You are currently viewing archive for November 2007
Posted on: 11/28/07:

Dr. Jeremiah Wright on FOX News

Category: Black
Posted by: RBAFounderX
This is sure to become a classic interview - Dr. Jeremiah Wright, a Black pastor of a self-conscious African/Black church with a Black theology of liberation arguing about his church's views with a White theologically and politically conservative pundit, Sean Hannity. No matter what you think about Wright and his comments, he as a Black socratic thinker/theologian, would not be defined by another. Now if only more Black (Reformed) Christians would have such courageous and critical intelligence.

Related: “Perspectives on Jeremiah Wright's Sermon Excerpts and Obama's Speech.”

Category: Misc.
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Although, Thanksgiving is behind us, this is still something to ponder for many reasons, probably the least of which is because Thanksgiving will be coming back around.

Why We Shouldn't Celebrate Thanksgiving
By Robert Jensen

Thanksgiving Day should be turned into a National Day of Atonement to acknowledge the genocide of America's indigenous peoples.


After years of being constantly annoyed and often angry about the historical denial built into Thanksgiving Day, I published an essay in November 2005 suggesting we replace the feasting with fasting and create a National Day of Atonement to acknowledge the genocide of indigenous people that is central to the creation of the United States.

I expected criticism from right-wing and centrist people, given their common commitment to this country's distorted self-image that supports the triumphalist/supremacist notions about the United States so common in conventional politics, and I got plenty of such critique. But I was surprised by the resistance from liberals, including a considerable number of my friends.

The most common argument went something like this: OK, it's true that the Thanksgiving Day mythology is rooted in a fraudulent story -- about the European invaders coming in peace to the "New World," eager to cooperate with indigenous people -- which conveniently ignores the reality of European barbarism in the conquest of the continent. But we can reject the culture's self-congratulatory attempts to rewrite history, I have been told, and come together on Thanksgiving to celebrate the love and connections among family and friends.

The argument that we can ignore the collective cultural definition of Thanksgiving and create our own meaning in private has always struck me as odd. This commitment to Thanksgiving puts these left/radical critics in the position of internalizing one of the central messages promoted by the ideologues of capitalism -- that individual behavior in private is more important than collective action in public. The claim that through private action we can create our own reality is one of the key tenets of a predatory corporate capitalism that naturalizes unjust hierarchy, a part of the overall project of discouraging political struggle and encouraging us to retreat into a private realm where life is defined by consumption.

So this November, rather than mount another attack on the national mythology around Thanksgiving -- a mythology that amounts to a kind of holocaust denial, and which has been critiqued for many years by many people -- I want to explore why so many who understand and accept this critique still celebrate Thanksgiving, and why rejecting such celebrations sparks such controversy.

Once we know, what do we do?

At this point in history, anyone who wants to know this reality of U.S. history -- that the extermination of indigenous peoples was, both in a technical, legal sense and in common usage, genocide -- can easily find the resources to know. If this idea is new, I would recommend two books, David E. Stannard's American Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest of the New World and Ward Churchill's A Little Matter of Genocide. While the concept of genocide, which is defined as the deliberate attempt "to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group," came into existence after World War II, it accurately describes the program that Europeans and their descendants pursued to acquire the territory that would become the United States of America.

Once we know that, what do we do? The moral response -- that is, the response that would be consistent with the moral values around justice and equality that most of us claim to hold -- would be a truth-and-reconciliation process that would not only correct the historical record but also redistribute land and wealth. In the white-supremacist and patriarchal society in which we live, operating within the parameters set by a greed-based capitalist system, such a process is hard to imagine in the short term. So, the question for left/radical people is: What political activity can we engage in to keep alive this kind of critique until a time when social conditions might make a truly progressive politics possible?

In short: Once we know, what do we do in a world that is not yet ready to know, or knows but will not deal with the consequences of that knowledge?
To read the rest of the article, click here.
Posted on: 11/22/07:

Da Hood Gone Wild

Category: General
Posted by: rhkeyman
Da Hood

The strange things that hit our inboxes often have the capacity to amuse and appall. Off color jokes, (ridiculous) chain letters, requests to help launder cash, and a 10th copy of a fictitious virus warning are just a few examples. However, I recently received an e-mail that truly caused me to experience shock and awe. In mid October I received a message about a young man who grew up in a church that I used to be a member of which said he “was arrested for attempted murder in a shooting that left two wounded and one dead. Keep them in prayer”.

