Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Rev. Otis Moss III: The talk show host?!?!?!?

I didn't know our new senior pastor used to host a program Day 1 Diner.

According to their website :

Day1 is the voice of the mainline Protestant church, presenting outstanding preachers from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, and other denominations. Our website features an extensive library of lectionary-based sermons in text and audio, and other helpful information for lay persons and pastors.

I knew Pastor Moss was talented, but didn't know he could work the camera so well outside of the pulpit!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Right Wing Media is not through attacking us

It seems that once again the far right wing media outlets have sought to assault black religious leaders and their preaching styles. This time the target is Rev. Otis Moss III.

Sean Hannity of Fox News’ Hannity's America, a weekly American talk show on the Fox News Channel, will air snippets of some of Rev. Moss' sermons on th is Sunday evening, May 11 and attempt to classify them as controversial and offensive because Moss dares to use biblical parables to explain and shed light on modern day circumstances, using the vernacular of today's youth.

The disingenuous assaults, aimed at attacking the voice and religious styles of traditional preaching, have attempted to distort the ministry and witness of Rev. Otis Moss III.

I wonder is this all they can dig up on a presidential candidate??

In any case, you can view Pastor Mosses sermons in context for yourself Here

Pastor Otis Moss III : Divine Love: You Don't Have to Choose

Rev. Moss gives some spiritual insight on how to deal with the current media scrutiny surrounding Obama and Rev. Wright

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Reverand Otis Moss III: A Preacher for a new generation

Taking the helm of Trinity United Church of Christ, Shaker native Otis Moss III reaches youth with an energized message and hip-hop-infused sermons

Brought up in a family of faith

Moss' path to this high-profile Chicago pulpit completes a circle, of sorts.

Moss grew up in Shaker Heights, the youngest son of three children in Cleveland's "First Family of Faith," known for mixing God and politics in a way that made many white people uneasy. His parents, Edwina and Otis Moss Jr., pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, met when she worked for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Moss Jr. was a board member of an organization headed by the civil rights leader. The younger Moss recalls having breakfast with King's father when he was 8.

Growing up, he also recalls conversations around the dinner table that centered on connecting faith to political issues.

"My dad always asked, 'How is your faith connected to transforming your community?' and 'How do you deal with issues of poverty, race and class?' " Moss said. Olivet was known as much for feeding the poor as it was for registering blacks to vote and holding rallies to protest racial inequality by City Hall or the police.

Like his father, Moss is a proponent of "black liberation theology," which interprets the Bible as a story about the struggles of black people, who, because of their oppression, are better able to understand Scripture than those who have suffered less.

"The pre-eminent ethic of Jesus Christ, his inaugural sermon is 'the Spirit of the Lord is upon you to preach the good news to the poor, to set up liberty, to set the captives free, to allow the mind to see,' " the younger Moss said. "I believe that is the mission of the church."

"You are not just preaching the Gospel," the elder Moss said. "You are dealing with social conflict. That's what Jesus was doing every day.

"The church has to be the conscience, the voice for the hopeless, the marginalized, the disinherited," the elder Moss continued. "Dr. King used to say that the church has to be the headlight, not the taillight."

The conservative movement that is moving through the church community - both black and white - is silencing that role, he said.

"The flag has become a substitute for the cross, and patriotism is defined as the refusal to criticize the government, which is a dangerous attitude for a democratic society."

While father and son's theological, social and political views mirror each other, the men's mannerisms and preaching styles do not. The elder Moss speaks methodically, his diction formal, the use of contractions unusual. The younger Moss is stretched tight, like a membrane of a drum, exuding a tense energy. Listening to him preach is like hearing a recording of his father, the tape stuck on fast-forward.

Moss said growing up in Cleveland was "a blessing" but not perfect. When he and his friends rode their bikes on Shaker Boulevard, they would make bets about how many whites would lock their car doors as they zipped by.

"We would hear click, click, click of people's door locks all the way down the street," Moss said.

As a 12-year-old, Moss said, he was called the N-word by opponents and sometimes their parents when playing hockey in North Olmsted, Oberlin and "anytime we were in a place without people of color."

Despite his occupation today, Moss said people still look at him as a threat or a problem just because he is a black male. "That is something African-American young men experience whether they come from a middle-class home or the inner city," he said.

'God had other plans'

After watching his son preach at Olivet when he was 15, the elder Moss said, he hoped that one day his son would take over Olivet's pulpit. "I knew then he had the touch, I would say, theologically, the anointing of a minister," said Otis Moss Jr., 72.

