Entries Posted in "March 2004"

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Gay Channel Pushes Me Over the Edge
March 31, 2004

It was only a matter of time. Conversation has resurfaced regarding Viacom's plans to establish a Gay and Lesbian Channel. With ABC and Bravo, I thought we already had a gay channel? Enough is enough. Did you know there's a "Gay Financial Network" (GFN)? What in Sam Hill does being gay have to do with finances? And people say there's no such thing as a "gay agenda". EDITED 04/01: Let me clarify. Being gay has a LOT to do with finances. Like say for example, transferring generational wealth. John Maynard Keynes was a famous British economist. He also happened to be gay (even thought he was married). The underlying theory of his economics lacked the aspect of generational wealth. Why? Gay men don't procreate so their view on economics is different. We're in la-la land if we don't think the homosexual agenda affects the economy.

I am being challeged as of late with regards to my emotion around those who haven chosen this alternative lifestyle. Recently, I've started a new business and one of the guys I am working with is gay. I went to both high school and college with many a gay and lesbian folk and I live in a city that aspires to be the next San Francisco so despising the sin and loving the person has been my mantra in life. However, working so closely with someone in a venture that is very important to me has brought some challenges. Aside from his overwhelming use of the word, "yummy" which irks the heck out of me, I think I can deal. I am however, certainly being reminded of a lot of my own issues and judgements and this is a growing experience for me. God is so tremendous in His love for everyone; more tremendous than I could ever be.

Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry | Comments { 1 }
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Pornography Regulation

Much talk has been bounced around lately regarding a proposal for a dot-xxx internet suffix. This is not a new concept, however buy-in has been sketchy all around. The idea is that pornographic sites would voluntary take on a dot-xxx domain name. No sites would be required to relinquish their current domain names but they'd simply take on an alias. Newer pornography sites would take on the dot-xxx suffix for more promotion. Internet surfers would know that anything with dot-xxx after it was a pornographic site. Proponents say it would make regulation of child pornography simpler and allow parents to easily block out pornographic sites. Opponents argue that the dot-xxx concept is unrealistic and won't work. Opponents of dot-xxx aren't all in agreement with pornography. They just think this is not the way to go. I'm somewhat baffled on what to think about this issue. I think policing the internet world-wide is a pipe dream. It's a living organism that is completely out of control. It's that very same lack of regulation which has yet to be fully taken advantage of by those who know the truth. The majority of content on the internet is sexually related. This is not the result of freedom of speech or poor internet regulations. That is the result of people who are empty. That is the pulse of the world. Sexual immorality was the downfall of many in the past. King David, Sodom, and Babylon come to mind. You can't rid the internet of pornography without treating the root problem which is people who desire to look at it. So my question would be, to what measure are we able to regulate pornography on the web? And How?

Posted by Ambra in Politics | Link to This Entry
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Missing College Student Found?

Four days ago, news reports were out on a missing college student Audrey Seiler at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was missing for four days and was found today. There appeared to be no foul play and the "suspect" hasn't been found. Call me cynical and rude, (I happen to think I'm just discerning), but I suspect this whole thing was a hoax. I'm usually pretty good at calling these things. People these days do sick things for attention. Last year, a woman here in Seattle locked herself in her own trunk and pretended she was kidknapped. I of course could be wrong. In which case, I'm glad she's alright. However, something tells me she was alright in the first place.

Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry
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Greek Societies: Network Mixers or Bourgeois Gangs?

So I was on the plane home from Dallas, (which by the way was an arduous 3.75 hour flight -- two hours is fine, so is eight, I've even been on an 18 hour flight and it wasn't that bad, but 3.75 hours is just plain torture) and I met someone. I'm a fairly friendly person and if I'm really charged, I'll seek to do as much airplane proselytizing as possible. However, this particular trip I was zonked and didn't feel much like talking. That's usually when you get seated next to "Chatty" Cathy who wants to tell you about the excema on the back of her son's neck.

In this case I had been seated next to a man who introduced himself as the 31st president of a major fraternity. Keep in mind, it takes quite a "title" to impress me. Unfortunately, this was not one of them. Now if he said "I am the Christ" that would've been something to get excited (or worried) about. So my response to him introducing himself as president was, "Oh that's nice. I lived in a dorm with a couple of "Sigmas"." Little did he know what I really thought of them. It turns out this fraternity president was flying into Seattle for the "West Coast Regional Conference". We talked some, he opened up about being in the midst of a divorce, I challenged him on his reasons for the divorce (yes I'm that bold) and I asked him his opinion on recent hazing scandal. We talked some more, the plane landed, he handed me his card, and I went on my merry way.

