Monday, February 27, 2006

Party time?

I was watching CNN this weekend where they reported the progress (or lack thereof) made in Louisiana, six months after Hurricane Katrina struck. The numbers are alarming:

  • Only an estimated 189,000 out of 500,000 New Orleans residents have returned to the city.
  • There were more than 215,000 homes destroyed by Katrina. Total housing units lost in the state, including apartments, was close to 1.8 million. Yep. 1.8 million.
  • Katrina left 60.3 million cubic yards of debris in Louisiana. Only about half of that has been removed as of this month.
  • Of the 81,000 businesses that were impacted, only 42,000 have fully reopened. 18,700 businesses were completely destroyed altogether.
  • More than 835 schools were damaged statewide. Only 20 out of 128 public schools have reopened since Katrina.
  • Of the 245,000 college students statewide, over 83,000 were displaced. Of those students, only about 16,500 have re-enrolled in state.
  • More than 220,000 jobs were lost.
  • Over 100 square miles of wetland was destroyed by Katrina.
  • Eight of 16 hospitals in the New Orleans area have been closed.
Things are hardly back to normal in Louisiana.

Yet, they're celebrating Mardi Gras this year.



Friday, February 24, 2006

Bush offers his sup-PORT

It looks like the man that you voted for in the 2004 Presidential Election is at it again.

Your boy, President Bush is threatening to cut down any legislation that blocks negotiations for a state-owned company in Dubai to take over management at port terminals in six major U.S. cities. So, what's the big deal, right?! Well, the big deal is that your president is essentially showing his support for allowing members of the United Arab Erimates to control our ports.

Still not getting it? Well, let me break it down one more time:

The United Arab Erimates (UAE) is a middle eastern nation that some would say is an ally to the U.S. But, according to the the 9/11 Commission, much of the money used to finance the Sept. 11 attacks flowed through that country. Simply put: although the UAE was not directly responsible for 9/11, it financed the operation.

Now, Bush is handing them control of major U.S. shipping ports. How's that for National Security?

Oddly enough, many of Bush's front men are openly expressing their opposition to him and his agenda. In a shocking turn of events, prominent Republican leaders like Bill Frist, J. Dennis Hastert, and Michael Bloomberg have joined Democratics in trying to stop the government from allowing American ports to be controlled by Arabs.

Yet, Bush is unwavering in his threat to veto any legislation they come up with.

Personally, I think that it has a lot to do with the fact that he has friends in the UAE oil biz (that's right! I said it!). Likewise, he says...get this...that he last thing America needs is more bad publicity in the Arab world. I wish I was making this up.

But, to an extent, Bush is correct. America does have a bad reputation with the Middle East (for that matter, most of the world). But, the question has to be asked: why do we have such a bad reputation with the world? How much of it has to do with...oh, I don't know...Iraq?! I mean, you can't launch a preemptive strike a nation with no direct link to terrorism while you exempt another nation (and allow them to manage our ports) that has well-known financial ties to terror.

I'm speechless.


Remembering a Titan...

An African-American calendar in my office revealed something to me that I can't believe I forgot about: Tuesday marked the 41st anniversary of Malcolm X's assassination. Had he been alive today, he'd be 80 years old.

I've always found it shameful that he's not as revered by history as MLK was, especially considering how phophetic individuals seem to be honored most after their deaths. Incidental, Malcolm X's popularity was significantly on the increase prior to his death, unlike MLK's. Though he was improperly labeled as violent and antagonistic with his "By Any Means Necessary" mantra, the public's impressions of him changed as quickly as his philosophies did. He was willing to compromise with others -- the same people who he once villified -- to reach a common objective.

He was a champion for Black Nationalism (which is needed now more than ever before) and used his intelligence and saavy to advocate the social, political and economic uprising of African-Americans. Toward the end of his life he broke from the Nation of Islam (as an institution) and its messages of Black separatism. Alternatively, especially after his pilgrimage to Mecca, he embraced the spirit of Pan-Africanism and preached the message that people of all races could co-exist. After witnessing Muslims of all races and ethnicities praying and worshipping together, he came to realize that it was possible for us to enjoy the same kind of equality in America.

