Category Archives: God

Poverty is More than a Mind Thing!

While doing research on building my business recently, I came across something that may help the masses of people, especially those of the African American experience who have been dumbed down, discouraged, depressed, despondent, and disappointed in trying to fulfill their potential. This is a short phrase from a business family, but mighty powerful:

“If you want to go fast, go alone… if you want to go far, go together” (Joel & Julie Landi of The Performance Group)

I was raised by a very determined woman. She had a husband, but sometimes things just don’t work out, and a woman has to do what a woman has to do.

Not many people around gave me much of a chance. I was smaller than many boys around me; had a speech impediment (stuttered and stammered); was made fun of; developed a very low self-esteem (whatever that is!); and began growing into a very angry young man on the inside while I tried to smile on the outside.  There is quite a story behind why I smile so often now, and have dedicated my life to help others.

By the time I was 11, my mother had become one of those very dedicated Christians. She was the daughter of a church planter and minister, but negative circumstances had affected her desire to be really serious about becoming a committed Christian. Coupled with her own personal powerhouse of determination to succeed, she constantly brought sunshine into what I thought was a strong poverty life. One day, she grew weary of my negative and “Woe is me!” attitude.  I had made the word “can’t” my daily diet.  I used to smile as a baby and young child, but over time, hurts from family members, school acquaintances, and being laughed at by others had crushed me—my smile left and I was a depressed sight.  I had said “I can’t” once too often that day.  My mom glared at me with those sharp black eyes surrounded by her long black hair sat atop a very diminutive body.  “That’s it!” she cried.  I had heard her sharp tongue much of my life, but this was different.  It was as if God himself was thundering at me.

“The word ‘can’t’ will no longer be used in this house!” she continued.  “You CAN read better!  You CAN speak better.  You CAN do better!” she thundered.  “I don’t ever want you to use the word ‘can’t again.  Do you hear me!”  Her thundering voice was so strong I was sure the entire neighborhood heard from our basement living conditions.  “Beginning today, you WILL smile!  Beginning today, you WILL believe in yourself!  Beginning today, you WILL read to me out loud and speak better!”

My mom spoke with such force, I was convinced that she and God must have become very connected!  My eyes opened wide; fear gripped my soul.  However, that day was a turning point in my life of thinking we would always be in poverty.  Of course, my mom NEVER considered us poor, even when we had to share an outhouse with the local pimps, prostitutes, drunks and others in a place where we used to live. She often worked two jobs, and even found time to take me to work in the agricultural fields wherever we lived.  We were seldom broke.  She would wash twice or more times a week to keep my few clothes cleaned and pressed.  And, we seldom missed a meal.  But, I would look at others and what they had, and often despised what my mom worked hard to provide for the two of us.

That very day of the thundering, my mom began me reading out loud to her.  Every morning she would check to see if I was smiling.  If not, I had to quickly put on a smile!  I went to church with her, became active in local and church youth programs, and slowly began to grow beyond my mind of poverty-thinking.

My speaking gradually improved.  I began to dream again.  Against odds, I finished college with several degrees, and was blessed to have had a wife who has stayed with me since 1965.  We have five grown children successful in their own right, 14 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.  I am NOT rich—yet, but I have had the experience of working and learning from over 19 different industries!  This experience has helped me to become a consultant to politicians, ministers, business people, and to community organizations, helping others to dream, and find their niche in life.  Now, I wake up every morning with a smile on my face and looking forward to helping someone else, or making a positive difference in some organization or community.

This entire journey of mine could not have been as successful as it has been if I would have had to walk my journey alone.  Preachers, pastors, teachers, street people, business people, family members, and associates have helped me come this far in life—by being willing to go on the journey together—with others.

 

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I was going to do some real research for the pagan holiday of Easter.  I was going to show how the Catholic Church co-opted a lot of pagan holidays in order to win the pagans who had a lot of holidays honoring their gods, their superstitions, and what they didn’t know. However, I came across a piece written by Heather McDougall (The Guardian, 4/3/2010), and just decided to share it.  Some other day I will do my own research with footnotes and references!

Here is the article from Ms. McDougall:

The pagan roots of Easter

From Ishtar to Eostre, the roots of the resurrection story go deep. We should embrace the pagan symbolism of Easter

Easter is a pagan festival. It isn’t really about Jesus, then what is it about? Today, we see a secular culture celebrating the spring equinox, whilst religious culture celebrates the resurrection. However, early Christianity made a pragmatic acceptance of ancient pagan practises, most of which we enjoy today at Easter. The general symbolic story of the death of the son (sun) on a cross (the constellation of the Southern Cross) and his rebirth, overcoming the powers of darkness, was a well worn story in the ancient world. There were plenty of parallel, rival resurrected saviours too.

The Sumerian goddess Inanna, or Ishtar, was hung naked on a stake, and was subsequently resurrected and ascended from the underworld. One of the oldest resurrection myths is Egyptian Horus. Born on 25 December, Horus and his damaged eye became symbols of life and rebirth. Mithras was born on what we now call Christmas day, and his followers celebrated the spring equinox. Even as late as the 4th century AD, the sol invictus, associated with Mithras, was the last great pagan cult the church had to overcome. Dionysus was a divine child, resurrected by his grandmother. Dionysus also brought his mum, Semele, back to life.

