Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rising above individualistic concerns

I think the importance of doing activist work is precisely because it allows you to give back and to consider yourself not as a single individual who may have achieved whatever but to be a part of an ongoing historical movement.

- Angela Davis

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

- Philippians 2.4

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination By Brian J. Walsh

Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination
By Brian J. Walsh

When a friend told me about this book late last year, I thought that all my Christmas had come early.
A theological treatise on Bruce Cockburn has been very necessary for years, but surely he was such a cult artist that no publisher would ever see a book on him as profitable. So fair play to Brazos Press for the courage and vision. And the author might have swayed the deal.
Brian J. Walsh has had some notable success, particularly his Colossians Remixed; Subverting the Empire, written with his wife, Sylvia Keesmaat, and read by most people I know with an imaginative Christian mind. I’ve used it as a foundational text for preaching through Colossians – twice!
A Canadian like Cockburn, Walsh is a Christian Reformed campus minister at the University of Toronto and Adjunct Professor of Theology of Culture at Wycliffe College, Toronto School of Theology. That he was perfect for this particularly important and skillful task has been obvious for some 20 years since, in partnership with Richard Middleton, he wrote the first serious theo-musicology I had ever read — a very lengthy essay on Bruce Cockburn called, "Theology At The Rim Of The Broken Wheel."
Walsh does a good few things in Kicking At The Darkness; Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination. He confirms all your thoughts on your favorite Cockburn lyrics. (They were as theologically potent as you always thought!) He also reminds you how many great lines Cockburn has written, causing you to scuttle back to re-listen to every album right back to the first.
Walsh actually causes you to realize the width and depth and breadth of Cockburns theological comment. Songs that you hadn’t looked at closely because you were so taken by other songs on the same album, suddenly open up rich strata of Christian thought you’d never before considered.
The author’s approach is actually very simple and he uses this welcoming foundation to weave his immense insight into Cockburn’s songs to finish with much more than a commentary on Cockburn but rather a Christian worldview. He asks questions.
Walsh has used these questions before particularly in his books The Transforming Vision: Shaping a Christian World View and Truth is Stranger Than It Used to Be: Biblical Faith in a Postmodern Age, both again collaborations with Middleton.
The questions are: Where are we? Who are we? What is wrong? And what is the remedy? From these questions Walsh dialogues with endless lyrics of Cockburn’s to arrive at his answers in very articulate, Christian ways.
From Cockburn’s creation dance songs (particularly on Dancing In The Dragon’s Jaws) and the brokenness of humanity on Humans , to the justice at the rim of the broken wheel ("Justice" from Inner City Front) and some sense of kicking the darkness ‘til it bleeds daylight (with particular reference to the more recent album You’ve Never Seen Everything ) we are showered with memorable line, couplet or verse after memorable line, couplet or verse.
At times it seems that Walsh has become the thread that weaves Cockburn’s words together. Kicking at the Darkness is an astounding work on an astounding musical catalog.
For me,  the book made me fall in love with Cockburn all over again. It caused me to listen to songs such as "Dialogue with the Devil" that had gotten lost in Cockburn's huge catalog. Yet, it led me way beyond that.
Kick at the Darkness gave me a refresher course in my Christian worldview. It led me into theological thinking and inspired me to imagine the way the world is — and how the world can be — and how, as a preacher, I can at least attempt to share those thoughts in ways that are perhaps a percentage as creative and imaginative as Bruce Cockburn.
Steve Stockman the minister of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and blogs regularly on the intersection of faith and culture at Soul Surmise, where this reflection first appeared.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Esperanza Spalding Performs at the 84th Oscars

Esperanza Spalding sang a lovely rendition of What a Wonderful World during the Memorial Tribute section of the 84th Oscars. She is joined by the Southern California Children's Chorus. It was a beautiful performance. Click on the picture below to her Esperanza's performance.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Divine within us, rather than the bearded man in the sky

I...find there has been change in my understanding of what/who God is. It's a little hard to articulate. But I think, for me in the beginning there was a tendency to relate to the biblical God...with the beard in the sky. I think that rather than thinking of God as outside us and looking down on us, [God is] the presence of the divine is in all of us.

