Archive for February, 2010

A Lenten Meditation – 02/28/2010

“”You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” -Matthew 5:3-9 (The Message version)

Yes/No Meditation “Lord, Help Us to say No” Meditation from Stages on the Way, Wild Goose Worship Group, p. 35

[Imagine a lot of candles around a rugged cross as we reflect on letting go of some things and embracing others.]

A: When advertisements offer us everything, if only we have the money; and you offer everything if only we do if we with less,
Lord, help us to say, “No,”
(Blow out a candle)
And help us to say, “Yes.”
(Light candle at the foot of the cross)

B: When the easier way to succeed means we lose our integrity, but the harder way, means we lose our pride.
Lord, help us to say, “No,”
(Blow out a candle)
And help us to say, “Yes.”
(Light candle at the foot of the cross)

A: When the church wants us to conform and be nice, and you want us to rebel and be real,
Lord, help us to say, “No,”
(Blow out a candle)
And help us to say, “Yes.”
(Light a candle at the foot of the cross)

B: When our friends don’t respect what we count as important, and we feel like giving in, just to save face,
Lord, help us to say, “No,”
(Blow out a candle)
And help us to say, “Yes.”
(Light a candle at the foot of the cross)

A: When we feel you have let us down and we want to leave you, but we know we left you behind before we ever started,
Lord, help us to say, “No,”
(Blow out a candle)
And help us to say, “Yes.”
(Light a candle at the foot of the cross)

B: When we have come to a cross roads and we don’t know where to turn, but we know that to stand still is the greater danger,
Lord, help us to say, “No,”
(Blow out a candle)
And help us to say, “Yes.”
(Light a candle at the foot of the cross)
A: (Facing the Cross) Jesus Christ, the Son of God, you walked among us and gave everything for us. You are not one who is “yes” and “no.” On the contrary, you are the “yes” to all of God’s promises. To you, we say, “Yes.”

Church Shopping Part II

So I confessed to Sally, aka “teh wife”, the other day that if it wasn’t for her, I’d be over the whole going to church thing. Part of it is the love hate relationship that I have with the church. Part of it is because I’ve been patching together what I need spiritually from a variety of sources. My wife, in turn, confessed that the only reason she was still in it was so that the boys have church as a regular part of the rhythm of their lives. For good or ill, we want them to have the church experience. Thus we’ve been in continual dialogue about what we want in a new church home.

Now, there’s a certain amount of church shopping that I really enjoy. It’s been a great excuse to visit the churches of some friends. I like seeing other expressions of the body of Christ. Too often we get locked into a “we’re the right club” mentality or so wrapped up in empire/ego building that folks are reluctant to even acknowledge other churches except to complain about what “they” do wrong.

This has also given us an opportunity to figure out what’s important to us. Before I get e-mails, for the sake of this discussion, we can assume that a Bible believing and teaching church is a given. But we’re not locked into dogmas and expect room to be able to disagree about non-essentials. One of the first checks is how we’re received. Whether the congregation bothers to talk to us (I’m stunned by how many places seem … cold). Another few things that are important to me:

-a commitment to racial reconciliation (we have bi-racial children and have been very intentional about keeping them in multi-cultural environments)
-receptivity to artists and “weirdos” (people who don’t fit into many folks’ boxes)
-commitment to being missional, especially to the marginalized (we have a heart burden for the homeless)

I knew that a children’s ministry was of critical importance to teh wife. Even though we both believe most spiritual instruction happens at home, we aren’t interested in “holy babysitting.” I also know that my wife has a series of questions that she likes to ask pastors (from how they handle crises to how they handle social media) when we’re seriously looking at parking ourselves at their church for a while.

We don’t want to be consumer Christians, per se, as the main thrust of what we are looking for is what/how can we give and participate. We aren’t hung up on what kind of music or service spectacle/show times, as long as folks are genuine and there is a spirit of community. I have a friend who boiled his definition of church down to this: “a safe and sacred place for people to belong and be wrong.” Yeah, that about sums up what we’re looking for.

Church Shopping Part I

In response to my vagabond spirituality blog, I was asked what I was looking for as my family “church shops”. I thought I’d let my wife respond (her FIRST guest blog!). I’ll probably have a few comments to add tomorrow:

What I Want in a Church
by Sally Broaddus

A poster at our boys’ school reads “Good Teaching is Loving and Listening, Sharing and Supporting – it is being passionately human. That is the point at which a good teacher begins.” I want my pastor to begin with this too.