In an ironic twist, the Cybele cult flourished on today’s Vatican Hill. Cybele’s lover Attis, was born of a virgin, died and was reborn annually. This spring festival began as a day of blood on Black Friday, rising to a crescendo after three days, in rejoicing over the resurrection. There was violent conflict on Vatican Hill in the early days of Christianity between the Jesus worshippers and pagans who quarrelled over whose God was the true, and whose the imitation. What is interesting to note here is that in the ancient world, wherever you had popular resurrected god myths, Christianity found lots of converts. So, eventually Christianity came to an accommodation with the pagan Spring festival. Although we see no celebration of Easter in the New Testament, early church fathers celebrated it, and today many churches are offering “sunrise services” at Easter – an obvious pagan solar celebration. The date of Easter is not fixed, but instead is governed by the phases of the moon – how pagan is that?

All the fun things about Easter are pagan. Bunnies are a leftover from the pagan festival of Eostre, a great northern goddess whose symbol was a rabbit or hare. Exchange of eggs is an ancient custom, celebrated by many cultures. Hot cross buns are very ancient too. In the Old Testament we see the Israelites baking sweet buns for an idol, and religious leaders trying to put a stop to it. The early church clergy also tried to put a stop to sacred cakes being baked at Easter. In the end, in the face of defiant cake-baking pagan women, they gave up and blessed the cake instead.

Easter is essentially a pagan festival which is celebrated with cards, gifts and novelty Easter products, because it’s fun and the ancient symbolism still works. It’s always struck me that the power of nature and the longer days are often most felt in modern towns and cities, where we set off to work without putting on our car headlights and when our alarm clock goes off in the mornings, the streetlights outside are not still on because of the darkness.

What better way to celebrate, than to bite the head off the bunny goddess, go to a “sunrise service”, get yourself a sticky-footed fluffy chick and stick it on your TV, whilst helping yourself to a hefty slice of pagan simnel cake? Happy Easter everyone!

Now, these are my own thoughts:  I like Easter even though it is a pagan holiday.  I like the chocolate bunnies; the dyed eggs; the jelly beans; the Easter baskets; the Easter dinners; and a time when many people dress up and go to their temple, synagogue, or church.  So what if the Catholic Church co-opted Easter from the pagans and other things of pagans in order to add to their numbers?  So what if the church groups who followed the Catholic Church continued some of the traditions adopted from the pagans?  This is a time of celebration, and some people call it Resurrection Sunday, and honor Jesus.  And, perhaps some will make positive changes in their lives.  Where are my jelly beans?

 

Thinking About Some of America’s History

Over the years, many Reconstructionist historians, atheists, and others have bashed Christopher Columbus, the Pilgrims, the Puritans, the nation’s founders, European and other early entrepreneurs to America, explorers in America, slave owners, and Christians for their part in destroying Native culture, and expanding the free enterprise system.  They remind me of women who have been abused in relationships, and blame all men for everything wrong around them!

But, just like ALL men are NOT responsible for the abuse done to women, neither can we blame those above for the abuse done to Native Peoples, African slaves, or to the environment.  Yes, some of those with the above labels have done wrong—they just happen to be human, or greedy, or even evil.  But to blame entire groups is not accurate.  Let’s take Thanksgiving for example.

Some of the early settlers in America were looking for a place where they could practice their belief in the Creator without being abused by those with power.  When they found a measure of peace and survived harsh winters after burying many others, they were thankful to be in a new land.  They didn’t come to take over land from the Native People; they heard it was a New World, and that they could start a new life without powerful people controlling their lives.  They even tried to make peace with the Native Peoples, and find agreement to live together.  Some of the Native Peoples helped them survive in a weather to which they were unaccustomed.  Some of the Native Peoples welcomed them as new neighbors as there was plenty of land.  And, some of the Native Peoples taught them how to plant food, go after game, and survive in a land new to the new arrivals, but well-known by those who had long history in the land.

The Pilgrims gave thanks to the Creator for the help from the Native Peoples.  They gave thanks for those who had survived a cruel winter.  They gave thanks for the opportunity to start a fresh, and free, life in a land with so much potential.  Whether people were religious or not, the Pilgrims were religious, and thanked the Creator for all, for food, survival, and opportunity.  They had a time to sit down with the Wampanoag Native Americans at their thanksgiving table July, 1623 for three days, thankful for life, fellowship, the rain that saved the harvest, and good food as a result of the rain.  Unfortunately, this fellowship only lasted a few years as more people came to these shores, ignoring the ways of the local citizens, and turning to their god of Greed. Some historians say that celebrations in Florida, Texas, and Virginia happened before the gathering at Plymouth and came to be known as “Forefather’s Day.”

It was one of the Founding Fathers, President George Washington, who recognized the time and set the time aside to give thanks on a national day, October 3, 1789, even though there were those who opposed his religious inference.  However, he emphasized that the holiday would be inclusive for Americans of all faiths. Then, along came President Abraham Lincoln.  His desire was to keep the Union together perhaps more than to set the African American slaves free.  And, like President George Washington, he really didn’t want to arm ex-slaves and free African Americans to fight the English, or even to fight Anglo Americans in the South.  However, he was pushed to arm these men after considering the South was arming slaves to fight those from the North, and so many African Americans wanted to fight that he was forced to put them in uniform, and then forced to concede to some of the demands of the South if he wanted to bring healing to the nation.  So, he called the Nation to prayer during a time of Thanksgiving to ease the transition of the South into forming one country again.