But at the time, the younger Moss had no interest in full-time ministry.

He lettered in football, basketball and track at Shaker Heights High School. After he graduated in 1988, he competed in track (100-meter dash, 200, 4x100, 4x400, and high and long jumps) and studied mass communications at Morehouse College in Atlanta, his heart set on becoming a filmmaker like his idol, Spike Lee.

His college track coach encouraged him to try out for the Olympics and he began training in the long jump.

"But God had other plans," Moss said. He became ill with the chicken pox. He lost 15 pounds and was out for two weeks. Afterward, as he struggled to regain his former strength and speed, he said he heard God's voice telling him, "Stop running in circles."

Moss changed his major to religion and philosophy. He knew he was being called to full-time ministry, but he hoped God didn't want him to work in a church.

"It's a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week job, and I didn't think I would be cut out for it," he said.

His first job after graduating from Morehouse and receiving a divinity degree from Yale University was working with a group of former gang members and drug dealers in Connecticut. When Moss talked about "Amazing Grace," one man asked, "Who is she?" Moss realized that trying to use "Christian-speak" to reach the disconnected and disenfranchised who didn't grow up going to church was a waste of time.

"I believe it is the mission of the church to reach out to groups like that," he said.

Moss found using hip-hop lyrics was the perfect middle ground, and a ministry was born.

From New Haven, he became the pastor of a Baptist church in Augusta, Ga., which grew from 125 to 2,100 members during his nine years there. He had no intention of leaving. Georgia was home. He and his Morehouse sweetheart, Monica, married, had two children and set down roots.

If he left, it would be to step into his dad's pulpit in Cleveland, he said.

In 2005, Wright of Trinity invited Moss to come to Chicago to guest preach. While Moss was there, Wright asked him to consider taking over. Moss thought he was kidding. After a year of prayer in Georgia, Moss and his wife packed their bags for Chicago. The predominantly black Trinity boasts more than 10,000 members and is the largest church within the traditionally white United Church of Christ denomination.

"The more I began to reflect on it, the more I realized that I would be going to Cleveland to support my father because I am his son not because God was saying, 'Go to Cleveland,' " Moss said.

He has never looked back.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Archbishop Desmond Tutu:Black Theology Seeks the Liberation of All

Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights advocate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Mpilo Tutu was awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to the cause of racial justice in South Africa. He served as the first black African archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 to 1996. Prior to this role as spiritual leader of the Anglican Church in South Africa, Tutu served as General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches from 1978 to 1985.

Black Theology Seeks the Liberation of All

When we were struggling in South Africa against the vicious racist policies of apartheid, it was exhilarating to proclaim to our people that our God was encountered first not in the peaceful quiet of a sanctuary. No, our God was out there in the rough and tumble of the politics of the day. Our God revealed Himself in the utterly vulgar world of setting a fractious rabble of slaves free. Our God was/is the great liberator God of the Exodus – the paradigmatic event that helped to define God as the God who is never unbiased, but is always biased in favor of the oppressed, the marginalized, the down and outs.

This God in Jesus Christ continued to demonstrate this bias – Jesus companied not with the high and mighty, Archbishops, Presidents, and such like, but with the scum of society, prostitutes, sinners, the despised. This was the God who had an extraordinary identification with the little people – inasmuch as you have done this(clothed the naked,fed the hungry,etc.) staggeringly you have done it as to God.Wow. Our God did not give good advice from a safe distance. No, our God entered the fiery furnace to be there as Immanuel, God with us in our anguish and agony. Our God was not deaf, but heard our cries, was not blind but saw our suffering and would as of old come down to deliver us from our bondage too, so that we would enjoy the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Jeremiah Wright has said really no more than this which falls squarely in the ambit of black theology, black religion to answer the anguished questions of black people suffering under the brutality of white racism. It ultimately seeks reconciliation, but you cannot be reconciled with one who has his boot on your neck to keep you in the gutter. To be reconciled you must stand up right to look the other in the eye.

Black theology and religion seek the liberation of all, oppressor and oppressed, black and white together – as we accomplished it in South Africa for freedom is indivisible. Whites won't be truly free until blacks are free. Listen to Condeleeza Rice in the Washington Times. Obama is a person of courageous integrity. He could have ingratiated himself to white Americans by repudiating his pastor completely. He did nothing of the sort. That speaks volumes for the man. America will not find peace with itself until you really deal with your history.You need something like a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to help you come to terms with your past.

