Love


Ecclesiastes 3: 1-14

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

 

 

What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.

It took me a while to be able to sit down and formulate the topic for this month’s carnival topic, but here it is. I wanted come up with something positive to reflect upon, in relation for both the out-going and the upcoming year. Most of us have just come through the Thanksgiving festivities and are now gearing up for the holiday season and new year.

I read a lot of different materials. I read a lot of blogs also…. and there is a dominant  undercurrent of negativity (I know some would call it: controversy) in the media, whether it is print or visual, and especially in the most popular blogs. But it’s understandable because controversy and negativity sells. It get’s the attention. That’s the way our societal mentality has developed…. so we are subconsciously and consciously programmed to focus on the bad…. the negative…. the so-called controversial. So I ain’t mad at yah! However I would like to end the year by asking us here to flip the script, stop drinking the koolaid for a moment, clear our minds and refocus our perspective, and seriously reflect on what are some of the things we are thankful for in 2007, and what are we hopeful for in 2008? What are the achievements in 2007 you are most proud of and what do you hope to achieve in 2008? It can be either personal, as a community you identify with or both…. and please don’t take it as you’re making some sort of new year’s resolution. That’s not the point of this exercise.

Please have the link to your post submitted by next Tuesday 11 December  at Afrospear@hotmail.com, and the carnival date will be Thursday 13 December.

Here is my submission.

I am sorry to be late with my submission on this exciting topic for our second carnival, but I haven’t yet mastered how to best divvy up my time as a new father. I am always tired…. I sleep, I take care of baby, I go to work, I take care of baby, I sleep and the cycle starts again…. I have “a minute” to spare so here goes…..  

The work of Marimba Ani in  “Yurugu: An African-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior,” has a lot of truth in it (it is definitely a must read) and I agree with Lubangakene when he asserts that it “makes it clear that the intention and proselytizing usage of European religion was for control and conquest of other peoples. “ Some of his questions also “struck a cord” within me and sparked a thinking process as I contemplated my responses to them…. namely:

  1. How does our God-consciousness, filtered through an alien religion, shackle us?
  2. Can our spiritual/religious beliefs flower within such a context? Can those beliefs and practices empower us?
  3. Is the white man’s religion a positive or negative force, ultimately, in the lives of African peoples in the diaspora?
  4. Is it possible to adopt/adapt the religions and religious practices of an oppressor who has used religion throughout history to conquer the minds and bodies of his targets/victims – to positive affect?

Percolating within me was a rational, intellectual and measured response anchored by my religious beliefs and literary knowledge. I had quotations from the Bible and references from James H. Cone’s “A Black Theology of Liberation” as well as, “God’s Politics” by Rev. Jim Wallis, chosen and ready to assert that religion is about a personal relationship with God and whatever choices we make…. whether good, bad or indifferent, especially in His name, we will have to answer to someday. I was ready to debate that Christianity is not a eurocentric-based religion as such, but that version of it was forced upon us, people of African descent, and it was up to us to free ourselves from spiritual (as well as mental) slavery and find our God… the One who meets all our needs as a people. That is the physiological, emotional, psychological, financial, societal, environmental, intellectual, safety and spiritual needs which may be unique to us and our condition. I was all set to argue that paradoxically, all these needs are not ethnically nor culturally based, since they are important to everyone, regardless of colour of skin, nationality, gender, orientation, language, or even religious beliefs…. however the way and how God meets our needs are not necessarily the same. Depending on any one or combination of the above factors, He may meet our particular need(s) on an individual, community or yes…. even a cultural level. I was ready to boast of how multi-cultural and multi-racial the church I attend is and that as a Black man…. as a Black family,  it certainly meets my/our needs and that it reflected the best of what heaven on earth can be. Yes I was all primed to “shock and awe” with my blah, blah, blah….

Then I went to do my weekly volunteer commitment. I am involved with an inner-city mission that I found out about through my church. It is a Christian based facility that specializes in assisting the homeless and those with psychological challenges and substance abuse issues (and the combination of all for some). We simply provide information on where to access city services, feed the hungry, provide shelter for a time, listen to life stories, offer advice and when it’s appropriate, tell them about the love of Jesus. On Sunday afternoons we hold a inner-city service for those who don’t belong to a specific church or denomination, or profess to follow any particular religion. The mission caters to different types of people, from a variety of cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds, but we all have one thing in common: regardless of our circumstances or status…. we are all striving to make it through the day.

