The Rock That Is Higher Than I

Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.
Psalm 61:1-3 (King James Version)

 

Good morning Dear Readers.  I have a question for you to ponder.  What if some Arab (read Muslim) investors with boatloads of dough came crashing into the US and decided to turn Ground Zero into a mega-mall before the new World Trade Center was erected? Have their Japanese counterparts turn the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Hawaii into a resort/waterpark?   Or have their neo-Nazi European counterparts turn Arlington National Cemetery into a housing development for the wealthy?  Most Americans would go out of their mind with anger-quite violently if you ask me.

That being said, why are Americans not giving a squat about the First Nations protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Sioux Reservation at Standing Rock?  As of this writing, Amazonian peoples from South America have now joined their northern brethren in solidarity.  Despite macings and dog attacks from private security officers, the Standing Rock Sioux-with others-have stood their ground.

Standing Rock is one of the vestiges of Sioux culture that has been under attack (along with other First Nations peoples in the Americas) since White settlers infested…oops…I mean settled in their lands over the generations.  Over the generations these peoples have witnessed massacres, resettlement, and destruction of civilizations that go back before the writing of today’s Scripture when their ancient ancestors crossed the Bering Strait from Northeast Asia (now Russia) into North America.  This pipeline situation is just a link in a long and oppressive chain.

The above passage from Psalms was a cry for God’s protection from enemies.  For all we know, the Sioux-and others with them-could be praying this very prayer (or some variant).  These people are being overwhelmed by enemies who for generations exploited their land and their lives.  For the Sioux, Standing Rock is the “rock that is higher” than them; it’s their home and culture.

We in the boardinghouse-hold of faith need to be in solidarity with the First Nation protesters.  For those in the region or can get there, physically.  For those of us around the world who cannot get to Standing Rock, in prayer and hitting the ‘Net.  We must let God lead us to bring about justice for our Sioux brethren.  For tonight, “the rock that is higher than I” is Standing Rock.  And Standing Rock doesn’t have to just be in North Dakota; it can be anywhere where indigenous peoples have watched their lands and way of life systematically destroyed by the powerful and the greedy.

If we don’t do anything and let this destruction continue, one day God will allow places like New York, London, Washington, DC, Amsterdam, and other significant places in the West and Northern Hemisphere to be the new “Standing Rocks”.  Should that day come, we may turn around and find ourselves all alone as our ways of life are destroyed by powerful outsiders.

Let’s look to the rock that is higher than we are and work for justice.

Peace.

Image: courtesy of White Wolf Pack

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American Fetishism

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.
You shall not bow down to them or worship them
Exodus 20:3-5a (New International Version)

No, this is not going to be a porn-related post, so relax.  However, many of you may take me to the woodshed, accusing me of being unpatriotic.

Today is the 15th Anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.  Today will be a day of remembrance, church services, flags at half-staff, etc.  I passed through a town yesterday and saw a sign for a town-wide memorial program.  In fact, September 11th is known as “Patriot Day.”

Since that fateful day, Americans have taken pieces of surviving crossbeams from the downed World Trade Center and made memorials out of them.  We have turned, “United We Stand” and “Never Forget” into mantras.  We turned the famed image of the three firemen raising “Old Glory” into an icon.  We took patriotism and turned it into a religion, so much so that we now idolize our flag like it was some fetish.  We’ve surpassed the Crusaders of old with our “War on Terror” against the “infidel” Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan; now we’re in Syria.

One of the definitions Webster gives fetishism as, “extravagant irrational devotion”.  To be honest, we’ve gone from good old patriotism to fetishism.  We have allowed the events of September 11th to make us like this.  We laugh at indigenous cultures with their objects of devotion, however they look quite logical compared to us.  We’ve developed a “My country: right or wrong” that blinds us to any unpleasant truth about us.

I can go on about this, however for anyone who’s been in the US for any period of time can see this. This had been recently exemplified with the backlash aimed at 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaeperneck’s refusal to stand during the playing at the National Anthem.

Patriotism or fetishism? You decide.

Peace.

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Seasons Change

20160827_202714There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (New International Version)

I hope you had a good summer, Dear Reader, despite all that occurred.  Mine was good, it just went too fast.  Now it’s September; and here in the US it’s Labor Day-the official “last day of Summer”.   After Tuesday, schools will start to reopen (depending on district); summer vacations will end; whatever casual days you enjoyed at work will end; and many a beach and pool will shutter until next summer.  Soon, autumn will grace the Northern Hemisphere and all that comes with it…

As a Summer baby, I hate to see the season go.  I love the warm weather, the outdoor activities-both day and night, the late sunsets, going swimming outdoors, and the rides in the country.  Although I do love the autumn; my heart is in the summer.  However the change of seasons is a part of nature in this region of the planet.  Unless I relocate to the Caribbean or Central America, I have to live with this change.

It’s not just in nature we have to deal with changing seasons; we have them in life as well.   I look at my eight year old son doing flips off the side of the pool into the water; when I remember him as a two year old in his little wading pool.  I go to a college reunion and see the changes my fellow alumni have gone through over the last 32 years.  I watch the changes in my life over the last 54 years in this universe.

