Posted on: 09/08/09:

Victor Wooten's Amazing Grace

Category: Misc.
Posted by: RBAFounderX
You've NEVER heard "Amazing Grace" like this before!!! Wooten embodies 'amazing grace!'

Category: Misc.
Posted by: RBAFounderX
I'm just taking a minute to have a lil "church!" Join me if the Spirit so move!

Thank you, Jesus!
Posted on: 04/03/09:

Can Socialism Tame Capitalism?

Category: Misc.
Posted by: LBobo

I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Peter McLaren speak on a “Critical Pedagogy for the 21st Century”, at the St. Louis University (St. Louis, MO) on Monday, March 30. McLaren is a professor at UCLA. He shared some things that got me thinking.

McLaren is a confessed humanist Marxist/socialist. Socialists vary in their views on justice but here are some commonly shared commitments:

1. Commitment to the public ownership of all means of production (unlike the libertarian who favors economic system based on individual rights; under this laissez-faire capitalism, all means of production are privately owned and there is a totally free market) and;

2. Commitment to the idea of equality; both moral equality (everyone’s life matters) and equality of condition (equality of opportunity, equal satisfaction of needs, and other factors that foster greater social equality). Socialists would argue that limitations on certain economic liberties are justified to promote equality.

[For more on the topic of libertarian (or individualistic), socialist and liberal views of justice, see Social Ethics, Mappes and Zembaty, Chapter 8, Social and Economic Justice, p. 371-73.]

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Category: Misc.
Posted by: RBAFounderX
The Greeks might have invented the pastoral, the genre in which the rustic life is idealized by writers who don’t have to live it, but it’s found its truest home in America. To Europeans of the so-called Age of Discovery, the whole North American continent seemed a sort of Edenic rod and gun club, and their descendants here still haven’t gotten over their obsession with the pure primal landscapes they despoil with their own presence. A straight line — if only spiritually — runs from Fenimore Cooper’s wild Adirondacks and Hawthorne’s sinister Massachusetts forests to Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River” to Cheever’s domesticated locus amoenus of Shady Hill to the theme park in George Saunders’s pointedly titled “Pastoralia” — where slaughtered goats are delivered to employees in Neolithic costume through a slot in the wall of their cave, much as Big Macs appear at a drive-through window. The line even leads to “Naked Lunch,” which pronounces America “old and dirty and evil before the settlers, before the Indians” — simply a calculated blasphemy. Apply enough ironic backspin, and almost any American novel this side of “Bright Lights, Big City” could be called “American Pastoral.” Or for that matter, “Paradise Lost.”

Toni Morrison has already used the title “Paradise” for the 1998 novel that I think is her weakest. But it would have been a good fit for her new book, “A Mercy,” which reveals her, once more, as a conscious inheritor of America’s pastoral tradition, even as she implicitly criticizes it. Her two greatest novels, “Song of Solomon” and “Beloved,” render the rural countryside so evocatively that you can smell the earth; even in the urban novel “Jazz,” the most memorable images are of the South its characters have left behind. But Morrison, of course, is African-American, and hers is a distinctly postcolonial pastoral: a career-long refutation of Robert Frost’s embarrassing line “The land was ours before we were the land’s.” The plantation called Sweet Home, in “Beloved,” is neither sweet to its slaves nor home to anyone, except the native Miamis, of whom nothing is left but their burial mounds. In “A Mercy,” a 17th-­century American farmer — who lives near a town wink-and-nudgingly called Milton — enriches himself by dabbling in the rum trade and builds an ostentatious, oversize new house, for which he orders up a fancy wrought-iron gate, ornamented with twin copper serpents: when the gate is closed, their heads meet to form a blossom. The farmer, Jacob Vaark, thinks he’s creating an earthly paradise, but Lina, his Native American slave, whose forced exposure to Presbyterianism has conveniently provided her with a Judeo-­Christian metaphor, feels as if she’s “entering the world of the damned.”
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Posted on: 12/02/08:

The Obama Effect on Publishing

Category: Misc.
Posted by: RBAFounderX
The Obama Effect on Publishing
By Lori L. Tharps

The first time I noticed the question being asked, the victory parties were barely over, tears of joy were still being shed and Oprah continued to vibrate. Inquiring minds in the black literary community really wanted an answer: Would there be an Obama effect in the publishing industry?

People weren't talking about Barack Obama's own books, Dreams from My Father and TheAudacity of Hope, which both sold over 100,000 copies in less than one week after the election. No, the Obama effect that many authors of color, myself included, are hoping for is much more personal. Bernice McFadden, the award-winning author of Sugar and This Bitter Earth, posed the simple question on her blog: "Will a black president help me, a black writer?"

