Monday, May 02, 2011

Contemplation of the Birther Paradigm

As much as I don't want to make this a racial issue, I cannot help but notice that a lot of the objections to the Presidency of Barack Obama sound just like the descriptions, considerations, perceptions and applications ascribed to black folk in the days of slavery, Jim Crow and Segregation. I mean, what is the whole deal about President Obama's birth certificate? From the time he announced his aspiration to run for President to now, folk have demanded that President Obama show his birth certificate to prove his citizenship.

And in a move to end all the speculation and perhaps in response to Donald Trumps tirades of late, the President provided the nation and indeed the world with the document that proves that he is, in fact, an American.

So.. President Obama had to show his papers in order to pass, play and politic.

Kind of like the days when Slaves were out and off the plantation... If they were seemingly out of place they would have to show papers... to prove they belonged.

Kind of like in the Jim Crow south when Folk had to show proper "papers" in order to vote.... to show they belonged.

Kind of like in Apartheid South Africa, black folk had to show papers in order to move about.... to show they belonged.

To not have your papers in order had dire consequences....

And now we are learning that even though he has demonstrated his citizenship, the "birthers" are not over the subject. They are pressing in the courts, that the displayed birth certificate is a forgery. What????

Seemingly black folk always have to qualify ourselves.. We have to validate ourselves.. It matters not your station in life... It matters not the struggle and battle you fought to get where you are... You will still have to show your "papers"....

The more things change, the more they stay the same...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Contemplating the reality of Crucifixion

For a time, we have been bombarded with the essence of the Easter holiday…. Our senses are assaulted with the cliché’s of flowers, bright colors, Easter eggs, new suits, hats, and that pesky rabbit known as the Easter Bunny…..

In popular culture, The cross is an image that has been romanticized and celebrated….. some churches have Jesus hanging on the cross above the pulpit and the image is a part of the ceremony of church. Folk wear Jesus on the cross as a piece of jewelry. Some for spiritual reasons and others for fashion. In popular hip hop culture, the “Jesus piece” is a prominent piece of gold that denotes status and hood credibility…. Even as we live in a world where a tattoo is a normal fashion statement, Jesus on the cross is a popular piece of skin art….

For those of us who are seeking to be closer to God, we have been commemorating this time all week long…. We are contemplating the essence of this most holy season… We have been praying, fasting, meditating… we have been mindful of the central thesis of this season and that is, Jesus died for us….

Yes, Jesus died for us…. But what does that really mean to you?

The Crucifixion is a holy, important precept of Christianity…but what, my people does Jesus dying on the cross really mean??? Do we really understand in a literal sense what Jesus suffered in this time????

First what is crucifixion. In Jesus’ time, understand that Israel was occupied by the Roman Empire. It was a particularly gruesome time. The masses of the people were controlled thru sheer terror, by what would be the equivalent of unbridled police abuse. Insurrection is commonplace as the Jews sought  ways to overcome and overthrow the rule of the Roman Empire in their land.

Crucifixion was a humiliating, sadistic, gruesome, mindlessly violent form of capital punishment. It was a public execution that not only wrought tremendous pain and suffering on it’s victims, but the crucified bodies were usually left on the cross in a public view thus wreaking tremendous fear and terror in the hearts and minds of the oppressed people… the Jews…

Prior to the events of the crucifixion, I think we can agree that Jesus was in great physical condition. For the three years of his ministry he traveled all over the holy land.. mountains, hills, towns, cities… he did not ride a horse, they did not have cars, trains, planes, subways, MTA… etc… he walked!!! For miles!!!! There are some who estimate Jesus walked 20 miles or more daily…. I don’t know how accurate that is but the fact of the matter is that Jesus walked to and fro, up and down, over here, over there. Jesus even walked on water!!!! I believe we can all ascertain that Jesus was in excellent shape.

But at the Garden of Gethsemane, we see a stressed out Jesus…. He knew he was about to die…. He knew of the impending torture and subsequent excruciating death he would endure on the cross…. And so he prayed… but his friends, his homies, his companions slept… they would not even stay awake and have Jesus back. Jesus closest friends have abandoned him.

