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Life at times can be tedious and uncompromising, so we reach for that saving grace…music. For me, jazz. Jazz is a clown of sorts, it disguises itself as one thing only to be another. Its not a one trick pony, but a pony with many tricks. I was sitting back earlier today sipping some single malt scotch and listening to 2 albums I haven’t heard in a while. The first was the mind blowing Apocalypse by The Mahavishnu Orchestra. This was 73 recording produced by George Martin(no explanation needed). The clown reference I made earlier was jazz moving and shifting for the times. Players are all stripes was influenced by something or another. I remember shopping for some music and I saw the album cover.

apocalypse

I new I had to have it and man was I not disappointed. The record featured The London Symphony with the amazing interplay of the group. John McLaughlin the guitarist wrote probably the best music of his life. Not to be outdone was Jean Luc Ponty on violin and Narada Michael Walden on drums, these were the standouts. This recording matched rock of the times with subtle stylings of funk with a splash of dramatic classical music that was quite challenging. Also if I may add, not dead peoples music but an original score. I could go on for days about this. Go to youtube, iTunes or Spotify and give it a listen.

The second recording I mentioned was a 74 recording Sweetnighter by Weather Report.

sweetnighter

This Album reached for the soul of James Brown or (Funk)adelic/Parliament by George Clinton who’s biography by the way was a groovy read. I remember riding down ten ten road on a bright chilly day listening to WSHA when this song came on, the bass by Miroslov Vitous so heavy I could barley contain my composure and the funk coming from my speakers. The song was 125th street congress, to this day the it is still as infectious as it was then.

As I told the Lovely Mara as I drove through downtown, the 70’s boosted the greatest music ever written the 90’s comes in a close second. Jazz shook of the dust of being a populist music to getting down and dirty, showing off its leanings of tight structure while proving there chops and improvisational skills. Joe Zawinul is no longer with us from Weather Report, but Wayne Shorter is still doing his thing. John McLaughlin is doing his last tour this year and retiring, his hands have giving up on him. By all means check these albums out, I’ll be sharing some other records that maybe you’ll dig.

Written by John the Revelator

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This is what happens when you are to sanctimonious and ardent in your beliefs. When something reveals itself from your past you immediately go to your bible and accuse everyone but yourself. This couldn’t have happened to a better person. All is fair in love and war. We send him our coldest regards…all those christians camping for this derelict, you have and share in his values. 

Roy Moore’s brother compared the U.S. Senate candidate to Christ in an interview with CNN on Friday, saying that the Alabama Republican is being persecuted “like Jesus” in the wake of accusations of sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old girl.

Jerry Moore told CNN correspondent Martin Savidge in a phone interview that allegations about his brother’s history with teenagers when Roy Moore was in his 30s, reported Thursday by The Washington Post, are “not true at all.” He said that the Democratic Partywas behind the “false allegations,” adding: “These women are going to … have to answer to God for these false allegations,” Savidge reported. He said that his brother was being “persecuted like Jesus Christ was,” Savidge told CNN anchor John Berman.

Savidge described Jerry Moore as “very defiant and very outspoken, relying on his faith and defending his brother to the hilt.”

Jerry Moore also said he was worried about what effect the allegations would have on the brothers’ 91-year-old mother.

Roy Moore has denied the accusations. Asked Friday on Sean Hannity’s radio program if he remembered dating teenagers when he was in his 30s, he responded: “Not generally, no.” He said he didn’t recall dating “any girl without the permission of her mother.”

It was at least the third biblical reference someone has used to defend Roy Moore since the Post article Thursday. One of the four women interviewed in the article, Leigh Corfman, said that she was just 14 years old in 1979 when Moore, then a 32-year-old assistant district attorney, took her to his home, removed her shirt and pants, fondled her and asked her to touch him. Three other women said Moore sought dates with them when they were 16 to 18 years old and he was in his 30s.

After the story was published, Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler compared Moore to the biblical Joseph.

“Take Joseph and Mary,” Zeigler explained Friday. “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”

He also compared the situation to the biblical description of an elderly Zechariah and wife Elizabeth, who were the parents of John the Baptist.

“There is nothing to see here,” Zeigler told the Washington Examiner.

 

Roy Moore tweeted after the Post story: “We are in the midst of a spiritual battle with those who want to silence our message.”I believe you and I have a duty to stand up and fight back against the forces of evil waging an all-out war on our conservative values!

Our nation is at a crossroads right now — both spiritually and politically. (3/4)

President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have said Moore should withdraw from the Dec. 12 special election — if the accusations are true.

Corfman told the Post, “I wanted it over with — I wanted out,” when she was at Moore’s home. She said she recalled thinking: “Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.”

By Mary Papenfuss/HuffPost

Posted by John the Revelator

The House Republican tax bill released Thursday would allow churches to endorse political candidates, rolling back a 1950s-era law that bars such activities.