Let it be known that I don't -- by any means -- subscribe the the Islamic faith. But, to me, Malcolm X represents more than a Muslim. He represents a visionary. He is the epitome of what I would consider 'greatness'. I respect him about as much as any person who has ever lived.

I think that his power was the reason why he was taken from this world. Society has the blood of many courageous and phophetic people on its hands. According to an article in Democracy Now, there are three missing chapters from Malcolm X's autobiography that link the NYPD, the FBI, and the CIA to Malcolm X's assassination.

But, are you really suprised by that?

Are you really suprised that progressive leaders are killed, villified, or disgraced by this society in the prime of their life? Malcolm must've been doing something right for so many people to want him silenced. Unfortunately for them, it didn't work.

His legacy still carries on...


Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Real Truth About Cats & Dogs

Earlier this week, one of my best friends asked me (along with a team of her fellow intellects) a simple question: "What "clues" do you (men) look for in a woman to tell whether or not she's interested? Do you believe that being persistent will win the girl over eventually?"

Since I've noticed that a hoard of bloggers have addressed this question, I'd like to share my response. I hope you've blocked out an hour of your day to read this one. It's pretty involved:

Even being a male, I have no problem admitting that we can be pretty unbridled when it comes to pursuing women. We hear a simple "hello" or receive 'the look', and we take off with it. Occasionally, we get lucky. But, more often than not, our pursuit backfires which, for sensitive men; creates room for hurt, disappointment, broken egos, etc. Other men, however, are too egotistical, proud, and narcissistic to accept rejection as the 'end all'. "If at first you don't succeed try, try again" is what they say. For many men, this philosophy resonates in their mind, even if the woman has shown that she is decidedly UNINTERESTED in him. So, to the end, some men are pretty indelible and...well, stupid when it comes to women. But, it's not all on the man...

I once saw a talk show (I wish I remember which one it was) where a guy met his future wife by calling a phone number he saw in a bathroom stall (you know, one of those "For a good time, call so-and-so..."lines). As a joke, he called her. Oddly, they wound up talking, eventually met, dated, and got married. There was another time (and WE'VE ALL heard stories like this) where a guy was interested in a woman, who totally dissed him. It was only because of his endless pursuit that he was finally able to "win" her.

Stories like those motivate men to continuing pushing even if things seem impossible. In fact, the more impossible and unlikely it seems to 'get the girl', the more captivated the man gets. The bigger the challenge, the greater the story will be that he gets to tell his children. Besides that, it doesn't really help the man's causes when society throws out terms like "The best things come to those who wait" or "She'll come around eventually". Stuff like that only provides men with MORE of a sense of foolishly idealistic hope. But, I'm not gonna blame all of this on men and society. Women play a pretty significant role in this whole thing, too. In fact, I actually blame a lot of this stuff on women folk...

**Moment of digression** I think that women are seductive and, often, manipulative creatures (I feel a good lashing coming on for what I'm about to say, but who cares?!). They use their looks, their smile, and their prowess to get stuff from men. This is an extremely powerful tool that only women seem to be able to wield effectively. There are a few men who can do this, but the number is HIGHLY disproportionate when you compare it to women. Women are able to bat an eyelash and get a guy to spend all sorts of money on her. They're able to pull out their 'ass-ets' and get men to fix flat tires, chase bats out of the house, and spend Saturday afternoons shoe shopping with them. With one whisper, they can turn a machismo, He-Man, beer guzzling, sports lover into a puppy dog who cries at movies, writes poetry , and buys expensive crap. I mean, why do you think women go through the trouble of painting their faces with makeup, waxing themselves, starving, squeezing their surgically enhanced breasts into little a*s bras, and buying weave? It's to equip them with what they need to control men.

Now that I've got that off my chest, let me get to my REAL point...

Women use their influence and the prowess all the time to get what they want. But, too often they don't use it enough to REPEL what they DON'T want. Sometimes, these two worlds collide. For example, how many times have you heard a woman talk about how somebody who she completely LOATHES just bought her some incredible gift? Even if the woman has NO INTENTION of EVER giving this guy a chance, they'll still gladly take advantage of his generous attempts to win her. This sends mixed messages to the man. The man will say, "You claim you don't want me, but you're accepting this necklace I bought you..." Now, to be fair, sometimes women are at least considerate enough to let the guy know -- in advance -- that they're not interested. Doing so forces the guy to sign an unofficial disclaimer stating that "She's already made it clear that she's not interested. Whatever you do for her is ON YOU!" But, even if the guy is stupid enough to still go after her, does it make it right for her to take advantage of it? At what point do we make exploitation acceptable?