Nonetheless Jesus prayed….. The Bible says in Luke 22:44 that he prayed earnestly so that sweat fell as drops of blood…. The physical trauma of Christ begins in Gethsemane with one of the initial aspects of His suffering - the bloody sweat. Though very rare, the phenomenon of hemathidrosis, or bloody sweat, is well documented. Under great emotional stress, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This process alone could have produced marked weakness and possible shock. 

After the arrest in the middle of the night, Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas, the High Priest. A soldier struck Jesus across the face for remaining silent when questioned by Caiaphas. The palace guards then blindfolded Him and mockingly taunted Him to identify them as they each passed by; they spat on Him and smacked him around even more…..
Condemned to Crucifixion
In the early morning, Jesus, battered and bruised, dehydrated, and exhausted from a sleepless night, was taken across Jerusalem to the Praetorium of the Fortress Antonia. Pilate declares he can find no fault in Jesus and sends him across town to Herod. Herod was happy because he hoped that Jesus could entertain him and perform some miracles… He was not interested in hurting our Lord…. He wanted a show…. But when Jesus did not oblige, Herod and his soldiers ridiculed Jesus and dressed him in apparel fit for a king and sent him back across town to Pilate. It was there, in response to the cries of the mob, that Pilate ordered the murdering insurrectionist Bar-Abbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and crucifixion.
 For the scourging, Jesus is stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. Two Roman legionnaires steps forward with the flagrum in his hand. The flagrum is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached to the ends of each. Braided into the leather thongs are sheep's bones broken to form a razor sharp claws that dig into the skin with each blow….

The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back and legs.
At first the heavy thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles. The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows.

Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death, the beating is stopped. It should be noted here that Jewish law allowed for thirty nine lashes, but the Romans had no such precept.

Nearly rendered unconscious by the flogging,  Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with His own blood. The Roman soldiers have a good laugh seeing this Jew who has claimed to be a king squalored in his own blood. They throw a robe across His shoulders and place a stick in His hand for a sceptre. A small bundle of flexible branches covered with long thorns is pressed into His scalp. More bleeding.

After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tire of their sadistic game and the robe is torn from his back. The robe is already sticking to the blood and pus in the wounds… so its removal is just like when you carelessly remove a surgical bandage….
The walk to crucifixion
The heavy beam of the cross is then tied across His shoulders, and the procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves and the execution detail, begins its slow journey – roughly 650 yards… The weight of the heavy wooden beam, estimated to be 100 to 135 pounds, together with the shock produced by tremendous blood loss, is too much. He stumbles and falls. The rough wood of the beam gouges into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tries to rise, but human muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance. They seize Simon the Cyrenian to carry the cross the rest of the way…..
The nails of crucifixion
At Golgotha, the beam is placed on the ground and Jesus is quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square, wrought-iron nail (7” long and 3/8” wide) through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flex and movement. The beam is then lifted in place at the top of the posts and the sign reading “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” is nailed in place.

The left foot is pressed backward against the right foot, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each. As he pushes Himself upward to avoid the stretching torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there is the searing agony of the nail through His feet. the agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the metatarsal bones through the feet.It should be noted here that the only archaeological evidence of any crucifixion shows that the nails were sometimes driven through the ankles. Feet are feet and the pain should be equal....

"Father, Forgive Them for they Know Not What they do"

By now, Jesus’ arms are fatigued, cramps are sweeping through the muscles, producing tremendous pain… With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by His arms, the pectoral muscles are unable to act. He can inhale, but cannot exhale. Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, He is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in the life-giving oxygen. I can see Jesus as he hears the other condemned gasping for breath…. I can imagine what it sounds like…. Three men fighting to take a breath while in unimaginable pain….. I wonder how they could even muster up a conversation…. But they do….

39 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us." 40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? 41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." 42 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." 43 He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Matthew 23: 39 - 43
Hours of this limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber…. Agony. Jesus looks over and see his mother… concern….

26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. John 19:26-27
Then another agony begins. A deep crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart.

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27: 46
Jesus’ compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues – his lungs are tortured,  making a frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. His seriously dehydrated tissues send their flood of stimuli to his brain.

