Random Thoughts on a Saturday Night

28 04 2013

So I know I’ve been quiet on here lately. School has had me super busy the past few months, and in order to preserve my sanity, I had to slow down on the blog posts. But I have been writing! I recently became a contributor for Reel Spiritualityone of Fuller’s many initiatives in the ongoing conversation on theology and film. That has been a real blessing to me, and I encourage you to check out the link and see some of the articles and podcasts I’ve done. I also  became one of the writers for the “Sabbath Reflections” portion of the Windrider Forumanother website that focuses on theology and film discussion. I also wrote an article for the SEMI, our campus newsmagazine last quarter, and I’m getting ready to launch a new blog with my friend, Angela Harvey, where we discuss all things black entertainment. So I haven’t completely lost it writing-wise, I’ve just been writing through alternative venues.

I’ll try my best to do better about posting links to my other writings onto this blog so that you all can keep up. This blog will become more of a spot for me to just keep you all posted on what’s going on in life, so that you can keep up and so that you’ll know what to pray for, if you’re into that kind of thing. I’ll think of this blog as my living room, the place where I can kick back and relax and be a little more informal after writing all those more formal blogs for other sites. 

One thing you all can continue to pray for is that I find a church home. Finding a church home can be hard period but it just seems extra hard right now. I want a church that’s ethnically diverse and casual and doesn’t make you turn to your neighbor and say awkward things during the service. I want a church that accepts women in ministry, because I really still don’t get this whole complimentarian thing. I don’t have any plans to be a preacher but I would like to know that the church I attend is not discriminatory in terms of who can lead people and who cannot. I will save my rant on that for another time, but that is something that has really been bothering me as of late. I want a church that has old people in it. Old people have such great wisdom and insight on things, and they’re just cute. I want a church that’s friendly and not weird. I want a church that understands and accepts its call to be good neighbors and to reach out to its surrounding community. I want a church that knows how to strike a balance between tradition and innovation. There have to be ways to respect the history of our faith and not be afraid to pioneer new ways of doing things and new ways of reaching out to people. I want a church that has good preaching, but also knows the value of good, soul-stirring worship as well, whether it’s traditional or contemporary. And for the record, call me crazy, but I believe that hymns and Hillsong can co-exist, they really can!

I guess what I am looking for doesn’t exist this side of heaven. It’s the same story, I’ve blogged about this before so blah blah blah. I just hate always having to pick and choose what out of that list I’m willing to give up for a season, just in order to have some place to go on Sunday mornings. As I sit here tonight trying to figure out where I will go tomorrow morning, I’m getting a headache because I feel like it just shouldn’t be this hard. 


Random Thoughts: Video Messages, Ethnic Messages and Marvin Gaye

8 11 2012

So the problem with going to a school like Fuller is that I’m literally being challenged with so many new ideas every single day that it’s hard to keep up and blog about them because I just don’t have time amidst all the papers and reading that I have to do each week. Which leaves me with a dilemma because not only do I want to write about my experiences with you all, but I want to engage in dialogue. So…that means I’m probably going to start posting a lot more “Random Thoughts” posts, because it’s a lot easier for me to just type my thoughts as a stream of consciousness, rather than trying to come up with full thesis arguments complete with cool, catchy titles. Besides, I do enough of that in school. I think I’m even going to go so far as to create a new category for Random Thoughts, so if you ever want to read some of my old Random Thought, you can now find them in one place. So here you go. My random thoughts for today, well actually they’re more like things I’ve been thinking about the past few days…At any rate, you’re welcome! 🙂

