Back Door Mentality

Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History Month states in his book The Miseducation of the American Negro ‘That if you teach a man to use the back door long enough, when he gets to a place where there is no back door, he will create one.’

I remember this as though it is a current event. The Africans are sitting in the back of the room just next to the back doors. There is a front door, but it is easiest to enter through these back doors. What I cannot understand is why the Africans are taking seats that are furthest away from the stage and podium which is the front of the room?

All of the missionaries, including me, take seats at the front of the room, near the stage and podium. We do so because it is natural as leaders and missionaries to sit, stand and speak up in the front. I get it because I, like them am an American missionary in Africa. Unlike them, however I see the subtleties. Why are the Africans naturally inclined to sit at the back of the room? That is the advantage of my African American experience. I understand ‘Back Door Mentality’

When thinking about the back door, I approached one of the African doctors with whom I had worked for several years. He was sitting near the back door. His wife and 3 adolescent children were seated with him. They were waiting for the worship service to begin. I asked him, why he and his family were seated at the back door. His response was, ‘the white people are seated up front.’ I then asked him, ‘what if the white people sat in the back?’ He didn’t miss a beat and said, ‘we would sit outside’.

A white missionary colleague of mine recently stated how easy it was for him to get along with the Africans with whom he has worked for the past twenty years. Essentially, he said there seemed to be a natural affinity to get along with his African friends and co-workers. They did not seem to take offense when speaking on a variety of issues. However, he stated that he is careful not to discuss issues with his fellow citizens of color in America because he was fearful of offending them. It implies that Africans are less easily offended than men and women of African descent. Suffice it to say, if that is what he is thinking, he is wrong. More importantly that statement itself is offensive.

Living as a powerful minority as a white person in Africa with a less powerful majority of black people will always put the more powerful white person at a distinct advantage. The person of power has what the less powerful desire and need. Then again, moving back to America living as a powerful majority white person, who rarely if ever interacts with a less powerful minority of black people completes the illusion that somehow the African is less easily offended. Nothing could be further from the truth.

No doubt things have changed over the 30 plus years of my time in Africa and there are many more Africans who are walking through the front door and taking a seat at the front podium on the stage. However, the significance of my story is that when you are a powerful majority, those who depend upon you are less inclined to tell you when you offend them. They would rather go through the back door and sit on the back seat.

The African descendants in America have essentially gotten over being fearful of offending white people. It took a lot of blood, death, bombings, rapes, kidnappings, a civil war and continuing civil strife to do so. But to assume that approaching this minority population on sensitive issues will cause an offense is of itself, offensive. There is no knee jerk response to having a white person in our midst. In fact, we are more accustomed to white people in our midst than white people are accustomed to us in their neighborhoods and schools. We are actually slow to take offense because we actually depend upon the services offered.

Africans have always been Africans. African Americans have continuously morphed from being chattel, like cows and pigs, to colored, to Negro, nigra, black and now African American. There are several sub-categories of being colored, mulatto, octoroon and quadroon to mention a few of the more subtle, less divisive or derogatory terms. These sub-categories were determined by how many times the slave masters had raped and enslaved the children of the enslaved African women who gave birth. This latest iteration was the result of seeking our own identity and to stop using the back door.

Africans have always had an identity of who they were and are. They identify as tribes and communities. African Americans have had to redefine ourselves to fit the political and social climate as it evolves.

An African who is dependent upon the majority culture and has learned to accept its generosity is very much disinclined to make that culture feel offended. They become an amalgam of who they know they are by tribal distinction and who they can become by education and opportunity. Americans of African descent have to defend even our citizenship, by constantly being challenged at voting rights and civil rights. We actually have many things about which we should take offense. But to assume we will do so, is offensive. It seems no matter how much we obey the rules, comply with the laws, play the game fairly, we will be seen as offensive to the majority culture just because we kneel at a ball game.