As I prayed for this brother and his family I was deeply saddened to hear that he was in this situation. The young man in question proclaimed his innocence to the local newspaper, telling them that he didn’t even own a gun. As I prayed and pondered the situation I found out the really interesting part of the news. This 19 year old brother that I knew as a young boy had made a name for himself by filming street activity and releasing it on a DVD called Da Hood Gone Wild. When I eventually Googled the video I was surprised by what I found. The video is described by one newspaper as “a montage of street brawls, drug deals, naked girls and cars cruising … [which] … portrays the city … in an unflattering light.”

» Read More

Category: Misc.
Posted by: RBAFounderX
From The NY Times:
The worst humanitarian crisis in Africa may not be unfolding in Darfur, but here, along a 20-mile strip of busted-up asphalt, several top United Nations officials said.

A year ago, the road between the market town of Afgooye and the capital of Mogadishu was just another typical Somali byway, lined with overgrown cactuses and the occasional bullet-riddled building. Now it is a corridor teeming with misery, with 200,000 recently displaced people crammed into swelling camps that are rapidly running out of food.

Natheefa Ali, who trudged up this road a week ago to escape the bloodbath that Mogadishu has turned into, said Monday that her 10-month-old baby was so malnourished she could not swallow.

“Look,” Ms. Natheefa said, pointing to her daughter’s splotchy legs, “her skin is falling off, too.”

Top United Nations officials who specialize in Somalia said the country had higher malnutrition rates, more current bloodshed and fewer aid workers than Darfur, which is often publicized as the world’s most pressing humanitarian crisis and has taken clear priority in terms of getting peacekeepers and aid money.

The relentless urban combat in Mogadishu, between an unpopular transitional government — installed partially with American help — and a determined Islamist insurgency, has driven waves of desperate people up the Afgooye road, where more than 70 camps of twigs and plastic have popped up seemingly overnight.

The people here are hungry, exposed, sick and dying. And the few aid organizations willing to brave a lawless, notoriously dangerous environment cannot keep up with their needs, like providing milk to the thousands of babies with fading heartbeats and bulging eyes. “Many of these kids are going to die,” said Eric Laroche, the head of United Nations humanitarian operations in Somalia. “We don’t have the capacity to reach them.”

He added: “If this were happening in Darfur, there would be a big fuss. But Somalia has been a forgotten emergency for years.”
To read the rest of the article, click here.
Category: Culture
Posted by: RBAFounderX
From Chips: The Student Newspaper of Luther College:
Emilie Townes, professor of African American religion and theology at Yale Divinity School, presented her lecture, “Some Notes on Aunt Jemima and the Imagination.”

Townes’ lecture at Luther this past Wednesday, Nov. 7, discussed the commercialization of identity, how identity is formed and what can be done to give the power to create identity back to those who truly own it.

Townes was this year’s Sihler Lecturer and is an ordained American Baptist clergywoman. Townes focuses her studies on womanist perspectives on theological themes.

“I am trying to understand evil through stories,” said Townes. “The American story can be told another way so that the voices which have been left out can be heard.”

Townes asked the question, “Who or what is naming us?”

According to Townes, it is the fantastic hegemonic imagination that names us through a cycle of marketed identity and consumer-absorbed identity.

“The imagination makes evil ordinary,” said Townes. “It holds structural evil in its place.”

Black identity was a central theme in the lecture.

“Her lecture reminded us of the symbolic power exercised by the advertising industry and the media in general,” said Wanda Deifelt, associate professor of religion. “By objectifying the human being, reducing him or her to certain stereotypes, the media passes an idea of what is considered normal in our culture and society.”

Townes said Aunt Jemima is an inaccurate portrayal of the black female slave character it was first attempting to represent and is also a symbol of the commercialization of lives.

“If black folk do not examine stereotypes, we will never know ourselves, only our characters,” said Townes.

Townes discussed the origins of the Aunt Jemima marketed today.

According to Townes, Aunt Jemima was created to sell a recipe for the first self-rising pancake mix. The white man who first marketed the recipe claimed he got it from an old slave woman but Townes finds this unlikely and spoke to other elements of misrepresentation in the character of Aunt Jemima.

“In the case of Aunt Jemima, the industry not only reduces the African American woman’s experience to that stereotype, but it idealizes a reality of black women working in the masters’ kitchens that is reminiscent of slavery,” said Deifelt. “In doing so, it upholds a past that is ethically questionable because it condones racism and sexism instead of challenging them.”

Now Aunt Jemima is updated. She is profitable and identifiable. She is also the marketing logo for the most successful international advertising campaign ever.

“Image matters when it makes money,” said Townes.

According to Townes, Aunt Jemima has always been the property of the white men who have controlled her image.

“Property means something is owned,” said Townes. “If we do not protest stereotypes, we allow others to form our identities. People in my generation were embarrassed by Aunt Jemima because black folk never controlled her image.”

Deifelt also spoke about the marketing of the image.

