Y’all should be pleased to know that I have started going to church again. I am sampling a straight laced Episcopalian Church now. The bourgeois Negro congregation I started to attend has a Jazz Mass. Being the aficionado that I am; I just wanted to see what the fuss was about. The brothas were tight and the selections were appropriate. The people were friendly, almost alarmingly so. The older folk were pleased to see a younger brotha with twists come and worship the Lord.

I hadn’t been to an Episcopal Mass in nearly thirty years. The last time was my great grandmother’s church in Florida. All I can remember is the priest’s white vestments and his swinging that ball thing with the smoke that comes out as he said a homily.

The priest of this patrician Negro congregation is a woman and sistahfriend made it her business to say, before launching into the text of her sermon, that she intended to be controversial in preaching the word. If there was any congregant concerned about their budding political career, now was a good time to raise up and tip out.

All in all, it was an interesting cultural experience for a working class brotha raised Baptist. Going to church every other week is about all I can handle at the moment and this coming weekend is my Sunday. I’ll report back anything interesting.

21 thoughts on “Church

  1. imaG

    Lol she came with a disclaimer. Glad you like it tho. I havent been to church in over 5 years, and before that I wasn’t gooing regularly. I feel like I need Jesus man…but at the same time I want to praise with people I can relate witht o get a better understanding…I’ll figure something out.

  2. Chesapeake

    That’s awesome, SB.

    … and, wow, I just finished this book about two weeks ago, and it’s my $0.02 offering to you – “Stop Dating the Church!: Fall in Love With the Family of God” by Joshua Harris. Kairos time is incredible. This book may be perfect at this point in the journey.

    Grace and shalom!

  3. Andrea

    How did you find this church?

    What compelled you to change churches…now?

    And is it that it is church that you feel you need or are you finally realizing you can no longer up the ante in answering your call that you have yet to fully pick up and run with.

    See…I think that you know your calling and this…this is your man-made negotiations with Divinity to meet Divinity half-way. I always thought that about you. I always saw the boiling passion that you tried to contain and put a lid on. You would write such inciting posts but sometimes fail to continue to engage or navigate or even manipulate when I knew you were reading and had a lot to say.

    Your call is evident. You are supposed to be more prominent and I think you know this. However it is extremely difficult of our limited mortal existences to manifest the tasks put before us with the resources and the foot soldiers that can understand what you and divinity has been trying to articulate in instructions to “go out”.

    This scripture speaks to you:

    “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

    John 15:16

    I believe everyone has a calling but too many of us, especially in this very commercial yet marginalized age we live in…most of us don’t know how to interpret our calls and when and how many times we have missed them, answered them and told Divinity we were busy doing things our way on our time, or we have reasoned with Divinity that our man-made sensibilities knows better than the direct action requested of us.

    When we first exchanged last year and I realized you were a Phantom, I knew what you were muscling. You were a prophet chosen who knew he was chosen but having a hard time in this complex world among very under and uneducated peers to find a way to do Divinity’s bidding. I know…I know…because…I ran into the same problem.

    It is a very intimate language that not many speak or can attempt to speak but I speak it and I know you do too. And hence this…this election has pushed you to your Tipping Point.

    It’s not so much that getting an assistant to help you write will ease your inner turmoil. Your turmoil is something no one else can uplift — not even your pastor or her soothing words or solidarity. Once she gets to know you, she too will challenge you and send you out to THE WORK which requires more than you have wanted to do at this point. And you know. Your heart knows it. Your soul is twisted wanted to scream out while your sensibility wants to harness it all in more reasonable ideas of actuating your call.

    Where our churches are is not anywhere where you sitting in the pews can help them. Where our churches are and has been has been in place of stagnation. Even the most raucous and robust clergyman or woman cannot do your bidding for you as a proxy or charge to execute your calling.
    The church will not be a valid excuse for you to choose as a path of least resistance. Maybe instead of seeking solace, you can submit to Divinity that you will stop playing determination for stupid and take the risk to execute more.