- Bruce Cockburn

Thoughts on Universalism and the Love of God

I believe God is love, and we are all his children; some of us just don't know it yet.

I don’t believe hardly anyone “goes to hell.” I don’t think God is as capricious as we are. I think “hell” has been used as  a means of behavior control most of Christian history, and has served the interests of those in power. Maybe we go through some kind of purging for our selfishness after death, I don't know.

Pete Townshend once sang, “The Sea refuses no river.” Eventually, all will come back to God, for God is “the source, guide, and goal” of all things (Romans 11.36, NEB).

I think God is beyond any concept of love we can imagine. All people have a spark of the Divine. It seems like too precious a thing to perish.

Kevin Costner's Message of Grace at Whitney Houston's Funeral

I hope my readers have been able to see Whitney Houston's funeral, or clips from it on YouTube. I think the funeral for Whitney Houston was so beautiful, with wonderful speakers and music. Watching Whitney's funeral inspired me, and renewed my personal faith.

Tyler Perry and Kevin Costner I think gave the most moving speeches. I have already posted Tyler Perry's speech, in which he shared how much Whitney loved the Lord.

Kevin Costner's affectionate reminisces presented Whitney as a woman of faith, who like him, had a Baptist Christian upbringing. He also presented Whitney as a woman who still struggled with self-confidence, even with her beauty, talent and success. Costner assured us that she was "great," and "perfect," and as "beautiful as a woman could be," that she had set the "bar so high," that other singers will not attempt to emulate her. Only young girls, who aspire to be the next Whitney, dare to follow in her footsteps. I think it is very touching how much love and admiration Costner has for Whitney Houston.

It was so beautiful what Costner had to say to Whitney:

"You weren't just pretty, you were as beautiful as a woman could be."

"People didn't just like you, Whitney. They loved you. I was your pretend bodyguard once not so long ago, and now you're gone, too soon, leaving us with memories".

Choking back tears, Kevin said goodbye one final time: "Off you go Whitney, off you go. Escorted by an army of angels to your heavenly father. "

"When you sing before him, don't you worry. You will be good enough".

Costner in his speech acknowledged Whitney's struggles, but he movingly proclaimed that Whitney was good enough to appear before her Father in heaven. By implication, Costner was also telling us that we are all acceptable to our Father in heaven.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Music Review: Kisses on the Bottom by Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney has just released a beautiful album of standards called, Kisses on the Bottom. I greatly enjoy this CD of jazz pop standards, they are part of the American song book. Paul's treatment gives them all such a warm feel. The album's title, "Kisses on the Bottom", comes from the album's opening track "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter," originally a hit for Fats Waller in 1935. The album has a light jazz feel, and Paul gives a charming vocal performance throughout the album. This is new territory for Paul, although he has has loved music like this all his life.

Some of the highlights are standards made popular by Sam Cooke ("Home (When Shadows Fall)"), Ella Fitzgerald ("It's Only a Paper Moon") and Danny Kaye ("The Inch Worm"), among others.

Paul plays acoustic guitar on two tracks, "Get Yourself Another Fool" and "The Inch Worm," but otherwise contributes only vocals to the album. Paul is backed up on the album by Diana Krall and her band.

In addition to the standards performed on this record, Paul pens two original compositions, the albums first single, “My Valentine,” and the CD's last track, “Only Our Hearts.” Eric Clapton plays lead acoustic guitar on “My Valentine,” and Stevie Wonder plays harmonica on “Only Our Hearts.”

I especially love “My Valentine.” It is a beautiful song, with a lovely melody and sung with much feeling by Paul. It stands with his best work, including any of his songs with the Beatles. Paul gave a live performance of the song at this year's Grammy Awards show.

The disc was produced by jazz producer Tommy LiPuma, who has worked with such notables as Miles Davis and Barbra Streisand, among others.

