Occasionally I read a news story and think, "REALLY, could somebody be that damn dense?" Well, this week I encountered one of those stories. It involved the US Secret Service, the Nation of Islam, the press, walkie talkies, sly insults and shameful politically charged overreaction. I know, its sounds like a Spike Lee joint, right? But this was no movie, it was real life. Reportedly, President Obama and his family were at a BBQ across the street from Minister Louis Farrakhan's home in Chicago and the press apparently got to close to the Minister's abode and that signaled a minor standoff between the secret service and the Nation of Islam security forces (aka--the fruit of Islam).
Now, let me be clear, I have a great deal of respect for the Nation of Islam and I think the FOI are positively "gangster" in the best sense of the term. But I don't know what is more ridiculous about this story, the fact that the islamic brother thought the Secret service was the CIA or the FOI chanting "Islam" in Wide or Die shirts at the press. LOL. Come on folks, are we serious. To get the full story, click the link below and read the Chicago Sun Times article. If you don't, you'll probably see it as a scene in the next 40 acres and a mule production! (Love You Spike!!!)
Normally the Sunday morning talk video is of some random preacher dropping divine knowledge in a church or so-called religious environment. Well, this week allow me to deviate from our regularly scheduled religious programming. Instead, allow me to introduce to some and present to others the Rev. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson! Heralded as one of the most well known African American Public intellectuals our time, Professor Dyson needs no introduction to most people who read this blog. However, if by chance you've never heard him speak or preach, read something he wrote, or seen him on CNN, MSNBC, and Real Time with Bill Maher, your about to witness a treat.
In this clip Dr. Dyson (also known as MED) rhetorically baptizes listeners in his poetic waters at MOS DEF's poetry jam. This clip is classic for primarily two reasons. First, it displays Dyson's rhetorical genius. And secondly, simply because its HOT (meaning not lame or cultural cheesy). I mean, the line "I write books like niggas write hooks" is ridiculously beautiful. Anyhow, let's listen to and learn from the Intellectual MC our time. Enjoy
Hello friends, I wanted to post "the Critical Cleric" book of the month for April. I ran across this text while researching for the graduate thesis I'm currently writing and will hopefully complete today (if you believe in prayer, please PRAY I FINISH!). I received the book by mail a couple days ago and I have been stealing minutes ever since trying to read it, because its the end of the semester and my time is not my own.
But from what I've read thus far, it is really well written and researched, and offers a much needed analysis of the racial and religious factors that influenced what is now infamously known as the "Jeremiah Wright, God Damn America" controversy. In case you've forgotten (or in the case of many Obama supporters and/or Jeremiah Wright supporters, like myself) tried to forget. During the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary Race an except of a sermon preached by Senator Obama's pastor (now former pastor) Jeremiah Wright was released to the media where he is proclaiming "God Damn America" for her past sins of injustice committed against innocent and disinherited persons etc.
This sermonic except (along with a few others) created a whirlwind of controversy and prolonged political theater, leading up to Obama giving his famed Philadelphia "Race Speech" and eventually parting ways with Dr. Wright. Well, this book The Preacher and the Politician: Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama and Race In America examines these events by taking into account American's protracted contentious racial past and its romanticized racial present. I think all those interested in politics, race, or religion (or if you just wanna learn something) will find this book extremely insightful.
You should pick it up and tell me what you think.
Compassionately and Critically yours, Billy Michael Honor Jr.
I really love neo-soul music. I love the sound of it, the soul of it, and the culture around it. When I listen to the music I can't help but feel alive and in touch with what life is really about. This is how I feel when I listen to the music of D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, India Arie, Angie Stone, and Maxwell just to name a few. All of these artist in their own way have helped me (through their music) to wrestle with some of the deep complexities of life and love and I know many others who feel the same way. However, despite the influence of the Neo-Soul music genre and culture, few have taken time to analyze its origin and progression. In our current age of commercial "hip hop" proliferation and over analyzing, hip hop's cultural sibling "neo-soul" often gets overshadowed. But hopefully this will change with author Chris Campbell's new book The Essential Neo Soul. I have not read it, but I've ordered it and read raving reviews about it so I feel confident in endorsing it. But if you don't trust me, trust author and music critic Shamontiel whose review of the book is linked to this post. You should check it out, its hot and Shamontiel's writings are very insightful and fun.