    You have enough and all that it takes to fulfill the prophecy about yourself. It was already written before you came…you know. You just have not figured out how to actuate the work and maybe you know that you will fail a few times getting to it’s ultimate goal. But that is not for you to legislate. You are just supposed to submit and do. You are supposed to shepherd and create. You know this. I’ve seen it in you ever since I found your blog. I just never…never told you.

    There are some of us who have answered or well, pick up the receivers. Some of us pick it up, hear a voice and hear the objectives to only put the phone back down. We tell ourselves that in our worlds we have to accomplish this or that or that certain man-made obligations take presidence. So we make excuses to deny the challenges of those Divine callings. And for others, our calls are just to assist and be disciples when we rather have had that call crown us as kings or as least but nobler, divine disciples. So instead we resist the message — go off message — and fuck up our duty. We do what we what to. And that is why we have too many people talking that really need to learn. That…that is not you.

    Some of us answer our calls and then we vociferously try to PLAY Divinity with a SALE that we know better because the routes Divine Work will take us will direct us out to take longer journeys and more complex and dangerous passages. So instead we think we are bargaining to take a shorter route to get to the same end point that we think Divinity wanted us to go when we know that Divinity has no guarantee for us that our end-game is favorable of our journey do execute the call.

    We…simple humans…we want it the way we want it and kept denying what we know of our particular blueprints.

    I can’t placate your approach to find new religion or soothing religion when you know The Word already and you know that part of the message being off-message is because of The Testament of you…YOU…YOU, Skeptical Brotha’, having continued to deny actuating your call as it is supposed to be directed.

    I do believe you are supposed to ask for help but your work far exceeds this blog. Your work requires more risk…more exposure of self…more exposure of your fears, your anger, and challenging us to be more. You know this. Your pastor is only going to tell you the same thing. I’ll save you time from pussy-footing. She too will send you out and probably give you the same scripture above.

    Not everyone is supposed to be heard — further, not even uttering a word. So many…so many hear should not be talking. They need instruction. I saw them all all-over the country when I went out and did The Work. We need…Divinity has been calling those with VISION to do THE WORK and WORK TOGETHER. You know this. I hear you. So does DIVINE REVELATION hear you and watch you…still standing in the wings (now in church) when you are suppose to “go out” into the world and “do more”.

    I’ve known this about you since last summer when I lost interest in your blog for awhile. I was frustrated seeing such ingeniuty hiding behind a blog. But I knew what you were suffering from. I knew you were a human being denying what makes them divine. I knew why you were a Phantom and that it was a good excuse to use that you were connected in politics and had to be. I knew you had Divinity on hold while you tried to cheat and do it your way. Divinity has again caught up with you and wants you to do more. I am a testament of it telling you. I am crossing your path to give you the same message I was handed to deliver to you.

    This message is just for you — not everyone. Divinity is calling and that divine work is not shrouded in “sitting in a pew or doing community service”, SB. There is no formulaic approach or universal instruction FOR YOU.

    Divinity wants you to stop picking up the phone to put the receiver on hold. We all have crosses to bear. Pick it up! I’ll help you brace yourself but you have to carry your own cross and walk before us. We all are supposed to but we do. But that…that is what hinders us. We are arrogant and shameful in not wanting to be that raw in front of each other…exposed…carrying the cross to maybe…never receive the glory while we are doing The Work. We may not be understood nor maybe…we will not be regarded. That…that is the risk. That…that is the call.

    When I was asking people to assist me I could see they wanted to only offer bargaining agreements when I did not accept chits or chips. I told people that their was no money back guarantee in trusting in me nor was there a warranty in trusting in themselves to embark on the unknown in uncertainty to do The Work.

    The Work wanted all of us to play our specified parts when we have not been raised in the last 40 years but to think we should have been benefactors. People don’t even know how to sense the parts they should play or even read that there are parts that require them MOVE like rotors. We are not and have not been programmed to do Divine Work in this silly world of normalized arrogance and spiritual and social ignorance. And…oh yeah, we think we are educated because fellow man says so of our college degrees and that we perform the parts but you and I know that most of us are not. It’s so taboo to talk about these these…these commonalities that DIVINITY addresses in The Bible.