In announcing this new release, Paul said, “This is an album very tender, very intimate. This is an album you listen to at home after work, with a glass of wine or a cup of tea.”

Indeed, it is wonderful to listen to if you want to unwind. I enjoy having something light but interesting to listen to. This fits the bill. I have been listening to it on my Blackberry all week.

On this CD, Paul maintains the high level of performance that he has given us on recent CDs. Paul has done some of the best work of his career in the last 20 years, proving to this often ageist culture that the mature artist has much to offer.


Below are two videos of Paul's "My Valentine," one the official video, and the other his performance of the song at this year's Grammy Awards Show. I have also below the track listing and order links. 

Here is the track list to "Kisses On The Bottom": 

01. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter 
02. Home (When Shadows Fall) 
03.  It's Only A Paper Moon 
04. More I Cannot Wish You 
05. The Glory Of Love   
06. We Three (My Echo, My Shadow And Me) 
07. Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive 
08. My Valentine 
09. Always 
10. My Very Good Friend The Milkman 
11. Bye Bye Blackbird 
12. Get Yourself Another Fool 
13. The Inch Worm 
14. Only Our Hearts 
 15.  Baby's Request (Deluxe Edition) 
16.  My One And Only Love (Deluxe Edition)


Order Links for Kisses on the Bottom: 

Kisses on the Bottom, standard edition 

Kisses on the Bottom, Deluxe edition 

Kisses on the Bottom, MP.3

Kisses on the Bottom, Vinyl edition

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Tyler Perry: Whitney loved the Lord- Nothing can separate us from the Love of God

Very moving sharing by Tyler Perry about Whitney Houston's love for God.

93 Economists Say Obama Stimulus Plan Worked

‎93 top economists say the Obama stimulus worked. Read their BIO's....and how and why they voted the way they did. "Poll Results | IGM panel was chosen to include distinguished experts with a keen interest in public policy from the major areas of economics, to be geographically diverse, and to include Democrats, Republicans and Independents as well as older and younger scholars. The panel members are all senior faculty at the most elite research universities in the United States.  The panel includes Nobel Laureates..."

click on the link below to read more: 
Question A: Because of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the U.S. unemployment rate was lower at the end of 2010 than it would have been without the stimulus bill.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Whitney Houston's Accapella version of How Will I Know?

By now you may have heard about Whitney Houston’s vocal track for her song How Will I Know? It has gone viral on the internet, and is available for download. This shows why she Whitney was nicknamed “The Voice.” It is an amazing testimony to her talent.

How Will I Know (Acappella) through Amazon MP.3

How Will I Know (Acappella) through iTunes

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nelson Mandela pays tribute to Whitney Houston

Nelson Mandela today honored the memory of Whitney Houston.

As Lawrence O'Donnell said tonight, let's remember Whitney the way she deserves to be remembered: singing to Nelson Mandela on his birthday, and singing to him at the White House. 

Whitney Houston was a staunch supporter of the fight against apartheid and refused to work with any agencies who did business with pre-democratic South Africa during her modelling days.

Whitney Houston: Nelson Mandela pays tribute to star

Whitney performing at the Concert for Nelson Mandela's 70th Birthday in 1988.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Prayer for Whitney Houston

Last night on the Grammy Awards show, Jennifer Hudson sang beautifully Whitney's song, I Will Always Love You, with a gospel feel to it. I hope Whitney from heaven can see how much people love her.

"Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Whitney. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive her into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen."

- the Book of Common Prayer,  page 499

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Tribute to Whitney Houston- A Youtube Play List

In tribute to Whitney Houston, here is a short play list I compiled on Youtube. It starts out with an electrifying performance of her big hit, I Get So Emotional from a 1988 Concert for Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday.

Watching these videos, I am convinced that Whitney, this stunningly beautiful woman, with her strong lovely voice, was the most talented female pop vocalist of our time.

