Monthly Archives: May 2008


A Nugget of Wisdom, Courtesy of The Shack

If you’re someone who’s heart holds a lifetime’s worth of frustrations and regrets (and who’s doesn’t?) then you owe it to yourself to check out The Shack by William P. Young.

I won’t give you a review of the book or delve too deeply into its subject matter, because a brief Googling will give you whatever basics you desire to know.

However, I was impacted by this paragraph, part of a conversation between two of the main characters:

Here is something that will sort this out in your mind, Mackenzie. Paradigms power perception and perceptions powers emotions. Most emotions are responses to perception — what you think is true about a given situation. If your perception is false, then your emotional response to it will be false too. So check your perceptions, and beyond that, check the truthfulness of your paradigms — what you believe. Just because you believe something firmly doesn’t make it true. Be willing to reexamine what you believe. The more you live in the the truth, the more your emotions will help you see clearly.

I’ve found this to be true. My emotions are generally tied to my perceptions about my life. The times when I’m most angry or upset or feeling hopeless is when I feel like I’ve been screwed over, or when certain aspects of my life are hopeless, beyond the scope of anyone’s intervention, much less divine intervention. But when I step back with eyes of faith and understanding, I can see clearly that those perceptions are not the truth.

Some folks have taken offense to parts of this book, especially the parts that challenge their assumptions about life, and about God. But there is definitely wisdom to be found, and I’m finding myself taken aback after reading this. So much of my life’s story is contained in this book.

And, I would venture to guess, if you read the book and allow yourself to be emotionally honest throughout the process, you’ll find your life in it as well.


Latest 9/11 Conspiracy Theory: It’s All R Kelly’s Fault

That’s one of the many statements given by potential jurors to the R. Kelly case, according to this Chicago Tribune story.

Of course, if it were me, I wouldn’t need to come up with an excuse. I’d just tell the truth.

Your honor, there’s no way I could be an impartial juror in this case. I haven’t liked a song of his since his first album in ’92, and I’m generally embarrassed by the extent to which many Black people have unconditionally supported him. It’s worse than middle-aged White women and Michael Jackson.

I’d be home before lunch, I guarantee it.

Of course, any story related to the ongoing saga of R. Kelly and his child pornography and statutory rape charges inevitably makes me think of the masterful episode of The Boondocks that skewered Kelly, his fans, and Black people in general:


A True Christian Would Never Read This Post (Or Use Sarcasm to Make A Point)

Which means that if you’re reading this, you’re are one of two kinds of people:

1. You’re one of us, meaning you are a believer of Jesus Christ who just can’t measure up to the super-spiritual standard we see in evangelical culture, and you’re looking for a little more levity and authenticity in life,


2. You’re not a believer in Jesus Christ, but you DO enjoy seeing what all gets all the Godheads’ undies in a bunch.

In either case, I have another fun site to promote.

And honestly, what surprises me is not that this site exists, but how long it took me to find out about it.

In the spirit of Stuff White People Like, and Stuff Educated Black People Like, I give you:

Stuff Christians Like.

Oh. My. God. Goodness.

Between this site and the whole Jesus People thing (thanks to Dan Ewald for leaving a comment!) I’m finding more encouragement that other people are thinking about the kinds of things that I think about.

Like, for example,

Fake swear words/phrases.

Mediocre graduation gifts.

Judging people out jogging on Sunday mornings.

Or, on a more serious note, Letting Porn Win.

Not only do I find myself being somewhat of the same mind as o’ Prodigal Jon (who writes the blog) but it geniunely made me laugh out loud. And not in the way like most people write “LOL” after a mildly funny post/email that a friend of their wrote, so as to not be a stick in the mud. But it actually made me laugh, many many times, very very loudly. I work from home (mostly) and I’m kinda glad, as the maniacal laughter coming from the kitchen where I’m typing on my laptop would’ve drove any theoretical coworkers in my imaginary vicinity quite homicidal.

But I digress.

Oh, and bonus points for his breakdown of the film Man on Fire, which he found to be a much more gripping portrayal of God’s redemptive power than The Passion of the Christ.

I was about to say that I’m not sure how much I agree with his assessment, given that I’ve seen Man on Fire about four or five times and The Passion of the Christ only once.

But I think the fact that I found the former engrossing enough to watch several times and the latter I watched once, out of a Christian sense of duty, says more than enough.


DJ Scientific: NASA Scientist By Day, Mixmaster By Night

Sounds like a cartoon character right? Something cooked up as part of Schoolhouse Rock: The Next Generation.

Meet this guy… sure, during the day he works as a scientist at NASA, but at night, he cuts and scratches and mixes it up fierce… Half Grandmaster Flash, half Bill Nye, he keeps the party people entertained AND informed! He’s droppin’ beats, and droppin’ science… literally!

He’s DJ Scientific!

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think somebody’s mom made this character up just so that kids would stop trying to be like Kanye West.

But because I do know better, I can tell you the truth.

According to this story in the Washington Post, his name is Mark Branch, and yes… he really does work for NASA during his days and spin some of the best venues in the D.C. area for hip-hop and R&B.

