black history


SMITHSONIAN CHANNEL this weekend

“At that moment . . .there was a feeling. . .HOPE: it was the feeling that something better was going on, and what you’re doing has some special meaning! I was lucky to live at that moment.”

Studs Terkel WPA writer

Studs Terkel WPA writer

I caught part of Bob Edward’s program on PRI this morning and it was fascinating. Turns out it was about a program that the Smithsonian channel is showing this Labor Day weekend:

FDR’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) funded four arts program.  One of those, the Federal Writer’s Project, employed thousands of writers and started the careers of some of America’s most famous authors like Studs Terkel, Ralph Ellison, Richard Writer, Saul Bellow, and Zora Neale Hurston.  Bob talks with writer David Bradley about a new documentary that tells the story of the Federal Writer’s Project.  “Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story” premiers on the Smithsonian Channel this weekend.

 I had never heard of this WPA project before. Evidently at the time it uncovered more than a few of America’s “dirty linen” such as the extent to which “slavery” was still alive and well in the 20th century. But there is a lot more I’m sure about the strength of America’s grass roots communities immediately following the ravishes of the Great Depression.

I hope you get to listen to Bob’s program sometime soon and for sure take time to see the special on SmithsonianChannel.

PREVIEW Sneak Peak (video)

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

We are created, not massed produced on some assembly-line in the sky. But made in the image of God Himself, we are endowed with a God-given dignity and value that only He can determine.

The best thing of all about Biblical Christianity, and in fact the seal of its presence in human lives everywhere, is that it is a message of the One Mediator between God and man that has in Himself the power to set a human heart free to serve the Living God & still be a unique person.

Celebrate the dignity and the freedom.

HABIB Koite and BAMADA

I went to a concert at Berea College last evening.WOW! Let me try to explain in a few words what the New York Times calls an “incredible” musical group from Mail, West Africa. Habib Koite the lead singer and guitarist is a graduate of  the National Institute of Arts in Bamako, Mali.  The group made their first tour outside of Africa during the summer of 1994. Speaking of their most recent album, Afriki , Habib reveals a deeper passion: using his music to inspire his own people.

People here in Africa are willing to risk death by trying to leave for Europe or the USA, but they are not willing to take that risk staying to develop something here in Africa…Life can be really good or really bad wherever you live. People need to understand that. Even though Mali is poor, we still have good quality of life; you can walk outside and smile and someone will smile back.

The group, formed in 1988 with young Malian musicians who had been friends since childhood, now makes friends for Mali all over the world with their music. Mali has rich and diverse musical traditions, which have many regional variations and styles that are particular to the local cultures. This made the concert experience last night a brief encounter with another of the world’s proud heritages, thanks to six very talented ambassadors using music as diplomacy.

Listen to their music :Habib and Bamada on MySpace

In The Shadow of History- A Time To Break Silence (again)

Dr. King gave this speech at Riverside Church, New York City, 4 April 1967
I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. . .(continue reading/listening)

A name from the Virtual Wall- Viet Nam War Memorial

  REMEMBERING A LEADER IN THE BLACK CHURCH

I just learned today of the passing this past Friday of Elder D.J.Ward, Pastor of The Main Street Baptist Church, Lexington, Kentucy and Founder of The Sovereign Grace Bible Conference, 25 years ago. I will only say, this man has had a profound influence on my life in the last five years. I hope to write a tribute to his honor, thanking our heavenly Father for the privilege of knowing him in his last years of ministry.

See Elder Ward leading The Conference last year in singing  Grace Greater than All Our Sins as only he could.

BE SURE TO VISIT The SAINT’S GALLERY 

National Day of Prayer

 

 

Now is an excellent time to discuss religion in America and to get a basic understanding for what has been called America’s “civil religion”.

 

When I’ve used this phrase recently, I was surprised to hear from otherwise educated adults, “what is civil religion? Is that something you invented?” No, I assured them, I stole it from someone else. Actually it has been around a long time in certain areas of study such as The Sociology of Religion, etc. It is a very helpful concept for anyone trying to get a handle on how religion in general actually functions, and has functioned almost from the beginning, in These United States of America. It is not a very good idea to get into a discussion, at least in public, on such themes as “Separation of Church and State” and a host of other contemporary issues without having a basic understanding of America’s only real religion.

 

I want to blog this week as I said about The National Day of Prayer and this is an excellent time to discuss the concept of civil religion with my blogroll partners. So please, leave your comments and let me know if you’ve already encountered this in your own life experience or not. Here is as good a place to start as any. As you can see it is from a course that is taught in various universities and has been for sometime. It is so fundamental that I think it should be taught at every middle school in America.                     

 

                                                            

“While some have argued that Christianity is the national faith, and others that church and synagogue celebrate only the generalized religion of “the American Way of Life,” few have realized that there actually exists alongside of and rather clearly differentiated from the churches an elaborate and well-institutionalized civil religion in America. This article argues not only that there is such a thing, but also that this religion–or perhaps better, this religious dimension–has its own seriousness and integrity and requires the same care in understanding that any other religion does.” -Robert Bellah,Civil Religion in America

 

(read the article)

 

Related essay by Harry Stout: Baptism-in-Blood

“NO ONE HAS TAUGHT WHITE PEOPLE in AMERICA MORE ABOUT DEATH THAN BLACK AMERICANS”  (See BLOG for The Day)

There is a lot going on this week and it already got off to a bang over the week-end. Did you ever notice all the confusion over a little bitty thing like when do we really end the week and begin a new one? The first time I think I noticed this was way back in college years when I learned what TGIF meant.

