridiculous!), flew up to heaven, and told us that we also would eventually rise, too much time has passed, and we are too modern to believe such fairy tales. (when was the present ever past? all times were modern once) By this reasoning, what we say and do now will, in twenty more centuries, not have been said or done. Time doesn’t diminish truth! (Look at how revered Muhammad Ali is now. People hated him forty years ago for his stance on the war.) 

People like Maher call Christians arrogant for assuming that they know the Truth shown them by some MAN, but how much more arrogant is it for him to command God to personally show him the facts?! (He DID already) Besides, he believes just as firmly the truth of the position he promulgates as I do mine. Yet no one points this logical contradiction out to him. He calls Christians naive for denouncing evolution, but how much more naive is it for him to hold onto an invisible rope that believes everything came from nothing?! People like this use the Bible like anti-biotics; they take in just a little bit, thinking they’ve got enough, and before long, the ignorance causes calamity. We have to take the FULL dosage in order to be made whole.Standing in the front doorway of the Empire State Building will not give me an indication of its grandeur, but from a few blocks away, its fulness can be known more clearly. Likewise, moving farther away from the life of Jesus can give us a true perspective on His actual Godness.

Many of those seeing Him up close completely missed the big picture, thinking He was there to conquer the Romans in warfare, or that He was merely a troublemaker.

Time and distance show us who Jesus really was. We see a Church numbering into perhaps billions in spite of centuries of persecution and martyrdom. With the canonization of the entire Scripture, we see fulfilled prophecies and numerous healings and other miracles that point to His Godness. We have archaeological evidence and non-biblical testimony which verify the accuracy of the Bible, and the occurrences of miracles.

Maher cleverly “ridiculizes” the Christian faith by saying things such as, “Christians look up in the sky waiting for some MAAAGICAL man to fly down and scoop them up and flyyyy them through the solar system to a place called ‘Heaven.’ This invisible magic man in the sky wrote the Bible with his invisible hand, and taaaalks to them and tells them seeecrets and stuff.”

He didn’t say these exact words, but I’ve heard him say this kind of stuff many times. I actually think he is quite funny. Just misguided. And I DON’T mean that condescendingly.

The thing is, one could use that line to make anything seem stupid: ca. 1893. “There’s this guy who’s goin’ around sayin that in a hunnerd years, man’s gone be able da flyyyy through tha aaairrr in big giant metal macheeeens! He claims we’ll be able da clear fordy akers a’ land ‘thout horse nur MULE! He says that a fella’ll be able da stan’ in Neew Yo-werk Ciddy’n tawk inta this thang called a my-kro-phoam ‘n’ you c’n see ’em clear in Nevada on whatcha call a pitcher-box at da saaaame tiiiime! Heck, he ee’m reckons a man’ll WALK ON DA MOON! Have you ever heard such a load a’ puckey in yer LIFE?!”

The point is that those with a finite degree of understanding on a particular subject are well-served to understand that the human mind cannot contain infinite knowledge. What seems ridiculous is not necessarily so in the objective light of the facts. Sure, Mr. Maher, your jokes make me laugh. You are proof that it takes brains to be funny, but making a thing sound ridiculous does not necessarily make that thing a lie.

Who would’ve thought that a man could survive with a plastic heart? Who would’ve thought that a woman could be impregnated with sperm from a freezer?

And speaking of “ridiculous,” who, in the face of a mountain range of evidence, could still believe that we evolved from a single-celled organism, increasingly, stage by agonizing stage, realizing our limitations, and encoding the improvements to the next model, billions, quintillions of times, achieving the capacity for self-awareness, lust, and morality? When science tells us that things go in the OPPOSITE direction, from order to DISorder. How absuuurd! And who thinks of a fetus anymore as a “blob of GOO” as you put it?