Another President, Franklin Roosevelt, recognized Thanksgiving, but caused a firestorm by changing the date to fourth Thursday in November to allow more shopping days for Christmas, from the fifth Thursday, to which people were accustomed.  But, Thanksgiving survived and even grew when magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale, a widow and penniless, worked diligently to make Thanksgiving a national holiday for all Americans.  Later in the 1970s, Native People learned to hate Thanksgiving, Christopher Columbus, and all that stood for progress over them.  Many saw the time as a time of betrayal by the descendants of the early Pilgrims, Puritans, and settlers.  Instead of working with Native Americans and respecting their laws and customs, including their burial lands, late arriving immigrants and some greedy Americans began taking more land from the Native Peoples, continuing to kill and disrespect them, cheating them, and pushing more of them onto lands that were not suitable for the sustainability of their livelihood.  Native Peoples could not see any thanks for them during the season of Thanksgiving.  While others prospered, their way of life quickly diminished, and their wealth was taken away.  However, the o92nd Street Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in New York did manage to take the Thanksgiving season as an opportunity to do some good for those who were in need.  Just how much good has been done for the Native Peoples is still up for discussion.

Nevertheless, many Americans who honor Thanksgiving have become thankful for their prosperity; thankful for an opportunity to share with others; and thankful to be able to learn how to learn from different cultures, and thankful for their contributions.  Many Americans (including myself and my children) over the years leave their Thanksgiving dinners and serve in soup kitchens, help out in food banks, or do some acts of charity.  For some, it is very difficult to become thankful, walking past homeless people on sidewalks around Macy’s or other stores, or enjoying peace by watching the football games being interrupted by news of war overseas, girls caught up in human trafficking, crime in the inner cities, and high unemployment in this land of plenty.

So, in 2017, when you sit down to a fine meal of veggies only, or fish and rice, or turkey, cranberries, mash potatoes, gravy, green beans, varied salads, pie, cake, ice cream, and a drink (or several!), remember some of the words of Ben Franklin who expressed as only a pundit could regarding gratefulness for “…full Enjoyment of Liberty, civil and religious.”  However, since Native Peoples and many African Americans lack such “full enjoyment,” America still has some work to do to really honor the time of Thanksgiving in 2017, and each day in every way.  We can review the history of Thanksgiving and how those who came up with the phrase “thanksgiving,” can include prayer and worship as we move forward.  Of course, prayer and worship should include helping those less fortunate as an outward show of the outgrowth of prayer and worship.   This was illustrated by Representative Elias Boudinot to allow the citizens to do such after an arduous time of the ratification in 1877 of the Constitution.

America has come a long way in honoring the holiday of Thanksgiving, now with the Macy’s Parade, football all day, feasting, and sometimes, helping others.  Perhaps in 2017, we will remember the pain of the Native People during this holiday, understanding that not all of them own a share of a casino or smoke shop, many have become addicted to some form of drug, causing them to bring abuse on family members, and that many STILL don’t feel respected in the land that was formerly owned by their ancestors.  Perhaps, instead of feeding a homeless person or giving a blanket, each of us can adopt a Native family, adopt a homeless family, adopt an African American family, or adopt a newly-arrived immigrant from a war-torn country, and help them develop their talents into providing them with a real Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  [Adapted in part from Melanie Kirkpatrick’s book: Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience]

SO, JUST WHERE HAVE I BEEN INSTEAD OF BLOGGING?

I guess I am NOT really a blogger!

A REAL blogger is one who will write something interesting several times a month, or at least once a week.  I haven’t met this criteria!

So, what have I been doing instead of blogging?

I have been researching, doing some heavy reading regarding ancient African history, some Hebrew and Jewish history, the beginnings of the Christian church, and wondering where did Gentiles (non-Hebrew and/or non-Jewish) people, and doing some gathering of facts (and fiction!) of where people have come from.

Some of my reading and research could cause some to call me a hater if I actually blogged about my research and my subjective feelings.  So, I have been in an area of contemplation.  Some of my thoughts go back to 1954 when I dared asked why the pictures in The Holy Bible were always about Anglos.  The best answers I have received are:

  1.  they (Anglos) control the presses, and decide what is Christian art from their point of view;
  2. the Catholic Church leaders in the 3rd and 4th centuries became the controllers of what would become known as “Christianity” and trained Protestants and others their teaching by developing “Christian” art, pictures of what they imagined ALL of the biblical characters must have looked like, and they developed a world-wide “Christian” statute-making organization, placing their version of “Christian” art all over the world, including the huge statute of their version of Jesus in Brazil [Rio de Janeiro](Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado mountain); and
  3. no one really wants to take on over 2,000 years of any lies and falsification of Christianity, one of the largest religions in the world, and lose a lot of “Christian” friends for being a “hater” of Christianity!

Well, I believe that truth will stand, even if it shakes up 2,000 years of some of the false teachings and images of Christianity!  The good news for Christianity with any of its falsehoods is that the Gospel of Yeshua (called “Jesus” by the Catholics and many from the West and most of the world) has been shared almost all over the world.  Many people have been persecuted and killed for taking a stand for their version of Christianity.  And, which ethnic group could best “sell” Christianity around the world but Anglo Christians?  I mean, can you imagine how slow Christianity would have grown if its leaders and their publishing machine would have shown Yeshua (Jesus) as an African, Asian, Native American/Indian, or Hispanic without a strong military force?

So, here is some of my research gleaned from accepted and non-accepted “proven” sources:

WHO ARE THE GENTILES? ANGLOS WHO TOOK OVER JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY!