Another Jeremiah,the prophet of old shocked his compatriots when Jerusalem was being besieged by the Chaldeans. He urged his compatriots to desert and join the enemy. What price patriotism.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Bill Moyers : 'Beware the Terrible Simplifiers'

Wow I guess Bill Moyers and I were totally on the same page

Editor’s Note: The furor over Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s outbursts has altered Campaign 2008, inflicting grave damage on Barack Obama’s candidacy. But is this media obsession fair when compared with far less attention given to other political pastors, like John Hagee, a John McCain backer, who called Hurricane Katrina God’s punishment of New Orleans?

In this guest essay, Bill Moyers – who interviewed Wright on PBS – tries to answer that question:

“Everyone,” he said. “Everyone sees what’s happening through the lens of their own experience.”

That’s how people see Jeremiah Wright.

In my conversation with him and in his dramatic public appearances since, he revealed himself to be far more complex than the sound bites that propelled him onto the public stage.

More than 2,000 people have written me about him, and their opinions vary widely. Some sting: “Jeremiah Wright is nothing more than a race-hustling, American-hating radical,” one of my viewers wrote. Another called him a “nut case.”

Many more were sympathetic to him. Many asked for some rational explanation for Wright’s transition from reasonable conversation to the shocking anger they saw at the National Press Club.

A psychologist might pull back some of the layers and see this complicated man more clearly, but I’m not a psychologist.

Many black preachers I’ve known—scholarly, smart, and gentle in person—uncorked fire and brimstone in the pulpit. Of course, I’ve known many white preachers like that, too.

But where I grew up in the South, before the civil rights movement, the pulpit was a safe place for black men to express anger for which they would have been punished anywhere else. A safe place for the fierce thunder of dignity denied, justice delayed.

I think I would have been angry if my ancestors had been transported thousands of miles in the hellish hole of a slave ship, then sold at auction, humiliated, whipped, and lynched.

Or if my great-great-great grandfather had been but three-fifths of a person in a Constitution that proclaimed: “We, the people.”

Or if my own parents had been subjected to the racial vitriol of Jim Crow, Strom Thurmond, Bull Conner, and Jesse Helms.

Even so, the anger of black preachers I’ve known and heard and reported on was, for them, very personal and cathartic. That’s not how Jeremiah Wright came across in those sound bites or in his defiant performances since my interview.

What white America is hearing in his most inflammatory words is an attack on the America they cherish and that many of their sons have died for in battle – forgetting that black Americans have fought and bled beside them, and that Wright himself has a record of honored service in the Navy.

Hardly anyone took the “chickens come home to roost” remark to convey the message that intervention in the political battles of other nations is sure to bring retaliation in some form, which is not to justify the particular savagery of 9/11 but to understand that actions have consequences.

My friend Bernard Weisberger, the historian, says, yes, people are understandably seething with indignation over Wright’s absurd charge that the United States deliberately brought an HIV epidemic into being.

But it is a fact, he says, that within living memory the U.S. public health service conducted a study that deliberately deceived black men with syphilis into believing that they were being treated while actually letting them die for the sake of a scientific test.

Does this excuse Wright’s anger? His exaggerations or distortions? You’ll have to decide for yourself, but at least it helps me to understand the why of them.

In this multimedia age the pulpit isn’t only available on Sunday mornings. There’s round the clock media – the beast whose hunger is never satisfied, especially for the fast food with emotional content.

So the preacher starts with rational discussion and after much prodding throws more and more gasoline on the fire that will eventually consume everything it touches. He had help – people who, for their own reasons, set out to conflate the man in the pulpit who wasn’t running for president with the man in the pew who was.

Behold the double standard: John McCain sought out the endorsement of John Hagee, the war-mongering, Catholic-bashing Texas preacher, who said the people of New Orleans got what they deserved for their sins.

But no one suggests McCain shares Hagee’s delusions or thinks AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuality. Pat Robertson called for the assassination of a foreign head of state and asked God to remove Supreme Court justices, yet he remains a force in the Republican religious right.

After 9/11, Jerry Falwell said the attack was God’s judgment on America for having been driven out of our schools and the public square, but when McCain goes after the endorsement of the preacher he once condemned as an agent of intolerance, the press gives him a pass.