Darwin can almost be excused for thinking such things, since he lived a century and a half ago, but not someone enlightened. You would rather believe in a racist theory with shaky – at best- evidence than to believe that an all-powerful being cannot exist without being seen. Heck, I exist, and Stevie Wonder can’t see ME! YOU have never seen me. I submit that EVERYTHING is the evidence of His being. Even the basic fact that you can think.

You say that you don’t know, one way or the other, but from the OTHER side of your mouth, you go about the business of trying to PROVE God’s nonexistence. What is the real truth?

The facts are out there but I fear that, like a President, you only listen to the ones that agree with your already made-up mind!

August 16, 2007 Posted by | Atheism, Bill Maher, Christianity, Common Sense, Current Events, evolution, Faith, God, Jesus, Logic, Miracles, Religion, The Bible, Truth | 1 Comment

THE RHETORICAL ORACLE

Do we admire athletes and artists because they triumph over human limitations to achieve excellence? And, by contrast, do we not worship God as we should because we think everything comes so easily for Him?

Why are we not overwhelmed to the point of apoplexy at the unparallelled scientific genius, the artistic beauty of all of creation? Do we hate the fact that we didn’t do it? Are we jealous that we have to work and fail and work some more to achieve objectives, and that HE doesn’t? Is this the true motive behind evolution? That we ultimately get the credit, and not some “intelligent Designer?”

Why do we not marvel at the dexterity with which He orders and coordinates trillions upon trillions of thoughts, actions, and occurrences without error, and without violating our volition, and yet cheer wildly the carnival juggler who can keep three rubber balls in the air?

Why do we, who cannot keep our own lusts in check, not wither at the thought of the Power that can control oceans, storms, behemoths, galaxies, AND the ability to force us to love Him?

Is it easy for you, Lord? Should it even matter that it is?

Shouldn’t we LOVE flawlessness? Don’t we desire the effortlessly beautiful woman who looks wonderful without working at it? Don’t we love the singer with the six-octave range and perfect pitch? Don’t we idolize the athlete who can execute impossible feats without effort?

Shouldn’t we be floored that someone as important and perfect as God knows us? By name? And yet loves us?! Don’t we wish the same of the famous actor?

Is it not amazing that God, GOD(!), would stoop to give Himself for we so unworthy?  Who else could, or would, do it?

Should we serve a God who sweats?

Who strains?

Who squints?

How then, would He be different from us? Should God have to double-check His paper before turning it in, or ask for directions, or add a little salt, or use a thesaurus, or look for the keys?

If everything didn’t come easily for God, how could we have total faith?

Wouldn’t there be the possibility that He would eventually get tired, or stumble, or that His muscles would give out? 

Or that the devil might win?

How could we have ultimate confidence in someone whose motor might eventually throw a rod?

Is there any middle ground? Can one be indifferent in the face of such brilliance? Such power?

Such love

August 7, 2007 Posted by | Atheism, Christianity, evolution, God | 1 Comment

Jesus Is Not The Result Of An Opinion Poll

Christianity is not right because I say so, any more than Niagra Falls is beautiful because of the mere opinion of the first person to see it.

He and I just adhered to the facts.

July 19, 2007 Posted by | Christianity, Common Sense, Food for Thought, God, Jesus, Logic, Religion, Truth | Leave a comment

I HATE Orange Helephinos!

Christopher Hitchens* has to be the angriest atheist in the world. Is it rational to be so angry at that which does not exist? Would I sound sane if I exhibited such anger at the men from Mars (by whom some swear) for not giving mankind the cures for all human diseases, and the secret to ending all conflict? Nurpe!

So why do people look at Hitchens as such a prodigious intellect?

He uses such large words!

He’s so “Stratford-upon-Avon” the way he strings them together so seamlessly.

Hespeakssoefficientlyquickly! Like a swift little pugilist, pummelling one with all manner of jabs that cannot be easily defended.