Wikipedia Ref:

The term gentiles is derived from Latin, used for contextual translation, and not an original Hebrew or Greek word from the Bible…Following Christianization of the Roman Empire, the general implication of the word gentile became “non-Jew.”

Some of my own (and other’s words!):

Non-Christians began calling those who followed the teachings of Christ Christians  in Antioch.  This group was the first multi-cultural spiritual group since the Hebrews of ancient times.  In the Acts of Apostles is recorded the expansion of the Christian faith as Jewish people and others in Jerusalem for Passover witnessed the early followers of Jesus Christ receiving the Holy Spirit, speaking in languages of that time.  Other religions and the leaders of the Roman Empire killed and persecuted the early Christians because they would not honor other religions, pay a special tax to Rome, and would not honor the Roman leaders as being divine.

The Roman Emperor Constantine established tolerance for Christianity during his reign and established a precedent of imperial involvement in matters of the Christian faith.  Other leaders followed his lead and even appointed bishops and was in charge of this new religion, which eventually became the Roman Catholic Church when the Roman Empire collapsed, along with the persecution to those following Judaism.  Soon, this group and other non-Jews were called GENTILES.  These gentiles then began to write Christian history and develop art from their point of view.

In 301, the nation of Armenia became the first nation to adopt the teachings which became to be known as Christianity.  However, the nation of Ethiopia may have become a strong Christian nation following the conversion of an official of the Queen of Ethopia in the First century, following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Acts of the Apostles.

By the beginning of the 4th century, what became known as Christianity had become the dominant faith in many areas. Christians accounted for approximately 1/10th  of the Roman people by 300 AD.  Because the church leaders of Christianity addressed human needs better than any other religion of its day, the Christian faith exploded, bringing many rich and powerful people into its ranks.

There were later campaigns of persecution by Christians against Christians following the calling of many synods, or church councils led by gentiles.  This further pitted the Christians of Turkey against the Christians of Rome against the Christians of Syria, against the Christians in Ethopia against the Christians in Jerusalem against the Christians in Alexandria (Africa).  Such in-fighting by Christians made it easier for the Arabian Moslem leader, Muhammad, to begin to unite all of the Arabic Peninsula to take over many former Christian nations in Africa, Asia, and throughout what would become known as the Middle East.

By the late 8th century Muslims had conquered all of Persia and much of the Eastern Roman territory including some of Africa and much of what is known as the Middle East. Over the years, the rich Christian country of Yemen, and much of the Christian world would come under Muslim rule.  While Africa may have been the first country to have the most Christians after the work of the Apostles and their followers in the 1st to the 4th centuries, over 1/3 of Africa is now under Muslims who continue to take over more of Africa and have extended its reach into Europe, Latin America, and even into the UnitedStates, a country formerly called a Christian nation.  With their population and imperilistic religious rule, Muslims may be poised to take over America within the next 50 years unless Christians become more proactive and join forces with those following Judiasm, and both groups share the whole truth about their beginnings connected with Africans, multi-ethnic Hebrews, and the Jews who were not mixed with Gentiles who flooded into Judaism through wars, conversion, and the scattering of many dark-skinned Jews who married with the dominant lighter-skinned Gentiles.

But, what do we called the Muslims?  As descendants of Abraham, it is difficult to call Ishmael’s descendants Gentiles, or even to call many of Ishmael’s descendants Muslims Gentiles.  However, as persecutors of Jews and Christians, Muslims could be characterized as Gentiles, or non-believers of Yahweh, and will suffer the same eternal fate of those other Gentiles who fought against those who were determined to follow the teachings of Moses, Abraham, the prophets, and/or Yeshua (Jesus).  According to some ancient records, it appears that early leaders of the Roman Catholic Church sent a woman to Muhammad to be his wife in order to develop a new religion to be a buffer against the Jewish people.  However, when the Roman Catholic Church lost control of those leading the Muslim religion, they have sought to have some sort of reconciliation with the Jewish leaders after centuries of fighting Jews and those Christian groups that would not come under their control (http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/vatican/esp_vatican33.htm)

According to some ancient records, it appears that early leaders of the Roman Catholic Church sent a woman to Muhammad to be his wife in order to develop a new religion to be a buffer against the Jewish people.  However, when the Roman Catholic Church lost control of those leading the Muslim religion, they have sought to have some sort of reconciliation with the Jewish leaders after centuries of fighting Jews and those Christian groups that would not come under control of the Roman Catholic Church.  Such actions could cause Catholics and many European people to be called Gentiles.

And, there are so many writers and researchers, some hated, and some admired, who have shared their words about the prophet Muhammad.  Many are male writers; some are female writers.  Here is onewho has shared that I really liked: “According to Tamam Kahn, author of “‘Untold: A History of the Wives of Prophet Muhammad”‘, Khadija was “the rock upon which Muhammad built his family and religion.” She was older than Muhammad. She was a wealthy businesswoman and widow, having borne children with her previous husbands.

Khadija and Muhammad had four daughters. The youngest, and favorite, was Fatima” (http://www.lastprophet.info/untold-tamam-khan-s-book-on-the-wives-of-the-prophet).  It was amazing reading and researching, discovering so many similarites between Fatima, the Virgin Mary, and others.  Such reading material is conceived and written by those called Christians, Muslims, Egyptian writers, and those called “pagans”.  Here is one source: “…goddesses such as Aphrodite, Astarte, Cybele, Demeter, Hathor, Inanna, Ishtar and Isis” from http://www.truthbeknown.com/mary.html.Oh, what a tale is being conceived by this sl

Oh, what a tale is being conceived by this so-called wanna-be blogger!