Apparently he was always interested in science in school, but he also always had an abiding interest in music. And so he kept at it, doing both.

So for those of you who wonder if being a DJ is difficult, feel free to check out his website and ask him yourself. Many music snobs will tell you that being a DJ doesn’t require the same dexterity or virtuosity as playing a real instrument. And they might be right about that.

But anyone else who tries to tell you that hip-hop deejayin’ isn’t exactly rocket science needs to shut their trap.

Because as of now, DJ Scientific is the only one qualified to know for sure.


PANIYM: The Presence of God

Is God in the house, or not?

As my friend Cole would say, it’s foolish to assume that God is present just because you experience a certain emotional reaction. It could be God, or it could be the skill with which the saxophonist is playing. There are times when God has been present and those on the scene were blissfully unaware until after the fact. And, in my opinion, there have been plenty of times where church folk have gone through the motions, acting like God was all up in what was going on, and He wasn’t … at least not in the way they thought He was.

Such tricky philosophical terrain becomes hard to manage with any sort of clarity, because who’s to say that God isn’t in the music itself, whether we’re aware or not? Colossians 1:17 says that in Him all things hold together. And Matthew 18:20 says that wherever two or three gather in Jesus’ name, that He is there taking part.

So maybe there’s a difference between having a general understanding of God’s omnipresence, and actually encountering the face of God, in a worship context.

Because that’s what the Hebrew word paniym means — face.

Maybe there’s a difference between simply invoking God’s name, and passionately giving your all to experience His presence on a visceral level.

And maybe it makes a difference when God’s people who are musically gifted can express that passion in their music.

And maybe it would make a difference if those musicians in the kingdom had a sense of community and relationship, so that there was less of a sense of competition, and more of a sense of cooperative synergy.

And what if one of those musicians was also a pastor, someone with decades of experience leading others into the presence of God? And what if being a pastor didn’t stop him from being a good musician, but in fact enhanced his musicianship because of the strength of the anointing of the Spirit of God in his life and on his ministry?

Well then in that case, you’d be talking about Paul Greenidge.

And this is my long-winded way of telling you that such passionate praise and worship events do happen, and one of them is happening soon, right here in Portland.

Paul Greenidge, one of the finest gospel pianists the world has ever seen (don’t think that’s hyperbole — trust me, it’s not) is finally… after years and years of waiting, having a live concert recording.

And it’s called… what else?

PANIYM: The Presence of God.

I’ll be posting links when the recording is available for purchase, but those of you in the Portland area can experience this firsthand, Saturday May 10th, at 7pm, at Irvington Covenant Church.


Any truth in there? Find it, and it’s yours.

In addition to being a worship leader, I am also building a small business. I would tell you more about it or link to it, but I’m not ready to do that yet. It will suffice to say that in the coming months and years you’ll be reading more about Nqosi Communications in this space.

As it is, though, not having grown up with a lot of good business mentors and role models, I’m having to seek out good counsel for myself. A good friend of mine that I went to school with in Chicago just happens to have a few little side businesses for himself, and he often counsels people in my position, just starting out and needing a little direction and guidance. Not long ago, during a lets-catch-up-how-are-you conversation, he mentioned this to me. I had to swallow my pride and admit to needing his help, so that’s what he does for me now. (Another example of how college is just as — if not more — valuable for the relationships than for the book learning.)

Anyway, he recently recommended to me two books, one of which I am reading now, called The Slight Edge. This book is excellent… it’s a philosophy book that can help you stay on the path to success. The main principle is that success is the result of a series of simple, mundane choices repeated consistently over time. This is the slight edge that makes the difference.

I probably will not agree with everything this book has to say, but I’m halfway through and the author Jeff Olson is batting a thousand in my brain. Every new paragraphy and chapter, it’s like yeah… I’ve never thought about it that way… this is my life we’re talking about.

As you can tell, I’m excited about this book. So kudos to Chris for that.

The other book he recommended, though, I was not so excited about.

He recommended The Secret.

As a believer in Christ, I know enough about this book to know that a lot of what Rhonda Byrne and her new age compatriots have to say is bunk. And if I didn’t already suspect this from the overflowing amount of media coverage the book has gotten, I would’ve been convinced when the scary lady trying to sell me a time-share alluded to it.

However, I’m sure there will be some kernels of truth inside The Secret, so it’s my challenge to find them. As Proverbs 18:15 says, “the heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.”

In this way, I’m torn. Besides the fact that I don’t want to expose myself to lies, I also don’t want to fund the empire of The Secret by buying the book or video. Even buying it used would help them, because it will encourage the reseller to buy more copies to turn around.

But I also believe in finding truth where it is to be found.

It’s been my experience that even people who are blatant in their disregard of certain truths do so by holding fast to other truths. It doesn’t mean they’re not wrong, but it doesn’t mean they’re full of crap either.

Case in point: Ozzie Guillen, White Sox manager.

