[Word count: 877. Approximate read time: 4 minutes]
“I visited a church in the suburbs, and there was this blowhard preacher talking about how television rots your brain. He said that when we are watching television our minds are working no harder than when we are sleeping. I thought that sounded heavenly. I bought one that afternoon.” —Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz
Wading through currents of social media recently, I came upon a Christian preacher declaring we only pray to God, not the universe. He said, “If you want to address God, don’t talk to his handiwork. Talk to him.”
I felt inclined to counter. (I usually always feel inclined to counter, really.) So I offered, “If God IS all and is in all, then how can anybody but God be The Universe? If instead of calling the name of Jesus, someone calls Yeshua or Emmanuel instead, does God ignore them? ‘The Universe’ is not one of your names for him. But it could be someone else’s for the same God you worship.”
The man responded, “Those are his names: Yeshua, Emmanuel. But God never called himself the universe. Humanists did that. Research Secular Humanism and you’ll see this is not semantics. It’s a human attempt to eliminate GOD.”
And so, I did. And the next day, when he asked me what I found in my study, I told him, “What I found was surprising. The surprise was, I think I want to be one!” Continue reading
[Word count: 578. Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes]
I don’t know why I went to church this morning. Usually, I wake up on a Sunday and I just know, “today is not the day.” But I decided to drop in on a small church near me. When I arrived, the music was great, but I wasn’t interested in the pastor’s pleasant banter, so I tuned out to engage friends on social media.
“You know how you automatically tune in
when someone mentions something you care about?
I’m waiting for that. It’s not happening.”
“If the Lord really wanted to speak to me today,
he would make the pastor
work the word ‘titties’ into his sermon.”
(Between this and the hilarious responses, I’m just trying not to disrupt the service with an out loud guffaw.)
“I swear if he does it,
I will walk down the middle aisle and
rededicate my life to the Lord TODAY.”
“If God can speak through an ass,
I don’t see why he can’t
deliver my soul through titties.” Continue reading
[Word count: 592. Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes]
People are so dramatic. We love to see our stars make sweeping, meteoric rises. And then we love to see them fall hard from that height and leave a meteoric crater. If you pay any attention to gospel music, Tye Tribbett has given you both in the last 5 years. It looks like we’re about to get the former again with his new album Greater Than.
I need to give this caveat. I still don’t like gospel music. There’s usually so much yelling, emotional manipulation, and pomp and circumstance that it becomes a circus of entertainment. Too often when it boils down, it’s no different than secular music, vying for the same popularity, market share, and control as any mainstream artist. So I’m not taken in by its cloying sentiment. What I look for is truth. And I found a lot here. Continue reading
[Word count: 628. Approximate read time: 3 minutes]
The Supreme Court has struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which will allow national recognition of same-sex marriages. This also snatched the rug out from under California’s Prop 8, making gay marriage legal. I just know somebody is gonna lose sleep over it. So I’m here to set your mind at ease.
Losing freedom of religion. Having privacy infringed upon. Being denied the right to vote. These are reasons to lose sleep and file lawsuits. Same-sex marriage isn’t that big a deal. But here’s something you can do about it: Continue reading
Posted in Faith, Human Nature
- Tagged Bible, California Proposition 8, Christianity, DOMA, encouragement, fear, homosexuality, marriage, sex, Westboro Baptist Church
[Word count: 855. Approximate read time: 4 minutes]
God is not my mother. The two are not the same. They’re different. They are different.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem some two-thousand odd years ago, not Bakersfield in the 1950’s. Most depictions show him as a white man with a mellow expression and Clairol-ad-worthy hair. Not a black woman with luxuriously extended eyelashes, high cheekbones, café au lait skin, and a shy, affable smile.
They are not one and the same. It took years of work to convince myself of this. And it seems the maintenance on this work is never done. Continue reading
[Word count: 635. Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes]
On Father’s Day, a sermon in a Black church usually needs the disclaimer: “Because we have problems with our earthly fathers, relating to God as a ‘heavenly father’ is difficult.” That’s because we view our relationship with God through our experiences with people. This guarantees a warped view.
Among my own warps are some weighty abandonment issues. And lately, they’ve become inflamed like a habanero on the tongue. I basically believe leaving is just something people do. People become disinterested. People get distracted. People take offense. Sometimes they die. But one way or another, they leave. And since God seems to do whatever he wants whenever he wants, this feeds a nagging suspicion He may do the same.