Talking with him got me charged up once again about this issue of Greek societies. The current issue of Newsweek has some discussion around the Freemasons, a known secret society. I'd certainly put Greek organizations in the category of "secret society".

A little background on black fraternities and sororities: They are highly elite and important organizations in the African-American collegiate community. Perhaps even more so than some prominent white Greek societies for reasons I'll expound upon in a bit. A good number of my family members are either Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) or Alpha Phi Alpha. I'm Alpha Omega, by the way, and that's all I'll ever be.

Growing up I was never much interested in pledging to a sorority. I'm far too independent and headstrong for that. If you've ever been a college student, you've been presented with the opportunity for life-long networking through your membership in a Greek society. I attended a small New England liberal arts college so Greek life wasn't really a big deal on campus. I think we had Psi Epsilon Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or something like that, but it was an academic honor society and nothing more. But for those desperate enough for social acceptance and clout, they sought refuge by pledging at a neighboring larger university like UConn. Larger universities tend to have a thriving "Greek Life.

Here in Seattle, the University of Washington campus which boasts some tens of thousands of students has what we call "Greek Row" which is where all the frats and sorities houses exist. "Greek row" is merely blocks of huge mansions specifically dedicated to binge drinking, topless dancing, mindless partying and other things of a similar idiotic nature. During my Freshman year at "Sin University" (my nickname) in Connecticut, there were a couple of "Sigma" guys in my dorm and one other guy pledging Alpha Phi Alpha. (Yes we had co-ed dorms, yes it was awkward, yes times have changed, and no I'd never send my kids there). I lived in a predominately black dorm my freshman year (I was in denial that I'd be living in Connecticut the next four years of my life). Living with people who are going through the process of handing over their soul to a Greek society was an experience I wish I didn't have.

The human need for acceptance is a God-given one. We as individuals long to feel a part of something tangible, real, and enduring. This is the phenomenon of the church. It's a live, breathing organism that is growing daily. I have trouble with any other organization requiring a person to "pledge" their complete loyalty and trust in it. That is a role only God deserves. The goal of Greek societies is "brotherhood and sisterhood" right? Well, why would people be seeking that outside of God's original intent that we have spiritual siblings in the body of Christ? There are four main commonalities that I see in most cults, gangs, secret societies, and Greek organizations.

Strange Initiation Tendencies

In doing some research on the whole "hazing" practice, I found the process is really two-fold:

  1. First they "break you down" by demoralizing and dehumanizing you in various and somewhat creative and sickening ways. The goal here is that you lose your personal identity and independence of association.
  2. After successfully "breaking you in" the "Brotherhood" then "builds you up" (AKA indoctrinate) with their way of thinking, philosophies, identity, and ultimately loyalty.

Sounds like modern-day gang initiation to me. Keep in mind, there are varying degrees to which these two steps take place, but they DO take place. Even in my conversation with the fraternity president, it is clear that though there may be an apparent "crack down" on hazing rituals across the country it is really just to appease university officials and to protect themselves from the onslaught of nasty lawsuits (of which there have been many recently in wake of some student deaths in the name of "hazing"). It's an attempt to "keep the monkey off their backs" so to speak, since Dateline, Nightline, 20/20 and just about every other primetime news show ran exposes on hazing rituals.

False Identity & Loyalty
Interestingly enough, it is sometimes the insecure, those needing to find a place of acceptance, and those lacking true identity that are easily recruitable to a Greek society. In talking with a lot of college students in the throes of a society, their identity is generally wrapped around some aspect of their fraternity or sorority. That is their "second family". That is their "comfort zone". That is what they center their life around. Even those who sought out the elite club "just to party" or "just to network" are finding some sort of false identity in those things. The trust begins to turn to the relationships and not to God. I still have friends to this day who do not believe they are capable of landing a solid job without their "fraternity connection".

In college I watched once as two of my friends left to go have the "Sigma" sign BRANDED on their upper arms. Does this not seem bizarre to anyone? What are we cattle? That's not to mention the negative historical significance of branding. I could throw tattoos in there too but that might offend so I'll save that for rainy day. In all seriousness, in African-American fraternities, branding is a commonplace thing and it's repulsive. No group of people gets enough of my allegience to infuse their "logo or sign" onto my body with a hot iron. I don't belong to them, I belong to God.

