All Articles Tagged "religion"
By Jessica Gray
I grew up going to church faithfully. In fact, I don’t have many memories of days when I didn’t go. Maybe when I had the chicken pox or something serious. Otherwise, me and my sniffles were front and center, posted right next to Mom in the church pews.
I was a master of the tambourine and could rattle off memory verses like nobody’s business. I was a star Sunday school pupil and always landed a solo in the children’s choir. I landed lead roles in church plays and volunteered to help with the younger kids during vacation bible school. I gave my life to Christ when I was nine years old after my own father led the altar call. I was a stellar preacher’s kid, or “PK.”
We left our church and joined another when I was in middle school, but I was just as active in my new church home. In college, I joined and later directed the gospel choir and I found time to go to Bible study and church services designed specifically for college students. However, my church attendance was definitely declining. As of today, I have managed to not step into a church service since March 2012. That is now a year ago. After I graduated from school my church attendance varied from shaky to nonexistent. I had a surge of church attendance at the start of 2012, but eventually stopped going despite my enjoyment of the service because the church was too far.
I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one skipping out on church. I talk to other young adults who say they grew up in church as well, but now they are without a church home and not even trying to find one. Some have decided that they don’t need to go and some simply haven’t put finding a one high on their priority list for now. The church has traditionally been a strong presence in the African American community, but I’m afraid that its influence may be falling as coming generations begin to brush off its importance. This, of course, is a whole new discussion within itself.
My mom calls and asks me if I’ve found a home church and I will tell you the truth–I haven’t because I haven’t been actively looking. Every once in a while, I get motivated to find a church but then I let other things distract me. In some weird way, I feel like this is the closest I’ve ever been to God in my life. I have learned some invaluable lessons over the past few years that I would never take back. The ups and downs have been unpredictable and this is the most I have ever had to put my trust in God.
I don’t want to argue that I don’t need church. That’s not it. I miss it. Church was a place I went to feel renewed. A place where I found support. A place where I felt I had an extended family. I found other sources of these things within my social circles, but I still feel that church is necessary for me. I’ll go the next step and say that I experience guilt sometimes regardless of how often I crack open my Bible on my own. The right church can feed your spirit in ways you aren’t capable of doing yourself.
Do you think that having a church home is important? Did you grow up in church and now you don’t go at all? Do you plan on finding a church home if you don’t have one now or have you decided that church isn’t for you? Why?
Since we are Madame Noire’s business page, of course we’ve been concentrating quite a bit on the holiday spending and gift-giving aspects of the season. However, there are a lot of people, particularly in the black church and academia, who are concerned that Christmas gifts are overshadowing the importance of the day.
“Everyone knows the true meaning of Christmas. Everyone knows what it is and everyone knows we are not doing it,” Dianne Diakite, associate professor of religion and African American studies at Emory University told The Grio.
Sources in the article point out everything one could be taking away from Christmas, including the political radicalism that serves as backdrop of Jesus’ birth and Jesus’ humble beginnings, which is similar to the “economic disadvantage” of many in the black community (and many Americans in general). Instead, it’s all about snowmen, stuff, and St. Nick.
“What is happening now is the triumphalism over the Christmas story by consumerism. The story has been hijacked,” said Adam Clark, an assistant professor of systematic theology at Xavier University.
Many people across the board think the preoccupation with gifts has taken away from the more important aspects of Christmas — whether that means a focus on the religious importance of the holiday, or simply the idea that it’s a time to be grateful for family, friends, and all that you have. If the latter is more your concern, then you probably expressed the same feeling at Thanksgiving during the Black Friday obsession.
As far as we’re concerned, giving gifts and turning the holiday into a celebration is perfectly fine. One problem is that some people do over-spend, putting themselves into a predicament for the sake of having a lot of presents under the tree. If there is an emphasis on quantity, in order to stay in budget, there should also be a reliance on stocking stuffers for future Christmases — cool things like cozy socks, specialty candy, and books that you can buy in multiples without smashing your budget to smithereens.