Compassionately and Critically yours, Billy Michael Honor
I have been teaching at the church I serve about “The Truth of God” in our Truth seekers class/Bible Study.Primarily I’ve been pondering the questions: What is God’s truth?Who has access to God’s truth? Who wants to hinder the dissemination of God’s truth? And how can we experience God’s truth in our lives?
I have to admit, this study has been interesting. Mainly, we have been discovering the basics: God is spirit-not a man or male, the Bible is a collection of books not a heavenly facsilime, there are at least (3) creation stories, Malachi 3 was written to the priests and not to the people, Paul had no idea he was writing to the Church throughout all time and if he had he prolly would have written differently, and Jesus never said he was God, though we believe by faith that he is ! You know, the basics (lol).
Some people have cried, some have been confused, and others have been convicted.However mostly over these weeks I have been amazed at how many people come up to me after and say “I’ve been a part of the ‘church’ for a long time, why has no one ever told me this?” Or they say “I’m so angry that I didn’t find this out earlier in my life, things could have been so different.” And then there are those that simply say, “Thank You.”
Honestly, when I hear comments like these, it makes ministry worth it all.I’ve never been interested in the glitz and glamour, smoke and mirror type ministry that many pursue these days.My heart has always been to help lead people into deeper truth about God, the world, and themselves and I believe this is at the heart of God because truth is God.And where God’s truth is, there is truly Freedom, which for me is the core of the gospel—making people free to be who they really are in God.That’s good news!!
But the divine truth is not always pleasant or easy to hear; in fact most times it’s not.So that’s why it takes courage to teach God’s truth because it might cost you. Lately, I’ve been getting more opportunities to share hard truths about God’s church in the world with Christians in Atlanta and I’m grateful and encouraged.Telling people that churches are often oppressive, manipulating, perpetuators of falsehood and dissenters of truth (though not in these exact words) is not easy.But I’ve got good news, PEOPLE ARE LISTENING!
One great example of this fact came from a mentor and friend of mine, Professor of Hebrew Bible at the ITC, Rev. Dr. Randall C. Bailey.For those that know Doc or have read his stuff, you know he is a true Religious Intellectual freedom fighter to his core!And he preaches and teaches the truth of God as he understands it, in season and out of season—even when I’ve seen people get up and walk out or get plain indignant, he keeps telling it like it is.However, occasionally I’ve seen people see the divine truth in his message and be liberated and its a beautiful thing.This happened recently, while he was ministering in South Africa.Below I have posted the message he wrote about the experience.
I think this is good news for progressive Christians who wrestle with what it means to share God’s truth in foreign lands. Enjoy
Compassionately and critically yours, Billy Michael Honor
“Today I preached in Atteridgeville, RSA, one of the townships outside Pretoria. My friend, Takatso Mofokeng, arranged for me to preach there two Sundays ago and they asked that I come back, which I did today.
I preached on Acts 8:26-40 and called the sermon, "Being Hi-Jacked". I dealt with the centrality of Ancient Africa to the Bible and the way this story authenticates the Gospel by the African/Ethiopian accepting it. But the story gets hi-jacked by modern English translation omitting v. 37, where he makes his profession of faith. I also talked about how he gets hi-jacked by not finding any stories in the text of what happens once he returns home. All that is replaced by Paul rushing to the white folks of Europe to bring them into the fold. I also, as I laid out the plot of Acts 1-8 mentioned how the women are hi-jacked by the Apostles electing another man to replace Judas and then choosing 7 men and no women as deacons.