Secrets & Lies

When my friend Malik was pledging a few years ago, I would always ask him questions like, "Why are you limping?" or "What did they do to you?" or "What's this fraternity all about anyway?" and he'd quickly hush me and start whispering. He could never tell me what was going on. If fact, he couldn't tell anyone while he was pledging. Most Greek societies have some level of secrecy to them. Most will threaten to disassociate you from the fold should you divulge their secrets. Growing up I was always taught that anyone who is telling me to keep secrets from my family was evil. I think the theory still stands. On the extreme end, this is how cults get their grip on people. They put up barriers to the family. Greek societies are arguably not cults however they maintain cult-like tendancies and that's enough for me to see warning signs.

The Smokescreen of Good Works
Most Greek societies sell themselves on the wonderful works they do for the community and young professionals. Many do in fact give much of their time to community service, set up scholarship funds, and have social programs that benefit others. It all sounds good, but if that were the standard used to separate those organizations that are good from evil, most all would be labeled "good". Even the Nation of Islam does some really "good" things to further social awareness and justice. I love the commercials produced by the Mormon Church. They're brilliant, they often speak truth, but man does it lead to confusion. We give too much credence to good works these days and fail to recognize that there are a lot of organizations, churches and religions doing an enormous amount of good works, and a whole lot of nothing that has eternal value.

Deception is not deception until what's false seems true. The best deception usually has a little bit of truth mixed in and that's why it's important we really examine some of these social organizations that have postured themselves for extreme deception. Greek societies have been around for years. Historically, African-Americans were "not included" in most organizations. The Reconstruction Era gave birth to historically black colleges, which gave birth to historically black fraternities and sororites and gave opportunities for many black people to "be a part" of something from which they were once excluded. While I don't doubt that at one point, their intentions were 100% good, I find that we have purposed as a society to fill every human void with a lame counterfeit.

Fraternities and sororities (black, white and everything in between) are a crutch for those who haven't fully joined themselves to the work God is doing on the Earth. The church is what's happening. It's the best network of people you'll ever meet. It will propel you to your destiny. You will have brothers and sisters for life. It doesn't require hazing rituals, but merely a firm decision to serve God. There you will find your real identity in God and He doesn't brand your body, but He brands your life.

Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry
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10 11 Reasons Why I Love Dallas
March 29, 2004

I spent most of last week conducting some training in Dallas, Texas. I've got about 10 posts stored up as I missed out on some juicy news. Texas was probably on my list for the top 5 places I'd never want to live (along with Idaho, North Dakota, Iowa, and Utah). I am certain there are places in Texas that could very well be on that list; like Fort Worth or some of the other cities where the bottom-dwelling hicks live. But Dallas, Texas has now become one of my favorite places and this is why:

  1. They have a Chapel in the airport

  2. The presence of two fast food chains: Chik-fil-A and Whataburger (who sells biscuits with chicken strips by the way. Biscuits!!!)
  3. White people who know how to barbeque and eat grits
  4. Peach cobbler and collard greens sold in the airport restaurants
  5. Being repeatedly called "Ma'am" by most everyone in a business establishment, including the gas station clerk.
  6. the presence of Christian bookstores within a 5 mile radius
  7. Four bedroom, 3 bathroom, 2500 square ft. homes for sale at the sickeningly low price of $175,000 (you'd be lucky to buy a 350 sq ft condo in Seattle for that price)
  8. The surprising number of "I Love Texas" bumper stickers I noticed let me know there's a bit of state pride goin' on. I dig that.
  9. Not nearly as many women with gaudy jewelry and big hair as I expected.
  10. No tree-huggers. This is mostly because there are no trees to hug, but their absence was appreciated nonetheless.
  11. Primetime starts at 7:00 pm (it took me half of my trip to figure out why I kept missing the Cosby Show)

Posted by Ambra in Life | Link to This Entry
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Passion is Unseeded
March 23, 2004

If you hadn't heard, this past weekend, the thriller about the "dead" rising, Dawn of the Dead knocked The Passion out of its number one box office seat. I'll let you draw your own conclusions there.... But I'll just say this: it's no coicidence that the movie to oust the Passion is one that deals with darkness, confusion and death. There's a lot more that could be said there but what's the point? The Passion still has the number two slot and predictions for how it will finish are still changing every week. Mel has long been vindicated.

Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry
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So My Generation's Voting for Nader? The State of the Young
March 22, 2004

Figures. He would court the young adult vote. Let's just keep in mind the fact that my generation doesn't do their homework. That's why we're so heavily marketed to in just about everything. If it's on TV or in a movie, we'll usually buy it no matter how crappy the quality is. So the fact that we're the ones voting for Nader doesn't surprise me in the least. And what about soon to be voters and the freshly inaugurated into the voting sphere? You know, that 17-20 year old crowd? Well, they've got folks like hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons telling them who to vote for. Well, essentially. You can pretty much guarantee he's not rallying behind anyone but a staunch democrat. If you hadn't heard, Simmons is spearheading a movement called "Team Vote" via the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network to rally the hip-hop community (both artists and listeners) to vote. The first thing you'll see on their site is a picture of the black rights spokesman, Jesse Jackson. It's actually quite a brilliant concept considering hip-hop is the top selling musical form. And to think, you thought it was country! This is a brave new world and hip-hop sells, hip-hop influences, and hip-hop transcends.