But more than that, the idea that “less is more” should be a financial philosophy that one follows throughout the year. The excess of the holidays is a magnified version of the excess that’s infused in our lives throughout the year. Think about it. How many pairs of shoes do you own? And how many do you really need? How many purses? How many times per year do you get a manicure? What’s stopping you from painting your own nails at home most of the time and getting a professional manicure three or four times per year? How much money would you have for other things, like vacations, new business endeavors, savings funds, or even things like home improvements and car repairs, which are necessities that sometimes get pushed back for lack of money.
As we’ve stressed a couple of times here, there’s a time for indulgence, but that time isn’t every day. One could argue it isn’t even for Christmas; that having this time with your loved ones to eat, drink, and be merry is indulgence enough.
An Arizona church is encouraging congregants to use social media. Not just in their personal time, but during service.
“We feel like if they can take action in the moment, it’s much more impactful for them and for the person they are interacting with,” Lead Pastor Ted Baird told Fox 2 Now in St. Louis.
Church members relish the chance to take advantage of the rule, one that isn’t shared among many churches across the country. “I love it and think everybody should do it. It’s the way we connect these days,” said Barbi Nix, a church member.
Of course, they’re being pushed to spread the Word in their social media interactions, but still, some might have a problem with a person tweeting and Facebooking during the sermon.
So how do you feel? Is this practice OK in your opinion?
Perhaps one thing the mayor of Lewiston, Maine has yet to learn is to keep his personal feelings at the door.
Somali immigrants and their supports are asking for an apology and a letter of resignation from Lewiston mayor Robert MacDonald after an interview he did with British Broadcasting Corp saying that Somalis in the town and neighboring towns should “accept our culture and leave yours at the door.” On Thursday, protesters set up shop outside of City Hall in a rally to show their outrage. They also came armed with over 1,400 petitions to support their argument for Mayor MacDonald’s resignation.
Mayor MacDonald made a slight attempt to clarify his comments by saying that all he meant was that immigrants should try to assimilate into American culture. Further, he said his comments were taken out of context and he’d never make derogatory statements about Somalis.
Unfortunately, Lewiston’s Somali community has been the subject of many inflammatory comments over the last 10 years. Former mayor Larry Raymond wrote a letter in 2002 stating that the Somali population in 2002 was growing too fast and made a plea to Somali leaders that they discourage their friends and family from moving there because the city’s resources have been “maxed out.”
This also isn’t the first time Mayor MacDonald has come under fire with his comments. In a local newspaper, he once wrote that “submissive Somali women turn into obnoxious customers at the grocery store cash register.” He also told a reporter at a later time that immigrants shouldn’t “insert your culture, which obviously isn’t working, into ours, which does.”
I know, it’s Maine, so we shouldn’t be surprised. This is a state where 94 percent White – Lewiston is actually 86 percent White – and so maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of the political leaders there feel this way. But to openly make comments like that? Something is totally wrong with this picture.
Have you ever or do you currently live in a town where you feel that you have to “keep your culture in check?”
Some black clergy see no good presidential choice between a Mormon candidate and one who supports gay marriage, so they are telling their flocks to stay home on Election Day. That’s a worrisome message for the nation’s first African-American president, who can’t afford to lose any voters from his base in a tight race.
The pastors say their congregants are asking how a true Christian could back same-sex marriage, as President Barack Obama did in May. As for Republican Mitt Romney, the first Mormon nominee from a major party, congregants are questioning the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its former ban on men of African descent in the priesthood.
In 2008, Obama won 95 percent of black voters and is likely to get an overwhelming majority again. But any loss of votes would sting.
To continue reading, go to Black Voices.
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Despite making headlines for being “most likely to be [every terrible thing known to man]“, it turns out Black women are the least likely to commit suicide. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the suicide rate among white men was 25.96 per 100,000 from 2005 to 2009 and, by comparison, the rate for black women was less than three suicides per 100,000.