Jon Stewart recently played tape from the Nixon White House in which Billy Graham talks in the Oval Office about how he has friends who are Jewish, but he knows in his heart that they are undermining America.

This is crazy and wrong -- white preachers are given leeway in politics that others aren’t.
Which means it is all about race, isn’t it? Wright’s offensive opinions and inflammatory appearances are judged differently. He doesn’t fire a shot in anger, put a noose around anyone’s neck, call for insurrection, or plant a bomb in a church with children in Sunday school.

What he does is to speak his mind in a language and style that unsettles some people, and says some things so outlandish and ill-advised that he finally leaves Obama no choice but to end their friendship.

We’re often exposed to the corroding acid of the politics of personal destruction, but I’ve never seen anything like this – this wrenching break between pastor and parishioner played out right in front of our eyes.

Both men no doubt will carry the grief to their graves. All the rest of us should hang our heads in shame for letting it come to this in America, where the gluttony of the non-stop media grinder consumes us all and prevents an honest conversation on race.

It is the price we are paying for failing to heed the great historian Jacob Burckhardt, who said, “beware the terrible simplifiers.”

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Political Psychology of Race and Gender - Obama's Real Problem!

I found this article and for me it answers a lot of the questions I've had personally as to why Pastor Wright is in the news and why he's getting the reaction he is......

Click to read the article in it's entirety

Expertinent: The Political Psychology of Race and Gender

Wednesday, March 12, 2008 5:30 PM **the day before the "Wright Controversy"**
By Andrew Romano

Expertinent is a regular Stumper column featuring interviews with experts on the news of the day.

Talk about good timing. A week ago, Cornell law student Gregory S. Parks emailed me a law review article that he had just coauthored with university professor Jeffrey Rachlinski. The subject? "Unconscious race and gender bias in the 2008 election." In addition to their legal studies, both Parks and Rachlinski (whose academic efforts have focused on the influence of human psychology on decision-making by courts, administrative agencies and regulated communities) boast Ph.Ds in psychology. On Monday, I decided to call them up for a chat. The next day, of course, race and gender consumed the national conversation (yet again) when Clinton supporter and former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro told a California newspaper that "if Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position." Revisiting my conversation with Parks and Rachlinski this morning, I realized that many of the questions we covered--who's battling the more difficult biases? is the 'victim pose' politically helpful? what should we expect in the general election?--are precisely the questions that everyone is asking in the wake of the Ferraro flap. Thus, I defer to the experts:

How about Obama?
R: Obama has a tougher job. The biases against African Americans are just a raw animus in a lot of ways. What you see in the studies is that people associate black with negative imagery, just wholesale, without regard to specific content. Blacks are bad, whites are good. You see it over and over in the unconscious bias literature. So what does he have to fight? He has to fight against being black in a way. He has to have people look at him and associate him with the positive imagery that Americans tend to associate with whites. It's not surprising, then, that his campaign is about very amorphous goals like hope and aspiration. That's the message that can work, because he can't embrace black issues without activating unconscious biases in white voters. That's very difficult to begin with.

On the other hand, Obama risks raising specific concerns among his core supporters--notably, African-Americans--if he fights too hard against being black. There's a specific in-group favoritism among African-Americans--a favorable, explicit self-image that's stronger than what you see among whites. When a black leader seems to be running away from his image as a black person, that's viewed negatively. In order to keep his base, then, he can't deny that he's black. It's a thin line that he has to toe.

You said before that "credentials help white applicants a lot more than they help black applicants." Does that mean that Obama shouldn't recite specific accomplishments and resume points?
R: The data suggests that it doesn't help black job applicants, and that it wouldn't help him. According to the research, adding resume credentials helps white applicants much more than black applicants. So if his campaign starts to be about what he's done, it won't help.

What about Obama (in the general election)?
R: He faces fewer white voters who like or care about the idea of a post-racial future. Liberal Democrats like the idea that someday race won't matter; Independents and Republicans, not as much. There's good data showing that Republicans harbor stronger negative implicit biases towards African-Americans than Democrats. So he's got to fight those biases a good deal more than he does among Democratic voters, and liberals are no longer enough. The other problem for Obama in the general election is that strong link between "black" and "foreign."

