I got something that’ll
Sho nuff set your stuff on fire
John Shelby Spong, who was the Episcopal Bishop of Newark for twenty-four years, writes in The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic:
The good news of the gospel, as John understands it, is not that you–a wretched, miserable, fallen sinner–have been rescued from your fate and saved from your deserved punishment by the invasive power of a supernatural, heroic God who came to your aid…. John’s rendition of Jesus’ message is that the essence of life is discovered when one is free to give life away, that love is known in the act of loving and that the call of human life is to be all that each of us can be and then to be an agent of empowering other to be all they can be.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
~ Matthew 6:25
I spent over four years homeless mostly in New Rochelle, NY and discovered the power of empathy to fuel innovation and creativity:
I believe that empathy – the imaginative act of stepping into another person’s shoes and viewing the world from their perspective – is a radical tool for social change and should be a guiding light for the art of living. Over the past decade, I have become convinced that it has the power not only to transform individual lives, but to help tackle some of the great problems of our age, from wealth inequality to violent conflicts and climate change.It is important to understand what empathy is and is not. If you see a homeless person living under a bridge you may feel sorry for him and give him some money as you pass by. That is pity or sympathy, not empathy. If, on the other hand, you make an effort to look at the world through his eyes, to consider what life is really like for him, and perhaps have a conversation that transforms him from a faceless stranger into a unique individual, then you are empathising. ~ Roman Krznaric
Dev Patnaik, author of Wired to Care:
At Jump Associates, my colleagues and I have had the chance to collaborate with some of the world’s most amazing companies. And if there’s one thing that we’ve learned in all that time, it’s that companies prosper when they’re able to create widespread empathy for the world around them. That’s why I ended up writing Wired to Care, which shows how great companies around the world, from Nike to IBM, benefit from building a culture of widespread empathy for the people they serve.
The evidence is overwhelming on the need of empathy to drive innovation, yet as the documentary The Corporation argues, most corporations have the characteristics of a psychopath. And as Russell Mokhiber in an article in The Corporate Crime Reporter tells us:
Corporate crime inflicts far more damage on society than all street crime combined.
Whether in bodies or injuries or dollars lost, corporate crime and violence wins by a landslide.
“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
~ Matthew 7:12
When we look at each other, we are seeing the past. That is to say, what we see before us has happened. Science, logic and waking consciousness all deal with things that have happened. Science and reason can only predict what will happen if what will happen repeats what has happened. They cannot predict absolute novelty. The creativity of religion, mythology, and dream consciousness is the present. It is becoming. It is our very becoming. And a person with an intuition on that level can intuit the destiny of nations.
Waking consciousness, science, rational life, perfectly good but don’t try to interpret religion and your dreams in terms of reason. And don’t try to interpret faith in terms of science and logic. Religious imagery is telling you what is becoming. Reason is telling you what has become. The mystery of life is on the level of faith and dreams. So have faith, keep believing, and don’t be afraid to dream.
We need a theology of abundance to deal with the outcomes of our technology, the massive fruitfulness that the Creator God baked into us. We need a theology of abundance equal to the grace and generosity found in the blood of Jesus poured out for many. We need a theology of abundance commensurate with the superabundant presence of the Holy Spirit that can flood our senses, short-circuit our rationale. Unfortunately, our economics is built on a model of scarcity, and our theology feels equally impoverished.
[D]espite living in the most modernized and technologically advanced country, Americans report one of the world’s highest levels of belief in God. Americans’ faith in God appears constant even as we have come to embrace twenty-first-century technology and the benefits of modern science….While Americans tend to be religiously devout, we paradoxically tend to know very little about religion, our own or others’. Religion scholar Stephen Prothero has shown that America is composed of “Protestants who can’t name the four Gospels, Catholics who can’t name the seven sacraments, and Jews who can’t name the five books of Moses.” Religious illiteracy increases the odds of misunderstanding and conflict….[T]he simple fact that nearly 95 percent of Americans say they believe in God undermines any notion that we are engaged in a holy war over the existence of God.Our image of God is never simply a reflection of the beliefs of our religious community. The traditional method of classifying people as Catholics or Baptists or Jews tells us little of consequence about what they believe.~ American’s Four Gods
By Paul Froese
& Christopher Bader
In The Case for God, Karen Armstrong explains that until the modern period, the major Western monotheisms all concerned themselves primarily with practice, the doing of religion, rather than doctrine. A good Muslim was one who stood alongside and supported the Pillars; a good Jew observed Sabbath and remained committed to the Law and the ritual year; and a good Christian embodied the Sermon on the Mount by caring for the marginalized, promoting compassion and peace, and sharing God’s love. This is what it meant to be religious, Armstrong explains:
Religion as defined by the great sages of India, China, and the Middle East was not a notional activity but a practical one; it did not require belief in a set of doctrines but rather hard, disciplined work, without which any religious teaching remained opaque and incredible.