He is so condescendingly witty- in lieu of strong arguments. He points out so incisively all those ridiculous contradictions in the Bible. Contradictions which billions of Christians over thousands of years were either too stupid or too naiive to notice. He is quite rude, and we all know that tortured geniuses are too ingenuous- I mean inGENIOUS- to suffer the shortcomings of fools!  And “genyasses” are the only ones we allow to be that putridly arrogant! He must be a genius because he is too busy thinking up thoughts to think about combing his hair or wiping all that sweat off!And he’s British! Thaaat’s it! That fact alone is worth forty more IQ points!Honestly, of COURSE he is smart enough to know God exists, he’s just mad at Him for occupying the throne Hitchens aspires to!You, Mr. Hitchens say (on “Hardball, with Chris Matthews”) that our morality is innate. When you say, “innate,” I hear, “God-given.”

Same exact thing.

Where do you think the “sense of right and wrong” comes from? You quote passages egregiously out of context and use them not to make your point, but to make God and the Bible seem ridiculous. You do violence, so to speak, to the truth of Scripture.

If I read a random line from a James Patterson novel that said, “Kill the children,” would I be fair in surmising that Patterson advocates the murder of children? You do no different in your scriptural dart throwing. I could suggest that you study the Bible using fair and established methods of interpretation, but you don’t want to do that. You only use that Book to try to beat God and Christians to death or silence.

You are so intelligent! Way too smart to hand the keys of creation to anyone but Thyself.

 “Innate morality!” Please! You wouldn’t say that if you were boiling in some cannibal’s pot in the Amazon!

“This is wrong, this is WRONG!  This entire enterprise is a travesty!” he shouted, as they stirred, adding cumin for flavor…

You’re more ingenious than that! But, to him, eating you is- innately- the right thing to do. By your reasoning, no one has the right to say ANY act is wrong.

You know that your logic is self-contradictory and flawed.

You know that the universe didn’t order itself, make itself.

You know that you cannot prove a negative.

 You know that you must carry the burden of proving that a thing does NOT exist.

You know that a cell is as structured as a city.

You know what Herculean faith it would take to believe otherwise.

You make people laugh, but l’ll bet you don’t laugh in the solitude of your own thoughts. You know that the test is coming. Eat, drink, and be merry… And be extraordinarily intelligent at the same time.

I know that I am being sarcastic, but I do so for a reason.

A bit of the hair of the dog, eh, wot?

*An author and up-and-coming celebrity

July 17, 2007 Posted by | Arrogance, Atheism, Christianity, Christopher Hitchens, evolution, God, Humor, Religion | 3 Comments

YOU CAN’T WRAP THE POLE AROUND THE SNAKE

If God changed the rules just for you, He would be doing dirt to those condemned all through history. You don’t agree with what you were told the Bible says, or with what you read in it, but you perhaps want to feel “spiritual”, whatever that really means, so you rationalize your desires by changing the properties of God to fit your behavior or thought pattern. You say, and begin to believe, that those fanatic, fundamentalist prudes just took verses out of context in order to oppress and control others.

Only you and those who think like you have the TRUE God. You don’t apply strict hermeneutic principles of interpretation, in fact, you rarely use the Bible at all to find and do God’s will– You and He are TIGHTER than that. He bypasses the Word and speaks to your very heart.
So you develop this world view that lets you get high, or mess around sexually, or think that there is no inherent difference between men and women.

He lets you believe that your countless good deeds will allow you to bypass the normal process of entrance into Heaven. Y’all are tight like that. He knows YOUR heart. The Bible, for you, is no more than a general rule of thumb, having been so irrevocably corrupted by mere men over the centuries.

So, why even bother to read it? It doesn’t matter that what He spoke to YOUR heart was the EXACT opposite of what He told the Muslim, and the Hindu, and the Universalist, and the Jehovah’s Witness, and the Mormon. You say they all are true, and that everyone must find his own path. That is SOOO deep! Wowww!

Never mind the logical absurdity of the whole thing, it works for you, and your life is good right now. Besides, nobody REALLY knows how the whole thing shakes out anyway. We probably will all  just cease to exist when we die, so we should get the most out of life now. You are just playing it safe by putting a chip on every number on the wheel.