Jesus gasps, “I thirst.”

After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the scripture), "I thirst." John 19:28
Crucifixion - the last gasp
Jesus can now feel that shadow of death creeping into his body... The end is nigh…..

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar He said, 'It is Finished' and He bowed His head and gave up the ghost. John 19:30

It is now almost over. The loss of tissue fluids have reached critical levels. The compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick sluggish blood into the tissues. His frantic efforts to breath are more and more futile… The body of Jesus is more than near death. Finally he can allow his body to die…. With one last surge of strength, He once again presses His torn feet against the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters His seventh and last cry,

And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. Luke 23:46
I pray that you have seen and visualized the true suffering of Jesus Christ Our Lord… I pray that you will reconsider, re-evaluate, or renew your consciousness regarding the sacrifice of God’s only begotten Son. The grace… the mercy… the price paid for us… all of us…. It is true… it is sincere … it is deserving more than romantic imaginings… it is the nucleus of who we are as Christians…. Jesus died for us….

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Contemplations of Kinship part two: It's not just a job it's an adventure....

And so life these days is different. After many years without children in the home, I am now a soccer dad. A Track and Field Dad... These days,  I have to carefully plan my nights out according to the ability to find (and pay for) a babysitter. A notion that is a life changer given my choice of careers. These days I find myself constantly explaining that these are my grandsons and not my sons.... "yes, I know I don't look like a grandfather".... but so it is.....

These days, more and more black grandparents are finding themselves in custody of their children's children. It is a most challenging, monumental task. First from the standpoint of watching painfully as our children become unable or, in some cases, unwilling to care for the children they bring into this world. Second from the standpoint of, at an age when we should be enjoying life, we are tasked with raising and providing for children, at an age and time when we could - strike that - should be more concerned with affairs of approaching retirement, leisure activities and moving to a next level of life. Third the notion of being taken for granted by our children - to think that we are now asked to surrender our mature years and active lifestyle to care for those that you brought into this world. Whether it is from some irresponsible tryst, or a failed relationship, the bottom line is that our children are unable or unwilling to care for the life that is the product of those choices.

The gall of our children as they go on about their business because PaPa has the children and everything is going to be alright. We watch as our children move on to try and capture the youthful years they surrendered when choosing to have a child. The renewed baby momma drama (if the blood grandparents are not together), the essence of ex-in-laws calling out of the blue to inquire about the welfare of the children... inlaws who we don't know... nor have had any interaction with in decades... and now we are expected to answer questions??? All these questions, but no offers of assistance.... hmmmmm. And according to most that I have spoken with, professional or no, I am not supposed to be angry.
What??? Are you serious??? I am pissed off. I am disappointed. I am burdened. I am sad. I am almost overwhelmed.

Ok so, now we have to go to the system to seek benefits. This in and of itself is a humbling experience. The workers in the county offices have not been kind. They seem to not believe any of the elements of my journey and have not been the most helpful in my needs. The best bet is to not take it personal and keep pushing to get what we need to help support the situation. But sometimes it's not easy to ignore the neck rolling sista behind a glass who's line of questioning reeks of suspicion and disbelief...

In the end, the parents of my grandchildren have walked away from their responsibility. She does not call. She does not write. She offers no contact, assistance, argument, nothing. We have not seen nor heard from the grandchildren's mom. As for the dad, we do not expect contact. He is a long term guest of the correctional system.

I wonder how many grandparents are going through this type of nightmare. First to process the attitude of the children who have thrown their children into our lives. And then to deal with the behavior of these children who, up until this point, grew up in a situation that is totally reverse in consciousness, spirituality, folkways, mores, and common sense. Some grandparents haven't had to deal with a cultural divide. It's all good and all love. But for those that have, how do we choose to deal with this?? Sometimes the behavior is a complete and utter shock!!!! Sometimes the grandparents have to deal with bizarre and unruly behavior. Sometimes we have to endure undeserved disrespect... It is unfortunate.

In the end, I wonder what resources are really there for those of us who have to raise our grandkids. Everything and everybody speaks to what the grandchildren are going through, but what about the grandparents?? what about what we have to deal with?? Who is really there to help us?