The proposed change is listed at the end of the 429-page legislation.

It states that churches should not lose their tax-exempt status based on statements about political candidates made during the course of religious services.

The change to what is known as the Johnson Amendment has long been a priority of leaders on the religious right. They say the policy violates the First Amendment.

The Johnson Amendment prohibits 501(c)(3) nonprofits from engaging in certain political activities.

President Trump vowed to repeal the amendment during the campaign, saying it would “give our churches their voice back.”

Shortly after taking office, Trump said he would “totally destroy” the amendment, which allows the IRS to revoke a church’s tax exempt status if it’s deemed to be participating in a political campaign.

A group of more than 4,000 religious leaders from around the country wrote a letter in August opposing efforts to repeal the Johnson Amendment, saying it “would harm houses or worship, which are not identified or divided by partisan lines.”

BY BRETT SAMUELS/TheHill

Posted by John the Revelator

I am not the first person to point this out: There’s been a cultish quality to President Trump’s most ardent supporters. He seemed to acknowledge the phenomenon when he boasted that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and not lose voters.

Throughout the campaign, and in personal appearances since then, Trump has harnessed the kind of emotional intensity from his base that is more typical of a religious revival meeting than a political rally, complete with ritualized communal chants (“Lock her up!”).

As we approach the one-year anniversary of Trump’s election victory, the zeal of some of his followers seems increasingly akin to a full-fledged cult.

I use the word “cult” in its pejorative sense, meaning a deeply insular social group bound together by extreme devotion to a charismatic leader. Such groups tend to exhibit a few common characteristics.

They are usually formed around an individual whom they’ve elevated to prophetic and near divine status.

During the campaign, Franklin Graham,Trump’s most enthusiastic evangelical Christian supporter, dismissed his many moral failings by comparing him favorably to the flawed patriarchs and prophets of the Bible: Abraham, Moses and David.

Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, told a talk radio audience that Trump was a better presidential candidate than someone who “embodies the teaching of Jesus” because Trump fit the biblical preference for a “strongman” in government.

Frank Amedia, an Ohio pastor who briefly had ties to the Trump campaign, explicitly cast the president as a prophet receiving divine revelations: “I believe he receives downloads that now he’s beginning to understand come from God,” he said in July.

The authority that a cult leader exercises comes from his self-ascribed role as the one true information source for his followers. Competing ideas and facts are not just wrong; they are demonic.

Trump, of course, characterizes most media outlets as “fake news.” He calls journalists“liars” and “sick people” who are “trying to take away our history and our heritage.” In a May HuffPo/YouGov poll, a whopping 60% of Trump supporters agreed with him that the media are “the enemy” of people like them.

The cult leader is generally believed to possess special knowledge. No matter how demonstrably false his pronouncements, they become, by definition, truth for his followers. Trump has been spectacularly successful at getting his supporters to believe his blandishments rather than their own eyes. Consider the fact that in another HuffPost/YouGov poll, conducted after allegations of sexual harassment and assault surfaced against producer Harvey Weinstein, only 8% of Trump supporters believed the claims of sexual assault made against him despite the evidence of the “Access Hollywood” tape.

One of the ways a cult leader maintains his unquestioned authority is by creating a siege mentality among his followers and presenting himself as the antidote. In Trump’s view, the country is a wasteland of empty factories “scattered like tombstones” and crime-ridden cities that are more dangerous than war zones. “Our military is a disaster. Our healthcare is a horror show,” he declared during the campaign. And as Trump has often said, “I alone can fix it.”

This dark view of the U.S., in which honest, hardworking white Christians are under attack by hostile forces, has convinced Trump’s followers that they are among the most oppressed people in the country. In a survey after the protests in Charlottesville, Va., 45% of Trump supporters said white people were the most discriminated against racial group in the U.S., and 51% said Christians were the most discriminated against religious group.

Nurturing a cult following has its dangers. Cult members tend to believe that they are taking part in a cosmic performance, that they are fighting in a battle between the forces of good and evil. And if “good” doesn’t win — if cold, hard reality overtakes the cult leader’s lies and fantasies — the whole enterprise may collapse, sometimes violently.

That some of Trump’s supporters view the president in cosmic terms is clear. A month after the inauguration, Pat Robertson said those who oppose Trump are “revolting against what God’s plan for America is.” Paula White, the pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Florida and a Trump spiritual advisor, recently told her congregation that resisting Trump is tantamount to “fighting against the hand of God.”

As to cold, hard reality, the Trump administration is beset with multiple campaign investigations, ethics lawsuits, members of his own party abandoning him, open talk of invoking the 25th Amendment and impeachment.