The final word is this. Jesus states in Matthew 5:23 that if we believe our brother has anything against us, we must seek reconciliation with him before Jesus will be inclined to even consider our prayer. That is, if we feel that our brother is offended, we must seek him out, not avoid him. Avoiding conflict is not the way to avoid conflict. The issues remain and until we meet them head on, we will present to the world a distorted body of the Christ we claim to serve.

Speak in love. Be slow to take offense. That is how we move onwards as the body of Christ.

The Right Enemy

We need the right enemy. That is what shapes the current crisis of guns in America. We have the wrong enemy. We have a lot of ammunition and a lot of weapons. We are in search of the wrong enemy, so we turn these lethal instruments on ourselves.

The collateral damage we have caused in Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan by pursuing revenge, oil and other corporate and government secret agendas did not suffice. A drone fires at a funeral, or wedding or other community gathering, indiscriminately killing dozens or more to eliminate what we perceive as a single threat. That threat was not the enemy that stalks us in our malls and city streets. Our military had a successful hit, but it is still not enough. We don’t lower our flags to half mast, or even acknowledge that we have done harm. We return to our late-night news and comedy as though nothing has happened. We bring our troops home and pretend it was a bad, very bad dream. We chose the wrong enemies.

There was a time when deep physical hunger ravaged our country. We have long defeated starvation. We still have deep pockets of hunger and undernourishment. But those pockets are literally overshadowed, hidden behind the massive girth of obesity in our nation. We have unsafe water in many municipalities with lead and other contaminants. The lead contaminates the brains of these urbanites, causing irreversible damage to their intellect and emotions. While in rural America, methane, fertilizer runoffs and rare earth elements are deep within the ground-water used to cook, clean and drink. Cancers of the blood stream and soft tissues are expected and accepted. We are saturated with pleasure, but live in a drought of discontentment, depression and disillusion. These are the enemies that depress, and oppress us.

We have more than enough enemies. We just have not trained the right weapons or used the right tactics to defeat these foes of the fabric of our society.

We continue to delude ourselves that ‘the other, and those people’ are our enemies. In fact, we are our own worst enemy. Until we resolve to not indulge ourselves in the pleasures of blaming them, or him, and confess our sin of selfishness and pride, we will continue to experience the mass killings. Corporate greed and personal indulgence feed the real enemy in our midst. Drug overdoses, sexual exploitation of pornography and child abuse are just the symbols of our wrong choices.

We have lived by the sword in unresolved, unlawful, and expensive conflict overseas. Now we die by the sword in our own land. The guns may silence overseas, thousands of miles away. But we hear them every night in our cities, and every day of week at our places of work and worship. The nightmare we have visited upon others is our daily reality. We must defeat the right enemy. That enemy is our own sin.

Matthew 26: 52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him. “For all who draw the sword will die by the sword.

Already a Threat

I had not yawned
Nor opened eyes yet
The day not even started
I am already a threat

I paused to get up
Had not really slept
Still laying in bed
I am already a threat

Showered and shaved
My face is still wet
Brushed teeth, fully dressed
I am already a threat

Take a bus, walk or drive
One thing’s a sure bet
Once skin and face are seen
I am already a threat

Will I make it back home?
My fear and my fret
Guilty, by color
I am already a threat

Turn Invisible Moo into Meat

Only the Creator can do it
Only He can perform this feat
Make something from absolute nothing
Turn invisible moo into meat

We can season and stir lightly
We can cook at just the right heat
Only He makes void become substance
Turn invisible moo into meat

He doesn’t stop with one item
From cucumbers to red beet
Put oink, swish and cluck on the menu
Turn invisible moo into meat

Evolutionists will shout and laugh at you
Their theories are lies and deceit
Black cow eats green grass, get white milk
Because God turns invisible moo into meat

Genesis 1:1-3
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Hebrews 11:3
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

When One is Violated: We Are All Violated

Martin Luther King said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

This violence has not touched me directly. It involves those people, and it is committed by those other people. I don’t have to worry about it because I don’t live over there, I don’t look like them nor do I behave like them. I am safe. I live in a stable community. I have my doors locked, alarms on and when it is all said and done, I am a god-fearing man with a gun within easy reach.

