Final Thoughts: Reflections on Race, Class, Poverty and a New Season
September 6, 2005

Last week was a tough week for Americans. Not for "refugees" but for American citizens. I need to take the time to apologize for using that word even if it was just once in this forum. There are many conversations going on about the racial implications of such a word and quite frankly, that's not my beef. At face value, the word is reserved for those "seeking refuge," and could easily be appropriated to any displaced citizens of the gulf coast. However today in our society, the relative connotations of that word carry with them a stigma. It is a stigma that I feel ultimately tints our view towards our own brethren and separates us from responsibility to those people as human beings. They are not just "Citizens of New Orleans." They are not refugees. They are Americans and they need to be treated, addressed, and valued as such.

The devastation of last week proved to be an un-wanted magnifying glass for America and Americans. Like the dirty clothes we used to push under our beds as children in haste to get our rooms cleaned--so has America done with the problems and people that have been deemed "less than" by society. See, I knew early on that something was awry when we began getting early reports that Antoine "Fats" Domino was missing and then later "rescued," much to the joy and relief of many fans. No offense to Mr. Domino, his family, or his fans, but just because he is famous and has written many songs doesn't make his life any more valuable than the thousands who ended up shelterless that night because MSNBC, CNN, and Reuters didn't broadcast a missing persons emergency search-and-rescue report throughout news stations coast-to-coast. In fact, the better part of me is inclined to think that had Mr. Domino been forced to remain a few days with the other people waiting to be rescued, certain media outlets would have had a field day with the backlash.

Value--An interesting word with much power. It's amazing what's brought into the light once tragedy strikes.

Without a doubt, the value on human life has come into question this week. There have been a deluge of hefty accusations flung about as of late, so I don't say that lightly. For the most part, those accusations have centered on race, racism, and the neglect of black people, specifically by President Bush. Some of it has been said with civility, but most of it has been said with disdain. As the front man, our President has taken a beating for such sentiment, but to be honest, considering the real issue at hand, I'm not entirely convinced that Kerry, Clinton or Gore would have handled things much differently. For the record, the reality stands: institutionalized racism currently exists. It's not some socialized problem. It is a stronghold that needs to be broken. This is not a deep revelation. The heavens are not parting. Nothing there has changed. What has however, changed are the stakes. This past week, the stakes were high and everything good and bad. about America came forth in all its glory.

When it comes to the question of what part the victims' race played in rescue and relief efforts, I find it disingenuous for people (specifically conservatives) to use phrases like "race-baiting" and "shut up." I'll be the first to admit black people in particular have not exactly established a reputable track-record when it comes to pointing out discrepancies in this country's ability to interpret such principled phrases as "We the people" and "all men are created equal." Moreover, the NAACP seems intent on making certain we will never gain that credibility back. Poor leadership aside, it needs to be said that America has not healed or reconciled itself from many racial wounds. I am black and I live in this country. I know this to be true. Therefore, I cannot stand in agreement with those who proclaim that the race of the un-aided American citizens in hurricane Katrina was irrelevant in this matter. On even the most visual level of detail such as reporting angles and the number of times certain citizens' misery was exploited for the sake of a good story, the lop-sidedness is evident. This however, should not be the primary concern.

No. When I looked at pictures of the victims, I didn't just see black people; I saw poor people. And poor people come in every color and hue and package you can imagine.

The main issue at hand is class. And for those like me who don't like that word, let's just call it the underlying belief or subconscious attitude that certain peoples' lives are more valuable than others. I am not one of those people who believes in a socialist society. The poor will always be among us. As for terms like "class," well the reality stands that we have attached our own earthly system of stacking human success and whether we want to admit it or not, that system has levels and unwritten rules. What I am specifically addressing is a mentality found within humanity towards other humanity.

Almost exactly four years ago, this country banded together and showed tremendous courage in the face of another national tragedy. When two towers, two symbols of our financial strength and capital came tumbling down, we never moved so fast with aid. Many of those among the injured were working people--businessmen, and women. Executives. Movers-and-shakers. Plainly put: suits. And yes the rescue circumstances were different, as was the behavior of the victims involved, but the attitude of those in authority to help was take-charge, get in, and get them out. Not so much the same in the gulf coast I observed.

Does a person's ability or inability to make financial contributions to society determine the value of life?