Secondly...from personal experience...many women claim that they're not interested in certain men as mates, but they expect for those men to do things that are usually exclusive to couples. If we stop talking to certain women, stop giving them the attention that they crave, stop calling them so much, stop catering to their needs, and -- ultimately -- start avoiding them, then all hell is gonna break lose. You've "hurt their feelings, played with their emotions, dissed them, blah, blah, blah..." When we men decide not to be available at a woman's beckoned call, we're the ones who get vilified. Ironic, huh?!

So, my advice to you women who want to be absolved from overly-persistent men:

  1. Be as aggressive with turning down a man as you would be for trying to FIND a man. Simple rejections (i.e. "Thanks, but no thanks") just don't do it.
  2. Stop accepting stuff (romantic and sentimental gifts, especially) from men that you don't like...even if they INSIST on giving them to you.
  3. Stop expecting men to do things that are above and beyond the normal call of friendship. Simply put, don't expect men to respond to you as "more than a friend" if you're not willing to actually BE "more than a friend" to them.

There you have it: My take on why men are overly persistent with women.

If this doesn't motivate you to give back that two-carat diamond "friendship" ring, nothing will...


Monday, February 20, 2006

Watered down Christianty

Sometimes I get the feeling that the practice of Christianity is started to get watered down.

We've gotten to the point where we've placed the title of "Christian" on way too much stuff. It's become some sort of a label that we freely tag onto things, without those things actually reflecting Christ. Somehow we've managed to turned Christianity into a tool for segregation, exclusion, and -- sometimes -- even persecution. I mean, there's Christian television, Christian music, Christian schools, Christian dating services, Christian night clubs, Christian physicians, Christian dentists, Christian presidents (I guess...), Christian-owned companies, Christian bumper stickers, Christian car decals (someone pul-lease explain to me the whole fish thing...), Christian dieters, Christian vegetarians, and so on. Even the KKK operates under the Christian banner (news flash: their national director, Thomas Robb, is a pastor).

Baptists claim to be Christians. Catholics claim to be Christian. Methodists claim to be Christian. Mormons claim to be Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses claim to be Christian, Buddhists claim to be Christian. But, wait. There's more...

People who brake for animals are Christians. People who recycle are Christians. People who help little old ladies cross the street are Christians. People who read to children are Christians. People who launch preemptive attacks on sovereign nations are Christians. It's only a matter of time will we consider pets as Christians. Wait a second...I think they already are. Apparently, some churches worship St. Francis, the patron saint of animals. They have what's called the "Blessing of the Pets; where they use some special kind of sanctifed water to bless animals. I wish I was making this up.

At any rate, everything seems to be Christian these days. It's like a bad fashion trend that refuses to die. My problem is: since everything is starting to become Christian, everything is starting to become Christian...including the ungodly stuff. When is the last time you've seen greed, gluttony, lust, theft, denial, exclusion, persecution, etc. done in the church?!

I wonder if we'll ever stop being "Christians" in the traditional, exclusive, and oppressive way and start being disciples of Christ...


Friday, February 17, 2006

One person's trash...

Has someone ever given you something that they themselves found no value in? Once you realize how much of a gold mine that thing was, did it make you feel bad for the person who gave it away?

I feel that way about a great CD that my mom gave me. Though she received it as a gift herself, she found no value in it and passed it on to me. It wound up being one of the best CDs in my collection; and one of the most soulful...

The album: Now more than ever...worship. The artist: Joann Rosario.

Truth be told: I never heard of Joann Rosario until I copped my mom's CD. But, once I listened to it, I fell in love. I fell in love with her. I fell in love with music. I fell in love with God.

This woman has such an amazing voice; such a passionate spirit; such an inspirational testimony. She triumphed from literally not being able to speak three years ago to producing one of the best gospel CDs I've ever heard. Not only does this album expound on the themes of devotion and worship, but it also reminds me of how great God is. This is especially important for me during the times where I need uplifting the most.