The changing seasons are a part of the universal makeup.  Even the ancient writer of Ecclesiastes saw this for him/herself.  With the changing seasons, each season has a time for its thing.  My son was fine in his wading pool at two; but would think me crazy if I had him try it now at eight.  None of us at my college reunion looked and lived the way we did in the early 1980s when we studied-and lived-together.  Each season had its time.

We don’t want our seasons to change.  Like I wrote a moment ago, I don’t want to see summer end.  Many of us want things to stay the same.  Yes, it would be great if I could go back to my freshman year in college-long before marriage, mortgage, and child-when all I worried about were my studies.  Yes, it would be great to have loved ones who passed stick around a little longer.  It would be great if our kids stayed young and innocent, never facing the crap that comes with growing up.

However, the seasons must change and those things affiliated with them must come to an end.  Without changing seasons the Earth cannot renew itself and our ecology could get chaotic.  A child that does not grow is a medical problem that could prove fatal.  Staying “back in the day” could keep us from growing and renewing in our lives.  Plus, we will never be open to the new things that await us.

Seasons change, that’s a fact of life.  Let us welcome those changes so we too can grow.

Peace.

(Image: “Jerseyhenge” taken in Jersey City, NJ)

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High Treason on the Campaign Trail

A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.
 He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;
 Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord.
Proverbs 6:12-14 (King James Version)

As you can already tell from my past posts, I have no great love lost for either Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump-especially for Trump.  However, Trump has stooped to a new low that could do more harm than imagined.  Mr. Trump-whilst giving a speech in Florida-has called upon Russia to hand over 30,000 of Clinton’s e-mails, which he believes Russia has access to.

Huh?  Donald “Make America Great” Trump has called on a rival superpower-which has been antagonizing the West for ages-to spy on an American citizen (Clinton) just so he can have ammo against her campaign?  I’m still trying to wrap my mind around it.  I’m not super crazy about Clinton, however she doesn’t deserve this.  If you don’t believe me, here’s a quote from his speech:

“They probably have her 33,000 emails, too. I hope they do,” he said, adding later: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
(Courtesy: The Washington Post)

This is treason with a capital “T”!  I don’t care how many Trump lovers say otherwise.  Trump might as well called on Iran or North Korea for help.  This is a man who could be the next President of the United States, a man who will be sworn to defend the Constitution from enemies within and without.  This man should be hauled off for espionage and treason-preferably in some Federal lockup awaiting trial and a one-way trip to Leavenworth.  In earlier times, he could be hanged.

Trump is not fit for presidential office-plain and simple.  He’s already demonstrated his racism, xenophobia, misogyny, hatred towards Muslims, and lack of knowledge of what a President should know.  This man does not care about We The People at all.  He is willing to go to a superpower with whom we have a very tenuous relationship with to commit espionage pure and simple.  Who else will Trump call on, or use to get his way-even if it contradicts the American Constitution, rule of law, or diplomacy?

Tonight’s text warns about the evils of shifty behavior and its tell-tale signs.  It also tells of the damage such behavior can do. The Scripture accurately describes Trump’s methods in this situation.  We need to heed Proverbs’ advice.

We need to seriously think of the ramifications this can cause.  This can lead to future breaches and abuses of power, that can make us diplomatically vulnerable at any negotiation table.  Who’s to say that if Russia had the emails and did turn them over to the press; who’s to say what Sword of Damocles Russia could hang over our heads?  It would be a diplomatic nightmare!

This is something we need to consider-and fast.  Because November is just over three months away; and Mr. Trump could be our next President.  And if he can use illegal means outside the Constitution to attack his enemies, what will he do to you and I?

Peace.

(Image courtesy of The Washington Post)

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The (Not-So) Greatest Show on Earth

Thurston the Great Magician - Strobridge Litho. Co..jpg

Life is a three ring circus
All of the ups and downs of a carousel
That I know so well
Life is a three ring circus
Just one little ride on a merry-go-round
Goin’ ’round and ’round and ’round and ’round and ’round
Blue Magic – “Three Ring Circus”

Last week in Cleveland, the Republican Party nominated Donald Trump and Gov. Mike Pence (IN) as their Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidates.  This week, the Democratic National Convention is in Philadelphia, and on the ticket are Hilary Clinton for President and Sen. Tim Kaine (VA) as their Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidates.

Last week’s Republican National Convention was reminiscent of A Night To Remember-the book by Walter Lord that dealt with the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912.  We had the party bail out from the sinking of the SS Republican Party whilst Captain Trump stayed at the helm.  This week, the Democratic Convention is more likened to a star-studded event including First Lady Michelle Obama; Meryl Streep; and Former President Bill Clinton.

You just can’t just make this shit up!

However-despite my earlier thoughts-this whole Presidential campaign is like a three-ring circus.  We have plenty of clowns to entertain us.  We have all kinds of magician’s tricks so slick they’d make Howard Thurston and Harry Houdini cry.  We have the elephants and donkeys doing all kinds of dog and pony shows for the masses.  There are even thrilling death-defying acts!  It’s even a traveling show so you don’t have to leave home!