I am looking for a small – medium size church, however one large enough to already have a good children’s program in place. I want the kids program to reach my boys, so my boys are excited to be going to church and the kids program. I do not want to feel like I am dragging my boys to church. Nor do I want to be forced to help the children’s ministry once a month since children’s ministry is not my gift area. I would rather be used in a better way that uses my gifts.

I am looking for a diverse church. I don’t want to look out into the crowd and see a cookie cutter people, where everyone looks alike, dresses alike, and talks alike. Ideally I want to look out into the crowd and not see one dominant race but more of a mix of races, and a diversity of economical status (not all wealthy, not all poor – but rather a healthy mix).

I am looking for a church that teaches community and really lives it out. I am looking for a church with a community to be in, one that you are real with. I hate the fakeness of many churches: “How are you?” “fine” and “how are you” “fine”. Great we are all fine, but that is not how life is. I want people there to pray for me when I am down, to call me out when I am wrong, to be happy for me when things are going great, and to cry with me when they are not.

I want the church small enough that if I disappear for several weeks, the pastor or the elders notice and they call out of concern or wanting to check in with me. As opposed to guilting me as to with an unspoken “what was more important than church?” attitude. I want people to be real with me, actually care about me as a person.

I am looking for a pastor that can reach me while he is preaching to me, so I can learn from him. Not one that talks over my head, but more one that talks about problems or issues that I deal with on a daily basis. One that teaches me how to live and how to be a better person, but also one that is not so topical that we don’t open the bible. I also want a preacher that is reachable, I don’t want an idol of a pastor. I want one that I can talk to me from time to time.

I want a church that doesn’t treat their pastor as an idol, meaning I want them to be able to have good fill-in pastors or speakers and when they fill in, it doesn’t mean half the church disappears since the pastor is not going to be there.

I want a church that is friendly but not too friendly. (friendly = I feel welcome and would be missed if I wasn’t there. Too friendly = makes it feel cult-like, sometime creepy, and mostly just plain fake).

I want the church to remind you about the offering, maybe even pass a plate, but not make a huge production about it (meaning not listing in the bulletin about the highest givers nor make us walk up front and put it in the plate so all can see).

I want the church to have some focus on mission work, not limiting it to overseas but teach about being missional right here in your neighborhood and city. I want the church to not just talk about it but actually reach out and make a difference in our neighborhood and city.

The Seduction and Toxicity of Victimhood

“I wonder if there are too many things more seductive and poisonous than grasping at victim status.”

This comment was made “off the record” (read: this person knew this was a volatile conversation and wanted to tread lightly, but still wanted to have the conversation with me) as a part of my post-racial church discussion. The word victim come directly from the Latin victima, meaning “person” or “animal killed as a sacrifice”, or “any sacrifice”. There’s a difference between being the victim of abuse and having a victim mentality, a balance of what is true victimization and what is excuse making for poor choices and poor behavior. Choices and actions are somehow absolved because they aren’t actually your fault, but the fault of some outside … other. As if you had nothing to do with your situation, but rather you were the victim of (insert boogeyman of choice).

I also understand that it’s a dangerous road when a person or a minority group starts buying into certain beliefs about themselves. Yes, it is hard to blame the victim, but it’s just as unempowering to BE (and more importantly, remain) the victim. Your life becomes about finding new abusers, as if it’s some club to be a part of. When people so believe they are a victim that they then use that status to avoid confrontation or dealing with their own problems and mistakes. So we must leverage excuse making versus personal responsibility. But I didn’t want to go off half-cocked on the subject, so I turned to one of the voices of wisdom in my life, Carole McDonnell, to get her take:

There can be a need for certain victims to seem guiltless. To be guiltless absolves us of taking responsibility for our own actions. There’s pity for victims and many victims rise above the pity and learn to take charge of their lives again, but some are so wounded they A) can’t deal with their own imperfection B) can’t deal with being seen as imperfect C) confuse the pity and acceptance they receive as love, D) make the pity status permanent.

The victim status is seductive because while we’re in the painful situation we fall into self-pity. We use it to hammer or silence other folks who have not experienced the pain we’ve had. Why rid one’s self of an illness if one becomes utterly identified with it? What is one without the illness? “It’s not my fault; it’s my genes, etc.” And why fight fair when one can say to someone, “I’ve got depression, why are you talking to me like this?”