What struck me the most however, wasn't the destruction, the late aid, or the deaths. It was that suddenly, in a matter of hours, this entire nation was forced to deal with the poverty, the devastation, and the lawless that have been in New Orleans for countless years. Rapes? Rapes have always been taking place in New Orleans. Thefts and robberies? Nothing new. Violence and lawlessness? Same story. Chaos, confusion, and debauchery? Two words: Mardi Gras. Gang activity? Check. Starving people? Check. Neglected elderly citizens? Check. Homeless people? Check. Parentless children? Double check. In fact, run down the list of all the chaos that was being reported in New Orleans and it sounds like a regular day at the precinct. I venture to say that the frequency with which many of the above events occurred probably wasn't too far from the normal day-to-day realities of the city. The difference this time being the hovering presence of a national magnifying glass.

Therein lies the problem. Too little time spent observing in magnification.

There were many tragedies that occurred last week. The evident ones have tugged at our hearts and we as Americans have responded to the call with our time, our resources, our finances, prayer, and encouragement. It is certain we will be called upon again as the entire gulf region begins the difficult process of evaluating what comes next. But we also have another responsibility--one that has been swept under the rug over the last couple of days.

Now that we have observed just a taste of what's been taking place in New Orleans for years, we cannot allow that city to ever be the same again. In a city where the vast majority of people are either below the poverty level or what's called the "working poor" (those who literally live paycheck-to-paycheck), New Orleans cannot be rebuilt with the same mentality or re-inherit the same sins that have been familiar for generations. Something has to give. Every citizen of this country matters to the future of America and we cannot sit back casually as communities are given over to squander themselves as local leaders are not held accountable.

The theme of tomorrow should not consist of pointing fingers. Our President will be our President for three more years. More than us putting our mouth on him, he needs our prayers. We cannot begin to fathom what things (good and bad) lay ahead for this country. For today, there is much responsibility assigned to many at different levels of authority (e.g. spiritual, civil, governmental) for what's taken place. But at the heart of it all, our human frailty has been shown. So it turns out we don't have everything under control. We just. Weren't. Prepared. No matter how many dollars, politicians, workers, or fancy words we initially threw at the wreckage, it has proved to be much bigger than anyone could have expected. We were relying on a contingency plan that we never thought we'd use. Suddenly our failures, shortcomings, oversights, and neglect were exposed.

I say "our" because we must all own up to this. The etymology of the word "nation" is "that which has been born." Whether we agree or not, we are brethren in bearing the standard of America. As we discuss what's taking place in this nation with family, co-workers, and friends, we may find that people are emotional, enraged, confused, empathetic, and sometimes even irrational. Such frustration is to be understood, but not all expressions of it are to be endorsed.

I sense in the air that we are somewhat disappointed with ourselves as a nation. Taking stock in the events that have transpired, in some ways we should be. Leaders were depleted of leadership. Troops couldn't organize themselves fast enough. Resources weren't sent in quick enough. I venture to say that even some prayers weren't sent up earlier enough. Lives were lost, families disconnected, and important possessions destroyed.

But (the word that negates what was just said before it) today is the day of restoration. Where we have fallen short thus far in our responsibility to the quality of life of humanity within our own country can be made up in the days, weeks, months and years to come. Let's restore to people their dignity and empower them to see vision beyond tomorrow. It's time for beauty instead of ashes, gladness instead mourning, and praise instead despair. This too shall pass. Life is precious.

Life is precious.

Americans, be encouraged.

**(These will be my last words on hurricane Katrina. I feel the best battle can be fought via kneeology (the act of bending your knees). Please continue in fundraising efforts, but please give to organizations other than the Red Cross. If you are interested in a unique way you can help restore dignity to the women specifically affected by the hurricane, please email me as I can pass on information that allows you to direct specific goods to a direct contact at an accountable tax-reporting non-profit organization in Louisiana that will give you specific confirmation that your donation was received by someone who needs it.)

Update (09/06): My goodness. In a striking turn of events, Rush Limbaugh is both insightful and accurate in his discussion of race in America. I just linked to Rush Limbaugh? Jesus must be coming soon.

Posted by Ambra at September 6, 2005 3:39 AM in Race
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Ambra. You've got mad skillz.
Now that'll preach.

Ambra. you wrote that you're not sure that Clinton or Gore would have done a better job in this crisis than Bush. You did not mention the name of Bush's opponent in the last election, who would be president now, had he won. Any reason?

oversight and exhaustion. He's been added.

There are a number of people who aren't the working poor--they're the welfare poor.

