Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Feathers Are Ruffled!

My laptop has been out of commission for a while and now that it's back up and running, I've been going back to look at recent news stories. One in particular grabbed my attention - it concerns President Obama's recent speech at Georgetown University. Apparently, the White House made a request for the university to cover up any religious symbols that would be in view where he was speaking, i.e. a monogram of Jesus' name. DO WHAT?!

I don't even know where to start with this one. But I'll try. Man, I do want to try to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt but I can't with this one. He chose this university, a CATHOLIC university, as the location for a speech he wanted to deliver. Therefore, as a matter of respect, you defer to "house" rules. Georgetown University has been around for 120 years. Sure, you're the President so it pretty much goes without saying that you defer to the needs of the President. But in this case, I believe this request is completely disrespectful and done in VERY bad taste. The White House, in it's statement regarding the request, said that they didn't want the monogram showing for fear it would be seen out of context. Can someone explain that to me? Was the thought that President Obama would be criticized for sharing face time with a monogram of Jesus' name? Better yet, who would even think twice about the monogram in the first place being in display while President Obama delivered his speech? He and The White House make this an issue by making this ridiculous request. What's even more ridiculous is that Georgetown complied and covered up the monogram.

What'll be interesting to see is if he asks Notre Dame to cover up any of their religious symbols and if he does, how the university will respond. I hope if he does make the request to cover symbols and images that they refuse to comply. I think The White House shouldn't be so concerned with people taking religious symbolism (i.e. the name of Jesus) out of context when it's seen in the same space as the President. I mean, he made it very clear, with some help from George Stephanopoulous on his show that he was a Christian, so what would be the confusion or hang-up with the two (the POTUS and the name of Jesus) sharing the same space? I think he is, to his own and to our country's detriment, too eager to prove himself a man of all people. And his administration is out to remake this country as a country of the world, just like any other country. This I believe also is to his and our own detriment. We are the world's superpower. We have been a beacon of hope and freedom for the world for a very long time. Those two things make us different from the rest of the countries of the world. That alone makes us either loved or hated - loved by countries and peoples that yearn for freedom and opportunity and hated by peoples and countries that want to suppress freedom and opportunity. I believe we have a duty to continue to take up the burden that comes with this responsibility. No other country on the planet has the resources or ability to take up this mantle the way we do. And I will say that whether or not we are a Christian nation today, as President Obama contends that we are not, is debatable. There are facts available to support either side of that argument. But there should not be any confusion about the fact that this nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles - it's woven into the very composition and wording of our Constitution. We can deny this no more than we can deny that the Lord has brought unparalleled prosperity to this nation, which I believe is linked to the faith and vision of those that founded this country.

I could be completely wrong about this but I feel like President Obama is trying to remake America into what he thinks it should be. I'm not ignorant to the fact that there have been a lot of things that have happened in this country that are indeed shameful, things that those in government allowed to be perpetrated against Black Americans (i.e. slavery, segregation, Jim Crow laws, Tuskeegee human experiments). I'm also not ignorant to the fact that Black Americans are not alone when it comes to people groups that have been targeted and treated less than humanely (i.e. Japanese, Chinese, Arabic peoples). At the same time, there are a lot of things that this country has stood and fought for when it really mattered, times in history that required our action, our resolve to allow for freedom to win out over tyranny and despotism. It is for these actions that I believe the rest of the world owes the United States a huge debt for the price we've paid to ensure that freedom is a choice for anyone who wants it. And these things deserve consideration by President Obama as he travels and speaks around the country. Instead of covering things up, he should pay the proper respect and homage to the things that make us as a country unique and special. It is this very characteristic that he of all people should recognize he has uniquely benefited from.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Michelle vs. Oprah?

Tonight, Lisa and I were watching a show on Headline News, Showbiz Tonight. They were talking about a controversy started by Tina Brown, founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast. She published a column back on April 2nd about Michelle Obama's growing stardom on the international stage due to her tour of Europe last week for the G20 summit. In her column, she compares Michelle Obama to Oprah and says that Michelle is surpassing Oprah as the new Black "it-girl". There were two Black female guests that were being interviewed and they went on and on about how it was offensive, and at minimum institutionally racist, for Ms. Brown to compare Michelle Obama to Oprah.

Honestly, these kind of comparisons happen all of the time...ALL OF THE TIME! It's the nature of the world in which we live. People that live in the public sphere are compared all of the time. It just so happens that a white reporter (Tina Brown) is comparing two black women. Big deal. They're in the public eye so that means they're subject to public scrutiny and comparison...period. End of story. I say all of this because the two black female guests on Showbiz Tonight were voicing their displeasure and saying so representing the entire Black population. They were talking as though their opinions represented generally the way all Blacks feel about this story. I don't know if that's the case or not. Honestly, there are plenty of Blacks that look for reasons to use the race card. I am not one of them. And frankly it really gets under my skin when certain Blacks that get the opportunity to voice their opinion publicly suppose to speak for all Blacks. I hate when other people speak for me, as if they know me and know the way I think and feel about things like this.