As we reported before, according to the Government Executive, Veterans Affairs officials are studying the uniquely supportive culture of black women believing that might provide a key to addressing the spike in suicides occurring in the armed forces. They are hoping to re-create elements of black female culture that may help stop military veterans from killing themselves.
Of course, this isn’t to say that Black women don’t struggle with mental health issues, but according to Good Therapy, a sense of belonging might be the reason Black women do not often commit suicide:
The stigma that is associated with mental health problems may be disguising the real number of African Americans at risk for suicide. Research on suicide has been focused in many directions to assess the contributing factors. One area of research that has not been examined fully is the relationship between suicide and reasons for living among African-American women.
To address this gap, Jalika C. Street of the Department of Psychology at Georgia State University led a study that looked at how racial regard, which describes people’s sense of belonging to their race, influenced suicidal behavior in a sample of 82 African-American women with a history of at least one suicide attempt. She also assessed how racial regard and reasons for living worked together to affect future suicide attempts. Street used the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity and the Reasons for Living Inventory scales in her study.
Street discovered that the women who reported deep racial regard and felt positively associated with their African-American identity reported being more committed to living and felt a stronger sense of purpose than those with little racial regard. Racial identity alone, in the absence of racial regard, did not increase a woman’s willingness to live. These findings shed some light on how private racial association and sense of commitment affect psychological well-being in African-American women. It has been suggested that private racial regard is linked to mental health issues, such as self-esteem and depression, in other culturally diverse samples, but this study is the first to elucidate a link between racial regard, desire for living, and suicidal ideation and behavior in this sample; the practical implications of these findings could be significant if applied in a clinical setting. “In other words, private racial regard may be considered a coping resource that is important to capitalize upon in designing and implementing culturally informed interventions,” said Street.
We know that our friendships are important, but it seems having good thoughts toward our race and others of the same race can be a factor in decreasing the likelihood of committing suicide. However, these researchers did point out that suicide still poses a major problem for the culture at large. Some experts believe that the low rates of suicide do not accurately reflect suicidal ideation (or thoughts of suicide) among African-Americans because many members of African-American communities perceive disclosure as a sign of weakness.
While we can definitely be glad that Black women aren’t killing themselves in high numbers, if even one feels she needs to end her life, that is one too many.
Are you surprised by their reasoning for black women being the least likely to commit suicide?
Follow Alissa on Twitter @AlissaInPink
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I had a thing for Usher back in the day. Any brother with his nose curvature or flat rounded face would get a second glance. Mark could’ve been his twin. Sans the purple silk shirts and skully caps, he stood at an arresting 6’5—beautiful and godly to all who dared to look.
We met the usual way, through a friend of a friend, and found ourselves chitchatting often and eventually going on dates. I found myself holding hands with a newcomer, listening to his every word and getting to know his depth.
I was a Christian and he was Jehovah’s Witness; his face slightly cringed at the news, but I dismissed it when he kissed my cheek and said he couldn’t wait to see me again.
Dismissing gets you nowhere.
We met for the third time at Bryant Park for an evening stroll. It was the first time my lips found his own and a whirlwind grew inside of me. You know the questions that float through your mind when you’re tiptoeing close enough for his heart but aiming for his mouth: Is this it? Is this the one? Are you him?
We said nothing after the kiss. The silence was far from awkward, but too sultry to be broken. The pavement against our footsteps collided with the city’s hum and we found ourselves in front of the Virgin Megastore that once was.
“I really want Erykah Badu’s album.” He smiled in my direction.
I dug his affinity for music.
We clasped hands once more and headed for the long escalators. I turned to sneak a look at Mark as his brown beautiful eyes flew open with familiarity of a view in front of him. My palm was suddenly flung from his, he stepped two mechanicals stairs back, and his eyes wandered rampantly.