  • This past weekend Fuller hosted a conference called “Preaching in a Visual Age.” It was all about how to approach preaching within a generation that finds value and meaning in technology as well as moving images. It was a great conference for me as a filmmaker, but I’m not sure what preachers or anyone who is not an artist got out of it. Hopefully they picked up some valuable nuggets to help them lead their flocks. After attending that conference, if I could share one thing with pastors everywhere it is this: We don’t need your Powerpoints! What I mean by that is that Powerpoint presentations are not what makes you “relevant” or “cool” and neither is showing a movie clip. What people need is the life-giving message of God’s love. If Powerpoint or movie clips help you do that then fine. But if you’re just doing it to say that you’re hip, I’d rather you just stand there and preach. I would also like to tell pastors that there are people around you in your congregations who are creative artists who can help you plan services with intentionality and to help make sure that if you are going to use media as part of your preaching, you do it well and not insulting to your congregation and to artists everywhere. You don’t have to do this alone. These artists are just as passionate about their art as they are about their faith, and they can help you see things from a different light if you’re willing to give up a little control.
  • A dream came true for me this morning at chapel in the sense that I was finally able to sing the song “Lord You Are Good” with a truly diverse crowd. Every since I was introduced to that song way back in my Abundant Life days, I’ve looked forward to the day when we could sing the words “People from every nation and tongue, from generation to generation, We Worship You!” as a reality. I looked around the room and saw my brothers and sisters from Liberia, Korea, India, black, white, old, young (at least in a seminary context anyway) worshipping together. It was a sight to see. My prayer is that that diversity as well as understanding would continue to grow here. Dr. Soong Chan Rah, author of “The New Evangelicalism” gave the sermon. It was a very painfully truthful challenge about what it really means to be a multi-ethnic church. Many times in our efforts to build multi-ethnic churches, we have diverse faces in the crowd but still end up with mono-ethnic churches because the dominant culture is still dictating what worship should look like. It’s something to think about, especially here in America where every congregation thinks that their way of doing church is the “right” way.
  • Tonight we had the Missiology Lectures, also led by Dr. Rah. My biggest question after the lecture is: Where is the black church within the conversation of being missional? I have been to two conferences within the past month about the missional church here in California, and have been to several conferences and groups that talked about it on the East Coast and there are never any black pastors on the panel. Out of all the missional churches I could name, I can only name one that has a black pastor. So my question is, are we absent from the conversation because we want to be, because we have our own community that we’re serving in our black context and therefore don’t wish to engage? Or are we absent from the conversation because we’re oblivious that these conversations are even going on? Or, have we (intentionally or non-intentionally) been excluded from the conversation? I know some of my brothers and sisters in the black church would say we’ve been missional for years, before it became a “thing”. But I would argue, in today’s culture which is becoming less and less homogenized, are we really being missional if our churches don’t reflect the diversity that we encounter on a daily basis? The church at large needs our voices too! Just some of my thoughts…I have my own reasons for asking this which I can get into in the comments section or one-on-one if anyone is interested in engaging.
  • In my Worship, Theology and Arts class we’re reading about Marvin Gaye and the making of What’s Going On? (Um yeah, can I just say I love my seminary. Where else will I get to read Michael Eric Dyson, a biography on Marvin Gaye, and the Calvin Institutes all as part of class readings?) Anyways, we’re looking at the theological implications of this ground-breaking album and I must say, I am amazed at all that went into the making of this album. I’ve always loved Marvin Gaye as an artist. But now I have even more respect for him for the risks he took to get that album made, and his dedication to creating something that would send a strong message to a world that was crumbling.

No wonder that song and that album still resonate today…

Also, I promise, future Random Thoughts will not be this lengthy…:-)

Random Thoughts on a Wednesday Morning

8 08 2012

Only 3 more days until I leave for Cali-for-ni-a! Ok, quick update:

  • Last night I thought I was going to have to jump through a wall, leaving a body imprint like they used to do in the cartoons, because I got so excited with anticipation. Saturday can’t get here fast enough!
  • I’m having fun picking out hotels for us to stay in along our journey out west. Looking forward to the road trip as much as I’m looking forward to the destination!
  • I got an email from the Public Affairs office last night asking me to write a blurb about coming to Fuller for them to put on their website. That just made me even more excited! Looking forward to sharing that with readers.
  • I’m enjoying this time in Texas with my sister and her family. My niece and nephew are a delight. It’s so nice to see them getting along these days, rather than fighting all the time. The flip side to that is that now they like to play around so much that when you ask them to do something, it takes them forever because they’re goofing off together. But I guess laughter together sure beat throwing things at each other in a violent fit of anger–lol.
  • As much as I am enjoying myself, I can’t wait to get in my own place again. In addition to getting tired of living out of suitcases, I can’t wait to buy my own groceries and decorate like I want to. Nothing feels like home like a place where you’ve taken the lead in putting it together.