What really irks me about this is that there seems to be more public outrage about this comparison Ms. Brown made between Michelle Obama and Oprah than what was made about President Obama's comment about the Special Olympics during his last appearance on The Tonight Show. Ironically, I believe that Ms. Brown's article is actually evidence of the fact that strides are continuing to be made regarding how Blacks are being seen and evaluated within the public sphere. Comparison and/or criticism is part of being in the public eye. I don't think it's fair to accuse someone of racism, institutional or not, just because they're comparing two very popular and powerful Black women. Furthermore, if you're going to talk on behalf of the entire Black community about what's racist and what's not, spend the time then to find out how the Black community really feels about it. Don't present your specific opinion and then make it out to be as though you're speaking for everyone. It's not how I think and I know I'm not the only Black person who feels the way I feel.

For the record, I called the toll-free number for Showbiz Tonight to voice my opinion. They may erase my voicemail altogether but I wanted to make sure the producers and hosts knew that there was at least one Black person that didn't share the opinion of the guests on the show. I don't know if it makes a bit of difference or not but I felt better for doing it. There are things I have absolutely no patience for. One of those things is Blacks looking for an opportunity to play the race card. I know what racism looks like...I've stood face to face with a member of the Ku Klux Klan. There are plenty of real instances of racism that deserve more attention, outrage and activism. In my opinion, this comparison between Ms. Obama and Oprah is not one of those instances and should only be debated the way any other comparison between public figures is debated.

As with any other posting, I welcome your feedback and opinions. If you want to read the story I'm referring to, go to the following link:


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Faith Like Potatoes

Our pastor gave us a movie to watch this past Sunday. The movie is called "Faith Like Potatoes". It's a true story about a white farmer named Angus and his family in Southern Africa trying to survive. It chronicles his evolution as a person, from non-believer to believer and the major ups and downs along the way. Honestly, I thought it sounded a little hokey and was hoping it wasn't another example of a Christian movie coming up short. Unexpectedly, it was a very well-done movie that moved Lisa and me very deeply. We talked afterwards and in the course of our conversation, we both realized we have been harboring unrighteous anger and bitterness towards the Lord. We were convicted of our lack of faith as of late and it produced an overwhelming emotional outpouring from us - we cried like a couple of babies. We've questioned and have been angry with God over our present circumstances. We've felt like our prayers have gone unheard and disregarded. We've questioned whether He truly cares about and knows our hurt. Some days have been absolutely agonizing, like we're smack dab in the middle of a desert with no oasis in sight. But I'm thankful for the Lord using Larry to deliver to us something we desperately emphatic "I have not forsaken you" in the form of a low-budget Christian film with a weird title.

It is said the Lord works in mysterious ways and that is absolutely true. I'm glad that there are believers making films and allowing the Lord to work through them to make art that ministers to people like me. I believe movies speak to us in a way that few mediums can and when it is used to convey truth in a relevant, artistic way, it is a wonderfully beautiful thing with an unlimited impact. I have been encouraged to see good art coming from Christians within the past few years. When I say "good art", I mean art that would be taken seriously by the rest of the world instead of being laughed at and ridiculed for its lack of quality. I just had a conversation with a fellow believer I recently met and he talked about his want and desire to form a regular time of meeting with other Christian businessmen within the area to pray and work towards making their particular city a "city on a hill" so to speak - a place where Christian excellence within the business world is THE standard for everyone else to follow. I applaud him for that and will pray that he does not relent in his pursuit. I will do what I can to encourage him to persevere because the enemy will come against it and do what he can to discourage him and those that choose to take part in his vision. I believe my friend is right - Christians should be the standard bearers wherever they are. They, we, should be leading the rest of the world and setting the standard for excellence in whatever field of expertise or area of commerce we choose to reside. It should be our striving - it should be our calling...excellence in whatever we do. I do hope and pray that I get to be in movies. It's a passion I've had since I can remember. I know how it's ministered to me and how it continues to minister and invoke hope and wonder in so many people. I want to be a part of a movement within the Christian arts, motion pictures specifically, that makes a statement to the rest of the world that makes them take notice while speaking to them in a way that is relevant and thought-provoking...and yes, something that is entertaining in the process.

I have a lot of big prayers and big requests. They seem big to me anyway. They're not too big for Him. There are so many possibilities...through it all I just need to keep my eyes on Him and have real faith, faith you can hold onto and feel the weight of, something like potatoes. Thank you for Lord for using the seemingly foolish things of this world convey truth and wisdom to me.