Before I could call him on it, a security guard spoke. “Mark! What’s going on Brother Mark?” The two flew into an embrace once he’d reached the top of his ascent, as I stood witness from a nearby “New Releases.”
“I’m good Brother Anderson. Just checking out some tunes.”
The security guard quizzed him, “Alone? Isn’t that young lady with you?”
Mark stuttered, “Yeah….she’s a girl I go to school with. We…um….we’re working on this music project.”
The security guard nodded in naiveté, “Oh alright. Have fun now, but not too much fun.”
They embraced once more and suddenly Mark was back at my side. He insisted that we leave and he’d explain everything later.
When we were a block away, he spoke hurriedly on a blurred corner.
“Um see that security guard we just saw? He’s a brother in my church. Technically I’m not allowed to date women outside of the church. It has to be arranged and we have to start as friends—inside of the religious family. We’re not even allowed to date unless we’re set to be married.”
It was my turn to quiz, I asked in my best hypothetical-I’m-not-crazy voice, “So let’s say we got so deep into this that we wanted to get married, you’re saying you wouldn’t or couldn’t do it?”
He hesitated, “I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that we should figure that out when we get to that level.”
And of course I stayed, like the young fool I was. Back then levels meant something. I was too immature to realize that every notch had its glory and consequence. If I was going to lay down with someone—I better be damn sure I could see him as a father. Accidents happen. If I was going to date someone—he better be worthy enough to bring home. Parents ask questions. Every level has a consequence.
I happen to know that Spike Lee reads, or is at least familiar with Madame Noire. After one of our writers, said that Red Hook Summer was a sequel to Do the Right Thing he was quick to correct us with a sharply worded e-mail.
“RED HOOK SUMMER IS NOT A SEQUEL TO DO THE RIGHT THING.INCORRECT,MISINFORMED AND WRONG. Thanks,Spike.”
As a fan of Spike Lee’s, I knew that e-mail came from him. The string of adjectives and the shouting caps is so Spike. If I had no intention of seeing Red Hook Summer before, this e-mail made sure that I was definitely going to check it out now.
For Red Hook Summer, Spike Lee brought it back to Brooklyn, chronicling the lives of the residents in the Red Hook projects. The project, which is both community-centered, a place for childhood exploration and spiritual salvation is also a place of violence and dashed hopes. We see all of these forces at work as the film’s protagonist “Flik Royale,” a boy from Atlanta, played by burgeoning actor Jules Brown, visits his grandfather,“Da Good Bishop Enoch Rouse,” (Clarke Peters of The Wire and Treme). As you can gather from his name Bishop Enoch, who is very religious serves as the leader for the Lil’ Peace of Heaven Baptist Church of Red Hook. Initially, Flik and Bishop Enoch struggle to relate to one another. Flik doesn’t want to be there and the Bishop can’t seem to reach his grandson with his new high tech gadgets. Flik carries around an iPad, which almost gets he and his grandfather into trouble with the local gang, lead by “Box” (Nate Parker). Though Flik initially loathes everything about Brooklyn, he meets a girl his age, Chazz, (Toni Lysaith), who shows him the ropes and the two become friends…and eventually a bit more.
Without giving too much away, there’s a shocking surprise towards the end of the film that causes the audience to question everything about Bishop Enoch and his spirituality. With the plot twist, like the setting, the characters and even religion itself, we see that there truly is, as Spike Lee has said, “beauty in ugliness.”
We see that motif in Deacon Zee (Thomas Jefferson Byrd), the alcoholic clergyman who helps Flik adjust to Brooklyn by allowing him to sneak chips from the church pantry. And we see it again with Bishop Enoch who is so religiously-minded that he’s unable or unwilling to relate to the challenges of the world around him.
Red Hook is not perfect and won’t go down as one of Spike’s best movies. There is the swift plot shift, unanswered questions in character development between Enoch and his daughter “Colleen,” and even sub-par acting from the younger actors; but the themes present and the questions the film raises, definitely make it one worth seeing.
