Never Judge a Person by Their Cover

This past week I worked at a conference hosting a booth with many of our books. People from all walks of life visited our table and it was interesting to see the different responses, especially to two of our books that are political in nature. One in particular, The Presidents and Their Faith, stimulated much talk on the faith of our current president, some harsh and some loving.

One gentleman approached the table and snidely said, “Well, well, the faith of the presidents. I want to know what you have to say about our present one.”

He picked up the book and began scanning the last chapter. His conservative dress, cropped hair and the sarcastic tone in his voice quickly told me what he believed.

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President Obama on Easter and his "Risen Savior"

One of the things I HATE...YES HATE...is when we think we know something that we really have no idea about. 

I HATE that conservatives love to HATE Obama and consider him the end of America. 

I HATE that liberals HATED Bush and considered him the end of America.

On those notes, a friend of a friend attended President Obama's Easter Prayer Breakfast on April 6th and sent his speach along for me (and others) to read.  You can read it if you want at the White House Press Page, but I thought I would post some very interesting chunks.

I don't know that I like Obama and I don't know that I don't. But I do know that much of what he said is down right true and frankly not even being said (let alone) preached by many of the people who should know better...

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OBAMA: "I'm praying alot these days."

While some may question whether a national prayer breakfast blurs the line between church and state, it is one of the rare non-partisan events that has attracted presidents from both parties. It dates back to the days of Dwight Eisenhower. While the organizers might be specific in their religious convictions, the event itself celebrates America’s civil religion. How appropriate that President Obama would call for a renewed civility. He suggested we can challenging each others’ policies without questioning people’s motives. “Surely you can question my policies without questioning my faith or for that matter, my citizenship.”

The cynic may consider that a political ploy designed to rescue plunging poll numbers. Yet, the depth of our national problems requires some setting aside of partisanship. We can agree on the need to alter our political discourse, to move forward in economic recovery, to get out of the nightmarish wars abroad.

OBAMA and 7-11 runs....

Something happened the other day. Something ironic.

There are days when the only thing that will suffice a serious appetite is a 2 AM 7-11 run. Who's with me? But on this particular night, I witnessed something not unfamiliar to the 7-11 franchise.  Theft. But not any kind of theft.

This 15 year old still pre-pubescent punk walks into the store.... goes to the "beer cave".... and walks right out the front door while maintaining eye-contact with the man behind the register - as if to say, "just try to stop me." I'm there at the counter, paying for my moon pies, as any good participating citizen would. The man at the register just shook his head, defeated. I looked at him - then to the kid - back to the man, and thought "I need to run after him and stop him." I walked out. The acne laced thief just kept walking. And nothing. What was I going to do? The 7-11 dude told me not to go after him - that the last gentleman that did was, and I quote, "knifed". 

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Tools for the Conversation

The news and commentary swirling around the confrontation between Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and a Cambridge police officer is a reminder that the election of Barack Obama is not a period at the end of America’s race conversation. Though the confrontation itself may not be a case of racial profiling, the ongoing reaction to the event demonstrates the need for continued discussion.

The discussion should continue and adapt overtime to the changing dynamics of our society. For example, in Los Angeles the discussion has to adapt to the new dynamic of Hispanics becoming the majority population in historically African-American neighborhoods like South Los Angeles, Watts, and Compton. In the same way that discussion around gender continues, our conversation about race doesn’t end just because glass ceilings are being shattered. I would also point out that the last place the conversation should end is within the Church, were segregation is still a chronic problem within every denomination.

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25 Films to Represent America

When U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently visited with President Barack Obama at the White House, the two dignitaries customarily exchanged gifts. Brown gave Obama a pen holder made from wood from the anti-slave ship HMS Gannet. Neat. Obama gave Brown a custom box set of 25 DVDs that best represent American cinema. Nice idea. But lest you think Obama picked the films out himself, you should know that he had the American Film Institute pick the films for him. And unsurprisingly, the 25 they came up with conspicuously mirrored the AFI’s top 25 films from their 2007 “best American films” list. Borrrring.

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Obama Amazing: Discovers Morally Neutral Science!

I have underestimated President Obama.

Today he announced that we can experiment on human beings and even create new humans for our experimentation.

The good news is that he made this decision based only on science. Politics, vile nasty politics, had nothing to do with his decision.

Evidently President Obama has discovered a way to derive ethics from science! This is amazing and only confirms the main stream media sense that President Obama is a Special Person.

Most thinkers have believed that from “is” or “can” (”It is the case that people want to do x” or “It is the case that we can do x”) it was hard or impossible to get “ought,” but Obama has done it!

We can experiment on humans so we should! We want to experiment on humans so we should!

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On Pitying the Fool: Holocaust Deniers

President Obama and Pope Benedict XVI’s respective jobs require them to deal with fools on a regular basis. There is no safe way to handle fools, as their folly tends to redound on the person who tries to help them.

Who is a fool? The fool is not simply wrong, but believes a falsehood with obstinate fury that is destructive to himself and to his neighbor. It is not that he thinks he is right, but that he never considers that he might be wrong and has no hesitations in imposing his folly on others. The fool is wrong, arrogant, and malevolent.

Jesus is right that we should not label any man a fool quickly or in anger. It is a serious charge that does verbal violence to another human being and so puts us in danger. It is easy to dismiss alternative points of view by hastily labeling it as foolishness. Calling unpleasant ideas foolish hastily is itself the act of a fool!

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The First Great Song of the Obama Era

Warning: Hyperbole and annoyingly effusive praise ahead.

It’s not everyday that you hear a song that just blows your mind. It’s not everyday that an album lives up to the hype. But that is the case with Animal Collective and their new album Merriweather Post Pavilion (released today), specifically the song “My Girls.”

The New York band, building on last year’s wonderful Panda Bear side project, increasingly seems to know how to gracefully weave a tapestry of postmodern musical mish-mash sounds—everything from screams to techno beeps to industrial crashes and subtle piano. Merriweather refines their sound and focuses their experimental tendencies like never before, resulting in an album that is an instant 21st century classic.

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1.20.09

This day is a big day. It means more than just a president being sworn into office. Today marks a grand step in the right direction. It marks the day that people who look like me, take a closer step towards being accepted as citizens who are no different from other citizens. It marks the day that the nation said, loudly, that we want and embrace a new “change.” Today means that people of darker skin descent, can take a step closer in being seen as humans rather than the list of stereotypes that has held many of us back. This day is special to me, because I, as a Black man, can be taken just a little more serious among many of my White counterparts.

Now, for many who have never been called a derogatory racial slur, been denied seating because of the color of your skin, been presumed guilty simple because you are “dark,” been seen as “less than” because some scientist has labeled your ethnic group that way, been told you “cannot” because your ancestors never have, or have been degraded through subtle racism’s which deteriorates the very fabric in which your ethnicity sits on, this day might not mean as much. However, for “us”— meaning African American people, Puerto Rican people, Mexican people, Korean people, Euro-American people, African people, and any one else who identifies with their ethnic background and culture—this day means that we take  a closer step towards “all men created equal…” and realize that people of darker persuasion can be “all they can be.”

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