After the sermon, Takatso did a summary in Tsawane, and then the people sang three songs. Then one of the elders of the church arose and said, "In my 74 years, I have never heard that Africa was central and we don't have to follow the ways of white Christians. And he is right, the women have been hi-jacked. Look at all the women in the church today and the men keep the leadership positions."
I began to cry, for seldom do I get a lay person taking the floor and claiming how the word proclaimed touched his core. It was worth all that I have gone through in my ministry to experience that moment today."
(Before the Critical Cleric I facilitated a blog for 4 years I called Souljonz.Over those few years Souljonz received over 500,000 visits and thousands of posted comments.What’s interesting is most of the visits to that blog were from people searching for gossip about superstar pastor Jamal Bryant’s Marriage problems and others looking for information on NIGGERS.I kid you not, everyday at least 20 searches for nigger lover, ugly nigger, niggers dieing, nigger cities, and even nigger bitches etc. would reach my blog because I posted years ago a piece Joseff Sorett wrote on “The N-Word Dying a Double Death.” Oh, the irony. Anyhow, in response to the large amount of internet Nigger interest I decided to post a piece Dr. Cornel West wrote on the “Niggerization of American democracy “which I absolutely love.I am reposting this piece on this 9-11 memorial weekend because Dr. West composed this piece in response to the US’s posture post 9-11.Hopefully, this article from one of American’s most celebrated intellectuals will enlighten and inform all of who read it this 9-11 weekend. Enjoy.) Compassionately and Critically yours, B. Michael Honor
Cornel West–The fundamental irony of American history is that we follow the better angels of our nature when we honestly and compassionately confront the devilish realities we would like to ignore or deny. The founding of this most American of periodicals was motivated, in part, by a courageous resistance against the American institution of white- supremacist slavery. We must never forget that when this grand intellectual forum was established, the precious U.S. Constitution was, in practice, a pro-slavery document. To put it clearly yet crudely, the deep democratization of America was pitted against the ugly niggerization in America.
Democratization is the best of the American idea—in principle and practice. The sublime notion that each and every ordinary person has a dignity that warrants his or her voice being heard in shaping the destiny of society remains a revolutionary force in the 21st century—in the face of the power of autocratic empires, plutocratic states, and xenophobic communities. Niggerization is neither simply the dishonoring and devaluing of black people nor solely the economic exploitation and political disenfranchisement of them. It is also the wholesale attempt to impede democratization—to turn potential citizens into intimidated, fearful, and helpless subjects.
Since the ugly events of 9/11, we have witnessed the attempt of the Bush administration—with elites in support and populists complacent—to promote the niggerization of the American people. Like the myopic white greed, fear, and hatred that fueled the niggerization of black people, right-wing greed, fear, and hatred have made all of us feel intimidated, fearful, and helpless in the face of the terrorist attacks. And, as in the 19th century, we’ve almost lost our democracy.
The future of the American idea—both then and now, here and abroad—depends on the vision, courage, and determination of decent and compassionate people to engage in Socratic questioning of the powers that be, to take the risk of prophetic witness, and to preserve a hope for democratization. Our nation and world now have the blues, so we must learn from our blues people—from the grand examples of Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, Myles Horton, and Muriel Rukeyser. The American practice of niggerization must die for the American idea of democratization to live—yet again.
Until very recently, I spent most of life in primarily three places: bookstores, classrooms, and meetings. Yes I know, how exciting (obvious sarcasm here). Truthfully though, two out of three of these I don’t mind so such, in fact I even enjoy them. The other I do out of necessity and it is only sometimes enjoyable, and rarely exciting (I’ll let you guess which one this is).
However, this morning I managed to find myself in an interesting meeting centered on “the state of the relationship of young black Americans to the emerging church (this is the church that is coming into being).” In other words, it was a meeting about are young African Americans interested or disinterested in the church as we are coming to know it. I found this meeting to be very intriguing despite the banality of many of the comments that were made about the state of young black America. However, during this dialogue one gentleman who will remain nameless made a comment that completely threw me into the cognitive realm of disgust and indignation. In fact, I am still trying to hide the stains in my shirt from coffee I spilled after he began to open his month to speak. This well dressed rather misinformed gentleman had the unmitigated gall to say that in his opinion “the disinterest of black Americans with the church was the result of the demonic tool of internet blogs and websites that perpetuate atheism, Black Nationalism, and anti-Christian sentiment.” OH, MY GOD! I hope you find this statement as ridiculous and thoroughly inaccurate as I do. If not, the remainder of this post is for you!