Trump’s truest believers have sounded downright apocalyptic: “This is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats,” Jeffress said in 2016. “It’s a battle between … righteousness and unrighteousness, light and darkness.” Amedia declared that God personally told him that Trump’s presidency was paving the way for the Second Coming.

And then there is this warning from Trump confidant Roger Stone: Any attempt to remove the president from office, he said in August, would result in “a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you’ve never seen.”

If Trump’s presidency deteriorates further, expect the religious fervor of many of his followers to reach a fever pitch. That poses a risk for the country. Because the only thing more dangerous than a cult leader is a cult leader facing martyrdom.

By Reza Aslan/LATimes

Posted by The NON-Conformist

I read this drivel and had to pause. I came to the conclusion he’s scared to speak up to address the real issue at hand. As jesus didn’t come back last saturday he’s not coming back tomorrow. Meaning, if we don’t at least try to fix it…what! Blacks didn’t create racism white supremacy yet we are the ones always trying to fix it. Pastor, get from behind jesus and take a stand. The bible and quoting it isn’t going to fix shit. Its really the elephant in the room. The kkk believes in your same bible and your same jesus to be white, guess you may have some things in common. Stop trying to appease white people to seem sympathetic, this is shameful. I agree and stand with Kap, we can stand or kneel doesn’t matter. Next time the there is an white nationalist march take your ass out there and preach the good news. I believe in love as well as non aggression. Only small movements will change anything, and protest are meant to be uncomfortable, stop using your pulpit to support white supremacy. “Riots are the language of the unheard” MLK. I will also add Protesting. 

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Notwithstanding the myriad reasons professional athletes in America are protesting the national anthem, President Donald Trump, law enforcement officers, the military, or other social, civil, or political issue, entity, or individual, there appears to be a certain degree of naivety connected with the stated goals and objectives of these demonstrations.

Many of these athletes have stated that the protestations in which they are involved are meant to show ‘unity.’ But my question is, unity by whose or what standard of measure?

In Amos 3:3, the question is asked, rhetorically, “How can two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?”

The question is deserving of thoughtful and contemplative consideration because unity, however one chooses to define the term, is not an abstract concept. It is not an idea that is devoid of contextual boundaries or parameters. If there is to be unity between individuals, whether three or three hundred million, it is established and maintained on the basis of objective principles that are fixed and immutable, not on precepts or propositions that are subjective and changeable.

I, personally, deem it inexcusable and irresponsible that the President of the United States, regardless of political party or ideology, would refer to anyindividual, let alone any American citizen, as a “son of a bitch” (as has been reported in the media.) It is with that thought in mind that I believe President Trump should publicly apologize to the individual(s) to whom his derogatory remarks were targeted.

The President of the United States, irrespective of ideological or political differences between himself and those whom he is charged with governing (Rom. 13:4), is nonetheless the representative of all of this nation’s citizens, not merely those who elected him to office. As such, he must endeavor to consistently exhibit a level of personal integrity, maturity, and, as situations warrant, restraint, as is befitting the office which he happens to hold not by his own volition but by the will of the American people.

That said, however, I find the protests being engaged in by these athletes to be somewhat short-sighted, particularly with regard to their stated purpose and intent which, to me anyway, seems rather ambiguous.

You will get no argument from me that the pursuit of unity is an admirable undertaking. But what makes it an admirable endeavor, for the Christian especially, is that the Lord commands and expects it of us.

In 1 Cor. 1:10, the apostle Paul writes to the church at Corinth, “Now I exhort you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Conversely, in Rom. 12:18, Paul urges, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

Understanding that the admonitions in the aforementioned texts are directed toward believers and not unbelievers, the point is no less germane to those who are outside the church in that unity, as a pursuit, requires context. In the case of these professional athletes, one cannot say that their protests are designed to ‘show unity’ if there is no objective definition of what ‘unity’ is.

You see, it is one thing to appear unified but another thing altogether to be unified.

This point is underscored in 1 Jn. 2:19 where the apostle John, in addressing believers about imposters within the church, declares, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”

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As I observe the current wave of civil disobedience in America, I am reminded that such protestations are nothing new. The act of taking a knee or raising a clenched fist, among other such gestures, has for decades (if not longer) been embraced by countless individuals as symbols of ideological, political, and religious disagreement and dissent.

As a veteran of the United States military (Army), I consider it both an honor and privilege to have spent six years of my life defending the Constitutional right not only of professional athletes, but of all Americans, to peacefully express such opposition as that of many professional athletes today without regard to ethnicity, sex, socio-economic station, or political ideology or party affiliation.

I took an oath to defend these rights because they are grounded not in subjective propositions but in the objective truth of imago Dei (Gen. 1:27). That is, the biblical precept that human beings are created in the image God and that, as His image-bearers, they inherently possess certain unalienable rights, privileges, and protections under the God-ordained mandate that governments – all of which are established by God – are responsible for ensuring those rights are protected and applied equally and indiscriminately (Rom. 13:1-7.)