So, if you want a CD that embodies true worship and praise in spite of your conditions, this one is definitely a winner. And to think, my mom hated it...

Her loss is my gain!


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The new Messiah?

Does = ???

Apparently Kanye West thinks so.

Not too long ago, one of my best friends told me about Kanye West's newest stunt. You have to see it to believe it...

In a February issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Kanye West depicts himself as Jesus Christ. I don't know if this has to do with the 'struggles' he thinks he's faced in the industry or if he considers himself the Messiah of Hip-Hop. Truthfully, I haven't read his article, so I can only speculate what it implies.

But regardless to the message behind the picture, let me just say that I'm not suprised by any of this; especially considering the direction that music has gone in lately. Everyone is out to find that hook (usually one set in controversy) that sets them apart from the next guy. It's become a mark of the industry. But, is this guy in serious need of a brain transplant, or is it just me?! From his overly sensationalized "George Bush doesn't care about black people" line to portraying himself as the Savior, this guy must still be suffering from a concussion from his accident. Yeah. I said it!

I guess that, as a Christian, I'm offended by his juxtaposition to Jesus. I mean, someone pul-lease tell me what cross this dude has ever had to bear?! Has he carried a cross for hip hop? If he has, I really can't tell. Not only that, but his multi-Grammy award winning night suggests treatment from the mainstream that is a little less persecutory than what Jesus endured.

But, the truth is: I'm not mad at Kanye or his magazine cover. I mean, how can I be upset at ignorance? What bothers me most about this whole thing is where this stunt is going to take him. I mean, how does God feel knowing that Kanye depicted himself as God's Son...the Savior of the world? I guess that's up to God.

Since I'm not God; nor will I ever be, I guess I'm not in much of a position to really say much more about this. All I can do is pray for him, as I would for myself or anyone else. I don't know what's going to come out of this whole thing. All I know is that God is watching and taking good notes.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Taking shots at the VP

Apparently, your vice president accidentally shot a fellow hunter while they were enjoying a day of quail hunting. Quail hunting! I wish I was making this up.

Comedians and talk-show hosts have been having a field day with this one at Cheney's expense. Events like this are just the ammunition (no pun intended) that they need to take shots (again, no pun intended) at Cheney. In fact, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart commented saying that comedians shouldn't even get paid for this one; it was almost too easy of a joke.

What's not funny about this situation is that it represents a much deeper issue. How is it that people are still dying in Iraq, terrorism is allegedly so bad that Bush has resorted to illegal wire-tapping, Katrina victims are getting seriously neglected (FEMA is now being investigated for squandering millions of dollars on luxury hotels, food, and...yes...erotic material), the econonmy sucks, and social services are on the verge of being cut, and Cheney has the time to go quail hunting?! Maybe somebody should 'accidentally' mistaken him for a quail. take that back. You never know who reads my blog...


Monday, February 13, 2006

What have you done 4 Him lately?!

Has somebody ever humbled you so much that your mouth refused to obey your mind's orders to say something?

Yesterday, at church, a fellow Christian handed me my own head on a platter after a discussion we had. Word got around that I was planning my official withdrawal from a particularly ministry in which we both serve. Before I go any futher, let me give you a little synopsis of my situation:

I serve (well, more like "served") in a group, populated by young people. One of our missions was to serve our church through our ministry while also living to walk closer with Christ. Each of us were committed to devoting ourselves to the group, while leading the church through our efforts. Sounds good, right? Well, lately I've been having issues with the overall direction of our group. There are some mitigating circumstances involving our group that have led to my decision to call it quits.

That's where this story picks up...

During our conversation, I expressed my mounting frustation with our group and the church in general. While she listened, I could just feel the pendulum swinging in my direction. I just knew that I was right. It was only a matter of time before I reeled her in. But after I finished my pony and card show, she asked me -- with an unblinking eye -- one simple question: "While you're complaining about what you're not getting out of this group, what are you putting in to it?"


She nailed me. I felt like I was at a crowded shopping mall and the escalator just ripped my pants off (I know that only happens in cartoons, but it's fun to imagine...). As much as I wanted to find a reason to challenge her point, I realized that I had nothing left. She was absolutely correct. The only thing that I managed to force out of my mouth was, "Oh yeah? Well, what about you?" My lame comeback reminded me of the "I know you are, but what am I" defense that I used when I was six.