On the other hand, we live in a very individualistic society and people often tell the victim to “get over it.” That’s because we’re tired of hearing of their pain and our inability to change their situation. Or because we can’t sympathize anymore. Or because we’re cold. Or we fall into comparison mode and say, “If I were in your position, I wouldn’t be behaving like such a victim as you are.” Or we have weird ideas about how a noble victim should behave. So I don’t believe we should tell folks to “get over it.”

As a Christian we’re supposed to bear each other’s burdens and to take care of folks who are victimized. We aren’t supposed to be weary with their pain. Yet at the same time, we are to cover their heads with the helmet of the hope of salvation. The devil works through despair, bad memories, etc. We’re supposed to think of whatever things are just (not what is unjust) and we are to live in hope and the belief that Christ working in us will enable us to overcome the world as He did. I guess there are good ways of reacting to being victimized but I suspect God wants us to see ourselves as victors. We have triumphed or we will triumph. The meditations of our hearts and the words of our mouths cannot and should not be of moments when God seemed to fail us, or when injustice seemed to have triumph. We can say, “Such and such happened to me, but it will not happen again. I have become stronger because of it. I am becoming stronger because of it. If I look to God He is able to make me triumph over this through being able to comfort those who have been wounded as I have been.

Co-signed.

On Setting (aka King Arthur in Indianapolis?)

I ran across a blog entry the other day which seemed to take issue with my series The Knights of Breton Court. First off, here’s the book description (from the Angry Robot website): On the streets of Indianapolis, the ancient Arthurian cycle is replaying in the lives of rival street gangs. Told through the eyes of King, as he gathers like-minded friends and warriors around him to venture into the fastness of Dred, the notorious crime lord, this is a stunning mix of myth and harsh reality. A truly remarkable novel.

I understand this book won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, after all, what’s a few pimps, trolls, drug dealers, elementals, homeless teenagers, and the occasional dragon between friends? However, that was the element of disbelief said blog writer couldn’t suspend. His issue was the setting. Indianapolis, specifically selling Indianapolis to British readers.

When it comes to American cities, Indianapolis is nothing special. My apologies to the Hoosiers but it’s true. It may be the 14th biggest US city but in terms of defining characteristics or geography or culture, there isn’t a lot to talk about.

(It’s a great blog, btw. The author goes on to do an informal survey asking people what their impressions of various big cities were. Indianapolis is … yellow and average.)

I debated briefly about whether or not the story would fly in Indianapolis. But considering what all inspired the story, it was ultimately a no brainer. And I’ll admit, I’m a lazy researcher. I had to go all of around the corner to find this tag:
(This really was taken around the corner from my house. If you know what you’re looking at, you know exactly which gang sets, or which gangs someone is claiming to be tagging for, are represented)

Now, the Indianapolis I write about is not the Indianapolis of the tourist brochures. I’m not trying to do anything exploitative or take folks slumming, either. One of the theses of the story is that any city has a shadow side. An invisible side to it that most people choose not to see, a whole world which may be playing out right under our noses that we have no idea is going on. Sometimes that world is poverty or homelessness. Sometimes that world is magic. Sometimes that world is filled with monsters. But it’s our world to explore.

Indianapolis is actually a perfect place to set the story. It’s a blank enough canvas that I’m betting even native readers will have their eyes opened by much of the story’s locales. And frankly, be it Indianapolis, The Shire, or Gallifrey, the important isn’t how familiar the world is to us, but how real the author makes it to us. Here’s hoping I made the Indianapolis haunting, real, and terrifying. If not, you at least have a gorgeous cover to enjoy.

EDITED TO ADD:

Here is the response from Stomping on Yeti and a King Maker inspired contest from them.

God gave us children to bring us back to earth…

So I got a package today from Angry Robot. Inside was a card that read:
First one hot off the presses? Whatever could he mean? Oh yeah …

So yes, there was much happy dancing in the Broaddus household. But before my ego could swell to unbelievable, “I am Author” proportions, my boys came in to find out what the ruckus was about.

Reese: “What’s that?”
Me: “It’s my book.”
Malcolm: “You wrote that?”
Me: “Yep. Here’s my name and everything.”
Malcolm: “You wrote that? But … that’s a real book.”

And with that, my feet remain firmly on the ground. But I’m happy inside.

The Wolfman – A Review

“Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.”