As theologian Dr. William Edgar writes:

“Humanity clearly shares certain attributes with God. What is certain is that there is a tacit connection between the image of God and the honor due the human being.”Created & Creating: A Biblical Theology of Culture, p. 164

All this to say that, like the idea of ‘rights’, the idea of ‘unity’ must be objectivelyconceptualized in order to be considered a universally valid argument. It is not enough merely to profess to be “against” injustice apart from an objective definition of what justice is, and it is God, through His Word, who provides that definition.

“Blessed are those who keep justice, who practice righteousness at all times.” – Psalm 106:3 (NASB)

In our efforts to navigate the current milieu on matters of social justice, what we often fail to realize is that at its most fundamental level, the call for justice is essentially a call for human beings to practice God’s standard of righteousness “at all times.”

It is our failure to uphold this standard that has given rise not only to the contemporary protests of today, but also those of the past.

https://i1.wp.com/postmoderngentleman.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/MLK-Marching.jpeg

But the reason you and I don’t practice God’s righteousness at all times is we’re innately incapable of doing so.

As much as we’d like to believe that, as human beings, we innately possess the moral and ethical capacity and ability to change ourselves for the better, the truth is we do not. As God declared to Noah, “…for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth (Gen. 8:21b).”

To subscribe to a paradigm of injustice that is measured against anything other than God’s standard of righteousness is an exercise in futility. Because, ultimately, human-centered solutions will prove insufficient, to say the least, to address what is fundamentally a spiritual problem.

And unless our innate sinfulness becomes central to the ongoing conversation on matters of unity and justice, we will find ourselves right back here again, incessantly engaged in circular tit-for-tat arguments which, ultimately, will prove to be of no real temporal or, more importantly, eternal benefit.

In Christ,

Darrell

Posted by John the Revelator

“A faction of church members were concerned about my speech,” he said.

ALBERTO E. RODRIGUEZ VIA GETTY IMAGES

The descendant of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Rev. Robert Lee IV, has left the Bethany United Church of Christ after receiving backlash for his denouncement of white supremacy at the MTV Video Music Awards last week.

On Monday, an open letter by Lee describing the events that unfolded after his speech was published on a website for the Auburn Seminary. In the piece, Lee wrote that some members of the church “were concerned” about his speech and that the attention it brought to the church wasn’t desired.

“My presence at the church as a descendent of Robert E. Lee and an outspoken opponent of white supremacy had already attracted attention, but with my appearance on MTV the media’s focus on my church reached an all time high,” he wrote. “A faction of church members were concerned about my speech and that I lifted up Black Lives Matter movement, the Women’ s March, and Heather Heyer as examples of racial justice work.

He went on to say that “the church’s reaction was deeply hurtful” to him.

The 24-year-old pastor had served the North Carolina church for just six months and says he doesn’t want “this episode to be a distraction from the sacred work of confronting white supremacy in all its forms.”

Adding: “My calling and my vocation has led me to speak out against violence and oppression in any form, and I want to especially challenge white Christians in America to take seriously the deadly legacy of slavery in our country and commit ourselves to follow Jesus into a time of deep reflection, repentance and reconciliation.”

At the VMA’s, the fourth-great-nephew of Robert E. Lee introduced Susan Bro ― the mother of slain Charlottesville counter protester, Heather Heyer ― and said it was his “duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin,” and advocated for viewers to “confront racism and white supremacy head on.”

Since Lee cut ties with the church, he’s been vocal on social media, expressing thanks to supporters and sharing his thoughts on speaking out:

Lee ended his open letter by saying he is “looking forward with great hope to what God’s unfolding future and what God has in store for me and ask for all of your prayers and blessings for the future of my ministry.”

Following white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va., Lee told HuffPost that he was deeply troubled by the actions taken in his family’s name and that statues honoring his great-great-great-great uncle, Confederate General Robert E. Lee, ought to come down.

“It broke my heart to see a symbol of my family being used to allow such hate,” Lee told HuffPost. “All in the name of what my relative stood for.”

“These statues have morphed into a symbol of racism, a symbol of bigotry, a symbol of the alt-right, a symbol of white nationalist movements,” he said. “That is not okay and that can never be celebrated or honored in any way, whether you believe you should honor legacy or ancestors or not.”

By Jenna Amatulli/HuffPost

Posted by John the Revelator

Dr. Hugh Houghton, Reader on New Testament Textual Scholarship, in his office at Birmingham University. CREDIT: ANDREW FOX

he earliest Latin interpretation of the Gospels has been brought to light by a British academic – and it suggests that readers should not take the Bible literally.