In the past month, those of us who make our living from the written word have started to ponder the possibilities. We are imagining the different ways the incoming president might inspire the overwhelmingly white publishing industry to get a clue about our stories. Obama has proved, after all, that readers of all races and backgrounds can take to non-mainstream literary portraits of the American experience. As McFadden told me: "The election of Barack Obama as president of the United States has shattered the publishers' lame and tired excuse that white readers cannot relate to black literature."

In the world B.O. (before Obama), publishers seemed to operate under the impression that black authors appealed only to black readers. Even worse, that those black readers were interested only in books that involved a lot of sex and ghetto baby-mama drama. For the past decade, support for authors of color with literary ambitions, or even those who just wanted to tell a different kind of story, has been dismal.
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Category: Misc.
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Does spanking children lead to violence?
By Andrew Herrman

During a recent speech in Chicago, Dr. Alvin Poussaint, a Harvard psychiatrist, related how, when he was a child and misbehaved, his father would "smack me in the back of the head.''

"It was like shock treatment,'' said Poussaint. "He had a theory that if you misbehaved, something must be wrong with your brain and you needed a correction."

The story elicited chuckles from the largely African-American audience, but Poussaint's point was no joke to him.

One way to help reduce violence in poor, black urban neighborhoods is to reduce it in the home, he says.

In his most recent book, Come on People: On the Path from Victims to Victors, co-authored with entertainer Bill Cosby, Poussaint cites one study that showed that 94 percent of black mothers agreed that "a good hard spanking" was a useful "disciplinary technique" compared with 65 percent of white women and 46 percent of Asian-American women.

Not all black parents who use corporal punishment create violent children, he noted. Poussaint grew up in Harlem, received his M.D. from Cornell and served as a script consultant to NBC's "The Cosby Show."

But, Poussaint said, "Violence begets violence -- it makes children angry."

"I think a lot of homicides relate to rage and anger and getting back at someone, even if it's a nameless face,'' he said.
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Category: Misc.
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Why not bail out the unemployed?
by Julianne Malveaux
The United States economy is shedding jobs faster than a grooming dog sheds fleas. Payroll employment has been dropping for nine months in a row with 159,000 fewer jobs on the books in September than in the month before.

So far this year, payrolls are down 760,000, and 969,000 in the private sector. The unemployment rate has held steady at 6.1 percent for the past two months, but it is up 1.4 points during the past year. Nearly 10 million people are “officially” unemployed, which means they are officially looking for work. These numbers do not include those who have dropped out of the labor force, in other words people with jobs who have just stopped looking.

It also doesn’t include people who are underemployed, or working at jobs that they are overqualified for. The Bureau of Labor Statistics develops several rates of “labor utilization,” including one that includes people who work part time because they can’t find full time work, and those “marginally attached.”

With such a measure the unemployment rate would double to 11 percent. And, surprise, surprise, African American workers are doing much worse than other workers in the labor force. While the unemployment rate was 5.4 percent for Whites, it was 11.4 percent for African Americans.

If the White unemployment rate were 11.4 percent, someone other than a humble columnist would be asking about a bailout for the unemployed. But because we are simply looking at a Black unemployment rate, there has been little discussion about what to do about excessive unemployment. According to the Economic Policy Institute ( all of the gains African Americans made in the 1990s were wiped out by job losses in the last several years. The report, written by Algernon Austin, suggests that African American workers have been among the hardest hit by our economic downturn. There’s nothing for Black folks, but plenty for banks.

We saw our Congress rush to action to provide a bailout for financial markets. It was said that it was an emergency, that we had no choice, that the $850 (up from $700) billion bailout was a matter of life and death for the nation’s economy. Ask the person who has been unemployed for the last six months how they feel about life and death. Some of these folks have exhausted their unemployment insurance. Some have lost their homes and their families.

One in five unemployed people have been unemployed for at least six months, the highest share of long-term unemployment in three years. Yet these people have been virtually ignored by policymakers. Furthermore, the number of people who are involuntarily part time, or who would rather work full time, has skyrocketed.

The number grew by 300,000 in September, and by 1.6 million in the past year. Six million people who hold part time jobs want and need full time jobs, the largest number in fifteen years. Again, we keep hearing about markets, but the focus is on every market except the labor market.

Just about every sector of the economy is experiencing job losses, from factory jobs, to service jobs, to jobs in the financial services industry. Only in health care and government services do jobs continue to grow. There is barely a safe haven for those who are losing their jobs. The economic policy institute cites one piece of legislation as providing possibilities for those at the bottom.

Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) programs extend jobless benefits an extra 13 weeks. That provision has run out and can be renewed by Congress. That’s the least a group of bailout-focused lawmakers can do for ordinary people who also need a hand. Realistically, though, lawmakers aren’t likely to do much more. They are rushing home to get involved in a close election, and leaving the employment mess until after November or, more likely, after January.