So as I was working, I looked around at the people I was serving and I thought that as a Christian, as a person who believes and wants to serve God in my own “little” way…. this is what really matters! Standing there it was clear that cultural and historical context didn’t matter. Eurocentric or Afrocentric symbolism didn’t matter. Religion and religious practices didn’t matter. What really matters and gives me hope is that today, there are people all over the world who are inspired by their own religious beliefs to serve others (the Buddhist monks in Myanmar come to mind). What truly mattered was the “smile” and “thank you” I got from connecting with another human being and hopefully making a positive impact on their life. Even it that just means giving them a sandwich and a coffee or listening to the same joke or story for the umpteenth time. Regardless of my all religious pontificating and intellectual discourses, the few hours I spend each week, serving each individual, meeting their individual need at that particular time, for the glory of God, is what my religion means to me.                                 

  

 

John Smulo asked me to participate in this meme…. which I am more than happy to do:

  1. He sacrificed his life for me out of unconditional love, so that I could have a personal relationship with God;
  2. He revolutionized religious behaviour through the “Sermon on the Mount”;
  3. He “called” it as He “saw” it, regardless (and knowing) of the consequences;
  4. He challenged the rigidity, religiosity and hypocrisy of the religious leadership of his day;
  5. He accepts me as I am, while expects me to be the best I can be through Him.

I now tag anyone who is inspired to share in this topic. Please let me know if you do.

Asa. 

Over the past year, I have read three books concerning the meaning of life. Interestingly, (for me anyway), two took a more psychoanalytical approach in answering this question, while the third was Christian based. I will summarize what each determined was the answer to this timeless endeavor, in the order in which I read the books.

 

1. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck: This theme of this book surprised me as I was under the impression (due to the title), that this was a religious based book. Although it had an underlying spiritual element, it took a psychoanalytical based approach and argued that the meaning of life could be understood by accepting these truths:

·        Life is difficult and contains a series of problems.

·        Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve these problems.

·        It is in the whole process of how we meet and solve these problems, that life has it’s meaning.

·        How we meet the challenges of dealing with these problems is the basis of how we grow mentally and spiritually.

·        The tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness.

·        The set of tools that is referred to as “discipline”, are “techniques of suffering”: which are the means by which we experience the pain of problems in such a way as to work them through and solve them successfully, learning and growing in the process.

·        There are four tools which make up the “techniques of suffering”: delaying gratification; acceptance of responsibility; dedication to truth; and balancing.

·        Psychoanalysis is essential in assisting someone in mastering one or more of these four tools.

 

2. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren: This book looked at the question from a Christian perspective. According to the author, we were all created by God for a purpose- His purpose…. and “it is only in God that we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny.”  Consequently, there are five purposes to our life:

1.      To bring enjoyment to God.

2.      To be a part of the family of God.

3.      To be like Christ.

4.      To serve God.

5.      To serve others.

 

3. Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl: This book is based on the experiences of the author, a psychiatrist, who survived a number of Nazi death camps. Within this backdrop, he argues that how we choose to deal with experiences, especially  “unavoidable” atrocities and sufferings, is the determining factor of whether we will live (survive) or die. From his experiences during WWII, he concluded that those who had survived the concentration camps, had the will to live through those horrible times, were those who found a deeper, even a spiritual “meaning” to what they were going through. He went on to develop a psychoanalytical “meaning-centered” form of therapy called Logotherapy. According to logotherapy, we can discover the meaning of life in three different ways:

1.      By achievement or accomplishment.

2.      By experiencing something or encountering someone.

3.      By the attitude we take towards unavoidable suffering.

 

All three books were a good read and I recommend them all. Being a Christian, the second book had more of a lasting impression on me and my understanding of the meaning…. “purpose”…. of my life. However all three books gave me a deeper insight of how I live my life, the choices I make, the reasons I may make one choice rather than another, and more importantly, also an insight into what makes others “tick”.   

I just bought a new set of books and my reading list is getting crazy. My wife is starting to comment on when will I get time to read all these books I’ve been buying, especially with a baby on the way in August. I’ve been spending a lot of time blogging over at AfroSpear and have neglected my reading and posting on this site.

