I Wish the Rain Would Linger

Sometimes I wish the rain would linger

And cause my despairing thoughts to flee
I wish the rain’s monotonous music

Would change my sadness into glee

I wish the rain would not go away

And wash the pain of my soul’s despair away

I wish the puddles of water to be deep

So that in them I could jump and play

For in the rain I find sunshine and not only clouds

I find a hope that change does come if only for a while

In the rain I see God’s plan of love and cheer

I see His handiwork appear upon the horizon of my soul

Encouraging me to bask in the rain as each drop cleans and restores.

I then stop and begin to bask

In the reality of all I see

I then stop wishing for the rain to linger

And see just as it, the pain of my soul will also pass

Copyright June 11, 2018 Lorenzo T. Neal All Rights Reserved

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With James Cone’s Death Comes the Death of Black Theology

Recently published on Religious Dispatches by Anthony B, Pinn, this article discusses how the death of Black Liberation Theologian James H. Cone affects the way a black theology of theology and other liberation theologies will have on future religious engagement for the American Christian Church

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This is America Where We Are Slipping Up

this is americaRecently, actor and singer Donald Glover also known as Childish Gambino, released a music video on YouTube to his new single titled “This is America”. The video has created buzz regarding the complex messaging on socio-political issues of Black America portrayed in the video. I watched the video and like many was at first distracted by the dancing and movements that reflected traditional African dances but caught the allusion to gun violence that plagues the black community and the American culture today overall. This is by no means a critical analysis of the video or the messaging, but it is intending to share my perspective on the subtle issues that plague our country. There are two things that stand out to me in this video commentary of America and they are: distractions and glorified violence. Because the video is quick moving and engaging on Glover, it can come across as if he is nonchalant about the things happening around him. This was very crafty of the video creators to reflect that visually along with his lyrics.

His first verse is all about partying and money. These two concepts are the best distraction America faces today. We do have to tendency to party a bit much and there’s nothing wrong with that by any means. But there’s a racial disparity that comes with that to some degree. We know that in many communities of color, excessive partying leads to calamities that make headlines and contribute to the biases many non-people of color have towards them while at the same time, excessive partying among non-persons of color such as riots after a team wins a championship, or binge-drinking filled college parties are mere celebrations that get out of hand. While the latter sometimes make the news rounds, it is often only in passing without any critical denouncing unless a death is involved. With the former, whether a death is involved or not, it tends to receive more critical denouncement simply because of who it involves.

The second theme I see regards the embracing of glorified violence in this country. When I was coming to age in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s I saw a trend of gun violence among black males across communities of color simply due to the color individuals chose to associate with. Bloods, Crips, Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, and Pirus (and all variations of these gangs) were only a few that inflicted countless acts of gun violence on the streets of LA, New York, Chicago, and even small cities like my hometown in Louisiana. Glover sings about America’s complicit relationship with gun violence inflicted by individuals and police. It’s a powerful statement on how much more the country seems to value protecting gun rights (of which I am very much a supporter of even while being a gun violence prevention advocate) than the lives of people of color losing their lives in communities daily plagued by gun violence (including the one I live in). It’s a relationship of convenience that he puts out there with the refrain of getting money as a driving factor in the depth of our disparity. The fact that he uses young black children as the imagery for the complicity of gun violence and our silence in communities of color is powerful. The dancing, the covered mouths while sitting with their phones in hand and the jubilant movements of the dancers all direct attention to how distracted we truly are to the issue of violence in communities of color and America in general. We are swift to move from a massacre in a black church to the next shooting of an unarmed person of color by police to the next headline of crime that is common. This again relates back to the undertone of getting money. Black men have historically been limited in their means of acquiring wealth but have managed to accumulate it and in some cases preserve it for following generations. However today, it seems the primary means of acquiring wealth for black men is through entertainment as entertainers or professional athletes (which could fall under the category of entertainment). This wealth is intentionally distributed to not be shared with community. It comes with the fine print of staying in that role alone. If black men in these roles step outside of them, they are quickly demonized and despised by their once adoring white fans (and there are far too many to name who have been affected by this).

It’s as if Glover realizes that even in his role, he can use his medium to bring attention to the plights of communities of color, even while being criticized by that same community. It may be that the dominant community would see such imagery censored than allowed under the banner of free speech, yet Glover puts it out there for the entire country to indulge him. It is this complicity from wealthy black men that I think this entire video is really addressing. While the complicity of all America is presented, complicity within the community of black men is the most dangerous. As black men we have the power and the means of impacting and changing the course of our communities. Glover sings “you’re just a black man in this world, you’re just a barcode…driving expensive foreigns, you’re just a big dawg. I kenneled him in the backyard, no probably ain’t life to a dog, for a big dog.” Black men are metaphorically kenneled to a life that doesn’t truly empower the community. The lyrics imply that even with material success, full viability of life is unachievable in the larger world. For this writer, it is a very scary notion. The insistence that just being a black man is limiting is telling the social palette of the “American Dream”. It is a fraudulent acclaim that repeats itself throughout generations. In this political climate, it is even more amplified when political leaders speak with intense pejorative concordance when black athletes, entertainers, and even politicians (both liberal and conservative) remember they are part of a lingering systemic oppression (even if they are only on the fringes of it). This speaks loudly to the idea that no individual, no matter how wealthy, or how expansive their possibilities, even as big dogs would prefer to not be confined to one condition indefinitely.