My life has fundamentally changed. My essence has been rearranged. But it seems that no one cares about that. No one offers any remedy or concern for the changes therein... It's all about the children and I get it... but what about us???

In this process I have learned that my situation is called kinship. wow... as I contemplate this essence of kinship, I have learned, the hard way, that it's not just a job, it's an adventure.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Grammy Awards Contemplations

It is interesting that noted music, marketing and advertising impresario Steve Stoute would place a $40,000 full page ad in the New York Times as an open letter to the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS). His letter strongly criticized the organization for perceived missteps in the presentation of the Grammy Awards. In Mr. Stoute's opinion, the Grammy Awards "have clearly lost touch with contemporary popular culture."

Stoute wonders how indie rock band Arcade Fire had the Album of the Year.. He says that Justin Bieber was clearly the year's best new artist as opposed to Esperanza Spalding. He wonders why hip hop artists who captured the imagination and pocketbooks of the American music buying public were snubbed award after award. He points out the contradiction that even as those artists were not winners, the Academy had the foresight to present them as performers - all in the name of generating ratings. You can read the entire Steve Stoute letter here, on the Huffington Post.

While I disagree with some of the examples Mr. Stoute uses in his critique of the Grammy Awards (The Joni Letters is absolutely the bomb!! and deserved the honor that year), I have to agree that the Grammy Awards seem a bit mis-directed. We should note here that the Grammy Awards is not a validation of one's popularity based on sales. It is an award presented solely as a result of votes cast by members of the Academy. It is indeed an award of the artist, songwriter, producer, technician's peers.

It also should be noted that the majority of awards in the rap, hiphop, urban, r&b and gospel categories are presented in a "pre-show" that takes place hours before the international telecast. Additionally, there are other categories that the masses of the people will never see. (Did you know that Tia Carrera won for best Hawaiian Album???) There are more than 100 categories and perhaps ten or less make it to the main telecast.

It is during this "pre-show" that I found the most profound disparities particularly in the traditional gospel category.

Patty Griffin
Best Traditional Gospel
In this category, the nominees were Pastor Shirley Ceasar- certainly one of Gospel's Hall of Famers, Marvin Sapp - without a doubt one of gospel's preeminent artists, Karen Clark Sheard - a Grammy Winner from one of gospel's most famous families, Vanessa Bell Armstrong - an renowned gospel artist who made a STRONG comeback, and Patti Griffin, a renowned country/Americana singer/songwriter who happened to make a gospel album. Ms. Griffin walked away with the honor that night.

It is shocking because the traditional gospel category was filled with time honored gospel nominees. And only a few, if any, familiar with the gospel music industry even knew who Patti Griffin was. No Airplay, no Internet buzz, no cognizant place in the gospel arena, yet, she won the Grammy for best Traditional Gospel Album.

So does this demonstrate that the Grammy Awards have lost touch with the cultural identity of the music the Academy purports to support? or is it a sign that the artists and those who labor in these categories do not participate with what the Academy has to offer? Did gospel peers step forth and vote? or did Patti Griffin benefit from her crew getting votes in and then slip away with a win?

Whatever the case, The Grammy Awards should review its process and do a better job of recruiting, retaining and motivating it's electorate because clearly, something is wrong.

For a complete list of Grammy Award nominees and winners, click here.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Contemplations of Super Bowl halftime

So, Super Bowl Sunday has gone... and boy what a game.... it was close, down to the wire... just the kind of contest we need in the world championship game. Congrats to the Green Bay Packers!! But folk are talking about the halftime performances of the Black Eyed Peas. Some thought it was cool, others hated it.... most were left scratching their heads like, what in tarnation??

I actually thought the performance was lukewarm. It's just that I find the Black Eyed Peas incredibly out of shape for the high energy group they are supposed to be.... I mean, they have enjoyed fabulous success and probably are eating really good. It shows.
The Tron costumes worn by the dancers were kind of cool, but it seems like those hundreds of LED-lit dancers were meant to distract one away from the performance of the Peas. I mean, I feel like the Peas are supposed to have some sort of dance during their songs or do they just stand and sing in a line.Like a chorus..... That ain't rock n roll, soul, funk, or hiphop!!!! Don't they have choreography of their own? Isn't one of them a DJ? and what the heck happened to Fergie's voice????