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Ever since Tom Cruise made public his adoration for Scientology years ago in a bizarre fashion (by publicly scolding Brooke Shields for taking medication to battle postpartum depression), Scientology has been getting somewhat of a bad rap in every form of media. People have tried to call it a cult and say that members are being brainwashed. I don’t know about all that, but I do know that when Cruise’s wife Katie Holmes allegedly divorced him to keep their daughter Suri from having to study the religion, every ex-member of the Church of Scientology came out of the wood works on TV to denounce the religion. For a few good weeks there, the religion was just getting a lot of shade. But in the process of doing some research on it, I found that many prominent black celebs are members or have taken classes to get them through hard times. Here are just a few…
Your dad’s favorite singer, the award-winning jazz singer became affiliated with the Church of Scientology in the late ’60s. Back when people really started catching wind of the religion, Jarreau was noted as one of many celebrities who said that Scientology had changed their life for the better and even played a role in his success. However, these days, Jarreau is no longer affiliated with the Church of Scientology. Why he parted ways with it is unclear, but he’s just one of many who chucked the deuces to it all.
Religion is one of those subjects that is often avoided in conversation in order to keep the peace. However, when it comes to relationships and families, sometimes a firewall of tolerance just isn’t strong enough to stand.
For most people, the God they serve and their faith, is at the core of their essence. I’m not any different. My mom is Baptist and my Dad is a Jehovah’s Witness. I was raised as a believer of Jesus Christ. I respect my father’s way of life and have even tolerated some of his attempts to convert me, but my heart has never been swayed. Although, my aunt believes that I don’t go to church as much as I should. She tells me all the time that church is the perfect place for me to meet a husband. Okay auntie…But hey, birds of a feather do flock together, however, interfaith relationships are becoming commonplace. More and more are marrying individuals of religious backgrounds that differ from their own.
Love has a way of overcoming obstacles. It can cover the many challenges that religion creates. Since marriage is about two people becoming one, compromise is already ingrained in the dynamics. When there is love, you find a way to make it all work. Each person gives and takes a little bit. Taye Diggs, who identifies as a Christian, married Idina Menzel who is Jewish. He has stated that he hopes to allow his son to see both of what their beliefs offer so that he can choose for himself:
“These days, thank God, people are a little bit more accepting and people’s views are broadening and it’s not as accepted to just choose one, how you might have been forced to in the past. I think it depends on the parents’ perspective and how they feel about those issues and how they kind of want to pass that down to their child. As proud as I am of my blackness, I think it’s important to show Walker that he should be just as proud of his Jewish mother and all of the culture that that includes as well.”
But, there comes a point when the fundamental differences between two people create a wall. It becomes a war and one side has to lose because there’s no more room left for compromise, and that usually happens when it comes to what the religious beliefs of the children will be, or when one side wants their spouse to convert. While Diggs for now seems to think having both religious beliefs of being of Jewish faith and Christian faith will benefit his child (and luckily, his wife wasn’t pushed to share his beliefs), other people don’t fare so well. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes reportedly broke up because she didn’t want their 6-year-old daughter, Suri, further subjected to the tenets of Scientology. Katie was raised a Catholic and converted for a few years, but as time went on, she affirmed her prior faith. She recently claimed membership at a Catholic church and enrolled her daughter in a school that practices the faith.
Katie’s not the only one who has had second thoughts about losing themselves in another religion in order to please a partner, but that’s not to say that interfaith relationships are doomed from the start. If two people are committed to reconciling their strong opinions about God and how their respective faiths should work in their lives, more power to them. But as an absolute authority on Stephanie (that’s me of course), I’d prefer to be equally yoked with my significant other. Love is enough of a battlefield and a divided house will easily fall apart.
Could you marry someone of a different faith?
Stephanie Guerilus is a multimedia journalist and author. Follow her @qsteph