For most of Western history, religion has been primarily a matter of orthopraxy, not orthodoxy. In fact, no doctrine made any sense without participation in the community of faith and in its rituals. No doubt, there were certain thoughts or “beliefs” that mattered and were of extreme importance; however, unlike today, these convictions were never understood as either the core or the purpose of the religious life.
In fact, for most of Western history “belief” has meant nothing like what it means today. Today, when someone asks me if I believe in God, for example, they are asking if I assent to the proposed verity or the factual existence of God—and usually it is in reference to a very specific understanding of that God. Similarly, if I’m asked if I have “faith in Christ”, the question is whether I agree with the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth was divine, died on a cross, and was raised from the dead, or some form of that story. In both cases, questions of “belief” and questions of “faith” require answers of thought.
Yet, as surprising as it may seem, these understandings are relatively recent. “Faith” has its etymological roots in the Greek pistis, “trust; commitment; loyalty; engagement.” Jerome translated pistis into the Latin fides (“loyalty”) and credo (which was from cor do, “I give my heart”). The translators of the first King James Bible translated credo into the English “belief,” which came from the Middle English bileven (“to prize; to value; to hold dear”). Faith in God, therefore, was a trust in and loyal commitment to God. Belief in Christ was an engaged commitment to the call and ministry of Jesus; it was a commitment to do the gospel, to be a follower of Christ. In neither case were “belief” or “faith” a matter of intellectual assent.
From a video essay about creativity we learn:
All of history’s greatest figures achieved success in almost exactly the same way. But rather than celebrating this part of the creative process we ignore it.This missing chapter in the story of success reveals the secret to doing meaningful work. But in the modern world, full of distraction, do we have what it takes to do great things?
In January 2009, my mother, Lezlie Linder, was diagnosis with lung cancer. On my bookshelf, I had a copy of Ralph Moss’s The Cancer Industry which argues that chemotherapy and radiation are largely ineffective and so toxic people often die from their treatment rather than their disease. She really wasn’t interested.
In May 2009, in order to help encourage my mother to eat healthier, I attended a screening of the documentary Fresh which included a reception that featured Joel Salatin and Will Allen. Living in Williamsburg, Virginia, I was motivated to host a screening and panel at the local library.
The sky was all purple
There were people runnin’ everywhere
Tryin’ to run from their destruction
You know I didn’t even care
They say two thousand zero, zero
Oops, out of time
So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999
In 1999 worldwide music revenue was $27 billion, in 2014 it had dropped to $15 billion. Most blame Napster for this decline, but if you dig deeper you will find that Wall Street and government policy are the actual cause of the steep decline in music revenue. The death of Prince is a metaphor for the death of music and especially Black music.
From WNYC’s Soundcheck we heard that “There Were No Black Artists With Number One Singles in 2013:”
2013 marked the first-ever year since Billboard began charting Top 40 songs in 1958 that zero black artists made their way to the top of the singles chart.
The top spot on the Hot 100 — today’s version of the singles chart — was dominated by white acts throughout the past year. Perhaps even more intriguing is the fact that white artists even sat atop the R&B and Hip-Hop Songs chart for 44 out of 52 weeks of 2013. Compare this to ten years ago, when every No. 1 Hot 100 single was performed by an artist of color.
Corporate culture is not conducive to developing musical talent and it is especially terrible at developing African-American musical talent. Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Record, quoted in The Song Machine by John Seabrook:
I don’t think the music business lends itself very well to being a Wall Street business. You’re always working with individuals, with creative people, and the people your are trying to reach, by and large, don’t view music as a commodity but as a relationship with a band. It takes time to expand that relationship…
Prince was a great musician
“Prince came in, and he said to the labels, ‘Do not try to just put me with the urban group; I want the world. I want to be with the pop staff. I’m going to make rock and roll, as well as soul, as well as funk…I don’t want to just go to Soul Train, I don’t want to just open up for Rick James, I want to be on Dick Clark.’”
But more importantly, Prince was a great activist
“[Prince] helped so many people. Most people don’t know that. He wanted to keep his charitable activities a secret. He wanted to keep his passion for underprivileged people between him and his god.”
“We spent hours talking about [Prince’s] concerns about technology and getting those skills to inner city youth.”
Often in the United States, Black activists don’t fare too well
For example Black Panther leader Fred Hampton was murdered by the Chicago police and the FBI.
It’s not a crime to murder Black organizers in an operation run by the national political police…. Just compare the coverage and the memory of just these two events, Watergate and the Hampton assassination, you learn a lot about the prevailing immortal and intellectual culture.
~ Noam Chomsky
Might not be in the back of the bus
But it sure feel just the same
Ain’t nothing fair about welfare,
Ain’t no assistance in aids
Ain’t nothin’ affirmative about your actions
Till the people get paid