Archive for March, 2012

Touch Ya Neighbor: Contemplations of Gospel Cliches

Posted: March 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

Certainly for a lot of Black Americans, the church experience is a pivotal piece of their lifestyle. The Black Church has a central role in the history, folkways and mores of black American Society. Certainly, the Black Church can claim its place in the Struggle as an integral and powerful institution. The Church was (and is, in most cases) a place of honor and pride in our communities. But these days, what was born as a place through which Black folks consciousness was stimulated, inspired and motivated to action, has now, through the generations, transformed into a place for societal degradation and disintegration. We have presented ourselves holy and acceptable but we do so with a set of  behaviors that quite frankly get on my nerves.The way we dress in church -(whats up with the loud green, yellow or orange zoot suits???), what we say to one another and particularly the vernacular we use.  Church life has become peppered with phrases, words and sayings that are supposed to underscore ones Christianity but in reality make us sound…. corny. Everything is anointed, blessed, visionary, inspired, blessed and highly favored, touch ya neighbor, repeat after the preacher, and so forth and so on… The music in its attempt to become more relevant to todays ears is starting to become less holy and more secular in nature. It’s not uncommon to hear a gospel band in church use a riff from secular/funk songs in the middle of a rousing gospel piece. The artists seem to be more concerned with keeping an image that mirrors that which they see on the secular side than to providing ministry. The artist now performs instead of ministers…. The listener has to decipher coded messages in the song as opposed to the music being an unapologetic expression of praise and worship. Then there’s the shenanigans of the gospel music artist. More and more, the expression of holiness through music oftentimes comes through a music minister who’s effeminate demeanor is completely opposite of the moral posture we have learned to carry. Now, I am not trying to become a prude, nor am I positioning myself as holier than thou. It’s just that the folkways and mores of church life are now corrupted so that the masses are now reluctant to trust their souls into the church. A mega church pastor like Eddie Long falls from grace because of alleged trysts with young men in his congregation. Then in what was supposed to be an act of atonement, he is crowned a king by other evangelists…. what?? Pastor after pastor reveals that they are leading double lives. Cheating on their wives or going on the down low… The everyday Christian is gaining a reputation as being one of the most anti social members of black American society. Mean. Selfish. Dishonest. All while living a “blessed” life.   I overheard a young brotha recently profess that he loves the Lord but will not deal with the church because it was church folks who closed their doors and turned their back while his homeboy was stabbed. I’m saying (to use a church cliché) that we need a “mighty move of God”….. I’m just saying that we need to do better.

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Touch Ya Neighbor: Contemplations on church life and cliches

Posted: March 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

Certainly for a lot of Black Americans, the church experience is a pivotal piece of their lifestyle. The Black Church has a central role in the history, folkways and mores of black American Society. Certainly, the Black Church can claim its place in the Struggle as an integral and powerful institution. The Church was (and is, in most cases) a place of honor and pride in our communities. But these days, what was born as a place through which Black folks consciousness was stimulated, inspired and motivated to action, has now, through the generations, transformed into a place for societal degradation and disintegration. We have presented ourselves holy and acceptable but we do so with a set of  behaviors that quite frankly get on my nerves.The way we dress in church, what we say to one another and particularly the vernacular we use.  Church life has become peppered with phrases, words and sayings that are supposed to underscore ones Christianity but in reality make us sound…. corny. Everything is anointed, blessed, visionary, inspired, blessed and highly favored, touch ya neighbor, repeat after the preacher, and so forth and so on… The music in its attempt to become more relevant to todays ears is starting to become less holy and more secular in nature. It’s not uncommon to hear a gospel band in church use a riff from secular/funk songs in the middle of a rousing gospel piece. The artists seem to be more concerned with keeping an image that mirrors that which they see on the secular side than to providing ministry. The artist now performs instead of ministers…. The listener has to decipher coded messages in the song as opposed to the music being an unapologetic expression of praise and worship. Then there’s the shenanigans of the gospel music artist. More and more, the expression of holiness through music oftentimes comes through a music minister who’s effeminate demeanor is completely opposite of the moral posture we have learned to carry. Now, I am not trying to become a prude, nor am I positioning myself as holier than thou. It’s just that the folkways and mores of church life are now corrupted so that the masses are now reluctant to trust their souls into the church. A mega church pastor like Eddie Long falls from grace because of alleged trysts with young men in his congregation. Then in what was supposed to be an act of atonement, he is crowned a king by other evangelists…. what?? Pastor after pastor reveals that they are leading double lives. Cheating on their wives or going on the down low… The everyday Christian is gaining a reputation as being one of the most anti social members of black American society. Mean. Selfish. Dishonest. All while living a “blessed” life.   I overheard a young brotha recently profess that he loves the Lord but will not deal with the church because it was church folks who closed their doors and turned their back while his homeboy was stabbed. I’m saying (to use a church cliché) that we need a “mighty move of God”….. I’m just saying that we need to do better.