He’s now under fire for allowing his players to erect a shrine in the clubhouse consistenting of two naked female blow-up dolls surrounded by wooden (phallic?) bats. It was all an effort to break a hitting slump.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Carol Slezak joined the chorus of those denouncing Guillen for not having the sense to know that the prank was blatantly sexist and inappropriate for a work environment where female reporters may be working. Even his own boss, general manager Kenny Williams, was quoted as saying:

And I don’t view this as a boys-being-boys type issue. This is, you know, boys being a little bit careless, a little bit irresponsible on this front.”

Guillen is sticking to his tune, which is that there is nothing wrong with what happened, and that anyone who is offended is looking for something to be offended about. Which, any way you slice it, is baloney. (Not to be confused with bologna, which is really good fried.)

However, his corollary argument is, essentially, that the clubhouse is a private place and what happens inside should be, on balance, kept private.

This is an idea that I agree with, actually. Which is why, had they unveiled the blow-up dolls, had a few laughs for five minutes and then put the whole thing away before anyone else could come in and see it, it probably wouldn’t have been news.

Professional athletes spend a majority of their time during the season under tremendous scrutiny, so it’s part of the manager’s job to protect his players, and by extension, the sanctity of their clubhouse. This is a truth that many reporters and fans do not understand, which is why it is sort of admirable, in a backwards, quixotic sort of way, that Guillen has defended his players so adamantly.

He’s still wrong, of course, and had his 2005 White Sox team not won the World Series, he would have been fired long ago for this and other blow-ups (pun intended).

The larger point I’m making, though, is that part of developing wisdom is find the good parts that are surrounded by the rubbish, like a beautiful gold ring in the snout of a pig. Hopefully I’m on my way to mastering that art. I’m pretty sure it’s going to take awhile.

But if I find out the secret, I’ll let you know.

I’m Jelani Greenidge, and thanks for mixin’ it up with me.


Just What I Need… Another Political Satire

This video makes zero attempt to be objective, it is clearly pro-Obama. But that’s not why I’m posting it. I’m posting it because it’s a great example of clever editing and effective satire.

Yes, I know, I know… you’re tired of all the Hillary/Obama talk. I am, too. And I wasn’t originally going to post this video to my blog, but it made me laugh so hard, I couldn’t resist.


Bike Rage, Road Rage… Everybody Lay Off the Caffeine

So it’s May, which only means one thing in my world.

NBA Playoffs!

But I also share this world with other non-NBA fans, many of whom are outdoorsy types. So for them, May is National Bike Month. Which means it’s time for me to resume my annual tradition of Getting Back On My Bike Again, Since The Weather’s Not So Bad Anymore.

And since I’m far from alone in this tradition, and because I live in the bike-friendliest city in the nation, and because I’m constantly downplaying the dangers of urban cycling so that my wife won’t worry about me when I’m out on my bike, I’m especially sensitive to newspaper accounts of collisions between cyclists and motorists.

Seems like this time of year, these kinds of accidents are especially on the rise.

People have different ways of processing these events. Like with many tragic news events, some people just file them away in the recesses of their minds, expending a few tsk-tsks and that’s that. Others coalesce together to form cells of shadowy crusaders, painting bikes white and leaving them as memorials to honor the deceased and raise awareness.

But far too many of us simply get mad.

As this excellent editorial points out, blame has become the standard coping mechanism when it comes to sharing the road. Angry motorists point to rogue cyclists who take daredevil tactics that ignore the rules of traffic. Angry cyclists point to huge SUVs driven by careless and inattentive drivers. Both are part of the problem, yet many passionate advocates on both sides fail to respect the opposing viewpoint.

So when a controversial accident happens in their neck of the woods, it serves to reinforce their already impenetrable convictions, rather than helping to balance the picture a little.

In this way, it’s somewhat like the unfolding saga with Jeremiah Wright. White people see him and fit him nicely into their profile of troublemaker and rabblerousers. Black people see him and see another example of an articulate, prophetic Black voice having to withstand a well-orchestrated character assassination. They’re both right… and they’re both wrong. And they’re both angry. When that anger finds a flashpoint, it doesn’t dissipate — it explodes.

So now we’re living in the aftermath of that explosion, and people on both sides are frustrated, hurting, and looking for real answers. Can we, as responsible adults, have the maturity and decency to assess our behavior? Or will we let our animosities toward others boil over and spill into violence?

Lest you think I’m painting with too broad a brush in comparing bike rage with race riots, click on the picture at the top of this post. It looks almost staged, doesn’t it? As far as I know, it’s not. It was taken by a freelance photographer in Toronto while witnessing an SUV driver pummeling a bike messenger.

In terms of social and political importance, it may not be the next Rodney King saga, but it’s important nonetheless.

So I say enjoy your time out on the road, but do try to keep your prejudice in check while you share the road with your fellow humans. And if it’s obvious that they’re Wrong and you’re Right, then be the bigger person and let it go.

But if you can’t, and you still have some excess steam you need to blow off, do what I do:

Yell at the TV.

‘Cause NBA officiating is usually horrible this time of year.

I’m Jelani Greenidge, and thanks for mixin’ it up with me.