My futile attempts at fighting back were no match for the truth: I spend more time concentrating on what I don't get out of things and less time concentrating on what I put into things. I think that, in some respect, our service to God is like playing the stock market. We have to invest our resources before we capitalize on the returns. Simply put, before we can expect God to work for us, we must be willing to work for Him.

Back in the late nineties, Janet Jackson coined the phrase "What have you done for me lately?" in one of her hits. I can just see God asking me the same question whenever I ask Him for something. When I ask God for a particular blessing, I wonder if He responds by asking me:

  • When is the last time you visited the sick?
  • When is the last time you made a visitor feel welcomed?
  • When is the last time you gave from your heart?
  • When is the last time you prayed for your enemies?
  • When is the last time you studied My Word?
  • What have you done for Me lately?

Talk about an eyeopener.

Now, does this mean that I'm going to stay in this particular ministry? Probably not. In fact, I highly doubt it. Frankly, with this group, I feel like I've put my best foot forward -- with absolutely no return. This particular group just isn't a good match for me. But, this is not to say that I can't find an area within the church where God can use me or, more importantly, where I can serve Him.

At the end of the day, it's not about what God does in my life. It's about what I do for Him.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Fighting the war on...trees?

"As you can possibly see, I have an injury myself -- not here at the hospital, but in combat with a Cedar. I eventually won. The Cedar gave me a little scratch. As a matter of fact, the Colonel asked if I needed first aid when she first saw me. I was able to avoid any major surgical operations here, but thanks for your compassion, Colonel."

- George W. Bush, after visiting with wounded veterans from the Amputee Care Center of Brooke Army Medical Center; San Antonio, Texas; Jan. 1, 2006

My co-worker told me about this quote. Initially, I thought it was some type of parody toward the President. I mean, nobody could be this dumb, right?

Unfortunately, I was mistaken.

Sadly, this is an accurate quote from your president, taken from comments directed at patients of the Brooke Army Medical Center; the Amputee Care ward. Read the transcripts/see the video for yourself.

Please keep in mind that we're dealing with people who were seriously maimed and dismembered fighting in this so-called "War on terror" in Iraq. Bush's war. It's incredible how he can compare soldiers who have been severely wounded to him being "injured" by a tree. Comparing people who are missing body parts to someone with a scratch. Wow! The audacity of this guy amazes me.

Whether he was joking or not, Bush fails to realize that the soldiers whom he addressed were not just "injured"; they were wounded. Athletes and clumsy guys (like me) get 'injured'. Wounds are what you sustain in combat. Saying dumb stuff like this demonstrates the clear disconnect that Bush has with the soldiers who are out there suffering from doing his dirty work.

It's a scary thought when your Commander-in-Chief compares trees to bombs...


Hurricane relief ???

I just saw an interesting video of New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin testifying before Congress. I tell you! If I wasn't trying to be more Christ-like, I could strangle somebody!

It is absolutely shameful to hear about how things were mismanaged in New Orleans after Katrina. It was disturbing to hear Nagin discuss how supplies, material, equipment and people were actually in New Orleans, but were not being used in an effective or timely manner. Meanwhile, thousands of residents were left stranded in a drowning city.

If this isn't enought to make you righteously indiginant, I don't know what is...

Warning: Don't click on the link if your blood-pressure is high or if you're inclined to throw things. I don't want you damaging your computer.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

My take on tithing

Yesterday, one of my best friends and I had were discussing the idea of tithing. Though our conversation was pretty brief, there were some pretty interesting concepts shared. Our conversation challenged me to try to dig deeper into the significance of tithing. Here's my official take on tithing:

From a previous post, I mentioned how tithing has become a serious issue for me. It's something that many 'religious folks' tend to place a high premium on. In fact, it's an idea that is usually over-emphasized in many circles. That's not even the real issue that I have. In fact, I think that it's important that we, as the body of Christ, emphasize the idea of giving ourselves -- our money, our time, our work -- to God. Where I take issue is when many of us fail to completely consider all of the Biblical perspectives about tithing. We hear one or two verses (particularly Malachi 3:8-10) and immediately we're convinced. Simply put, we don't do enough reading between the lines. Tithing is supposed to be considered a blessing to God, given from our joy. But, all too often, the church fails to see it that way.