Yet if trends continue as they have, we will have lost at least a million jobs this year, and we will have experienced an indifferent Congress that can be whipped into fearful bailout submission by Treasury Secretary Paulson. Who speaks for workers? And will working people get a bailout?

When your Congressional representative comes home to campaign, ask what they will do for workers. It’s a fair question to raise as our economy continues to spiral out of control.

Dr. Julianne Malveaux is President of Bennett College for Women. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Economic Policy Institute.
Category: Misc.
Posted by: RBAFounderX
"You Can Do It!"
Two cheers for the prosperity gospel
by Peter L. Berger

There is an almost universal consensus, right across the Christian theological spectrum, to the effect that the so-called prosperity gospel is an aberration. One should always be suspicious when there is a universal consensus about anything; quite often it is wrong. I will momentarily voice some suspicion about this particular consensus. But first one should give credit where credit is due. In other words, the consensus about the prosperity gospel is not completely wrong.

It is certainly a distortion of the Christian message if it is primarily interpreted as a program for the material improvement of the human condition. Where the prosperity gospel does that, it is an aberration—especially so when its proponents suggest, implicitly and often enough explicitly, that giving money to them guarantees that God will bless the donors with success and wealth. Protestants if no one else should recall in this connection that the Reformation began as a protest against the sale of indulgences. Recall JohannTetzel's jingle—"as soon as the coin drops into the collection plate, a soul jumps out of purgatory." Some prosperity-gospel preaching strikes one as an eerie Protestant translation of Tetzel's message.

A number of critics of the prosperity gospel have couched their criticism in an overall anti-capitalist rhetoric: The prosperity gospel is supposed to be part and parcel of a pro-capitalist ideology, seeking to dupe the poor of the global south into accepting the wicked policies of "neoliberalism." It is useful to point out that the materialist distortion of the Christian message is fully shared by the liberation theology of the anti-capitalist left. Only here the material improvement is understood in collective rather than individual terms: put your coin in the collection plate of the revolutionary movement, and the soul of the masses will be freed from the purgatory of capitalist exploitation. Theological suggestion: What is good for the rightist goose is good for the leftist gander.

The core of the Christian message is the proclamation of a tectonic shift in cosmic reality inaugurated by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This proclamation radically relativizes all the empirical givens of this world, including all human institutions. Any reinterpretation of Christianity in terms of a this-worldly agenda, individual or collective, is a distortion. At the same time, one cannot ink out of the New Testament the fact that Jesus in his earthly ministry showed a special concern for the poor, the sick, and the marginalized. Nor should one put aside the age-old pastoral wisdom that adversity can be an occasion of spiritual growth, that God draws closer to us when we suffer from adversity. But this does not mean that adversity should be celebrated as such. Sickness should be fought by the means medicine puts at our disposal, as marginality should be fought politically (think of the civil rights movement here). But if sickness or marginality should not be accepted passively as God-given circumstances, neither should poverty.

This train of thought, at least for me, leads from theology to sociology. In terms of poverty, one must now ask just what is good for the poor. And, as far as the prosperity gospel is concerned, what one can say about it sociologically is quite different from what one can say theologically. Different Christian traditions will have different ways of coping with this (I think, necessary) dichotomy. For Lutherans this is rather easy, due to the sharp distinction between the "two realms" of Law and Gospel. Sociology has nothing to say about the realm of Gospel. It has quite a lot to say about the realm of Law. Let me try.

The research center which I direct at Boston University, in collaboration with the Centre for Development and Enterprise in Johannesburg, has recently concluded a study of the social impact of the remarkable growth of Pentecostalism in South Africa. Not all Pentecostals adhere to the prosperity gospel; many do, especially in the Pentecostal mega-churches. One of these is Rhema Church, located in a suburb of Johannesburg. On a recent visit to South Africa I attended a Sunday morning service at Rhema. It was a memorable occasion. And it led to the reflections expressed here.

An estimated 7,000 people attended the service (one of four every Sunday), in a vast gigantic auditorium that was packed full. The atmosphere was that of a rock concert, with amplified music from a band on the center stage (the music, I was told, derived from American "Christian rock"). After a long warm-up of singing and clapping (certain to give a splitting headache to anyone not immunized against such a trivial ailment by the "baptism of the Spirit"), a collection was taken (very efficiently, given the size of the congregation). Then came the climax of the event, a long, rousing sermon by the founder of the church and its principal preacher, a white South African with a background in professional body-building (I could not help thinking of him as a born-again Schwarzenegger).