Khalilah arrives here on Friday and then we’ll leave out the next morning. This all feels so surreal…

Random Thoughts on a Monday Morning

16 07 2012

I really need to get back into the groove of blogging more because I’m always coming up with ideas for blogs. But then time or just plain laziness gets in the way and I don’t write them. Then I realize that I haven’t blogged in awhile and that now I have 10 things to say and so I put them all in a “Random Thoughts” blog. *sigh*

  • Well, there’s lots going on in my life these days. I’m THIS CLOSE to finally getting a California address. I got my first housing offer last week but I declined it because the unit didn’t have an oven. As much as I love to cook, it would really bite not having an oven. I inquired about another unit and I’m waiting now to see if it’s available. Hopefully I’ll know something by the end of the day today.
  • August can’t get here fast enough! Ugh!! I’m so tired of living out of boxes and suitcases. My summer started in the beginning of May so it’s been about 3 months now and I’m ready for some action! I’m cherishing these moments with my fam in ATL but looking forward to leaving here in 2 weeks to begin the next part of my journey.
  • One thing that stinks about being in transition is not really having community or having a church. I’ve been getting together with friends here and there, but it’s not quite the same as weekly fellowship. The past couple weeks I’ve been able to visit Blueprint Church. What a blessing! It’s good to be back and see all the growth that has happened there and to see everyone again, since I hadn’t visited there in the two years since I’ve been in DC. It’s amazing how much I missed out when I was there at Blueprint because I was working so much or because spiritually my head just wasn’t in the game. It was a blessing to see that the church has grown even more in its diversity since I’ve been gone. Dhati, the pastor there, recommended a church for me in Pasadena that just happens to be on my list of churches to check out once I get to California. From what I can see online, that church looks like it’s pretty diverse too. We’ll see what happens but I’m really looking forward to the process of finding a new church.
  • That being said, I really miss my Restoration family. I’ve been getting texts and FB messages from people saying they miss me or they’re praying for me. It’s just nice to know that you’re thought about even when you’re not around. Sometimes it’s hard to wrap my brain around the fact that I no longer live in DC. Just a few weeks ago I was sitting in the Free’s living room having small group. And now I have no small group.
  • I’ve been reading this book called “Pursuing Christ, Creating Art” by Gary Molander, and it’s been blessing my socks off. I really have to write a blog post about this book, but two quotes that stood out to me: “Being an artist is a heart condition, not a job” and “Christian artists don’t need to create art for God. They need to create art in response to God. The artist’s work is a creative work of response, not a laborious work of initiation.” Mmmm…yeah. Chew on that while I craft that blog post.

That’s all for now. I’ve got a busy week ahead. I’ve only been here in ATL for two weeks and somehow I’ve managed to have an editing gig for the next couple of weeks so it’s off to work I go. It’s great because I sure could use the money! Haha!

Until next time…

Random Thoughts on an (Early) Thursday Morning

3 05 2012

So here I am. It’s 4:54 am and I can’t get back to sleep. I’ve been having trouble sleeping through the night lately so I started keeping a log of my sleep patterns to share with my doctor to help try to figure out some of the reasons for my lack of sleep. What woke me up initially at 4:11 am was a bad dream, what has kept me awake since then has been thoughts of excitement about Fuller, egalitarianism vs complimentarianism, and Glee. Um…yeah.

I should tell you that these thoughts didnt just come out of thin air. Yesterday was quite the adventure. It started out with a nice, simple coffee chat with my friend Whitney and ended with a trip to the ER! Long story short, my doctor called me yesterday morning to say that the blood work done from my recent office visit revealed that I had anemia, that my blood counts were low, and that I needed to head to the emergency room to get a blood transfusion. Say what now?? Well needless to say, there went our nice little coffee conversation.

After much confusion and some freaking out from my family back in GA, I decided to take the doctors advice and go to the ER after work. My dear friend Whitney was gracious enough to come with me to the hospital and wait with me. Fortunately, it turned out that I do in fact have anemia but i didn’t need a blood transfusion after all. Thank God!

At any rate, during the 3 hour wait in the hospital, I got to have a great convo with my friend about race and gender roles in the church. I never even heard of the words egalitarian or complimentarian until I came to Restoration Church, and since figuring out that I grew up egalitarian it’s interesting for me to hear the other arguments for a differing point of view. And discussions about race just, for whatever reason, rarely seem to happen at any church so I really enjoyed being able to open up that conversation, albeit briefly. Conversations like this get me even more excited to start Fuller so that I can engage in these types of discussions on a more consistent basis with fellow believers. What a joy it is to reason together! I still feel like I’m in a process of, as Whitney put it, “owning my theology.” I tend to process things best through discussion and reflection so I wish I had more opportunities to have talks like that with others.