“Although few people truly identify with these characters, the ads and logos that the media propagates serve to instill a certain normative feeling,” said Deifelt.

While Townes’ talk centered on Aunt Jemima and black identity, she says identity marketing occurs in everyone’s lives. It is our job to search for and address it.

In order to change the system of commercializing identity, Townes suggested forming a counter-memory. This is a reconstruction of history told by those whose stories were originally untold.

“Stereotypes take us away from knowing each other,” said Townes. “We, the black community, need to do the patient and persistent work of mining black religious life. It is a search for truth and justice.”

At the end of her talk, Townes discussed how to motivate others, mainly those who control advertising and large companies.

“How do we work with people through their own self-interest?” asked Townes. “We need to find their ‘third thing.’ It has to be something which will compel them to move and get excited. It needs to be something community specific.”

Townes said she wants to support change that is visible.

“I want to start transformation where people can see success,” said Townes.
Posted on: 11/16/07:

Evangelicals and Mitt Romney

Category: Politics
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Last month, Wayne Grudem, an evangelical professor and author, wrote an article, "Why Evangelicals Should Support Mitt Romney" on

What about his religion? Romney is a Mormon, and I strongly disagree with a significant number of Mormon theological beliefs, which I find to be inconsistent with the Bible and with historic Christian teachings. But many Mormon teachings on ethics and values are similar to those in the Bible, and those teachings support Romney’s conservative political values.
How can Grudem "strongly disagree with a significant number of Mormon theological beliefs" and then say, "many Mormon teachings on ethics and values are similar to those in the Bible," if those same (Mormon) theological beliefs give rise to and justify their (at times unbiblical) ethics and values, which would inherently put it (Mormon ethics and values) at odds with the Bible and same historic Christian teachings that Grudems wants to maintain? In other words, are Mormon ethnics and values (or any other non-Christian system) similar to the Bible and orthodox Christian teaching simply because they are "pro-life" and "pro-family," etc., even though, the basis for their beliefs is antithetical to the revelation of the Triune God of the Bible?

Update: Another example that is worth mentioning for this discussion is Pat Robertson's recent endorsement of Rudy Giuliani who is both pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage. (HT: IndyChristian)

I wonder is this a sign that evangelicals would do anything to not vote for (perhaps the better candidate, even if it turns out to be) a Democrat? Update: And could it be that this presidential election year serves to finally demonstrate that evangelical faith commitments in politics are not all that central contrary to what they have led many to believe?
Category: General
Posted by: RBAFounderMM

I recently began reading Volume One of Old Testament Theology by John Goldingay.

In the Introduction to the work, he presents his trajectory for evaluating the Old Testament and gives some needed attention to providing foundational instruction regarding the nature of theology and Old Testament studies. His comments prove to be keen and valuable insight for anyone interested in understanding and/or doing theology or Old Testament studies. His words also fall safely upon the hearts of those who have chosen to think critically about (versus being critically against) theology, the Bible and the God we all respect and love.

1. “I do not care for the phrase ‘Old Testament’ which we inherit from some time in the patristic period, because it rather suggests something antiquated and inferior left behind by a dead person.” (p. 15)

2. “By theology I mean such an analytic, critical and constructive exercise, a discipline or a set of disciplines that developed through the interaction between Middle Eastern and European thought in post-New Testament times, particularly after the Enlightenment.” (p. 17)

3. “The development of theology was not a development required by the nature of the Scriptures, but an accidental result of the journey of the gospel into Europe.” (p. 17)

4. “Old Testament theology seeks to formulate the inherent nature of Old Testament faith in the analytic, critical and constructive categories that help us interact with it in our own age.” (p. 17)

5. "Systematic theology involves a further level of one's evaluative or critical stance in relation to Scripture. It does that in practice, whether or not it does in theory, in deciding what parts of Scripture are more or less important and/or more or less true. Even if it does not actually declare that Scripture is wrong, it omits scriptural material in a way that constitutes a practical declaration of this kind. (p. 18)

6. “…interpreters evaluate the Old Testament (or anything else) on the basis of what they believe already. In the past this was less obvious because, for example, modernity or pietism gave different reading communities a common evaluative framework that felt self-evidently true.” (p. 19)

7. “…I want to try to subject my framework of thinking to the Old Testament’s. I am betting that this is more likely to generate new insight than if I operate the other way around.” (p. 19)

8. “Let us imagine that God is like a lion, as the Old Testament says (Lam. 3:10; Hos. 5:14; Amos 3:8). Testimony is then like telling people you have met a lion. Preaching is like inviting people to come to meet a lion. Theology is like reflecting on your meeting with a lion. In a parallel way, there are many angles from which to seek to understand the metaphysical lion. There are the angles of the systematic theologian and the philosophical theologian, the New Testament scholar-and the Old Testament scholar. The nature of the beast is such that no one angle and no one set of categories will reveal everything.” (p. 20)