Stay tuned for more—but probably not weekly!

 

 

 

WHAT IF JESUS WAS REALLY BLACK—HOW WOULD THAT CHANGE HISTORY?

How about a little controversy today?

Back in 1954, I asked a very disturbing question with my Sunday School teacher, Sister Calhoun at the 7th Street Christ Holy Sanctified Church.  I hadn’t been in this church very long, and was somewhat of a newcomer, thus, to ask such a challenging question upset the other students.  They did not know that my grandfather was a church planter and fantastic Bible scholar with the Church of the Living God (PG&T).  He had come from a Baptist background, having a father as a Baptist preacher from Texas, and had asked many questions which challenged Christians around him.  And then, there was my mother, a church musician, who had taken me around various church denominations when they needed her services. She pondered many questions, was an avid reader, and had this close connection with the Creator.  They both tolerated my questions as I grew up, sometimes giving me direct answers, or telling me that I would discover the answers in time.

As Sister Calhoun was teaching, I kept looking at the pictures of the biblical characters and was struck with how pink-looking they were.  I had discovered earlier in life that when white people spent time in the sun, they often tanned, or turned red.  I kept looking at the pink-looking biblical characters and could not understand how they could have spent so much time in the sun, living where there was so much sunshine, and still look pink!

When Sister Calhoun took a breath, I had my hand raised and asked my question.  “Why are these people in the bible so white?”  Sister Calhoun’s jaw dropped; the students murmured their displeasure—no student was supposed to ASK questions; we were supposed to just listen and be prepared to answer questions during a review by the Sunday School Superintendent, Deacon White, or some other respected adult.  How dare I, a church new-comer, stop the flow by asking such a dumb question!  Some students mentioned something that’s was just the way it was.  Other students voiced why was I so dumb.  And, others chatted their displeasure that this new person was stopping the flow of how things progressed.

Sister Calhoun looked at me after she had regained her composure.  She said, “Well, we buy our material from a white Christian publishing company, and I guess they just thought that the bible characters were white.”  I didn’t like the answer, and asked another question, much to the chagrin of the other students, now busily complaining about this newcomer.  “Why don’t we have our own material?” I asked.  Sister Calhoun quietly responded with, “Well, it takes a lot of money, and white people have the resources, and we don’t.  Now, let’s get back to our lesson so we can do well when the class is reviewed.”  “Yeah!” the other well-dressed students shouted, more in anger than in a mere consensus.

I had a lot more questions throughout my Christian journey.  Often, my questions were met with jeers and frustration from others who had been trained to not question God, and not to question the way things were.  As I grew older, I learned to somewhat fit in with the status quo, but more questions kept popping into my head, and I began more reading, researching, and questioning God.  I remembered how I felt as a 12-year-old asking questions.  I asked my mom, who gave me good answers, or said she did not know the answer, but that I could ask God.  I remembered feeling God asking me if I would be willing to go against almost 2,000 years of accepted Christian history, and go against thousands of years of Jewish and Hebrew and early civilization history.  I pondered His question, and said “No!”  However, the questions kept popping inside my head, causing me to write the publishing company that produced the Sunday School material I questioned as a 12-year-old.

Jim English from the David C. Cook Publishing Company replied to my inquiry.  During our communicating back and forth, he received permission to have me come and bring my research and spend a week with this huge publishing company.  I met Joseph Bayly, one of the Vice Presidents, and author of “The Gospel Blimp and Other Modern Parables.  Those I met listened to my questions with an open mind.  Then, one of the researchers showed me art work the company use to use in the 1880—all of the biblical characters were blonde and blue-eyed.  He then compared that to their current art work, mentioning that they had changed hair color, eye color, and skin tones to more closely match the characters.

When I protested that the current artwork was better, but was NOT authentic, giving them some of my research, they agreed.  However, they said, “It would not be wise to all of a sudden show Jesus and other bible characters with darker skin and darker hair.  Most of our customers are white Christians, and would be shocked at the art, and would stop purchasing items from us, which would not be a wise business decision.  However, probably in the next 100 years (this was in the late 1970s), I am sure that publishers, including our company, will show Jesus and all bible characters with more authentic skin tones, etc.”  This time, I dropped my jaw!  So, this was about business. Then, someone asked me a very challenging question: “If black people had the resources and controlled art and publishing, don’t you think they would create biblical characters in their image?”  Reluctantly, I had to agree.  Then, I was introduced to the art director—he was an African American!

When I questioned the art director, he explained that he gets the assignments, oversees the work, but since all of the artists and photographers were white, his hands were tied, and he was not about to jeopardize his future quibbling over more color for the biblical characters.  Then I asked those over him why they didn’t hire more African American researchers, artists, etc., they explained that they had tried, but the Elgin, Illinois area was not conducive (at that time) for Black people to feel comfortable living in the area.  Plus, they could not match the salary that African American artists were offered by Ebony and other African American publications.  Now that several African American publications had become more successful, those publications were able to compete very well with Anglo American publications for artistic talent.