They just seemed out of place on America's biggest stage, a problem that wasn't helped by the sound and other technical difficulties. Didn't Fergie's mic go out at the first song? And some of those lights seemed to flicker intermittently also.
The introduction of Usher was ok, but fell short of the expected anticipation as he floated down from the rafters of Cowboys Stadium. Slash was good until Fergie bawled all over his solo.... made me wonder if the monitoring system was working. Couldn't they hear themselves???

I just think that today's generation of entertainers have to remember that an invitation to perform at the halftime of the Super Bowl is one of music's most important gigs. After all, this is the Super Bowl. The world championship of Football.... Ok, ok let's give the Peas the benefit of the doubt. Let's say they aren't the biggest football fans around. Somebody in the league ought to give them a primer on the best Super Bowl performances ever. For me, the best one is Michael Jackson in 1993..... James Earl Jones introduced him, Radio City Music Hall was the producer.... MJ jumped out of the scoreboard....

or Prince, it rained during his performance of Purple Rain.....

or Stevie Wonder came in with his family playing and singing various instruments along with special guests John Legend and India Arie...and proceeded to rock the crowd with all his hits...

Point is, the Black Eyed Peas should have planned to BRING IT when invited to the biggest sporting event in America. They brought it with technology but left the entertainment at home. It was, as one news report described, underwhelming at best. Plus they need to get on a workout plan asap!!!!! Black Eyed Peas have been eating too many black eyed peas....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Music is Life is Music: Grammy Contemplations


Campaign Creative Features GRAMMY Nominees Arcade Fire, Justin Bieber, Eminem, Cee Lo Green, and Katy Perry

Interactive Web site — — and MusicMapper App Lets Artists and Fans Map and Share Their Musical Journeys Through Social Networking and Geolocation, While Augmented Reality and QR Codes Unlock Exclusive GRAMMY Content

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (January 24, 2011) — The Recording Academy® and TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles unveiled MusicIsLifeIsMusic, a cutting-edge and inventive promotional campaign for the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards®, airing live on CBS Sun., Feb. 13, 201l, 8 – 11:30 p.m. ET/PT. The campaign — which features print, outdoor, digital, TV, an interactive microsite (, and the MusicMapper app — celebrates the songs that have had significance in one's life and the places connected to those songs. Utilizing social networking and geolocation, music fans can then map out their musical journeys and share them with others. This marks the fourth year in a row that TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles and The Recording Academy have partnered on the advertising for the annual GRAMMY Awards telecast.

The MusicIsLifeIsMusic Print and Out of Home creative broke last week (along with wild postings, digital and GRAMMY partner activation) and features GRAMMY nominees Arcade Fire, Justin Bieber, Eminem, Cee Lo Green, and Katy Perry. Earlier this month, 11-time GRAMMY winner and current 10-time nominee Eminem kicked off the first in a series of three GRAMMY promotional TV spots and the second one, with current four-time nominee Katy Perry, just debuted. The commercials are an illustrated interpretation of each artist's life and a journey through their musical and personal milestones. A third TV spot with another GRAMMY winner and current nominee will hit shortly.

"MusicIsLifeIsMusic tells the stories of both nominees and music fans, celebrating the songs that mean the most to us and the places where we connect with them," said Evan Greene, Chief Marketing Officer of The Recording Academy. "This year's campaign really emphasizes the social and mobile music experience, and allows music fans to connect with each other in a way like never before. We are grateful to our friends at TBWA\Chiat\Day for their ongoing partnership and collaboration, and to HTC and Rdio for their support on this year's campaign."

Patrick O’Neill, Executive Creative Director at TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles said, "The best parts of our lives are connected to music, and amazing tracks help define those unique moments. The MusicMapper app brings geolocation and music together in a fresh, engaging way. It's like your audio autobiography."