New Orleans being majority black, you were expecting pictures of Chinese looting?

Please define "institutionalized racism." Provide proof for your assertions that it exists. Note "everbody knows" is not valid proof.

Rudi was in charge of his city, where is New Orleans' Rudi? Forget race-baiting, are you class-baiting? Where is this supposed laxity is reaching out to the victims? In your mind?

I am not from New Orleans, what power do I have to change the way that the city is run? Folks have been voting for the same idiot Democrats for years. Judges have been excusing this behavior for years--am I to ignore the law and install my version of justice? Shall I hop into the back of that car and tell X not to rob that old lady? Shall I turn off Y's TV and make her study? Shall I slip between the sheets and tell Z to wait for marriage?

Rush is much more right than you would ever give him credit for, your personal biases not withstanding.

Worst post ever.

Oh yea, please describe how these racial wounds to be healed? Judging from what I see on TV, it seems to involve white people getting down on their knees and "admitting" that everything from gangsta rap to the black girls hang-nail down the street is their fault.

Please explain.

Actually I am interested in this idea of institutionalized racism also???

I do not beleive it for a moment but perhaps Ambra can expand and explain what she means by that statement?

We are the People! We can declare the end of racism anytime we want! I have noted that the folks who speak about racism constantly are racists themselves.

Excellent post. You have opened more doors for dialogue than I think we realize. Anyway I linked and commmented extensively. Maybe real communication can begin.

Mason

You made my day Ambra

Well, AMBRA, you're absolutely right in that we as a nation must own up to this. You also right that other presidents/presidential hopefuls wouldn't have handled it much differently. But still, I think Clarence Page hit the nail on the head when he said "Katrina was the first big test of President Bush's proud invention, the Dept. of Homeland Security, and it flunked." This may be getting off-topic, but the President who handled the al-quaeda so well and was reelected b/c he would supposedly keep us safe has still done a lousy job preparing us for natural disasters, and he still hasn't figured out Iraq or secured our borders. We definitely got vengeance after 9/11 and I'm thankful for that, but we didn't get safety.

Did this dude Tom really just say those who speak about racism constantly are racists themselves??? Wow, so what those who witness or are affected by racism should do is be quiet about it and take it up the you-know-what? I'm sure we'd all get along nicely if victims of racism just shut up about it, then we could keep the status quo going and nothing would change and people would be too naive to care. But in all seriousness, the people who call racism when they see it aren't the racists, the people who want the victims to shut up so the racism can continue, they are the racists. As for a definition of institutionalized racism, google the term and Leonard Pitts, you'll be enlightened... hopefully. Ambra, I dissented from you a bit in my previous comment but i won't term your column the "worst post ever" and don't let these fools get you down because they don't want the truth to come to the light. You my girl.

Jayda, they would love that. Stop all this talk about racism, racism never existed, it was really the slaves faults for being slaves. They wanted to come over here and lose their language and be victimized. But when the good white folks let them free, they didn't know what to do, so they made white folks put them under jim crow, lynch them for looking at white women, and keep them in seperate but unequal facilities. Then those good white people passed that civil rights legislation, but wouldn't you know, those blacks just wanted to stay poor, they wanted to stay in the ghettos, and they didn't want to work for equal pay in corporate America. Didn't you know Jayda, since we got on the boats in Africa it has been all our fault?

Jayda, we will never get anywhere foreward when we are always looking in our rear-view mirror.

Sounds like I'll have to do another 4-part series. There are a lot of assumptions and personal interpretations and definitions flying around here.

I see I am already mis-understood. But, what else is new?

For now I will say a few things.

1) The focus of this post is not race. The focus is on sin, how sin plagues communities, and how passively allowing sin to be celebrated in communities leads to destruction from the inside out.

Moreover, civil, governmental and spiritual leaders have a responsibility to call the communities they are charged with to a higher standard. Ultimately, people must make choices for themselves, but there is a reason God ordains leadership.

2) Racial healing and reconciliation will never take place outside of the body of Christ. Never. Ever ever. When I speak of healing and reconciliation, I am always speaking within that realm. Period. People who aren't reconciled to God first, can't be reconciled to each other.

3) I subtly gave context to my definition of "institutionalized racism" by calling it a stronghold.

4) The nature of strongholds is that they cannot be seen in the natural, nor can they be rationalized to their ending.

5) They must be broken.