Rest in peace, Sweet Angel.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rest In Peace, Sweet Angel: Whitney Houston found dead at 48

Whitney Houston passed away tonight, her publisher announced.

I remember back in 1985, my mother, who has impeccable taste in music, bought a self-titled album by a new singer, Whitney Houston. The album was terrific, of course. It featured three number one singles, "Saving All My Love for You", "How Will I Know" and "Greatest Love of All." I also liked the duet with Bassist Jermaine Jackson, "Take Good Care of My Heart."

The debut album thrust Whitney into super-stardom, which she follow up with many other hit albums, songs, and movies. According to her Wikipedia article, Whitney received 2 Emmy Awards, 6 Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards as of 2010. Houston was also one of the world's best-selling music artists, having sold over 170 million albums and singles worldwide. She was extremely talented and had a great voice.

I always liked Whitney's recordings, and thought Whitney was such a beautiful woman- so did a lot of other guys I knew.

Whitney, in spite of her talent and success, also had heart ache, including a stormy marriage to singer Bobby Brown, and struggles with substance abuse. But I remember what a beautiful, radiant talent and person she was.

She was a sweet angel, I am so saddened by her death. Good night sweet princess, rest in peace.

Barbara Harris, First Female Bishop in the Episcopal Church

Today, February 11th, marks the 23 anniversary of the consecration of Barbara Harris as a bishop of the Episcopal Church. She was the first female bishop ordained in the Anglican Communion.

Barbara Harris is a veteran of the civil rights movement, having marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960's. She helped registered black voters in Mississippi. She has also been outspoken for women's rights and the rights of gays and lesbians.

In 1974, she acolyted at ordination service for the first eleven women ordained in the Episcopal Church. In 1979 she was ordained a deacon, and as a priest in 1980. In 1989 she became the first female bishop of the Anglican Communion. She retired in 2003.

Speaking of her work as bishop, Harris said, "I certainly don't want to be one of the boys. I want to offer my peculiar gifts as a black woman...a sensitivity and an awareness that comes out of more than a passing acquaintance with oppression.”

I am a firm believer in ordaining women to the priesthood and consecrating them as bishops. I believe that there were female priests and bishops in the very early church. In any event, both male and female are made in the image of God (Gen 1.27). The image of God is Christ (Col 1.15), and therefore, women can image Christ at the altar as well as men. In the American Episcopal Church, this is now a long settled issue. For me, female clergy is a non-negotiable.

Today, we honor the witness of Barbara Harris, who has fulfilled a prophetic role in society and in the church, as an African-American Woman and a Bishop. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Henry Winston, African American political leader and Marxist civil rights activist - Black History Month

Who was Henry Winston?
An unsung hero of Black History.
Winston was an African American. A Cold War political prisoner.  A communist.
Imprisoned with other communist leaders for a “conspiracy” to teach revolution, Winston was stricken with a brain tumor behind bars.
Thousands around the world rallied for his release.
Fidel Castro offered to trade the imprisoned Bay of Pigs mercenaries for his release.
President John F. Kennedy granted him executive clemency, but his release was too late.
Henry Winston went blind from medical negligence while serving a prison term because of his belief in a Socialist USA.

source: Communist Party, USA: Celebrating the Life of Henry Winston 

February is African American History Month. It is also the 100th anniversary of the birth of Henry Winston, former national chairman of the Communist Party USA. On Sunday, February 19, 2p.m., the Communist Party will hold a celebration and tribute on Winston's legacy in New York City. The event, "The Legacy of Henry Winston: Fight against Racism and the Far Right in 2012" will be livestreamed. Speakers will include professor and political activist Angela Davis, CPUSA Exec. Vice Chair Jarvis Tyner and Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism founder Charlene Mitchell.
People Before Profits Education Fund, New York State Communist Party, Young Communist League and Longview Publishing are sponsors. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door with a special discounted price of $5 for low-income attendees. Make checks payable to People Before Profits Education Fund. Checks can be sent to 235 W 23rd St. 7th floor New York, NY 10011. For more information call 646 556-7409. Click here for the event invitation.