As you can see I have transformed the look and feel of this page. It’s almost like a cleansing. I am now committing some time and effort to get into my reading list and post here more often. Here is my planned reading list:

Religious

  1. The God Delusion.  Richard Dawkins
  2. Epicenter.  Joel C. Rosenberg
  3. The Jesus I Never Knew.  Philip Yancey

 Psychology

  1. Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion.  Robert Cialdini
  2. Social Intelligence.  Daniel Goldman

 Afrocentric

  1. The Bluest Eyes.  Toni Morrison
  2. A Long Way Home.  Ishmael Beah
  3. Slave.  Mende Nazer
  4. The Narrative of Sojourner Truth
  5. Infidel.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali
  6. An Ordinary Man.  Paul Rusesabagina
  7. The Assassination of the Black Male Image.  Earl O. Hutchinson
  8. The Slave Community.  John W. Blassingame.

What are you currently reading and what do you plan to read in the next while?

Asa.    

Whatever in the world can be done, will be done. The question is whether it will be done by you, or to you.

Over the period that we were putting the pieces together to launch the AfroSpear think tank blog site, I came back to this quote a number of times. It was like a beacon for me. Will we forge and direct our own destiny? Will we speak our own stories? Will we share our own experiences? Will we offer the pearls of our own wisdom? Will we exchange our own ideas? Will we debate our own strategies? Will we formulate our solutions? ALL for the greater good of our own community. BECAUSE if we don’t, others will dictate all this for us! 

“Where there is no vision, the people perish;”  Proverbs 29:18

I am so enthused and hopeful. Primarily because the response and support for this vision from the AfroSphere has been encouraging and inspiring. It’s definitely a vision whose time has come. So let’s gather and commune with one another. Regardless of shade, political affiliation, religious beliefs, gender, orientation, nationality and ethnicity. Let the voices of those of African descent ring out true and free here.

You are therefore invited to join AfroSpear. I encourage you to read our “About” and “Mission Statement” sections to know who we are, what we are hoping to accomplish and our rules for engagement.

Let’s celebrate!

Asabagna

Well Imus got his azzz canned! Hip Hop Hooray!… Ho!… Hey!…. Ho! (Did I just say: “Ho?!”). The Prophets of Negrology can now pat themselves on the back cause they showed the white man! They mobilized their power and influence to bring down a powerful rich white media icon over his insensitive…. no racist, misogynist remarks against our sisters, the queens of our race. But yet….sniff….sniff…. I can’t help feeling that “something stinks in Negrodia”. Does anyone else smell it!?

 

At first the whole Imus thing was a non-issue to me. Just history, recent history mind you, repeating itself. I figured he would apologize, appear on one of the Prophets of Negrology radio programs, get admonished, act contrite and ask forgiveness, claim sheepishly that “I am not a racist… I got Black friends and I do lots for under-privilege youths…”, go for therapy to understand how he picked up this demon (“the devil made me do it!”), wait for a couple days or so until something more juicy comes up for the media to latch onto, (like…. Anna Nicole Smith gave birth to a baby while being deceased and now they have to go on another intensive dna search to identify the baby daddy… is it Christ’s?…. or Mohammed’s?…. or maybe even Lucifer’s?), then go back to making money for CBS and being a category on “Jeopardy”. But alas…. Imus got fired and the Prophets of Negrology are content and smug once again.

 

However, I have two issues. One is, well… when are the Prophets of Negrology going to take issue with the rappers, comedians and other Black entertainers over their insensitive…. no racist, misogynist remarks against our sisters, the queens of our race? When are they going to “name names” and call for “our” community and society at large to boycott these so-called artists? Yes, I’m talking about R. Kelly, Jay-Z, Ludacris, Snoop, and Dave Chappelle! When are they going to call for demonstrations against the media moguls (BET included), record companies, record stores, radio stations, as well as the actual cd’s and t.v shows, which produce, distribute and perform this filth? This quote is too true: “A man who doesn’t respect himself wastes his breath demanding that others respect him.” I have heard our sisters, the queens of our race, referred to by derogatory names by Black men, WORSE than what was stated by Imus. And these same Black men were gladly gettin’ PAID for saying it! So please tell me, how is Imus suppose to know or behave any better? 

