The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:22-23 NRSV

Friday, February 29, 2008


I have not been posting on this blog very much because I have been spending most of my writing time on a paper and on my daily Lenten devotions. That doesn't mean, however, that I have been failing to watch or think about the news.

Take the issue of Michelle Obama's statement about feeling proud of her country, a comment that has inspired the verbal wrath of such notables as Cindy McCain. Bill O'Reilly even deliberated about convening a lynch mob. I want to suggest that the best person for Michelle Obama to talk to at this moment is actually her husband's (former) principal rival Hillary Rodham Clinton. No one knows better than Hillary what it's like to be the spouse of an intensely popular, powerful, charismatic man. Hillary knows quite a lot about what it is like to have your every word parsed and dissected so that as many people as possible are inclined to take offense. Hillary could share copious notes with Michelle about how those same words are then used to impugn the credibility or patriotism of said charismatic spouse. The truth is that we like our First Ladies and First Lady wannabes vapid and seemingly without opinion. Everybody loves Laura Bush because almost nobody ever has to listen to her. If you start talking, prepare to be considered the shadow side of your luminous man.

If Michelle is understandably uncomfortable with Hillary as a mentor, she could also talk to many pastors' spouses. They could tell tales about how people target the spouse (or the children) when the pastor seems untouchable or unassailable. The thing that we must never forget is that while the spouse is the casualty, she or he is not the actual target. It's a game of is you can't beat them one way, then you go after them another. I think maybe the only thing worse than being a political candidate is being a political candidate's spouse. Shoot, for that you could even interview Bill "The Hitman" Clinton.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Out of Focus

I have to thank Renita Weems for her blog last week challenging the LowerMyBills ad and its pornographic focus on a Black woman's ample, gyrating butt. It put me in mind of an incident a few weeks ago that I had left largely unexamined until I considered the ubiquity of images of Black women that focus on our behinds.

During the Australian open, Roger Rasheed former coach of Australian Lleyton Hewitt came under fire for comments he made as the camera lingered on Venus Williams' behind. Rasheed said, "Take a look at this now. Make or think as you will, ladies, but for me, that's a pretty good sight." While I agree with those who objected to Rasheed's comments, a more appropriate question comes to mind about why the camera was on Venus's butt in the first place. The person running the camera made the first and most egregious decision to turn Williams, who is a world-class athlete, into one big body part as her behind filled the screen long enough for Rasheed to take notice.

In her blog post, Dr. Weems calls our historical attention to Sara Baartman whose body parts were the focus of discussion in the 19th century and remained on display in a museum well into the 20th century. Black people in particular must remember our history. Sisters have to demand that we not be carved up in people's minds, including brothers'. And it least if they carve us up, mentally reducing us to our hips, breasts, lips, noses, etc., then they ought to be ashamed to announce it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

When Will the Injury End

Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath exposed several unpleasant truths to the American people. Through it we became aware of a flawed and disintegrating infrastructure, as the levies for which the Army Corp of Engineers were responsible broke under the strain of a storm that had itself dissipated significantly before it arrived in New Orleans. We witnessed the incompetence and negligence of the FEMA head, whose credentials could not bear the subsequent scrutiny and demonstrated once again that The Decider is far more concerned with loyalty than with competence. We discovered anew how out of touch George W. Bush and his Cabinet members, including Condi "Shoe Shopping" Rice," could be in the face of human tragedy and misery. We learned a few lessons about the city and state governments of New Orleans, Louisiana as well. And I can't forget that we learned that for the media, when white people leave a closed supermarket with food in their hand, they are scavenging for necessary food, but when black people do it, they are looting. Of course, there was an up side, too. We witnessed extraordinary generosity and caring from persons and communities all over the country and the world. Individuals, worship communities, and even municipalities stepped up to alleviate the suffering and provide shelter for persons whom Katrina rendered homeless.

This week, however, what we have all been fearing is now confirmed. On Valentine's Day, 14 February, the Centers for Disease Control released a report that said the trailers FEMA issued for temporary housing to displaced persons have dangerously high levels of formaldehyde in them. This must be especially startling news for the thousands of families who are still living in these supposedly temporary dwellings.
Worse than adding insult to injury, FEMA's incompetence is adding injury to injury. The American people need to care enough to say "enough."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hillary Baseball Card

This was Upper Deck's original idea for a Hillary Clinton Baseball Card

Comments anyone?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Another Soap Opera

For the first time in weeks, the big story today is not the Dems race for the White House. Today we got showdown in a congressional hearing between Roger Clemens and his former trainer Brian McNamee who offered diametrically opposed sworn statements concerning Clemens's use of steroid and human growth hormone. McNamee swears he injected Clemens. Clemens swears he was never injected. Since the publication of the Mitchell report implicated Clemens in the wide-spread drugging of baseball, The Rocket repeatedly has disputed that his longevity is drug induced or sustained. Here's my question: Where is all the indignation that plagues Barry Bonds and sullies his record-breaking career and why is it not unleashed on Clemens? What's with the double standard?