Lost for 1,500 years, the fourth-century commentary by African-born Italian bishop Fortunatianus of Aquileia interprets the Gospels as a series of allegories instead of a literal history.

Dr Hugh Houghton, of the University of Birmingham, who translated the work, said it was an approach which modern Christians could learn from.

The find adds weight to the idea that many early biblical scholars did not see the Bible as a history, but instead a series of coded messages which represented key elements of Christianity, he said.

“There’s been an assumption that it’s a literal record of truth – a lot of the early scholars got very worried about inconsistencies between Matthew and Luke, for example.

“But for people teaching the Bible in the fourth century, it’s not the literal meaning which is important, it’s how it’s read allegorically.

The manuscript
The manuscript CREDIT: COLOGNE CATHEDRAL LIBRARY

“In contemporary Biblical scholarship a lot of the gospels are written with symbolism in mind.

“They are not setting out to be literal accounts but they are set out to be symbolic.”

He said that the Bible had to be “understood in the context that the authors were working in.”

The approach differs from the trend of biblical literalism adopted by modern evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, which interprets the Bible as the literal word of God which is not open to interpretation.

This has been the basis for beliefs such as the idea that the earth is 6,000 years old and that it was created in seven days.

Modern archaeologists have also used the Bible to search for evidence about the life of Jesus, with mixed success.

The 100-page document examines the Gospel of Matthew in great detail and also examines part of the Gospels according to Luke and John.

They are not setting out to be literal accounts but they are set out to be symbolicDr Hugh Houghton

It had been hidden for 1,500 years within an anonymous manuscript in Cologne Cathedral Library, until it was digitised by the University of Salzburg in 2012, but lay untranslated until Dr Houghton came across it.

He discovered the existence of the manuscript after an Austrian colleague read about it in a local newspaper and told him about it.

The work is thought to have been copied out by a scholar in around 800, more than 400 years after the original was written.

Dr Houghton said the book was an “extraordinary find”. It predates better-known writings by famous scholars including St Jerome, St Ambrose and St Augustine.

The biblical scholar, from the university’s institute for textual scholarship and electronic editing, has now produced an English translation of the text, which will be published alongside the Latin this week.

By Hugh Houghton/TheTelegraph

Posted by John the Revelator

Many agree Americans live in a racialized society (a society that attributes certain characteristics to groups of people for the purpose of racial hierarchy and racism), that we live in a country whose national origins cannot be separated from the evil ideology of white superiority and black inferiority, and that the U.S. still (in many respects) privileges whiteness over non-whiteness. But other Americans believe and embrace the color-blind theory of race.

The color-blind theory refers to racial neutrality. According to this view, the color of one’s skin does not matter because we live in a post-racial society—that is, a society that has moved beyond race. Further, the theory urges that humans need to look beyond skin color, because treating people equally and ignoring their race will lead to a more equal society.

Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, legal scholar and critical race theorist, explained in a recent lecture at Brown Universitythat the color-blind theory is an ideological frame that basically asserts that a person should treat all persons equally.

Critical race theory (CRT) challenges the color-blind theory of race. CRT is a complex theory that basically says racism is normal, not an abnormality, whiteness is privileged over non-whiteness, and race is a social construct (not biological) created by the majority group to wield power and privilege in favor of the white majority.[1]

My Perspective

As a black Christian scholar with some social privileges because of my educational background (4 degrees—B.S., two master degrees, and a Ph.D.) and because of my teaching position at a prominent evangelical seminary, I am tempted to say this theory on the surface seems to be biblical. After all, Gal. 3:28 states “There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, and neither male nor female, but we are all one in Christ.” Therefore, we should conclude, “There is no such thing as a black Christian or a white Christian. We’re just Christians.” And Christians should not see color and should stop talking about race; talking about race will make race an issue.

However, regardless of how pious the color-blind theory sounds to Christians, it is actually cruel and damaging to many black, brown, and white people who experience marginalized or privileged racialized experiences simply because of their skin color. And the color-blind theory of race perpetuates the very racism that it seeks to avoid by allowing the majority cultural group to maintain their status as the privileged, racialized group.

The Color-Blind Theory of Race Denies the Racialized Experiences of Marginalized Black and Brown People

The color-blind theory of race denies the racialized experiences of those marginalized. The theory communicates to the marginalized races that their racialized narratives are false, because they don’t fit the counter-narratives of the majority group. However, the racist ideology of white superiority that created the historical impetus for slavery placed non-white people (particularly blacks) in a negative light from this country’s inception.

Black people were ripped apart from their families, enslaved, lynched, sprayed with water hoses, beaten with clubs, given separate bathrooms and water fountains, and were forced to live in a society where everything in their experience reminded them of their so-called inferiority to whites. Blacks also had to endure dehumanizing names like coon, nigger, or boy simply because their black bodies were not white, names that reinforced their racialized status of inferiority.