 

Two, when are these Prophets of Negrology, the more noteworthy of whom attach the moniker “Reverend” at the beginning of their names to signify that they are ambassadors of Christ…. which by association, automatically clokes them in the robes and collars of credibility, and hence the keepers of the flame against the darkness of social injustice…. when are they going to apologize to the Duke lacrosse players who were so falsely accused and politically charged, based on a obviously non-credible and incredible complaint? Imus, whether sincere or not, apologized for his error. These Prophets were front and center, playing to the cameras, calling for the head (or was it the balls?), of these young men. Or was the injustice they went through acceptable due to the color of their skin, as well as their economic and social class? (hmmmm… sounds strangely familiar….) Well, I may be in the visible minority on this one (as opposed to being just a “visible minority”), but I believe that if you know better, you do better. My Granny always used to remark: “those who knows it, feels it.” AND we have felt this kind of injustice before! So when we innocently and/or even through our best intentions, get caught up in the frenzy (media frenzy for some) of adding to this injustice, we need to address it, apologize and ask for forgiveness. Call me naïve, crazy or even a sell-out, but that would be the “Christian” thing to do, especially for a “Reverend”. 

 

Now to reality. The Prophets of Negrology need to wake up and realize that they have no real power. They are stooges. They are a distraction from the real issues. They are the “Sanjayas” of the moment, until American Idol resumes next Tuesday night. They had no direct influence in getting Imus fired! The ONLY reason Imus got fired was that it was no longer profitable for the networks to keep him! Sponsors were pulling out of his show. He then became a financial liability. The NCAA made this call to networks: “You know the BILLIONS of dollars you make during March Madness and Football Bowl Season? Well… that is now in jeopardy because of Imus’s remarks.” The next call was made to Imus: “You’re fired!…. and no…. this is not Donald Trump.” In the same light of reality: when racist and misogynist rap music, music videos, t.v. shows, comedians, movies etc., are no longer profitable, then the Prophets of Negrology will be permitted to wail and rally against it. Let’s not get it twisted! Until then, we will continue to live out this truth from the song, “Shut em down” by The Prophets of Rage, Public Enemy:

 

“Howdy ‘all, this is Bernie Cross house, yours truly of the KKK! I’d like to express our deepest gratitude at the destruction of the inferior nigger race, and I’m especially pleased to report it’s destroying itself without our help! To all you gangs, hoodlums, drug pushers and users, and other worthless niggers killing each other, we’d like to thank you all, for saving us the time, trouble and legality, for the final chapter of riddin’ y’all off the face of the earth! Your solution to our problem is greatly appreciated! So keep sellin’ us your soul. Thank yah!”

 

I have to end with this excerpt from Jason Whitlock, a Black sports columnist. It’s just too good not to share:

 

“We have more important issues to deal with than Imus. If we are unwilling to clean up the filth and disrespect we heap on each other, nothing will change with our condition. You can fire every Don Imus in the country, and our incarceration rate, fatherless-child rate, illiteracy rate and murder rate will still continue to skyrocket. A man who doesn’t respect himself wastes his breath demanding that others respect him. We don’t respect ourselves right now. If we did, we wouldn’t call each other the N-word. If we did, we wouldn’t let people with prison values define who we are in music and videos. If we did, we wouldn’t call black women bitches and hos and abandon them when they have our babies. If we had the proper level of self-respect, we wouldn’t act like it’s only a crime when a white man disrespects us. We hold Imus to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. That’s a (freaking) shame. We need leadership that is interested in fixing the culture we’ve adopted. We need leadership that makes all of us take tremendous pride in educating ourselves. We need leadership that can reach professional athletes and entertainers and get them to understand that they’re ambassadors and play an important role in defining who we are and what values our culture will embrace.”

                                                                                                                      

I say we need AfroSpear!

I have been wanting to do this post for some time now and emerging out of Passion Week, there has been a renewed urgency within my spirit to “drop it like it’s hot!”

 

A few weeks ago I had seen the movie “300”, about the exploits of the 300 Spartan warriors who faced the enormous Persian army of Xerxes in his conquest of Greece. Their bravery and ultimate sacrifice against insurmountable odds was premised by me in a post by thefreeslave called: “The Only Politics That Is Relevant Is The Politics of Revolution”. I utilized the dynamics of Spartan society as an example of the mindset we as an African/Black community should emulate, if we want to start a revolution of renewed thought and practice to successfully combat against the oppression and injustice of the eurocentric/western society. Here is the section of the post in which I referred to this: 

 