P: There was a study that came out a couple of years ago titled "American Equals White." And what it showed was that at the implicit level people tend to correlate whiteness with Americanness as opposed to blackness with Americanness. What's more, studies of the 2008 election have shown that when you prime individuals with images of the American flag--at a subliminal level, so you just flash is for a millisecond--it has a tendency to make white individuals show less liking toward Barack Obama. This harkens back to question of Obama not wearing the American flag pin and the accusations that he failed to put his hand over his heart during the singing of the national anthem. This stuff is tricky for him, especially considering that some opponents are questioning his patriotism. If images of Americanness make white Americans see Obama as less American at the implicit level--while at the explicit level rivals are questioning his patriotism--then he's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

Is there anything to be gained by either campaign accusing their opponents of being sexist or racist? It seems to happen every day now. Does the 'victimhood pose' help in any way?
P: Obama, for one, cannot afford to address these things head on. If he gets up and says XYZ is racist and calls people on the carpet about race issues, it will only hurt him. The data supports this view. Studies suggest that when you press people on their gender-stereotypical biases, they kind of laugh it off. Because it's not such a hot issue. They're like, "Whatever. I'm not sexist." But if you press them on their racial biases, particularly in regards to blacks, one of two things happens. If they're low on explicit racial prejudice, they become contrite, apologetic, they want to know what they can do to overcome it. But if they are high on explicit racial bias, they become angry and antagonistic. When you accuse whites who harbor certain levels of racism of racist behavior, it actually makes them angry towards you. And that's why Obama can't afford to push back. He has to acknowledge and affirm that he's black so as not to alienate black voters, but he can't do it in such a way as to raise anxieties among white voters.

Is the calculus different with Clinton? Her campaign has been pretty explicit about pushing back in a way that's centered on her gender, as in the incident with David Shuster at MSNBC.
R: Of course, there are more women then there are black voters, right? It doesn't make blacks angry to point out that blacks are disadvantaged by bias. It makes whites angry. The same is true of gender. In the Democratic primaries she's dealing with a more sympathetic audience among women and to some degree among men. I don't think you'll see that in the general election at all, because she'll be fighting the implicit associations between women and nurturing domestic roles rather than leadership roles. At that point, any effort to play the gender card, if you will, is going to alienate some of the voters she needs--the voters who think it's a good idea for women to stay home.

There's a real split here about implicit associations and explicit ones. The efforts to articulate concerns about racism in the way you described are explicit efforts. Look at yourself, think about it, examine the data--that's a deliberative process meant to get people to reason through the problem and confront themselves in a different way. But you can't fight implicit biases with reasoned argument. It's not how they work. They work on an intuitive, affective, emotional level. Pushing back just makes people angry. You don't see that working very well in the research. And it wouldn't work in this campaign either. Instead, the candidates should combat implicit bias implicitly--Hillary has to look like a leader all the time; Obama looks inspirational. You fight fire with fire.

Do you expect the race- and gender-baiting to get worse in the general election?
P: Even though the RNC has indicated that they are kind of scared about how to attack Hillary Clinton without charges of sexism being leveled against them, and Barack Obama without allegations of racism, you'll still have ancillary individuals and groups who will make these attacks--that, for example, Obama used drugs at one time. There's ample evidence that, at least with regards to juries, they tend to view defendants more harshly when they've committed a crime that seems racially congruent, like a black person committing a more blue-collar crime--robbery, drug dealing and so forth. If they play that up, it could be problematic for him. If they question his patriotism, again, that could be problematic for him, because it raises these implicit biases about whether he's American enough. Republicans will probably play on these things, and perhaps his relationship with his pastor Jeremiah Wright, who openly espouses a black value system, to raise implicit biases in the electorate. And I think that poses some significant challenges for Obama.

What about the "Hussein" issue? McCain himself has already said that his allies should not use Obama's middle name as a political jab.
R: But it doesn't cost McCain anything to disassociate himself from it. The unconscious bias works automatically, quickly and deductively. So you hear the name three times and the context afterwards where McCain carefully explains that this is not something he endorsed is sort of irrelevant. To the extent that saying Hussein over and over again is at all effective on voters, McCain disassociating himself doesn't undo that effect. Because it's that first system, that affective, intuitive one, that's at play.

P: It's the benefit without the burden. He can distance himself after the fact. The RNC has said that they're not going to officially make attacks on race and gender, but you can have other groups raise these concerns and it works to McCain's advantage. The other question here is how Obama and Clinton may tear themselves apart heading into the convention and the general election by raising all these questions about each other. They're provoking these implicit biases among the general electorate as we speak--and the Republican Party may not have to do much next fall.

Let's Discuss.........