Whatever the truth ends up being, though, you KNOW those crazy evangelical pain in the butt repressed know-it-all Christians are the only ones who are DEAD wrong! Any fool can see that!
You and God are TIGHT!
Closer than grits ‘n gravy.
Tighter than a fat man’s shoes, and a ten-year-old Easter suit!
He wouldn’t let you go wrong.

Just one thing, though. You might wanna check just to be sure. I mean, you could leave here now and fall dead. You may have cancer right at this moment, and I would hate to think that someone as thorough as you seem to be might have missed a ‘t’ or an ‘i’.

What kind of God CHANGES? What kind of Supreme Omniscient Being fails to see around a corner or over a hill? Why would He have more than one standard? Why would He call Himself Everything to a Christian and Nothing to a Buddhist? How could He still be God?
Why would He tell some White men that Blacks are cursed and less significant, and tell some Blacks that White folks are devils?
How can He be God and be unable to preserve His Word throughout time?

Why would an infinitely ingenious God leave as the primary means of communication the fragile, inefficient, notoriously unreliable, often darkly wicked human mind? Or the fickle heart which fluctuates like a yo-yo dieter?
Would a true God say one thing about behavior at one point, and then say something else upon further review?
Would a God say “One man, one woman, no ‘co-habitating’, stay sober,” and then change His mind because He now sees that folks’ feelings are getting hurt, and that those views are now “old-fashioned?”
Would a God go out of style?
Would a God truly have a double-standard? One for you, and another for someone else? Wouldn’t His Standard be objective– viewable, knowable from every angle?
I suggest that since you and He are TIGHT you ask Him what and where that Standard is, and for Him to secure IT- and Himself- squarely in the center of your heart.

I say this because I don’t think a god that can be bent and twisted to your will- or my will- is strong or stable enough to do anything for anybody, let alone create a Heaven or an Earth. Let that god crumble amid the ruins.

I’m just looking out for you. Just a little common sense…

Cuz we TIGHT like that.

July 10, 2007 Posted by | Christianity, Common Sense, God, Morality, Political Correctness, Relativism, Religion, Truth | 1 Comment

A GODly ANTIHISTAMINE

My cousin has died. He was the big brother l always wanted, but never had.
It hurts awfully, but not as much as it did yesterday.
Tomorrow will be just a little easier.
What helps is the knowledge that he, being a believer, is gone from his body, but there with God.
The cold water to the face is the fact that each one of us will have to step up to the front of this life line and give our mortality back to our Maker.

Death is an ink stain on the fabric of life.
No matter how many times we scrub it, no matter how clean it looks,
the stain, the hurt, the fact, will never be completely gone.
And it is our own doing.

God, who cannot bear the company of sin, is like one of those bubble-kids without an immune system who cannot bear the presence of the merest germ. The environment must be completely pure.

The fact that one person at the dawn of time committed one seemingly insignificant internal transgression- no murder, no theft, no lie, no assault…- caused God such discomfort, if you will, that the ENTIRE creation suffered. Tornadoes, plane crashes, rapes, cancers, heart failures, carnivorous animal attacks. Arthritis, senators, torn cartilage, cross-burnings, job stress, cavities, chicken pox, murder. Hypothermia, abortion, divorce, perversion, K-cars, BEETS.
All because of one sin.

HE sneezed and the whole universe got the cold.

The thing is, though, that God Himself solved the problem. (This is the beauty of the Christian way that separates it from any other belief system. How can proclamation of this worldview be deemed arrogant? When no merely human hand can take credit?)
We have proven incapable of fixing it ourselves anyway. He clothed Himself in the very kind of flesh which was at the genesis of the issue.
He was, in Jesus, the antihistamine that mankind needed to stem the allergic reaction.