“… well let me suggest that we employ the mindset of the Spartans…. as seen in the movie “300”. Let’s have a real revolution of thought and practice. Let us create a community of Black/African men and women who from birth are trained to be warriors, and by this I mean have a warrior mentality where their only… I repeat and emphasize, ONLY commitment is to this community. Two very difficult choices will have to be made for this to work. First, those who can’t or don’t measure up physically, emotionally, spiritually and/or make a real contribution to the community… we cut them loose. So those who are chronic substance abusers, societal and moral deviants (i.e murderers, abusers of women and children, etc.), those who are unteachable, those who cannot/will not develop a community first attitude, those who are weak willed and/or weak minded, and anything else that is an anchor to our progress…. we turn them out. Second, we don’t get hooked into other peoples/groups struggles. Let white women (feminists) fend for themselves. Let the homosexuals fight their own battles for their civil rights. Let the Native Indians (who owned slaves and are more than willing to disentangle themselves from that history) engage the white man in their own struggle. Let the poor white trailer trash agitate for their own political/economic empowerment. F*CK THE RAINBOW COALITION! It’s a burden on our advancement! It should be all about us and ONLY us. I contend that ONLY by this type of revolution, can even START to develop a strong and progressive Black/African community. Purification of community values. Single-mindedness of community purpose. Revolution of community focus.” 

 

Not long after I dropped this comment, God and I had an ongoing conversation which I will summarize. He asked me if it is better to utilize the example of those who have been successful or those who has failed in their efforts, as the basis of what we should do to be successful ourselves. That was an easy answer for me: “the example of those one who have been successful….” I said. He then took me to the story of Gideon and the 300 men who were victorious in their conflict against, what on the surface would also be considered “insurmountable odds”. 

 

The biblical saga of Gideon goes from Judges, chapters 6-8. Long story short, the children of Israel for 7 years were being oppressed by the Midianites and other eastern peoples, to the point where they had to live in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. Their crops and livestock were destroyed. The invaders were so numerous that they were like swarms of locust and it was impossible to count their men and camels. Through various events God called Gideon to fight against these invaders and drive them out of Israel with 300 men, from an original army of 32,000! These 300 men purposely attacked, pursued and defeated 135,000 men! 

 

As I meditated on this story, God revealed certain truths to me. First, Gideon had to transform his way of thinking by committing to change his relationship with God. By doing this, he built and strengthened his faith in God and thus had the confidence that he could achieve victory against these “insurmountable odds”, with only 300 men. Second, the fight against oppression and injustice for Gideon was not for personal glory, or the glory of his 300 men or even for the glory of Israel. It was for the glory of God (Judges 7:2). Third, this reflected the mindset that although “many are called, few are indeed chosen.” AND that “chosen few” can, not only overcome “insurmountable odds” when attacked, but more importantly, can confidently devise plans and develop strategies to fearlessly initiate the attacking, pursuing and defeating of their enemy! Finally, this 300 were not “trained” warriors, however they were fearless and yet, humble! Gideon himself was a farmer. I found it interesting and revealing the process God used to choose the 300. First, He reduced their number from 32,000 to 10,000 by removing those who were afraid (Judges 7:3). Then he separated the most humble 300 from the 10,000 that were left (Judges 7: 4-7). 

 

So now back to the mindset to create “a revolution of renewed thought and practice within the African/Black community to successfully combat against the oppression and injustice of the eurocentric/western society.” I don’t have all the answers but I do see a different premise to all this. I had stated: “Let us create a community of Black/African men and women who from birth are trained to be warriors, and by this I mean have a warrior mentality where their only… I repeat and emphasize, ONLY commitment is to this community.” I conclude now that to successfully attack, pursue and defeat those forces that would oppress us, it is better to bring together a “chosen few” who are fearless and humble, AND who’s ONLY commitment is to glorify God. Would everything or anything else follow as I had described above; would it still be relevant or would it all get thrown out. I honestly don’t know. I still believe however that there is a definite process to identify the “chosen few”, represented by Gideon’ victorious 300, who will be the “warriors” to lead this struggle. I just saw the film “Amazing Grace”, on the life and struggles of William Wilberforce in his quest to get the African slave trade abolished by the British parliament. I am also reminded of the life and struggle of Dr. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. These were the Gideons’ of their generation. There were and are many more “Gideons” throughout history, and today no doubt. They were and are the “chosen few” who rallied others around them to fight the oppression and injustice of their time, not just because it was the right thing to do. They faced and overcame “insurmountable odds”, for the glory of God.

“If God be for us, who can be against us.” Romans 8:31.

Asabagna.

“O Death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

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