Henry Winston lived a heroic life. Born in Hattiesburg, Miss., into a poor working-class family in 1912, Winston at a young age became active in the unemployed movement during the early years of the Great Depression. It was then that he joined the Young Communist League and was soon elected as a national leader. Winston helped in the building of the 3-million-member American Youth Congress, the Southern Negro Youth Congress and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade whose members fought fascism in Spain.

Winston served in the armed forces, which were segregated, during World War II. Upon his honorable discharge, he became national organization secretary of the Communist Party. In 1948, despite his service to his country, he was among the first 12 leaders of the CPUSA who were indicted for their political beliefs under the unconstitutional Smith Act. Winston spent seven years in jail under this infamous thought control act, and became blind due to the racist negligence of his jailers and the Jim Crow prison system. In 1966 he was elected national chairman of the CPUSA, a position he held until his death in 1986.

Winston made profound theoretical contributions to the class and democratic struggles of the United States. His book, Strategy for a Black Agenda, which first came out in 1973 "remains a fundamental contribution to the struggle," says Tyner. Winston focused on the unity of the class and "national questions," stressing the need for the "Black liberation movement to come to grips with the long-term economic crisis faced by our community, and to direct the struggle against racism toward a broader struggle against the power of monopoly capitalism and imperialism," Tyner says.

In addition, Winston was active in the struggles for Black liberation, black-white and working class unity, and among the American pioneers in building solidarity with peoples of Africa, in particular the struggles against apartheid in southern Africa.

Tyner says the celebration of Winston's life is relevant for 2012 and the elections, especially the struggle against racism. "I think Winston's legacy is still very powerful for today.  Much has changed since Winston's time, and today holds its own complexities, but we are still confronting racism, economic injustice and reactionary political forces."

From the Wikipedia article Henry M. Winston :  

Henry M. Winston (2 April 1912– 13 December 1986) was an African American political leader and Marxist civil rights activist.

Winston, committed to equal rights and communism, was an advocate of civil rights for African Americans decades before the idea of racial equality emerged as a mainstream current of American political thought.

An early member of the American Communist Party, Winston was elected to the party's National Board in 1936, serving as Chairman of the CPUSA from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Born on 2 April 1911 to Joseph and Lucille Winston in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Henry grew up there and in Kansas City, Missouri. The economic situation of the poor Winston family was troubling enough to force Henry to leave high school early. Though once again uemployed after the start of the Great Depression, Winston's organizational skills and intellect when he took a position with the Kansas City Unemployed Council at 19.

By 1936, Winston was serving the Communist Party USA as both the national organizational secretary of the Young Communist League member of the Communist Party National Board.

As a high-ranking member of the Communist Party organization, Winston encouraged members of the party to sign up for military service to fight Fascism and Nazism in the Second World War. Winston himself served in the Army, participating in the liberation of France from Nazi occupation. He marked the war's end with an honorable discharge from the military.

The Red Scare
Back to political activity after his World War II discharge and the reorganization of the Party in 1946, Winston, along with the rest of the CPUSA leadership, was a victim of an early Cold War attempt by the American government to "decapitate" the Communists' leading ranks. In 1948, Winston, together with other notable leaders within the Communist movement, was brought to trial in the Foley Square trial on charges of violating the Smith Act prohibition prohibiting the encouragement of overthrowing the American government.

Unable to produce any evidence that any of the leading party members had actually called for the armed overthrow of the American government, the prosecution, boosted by the American public's antipathy toward radical activists during the opening years of the Cold War, based its case on selective interpretation of quotations from the works of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and other revolutionary figures of Marxism-Leninism, and the testimony of "witnesses" hired by the FBI. During the course of the trial the judge held several of the defendants and all of their counsel in contempt of court.
Convicted of revolutionary insurrection alongside the rest of the defendants for advocating the ideas of Marxism, Winston escaped while on bail. In disguise, traveling around the country under a false name, Winston was sheltered by sympathetic to Marxism and leftist political work. Undeterred from maintaining his links with the party above-ground, Winston continued his activities from within the party's underground organization: his 1951 pamphlet on party organization, "What it Means to be a Communist," was produced by the Communist Party while Winston was still underground.