The idea of a re-make of the Universal Studios classic, The Wolfman, undoubtedly sounded better in the pitch meeting than it did in execution. Updating the story for modern times, with modern effects, and positioned as an anti-Valentine’s Day movie, starring two stars who are eminently watchable and elevate anything they’re in, it seemed like a sure bet. Yet we are left with this joyless cinematic whimper in moonlight.

The Wolfman sets itself up as the story of a prodigal son, Lawrence Talbot (Benecio Del Toro), who has returns to his father, Sir John Talbot (Anthony Hopkins), after the death of his brother, Ben Talbot (Simon Merrells). There is no fatted calf for his return, only blood, body parts, and the trappings of a mystery. The movie reminded me of a string of horror clichés strung together for two hours, a lesson in bad writing.

It begins with a violent opening scene meant to hook the audience. Opening scenes are meant to assure the audience that they are in good hands. A strong opening doesn’t have to mean an exciting bloodletting, it is just the promise of what’s in store (though, upon reflection, sadly, it delivers on what it promises in the opening. You basically get it for two hours). The movie then tells us the story rather than let it unfold—with heavy handed flashbacks which were the equivalent of narrative info dumps and at some points literally telling you what’s going on on-screen—and thus doesn’t give cast much to do.

Joe Johnston knows how to startle us with his jump cuts, but startle is as deep as the thrills get. There’s no escalating of tension, no depth of characterization to study, no layered plot to get lost in. There’s just the visceral [thrill] of chase, catch, kill. The music cues in the unlikely event that we missed anything, the aural equivalent of dripping blood on a book cover. At no point did this movie exactly go for subtle.

“There is no sin in killing a beast. Only a man. Where does one begin and the other end.” -Maleva (Geraldine Chaplin)

Werewolves are a classic horror trope. Similar to what we see with the creature Mr. Hyde, they are the monster, the beast, inside us. As lycanthropy is a disease passed from father to son, with echoes of Romans 6:6, we’re reminded that we have a corrupted self within us, a side, a nature, in us that we must tame, restrain, or kill. Still, we mustn’t let this view blind us to the fact that we were created in God’s image and instead teach us self-loathing.

“He can only be released by someone who loves him.” –Maleva

There was a man with two sons, both of whom he wanted to follow in his footsteps. The prodigal decided to live life on his own terms, while the other remained with his father. Soon, however, the road got rough and the prodigal ended up doing all sorts of things to survive, eventually hitting rock bottom. He realized that he had placed himself in that situation, prayed about it, and returned home. His father prepared a huge celebration for him in order to say “welcome home.” In other words, it is a story of ruin and reconciliation, a story of a spiritual journey.

“I have to save him … just tell me what to do.” –Gwen (Emily Blunt)

Whether we realize it or not, we’re all looking for a home where we could feel safe. A place of belonging and rest. Home. Ignoring the place of true love, combined with our need to fill our inner hole, causes us to look elsewhere. The deepest cravings of our hearts demands to be filled, enabling addictions. Our lostness makes us cling to different things to find (self) fulfillment. In God we have an invitation to intimacy, to a safe place to call home. We have a nearly instinctual resistance to him. Our independence, our need to control, prevents us from coming to our senses and falling to our knees. Unwilling to dare to let myself kneel down and be held by a loving God. To believe in the promise of forgiveness. Healing. Wholeness. Love redeems. Love reminds us of our true selves. Love sets us free. Love puts the old man, the beast within us, to death.

“If such things exist…then everything is.” –Gwen

The Wolfman proves to be a mishmash of themes with none truly explores [the movie sets us an examination of a clash of worldviews—the villagers are backwards and foolish (Christian), the gypsies superstitious and speak of curses (pagan), and the inspectors with their scientific method (modern) and does nothing with it]. Not that I need some heavy meditation on the human condition, but, frankly, that’s one of the points of the werewolf trope. Instead we get a visceral production of limbs, torsos, and intestines strewn all over the screen (heedless of the fact that increased graphic violence doesn’t create chills), that attempts to get by on loud, boo moments. There was a scene beginning with Lawrence’s time in an asylum that had potential for some true horror, but the producers squandered it. One measure of a werewolf movie is by their transformation scenes (one of many reasons An American Werewolf in London was so great). The Wolfman provides great ones that look especially painful. Other than that, we’re left with fast cuts, special effects, and stylishly costumed thespians with little to do beyond their three faces of tortured, anguished, or afraid. In a word: meh.

Heartland Truly Moving Pictures First Annual High School Film Competition

Heartland Truly Moving Pictures is proud to announce its first annual
High School Film Competition!