The "Rock the Vote" campaign is all about registering voters. They have some goals as well (some good, some not so good), found on their website. There they've listed all their "wants" in politics which include everything from eradication of poverty and cesnorship laws to reparations, and the total elimination of racism, hate and bigotry. Side note, racism, hate and bigotry will always exist as long as there's sin on the Earth. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that that Russell Simmons isn't chanting "Vote Bush". Not all of Team Votes's goals are bad, in fact some are quite good. Many of them speak to social action. This is often where I and conservatives part.

There is a lot of hesitancy amongst conservatives and Christians as well, to get involved with the community beyond the suburbs. I'm talking the poor, the wounded, and the disenfranchised. This is unfortunate as Democrats, Liberals, the Green Party, and many others have recognized this hole and rushed to fill it with silly in-effective programs and legislation. It's sort of like the city road crew in Seattle and the pothole problem. Every time a pothole pops up, the city comes out and fills it; with asphalt. Asphalt is cheap, it's easy to get a hold of, and it does the job temporarily. But just let it rain. You can pretty much guarantee that in a high-traffic area, it'll only be a matter of months before that same pothole is back again. So why don't they use cement or something else that will hold? Well, it's all an effort to keep taxes high, jobs flowing, and work available. The city is very intentional about the work they do not lasting too long. Such is the same as many of these "social programs" that have been instituted over the years. They're not doing anything productive for the inner city or impoverished communities. They're just paying somebody's paycheck. They're after quick-fixes and not lasting fruit.

When we consider the hip-hop generation, we're talking about a group of people who are pretty much fed up with the world as is. That's a big plus for my generation. We're not into business as usual and we're very loyal to a cause no matter how illogical. The downside is, we're also a licentious group of folks. We live by the morally relativistic creed of "if it feels right do it" so we're not bound to take well to anyone telling us we shouldn't do anything like have sex before marriage, use mind-altering substances, have abortions, or disrespect our parents. The ignorant will capitalize on this and lead us further into the abyss of rebellion. The wise will realize that the "rebellion" is merely a front and what we're really seeking after is truth. Once truth is revealed to us properly, we will be hopelessly devoted to it, worship it, preach it, write it, rap about it, sing about it, and live it unashamedly.

Posted by Ambra in Culture, Politics | Link to This Entry
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Just When you Thought MTV Couldn't Get any Lower...
March 18, 2004

They come out with another reality series, "I Want a Famous Face". Weight loss regimens are great. So is a little hair dye, but MTV's new show, which only recently began airing, chronicles the process from start to finish as unsuspecting young adults and teenagers subject themselves to the hands of plastic surgeons who slice up their bodies to resemble their most admired celebrity. Can we say sick? Voyeurs indulge themselves by watching these people painfully endure not-so-glamorous surgeries, cheek and chin implants, butt lifts, rhinoplasty and horrendous healing processes all to look like: JLo or Elvis? Give me a break. Here in America, we have young people trying to commit suicide because they're so displeased with how they look, and MTV takes it one step further by endorsing their right to want to look like someone else. My generation is already in the throes of an extreme identity crisis and this is why. There is a message constantly flashed before us that declares we should not be happy with who God created us to be. Meanwhile, we're fantasizing about looking or being like someone else, failing to realize that "someone" probably is just as insecure if not more so, and doesn't even know their own identity. The lost are chasing after the lost. Poor self-image has been the downfall of humanity. I am so looking forward to the day when people will find their confidence in who they were created to be -- individual. There is a major restoration of identity that needs to come to the pop culture generation. We have too many clones walking around. I fear we're missing out on the gifts and talents of an entire generation because nobody wants to be an original.