Tithing was a principle introduced in the Old Testament Law. I think that this is a very important point. No matter how you slice it, the commandment to tithe was given to Israel, not to the body of Christ. There is something significant about God's direct commandments. For example, sin did not enter the world until Adam ate of the forbidden fruit; even though Eve was the one who originally threw down on that tree. Why do you think that was? I think it was because God gave the commandment to Adam, not Eve. We've come to personify Eve with being the 'beginning of' or the 'prelude to' destruction...not the destruction itself. That was all Adam's doing. I think that tithing is no different. The command to give 10% of your earnings as an offering was given to Israel though the Law, not to the Church. To suggest that the Church is required to follow the same legalistic system of sacrifice as the Israelite signifies a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of Jesus and his ministry.

No where in the New Testament will you find passages that assign a certain percentage of our income toward tithes. Now, I'll admit, Paul does urge us, in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, to set aside a portion of our income so that we can support the church. But here's the catch: Christians should not feel obligated to always tithe. We should give as we are able to do so, “in keeping with our income.” I think that this could mean giving more or less than the infamous 10%. I think that it just depends on the ability of that giver, coupled with the needs of that church.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think that the '10% rule' established under the law is a great benchmark for us, as believers. It shows that we happily contribute to God's kingdom without being weighed down by our doubts, fears, and financial strains. That being the case, I'm not against the body of Christ taking that amount and inheriting it as our goal. But, this does not mean that we are required to govern ourselves by that amount. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 9:7 that we should not give with trepidation or in response to pressure. Simply put, we shouldn't give reluctantly or out of necessity, but rather out of joy and cheerfullness.

Well, this is all fine and dandy, Andre. But you haven't answered the question: How much should I give?

I hate to admit it, but I don't have the answer to this one. But I do know that, as Christians, we should make it our goal to diligently pray, seeking after God's wisdom...especially as it relates to how we should tithe. James 1:5 tells us that we should ask God for wisdom so that we can understand what He wants us to do (FYI, the book of James is a winner!). If we ask, He will glady tell us and will not resent us asking. If you're struggling with your tithing (and, trust me, I'm as guilty as the next person), ask God for wisdom and see what happens.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Paying homage to our donor

Modern medicine does it again.

For the first time in history, a person received a face transplant. Apparently, a 39-year old French woman -- disfigured from a dog attack -- became the first person ever to undergo this groundbreaking procedure. Feeling like she could never be accepted in society because of her disfigurement, she went for it all by going through the operation.

The reconstruction of her face was accomplished by using...well...another person's face. Various parts of her new face (a chin, a nose, and lips) came from a deceased donor. In an act of gratitude, the woman vowed to "pay homage" to the donor's family.

While I think that this is a truly remarkable story and a credit to the profoundness of modern medicine, I've got an even better story for you:

Years ago, on a wooden, cross-shaped operating table, a talented surgeon who we call God performed history's greatest transplant ever when He gave us a new heart; from a donor named Jesus. You see, Dr. God knew that we could never enter the Kingdom in our sinful state. So, He wilingly sacrificed His Son to allow us the transplant that we so desperately needed. God's mercy saved us (or, at the very least, gave us the opportunity to be saved). The Bible reminds us in Ephesians 2:8-9 that it's by God's grace that we are saved (the catch is: we have to show faith in Him). Grace isn't something that we've earned from our good works; nor is it something that we can take credit for. It's a gift from God.

So, instead of taking credit for our salvation, we should be like this French women. We need to "pay homage" to our donor.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Do you need more spit?

Not too long ago, a friend and I were talking about how we unfairly label people...especially at church. It really bothered me because I realized how absolutely correct we were in our assessment. When it comes to judging and labeling people, the church is guilty as charged. There's a cool story in the Bible that, I think, shows us how to respond to labeling others. *Warning* if you get squeamish about saliva, this isn't the read for you:

"…Some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?" He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around." Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly…"

- Mark 8:22-25

This is a familiar passage about how Jesus healed a blind man. But, let's delve into this story a little more...