6) How? By the power of God. Every solution I ever offer here will always point to humanity being reconciled to Him.

part of the problem here Tom is that you think racism is in the "rear-view mirror." if you look through your side windows and even your front windshield, you'll see racism, but it's concealed well nowadays so you it won't jump out at you like a dear in front of headlights anymore. you have to actually pay some attention. i don't know where you live but if it's a town with no racism, it must be a town with only one race of people there. i suggest you read the papers at least once a week in your hometown and pay attention to what's around you, you're apparently missing a lot.

The link to the "stronghold" post does not work.

Since we can see God's hand at work in abolition and the Civil Rights Movement, it does seem obvious that we are once again unable to finish the journey on our own power.

I feel that instead of looking each other in the eye and having an honest discussion, we throw around terms like "institutionalized racism," something that seems to mean different thing to different people. "Equality" is an impossible thing to achieve, none of us will ever be truely equal to each other in every way. We can though form a more perfect union by trying our best and praying that we find our way out of the wilderness.

Never stop fighting the racism that still surrounds us, but please recognize that every human being is capable of this ugly emotion--for it is more emotion than rational thought.

Hey, first time to your blog and I think it is great. So that I wouldn't have to bother with trying to figure you out, I went to the archives. You have an excellent blog and I agree with you on some points - this from a man entrenched on the left side of the political aisle.

"Nothing there has changed. What has however, changed are the stakes. This past week, the stakes were high and everything good and bad. about America came forth in all its glory."

This statement is where I most agree with you. I am disappointed in how the local and federal government responded. But America responded the way I thought she would. I have no doubt that millions of dollars and tons of supplies will be forthcoming from the American people.

I disagree that Clinton or Gore would not have responded differently. Race is a factor but there is also a leadership factor - and I believe Bush lacks leadership. Oh, he'll get his legs under him but his initial response to a crisis is always a look of a "deer in the headlights."

I think some fail to see that race is woven into the fabric of our society. But we don't notice it until a garment is ripped and we have to figure out how to sew it back together.

Racial reconciliation...

When I used to go to things like Promise Keepers, and Manpower, and when the racial reconciliation movement was en vogue, it always astounded me that individuals reduced America's 'Race' issue to simply you liking me and me liking you, and you forgiving me and me forgiving you. There are practical consequences to reconciliation.

For example, if I am an a scoundrel cheater on my wife, and I do her wrong for years to the point she finally says no more. If I want to 'reconcile' I have to change the behavior that lead to the falling out, and then I have to demonstrate restored faith and credibility through action. I have to constantly re-prove myself until trust and relationship has been rebuilt.

See, blacks don't need to reconcile to white people for anything. White people imposed their will through superior power over the course of 300 plus years. I forgive white people, I even love white people, but it is not my place to allow myself to be abused by white people who refuse to 'reconcile' with me.

My Christian duty is to 'bless those who curse me and pray for those who despitefully use me' so I do that. By the same token, I still work to attain sufficient power to demand respect and position as opposed to doing like so many black folks do nowadays...

Beg for it or Coon for it...

I know I'm jumping back, but please, define a sin. Define it in the context of real life situations and choices. How do we,relying on multiple translations and interpretations of a book, define sin? And for those that don't follow the "offical religion of the United States" how do they define or even believe in "sin". Some things really have nothing to do with religion (religion as in the specific diety, rules, and schedule of it, not the spiritual portion). It has to do with ethics and laws which is why we live in a democracy instead of a theocracy. We live in a place where everyone, including you, has the freedom to believe in whatever they please. And instead of our focus being on uniting everyone (heard of the crusades?) under the umbrella of a single set of religious beliefs, we need to be concered that everyone, under law, is provided equal respect and equal protection and it is applied equally. That is the only way to counteract the human frailty of judgement.

Link works now.

Jameswrote: So that I wouldn't have to bother with trying to figure you out, I went to the archives.

I could just hug you for that.

Steven wrote: Since we can see God's hand at work in abolition and the Civil Rights Movement, it does seem obvious that we are once again unable to finish the journey on our own power.

First off...it's nice to read a more civilized version of your wisdom. Thank you.

But it's not obvious Steven. That is why the black community is beating the air about racism. Futile efforts, little trust or reliance in God. (See The God Privilege). Many people are convinced we can legislate, social-programize and kumbaya our way to reconciliation.

Please.