    It would be great if we all knew The Word…it would make your calling and so many others so much easier.

    “5:11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

    5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

    5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

    5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

    Hebrews 5:11-14

    You know this and you know this is the impediment of our people. You know we are immensely ignorant and you have been GRACED with THE CURSE of knowing more than others. You have been GRACED with THE CURSE of caring more than so many and it terrifies you that you do and they do. It’s such a mad imbalance. And it is so compromising that you can’t and won’t hurt us in executing the duty requested of you that would press this angst in our faces.

    I know. So many have washed their hands of doing The Work because it is painful of the executioner to those that need the execution.

    It’s because of their spiritual immaturity that you and so many of us remain stifled and stunted incapable of helping them to grow because we…we…we have got to take them to want to process being spiritually mature. That is what you blog teases in doing but you won’t give more of yourself to take them their. And that requires taking risk. You would have to really, really, really put yourself out there on a limb and allow those same people to tear at you taking them through learning.

    You are a very intimate writer that reminds me of a turtle who sticks out his head and withdraws under his own shell. That is your cross to bear in getting past your fears of the unknown, uncertainty, probable genius, probable greatness undistinguished…unrecognizable…not reciprocated.

    The Work is calling you for more significance of you and that significance is natural for you. It is innate. It is inside you. You confine it under your mask. You are one of The One(s) chosen for specific work.


    (No, I’m not sorry for telling you the truth about your Divine Revelation…for the public to witness too…that you already know and are still trying to ignore. And your pastor will not be sorry either when she delivers the same message that your time is running out. Behold. Stop resisting that you are graced with vision, heart, and is chosen. It’s not supposed to be easy and there is no guarantee that you will fair well. You can’t rewrite your destiny or redirect your calling.)

  4. Rob C

    Church is good; so, is silence. This 2008 has been a long one, and we all desire a break.

    Caring for and feeding one’s spirit is as necessary as selecting and preparing the meats we eat; after all, what guides us better than our own soul. It only follows that we feed its ‘spirits’ (for lack of better terms).

    “Know, thy-self,” read Sitchin, Z., ‘Lost Realm (similar to ‘They Came Before Columbus’), Genesis Revisited or 12th Planet.’ In between jazz sets ask a deacon, pastor or elder to reconcile Christ and Gen. 6:2, etc.?

    Church is a cool thing and the restoration of one’s spirits is always in order, but the more we pursue knowledge and understanding the more we recognize ‘god’ lays silently within urging us to peace. Sometimes we must be still to hear the course of our direction.

    SB, your stuff is good! Your path is set.

  5. zeitgeist9000

    Politics is inherent to any church experience. In some cases, you have to let your natural desire for the Spirit overcome any distaste for the internecine nature of church goings-on. In other cases, where you feel most comfortable worshiping is where your spirit is adequately fed and the feelings of distaste fade away.

  6. Rick

    “You can’t rewrite your destiny or redirect your calling.” Andrea

    But you do have a choice about whether to accept it, or not to accept it.

    Well, I take that back. Jonah of the Old Testament refused his calling at first…but he came around afterwards. Eventually. The Almighty “helped” him come around, if you are familiar with the story.

    While a whale is not going to come along and swallow us up for three days if we refuse to do what we are called to do, there WILL be a feeling of “lack.”

    Education won’t satisfy.

    Money won’t satisfy.

    The corner office won’t satisfy.

    Sex and power won’t satisfy.

    The only thing that will satisfy the burning is to answer the call of what you were called to do. To be obedient to that Divine voice which speaks inside you.

    That feeling of lack will not be replaced with “purpose” and “significance” until one has stepped forward to fullfill their specific mission to the best of their ability.

    I, like Andrea, too speak from experience.