Elijah Anderson (an African-American sociologist at Yale University) recently affirmed the above point at a recent Veritas Forum at Yale University. Professor Anderson asserted that slavery and the iconic plantation established the black body at the very bottom of the American racial order, stating that even justices in the 1800s suggested that black people had no rights that white people were bound to respect.

With emancipation, Anderson continued, black people migrated to the north and south. But their racialized reputations as inferior to whites followed them. He declared the black body has historically moved to and fro in white spaces with a deficit of credibility, not because of any scientifically verifiable biological inferiority, but simply because the black person is not white.

Christian congregations that affirm the color-blind theory grossly fail those black and brown people who are marginalized in their communities and in their churches because of their racialized status. Black and brown (and white!) evangelicals suffer when they experience racialized forms of racism, even in evangelical spaces. Evangelical churches deepen racialized wounds when they suggest from their pulpits, in their classes, in their institutions, or in personal conversations that the suffering of black and brown people because of their race is not real, or the loving Jesus means we should be racially neutral and avoid discussions about race.

The Color-Blind Theory Allows the Majority Group to reinforce Racialized Stereotypes

Contrary to certain evangelical Christians, critical race theorists and social scientists argue that racism is systemic, and is deeply ingrained in the structural fabric of the U.S. Ideas of racial hierarchy and white superiority and black inferiority have shaped the identity of this country. To clarify, this does not mean that every problem experienced by blacks results from racism, but the above does suggest that (like it or not) blacks, whites, and everyone else in this country live in a racialized society. Sometimes one’s racialized perception of others can serve as an advantage or disadvantage for the racialized group in social interactions and achievements. Take, for example, the way black and brown people are disproportionately incarcerated for certain crimes in comparison to white offenders.

In my experience, certain evangelicals will vehemently deny the above premise. Instead, they contend that to affirm systemic racism is to make race an issue, and when people affirm systemic racism this affirmation feeds into the grievance industry. With these assertions, however, there is a subtle interplay of meaning some white evangelicals attach to race. Some white (and a few black) evangelicals do not understand themselves to be a race or to be racialized, but as simply being normal people. They genuinely believe their viewpoint on race is “the truth,” as opposed to having a viewpoint shaped by one’s culture or race. This perspective allows some within the majority group to reinforce racialized stereotypes of non-white people, because they genuinely believe they interpret the world from the posture of objective truth, whereas non-whites interpret the world through a suspicious, ethnic posture.

Conclusion

Christians should stop insisting the color-blind theory is true. The very racist social construct of race in 18-19th century Europe and America based on illusory biological traits and rooted in racial hierarchy and biological fiction proves that the color-blind theory is a myth.

When Christians deny they see black, brown, or white skin, they ignore the fact that many people have suffered much because of the color of their skin at the hands of some white people who identified with the Christian movement. And when Christians deny that skin color currently plays a role in determining one’s position and influence in the evangelical movement, they perpetuate the cruelty of racism in their churches, because they show their unwillingness to admit that racial identity often determines who has privilege and what privilege one has in the current evangelical movement and that one’s race often serves as a means of social marginalization.

Great progress has been made in evangelical churches. However, even greater racial progress in evangelical churches will be difficult if we continue to deny the obvious. Black, brown, white, and everyone else in between in the evangelical movement must acknowledge our differences, as well as the fictive racial construct that we’ve inherited, and we must pursue love, unity, and reconciliation in Christ through the Gospel in spite of what we think we see when we look at another person created in the image of God.

By Jarvis Williams/raanetwork

Posted by John the Revelator

Beyond Good and Evil

Beyond Good and Evil is the title of Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophical work.  It is a highly controversial book in which he successfully debunks the tenets of Christianity and in which he relativises the notions of good and evil.  There are two types of morality, he argues, the ruler-morality and the slave-morality.  It is the difference between them which is considered good and evil.  The ruler-morality considers good to be the ‘noble’ and the ‘warlike’, the strong and the powerful, the dominant with the will-to-life (which is power and control by another name).  The good in the slave-morality consists of attributes such as compassion, charity, forgiveness, fortitude in suffering etc.  – values which, he says, arise in the subjugated and the oppressed.

For Nietzsche, society and the masses should serve an elite few – the aristocracy – so that a few ‘supermen’ can be bred from this group which will contribute to the overall creativity and intelligence of the world.  It resembles a Hellenic conception of power (whose ‘democracy’ allowed for slaves).  But Nietzsche does not adopt Platonic and Socratic ideas of what is good and evil for these are absolute in concept and more interesting.