Meanwhile, the sports new in Philadelphia is about Senator Arlen Spector and his questioning of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about the Patriots and Bill Bellichek's pattern of taping opposing teams' defensive signals and the decision on the part of the NFL to destroy the tapes. All in all, it seems suspiciously like the NFL is involved in a cover up on behalf of their darling non-Super Bowl champion Patriots. Thank heavens again for the Giants. But go Specter!

One more thing: The Phillies should just pay Ryan Howard the $10 million and stop looking like idiots. Howard's performance over the last 3 seasons makes him a good bet and Phillies fans need to feel good about the team's priorities, not just in pitching (although some consistent pitching would be a blessing).

Saturday, February 9, 2008


If you check this blog regularly, you might have noticed that I am posting infrequently these days. The reason is that I am desperately trying not to blog about politics. But finding anything else to blog about is proving exceedingly difficult.

It's not that nothing else is going on in the world. The writer's strike in Hollywood has come and (almost) gone. There are lots of movies out, but of course I haven't seen any of them. The Lenten season has begun and I am having a good deal of time to think about my spiritual life. The only problem is that I am addicted to the primary election coverage.

The race between the Dems has been described as an embarrassment of riches. And it has made for great television, radio, and newspaper media. It's like the Super Bowl, World Series, and the NBA finals every day for weeks and weeks. And I have to say that not only am I addicted but I am also exhausted. Enough already. Cut to the chase. I definitely can't take the suspense until the summer. I don't even think I'll last until the April primary in Pennsylvania.

I know I'll just have to wait, but in the meantime I might not be blogging much. I think I should go to the movies.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Bowl 42

I have never enjoyed a football game more. I was absolutely rooting for the Giants and hating the Patriots. I loved watching the Giants defense achieve the impossible and make Tom Brady look like a football player rather than a demigod. I hooted for Eli Manning who played MVP ball after a season of being written off and dissed by sportswriters in NY and elsewhere. And when Eli Manning ducked multiple tackles and threw the ball down field into the hands of David Tyree who simply would not let the football go, I howled and hollered so much that I knew I wouldn't be able to talk for a couple of days.

As a Philadelphia resident and Eagles fan, I could not have imagined myself loving on the Giants. But they were playing the Patriots. I have objected to all the Massachusetts teams since I went to college in MA. The Patriots, however, are my least favorite. While their talent is unquestionable, the team and the coach have an objectionable air about them. This nastiness reached its apex early in the season when they were caught taping the other team's signals. It just made you wonder what they could have been thinking. I guess it's not enough to put together the number 1 offense and the number 4 defense in the league. You need to cheat too?

My sense of justice is now gratified. The gifted cheaters were beaten. God don't like ugly. Their perfect season went up in smoke. And in the process we witnessed the most interesting Super Bowl in recent memory and the most watched ever.

Go Giants! Thanks for a rousing good time.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Constructive Debate

While this certainly could be a congratulatory post regarding last night's Democratic presidential debate, I actually have other items and issues on my mind.

Over the last several weeks, I have witnessed public altercations within the Black community that made me feel that a renewed commitment to civil debate is in order not only for the candidates in the presidential race but for opposing sides in various arenas. While I am not talking about politics exclusively, it is certainly true that the internal bickering and escalation of insults among Black people who are supporting Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton exemplify the exact problem I am discussing. Differences in candidate preference, especially when the policies of the candidates in question are so close, are no cause for insults and name calling (calling Maya Angelou a "ho" is unconscionable). But I am not just talking about politics.

There has been a recent debate on What about our Daughters regarding certain prominent Black preachers' signing a letter congratulating BET on its awards show and other things. While debate and questions about why such a letter appeared, especially with a heading citing "freedom of expression, are absolutely in order, the escalation of hostility between WAOD and Dr. Iva Carruthers does not speak well for either side, in large part because it leads to greater misunderstanding and confusion.

Everyone who aspires to public influence is naturally and rightly submitted to public scrutiny. This applies to Obama and Clinton as candidates as well as to Black intellectuals and preachers as persons who purport to shape our common life. I am not by any means suggesting that we exchange the rigorous quest and question of the truth for some easy civility that harbors and nurtures duplicity. I am saying that bluster for its own sake is not good. And when it is directed at our own people, it is generally more harmful than helpful. While we are arguing with one another, BET and Viacom and their ilk (along with, my forbears would have said, the Devil and his imps) are standing on the sidelines laughing at us.

It seems that at least for one evening the Democratic presidential contenders got that message. How useful it would be for the Black church, the Black community, and the Black family to practice the wisdom of constructive rather than destructive debate.