Why do you think Jesus had to touch the blind man twice for his sight to be restored? I mean, couldn't Jesus get it right the first time?! To be honest, I don't think He actually needed to touch the man again. I think He chose to. I think that Jesus wanted to make a point with His second touch. I suspect that He was showing us that even if He spits in our eyes, it doesn’t mean that we will automatically have clear vision. Sometimes we need for Him to touch us over and over again to help us see clearly.

Let me ask you: Do you have blurred vision? When you look people, what do you see? The truth is: anytime we look at another human being as an object -- just like the blind man -- there’s a good chance that our vision is still blurred, even if Jesus has already spit in our eyes. The Church is full of people who have had their eyes spat in by Jesus, and yet their vision is still blurred; folks like you and me. Whenever we label people with terms like black/white; Democrat/Republican, Homo/Hetero, sinner/saint, rich/poor, etc., there’s a good chance that we're not seeing people clearly enough. What we need is for Jesus to touch us again for us to have our sight fully restored; that is, to see things as He does.

After that, Jesus asked the man what he saw. Jesus gave the man the opportunity to confess to Him that his vision wasn't complete. Everyday that we're alive, Jesus gives us the opportunity to tell Him that we don't see people as we should. He gives us the chance to tell Him that our vision is still blurred.

Jesus doesn’t see people as objects to be labeled, but rather as His creations to be loved. And if you think a person – any person – is above receiving Jesus’ love, then you might need more spit in your eyes. You may have to be touched again. If you find yourself spending more time condemning others behind your bully pulpit, than you spend your time elevating people in Christ, maybe you need a little more spit in your eyes. Then after Jesus works for you, tell Him what you see.

As Christians, I think that we should pray to see others as Jesus sees them; through the eyes of love.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

State of what Union?!

Ever since I really started to follow politics, I've always hated State of the Union addresses. But this one, undoubtedly, was the worst one I've seen to date. Here are some highlights:

  • Bush started off honoring Coretta Scott King which -- under normal circumstances -- would've been cool. But, incidentally, this was only moments after Samuel Alito -- opponent of Affirmative Action, gay/lesbian rights, women's rights -- was appointed to serve on an already discriminant Supreme Court.
  • Your boy spent a large segment of the speech defending his viewpoints on his war. Instead of at least recognizing the viewpoints of opponents, he called them "defeatists". Not exactly bipartisan, is it?
  • Speaking of which, why did I continually hear the word "bipartisan" while looking at a clearly divided house?! (applause)
  • There was very little attention paid to Katrina victims. The trauma didn't die for the victims just because the storm did.
  • Bush refuses to give up on the connection between the conflict in Iraq and our national security. You know that awwl 'dem A-rabs look alike anyway.
  • What is this "America is addicted to oil" stuff about?! Why did he decide now to get all concerned about the energy conservation? Shouldn't he have been saying that four years ago; before his buddies at Exxon Mobil raked in $36 billion in profits this year?! Why now?!
  • Permanent tax cuts?! Yikes!
  • Bush claimed to "create" 4.6 million new jobs. Tell that to GM and Ford employees.
  • He also called for more support of the Patriot Act. Not only does he want to spy on us illegally, he wants us to be OK with it.
  • Did anybody catch the "cutting 140 'non-defense' programs" line? Who cares about little Johnny being able to read?! We're at war!
  • Given my last observation, is there any wonder why Social Security, Health insurance, or presciption drugs weren't really addressed that much?
  • What about the shout out to the dead soldier's family?! How could they sit there without throwing something at this guy?! I know I tried to (except it's hard to throw stuff through a TV).
  • Speaking of dead soldier's families, did you hear that Cindy Sheehan was arrested for wearing an anti-war shirt? Appropriateness aside, wasn't that a violation of "free speech"?
  • Apparently Bush believes that immigrants are vital to a steady economy. Ohhh! That makes sense. I mean, what's a steady economy without clean hotel rooms, fast service at Walmart, and hot food from McDonald's?!
  • Spoke out against embryo testing, but supports human pesticide testing and torture. Hmm...
  • Bush refuses to abandon the culturally biased No Child Left Behind Act. Sure scores are up. But what do you expect in curriculia that only concentrates on tests?!
  • Finally...I counted 64 (yep, that's s-i-x-t-y f-o-u-r) interruptions for applause. Let me remind you: this was a 51-minute speech.

Same ole story...