So yeah, that’s what’s keeping me up at night, but in a good way though. I’m not stressing about them, they’re just things on my mind that I like to talk about, which is why I’m still up here blogging about at 5:11 am I guess.

Now why Glee is keeping me up at night, that’s another story for another time…lol. I really need some more Gleeks in my life so that I can have someone to debrief with because apparently my feelings about “Saturday Night Glee-ver” can’t be contained. Hey, don’t judge me. Everybody’s got their guilty pleasure…lol!

Well, here’s to trying to force myself back to sleep. Today is going to be a long day so I could use my 7-8 hours…Here we go!

Random Thoughts on a Monday Morning

2 04 2012

I’ve been pretty quiet and slow with the blogs because I’ve got a lot on my mind. I should be processing some of it here on Convergence. But you know how it is sometimes when you mistakenly keep things bottled up inside and then get frustrated because you can’t figure things out and you need someone to talk to but no one knows what youre going through because you keep it bottled up inside. Yeah, that’s what’s going on.

In just another 4 weeks the semester will be over and I will no longer be a professor, at least not at Howard, anyway. I’ll be on the road toward being a student again. Me. After 10 years. It’s been 10 years since I finished grad school. I feel old and sometimes I wonder “Can I really do this? Can I really be a student again?” I’m guessing that a lot of my classmates will be a lot younger than me. While this doesn’t really bother me, im just hoping it doesn’t hinder me from making friends.

I have to be honest there’s a part of me that wonders if God is moving me out of teaching to get me ready for something else. Like some ministry or even like back into production. I’ve been looking primarily for teaching jobs at colleges but now im opening myself up to staff positions and even church positions. Im waiting to see what doors will open.

In the meantime my heart is breaking. It’s breaking for every artist I’ll encounter in California who had or has big dreams of being a star but still feels a hole on the inside. My heart is breaking for every unhealthy black church. A lot of people who find out im moving to LA love to point out that LA is the mega church capital for black churches. I always thought that was ATL but ok, if that’s true, my heart is breaking for my brothers and sisters who think that bigger is better and that money and wealth and prosperity are the main perks of the bible.

I am so ready to be in California, it’s pretty much all I think about these days. Please pray for me that I can be patient over these next few weeks/months and that God will give me wisdom about the path where he is leading me.

Random Thoughts on a Monday Morning

6 02 2012

So the waiting game continues as I stalk the mail everyday to see if I made it into Fuller. For those of you that missed the subtle hints I’ve been dropping, I applied to seminary to study Theology and Film last month so now I’m waiting to hear the results. Some of you may be wondering what’s the purpose of a degree in theology and film. In today’s society, film and media play such an important role, and they are a voice to this generation. There are several people who won’t step foot in a church, but they’ll go to the movies and basically allow a filmmaker to “preach” their point of view all day. What are filmmakers who are Christians missing when it comes to craft/technique that non-believers don’t want to hear the message? And what can theologians learn from “secular” movies when trying to understand the pulse behind our thought patterns? I saw this video the other day of how the Muslim world is taking shows like American Idol and music videos and using them to empower and educate people about their culture. What an amazing way to take something that has become so commercialized and totally remix it to promote a value system. These are the things I look to study in such a program.

On the same token, the more I read this book, the more I wonder if I should also be studying African American theology as well. This has been a topic of interest to me for quite some time. As a matter of fact, it was really this topic that got me thinking about going to seminary in the first place. I really think the black church is in need of reform in some areas, and I’m interested in studying how/if a traditional African American historical theology should be preserved and just fine-tuned or if should be radically done away with to meet the changing times. It’s a topic I spend a lot of time thinking about to myself, and the book that I just referenced has let me know that I am not alone. 🙂

In higher education, we’re always being asked to define our areas of expertise. I know that film production is one of my areas of expertise, but I’m continually seeking to specifically define my area of intellectual knowledge. The other day I started thinking maybe my focus should be on Race, Faith, and Gender in Pop Culture and the Media. I think out of all the topics I’ve come up with, that one seems to stick the most, because I’ve got a whoooole lot to say about each one of those…

I think I may be onto something here. Don’t you just love the process of self-discovery? Hmm…stay tuned…