Following his surrender to federal authorities years later, Winston served out his sentence in Terre Haute, Indiana, remaining imprisoned, despite severe health problems, until his release in 1961.
Winston's state of health began to see a rapid deterioration throughout the late 1950s. By 1958, he began to suffer from headaches and dizzy spells; no adequate treatment was administered to him until 1960; by then, although the tumor was removed when he was transferred to a hospital New York, Winston was left permanently blind as a result of denied treatment. Winston's release, now sought even by anti-communist preachers and liberal activists, was refused.

Addressing President Kennedy in a 1961 debate, Comandante Fidel Castro, whose July 26 Revolution swept the Communists into power two years earlier, called for the release of Winston and other political prisoners.

Against the backdrop of both waves of protests from various quarters of the United States in addition to criticism from across the world, the Kennedy administration allowed Winston executive clemency, following which he was permitted to seek medical attention in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The same year, the Supreme Court, in Noto v. United States (1961), put an end to the jailing of party leaders, having reversed a conviction under the membership clause because the evidence was insufficient to prove that the Party had engaged in unlawful advocacy:

"[T]he mere abstract teaching of Communist theory, including the teaching of the moral propriety or even moral necessity for a resort to force and violence is not the same as preparing a group for violent action and steeling it to such action. There must be some substantial direct or circumstantial evidence of a call to violence now or in the future which is both sufficiently strong and sufficiently pervasive to lend color to the otherwise ambiguous theoretical material regarding Communist Party teaching, and to justify the inference that such a call to violence may fairly be imputed to the Party as a whole, and not merely to some narrow segment of it."

The legal recognition of the illegitamcy of the federal government's basis for the imprisonment of party activists was now complete. Although the party was seriously damaged by the repressive moves, aggressive party activity was now again possible.

Later life
Winston was elected CPUSA Chairman in 1966, sharing the running of the party organization with Gus Hall, the General Secretary.

In 1964, he spoke to students at the University of Washington, after radical activists from the Baby Boomer generation staged protests against the university's ban on "communist speakers."

The 1970s witnessed the publication of two books connecting the long-denied issue of African American equality in America and the Communist philosophy of class struggle: Winston's Strategy for a Black Agenda (1973) and Class, Race, and Black Liberation (1977), which argued that the struggle for civil rights had reached the stage of fusion with the struggle for economic rights.

His 1971 lecture to a seminar of Communist Party organizers, "The giant industrial monopolies, the big banks and insurance companies, the financiers and landowners, all spawn racism and use it as one of their chief class weapons to maintain and defend their regime of exploitation and oppression, of enmity among peoples, of imperialist wars of aggression.

"It follows that all democratic and antimonopoly forces, with the working class and Black liberation movement in the van, can effectively defend the interests of the vast majority of people only when they actively further the struggle against racism. This is an essential precondition for the development of a fighting alliance which will unite all democratic and [anticapitalist] forces in the country."

A close ally of the South African Communist Party and actively involved in the American movement to end support for the United States' then-ally, apartheid South Africa, Winston proposed the following strategy as a backbone of principles for the U.S. sanctions and divestment movement against the apartheid regime:

  1. No economic, political or military relations whatsoever with the Vorster regime in the Republic of South Africa.
  2. Congress shall tax and the Treasury shall collect taxes on all profits made in South Africa at maximum rates without deductions for local tax paid.
  3. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation shall refuse to insure any new investments in South Africa and cancel all outstanding insurance on investments in the Republic of South Africa.
  4. The President shall instruct the Export-Import Bank and all other U.S. credit agencies to refuse all credits for business with the Republic of South Africa and instruct U.S. representatives of international lending agencies to oppose all credits to the Republic of South Africa or companies operating therein.
  5. The State Department shall denounce all existing investment, trade and commercial treaties with the Union of South Africa and the President shall remove most favored nation treatment from South African goods.
  6. The immediate withdrawal of the sugar quota to the Republic of South Africa.