The congregation was about 85 percent black, but the whites seemed perfectly at ease. We arrived by car and had difficulty finding a space in the large parking lot on one side of the church. There was a variety of cars, among them quite a few Mercedes, BMWs, and the like. On the other side of the church sat a long line of buses, which had brought people from the townships. The same class difference was evident in the way people were dressed, some in business suits, some in cheap-looking clothes. Thus the divides of both race and class were bridged, fused together in the fire of the Spirit.

Like mega-churches elsewhere, Rhema has a large number of activities serving the multiple needs of its flock. Most of these, of course, were not in evidence on a Sunday morning, but I was particularly struck by a brochure advertising a business school operated by the church. Clearly, this was not intended to give out MBAs for individuals hoping for a career in a multinational corporation. But the courses listed were evidently suitable for grassroots entrepreneurs: how to keep accounts, plan marketing, pay taxes. One could not tell from the brochure how religion was introduced into this curriculum, but it was described as "bringing Christ into the marketplace."

The message from the preacher had two major themes. One: God does not want you to be poor! And two: You can do it! That is, you can do something about the circumstances of your life. Should one quarrel with this message? I'm inclined to think not.

Is there a theological warrant to propose that God wants us to be poor? Any more than he wants us to be sick? The prosperity gospel contains no sentimentality about the poor. There is no notion here that poverty is somehow ennobling. In that, speaking sociologically, the prosperity gospel is closer to the empirical facts than a romantic idea of the noble poor—a notion reminiscent of another romantic fiction, the noble savage. Such notions, of course, are always held by people who are not poor and who do not consider themselves to be savages. The notions are patronizing. They are implicit in the famous slogan of liberation theology: "a preferential option for the poor." Mind you, not of the poor, but for the poor—pronounced, as it were, from on high.
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Category: Misc.
Posted by: RBAFounderX
A black couple from Missouri seek amends from clothing store Journeys after their son was given a receipt that said "dumb N-word" in capital letters.
Boy's proof of payment shows racist insult in place of a generic store code.

Linda Slater said she's both saddened and angry that it happened and "to know that racism is still alive."

On Friday, her son Keith Slater, 22, bought a pair of loafer-style shoes from the Journeys at the Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Kan., about a 30-minute drive from their home in Kansas City, Mo.

When he found a less expensive pair of similar shoes at a different store a short while later, however, he returned the first pair to Journeys the next day.

The clerk, whom Linda Slater described as a 20-something white woman, asked why he was returning the shoes and Keith Slater told her about the less expensive shoes he had bought.

It wasn't until the family got home that he glanced at his receipt and saw the insult printed next to the line marked "Cust" for customer.

"Then I was like, 'Nah, no way. It can't say that," Keith Slater, a junior at Missouri State University in Springfield, told today. "I was shocked, 'cause I didn't do anything for that to happen."
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Category: Misc.
Posted by: RBAFounderX
Hating on the Celtics: You Know How We Do
By David Aldridge

Despite the franchise's groundbreaking racial history, hating the Boston Celtics used to be the birthright of black basketball fans everywhere. Now, like so much else, that is changing, too. Green is the new black.
Among the things that have, until now, been universal truths in professional basketball:

· Someone, every three years, will be compared to Michael Jordan. It will be a fallow comparison, and the poor fellow will soon be playing in Europe, if playing at all.

· The Miami Heat, year in and year out, will have the finest dance team in the league.

· Black people will hate the Boston Celtics.

It has been a contradictory relationship between African Americans and the Cs, as they are known throughout the league. Boston was the first team to draft a black man (Chuck Cooper, in 1950). It was the first team to give a black man its head coaching job (Bill Russell, in 1968). The Celtics, who have won more titles than any team in league history (16), often did so with three and four black players on the court at the same time—when that wasn't accepted practice among the league's more racist owners, and their legendary coach and general manager, the late Red Auerbach, famously allowed his black players to walk when they refused to play in an exhibition game in Kentucky in 1961 after being refused service at a local restaurant.

Yet the Celtics have been a pariah for most of black America that pays attention to the NBA, and that's much of black America. And now, the Celtics are again in the NBA Finals, with a chance to win their 17th championship tonight at home against the Lakers. Their home court, TD Banknorth Garden, will be filled to capacity. It will be loud. It will be intense.

And there will be a lot of black people wearing Celtic green.

Trust me, this is new. Having been to Boston a couple dozen times over the past two decades, one thing you never used to see at Celtics games was many black folk. But last week, I watched in amazement as the Jumbotron scoreboard above the floor showed picture after picture of black fans rooting alongside their white counterparts for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and the rest of the Celtics' stars.

I saw black women, lots of black women, cheering and laughing. I don't recall ever seeing a black woman at the Garden before that didn't have a mop or a ladle in her hand. I wish I were making that up.
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