Before I left this publishing company, they showed me plans to help African American churches have their “own” material.  The company would wrap the front and back covers, with the suggested African American pictures, around Sunday School material from Cook.  In fact, I was told, they were going to hire more African Americans to become consultants, and asked if I would be interested.  Although the money wasn’t that great, I served for a short time as a consultant, meeting up with African American Christian conventions, showing displays of publications, including those that were more oriented to African American churches.

I continued my quest of asking questions and observing other Christian groups, both black and white.  I spent a little time working with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and noticed that they had their own publishing company, but didn’t use a lot of art.  I spent time working with the Assemblies of God church, and asked questions about their history, and their lack of African American leadership in their upper ranks.  I asked questions and visited with Methodists, Presbyterians, Church of Christ, Catholic, Church of God in Christ, and may other Christian, as well as non-Christian religious groups.  When I worked with the African American Baptists, I noticed that they had their own publishing houses and used more pictures and art depicting people of color.  Some African American publishers even created an African American Bible, but I knew that all of the characters in the Bible were NOT Black, or African.  Then I made a trip to Rome where I visited the Vatican.

At the Vatican, it was a very interesting experience as I began to see where racism against Black people came from.  As a tour guide was showing a group all of the art and statutes, I could not help but stop him and ask, “Did the artists and sculptures used authentic Jewish people as models?”  The guide gave me a very dirty look, and the other tourists acted like my 12-year-old Sunday School class.  When the guide said, “No,” I had another question.  “So who were the models for all of these paintings and statutes, and when were they made?”

By now, the murmurings of the other tourists grew louder, and the guide was very angry, but tried to give an answer.  He said, “We used Roman citizens, but they artists worked hard to make the art and sculptures as accurately as possible.  Now, moving on, let me show everyone…”  As he moved on, much to the delight of the crowd, I continued to look at the artistic lies that had been sold around the world.  Later, I would discover that such artistic lies were picked up by the Lutherans, the English, other European Christians, and finally made its way into the churches in America.  Now, I was somewhat more eager to stand against the artistic lies of the Christian churches, but still had that feeling that I really didn’t want to continue the assignment of discovering where so much racism against Black People came from—the Catholic Church, and most all other Christian churches, bible schools, and seminaries.

I began to examine the “Christian” and “Bible” movies from Hollywood, looking at the script writers, producers, and directors.  Many of them appeared to be backslidden Jews and Christians, or those who did not have a connection to the Creator.  They have continued to make “Christian” and “authentic” Bible-type movies.  Only a few in the last few years began to use authentic Black people in roles other than as slaves and servants.  One movie even showed Samson as a Black man.  This did not go unnoticed by Black people around the world.  Then two Christian brothers made a recent movie, “War Room,” where most of the main characters were African American, including the daughter of Dr. Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Fellowship, one of the greatest Bible teaching churches in America.

Dr. Evans is also one of the foremost African American Christian publishers in the world through the Urban Alternative. He didn’t just ask questions, and find answers—he began publishing his findings for over 30 years.  He was also the first African American to earn a doctorate in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary.  Not only did he ask questions as he grew, but he went out and studied the material used by some of the top Christian pastors and Christian leaders.  This has allowed him to have a voice of reason on radio, television, and within the sports industry as chaplain for the NFL‘s Dallas Cowboys and is currently the longest serving NBA chaplain which he has done by serving the Dallas Mavericks for over 30 years.

Since I began asking questions about the racism falsely portrayed in The Holy Bible as taught by early Catholics and other Christians, I have discovered others beyond Dr. Evans also asked, answered, and published their findings.  This includes Dr. Fred Price, Dr. I.V. Hilliard, and many from Anglo American Christians like Dr. Joel Freeman, and Jim Wallis.  And, then there are those who don’t portend or pretend to be Christians who have compiled “non-Christian” research. At the top may be a somewhat unknown organization doing a lot of research that is very disturbing to most people of the Anglo persuasion, as seen by this website: http://www.realhistoryww.com/, and there are more similar websites and youtube videos uncovering history that was NOT taught in school, college, university, church, or seminary.  Stay tuned!

A Statement Concerning Race and Violence in the United States by the Lott Carey Global Christian Missional Community

While the following was not written by me, I want to share it and get your response:

The notion of race is among the most destructive ideas in history. It prevents living harmoniously and sustainably. Rather than contributing to our capacities to generate ideas, create beauty, analyze problems, and produce solutions, the contemptible notion of race, having no science to support this approach to differentiating human beings, constructs barriers that separate and segregate people. It hinders us from engaging in relationships that strengthen and sustain. The construct of race is manipulative and malevolent.

Human beings are created in the image of God. This gift grants us amazing capabilities for creativity and community. We achieve our highest possibilities when we support and share with one another. Communities of collaboration and compassion enable us to live fully and productively. Working together, we help each other to become more of what God made us to be. Tragically, however, we frequently fail to live as we are intended. We regularly retreat behind boundaries of race – a product of human imagination gone horribly wrong. Our notions of race can cause us to sin before God and to injure one another.

Racial injustice has plagued people in the United States from its beginning. Exploitation, manipulation, and oppression have been inflicted upon so-called racial minorities on this continent from the time of its earliest European migration. Displacements and massacres of Indigenous Nations, the enslavement and murders of Africans, and the dislocation and internment of Asian Americans are horrific examples of racial injustice enabled by religion, government, and customs established to privilege people of European heritage.