ImageIn the grand scheme of things, I am probably late on this post. Indeed it has been a while since I have posted/published anything. That, my friends, is about to change. That said, I wanted to take the time and share my contemplations on the death, life and artistry of Whitney Houston.

I, like everyone in the civilized world, was tremendously shocked at the news of Whitney’s untimely demise. It was Grammy weekend, plus a couple of days before Valentine’s Day. I had a radio station promotion where I took 5 couples via limousine to dinner at a swanky beachside restaurant, and treated them to VIP seating at a jazz concert. I wasn’t hungry so I left them with my assistant and I sat in the lounge of the restaurant. Tweets were coming thru and I flipped through my phone reading news, sports and information… BOOM! MSNBC “Whitney Houston found dead”…. I yelled “Oh my God!!!” The couple next to me looked at me, clearly startled by my outburst… “What?” the lady wanted to know. I told her the news. She also screeched “What???!!! OMG!!” she said. “Are you sure? How did you know?” I told her it came across twitter. She demanded that the waitress turn the channel of the lounge television from sports to CNN. They did and as soon as the TV reached it’s channel there was the story…. By this time the whole restaurant was abuzz….. Whitney Houston was dead…..

Since then, we have seen volumes of news reports, gossip and speculation on the cause of Whitney’s death. As of yet, there has been no official determination, yet the street committee is surely busy with gossip. Folk speculate that Whitney’s well documented fall from grace was the result. Some folk have even been mean-spirited with thier opinions. In Los Angeles, the Community is in protest mode after KFI’s Ken and Bob called Whitney, among other things, a crack ho….  dag.

Twitterheads have been so busy blaming Bobby Brown for Whitney’s death. I am so sick and tired of folk trying to lay Whitney’s problems at the feet of Bobby Brown. Oh yeah, he’s a self proclaimed bad boy, but who is to say Whitney was not a roughneck herself?? I mean our image of Whitney is this beautiful princess, but from what I understand Whitney was hard core… Newark baby!!! And at the end of the day, it was Whitney’s choice to do the things she did. It was her perogative to make the life choices she did. So leave Bobby alone!!!

I feel good about how we have celebrated Whitney’s life. What singer alive today would warrant a national broadcast on network television of her funeral? And while Jennifer Hudson’s tribute of Whitney was heartfelt and greatly performed on the Grammy Awards telecast, it was Yolanda Adams at the NAACP Image Awards that got me…. Simply awesome!!!

History will surely remember Whitney’s troubles. But it will remember even the more that her voice was a national treasure. Her performance of the National Anthem at Super Bowl XXV in Tampa Bay is yet the finest rendition of The Star Spangeld Banner ever. Her voice was America….. Whitney Houston. Her body of musical works will forever stand as a collection of some of the finest songs in the history of American R&B and pop. Her role in movies like The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale and The Preacher’s Wife have become cinematic classics.

I am deeply saddened by the news of Whitney Houston’s death. It is a sad story. Did I turn up my nose at the reports of her problems? yes. Was I disappointed to see her go out like that? yes. But I still ache, because I recognize Whitney Houston as an artist deluxe. A superstar. A national treasure.

Yes Whitney. I will always love you…….. Rest in Peace….