9. “…there is virtually unacknowledged conflict between the church’s metanarrative and that of the Old Testament (and the New Testament, actually, but that is another story). I refer not to churches that do not claim to stick too close to Scripture, but to churches that do so claim. The point is well illustrated by the nature of the creeds, which may (or may not) have been appropriate situational responses to the contexts in which they arose but do not form a reliable guide to the contents of biblical faith.” (p. 22)

10. “It is quite logical that the Christian church ignores most of the Old Testament and then thinks that Jesus is all that matters, because a main significance of the Old Testament is to show us that God has a broader agenda than we think when we focus exclusively on Jesus.” (p. 26)

11. “ ‘Gospel’ does not come into being only with the coming of Jesus. In speaking of Jesus’ story as ‘gospel,’ the early Christians were thinking of his story in terms that had already applied to Israel’s story. (p. 28)
Posted on: 11/08/07:

ESV Literary Study Bible

Category: Misc.
Posted by: RBAFounderX
ESV Literary Bible

Editors’ Preface to the Literary Study Bible:
This book is a literary guide to the entire Bible. We have defined the concept of literature very broadly as anything having to do with how biblical writers have expressed their content. The foundational premise of all verbal communication is that meaning is conveyed through form, starting with language itself but moving beyond that to a whole range of literary forms and genres. There is no meaning without the form in which a piece of writing is expressed.

This means that when we read the Bible, literary considerations are not optional features to which we might attend only if we have an interest in literary matters. We need to pay attention to the how of a Bible passage as preliminary to understanding what is said.

This literary Bible explains how biblical authors have embodied their messages in their chosen literary forms. The most important features of this book (the only one of its type in existence) are as follows:

* It is a study Bible in the sense of containing the text of the entire Bible, accompanied by commentary.
* It is unlike other study Bibles in that the commentary focuses on the literary features of the Bible, as distinct from historical, cultural, or linguistic features.
* It is also unlike conventional study Bibles in being a reader's guide to the Bible—a book that guides readers through the actual text of the Bible—rather than primarily a reference book about the Bible.
* It is a reader's Bible by virtue of dividing the Bible into units of a size that lends itself to daily reading or weekly group Bible study.
* The commentary and tips for reading appear at the head of passages instead of in footnotes.
* These lead-ins, moreover, move readers into the text that follows, instead of being a distraction from the text.
* The introductions to the books of the Bible provide a roadmap that points out what a reader most benefits from knowing about the book that follows.
* Literary commentary of the type provided in this book is particularly adept at showing the unity of Bible passages and the way in which they fit into the flow of a biblical book and the Bible as a whole.
* The commentary in this book is designed to draw readers into interaction with the biblical text instead of merely providing information about the Bible.
* A glossary at the back of the book provides definitions of literary terms and pointers about how to understand and interpret various literary genres.

As the foregoing list suggests, a literary Bible is distinctly different from other study Bibles. It is ideal as a first approach to the Bible because the content of the Bible can be mastered only if we pay attention to the forms in which that content is embodied. Further, the commentary that we provide is a guide into the Bible, not a reference source of information about the Bible. This literary commentary is thus a means to the end of equipping readers to renew their commitment to the Bible and to the living God who has revealed himself in the literary forms of the Bible.
To purchase, click here.
Category: General
Posted by: YSolomon

Creation absolutely and adequately proves God, yet it is insufficient to redeem man and in fact can only result in his condemnation (Rom. 2:14-15.) The fact of God's existence is a firm reality without the least bit conciliation. Men's denials of this reality are but an attempt to escape the tormenting gaze of God and the cold fact of His ever-present wrath.

The problem is that men want to believe something other than what is so painfully obvious. All of their so-called evidences are but elaborate constructs attempting to protect their false presuppositions (2 Cor. 10:5.) Practically speaking, the thief knows that stealing is wrong. This knowledge is resident in the fact that he appalls the idea of someone taking what belongs to him. Yet he rations that stealing will ultimately benefit him, denying the reality of divine justice. Or take for instance the adulterer who believes that there is personal benefit in his infidelity in spite of the immediate personal guilt and the long term loss of trust that hangs in the balance. He too, believes there is a path to fulfillment apart from what he knows is right. Likewise, unbelief is a denial of reality as an attempt to forego human responsibility toward God. When humans view creation the messages are undeniably apparent: God exists, God creates, God is all powerful, and God is angry.

» Read More

Category: Misc.
Posted by: RBAFounderX
You decide!

Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint:


Michael Eric Dyson