First of all, the very notion of black American disinterest with the church is misleading if it is not considered within the larger context of black religion. Despite, all the in house church commentary on Christianity it is still in fact a religion. Therefore, any critic of religion in general is by implication also a critic of the Church. That is to the extent that the church engages in so-called religious activities such as promoting a set of beliefs and practices, centered upon specific supernatural and moral claims about reality, the cosmos, and human nature, and subsequently codifies these beliefs into prayers, rituals, and some cases religious law.
My point here is that any disinterest with the church cannot be understood properly without some attention being given to the rise of youth distrust of so-called organized religion.
Secondly, calling the internet blogs in and of themselves demonic in any way reeks of a sort of spiritualized pseudo anti-intellectualism that is employed to avoid the hard work of cultural and social interrogation. Simply put, whatever I don’t understand (like internet blog appeal and religious disinterest for example) I write off as demonic. Of course, this type of anti-intellectualism is not new. In my opinion this is symptomatic of the real crisis in contemporary religion which is the inability of religious communities to communicate and display their essential mission (or reason for existing) within the context of the current world we live in.
Thirdly, atheism, Black Nationalism, and anti-Christian sentiment all existed long before the internet and therefore obviously do not need the internet to continue their existence. They continue to exist on the sheer power and persuasiveness of the concepts that they encapsulate. Now, granted the internet does provide a medium whereby these ideologies can be more readily spread and accessible. However, there has been no respected formal objective or empirical research done that proves the existence of the internet or blogs have contributed to any so-called Christian religious disinterest. Besides, I am quite confident that there are more blogs and websites promoting some form of Christianity than there are blogs that are openly in opposition to it. And if you don’t think this is true then why don’t you start a site that promotes everything not atheist, not Black Nationalist, and pro-Christian and perform your own .com exorcism of the demonic tool of the internet.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this comment just solidifies the rampant blame game certain religious leaders love to play in an effort to evade any responsibility of their own actions. This is why I suggested to the gentleman that we take time to ask ourselves the question, why is our presentation of the ministry so uninteresting, instead of why are they so disinterested?
I posed this question in the spirit of prophetic pragmatic cultural criticism which adheres to the belief that all critical reflection should began with self reflection. Perhaps, if the church engaged in more honest self reflection we would find that at the core of our dilemma is not the issue of the internet but an issue of identity.
Compassionately and critically yours, Billy Michael Honor
It’s not the barbeque, and it’s certainly not the traffic. It was born as an attempt to appease the working people of America. [Remember the Pullman strike in history class?] Unfortunately it seems to have worked too well.
The observance of Labor Day began over 100 years ago. Conceived by America’s labor unions as a testament to their cause, the legislation sanctioning the holiday was shepherded through Congress amid labor unrest and signed by President Grover Cleveland as a reluctant elction-year compromise.
Soon after, when the entire nation became thoroughly frightened by the bugbear of socialism and communism, the movement was de-radicalized. The real Left was gradually marginalized and almost totally eliminated from American culture and society. The workers’ movement itself became middle class, before it acquired the material benefits and political power which that adjustment should have delivered. And there it languishes.
In 1898, Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor, called it “the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed…that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it.”Almost a century since Gompers spoke those words, though, Labor Day is seen as the last long weekend of summer rather than a day for political organizing. In 1995, less than 15 percent of American workers belonged to unions, down from a high in the 1950’s of nearly 50 percent, though nearly all have benefited from the victories of the Labor movement.
Happy Labor Day, but don’t forget.
Compassionately and critically yours, Billy Michael Honor