    (thank you, Andrea for sharing that)

  7. Rick

    re: the Pursuit of Happiness

    It was a georgeous weekend weather-wise. Outside the city limits, and towards Long Island, there’s an area where boats pass blissfully along a picturesque waterside, and where today, I ventured for a 5k run.

    No cell phone. Just me and my thoughts,

    Midway through the journey, I sat down to stop and smell the proverbial roses. Literally, an orange & yellow colored lilac (or maybe tulip) which was the most beautiful flower I think I ever saw. Or maybe, I had seen others like it, but just wasn’t paying attention before.

    Looking up, this time I saw a couple, Mexican, locked in the warmest embrace. I just stared at them, like I did the flower. They had a small girl eating ice cream, and I was mesmerized (not only because I wanted some), but because the yellow/orange cream when it dripped matched the tulip. As this tiny child walked back to her parents, they were sitting down, still cuddling in their upright position.

    They looked so very, happy.

    And then it hit me. We’ve been hoodwinked.

    Conditioned to think that happiness is something you pursue, or buy…I was seeing it on full display right here.

    I can tell they weren’t rich. There were no extravagent labels on their clothes. They looked to be from humble backgrounds. But they had something I coveted.

    They were so very happy.

    Here was this Father walking hand in hand with his wife — a boy and a girl on both sides– and they had found it. And I admit to being both happy for them, and jealous.

    I looked at the father intently. Poor, but from a culture that teaches togetherness.

    Poor, but his male forefathers were never ripped apart from their families. He probably saw with his own eyes what it was like to be a good father and provider. What he was doing was natural. Poor? Ha. He’s the one that is really rich. He’s not separated/alienated physically, mentally, spirtitually, emotionally from his woman, nor she from him.

    And then it hit me like a ton of bricks that we as a black people, for centuries, had been separated, at birth, from our parents — a separation that in mutated cycle continues to this day.

    The realization changed my mood from happy to mournful. Many of the problems we have in my opinion originate with a breakdown in the family, and how we were once separated at birth from our families. Men and women ripped apart. And the cycle continues. And then, I felt a sense of rage.

    God Damn America.

    God Damn Her.

  8. Well, she has to come with a disclaimer because some people won’t get it. LOL

    Glad that you are back in church. Religion is not the problem, people are. In the words of Jill Scott,

    “Your background it ain’t squeaky clean shit
    Sometimes we all got to swim upstream
    You ain’t no saint, we all are sinners
    But you put your good foot down and make your soul a winner”

    This applies to all of us so don’t let anyone deter you from attending church. We all are sinners looking for salvation. Remember you can only save your soul.

  9. Rick

    One more thing:

    **Cokie Roberts of ABC predicted in February that young voters probably won’t show up in November because “they never have before” and “they’ll be tired.”** nytimes

    To all those who would be “tired”…

    My father, a former war vet, would often tell me whenever I looked out of breath and worn out, “Son, you are too young to be tired.”

    Likewise, I’m hearing a bunch of stuff about people being tired.

    Folks, you are way too too young to be tired.

    I’m sure Martin and Malcolm got tired too. But they still carried on. As they did, we must too.

    There is still work to be done…

  10. Chesapeake

    Rick (re: Pursuit of Happiness),

    You hit on a subject that is crucial in this day of stuuupid comsumerism. Your comment greeted me and led me to the scriptures: “There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; and one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches.” Proverb 13:7.

    What you observed was a man who at least did not appear in that setting to be “materially rich” by western standards (he may be); however, it was clear in that setting that he has great and cherished riches at home. You saw peace and contentment: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.” Hebrews 13:5.

    With that, the man is able to enjoy the pleasures – an apparently faithful, ecourgaging, and loving wife, the romance of a stroll, on a beautiful, warm sunny day, surrounded by beautiful flowers, flanked by the beautiful seed of their union.

    Yeah, that sounds nerdy and hokey to some, undesired or unattainable. That’s what popular culture has made it out to be. But, you’re right Rick, there’s more to life than stuff. We may not know how wonderful (not perfect) our natural lives can be until we shun our instincts to be envious and selfish and embrace service – sacrificial giving, support and provision, kind words, honor, trustworthiness, tender care, encouragement, hard honest work, romance, etc.