Through and the MusicMapper application, which was developed in partnership with HTC MobilityNOW (, fans worldwide are able to connect songs with places and their special memories in a way never before possible. The mobile application — available now for Apple's iPhone and Google's Android — lets the user drop a virtual pin to a specific location using Google Maps, select a song through social music service Rdio (, and tag a note describing how that song and location defined a special moment in his/her/their life. This can then be shared by posting to a Facebook profile or Twitter account. The application also provides a direct link to each song within Rdio where users can add it to their collection or playlists, or sync it to their mobile phones for offline playback. Additionally, Katy Perry appears in a demo video showing users how the MusicMapper application works, and her musical journey on reveals some of the songs and artists that have had a memorable impact on her life and career, such as: how Queen's "Killer Queen" changed her life; how "Karma Police" reminds her of sneaking into a Radiohead concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl; how she was inspired to write "California Gurls" after hearing "Empire State Of Mind" at a party; and how she has the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song title "(Are You) The One That I've Been Waiting For" engraved on the inside of her engagement ring.

Not only will users have the opportunity to map their own musical journey, they will be able to explore other MusicMapper tags through an augmented reality view that provides an innovative, real-life glimpse at how "music is life is music." By using a mobile device camera, users can see others' tags, Flickr photos, and Foursquare check-ins associated with a space when they enter said space. Additionally, fans have the ability to unlock exclusive GRAMMY content, based on their physical location as determined by SimpleGeo. Via a QR code reader on all print material and outdoor advertisements, users may access eight full-length GRAMMY performances from past shows including: Mary J. Blige's "No More Drama"; Coldplay's "Viva La Vida"; LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out"; MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This"; Ricky Martin's "La Copa De La Vida"; Radiohead's "15 Step"; Smashing Pumpkins "1979"; and Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It."

For more information on the 53rd GRAMMY Awards and the "MusicIsLifeIsMusic" campaign, please visit: or, and download the MusicMapper app through iTunes ( or Android ( For GRAMMY coverage, updates and breaking news, please visit The Recording Academy®'s social networks on Twitter and Facebook:,

About The Recording Academy

Established in 1957, The Recording Academy is an organization of musicians, producers, engineers and recording professionals that is dedicated to improving the cultural condition and quality of life for music and its makers. Internationally known for the GRAMMY Awards — the preeminent peer-recognized award for musical excellence and the most credible brand in music — The Recording Academy is responsible for groundbreaking professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education and human services programs. The Academy continues to focus on its mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers and ensuring music remains an indelible part of our culture. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Contemplations of Forgiveness: The key to our spiritual liberation

Today's contemplation is completely random and is a result of running into Dr. Conrad Murray, the doctor who tended to Michael Jackson (or not) in MJ's last hours. Dr. Murray is a major part of today's headlines as he undergoes a preliminary hearing to find if there is enough evidence to put him on trial for involuntary manslaughter of Michael.

I was running around church executing my duties for the day when one of the members asked me if Dr. Murray was one of the souls who answered the altar call. I did not know. I did not see. I was busy working as I had already attended the early service. I remember the question gave me pause for some reason. I asked her where he was. She said in the prayer room. I told her that I had not seen him and went on about my business... A few minutes later, I found myself briefly eye to eye with the man... Dr. Conrad Murray.

The feeling was kind of eerie as our eyes locked briefly. He actually acknowledged me. He smiled and waved. I waved back, but my brain was suddenly flooded with thoughts... whoa, this is the guy who killed Michael Jackson!! He was the doctor on scene!!! Is he a quack? Is he even a real doctor??? This dude killed the King of Pop!!!! Who does he think he is to come into our church??? how convenient!! but then again, if not here... where?? How many times have I come to the church filled with tears and remorse asking God's forgiveness?? or His protection? Was Dr. Murray coming to the Lord for the first time??? Or was he asking forgiveness and protection??? Was he returning to the Lord after being away?? or was he already deep into the Lord's arms and rededicating his life... I guess the circumstances of his life are the prime setting for spiritual redemption. After all, this is what church is for.....