Violence has characterized racial injustice in the United States. Physical, psychological, and sexual violence have been used to terrorize and dehumanize people of color. The conscious or unconscious perception of racial supremacy by people of European heritage is accompanied by the privilege affiliated with this erroneous assumption. Erroneous beliefs of racial supremacy and white privilege are advanced through economic, political, educational, religious, and media systems to project these worldviews as normative. This toxic mixture of wrong beliefs and manipulative power has contributed to increasing occurrences of violence against people of color, particularly African-American males, by law enforcement. These hideous abuses and fatalities, with rare accountability, are repulsive to and destabilizing of civilized society. How can people support institutions that threaten, abuse, and murder them?

The Lott Carey global Christian missional community calls for an immediate end to violence against people of color by law enforcement. Further, Lott Carey calls for accountability from law enforcement, the criminal justice system, US communities, and communities of color.

Concerning Law Enforcement

The privilege of wearing a uniform and carrying a weapon imposes the duty on police officers to use good judgement. Officers who fail to exercise judgement that seeks to defuse potentially volatile circumstances, but who, instead, react violently toward unarmed citizens of color must be held accountable. Police departments, law enforcement fraternities, governmental oversight structures, and the communities they serve must ensure that the law enforcement personnel who serve them receive appropriate cultural training to counteract pervasive racial prejudices in this country. Further, these entities must ensure that policing personnel receive the skills training necessary to ensure that they can function effectively in high stress situations. This training will help officers avoid erroneous decision-making that may cause danger and even death to members of the public at large and especially those within the minority community.

Concerning the Criminal Justice System

Data shows that people of color are arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced at a much higher rate than white people in the United States. Incarceration disadvantages convicted persons when pursuing employment opportunities, limits civil engagement like voting, destabilizes families, and contributes to financial fragility and poverty. United States criminal justice systems must remove the profitability of incarceration, and we must provide sufficient financial resources to invest in quality education, job creation, and community viability which will benefit the whole of society rather than enriching a few through criminalizing people of color.

Concerning the Impact of Racial Injustice

Throughout the history of the United States, racial injustice, blatant or subtle, has helped to create environments in communities of color where crime, drugs and violence flourish. Guns are not manufactured in communities of color. Drugs are not grown in communities of color. Communities of color do not redirect economic development and community investment funds away from their neighborhoods. Corporate and government entities collude to limit investment in schools, neighborhoods, and public amenities which leave vacuums that become filled with destructive activities and enterprises. Fiscal and governmental leaders must fairly restructure their approaches to investing in communities that are most vulnerable. These investments will create income, generate wealth, and contribute to safe, stable, and strong communities, cities, counties, and commonwealths.

Concerning Communities of Color

Communities of color, though traumatized by centuries of racial injustice and various forms of violence used to oppress them, cannot use bigotry and inequity as excuses for failing to create strength among themselves. They must organize to promote engaged citizenship, community strength, societal uplift, and neighborhood vitality. They must exercise good judgement in spending their money with businesses that will reinvest in their interests. They must cast their votes for people who will be accountable for responsible governance in relationship to their needs. They must teach young men how to defuse rather than incite potentially volatile situations when engaged by a police officer with a badge and a weapon and who is clothed with government authority. An ill-treated citizen cannot win a confrontation with law enforcement in the moment. We must train young people to use discernment, discretion, discipline, and documentation so that they can live long enough to win in court or through arbitration. Racial injustice is unfair and injurious, but people of color have survived and thrived despite slavery, segregation, and oppression. They can and they must do so in the 21st century.

The Lott Carey global Christian missional community is committed to making peace and ensuring justice. We oppose violence based upon race, gender, religion, nationality, and vulnerability. We support life – nurturing, flourishing, thriving, and affirming life. We are committed to life because we are committed disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified but raised to life eternal. We work for and long for the day when all people will know the love, hope, and joy that is offered from God and in the power of the Holy Spirit. We call upon people of faith and people for life to join us in this journey to end violence and ensure the well-being of all the human family.

Authored by the Discernment Team of the Conversation on Race and Violence:

Dr. Alyn E. Waller
Pastor, Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
President, Lott Carey

Dr. Gina M. Stewart
Pastor, Christ Missionary Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee
Second Vice President, Lott Carey

Justice Cynthia A. Baldwin (ret.)
Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Associate Justice Cheri Beasley
Supreme Court of North Carolina

Dr. Arlee Griffin, Jr.
Pastor, Berean Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York and Raleigh, North Carolina

Dr. Anthony L. Trufant
Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Brooklyn, New York

Dr. David Emmanuel Goatley
Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Lott Carey, Landover, Maryland

Lott Carey is a global Christian missional community organized in 1897 to help churches extend the Christian witness throughout the world. Through prayer partnership, financial support, and technical assistance, we come alongside indigenous communities engaged in ministries of evangelism, compassion, empowerment, and advocacy. Together, we are touching lives with transforming love.

 

UNEXPECTED DEATH

Death is sometimes welcomed, especially if an individual is tired of the pain, the long-suffering, and looking for relief.  Death is also sometimes welcomed by the family care-giver who has not gotten much rest, due to caring for a loved one.

When death came to my mother earlier last month, I was glad that she was out of pain.  Last Thanksgiving (2014), she had confided to my wife and I that she was tired, and since the decision to live or die was in her hands, she was ready to go.  As long as I have been in the world, and before I was in the world, my mother has been suffering from one affliction or another.