    “Hoodwinked?!?” You doggone skippy. Take this, for example: TV ratings studies have found that the average person watches 4.5 hours of TV per day. Economists have calculated that each hour of TV watched equates to an extra $200 of spending per year due to the effects of marketing (this spending is not all cash, either, it’s debt). On average, then, that is about $6,300 per year, or $525 per month! If we could harness ALL of that spending and invest the $525 per month at 12% for 20 years, we’d have $520,000 (after compounded returns)! We could enjoy life like that family you saw. Take some weekends off, spend them with the fam, and buy some ice cream! Heck, make some babies! :-0

    Agreed – slavery still curses us. But, while the curse lives on, we have submitted ourselves to more forms of slavery – consumerism and debt.

    As many know, at the top of the list for reasons why a family breaks up is M-O-N-E-Y … the Benjamins. So, while we have not broken totally the curse of having our families split in the slave trade, even when some try to pull a family together, the stigma of “me” and “I” and the phenomena of spending and debt make it almost impossible to stay together, more less live like that family you saw.

    One last passage: “My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, to free yourself since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands: Go – to the point of exhaustion – and give your neighbor no rest! Allow no sleep to your eyes, no slumber to your eyeballs. Free yourself, like the gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the snare of the fowler.” Proverb 6:1-5. Slavery? … let’s get ourselves and others free!

    … and, oh yeah, we need to expose the “model” families to help break this curse.

  11. NJC

    Rev. Jerimiah Wright is going to be interviewed on the next Bill Moyer’s Journal on PBS. (shows on Friday here, maybe different in your area)

    I believe this may be his first media interview?

  12. Rick

    I was blessed by your response. thank you for sharing! yes, let’s get ourselves and others free.

    (and I know exactly what you mean by “model” families, or couples that supposedly exemplify “black love”. On that note, magazines like “Essence” can do alot better than what they have done in the past.)

  13. TripLBee

    This is way off topic, but check out this video of Ed Rendell—Clinton’s mouthpiece in Pennsylvania—delivering a sermon at a Nation of Islam mosque in Philly, praising Farrakhan.

    What do you think the reaction would be if this were one of Obama’s primary supporters?

  14. Michael Moore just sent out an email about the PA primary. Too bad the rednecks never listen…

    My Vote’s for Obama (if I could vote) …by Michael Moore

    April 21st, 2008


    I don’t get to vote for President this primary season. I live in Michigan. The party leaders (both here and in D.C.) couldn’t get their act together, and thus our votes will not be counted.

    So, if you live in Pennsylvania, can you do me a favor? Will you please cast my vote — and yours — on Tuesday for Senator Barack Obama?

    I haven’t spoken publicly ’til now as to who I would vote for, primarily for two reasons: 1) Who cares?; and 2) I (and most people I know) don’t give a rat’s ass whose name is on the ballot in November, as long as there’s a picture of JFK and FDR riding a donkey at the top of the ballot, and the word “Democratic” next to the candidate’s name.

    Seriously, I know so many people who don’t care if the name under the Big “D” is Dancer, Prancer, Clinton or Blitzen. It can be Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Barry Obama or the Dalai Lama.

    Well, that sounded good last year, but over the past two months, the actions and words of Hillary Clinton have gone from being merely disappointing to downright disgusting. I guess the debate last week was the final straw. I’ve watched Senator Clinton and her husband play this game of appealing to the worst side of white people, but last Wednesday, when she hurled the name “Farrakhan” out of nowhere, well that’s when the silly season came to an early end for me. She said the “F” word to scare white people, pure and simple. Of course, Obama has no connection to Farrakhan. But, according to Senator Clinton, Obama’s pastor does — AND the “church bulletin” once included a Los Angeles Times op-ed from some guy with Hamas! No, not the church bulletin!