- “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20 KJV)
- “I will never leave nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV)
- “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you” (John 14:18 KJV)
- And this is my favorite: “Neither height nor depth nor principalities nor powers nor past or present nor future shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:38-39 KJV)
Through my warped filters, I hear these scriptures differently. They may say nothing can come between us, but what if that “nothing” has an asterisk? This scares me. Por favor, no me abandonas. S’il vous plaît, ne me quitte pas. How many ways can I say… please don’t leave. Continue reading
[Word count: 650. Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes]
I am a huge Chaka Khan fan. Really big. I’ve met a lot of the artists I respect, but Chaka has eluded me like a ghost for nearly 15 years.
Back when the internet was young, I built a comprehensive website called Chaka’s House. It attracted a core of fans and established an internet presence for the fiery-haired songstress during an important time. Her management team, headed by her sister Tammy, caught wind of it and contacted me. I was thrilled! I would’ve gladly turned the site over to them to carry forward, but Chaka did not want to commercialize it.
Ain’t nothin’ but a maybe
As a consolation prize, Tammy invited me to the video shoot for “Don’t Talk To Strangers.” This was before the age of cell phones, so I had them call me at work. In a comedy of errors, my bungling co-workers didn’t pass me her message until the day after the shoot happened.
So Tammy tried again. She scored me an invitation to a scientology benefit held by Kirstie Alley featuring Chaka as the mainstage entertainer. I received the invitation in the mail the day after the event happened.
Third time’s the charm, right? Tammy called to invite me to a Prince concert Chaka was opening at The Forum. I would have loved to meet them both; however, as a struggling college student, I couldn’t afford the tickets.
Pretty frustrating. I still love her though. Something about the frequencies and vibrations she generates stirs my soul in all the best ways, but I unofficially resigned that maybe it wasn’t meant for me to meet her.
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“Skepticism is the beginning of faith.”
—Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
What if, some glad morning when this life is over, none of us fly away? What if the lights go out and our stories just end?
More than a few occasions in 2012 found me devolving into a non-violent, slow-motion panic—mostly over my God and his perceived absence. Enough flummoxed descriptions of my mounting crisis of faith and someone finally put a name to it: the Dark Night of the Soul, a temporary spiritual crisis marked by doubts about the afterlife. Reportedly, Mother Theresa was a notable sufferer, having spent nearly 50 years of her life in this state. Though technically correct, nothing that lasts 50 years should get to call itself “temporary.”
For someone outside Christianity, a more accessible term may be existential crisis. Whatever you call it, I’m just glad it’s identifiable. If someone recognized it, then it wasn’t some new mystery disease with no treatment, no cure. Someone lived to tell the story. Continue reading
Posted in Church Business, Faith, Human Nature
- Tagged apostasy, belief, Christianity, church, crisis of faith, dark night of the soul, death, disillusionment, existentialism, hope
[Word count: 933. Approximate read time: 3-4 minutes]
“If you want my love, well, you’ve got to get closer to me
I don’t understand why we can’t get close enough.”
—Jars of Clay, “Closer”
I met an interesting girl online recently. She was the holy trinity of smart, talented, and beautiful. But, to my chagrin, she was very furtive and dodgy. If she was playing coy, she was playing to win. My curiosity was piqued because she kept her thoughts and feelings so hidden. Typical of me, I’m always fascinated by what I cannot understand.
I decided I wanted to get to know her better, but that wasn’t happening fast enough. So I worked up my nerve and expressed interest directly. The response I received was dusted with sugar. I imagine she giggled and shrugged her shoulders as she essentially told me, “you know enough about me already!” Fierfek.
The response landed like a playful punch on the chin, with the indication that a less-playful punch could follow if I didn’t pick up the first hint. Access firmly denied. She has decided to remain mysterious and aloof, the way she wants to be.
My ego was chapped over her polite refusal. But before I could get about the business of licking my wounds, I had déjà vu. The way I felt about her is the same way I feel about God. Well hot damn. Look at that. Continue reading
[Word count: 553. Approximate read time: 2 minutes]
During one of my weekly crisis phone calls, one of my friends suggested I pray the Lord’s Prayer. She emphasized the “your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven” part explaining that I would be inviting in God’s perfect will for my life. Wait. Whose perfect will? Not mine? Are you sure it’s perfect? (This has been a point of contention in the past.)
I used to be afraid to pray the blank check prayer. “Lord, I will do anything you want. Have your way with me.” I just knew God would send me to Africa to be a missionary to poor children. Black and proud as I am, I have never wanted to go to Africa. My motherland is California. And missions do not turn me on at all. I’m also not a fan of poverty. Or children.