My mom overheard the doctor tell her father  that she would not live long, due to the challenges to her health.  Mom was about eight years old.  When her father emerged from the meeting with the doctor, he tried to hide his teary eyes.  However, mom smiled and told him, “I overheard what the doctor said.”  Her father almost burst out in very audible sobs when mom stopped him.  She said, “Since I am going to die young, I am going to outwork everyone I can every day.  And, when I get to Heaven, I am going to tell God to help you in your ministry!”  Her dad was a farmer, and a young developing minister.  He had been a somewhat hard-drinking man due to family issues and challenging racism in Texas and Oklahoma; mom had told him about hearing the voice of God when she was five.  She was told to tell His (God’s) people to get right.  When her dad came in from a hard day of working, and a hard night of drinking, she told him what God had said.  After crying and asking God for forgiveness, this man took his family to church, and was soon on his way to becoming a minister.

The family had moved to California during “The Grapes of Wrath” episodes in the late 1920’s, which saw many poor farmers, and those looking for a better way of life, working their way from the Southwest to the Golden State of California.  It was here, the father heard the sad news from the doctor.  Mom learned how to outwork everyone as a farm laborer in California.  When her father became a labor contractor, she served as his bookkeeper.  However, her father kept wondering when she would die. Other doctors said that she wouldn’t live past 18.  When she passed that death sentence and married and had a son (me!), she was told that she would die by the time she was 30.  Later, other doctors said she wouldn’t see 40.  By this time, mom told the doctors to stop telling her when she was going to die as they were not God!

As long as I can remember, Death always seemed to be lurking around mom.  Sometimes, one eye would not work; then, it was an ear that couldn’t hear.  When it was very cold, arthritis stiffen her up, forcing her to sometimes work in the fields or do hair with only one hand working.  Sometimes, she had to take to the bed, especially when she became paralyzed on one side.  But, she still managed to outwork most people.  She felt like if she was going to have an appointment with death, Death would find her working so hard that Death would just have to take a seat, and wait a little longer!

Thanks to mom’s spiritual growth, and connection with God and seriously godly people, mom’s vision came back into that eye.  Later, her ear popped open.  Then, she worked so hard, or prayed so hard, or believed so intently that arthritis even had to take a seat and admire her fast-moving, working self, sometimes holding down two jobs.  When my step-father came on the scene, he worked hard so mom could be free to help people that she felt God wanted her to help.  This included a lot of abused women and children, young people who didn’t have loving family relationships, and others who felt like they had been served the raw side of life.  Even in loving and reaching out to others, mom would put her disabilities on hold, feeling like since she had been blessed to outlive some of her doctors, there was a joy as she gave her life helping others.  Once, she gave a beautiful home with a huge yard to a family of 13 who could not afford a house.  Books could be written by people she fed, housed, clothed, prayed for, loved on, and turned their lives around.  I am one of those people, but that story will wait for another day.

I had planned to go and visit my mom this past Thanksgiving.  With me in Texas, recovering from some of my own health challenges, and her in Northern California, I wasn’t able to visit mom often, but we talked a lot by phone.  When so many people she loved came to her 90th birthday two years ago, she was overjoyed at what each had accomplished, whether they had become backup singers in Hollywood, opened a business, raised their children alone, become famous in their own right, or just had managed to survive without giving up hope.  Congratulatory letters came from local, state, and national politicians from both sides of the aisle.  Even a mayor of her city came to honor her.

Last year, mom had my wife and I help her plan her transition to Heaven, and not keep Death waiting any longer.  Since we thought we had a few more years, we didn’t complete everything.  I would see her the following Thanksgiving, and we would be able to put everything in place.  Alas, while I was making plans, my son, her most recent, and longest, care-giver, sent word to others (since my phone was on vibrate) that my mom had just passed away.

I should have known something was up when my wife solemnly walked down the hallway and told me to turn off the television.  I was paying more attention to my work on the computer than on the television, so I protested that I wasn’t really watching television.  Then, she raised her voice a little and told me to please turn off the television.  After I had complied, she looked me in the eye and said, “Your mom just died!”

I can’t explain the feeling I had when I heard those words on a Sunday evening.  There was so much to do.  As the oldest child, much of the burden would fall on me.  However, one of my sisters, an attorney, was very resourceful.  Plus, my son, mom’s care-giver, was very helpful.  And, then there were my grown children, and others, who jumped in and made sure the planning, and homegoing arrangements were carried out with professional excellence.  I think I was pretty numb during the preparations before I arrived where mom stayed, while carrying out my duties with the funeral home and the insurance companies, and so many other details that must be done when someone in a family dies.  In fact, as I write this, I am still pretty numb.

Death.  Death became a pleasant friend at last for my mom.  For the first time in her life, she would not have any more pain.  At such a thought, I somewhat thanked Death, but I still wanted to visit my alive mother just one more time.  There were so many things I wanted to discuss with her about her family, more about her history, and just hug her just one more time.  I had no idea last Thanksgiving as she asked me to feed her from my plate with the one fork that this would be the last thing I would do for mom.  Death.  Death is often not welcomed when one is robust and things are going great.  Death is really not welcomed when family members and friends hadn’t finished their planned time with their loved one.

Death will come to us all.  Regardless of race, religion, no religion, gender, or whatever one may believe about life ending here, or life extended into a different dimension, Death will visit all of us.  The only questions that remains is: Will you be ready to meet Death?  Will you have all of your affairs in order?  Will you go with Death quietly, or will you go with Death screaming and clutching on to what you have?  If you are reading this, you have a chance to prepare to meet Death, so stay ready, as Death is always checking the appointment book!