Look at it like this: Jesus took upon Himself the punishment for our crimes. He did the time, so to speak, for our contamination of God’s pure, sinless environment.
(And if you think you don’t deserve to be punished for what some guy may or may not have done thousands of years ago, you have committed enough transgressions of your own to suffice. Check your records!)

In doing so, He allowed us to be viewed by the Father through righteous-tinted lenses. We, still being wretched and depraved, are allowed access to fellowship on ACCOUNT of Jesus’ sinless life and work on the cross.

In the same sense, when l sneeze uncontrollably in early spring, l take some form of histamine blocker to assuage it. While l am still covered in pollen, l live as though free. This is Jesus! My allergies still exist, but l am assured of being able to go out into the world knowing that the Medicine is unfailingly, unceasingly effective.

July 5, 2007 Posted by | Death, God, Jesus, Salvation, Sin, The Fall, The Nature of God | Leave a comment

God: The Ultimate Indulgent Parent

Good parents try to give their kids (Yes! l said ”kids”) everything they need and most of what they want. It is common knowledge, however, that over-indulgent parents give their children all of what they want and little of what they actually need, like discipline and home-training (Yes! l said ”training”). Some young-uns get cars(!) as gifts while still in school, others get to talk back to their parents (WAY worse), and yet others can commit crimes and have their mothers defend their abhorrent behavior on the news.

 
What does that have to do with God? Is He over-indulgent? Of course not. God is the perfect Parent. He gives us what we need even when it is the LAST thing we want. But in the ultimate sense He indulges our want ( our will, if you will) even when He knows it is not what we need.

 
A lot of us have a serious problem with the concept of Hell. To the extent that we mis-characterize what it actually is, calling it torture (rather than torMENT– big difference), and accusing God of roasting us on a never-ending rotisserie (a lie). l believe l understand why people do this.

 
l remember an incident when l was a boy and was playing the brat. My mother had told me “no” to some request or other (Oh, my goodness! Call the ‘thorities! Thass aBUSE!), and l said something –not disrespectful — but stupid. I knew it then as now. She said, “Don’t make stupid remarks.” l immediately jumped on the victim wagon:

 
“You called me STUPID!”, trying to make her feel sorry and apologize. She didn’t take the bait.
“Boy, you KNOW l didn’t call you ‘stupid’!” (Yes, she called me “Boy”)

 
That was that. I never forgot it. And l never had the chance to, because l witnessed hundreds of incidences of the same tactic being used on teachers, boyfriends, wives, Bill O’Reilly, basketball players, and friends from that moment to this. We love to play the injured party, the awfully wronged individual, and those of us who accuse God of running a Cosmic abattoir are simply attempting to label Him as unfair. They are setting the table for that moment when, after having lived a life in willful ignorance of His precepts, offended by His commands, they enter into His presence with their homework left undone. (“Your hell hounds ATE my homework!”)

 
He has made it clear; Hell is a ”place” intended for those who foolishly tried to overthrow Him, not for we humans. Hell is a ”place” of torment, of symbolic fire, not literal (note: it is also called ”outer darkness” What fire is dark?) flames, kind of like eternal heartburn at the loss of so much. When seeing what is missed, there will be no shortage of SELF-torment! God doesn’t ENJOY this. What kind of God would? That is just more chaff.

 
He is, however, firm and just enough to stick to His guns and not be swayed from Perfectness by poor approval ratings. God won’t be sweet talked or suckered by childish tactics employed by folks who never showed a true desire for a relationship with Him. He stands at the door and knocks, all the while strong enough to kick it in. But since when is coerced love true? We are not SENT to Hell, God merely steps aside and lets us go our way. We have two things; free will, and the facts. God will neither violate our will nor hide the truth. He is the perfect Parent, and ultimately indulgent in this sense; Whether we want Heaven with Him, or Hell without Him, we will get OUR way.

July 3, 2007 Posted by | Christian Life, Christianity, God, Hell, Parenting, Religion | Leave a comment