    This sleazy attempt to smear Obama was brilliantly explained the following night by Stephen Colbert. He pointed out that if Obama is supported by Ted Kennedy, who is Catholic, and the Catholic Church is led by a Pope who was in the Hitler Youth, that can mean only one thing: OBAMA LOVES HITLER!

    Yes, Senator Clinton, that’s how you sounded. Like you were nuts. Like you were a bigot stoking the fires of stupidity. How sad that I would ever have to write those words about you. You have devoted your life to good causes and good deeds. And now to throw it all away for an office you can’t win unless you smear the black man so much that the superdelegates cry “Uncle (Tom)” and give it all to you.

    But that can’t happen. You cast your die when you voted to start this bloody war. When you did that you were like Moses who lost it for a moment and, because of that, was prohibited from entering the Promised Land.

    How sad for a country that wanted to see the first woman elected to the White House. That day will come — but it won’t be you. We’ll have to wait for the current Democratic governor of Kansas to run in 2016 (you read it here first!).

    There are those who say Obama isn’t ready, or he’s voted wrong on this or that. But that’s looking at the trees and not the forest. What we are witnessing is not just a candidate but a profound, massive public movement for change. My endorsement is more for Obama The Movement than it is for Obama the candidate.

    That is not to take anything away from this exceptional man. But what’s going on is bigger than him at this point, and that’s a good thing for the country. Because, when he wins in November, that Obama Movement is going to have to stay alert and active. Corporate America is not going to give up their hold on our government just because we say so. President Obama is going to need a nation of millions to stand behind him.

    I know some of you will say, ‘Mike, what have the Democrats done to deserve our vote?’ That’s a damn good question. In November of ’06, the country loudly sent a message that we wanted the war to end. Yet the Democrats have done nothing. So why should we be so eager to line up happily behind them?

    I’ll tell you why. Because I can’t stand one more friggin’ minute of this administration and the permanent, irreversible damage it has done to our people and to this world. I’m almost at the point where I don’t care if the Democrats don’t have a backbone or a kneebone or a thought in their dizzy little heads. Just as long as their name ain’t “Bush” and the word “Republican” is not beside theirs on the ballot, then that’s good enough for me.

    I, like the majority of Americans, have been pummeled senseless for 8 long years. That’s why I will join millions of citizens and stagger into the voting booth come November, like a boxer in the 12th round, all bloodied and bruised with one eye swollen shut, looking for the only thing that matters — that big “D” on the ballot.

    Don’t get me wrong. I lost my rose-colored glasses a long time ago.

    It’s foolish to see the Democrats as anything but a nicer version of a party that exists to do the bidding of the corporate elite in this country. Any endorsement of a Democrat must be done with this acknowledgement and a hope that one day we will have a party that’ll represent the people first, and laws that allow that party an equal voice.

    Finally, I want to say a word about the basic decency I have seen in Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton continues to throw the Rev. Wright up in his face as part of her mission to keep stoking the fears of White America. Every time she does this I shout at the TV, “Say it, Obama! Say that when she and her husband were having marital difficulties regarding Monica Lewinsky, who did she and Bill bring to the White House for ‘spiritual counseling?’ THE REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT!”

    But no, Obama won’t throw that at her. It wouldn’t be right. It wouldn’t be decent. She’s been through enough hurt. And so he remains silent and takes the mud she throws in his face.

    That’s why the crowds who come to see him are so large. That’s why he’ll take us down a more decent path. That’s why I would vote for him if Michigan were allowed to have an election.

    But the question I keep hearing is… ‘can he win? Can he win in November?’ In the distance we hear the siren of the death train called the Straight Talk Express. We know it’s possible to hear the words “President McCain” on January 20th. We know there are still many Americans who will never vote for a black man. Hillary knows it, too. She’s counting on it.

    Pennsylvania, the state that gave birth to this great country, has a chance to set things right. It has not had a moment to shine like this since 1787 when our Constitution was written there. In that Constitution, they wrote that a black man or woman was only “three fifths” human. On Tuesday, the good people of Pennsylvania have a chance for redemption.

    Michael Moore

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