Posted by Ambra in Culture | Link to This Entry
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In A Similar Vein...Seattle Minister Charged With Violating

It is interesting, there is much controversy being caused here in Seattle over a United Methodist Church minister who is also a lesbian. This week, trials began against "Rev." Karen Dammann and her right to remain a minister in the Methodist church although she is involved in a lesbian relationship. While here the UMC in Seattle maintains that they are a "welcoming and affirming church" for gays and lesbians (note: here in Seattle, "affirming" means "agreeing, encouraging, and approving"), they don't allow their clergy to participate in homosexual relationships. So can someone please help me understand what this trial is all about? My simple mind just does not understand what the debate is about. Even more strange is the extensive coverage of the trial including pictures of protesters, the UMC has posted on their website. Thus far, there have already been 33 arrests of protesters both for and against Rev. Dammann remaining part of the clergy. This is an issue that will continue to be in the press and there needs to be a clear stance on what the Bible says concerning it.

More photos from the hubbub...

NY Times covers the trial as well.

Posted by Ambra in Politics, Theocracy | Link to This Entry
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The Gay & Lesbian Church
March 17, 2004

I'll be travelling to Dallas on business soon so yesterday, I searched on the internet to find a church in the area. Even when I'm away from home, I like fellowshipping with other local bodies of believers. It's a sad reality when you can't just open the phonebook and pick a church -- Not even in the Bible belt. For this reason I usually go on recommendation of a friend. I'm not interested in stale worship, lack of diversity, long dresses/no make-up, or heretical teaching. I want to visit someplace where the spirit of God is alive and present and the teaching is relevant. Somehow via a google search, I arrived here. "The Cathedral of Hope" has dubbed themself, the "World's Largest Gay and Lesbian Church". What an accolade eh? Now I live in Seattle so little suprises me. In fact, Seattle itself has a growing number of gay and lesbain churches. This particular church appears to be part of the UCC (United Church of Christ) denomination. The website itself is perhaps one of the most disturbing things I've seen this week. It's rather extensive.

For the sake of my assertions, let's recognize that the word "church" is not a super-spiritual word. In Greek, it is "ekklesia" which simply means "called out ones". So essentially, a "church" is merely a called out group of people. For the Cathedral of Hope or any other group of people to call themselves a "church" is fine by me. They can even preach false doctrine and manipulate the Bible to say what they desire it to say. That's fine too. I just hope they (and we) realize that is not the Church of Jesus Christ. I also hope that they realize that they will give and account to God for the masses of people they've influenced by their false teaching. And let's be honest, it is false. Any church whose entire purpose and function is centered on a lifestyle the Bible clearly opposes is a lie no matter how much truth they may be preaching.

In Matthew 16:18 Jesus declares that He is building His church, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades (Hell) will not overcome it (prevail against it)." Was Jesus declaring that He's building His church on Peter? No. He's building His church on the revelation that Peter had in the prior verse, and that is the revelation of who Jesus Christ is. We are the church, so the verb "building" doesn't speak to constructing something material, it speaks to "establishing" something eternal. It is imperative we remember in this day and age that there are many people building many churches. There's the Church of Humanism, Socialism, the Homosexual Church, the Church of Capitalism, the Church of Education, the Church of Scientology. These are not the church that Jesus Christ declared He is building. Many churches are being built on the revelation of who Jesus Christ is not. As believers, we need to have Godly discernment to recognize the fruit of the church of Jesus Christ and call the lie for what it is.

In a practical sense, one huge red flag I find *sometimes* is when churches call themselves the "church of christ" or "the church of jesus christ". Usually, if you have to state what you are, instead of just being what you are, there's an insecurity present. Typically, that insecurity exists because you are indeed not what you say you are. This is not always the case. I can hear the comments from COGIC (Church of God in Christ) people already. Don't email me please. I merely use an extreme to prove a point. We must judge what is truly "the church" based on the fruit they produce and the standards we see in the Bible. We must not judge based on what people say, but what they do. I desire to be a part of the church that Jesus Christ is building and nothing else.

A huge burden rests on the believers in Jesus Christ. There should always be a distinction between the church that Jesus is building and every other church. As it stands, we have given a lot of people cause to be confused because many churches have failed to make that distinction. It's time to get rid of the grey areas folks. This is not a game. There are too many lives at stake and my stomach churns to think that people would confuse the "Cathedral of Foolishness" for the "Cathedral of Hope".

Incidentally, should anyone have recommendations on a great Dallas, Bible-teaching (full Bible, not partial :-) church where the spirit of God is always present, shoot it my way.

Posted by Ambra in Culture, Theocracy | Link to This Entry
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Why I'm Not a Republican Parts I, II, III, IV
Reflections on the Ill-Read Society
The ROI of a Kid
The Double-Minded Haters
Hip-Hop in Education: Do You Wanna Revolution?
Oh parent Where Art Thou?
Requisite Monthly Rant: the State of the Nation
College Curriculum Gone Wild
Walmart Chronicles
An Open Letter to American Idol
Gonorrhea and the City

I Have a Talk Show