For Plato, what is good is the ‘agathon’ – the pure.  But for Nietzsche purity is an idealistic term whose original meaning escapes him.  It is the ‘pure’ of theology he deconstructs and shows how this good is linked in with the life-denying concept of original sin and pain and suffering for the rewards of a hypothetical here-after.  Such concepts were popularized by medieaval church scholars, like Thomas Aquinas.  Ecclesiastical goodness and purity is that which is non-sexual, non-physical and is burdened by a good dose of martyrdom.

It was not the Christ figure of Jesus that Nietszsche reviles, but rather the ideology perpetuated and propagated by the ruling class of the day.  The Christianity adopted by the ‘disciples’, many hundreds of years after the event, was an amalgam of Judaic and Islamic scriptural discourses.  In these discourses, god is a great punitive judge, patriarchal, and full of avenging wrath and power.  This great judge not only punishes one for his crime (whatever that was in the day) but he promises to punish generations of his children aeons into the future (sic!).  There are only a few direct quotes from the great enlightened master, Jesus and the most significant ones are not included in the Bible (all versions) but were found in Thomas’ and other gospels found in the late 19th Century. (Such revolutionary notions as we are all god’s children and heaven exists in the heart of all human beings.)

Nietzsche rightly points out that Jesus was a man of peace.  His words were in diametrical opposition to the scriptural dogma of the day.  He preached love and maintained that to love your loved ones is easy, but the aspiration should be to love your enemies.  Turning the other cheek, was a controversial idea in those days, given the ruling class’s belief in an avenging male god who judged and punished for the smallest misdemeanour.  Jesus embodied peace and maintained his silence even when the church and state crucified him.  I consider it a profound tragedy and stupidity that this brutality has been privileged as his divine purpose!  Sacrificing the man of peace is clearly symbolic of a more ancient heritage – the sacrificial lamb.  For to kill and sacrifice one’s own is to placate the war-like monster/god, or a fertility symbol, to help make crops grow.  The concession to violence because god is on one’s side, is still a prevalent and dangerous medieaval theological teaching  today.

So Nietzsche tears into the anti-life theology which breeds hatred of the body and eulogizes pain and suffering.  In this theology, there is no mention of a heaven-in-life, on earth, but the mere belief in a heaven which comes only after death (if you are good that is – whatever that means).

Having tried Christianity and found it wanting on many counts, Nietzsche declares god to be dead.  This became the catchphrase of European intellectuals and artist from early 20th century culminating the nihilism of postmodernist thought.  For the latter, there is no god, no absolutes, and nothing outside of language.

Nietszche found Eastern philosophies much more to recommend them.  He liked the idea of (ego) self-transcendence and the life-affirming qualities of joy, peace and prosperity here on earth.  But being a man of words, essentially, not experience, he remained entangled by his own discursive web, finally succumbing not to self-transcendence, but insanity.  He died in a mental asylum, completely unaware of his meteoric fame and Europe’s eulogy of his works.

So we may ask is there anything beyond good and evil?  Obviously, these are relativist terms since what is good for one culture may not be good for another.  As Nietzsche cleverly points out, these notions are relative to one’s class and position in the pecking order.

Enlightened discourse recognises that even a murderer has the opportunity to know his/her own true self.  It recognises the potential of ALL human beings to know and experience (as a feeling, not a thought) a realm beyond good and evil and beyond judgment.  All human beings house the boundless and infinite power of what we commonly refer to as god.  To know this state, is to be full of peace and love (and a great many other things besides).

Socrates is rarely quoted by Plato.  One quote, however, remains ‘know thy self’ and it was inscribed on the entrance of the Delphic temple ages prior.  Plato believed that the pure, the agathon, existed in the realm of ideas (messing with philosophy for centuries later).   One cannot easily dismiss, however, his belief, that human beings exist in a land of shadows and half-baked perceptions.  Plato’s writings are a poor testament to the great revolutionary and enlightened teachings of Socrates – so revolutionary, the authorities so threatened by his influence on the young, that they poisoned him to death.

To know one’s self implies an answer, as the great man of peace, Prem Rawat, points out in contemporary times.  It implies that if one pursues self-knowledge, that the profound meaning of that inner experience will propel one into the self-transformation of a Socrates, a Kabir, a Meera, a Rumi and countless others who acknowledged the power and the knowledge of the Self (the divine within) and found in their experience, the experience of the Absolute – the one truly beyond Good and Evil.