As Chairman of the CPUSA, Winston condemned the Reagan administration's nuclear buildup, increases in military spending at the expense of social welfare programs, and sponsorships of civil wars against leftist forces in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Winston died on December 13, 1986, aged 75, in the Soviet Union, where he had again returned in search of medical treatment.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Episcopal Church and Social Justice

The Episcopal Church has taken prophetic stand on a number of social issues.

The church ordains female clergy; the church welcomes gay and lesbian persons; the church engages in any number of social justice and charitable ministries. As the Episcopal Church web site states, "One of the ways the Episcopal Church addresses domestic poverty is through its Jubilee network, which consists of over 600 Jubilee Ministry Centers. These centers empower the poor and oppressed in their communities by providing direct services, such as food, shelter, and healthcare, and also by advocating for human rights."

The Church also partners with the One Campaign, and has endorsed the Millennium Development Goals for ending world poverty.

The Episcopal Church has also made formal statements endorsing single payer health care, the Employee Free Choice Act, and the Occupy Movement.

The Episcopal Church is not perfect, and not without problems; but in my view, the church is standing on the right side of history.

The Episcopal Church

Monday, February 6, 2012

Robert Kennedy and Cesar Chavez in 1968

Below are some pictures of Robert F. Kennedy with Cesar Chavez after Chavez's hunger strike. We have not seen a politician so in solidarity with proletarian workers since RFK. The poor are often of no concern in today's political debate. It is so moving to see these two heroes of social justice together.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Video Black Gold by Esperanza Spalding with Algebra - Black History Month

Esperanza Spalding's new upcoming CD, Radio Music Society, Features a wonderful track, Black Gold. Black Gold celebrates the African-American heritage. The accompanying video was shot in September in New York, and it is produced to celebrate of Black History Month. The song is performed with R&B singer Algebra Blesset, and the two ladies sing beautifully together. The video that accompanies this track feature Esperanza and her band with Algebra performing the song in a New York City neighborhood. In the video there is also a story line with a young African-American father teaching his sons about Black History. I also have included in my Youtube Playlist here a couple of other videos from the shoot, including Esperanza and her band jamming, and also performing Kool and the Gang's Jungle Boogie. All of the songs for Esperanza's Radio Music Society will have videos, and will be available with the deluxe edition of the Radio Music Society, which will include a CD and DVD.

Bishop John Shelby Spong on Adult Faith

Bishop Spong says that instead of being "born again," people need to grow up and have an adult faith.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Catherine Russell Performs Troubled Waters on Dutch Radio

Tonight on KBEM Jazz 88, the local Twin Cities Jazz Station, I heard jazz singer Catherine Russell sing this blues/jazz song, and it was very moving. Catherine was interviewed tonight and she talked about the background of this song, how it was a favorite of Duke Ellington in the Cotton Club days. She shared how this song reflects the African-American experience.

The person speaking in the song speaks of how others call her "one of the devil's daughters," how "they speak of her in scorn" and "go around scandalize my name."

But the troubled waters which "are way beyond [her] control will wash away [her] sins before the Lord."

The Single Mother Has No Food

She sits in the dark on her chair.
Glad she lives in a warm climate
Her lights are shut off
Could not pay the bill
She feels her tummy growl
Her baby kick
But there is no food in the apartment
Her stingy food stamp allotment exhausted
She only has 10 minutes left
On her phone
She can’t turn it back on
Meanwhile a billionaire
Runs for office
He’s not worried about the poor
He says
Another one says he’s prolife
They both want to cut Medicaid
The only benefit our girl
Has left
A tear slides down her cheek
The hunger isn’t abated
By the last handful of Cap’n Crunch
Left in her empty cupboard

copyright © 2011 Lance Goldsberry