This is just one important place the religious soul of America gets into the middle of the act. A great many Americans still observe the Sabbath that begins at sundown on Friday. The majority of Christians, not all, worship on Sunday, the day of the Resurrection of The Christ whom they follow. The country as a whole doesn’t know what to do with any of us religious folks because they are all about doing their shopping, their entertaining, and oh yes, their sports, on the week-end. But that’s another post for another day.

I’m trying to be short- and I’m trying to hit about three themes that’s on my mind as I started my week with just a single post. Here they are – THURSDAY, MAY 1, has been designated by our President as the National Day of Prayer. So I want to mark that occasion in our Nations busy calendar and talk about “Civil Religion” in America.

But we’re also face to face this week with another real and vital part of our country’s religious life – The Black Church in America. We’ve just got to speak out on this issue and I ask the patience of my friends who are not Americans (North Americans) while we do this. I ran across a post this morning on a black blog that boldly made this statement: “No one has taught white Americans more about Christian love than black Americans.” I didn’t have to think long at all to know that I agree with that statement. Because I had put up for my “blog of the day” (you really should check that any time you browse my blog because most of the time it’s a lot more interesting than my own latest post), an amazing essay on the theme of death itself in the black American culture and how it has affected all of us.

Sad to say, but I must in the name of unity say it, I don’t think a lot of us have really understood what the man Dr.Martin Luther King, epitomizes about the racial struggles that continue in this country of ours. Ironically, we are gearing up in Kentucky and the Nation for a gala celebration of the 200 anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth . If you still don’t get the significance of this “lining up of the stars” for the black American as one of their race is daily in the news in the office of the powerful Secretary of State while another is front runner to be our next President, well I would say you need to take time in your busy week to try to see things through the eyes of black Americans.

Remember which site your on here- with great respect and dignity that is due all our fellow human beings. Thank God for the age of the WWW and the miracle by which we can finally listen to others and know them as they would like to be known not as others for their own twisted agendas want to portray them.

NOTE: A site that does more justice to Dr.Jeremiah A.Wright,Jr.

He hath made from one blood all peoples of the earth…

This is the line that the Founder of Berea College, John G.Fee, lifted out of Paul’s famous speech on Mar’s Hill and made the defining spirit of what the College was all about. It is prominent on their campus and in their publications and always current in campus life. Just this weekend there were Tibetan monks on campus doing their reknowned sand paintings. By the way, it is beautiful on campus at spring time.

For Fee, it had a very ” real and present “meaning that put his very life in danger. It meant as a missionary that he was here at the invitation of Casius Clay to start one of the first schools for black students in the nation. The time was just before the outbreak of hostilities that would lead to war and Kentucky, this part of Kentucky, was just about as divided as divided could be; reaching down into the homes of prominent families and setting brother against brother, or father against son. It was the worst of times to start such a venture. Fee was one of those Bravehearts however and he was here to right a great injustice, one black student at a time, and this he firmly believed was his mission from God. This is one of America’s great stories and I want to say something about it in the future because it has a lot to do with this e4unity blog.

Blood brothers and sisters. Fee’s take on the Apostle’s original meaning in that Mar’s Hill statement was exactly what he discerned was at issue in the nation’s life at that moment: these were fellow americans, fellow human beings, and in fact “blood relatives”. Do you see the awful irony? Because they were not able as rational creatures to admit this basic reality, a terrible war was fought in which much blood was shed and often it was literally relatives killing relatives. And here is the line that is the most tragic of all: both sides did not hesitate to call God Almighty Himself into the frey, insisting of course, that He was on their respective side. The “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, when it is seen in this it’s orignal context, is one of the saddest of all the hymns we sing, inside or outside the church.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, he is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; he hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword; his truth is marching on.

I’m tempted here to ask what kind of Christianty, what kind of understanding of the biblical narrative allowed Julia Ward Howe to write those words in 1861, but I just can’t go there now. I will simply suggest that the same New England theology was common to both John G. Fee and to Julia Ward Howe. I simply don’t know what she meant by those words in the context of the stuggle of which the nation was going through- my guess is she saw the “terrible swift sword” literally as so evident in the conflict, as the instrument of the wrath of God. Whether she meant that as indicated above to mean that the Lord was using the Union swords as wrath against the sin of slavery, I don’t think is the point. I think it is evident that her words have a defintite “double meaning”, even a prophetic meaning in the fact that undoubtedly, this terrible war between “blood relatives” was simply the consequence of God’s ordered world working it’s law: Whatever you sow, that you shall also reap…if it’s to the flesh, then of the flesh you shall reap corruption, destruction.

  Returning now at last to those original words spoken into the human race at a point in time on Mar’s Hill, I think if we would go on to read the entire speech (ACTS17)and I hope you do, we would discover a double meaning perhaps in what Paul was saying to those god seekers in his day. The rest of the statement with which we began, is this -”…to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, just as some of your own poets have said ‘For we are also His offspring.’”

He then went on to introduce Jesus Christ, as the “Man whom He has ordained” to heal the nations by his death and resurrection. The double meaning to me is obvious though I’ll have to borrow the words from another Apostle: 

You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation…”

 This my dear readers is what I keep referring to as the Mega Narrative of the human race and I firmly believe it is ultimately the only hope of all the nations.

 * Be sure to check out the College Links such as The Mission Statement

Another Peace-making success story that has a direct link to Berea College, see ONEIDA INSTITUTE story

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