We watch and listen in horror and amazement, yet once again as a member of the majority population violates without remorse members of a minority population. It is revolting to most of our senses and our idea of civility and our supposed sense of unity.

Benjamin Franklin said “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

We can either continue on this pretend reality of the American dream or come to the truth this dream continues to be a nightmare for a significant portion of our fellow citizens. When one of ‘them’ is violated, I am violated. This continued violence is continuing to shred the fabric of our society. We trust each other less. We don’t trust our government, our churches, our neighbors and even some family members. It will continue to destroy us as long as we hide behind our supposed secure spaces the bolts and locks on our doors and our personal retirement portfolios.

It will destroy our children and our children’s children. We ignore the violation of others at our own peril.

To that end, the Nazarene Narrative will work with the churches of Philadelphia region to sponsor a walk for peace this Spring 2021. We are asking all denominations, all ethnicities, all like minded citizens to join us. The date will be announced soon. In addition, Tasker Street Missionary Baptist Church will sponsor the 4th Gun-Buy-Back event during that same week.

Storming the Capitol: Does Not Advance the Kingdom

James 1:20 the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God KJV

Would Jesus the Christ be storming capitols and taking hostages? Just what would Jesus do?

A righteous, even holy agenda, cannot assume unrighteous, unholy methods and tactics. Jesus never asked his followers to use violence to bring about His kingdom. We can add all the ‘pro’ prefixes we want, and it won’t make it ‘pro-Jesus’. Pro-life, pro-gun, pro-death penalty, pro-secure borders, pro-…, you add the issue. Storming the capitol does not advance the kingdom.

Whenever I find myself trying to force someone to my point of view, I am more likely to do just the opposite. I am assuming the place of God in their lives by putting myself as the one who punishes disobedience. I will mete out justice to all who do not conform to the image of Christ that I see. The truth is I cannot convince someone of anything of which the Holy Spirit has not convicted them. Storming the capitol is not the same as advancing the Kingdom.

Jesus left Himself open to be ridiculed, abused, and injured, even unto death. He never asked a legion of angels to descend to destroy His tormentors. The Christ had all authority in His hands and could have easily decimated His detractors.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr stated: “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”

John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

If I find myself threatening lives, cursing and abusing people created in the image of God, I am not advancing His kingdom. I am merely storming the capitol.

Waste From My Wealth

I share the waste from my wealth. I don’t miss anything with the gift that I give to the poor and needy. I give them from the scraps that fall from my financial plate and on to the floor. I give without noticing that it is missing. This kind of giving does not glorify God. It gets great notice from people, but really, it is just the waste from my wealth. It is superficial, not sacrificial. I brag about it. I take pride in it. But if it is painless, it is not sacrificial. If it costs me nothing, it is worthless. It is waste.

All these people gave gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty, put in all she had. Luke 21:4

Matthew 19:21 KJV “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”

Black Lives Won’t Matter

I understand completely the furor, indeed righteous anger associated with the openly brazen acts of murder of black citizens of this country when those acts are committed by those responsible for protecting the citizens. I agree with Colin Kaepernick, as I agreed with the late, great Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith and John Carlos the Olympians of 1968 who all stood in protest against racism and oppression in the United States. I understand the problem because I have lived it and continue to live it.

However, there comes a time when I must ask my own community to take in account of how much our lives matter to us. I am fully aware that this will not be accepted by many of my friends, colleagues, cohorts and family. But it must be said. Every time a black man, woman or child dies in a drive-by shooting, gangster violence, drug related activity that life matters. Every time a baby is pulled from the uterus of a mother either by sucking, dismemberment, ingestion or injection of lethal substances or scraping the walls of the womb that life matters.

Every time a mother buries her son or daughter who has been caught up either by accident or chance in a violent episode in our community that life should matter.

Murdering black men and women in the streets by those who are entrusted to protect is without excuse. But their excesses will continue until we make it a point to protest vehemently, argue unceasingly and protect our own from our own. Black lives won’t matter to anyone unless they matter to us.