I felt that the lyrics from the 1970s R&B group, Blue Magic would be my text for tonight.  Even though the singers were talking about life, their words can apply to the Campaign.  We’re being taken on a merry-go-round ride that seems not to stop.  We’re going nowhere in this Presidential Campaign as we have candidates that try to razzle and dazzle us with big-sounding hollow promises that could do more harm than good.  We being entertained with “A-list” speakers at conventions to wow us and tug at our heartstrings.  We see candidates that promise to be the fearless lion-tamers against the lions-domestic and international-that threaten us.

Why don’t we shut down the circus?  Why don’t we put these parties and their candidates on notice and tell them that We The People are not impressed with their showmanship.  Let’s put them to task on real issues: global economic woes that can impact the US and how to get ourselves on track; de-militarizing the police and make them accountable for their actions; cease all this prosecuting wars and instead open up free trade; the seldom-read list is endless…

Tonight, think on Blue Magic’s words.  In fact, why don’t you go on YouTube and play the song?

Peace.

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A Much Needed Break

20160710_150542And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while:  Mark 6:31a (King James Version)

This past weekend, in response to a Facebook activity, I took a 24-hour “break” from all social media: Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, and Twitter.  It was strange at first, however I managed to persevere through the weekend.  In the end, I found it to be quite the needed break.  Plus, I had no withdrawal symptoms!

For a blissful 24-hours, I didn’t look at: someone’s travel selfie taken somewhere on Earth; a quasi-inspirational/churchy piece; the latest Trump/Clinton rant; bad news; another historical piece on someone’s oppression; the “Type ‘Like’ if…” segment; droll humor; a too-long video explaining little; the “I love my spouse/kid/pet/parent/etc” piece; etc…   For twenty four hours I felt truly detached.  I read. I relaxed.  I tuned into life.

This break changed my way of “hooking in” to the world.  Today, we are always “on” some social media: Facebook, Instagram, EyeEm, Buzz, Twitter, Linkedin, you name it.  We constantly read posts, ogle at pictures, read and tweet tweets, see who’s in our networks; made to feel as if we “lose” out on something if we’re not connected.  However, too much connection causes us to lose our “Me time” (to quote my Pastor).  We begin to live vicariously whilst letting other people into our personal space.  Our unique God-given “Me” is subsumed into a digital mass-consumed “We”.  Plus, our individual thoughts get into lock-step with others to the place where dissent is discouraged.  If taken to the ultimate extreme, we will lose touch with our environments: restaurant; social event; church; etc.

Jesus saw this in his disciples in the above verse.  They were so going about the work that they didn’t have time to eat.  Jesus obviously knew the approaching danger: without rest, his disciples would go hungry, break down physically (and quite possibly mentally), and become bitter.  Jesus had his posse break away from the environment so they could be alone and recharge.  And these cats didn’t have social media.  And speaking of cats, those are my two in the above photo enjoying a break!

I’m not demonizing social media; it has its good parts and has helped me as a photographer.  However, one must find balance and take time from social media so to rest themselves.  Whether if it’s mini-breaks for a specified time (like I did), limiting use to once or twice a day for 15 minutes each time, or a indefinite hiatus from social media.  Some have dropped social media altogether.  Whatever you do, make sure you detach for some time so you can reconnect with the you God created you to be…

…You’ll find it a much needed break!

Peace!

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#ALL Lives Matter-A Revisit

I did a post back on January 19, 2015 called, “#ALL Lives Matter” commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday.  This was in response to the #BlackLivesMatter statement being put out into the world.  At that time I felt that all lives matter.

However, as a Black male in America-the Number One target of many a racist cop-#AllLivesMatter is a moot point.  You see as long as Black lives don’t matter, than in the end, other lives don’t matter; therefore nullifying the statement.  I think this statement is born out of naiveté in those who do not grasp the full picture of #BlackLivesMatter.  I feel that those who use it smack of the late Rodney King’s statement, “Can’t we all just get along?”

For many outside the Black/African-American community; this is an outside-looking in situation.  For other races-especially Whites-there is not that “Could it happen to me?” question that haunts Blacks: be it police brutality; attacks by racists; or systematic racism.  The statement #AllLivesMatter-although good in intention-can be tacked onto a serious issue in America and trivialize it.  Plus, such a statement can be used by some (who really don’t give a fuck about Blacks) as a kind of countermeasure against any legitimate Black grievances.

And it’s not just Black lives that don’t matter in America.  As we saw recently, GLTBQ lives still don’t matter.  The poor-especially poor children-lives don’t matter.  So again, the point #AllLivesMatter is a moot statement.

I know there are those who will say, “C’mon Vic, don’t feel that way!”  or “You’re a Christian, shouldn’t you feel different?”  Please understand, this is not being mean but being real.  As the Black father of a Black son who is concerned for both our lives, I see things in a different light.

#ALLlivesmatter?  Sounds nice.  However, until Black lives matter (and the lives of those I mentioned), it’s a moot point.  That’s my revisit.

Peace.

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