By Eleni Pouliezou/DissidentVoice

Posted by John the Revelator

I hear about problems, I never hear about solutions. Real practical solutions, solutions that real people face and overcome. I understand that this is yet another of many blogs caught in the cog, you can feel that way or you can embrace the content. I write from life and life’s experiences. I tell people the most important thing in life is experience. We have to become partakers of the experience, be unafraid to show our frailties as humans. Listen carefully as I say this “your experiences determine your route” it helps you to solve problems to understand better “you” your experience. Here comes the rub. I hear we can’t or must not lean to our own understanding but to  simply cast our cares to him for he cares for us. Calm down, take a deep breath but thats the dumbest most defeatist garbage i’ve ever heard. Your greatest teacher wether you like it agree or disagree is life. Look at it this way have you meet people who aren’t therapist but have a wealth of information and their lives intact? There’s good reason for one they are probably good listeners. They read books from varying sources and share in life conflicts to a road to awareness. This is the ultimate place or road we want to be on. Now for the antidote…

These things seem simple enough, but not practiced or put into any practical application. I want to give to you three sources that Ive used through out my many years of growth and life that continue to serve me well to this very day. Mind you this is a span of twenty or more years. It has helped me to overcome obstacles and how to resist getting in my own way. We have a choice not depending on what a deity thinks but depending on what “we” think based and linked to our experiences. Since I come from a biblical background i’m here speaking in reference to to God or Jesus. If you study Romans 9 which is an interesting topic. Maybe next we can do a brief study, it will be interesting and enlightening. Either God gives us the ability to think or we think for ourselves, this is an old battle that needs to be looked at, observed and reasoned with.

I’ve broken this down in three sections, being aware, meditation, and lastly choosing to be…

Being Aware

In her ground breaking work that change my life forever “The WAY of the RONIN Riding the Waves of Change” by Dr. Beverly Potter  In chapter 11 under the title Think like a warrior page 86-87 It is easy to believe that the cause of downer emotions is external, out there somewhere, cause by something somebody else did, or didn’t do, when emotions are usually triggered by what we think about situations, the actual words in our minds and not the situation at all. How often do you hear yourself thinking, “He made me mad,” for example? Another person cannot make you mad. Events do not make emotions occur. What actually happens is that when an event occurs we evaluate it as positive or negative, good or bad, safe or threatening. Second, outside of our conscious awareness we make rapid evaluations of events, the most basic being:”Is there a threat?” Anytime our minds determine that, yes indeed, there is a threat, the stress response instantly kicks in, mobilizing us to fight or flee. All of this occurs without and conscious thought.

Meditation

Another great source that helped me along the way “how to meditate” by Kathleen McDonald I will be quoting from several pages in no particular order Meditation is an activity of mental consciousness. It involves on part of the mind observing, anal yin, and dealing with the rest of the mind. Meditation can take many forms: concentrating single-pointedly on an (internal) object, trying to understand some personal problem, generation a joyful love for all humanity, praying to an object of devotion, or communicating with our own inner wisdom. Its ultimate aim is to awaken a very subtle level of consciousness and to use it to discover reality, directly and intuitively.

Meditation is not spacing-out or running away. In fact, it is being totally honest with ourselves: taking a good look at what we are and working with that in order to become more positive and useful, to ourselves and others. Our mental disorders, delusions, jealousy, anger, desire, PRIDE. Theses arise from our misunderstanding of reality. Through meditation we can recognize our mistakes and adjust our mind to think and react more realistically, more honestly.

When we have problem or we feel emotionally upset, we can sit down and make our mind calmer with a fee minute of meditation on the breath. Then, taking a step back from our thought and emotions, we can try to understand what’s going on. “What kind of thoughts are going through my mind? What emotions are arising?” Within the calm, clear space of meditation, it will be easier to recognize where our thinking is erroneous and to adjust it by bringing in more realistic and beneficial ideas that we have learned from our spiritual study and practice.

Choosing to be…

Another book that I’ve had for some time that is still groundbreaking to this day “PSYCHO-CYBERNETICS A New Technique of Using Your SUBCONSCIOUS POWER” By Maxwell Maltz, M.D.,F.L.C.S. A little tidbit, “Psycho-Cybernetics is a term coined by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, which means, “steering your mind to a productive, useful goal so you can reach the greatest port in the world, peace of mind.” In the chapter You Can Acquire The Habit of Happiness under Happiness is Good Medicine Psychosomatic medicine has proved that our stomachs, liver, heart, and all our internal organs function better when we are happy. Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart doth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drouth up the bones.” As a means towards righteousness and the good life. Dr. Schindler has said that unhappiness is the sole cause of all psychosomatic ills and that happiness is the only cure. The very word “disease” means a state of unhappiness–“dis-ease.”

Happiness is not something that is earned or deserved. Happiness is not a moral issue, anymore than the circulation of the blood is amoral issue. Both are necessary to health and wellbeing. Happiness is simply a “state of mind in which our thinking is pleasant a good share of the time.”

In my conclusion I  recommend these three books and the three antidotes I prescribed. You can add your source from your belief. You have to remove yourself, since religion can be so selfish and dogmatic never believing someone or some other group to have appropriate answers or solutions. Cultivate your own happiness, learn to walk in it. Remember it is a practice, it is a choice.

Written by John the Revelator