While the video will go on to have millions of likes on YouTube, be shared across the depths of the interwebs, and have plenty of commentary from conservative and liberal pundits, and while Glover’s star in Hollywood will continue to soar, there is one thing that can be inferred from the entire thing. America will go on being America. We will continue in the complicity of our lives so that we can boast in the greatness of an imagined America that may never come to fruition.

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Reblogged: THE LOOMING CIVIL WAR IN THE SBC?

I found this to be a very interesting article. I do pray this doesn’t happen but as the article states, there may be plenty who would rather see dissension and a splinter than achieve true racial and spiritual reconciliation

://wp.me/p22cT-mg

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I May Not Get There with You: The Death of Black America’s Last Prophet

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Today we observe the death of Rev. Dr. Martin (Michael) Luther King, Jr., America’s last prophetic voice to and for Black Americans. While standing over the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, TN he was gunned down leaving the country and the world to mourn his death. Following his death, riots broke out across the country as the angst of his loss spread. He was truly a non-violent force to be reckoned with. His death would become the impetus for much success politically and socially for black Americans, but it would also heighten the sense of despair and disparity for many of the same.

Dr. King’s final speech at the Mason Temple Church of God in Christ of Memphis, TN the night before he was killed provided insight into his prophetic voice and mission to America. I have visited this church, the Lorraine Hotel, and listened to this speech several times. The message continues to resonate within my soul as it affirms his life mission and my gratitude for God’s gift of him to us. I have taken a few quotes from his speech to reflect on as I write this tribute to him and his prophetic voice.

“It’s all right to talk about “long white robes over yonder,” in all of its symbolism. “

This statement stands out to me because up until the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, many Black Americans were conditioned in the religious expectations of the Promised Land being in heaven where all the races would be one in the New Jerusalem. It was the idealized mansion on streets of gold with new robes and new names over in glory that gave them hope for an eventual life of prosperity and inclusion. This was reinforced Sunday after Sunday during what Dr. King called “the most segregated hour in America.” In his final speech, Dr. King acknowledges the reality of that hope as a means of both coping but also emphatically states that the symbolism is insufficient for the times. I must agree with Dr. King, we can no longer place our hope in hope alone because without action it proves insufficient. Leading up to this statement, Dr. King states that he was” always happy to see a relevant ministry.” Indeed, in times like then and even now, our ministry must be relevant to the needs of the people we serve and lead. We must not be those selfish preachers only looking out for ourselves, we must be unselfish and loving and provide leadership that is relevant and challenging to the powers that would keep us oppressed.

“Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness”

Dr. King came to Memphis to rally with black garbage workers for fair wages and benefits. He had developed a greater sense of his prophetic voice to speak to not just racial inequity, but also economic inequity. In this speech he acknowledged the reality of our people living in poverty when compared to white America, but he then pronounced an affirming word that although we may be poor individually, “collectively we are richer than all the nations of the world with the exception of nine.” He advocated that this collective economic power be used to our advantage. He advocated the support of black owned businesses outside of the church and funeral homes. He strongly believed that if we became economically independent, we could do more to destroy the yoke of racial oppression within our communities. Those are certainly very relevant for us today. While there a great number of Black multi-millionaires and even billionaires, the reality is that we are still dangerously selfish. We are still afraid of the cooperative economic power that is available to us if we develop a dangerous unselfishness. I can only imagine what this kind of dangerous unselfishness would look like. I believe it would look like churches and businesses collaborating to make our communities economically self-sufficient. It would be black people investing in each other’s visions of business and economic development. It would cause our urban neighborhoods to have the development without gentrification.

 “I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”

Dr. King lived daily with the threat of death. He tells the story of being stabbed by an anonymous woman once and how devastatingly close he came to die. He recalled the news reports of how critical his wound was, that if he had sneezed once he would have died. He stated how he received a letter from a white girl in White Plains who simply write, she was glad he didn’t sneeze. He too rejoiced that he hadn’t sneezed during that time because of all the future opportunities afforded to him upon his release from the hospital. What Dr. King rejoiced in, there were still many who had wished he had been killed. Dr. King could not have predicted that his life would end on a hotel balcony at the hands of a white sniper. He could not have predicted the many who would mourn his death. He certainly could not have predicted that there would be riots because of his tragic death.

I don’t believe Dr. King would even desire us celebrating his martyrdom. I believe that when he spoke those words, he had the reality of the deaths of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and many countless others in his mind. I believe he understood that even at his young age, having become a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, a pastor, and leader for millions, he like Jesus his Savior, was still despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. This grief, however, drove him to seek God and God showed him the Promised Land. He knew the reality that just as Moses, he may catch a glimpse of the glory of the Promised Land, but he may never make it over to it. It is these last prophetic words that resonate with us 50 years later. We do not know what he saw. We do know what we see. We are in the Promised Land and are now still in need of deliverance from internal and external oppressors. We are in the Promised Land and are still as a people seemingly wandering in the wilderness. I won’t say we need another deliver like Dr. King, I will say that we have been equipped with the dream and the vision to make our Promised Land our Prosperous Land.0118-AKING-MARTIN-LUTHER-KING-JR-full.jpg_full_600

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Alabama Voters Will Determine Whose Voice Matters Most

https://wp.me/p22cT-lV

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Robert Mugabe Resigns as President of Zimbabwe After 37 Years in Power

http://time.com/5033273/robert-mugabe-resigns/

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