The encounter stimulated a tweet:
hannibalradio Greg J
#ConradMurray in church today.... is it time to forgive? This is my contemplation... I am still trying to come to terms that he killed #MJ
I began to contemplate the essence of forgiveness. I admit I was a little alarmed at my feelings. I really was angry with this man. The testimony I have heard infuriates me and I would like to know what really happened and why? But nonetheless, as a Man of God, I realize that I have to forgive this man. Then I started to see that he needs God to stand with him in this time of his life... He needs his love, his protection, his essence. Even if the man is guilty, he needs the Lord...
I began to remember that the Bible speaks of forgiveness from cover to cover and most potently, for me at least, in the Gospel of Mark:
Mar 11:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
Mar 11:26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
It should be noted here that I am not judging Dr. Murray. I pray for justice and that the system will reveal the truth. My angst and analysis against Dr. Murray are no more than the rants of an MJ fan. I do not know him and his acquittal or conviction will not weigh heavily in my life. However, my encounter causes me to take inventory of my own life's issues. In my walk am I forgiving enough? Yes, there are issues that are completely difficult to resolve because of my reluctance to forgive. This reluctance is a hindrance in my quest to walk closer with the Almighty.

I heard a sermon once that I still play from time to time. The preacher says that "unforgiveness is a prison that one can find difficult to escape".... wow.

Forgiveness is the key to our total and complete spiritual liberation.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Contemplations of Kinship: It is what it is.....

I have been hearing and noticing the increased number of people who've had to take custody of their children's children. I've heard the stories. I've heard the issues. But never in my consciousness ever believed it would happen to me....

Incidents of abuse and neglect perpetrated against my daughters children have promulgated a case file with the county authorities in my hometown. At the request of these authorities I attended a meeting/hearing that revealed to me that which I already knew in my heart. I had to take custody and guardianship. It was an all or nothing proposition. The authorities were saying that the only way to keep them from making the children wards of the state would be my willingness to take the kids. Dag... It is what it is....

Now, this scenario would severely rearrange my lifestyle. I am a very social person. My profession demands it.... I have been able to come and go, attend every event, concert, mixer, party that I wanted to without having to worry about childcare or children. Even as I have been married for over twenty years, we do not have children around us.... We live a very active, adult lifestyle. Children in our home would fundamentally change how we lived our lives. Yes, it changes things, but never never never would I allow the system to take my grandchildren.

And so, I have them. Two precocious 8 year olds... They are identical twins with a lot going for them. Almost immediately, we can see the change in attitude... there is a discernible difference in how they walk, talk and even approach their studies. We have introduced them to the action of the Pentecostal church. And the love they have received from our friends and church family has been mind boggling. even overwhelming. It is an altogether positive life experience. It is what it is....

And now, the reality of the situational economics rears its head. But hey, we gotta do what we gotta do to survive. It is what it is.... We've reached out to the county authorities and other so called resources. Some have been helpful, others less than. But nonetheless, we have to  complete massive paperwork, a LOT of bureaucracy and some headache. Can you say major hassle??? I am doing the best I can. It is what it is....

In the process, I have learned that this new role we have assumed is called kinship. Kinship....  They say that more and more grandparents are stepping up to raise their children's children. I am running into so many people who say they are also in the same situation. Grandparents who should be enjoying their life, are now having to do it all over again... raising children. Do we get the same rights? Is the system against us? Not really, but they don't make it easy. It is what it is.... or is it?????

I need some assistance with food. I need some support. What can the system offer? What if I make too much to get assistance? What are my options? Health Care? Do I add them to my health insurance? Can I get some ObamaCare? What about dental? What are my options....??

I want to keep them active. And so bills for Boys and Girls Club, sports, Boy Scouts, etc. so on and so forth are piling up.... But the investment is sound. and I am willing to invest the time into supporting their activities. It is what it is....

And so as I stand up and be there for these young boys, I know that my life's plan into this New Year is different. I have to make amendments to how I do things. How I look at things. How I move forth from this time forward. Things are different. It is what it is.

I have to learn to control my feelings of anger and disappointment with my daughter. The anger is completely non-productive with what we need to do with the boy' s life. In fact, I don't really know how to deal with the boy's mom. I don't need the stress she brings and her way of looking at life is completely adverse to how I look at things and I certainly don't need the mess.... It is what it is....

Kinship. A blessing. But not without a price....... It is what it is.