Steve wrote: I feel that instead of looking each other in the eye and having an honest discussion, we throw around terms like "institutionalized racism," something that seems to mean different thing to different people.

We might not be looking at each other in the eye, but we are having an honest discussion. And yes, the term means different things to different people which is partly why you took such offense.

Steve wrote: "Equality" is an impossible thing to achieve, none of us will ever be truely equal to each other in every way.

I can't remember a time when I've ever suggested this. Although I think the inherent problem with the idea of equality is that we think "equal=the same". I disagree with that definition.

As for what has been stated here about Bush...I disagree. I voted for him and I stand behind him because I think that for such a time as this, he is the leader God will use to change some things for the better over the next 4 years. He will make many mistakes (and he has), and he won't always please me and do everything I want, but I do believe he has been appointed for this season. You can't change my mind about that.

Sin = missing the mark.

Now, I will let some other wise readers define "the mark."

WOW. Fantastic post. Thank's Dell for linking to it. It left me speachless.

Great post, Ambra (there. i said it ;-)). For the record folks, she did say, she was "not entirely convinced that Kerry, Clinton or Gore would have handled things much differently." Which does imply she supposes there's a good chance they would have.

Kelso, try ye olden wikipedia for a definition of instituttionalized racism." I'll wait to see Ambra's take on it, but we go by the wikipedia's definition, sure, I'll grant you that IR isn't around anymore.

However.

"Institutionalized" in that context meant something codified, written down and supported by law. The way many of us use the term nowadays, we mean the racism that falls out of the cloud of White culture.

Individuals at a corporation or public agency who immediately add demerit points upon meeting you, based on race/ethnicity. By "institutionalized" we mean embedded.

And this you know. You know this, Steven, if you live in the world and exist as a normal White male. You know this if you are a real person and not a magic blogging dog.

You and I can argue about matter of degree, worsening or improving, ways to reduce, but don't play us for fools talmbout "prove it exists!" How bouts you "prove" it don't.

p.s. Dell G, you hit the nail right on the head. Circle gets the square.

I don't know if racial reconciliation will never take place outside the body of Christ, ever. This may be just because I'm from the good ole boy south but from what i've seen here at least there seems to be more racial animosity between black and white Christians than towards non-believers. In fact, lots of racists on both sides are actually people of God. On the other hand, four years of college and a few weeks in a liberal city showed me that amongst a lot of your leftist-athiest-academic types race is insignificant if not scientifically non-existent. It saddens me to say, but I must admit that in my own experiences and studies, race is a bigger deal to the people of Christ than to educated non-Christians.

The Mark...

The mark is the divine standards of God as set in his word and the individual movement of the holy spirit in our heart. God has an 'objective' mark as defined by his commands and prohibitions, and a subjective mark, as defined by the individual act of the holy spirit in a believers heart post-salvation.

Such as to "love the lord your god with all your heart soul and mind and to love your neighor as yourself" the command that summarizes the spiritual laws.

The agape, self-sacrifice for others, which we all fail to fulfill which is why Christ had to die for our sins.

towards= among. sorry

Jayda, I'm a native New Yorker, read at least three newspapers every day, and encounter every "race" that exists. You should visit this city; racism is illegal.

Prostitution, murder, cocaine trafficking, etc. are all illegal in NY as well. But you know these things still take place up there, and they all take place more up there than they do in typical southern cities. and from what i have heard from some New Yorkers who came down here to the South b/c it's a better place to live (no offense) there is more racism up there than in a lot of our southern cities as well.

Jayda, come visit and see for yourself.

Ambra: People miss the obvious all of the time. How someone could gaze at the Williams' sisters and not believe in God is beyond me. The kind of equality that I want my government to practice IS sameness. Same admission standards, same 911 response time, same legal standards (the books, juries are another thing entirely). As for equality outside of the governmental realm, I understand what you are saying and for the most part agree. I am about to blow memer's definition of "institutional racism" out of the water. If his is not what you mean, let me know.

Memer: Institutions are inanimate collections of paper, they can perform no action without human involvement. If this is your definition of "Institutional racism," nope--ain't buying it. White culture? What is white culture? Please explain. Are you talking abouth this supposed white culture as it exists today? In 1965? In 1865? No these people are indidually racist. If they all think the same then they are a group of racists. The institution is where they work at and its nature changes everytime a rule is changed or a member comes or leaves. Maybe part of this "white culture" is the idea that people are innocent until proven guilty--no, you prove it. If you can't...

Jayda: spend a few weeks at a secular university or a Democrat Party function and any idea of non-religious folks being less racist will be quickly disproven.

Now, saving the best for last, Dell:

"blacks don't need to reconcile to white people for anything."

I could write a 1000 page book on the falicy of that statement.

Not trying to be argumentative but trying to see your viewpoint. I'm your typical spiritual but not very religious, black lesbian college student from a major northern city transplanted to the bible thumping south so I've seen and experienced many sides to this debate. But who's mark are we going by? The mark that's in the bible? The same book that was written by men, translated, and outright changed by men seeking the power of God's dominion. Something that was drilled into our heads before we could think, feel, and experience for ourselves? Do we go by the mark that God places in us intuitively or do we stand fast in the dogma of our man-made faith? We miss something when we put our faith in the words and those who speak them, but not the spirit of the teachings of Christ.

Steven, go click on the link I left you for the wikipedia definition, then come see me after class.

I already did. Pure fiction.

Next!

No my definition is not the same as Memers. It will be discussed at a later date. But quite frankly, I'm not all that interested in debating this right now or reading it be debated on my site. People are very emotional right now and the focus seems to be more on being "right."

What I am interested in are AJ's comments. And I do NOT want her comments to get lost amid the testosterone flying around here. Quite frankly, I think it's a distraction. Whereas AJ seems to be focusing on a subject that deals more with the main thesis of my post. (Thank you AJ) I ask that others do the same. And I'm serious right about now.


Point of clarification, I didn't say the wikipedia definiton was my definition. Was trying to use a common reference point. Apparently, Steven is not a fan of the Wikipedia interpretation of IR either but, ok, we'll deal with that some other time.

Ambra, you are bringing it.
Lovely.
Your parents shouldn't still be upset about your dropping out of college when they read things like this.

Now, if you wanna ask about my kid and college....

I take great offense at those who speak of de jure racism at work here. All known emergency plans, developed by blacks and whites in power in LA, and at the federal level, said there would be 100K left behind. The fact that these same leaders did not alter the plans had absolutely nothing to do with race, else there would have been screaming to the high heavens that would be well covered by the Times-Picayune. It.did.not.happen.

The problems (and potential death) were known and accepted by the entirety of the political class, which was overwhelmingly black in N.O..

As to de facto racism....Mississippi and Alabama enjoyed immediate federal action because the governors asked for it. To my knowledge, none of the relief was dedicated based on the racial make-up of the affected communities. Only LA did not enjoy a prompt response because the Governor refused to allow for the protection of the folks who were ready to go in.

Just this past month, FEMA refused to pay for the rebuilding of Laguna, CA. Americans who lost everything in a landslide are getting nothing, despite the fact they suffered a total loss, just as the N.O. folks have. Is it reverse racism? Hardly.

ambra,

I hope that this post can lead to a honest discussion about race. I think that honesty on all sides will be the key. Are blacks responsible for some of their problems? Absolutely! Is there still racism in America? Absolutely! I have a definition of institutional racism. This type of racism is simply the benefit of doubt which is given to white Americans, but not to other Americans. Whites are assumed to be shoppers in stores unless they demonstrate otherwise. Whites are assumed to have all of the credentials they present when applying for jobs, promotions, loans, etc. This type of racism is not blatant, so it is hard for someone who benefits from it to see it. Until all people can be given this benefit of doubt in all aspects of this society, we will continue to have problems.

AJ,

I wanted to take a shot at your question. As I am intrigued by your responses.

The Bible is the only book that can claim to be the word of God without tampered authenticity becuase of it's uniqueness.

After making a close inspection of it with a heart to understand its purpose (to reconcile broken humanity to his Father and into initmacy) then the real insight can begin.

To some like you already stated the Bible is a book made by men that has been tampered with (a claim that cannot be proven). Instead we see a unique book that was composed by forty different authors in different time periods (over a period of centuries) in different regional locations, yet it still flows together with unity and coherency to communicate to us the Mind and heart of God for all people.

There is no other book like it on the face of the earth it has directions for how we are to live and a standard that can only be attained by having a living relationship with the son (Jesus) of the God who designed the book.

You see the Bible can best be described as a catlogue and an arrow, it has representations of what God can do and wants to do but it only serves as an arrow pointing the individual to seek out God in his prescribed pattern, forsaking our way of thinking and doing things and opening up to him for direction and guidance. See God is loving caring and compassionate as this book states but he is also Sovereign and greater than us, he is the first one here and the source of life for all therefore he holds the right to determine how we should live he knows what will destroy and rip us apart from his original intention and he knows what will reconcille us and cause us to fully reach the potential that he has deposisted in us.

Sin has skewed the vision of how we are to function in God's origninal intention. I define sin as broken relationship with God that comes from violation of his laws,standard ways.

In our own human efforts we can never achieve Gods standard and that is why he provided us with a redeemer Jesus that laid out the proper way for Humans to relate to God our Father as well as how we should communicate with other human beings. The life of christ is our model for life, he was a demonstration of God's original intention, he lived in complete obedience to God's ways and died as a substitute for all human sin and iniquity (self will pride opposed to God) so that we could now live in initmacy with God again as his children and friends

If you would like to dialogue more please feel free to email me as I have had many of the same questions that you have.

I don't think Christians can prove the Bible hasn't been tampered with or translated incorrectly. It's about faith, if you believe God is more powerful than men and can prevent this abuse of his word from happening, then roll with it and show God love. If you don't have faith that God is bigger than man and you think that man can have his way with God's Bible and there's nothing God can do about it, then you don't have enough faith to believe what the Bible says and Christianity may unsuited for you in your current state. hopefully however, you will realize that God's power over man trumps any power man has over His word.

I think that the fact that Ambra can get so thoroughly blasted by segments of the right and the left in such close proximity is proof-positive of her safety from partisan indoctrination. You might disagree with her, but don't call her a tool of anyone.

I think one of the things we could do to keep the discussion of race honest is to stop the PC nonsense. "Refugee" is a perfectly utilitarian word meaning a person who has left a place of danger for a place of relative safety. To load it up with additional meanings is not only silly, it's dishonest.

Somebody didn't read the post.

The word "Refugee" has been used many times in the recent past by the media to describe people who are fleeing the path of a hurricane. Why is it racist now?

READ THE POST GENIUSES

The opinions expressed in the comments seems to be based on each person's experience rather than anything absolute. From defining institutional racism to asking what sin is. In regards to IR, I will join the party and comment from my own experience as it would seem that no one can really point out any type of organized, structured entity that is purely focused on the detriment of so called minorities.

I work for myself, out of my home now, 90% of my customers are "white", I am a black man, born and raised in South Central Los Angeles on Central Avenue between the crips and the bloods, and as many of my close friends have told me, a big, mean looking black man. Yet, I consider myself quite successful in my endeavors as a small business man. I don't use government help to get business, I go out and pound the pavement, make cold calls, and run ads to get the customers I do get. While I am sure that it is possible some of my customers are racists, I have yet to experience blatant racism from anyone. I serve them, bill them, they pay me, thats it, and believe it or not some of them have become very close friends. This thing we call racism has existed from the beginning, it is a farce and a waste of time to suggest that we somehow get people to join hands and sing cum ba ya. Go out and live your life and live it right, period. It is too easy to look at one or two aspects of an institution, company, or organization and say that it is racist because in some way one group or another doesn't benefit from it. Or even, to look at the condition of a group and attribute it to some form of persecution rather than a result of their own behavior.

As far as defining sin, take the time to read the Bible to find out, whether you like it or not, it IS God's word. Rationalizing that it was somehow tampered with is a way of avoiding having to actually read what it says and do what it says.

1 John 3:4-5
"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin."

What is the law but God's commandments. How do we know God's commandments? By reading His bible. It is due to our inability to live up to these commandments that Christ died for our sins. He did what we could not do ourselves. So our measuring stick is God's commandments, which should cause us all to rely on "kneeology" a little more.

Thank you for highlighting the significance of "stronghold" - I missed this in reading your entry. I agree with what you say about the nature of the problem and what it will take to overcome it.

It' strange that the topic of "class" has come up repeatedly in my recent conversations (even prior to Katrina). This is something I read a while ago with a somewhat different perspective:

       Thomas Sowell on Class and Race

I was at first put off a little by your original post but your clarifications about SIN were spot on. Thank you. As a Christian and a conservative I applaud you, a Godly Black Women who loves the Lord. He is Sovereign in His dealings with mankind.

My guilt string got busted a long time ago, since from the age of 6 I have advocated equal justice under the law for all.
You atone for the past by making a better future.
Without order, there is no future for anyone.

Aw man, you missed your chance!
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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
Hindsight
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