Butchering the Body: When Politics Divide Believers

Galatians 5:15, KJV: “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another”

We pride ourselves on our denominational, political, and social divides. We embrace these points of view to the exclusion of Christ.

The apostle Paul expressed his outrage over the sycophant mentality of the early church. Believers wanted to be identified based upon the popular religious ideologies. They took pride in their affiliations rather than humbly identifying with Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

We are no different. We think it is important that people understand our convictions about racial and social justice, economic equity, gender issues, foreign policy and wars. We would rather be known as left, right or center on these issues. We equivocate on Jesus so we can bear the labels liberal or conservative. After all, isn’t that why we were called in Jesus? Is it not the Holy Spirit’s job to remind us to grow to be more like the members of government and civic organizations? Aren’t we supposed to stand up for our rights like Jesus, even if it takes hurting someone in the process?

No reasonable non-believer should, nor would accept a faith where the members are so at odds with things that matter in time but not in eternity. If we focused on the love we are supposed to have for one another, the distortion of the things in time would disappear. If we loved more, we would resent less and condemn less.

We have let the world know that we would rather not sit with people who claim to know Jesus if they don’t advocate for issues we see important. We proclaim they are worthy of damnation because they hold a particular position or opinion. What the world sees is we fight each other, when our real enemy is the world, the flesh and the devil.

We crucify Christ afresh. We put Him to open shame. We butcher the body of Christ. Dividing the church, the body of believers is no way to conquer the world.

We are meant to conquer. Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

When the Doctor Has to Lie: The Strong Delusion

I had no intention of lying, but it seemed I had no choice.

I could not believe I was saying these words. This scenario was contrary to everything I had learned in kindergarten, grade school, high school, college, and medical school. I had chosen my wife based upon these very sound principles. We named our children following traditions and understanding that preceded human history. Now I was called upon to ignore, relearn and explain to myself and the young woman/man and her/his mother something I did not believe. So, I started slowly, being careful to try to not upset his mother (could be father) who sat at the bedside. I had to appear to accept this delusion.

‘Yes sir, you can still have a menstrual cycle until the hormone replacement and surgery are complete.’

That seemed to calm them a bit. He/she was still experiencing menstrual cramps and break through bleeding. He/she had persuaded the doctors that a trial of hormone therapy was preferable to immediate hysterectomy. The breasts had already been removed, but he/she wanted to wait. He/she might change his/her mind.

‘Thank you so much doctor. We just wanted some straight answers from you. You have answered our questions and made things very clear; he/she and she said.’

I felt stupid just trying to make sense of this clinical situation. I did not believe the very things I was sharing. I was lying. I was pretending that the scenario in front of me made sense. In a world where we have chosen which science we want to believe; this seems the pinnacle of science being subverted.

The world mocks creationists, global and climate change deniers. But it is so willing and ready to embrace the belief that XY is the same as XX. The world decries the conspiracy theories about pandemics, but accepts without questioning whether men are men and women are women. Girls and boys can choose what they want to be and their parents are dissuaded and even ridiculed for not allowing their children to accept their natural selves. As if a child who wants to smoke a cigarette or drive a car cannot make the appropriate choice, but choosing their own gender, now that is only natural.

So, I lied. I ignored the obvious in this setting, so as not to upset the two people in front of me and pretended that anatomy and physiology didn’t matter. If I can lie to them about this, what lies can I tell the man who wants to be a woman? Can he still get prostate cancer? Will I measure his hemoglobin and hematocrit based upon his choice of gender or upon the persistent physiology and endocrinology that will rage in his body once the exogenous hormone levels drop? If I remove this body part and reconstruct it to look like this body part will this be more natural?

I don’t even try this on my car. Steering wheels are not the same as rolling wheels.

Will we continue to lie to our patients? I pray that these scenarios are rare and that we can find a way to avoid subverting science. I fear we are most likely to keep on lying.

2 Thessalonians 2:11 for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie