Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Tithing Tangent

In churches all across America today, the pastor undoubtedly stood in the pulpit and encouraged the people in the pews to give a tenth of their income to the church. Some folks sat and thought to themselves, “Why should I give 10 percent to the church? Why should the pastor drive a Benz while the parishioners are on the bus?” These folks either reached in their wallets and gave anyway, or they passed the bucket without contributing and continued to participate in the service. This seems to be a popular sentiment among non-believers and believers, alike. People who give their hard earned money to the church are looked at as gullible fools, paying for some robed crook’s lavish lifestyle. So, what’s the deal here? Is tithing a gimmick? Are preachers pimping their congregations?

Tithing is specifically mandated in the Old Testament (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5; Malachi 3:8-11) but is not mentioned in the New Testament. It is made clear throughout the New Testament that giving is important and that the needs of the Body of Christ should be met by believers. (2 Corinthians 9:6-12; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Acts 4:34-37) If we aren’t bound by the Old Testament law as Christians, specifically giving 10 percent isn’t necessary, right? Doesn’t it count if I volunteer or give money to my brother? Why should we give anything to the church at all?

Paul said to give “in keeping with your income” to benefit the Body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 16:1-2;) This says to me that you are to be consistent in your giving and a percentage of your weekly earnings should be given to the community of believers to which you belong (i.e. YOUR CHURCH). If you can’t give 10 percent without taking food from your children, use the common sense God gave you and give less, but give what you can. If 10 percent is just a drop in the bucket to you, it is your duty to give more.

Ok, so I know some of y’all clenched your booties at that last sentence, so, let’s get away from the bible verses and look at practical reasons why you should give generously to your church AND your pastor.

1) It’s not your money anyway - We get really uptight about material things that aren’t even ours to begin with. God has provided you with the skills and the favor to earn a living. Whatever you make on your job belongs to Him. Who are we to complain about giving a portion back to Him?

Some would say, “But you’re not giving your money to God, you’re giving it to the church.” The church was established to fulfill God’s purpose, therefore, when you provide for the church you are giving back to God.

Others would say, “But you’re giving money to the Pastor and he’s not doing anything with it but buying fancy suits.” This leads me to my next point.

2) Don’t worry about what the pastor is doing with the money - Does the person in charge of payroll at your job ask you what you do with your paycheck on the 1st and 15th? Your pastor is doing a job and deserves to be compensated. If you don’t think your pastor is doing a good job, find another church. You are not obligated to support a pastor that is not sowing into your life but it is unfair for you to sit in the pews every Sunday and be blessed by their labor without giving back to the pastor and the church.

Have you ever noticed how the heat is turned up on your life when you decide to seriously commit yourself to Christ? Can you imagine how much hotter it gets in the spiritual kitchen when you’re responsible for bringing souls to Christ and being a shepherd to God’s own flock? That’s no small task. Ministers of the Gospel go through untold turmoil on our behalf. Can a monetary value be put on the work they do? Souls are at stake when they get up to do their jobs. If anyone deserves to be paid well, wouldn’t it be them?

Once again, if you are not being fed spiritually at your church, find someplace where you can grow in God. You are doing yourself a disservice by staying in a stagnant place. Move! When you find the right church, you should want to give generously to your pastor because you will see the value they have added to your spiritual life.

3) The church has needs - The physical church is a building like any other, with a light bill, gas bill, etc. You sit under the lights and central air every Sunday but don’t think it’s your responsibility to financially contribute to the church? How do you think they pay the bills every month? You complain about them not doing enough for the community but how can they do so without any money? It takes money to run HIV/AID prevention and support programs. It takes money to run food banks and job training centers.

If you can honestly say your church isn’t even trying to positively impact the community outside it’s four walls, you need to find a church that is. It really is that simple.

Lastly, don’t complain about what a church is or isn’t doing in the community if you don’t know. Especially, if it’s not your church. It’s easy to throw stones at mega churches but you may be surprised at the good they’re doing in the community if you took the time to go inside and find out.
Leave me a comment and let me know your viewpoint. I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Erykah Badu: Married to this Rap Sh*t

Erykah Badu has done what many of her "neo-soul" peers of the 1990s haven't been able to. She reincarnates herself on each new musical offering, never duplicating the sound of her previous work but still managing to be Badu. Her identity is not lost with each new sonic experiment. The opposite is actually true. With each album, Badu peels back another layer of herself, consistently revealing more of why we love her so.

Being a musical chemist is oftentimes risky business, particularly with the urban music listener. Very few artists can constantly reinvent themselves and maintain their core fan base like Badu has. A few come to mind (Outkast, Kelis, Kanye, Bilal, Mos Def) but in the "neo-soul" category of the 90s, she really stands alone. India Arie, Jill Scott, and Musiq Soulchild have all pretty much stayed in their lanes while Badu continues to push her fans' musical envelopes.

Even with her venturing from sound to sound with each release, there is a consistent thread woven throughout her work: Hip-Hop. Whether the references are subtle or forthright, each Badu album is an ode to the genre that took the world by the collar and gave voices to millions of black kids stateside and abroad. On "Appletree" you can almost see her at an open mic getting all the Hip-Hop heads open with her smooth delivery and witty lines. "... & On" from Mama's Gun was the moment when I had to press pause and ask myself, "Is Badu SPITTING?" "Love of My Life" with Common put her love for Hip-Hop front and center. I remember wondering, "How is Hip-Hop the love of her life and she's a SINGER?" but she reiterated her stance on the female emcee laden remix and then again on her Hip-Hop hymn "The Healer" on New Amerykah Part One: 4th World War.

On her latest offering, New Amerykah Pt. 2: Return of the Ankh, Badu continues paying homage to the art form that has influenced so much of her work. With production from 9th Wonder and the late J. Dilla, she has two of Hip-Hop's greatest producers on deck even without a single rapper featured on the album. "Turn Me Away (Get Munny)" samples "You Can't Turn Me Away" by Sylvia Striplin, the same song Junior M.A.F.I.A's "Get Money" is derived from. B.I.G. makes another appearance through Badu on "Fall In Love" as she sings, "Slow singing, flower bringing, if my burglar alarm starts ringing." When I heard this song for the first time, my mind was blown, "Is she singing the lyrics to Big's 'Warning'?" Yes, yes she is. Who else but Badu could pull this off in a love song?

Her ties to Hip-Hop go deeper than references in her lyrics or gritty beats beneath her sweet vocals. All of Badu's children are by rappers and all of her public relationships have been with some of Hip-Hop's finest. Could it be that Badu's love for the culture is so deep that it personifies itself in the physical? One can only speculate but I don't think it's a coincidence that she is drawn to rappers and they to her.

After the birth of her youngest child, Mars, with Jay Electronica, people started wondering loudly about Badu having three children by three different rappers. "Y'all would be calling her a hoe if she didn't burn incense and wear a head wrap," they said. I'm sure she is getting the benefit of the doubt because she's an artist and is in a stable position to raise her children. Pookie down at the welfare would surely get the side-eye for having three kids by three guys but, Badu isn't out here waiting on a check. She's out here fusing funk, soul and Hip-Hop, challenging her fans to expand the boundaries of their musical taste buds. Her music is a challenge to the authority of genres, belief systems and traditions.

In addition to the three children she has birthed with rappers, she has created her own musical offspring as a testament to her marriage to Hip-Hop in both her personal and musical lives.

Monday, March 29, 2010

In Defense of Jilly from Philly: Why we can't have an honest discussion about Interracial Relationships

Two of my favorite soul singers are ruffling all types of feathers this week. Ms. Badu shocked us all by streaking the Grassy Knoll in her ingenious video for "Window Seat" and Jill Scott has hit a sensitive spot with an article about interracial marriage. While people have their panties in a bunch over Erykah going panty-less, Jill Scott is being called a racist by some for her description of how it pains her to see a successful black man with his white wife.

Nowhere in the article does Jill say that interracial marriage is wrong, she simply expresses how it makes her feel. She got a chance to clarify her thoughts on CNN, saying, "I could never be against love. Never. Never. It's ridiculous." What I took from Jill's article is not that black men shouldn't marry whom they choose, but that there is so much more behind that choosing than we'd care to admit. And now she has been deemed a racist for pointing out what is obvious to so many black women.

This is what bothers me about our discussions of interracial relationships. I don't know if it's our culture of political correctness but I suspect a decent segment of our population would rather not do the hard work of exposing the underbelly of this issue. They would rather sweep it under the rug and chastise those who dare to point out that oftentimes there is more to it than "I like who I like."

To deny that centuries of assaults on black womanhood, the exaltation of whiteness and European beauty standards play a role in black men choosing to date interracially is naive at best. I tend to believe that people hide behind a mask of naivete on this issue and in reality are dishonest cowards, lying even to themselves about their motives. Black men are not taking responsibility for their role in the matter. They don't want to examine their preferences. This is the reason why we still suffer from colorism in 2010, the "good hair" concept is still alive and we maintain unhealthy weight standards. We have uncovered and identified all these things as evil but they persist because we won't search our hearts and look at our motives. I don't care who you date, but I do care about the motives behind your dating choices a great deal.

Black women are hip to the cop-outs. We're hip to the dodging of the real issue. So, I shouldn't have been shocked when my favorite blogger, Ta-Nehisi Coates, basically told Jill, 'You don't know their life' and it's really none of our business who marries who. "Relationships are not (anymore, at least) a collectivist act. They really come down to two individuals doing business in ways that we will never be privy to," he wrote. While he may be right, that's not the point. Jill isn't trying to police your marriage. Jill is trying to tell you, and I thought quite clearly, that it hurts when we see our brothers covet those who don't look like us while throwign us to the hounds to fend for ourselves. Rightly or wrongly, it is seen as another way black men tell us we're not good enough.

A commenter on TNC's blog asked, "We're still talking about this in 2010?" Yes, we are and we will continue to have this one-sided conversation until we all do some soul searching. We can't move on until both black men and women come to the table, as naked as 7, Puma and Mars' mama, and be honest with each other. Black men, please leave the cop-outs at home. Black women, please leave the extra emotion in the car. There is room for growth and understanding but we must be willing to do the work.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Scarface's "The Fix" was a borderline classic. With production from Kanye West and The Neptunes and the incredible single "Guess Who's Back" featuring Jay-Z and Beanie Siegel, I don't understand how it could be slept on as hard as it has been.

I prefer "The Fix" Scarface to his other incarnations. This may be blasphemy to die hard Scarface fans but it is my opinion. He's more mature and introspective on this album. Of course, he gives you classic gangster material but he also lays bare his soul on love, loss and God.

I just discovered that he had a video for "Someday"; probably my favorite track on "The Fix." Faith Evans is one of my favorite R&B singers, so her addition to the song sealed the deal for me. How she sings, "I just want to be your soldier, I just want to be your vessel, Oooh Lord" at the end makes me tear up every time! I love this song!

Jesus, Be Some Common Sense

Recently there have been lots of rumors floating around about some of today's hottest Black celebrities and devil worship. First Rihanna, then Oprah, and more recently, the power couple Jay-Z & Beyonce. According to some people, who spread these tales via e-mail forwards and Youtube videos, Rih Rih is a satantist, Oprah denounced Christianity on her show, Jay-Z is a Mason and member of the Illuminati, and Beyonce has publicly credited Lucifer for her success.

Yes, my thoughts exactly, Katt.

America is more tolerant of differing views on faith than, let's say, Iran, but if Oprah or Beyonce were to publicly denounce Christianity or shout out the Devil, please believe, they would be boycotted immediately. I don't know who, if anyone, Rihanna worships, therefore I can't really comment on that but singing a song about Russian roulette doesn't make you a satanist. Is her inexplicable success despite her incredible lack of talent the reason people think she's bun buddies with Satan? As far as Jay-Z is concerned, my grandpa is a Mason. Moving on...

Why are people so willing to cast off common sense and embrace gullibility? Why are we so willing to believe this mess? Could it be that people are making up these stories to explain away these public figures' extreme success and their lack thereof?

It's kind of like Pat Robertson and his insistence that the Haitian revolutionaries made a pact with the devil in order to free themselves from the French. There's no way they could have done it of their own power, right? There's no way God was on their side. Only a pact with the devil would allow a black country to free itself from European tyrants, right? The same lack of logic applies in the cases stated above. There's NO way Jay-Z or Beyonce could have made it where they are based on hard work and constantly cultivating their talents. No way! There's no way God is on the side of a chick like Rihanna! Right, because y'all haven't worn a mini-skirt in your lives, huh? And if you were age, with her body and bank account, you wouldn't show off your shape every chance you got... Right...

Isaiah 64:6 says, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;" ALL, not just Rihanna and Oprah, ALL OF US. Dear Christians, please don't be so self-righteous that you forget where you came from, what you did, how you lived before you knew Him. He showed his mercy to you, why would you deny grace to non-believers?

Spreading these tales without any evidence is irresponsible and it makes you look incredibly gullible and ignorant. This particularly does nothing to further the cause of Christ. We are His representatives in the earth, let's not squander the opportunity to glorify His name by slandering the name of others.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Grab Your Peace!

Andre 3000 is the best rapper out, in my opinion. He's creative, innovative, courageous, content-rich, and his skills are simply undeniable. Give me 3 Thou over Lil' Wayne any day! I love Jay-Z and his catalog cannot be denied but there's something about 3 Stacks that moves me.

"Aquemini" is one of my favorite Outkast albums. There was something so dark and hypnotic about that album. There is no cohesive theme. To listen from beginning to end is to risk getting lost in the crevices of your mind. As much as I have listened to that album, I can't recite the lyrics to one song. My mind wanders with each rhyme, each insanely delicious melody, each gut wrenching story told so naturally... This album was like a hallucinogen. You see colors and creatures your mind had never imagined when you close your eyes, bob your head and smile when "SpottieOttieDopaliscious" comes on. (Come on yall, SOMEBODY was high when they came up with that title!)

What has me up tonight jonesing on "Aquemini"? The Bible. Yep, you read it right. The Bible. I was reading Exodus 14:14, which says, "The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace." That one little verse gave me so much. I read that line over and over, in about five different translations but I kept coming back to the King James version, "... and ye shall hold your peace." And then I thought about Andre 3000's opening monologue on "Return of the Gangsta."
Its like niggas always be hollerin peace
Peace my brotha, peace this, peace that You know what im sayin but... Every time I try to get a peace of mind A nigga try to get a piece of mine So i gotta grab my piece
In this song 3000 is letting it be known, you come for my peace, I'm going for my gun! But the Lord has a different course of action, one that will never fail. "The Lord shall fight FOR you and ye shall HOLD your peace." You have to HOLD your peace. You can't let it go! While God is fighting for you, the enemy will try to take your peace from you but you have to tighten your grip and keep holding on!

This sounds easier than it is, right? Of course it does but most times we make it harder for ourselves because we're trying to do the fighting. God has freed your hands to hold on to your peace with because He's FIGHTING FOR YOU. God is invincible, he doesn't need your help to win the fight. Take your hands off the fight, put them on your peace and don't let go!

Friday, January 22, 2010

No Sympathy for You!

Gotcha, suckers!

Dwight Howard is suing his baby mama for $9.2 million and custody of their son. Being that NBA cheerleaders get paid $15 - $50 per game, if that, he clearly isn't expecting to get $9.2 mil out of her. But Dwight's legal battles isn't the reason for this post but it did bring to mind something that I thought about a while ago.  If you are a professional athlete, WHY WOULD YOU DATE A CHEERLEADER? 

I'm tired of these men railing against women for being gold diggers but do everything in their power to ensure they get with the most blatantly out to get your money honeys they can find. Hello??? Cheerleading is the perfect gold digger occupation. You're half naked all the time, close to the athletes and you're being paid peanuts making you more likely to be looking for a come-up. These guys should not be surprised when they get with these chicks and catch a bad one. Her goal is to either get knocked up quick or get that ring on her fourth finger, left hand. 

Dwight isn't the only star athlete to end up in legal trouble with his cheerleading baby moms. Arizona Cardinals' all-world Wide Receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, found himself in some talk show ish a couple of years ago. Think Maury meets Chrihanna meets ESPN. 

Hey fellas, why don't you do us a favor? Quit your bloodclot crying about chicks being in it for the loot if you're not going to be more conscious of who you impregnate. And with that, good day! 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Random Word

I'm not sure if I can get more random than this but this blessed me so I thought I would share.

John 17:4 (KJV) "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do."

How do we glorify God? Finish the work He gave you to do! If He gave you a task, complete it and give Him the glory!

This kind of ties into my last post about my goals for the new year. He gave me some things to do this year and I've got to get them done so He will get the glory in my life.

If He gave you something to do, there's no need to fear or procrastinate because God has equipped you with everything you need to complete the task. So what are we waiting on? Phillipians 1:6 says, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" The last time I checked, Jesus hasn't come knocking on my door so, there is still time for God to show how faithful He is to finish what He started when He put that vision in your heart!

Do you trust God to help you fulfill your dream? If you say you do, what are you doing to show God how much you trust Him? Are you actively working toward completing the task He set before you?

Let's make 2010 the year we truly give God glory by being productive in the areas he has called us to work. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Making It Happen in the New Year

Happy New Year, everybody! I hope everyone had a good time this weekend and no one got any DUIs or STDs. That is NOT the way to kick off 2010!

I got the new decade popping the right way: in the house of God! Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church was packed and hundreds of people gave their lives to Christ before the clock had even hit midnight! Now THAT'S how you end a decade!

I feel like 2010 is going to be an amazing year. Maybe I feel like this because 2009 was so terrible. I can't hate on '09 that much, though, because I survived it and a lot of people can't say that.

2009 was a year of stagnation, for me. I feel like I wasted an insane amount of time and accomplished nothing other than keeping my job. But, again, I am grateful for that because a lot of people didn't get to keep their jobs. (I'm on my glass half full ish right now! YES!)

I am determined this year to get everything that God has for me. EVERYTHING! In order for me to do that I have to get it right and get it tight. Here are a few areas that I am determined to improve in the new year:

My Home - I moved over a month ago and still haven't completely unpacked. What kind of trifling mess is this? I want my home to be my sanctuary; a place of peace and productivity. My current situation is not conducive to this at all. So, one of my first projects for the year is to create a space that is uniquely my own. My design skills are nil so, if anyone has any tips, HOLLA AT ME! I'm going for a really warm and comfy feel. Wish me luck, guys!

The Obligatory Weight Loss Resolution - My mother died from complications of diabetes in 2004. My grandma on my dad's side died from complications of diabetes in 1996. I have an aunt that has been on dialysis for years and many more family members on both sides dealing with diabetes. I can not afford to play around with my life like this. I just can't. I haven't been working out regularly and my eating habits have been a disaster, lately. My jeans are fitting way too snug and I refuse to buy a bigger size. I just gotta lose the weight I've gained and then some. More important than the weight loss for me is building a lifestyle that promotes good health. I don't want this to be a fad, I want this to be a lifestyle I can model for my kids one day. (That's assuming I ever get around to having any. Ha!)

I went home to Minneapolis for Christmas and I am not the only one in my family that needs to hit Bally's on the regular. I started a family fitness challenge where I basically call and harass my kinfolk about whether or not they have worked out that day. Accountability is key. I know I can be a slacker so, encouragement to stick to it is huge for me.

My church does a fast in the beginning of the year; No fried foods, red meat, sweets, dairy or grains. We can only eat fruits, veggies, nuts and baked/broiled chicken or fish. I thought this was a good way to kick off my new healthy lifestyle. Coupling the healthy eating from the fast with a new dedication to exercise, I should meet my weight loss goal and be a healthier me in 2010.

My Writing - [Puts on her Solange voice] My book could have been done by now, if it wasn't for Twitter! Man, I have spent so much time doing nothing instead of focusing on what I'm supposed to be doing... WRITING! I've neglected my blog and my book. This can not go down in 2010. I've got to make this thing happen ASAP. I've rededicated myself to spend more time reading, writing and doing research. I can't let another year pass me by without making a earnest effort to make my dreams come true.

Anybody have any tips for me on how to complete these goals? Wanna share your New Year's Goals? Don't be a stranger. Hit the comment button!