The Heartland High School Film Competition was established to encourage tomorrow’s filmmakers to create films that explore the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for positive values of life and educate them about Heartland’s mission.

The competition is open to all currently enrolled high school students who have not yet graduated. Film submissions will be judged on criteria similar to that of the Heartland Film Festival, including artistic excellence, technical merit and representation of Heartland’s organizational values.

The 2010 High School Film Competition’s theme is “hope.”
Submissions are being accepted now until May 15.

Four finalists and one Grand Prize winner will be awarded. Winners receive a cash prize, Heartland Film Festival tickets, recognition and much more!

Rules & Regulations (pdf) | Award Details | Submit a Film

Help us get the word out about the High School Film Competition. Click to Tweet this information to your friends for a chance to win a set of five DVDs!

Heartland Truly Moving Pictures is a non-profit organization.
Please consider
offering your support to help make our work possible.

Vagabond Spirituality

Been reading Scot McKnight’s posts on emerging adults with a bit of fascination. I was drawn to his conclusion: there’s much more continuity between a teenager’s faith and an emerging adult’s faith than you might expect. The religious commitments of the teenage years, and one might say the intensity and genuineness and depth of those commitments, are what shapes what happens in the emerging adult years. All of which reminded me of my musings about being “spiritual teenagers” and whether or not I’d truly outgrown some of those tendencies. But I don’t think that describes where I am in my spiritual walk. [read: this may be one of those windy sort of blogs that eventually gets to a point.]

Right now we’re half-heartedly church shopping. Come to find out we’re in a group of a dozen or so folks who are just sort of up in the air about where to land in a church. Some of us are simply tired of waiting for missional communities to actually do something rather than talk about doing something. Some of us are burned out on the whole “investing in church” idea. For some, church had become an unsafe place, a place that caused more hurts than reconciliation.

I know that we’ve contented ourselves with being back row church goers: we slip in, get our praise on, and slip out. Anonymous worship with no pressure to be someone or do something, which has helped us heal from the sense of burnout from our previous experience. Sermon exhaustion aside, it’s been a time to find contentment in just sitting for a while and being ministered to.

But that’s only part of where we are because we don’t want to forsake the idea of communal worship. (Ultimately we’d like to find a place with a relational pastor, a decent kid’s program, one of my wife’s concerns, and that’s racially balanced, one of mine.) While we’d want a place to be missional, both in mindset and deed, we aren’t waiting for that place. Our lives can be missional.

And we still have a community of relationships, both from our previous church community as well as our network of friends. I think that’s another reason why we haven’t dived into a new church. We don’t have time enough to be with all of the friends we have now. It’s kind of tough to then try to cultivate a new community’s worth of relationships or rather, make room in our lives for more people we won’t be able to hang out much with nor develop deep relationships with.

You know what I feel like? One of those journeyman ball players. The ones who stay on a team for a couple years to fill a role and then gets traded. But we’re not worried, we know we’ll end up exactly where God wants us. But I’ve been asked a few times what I look for in a church. I think I’ll write about that next week. [read: lots of deadlines this week.]

Letter from a Former Black Conservative

Guest blog by Anthony Broaddus

[My brother wrote an interesting piece which he’s given me permission to post here. Because, you know, I hate to post anything even remotely controversial.]

I am a conservative at heart. I voted for either a Republican or for Perot from 1988 to 2000. Since George Bush came into office, the climate in politics has gotten ugly. Bush came into office promising to be a “Uniter….not a divider”. How ironic.

With Karl Rove leading the way, Bush had divided the country so badly that friends and family members can’t even talk about politics out of fear of a serious arguement breaking out. That would have never happened back in the 80s. Heck even arguing over BILL CLINTON never got into friends or family members literally getting into fist fights. Under Bush, only “Red States” were considered “Real America” (except when 9/11 could be exploited) while “Blue States” were America-hating Liberal socialists.

This is the politics that made me queasy. This divisive politics that was brought in with the Bush Administration.

But here is my major point. I am a Conservative on most issues. I proudly voted Republican. Then I saw all the ugliness and racism (yeah I said it) that came with their party. I always wondered why Dwight Eisenhower could get the majority of the black votes in the 50s, then up until the mid 60s, the black voters were almost nowhere to be found in the Republican Party. If you do some research on Nixon’s Southern Strategy, you will find out.

To make a long story short, Richard Nixon (with Pat Buchanan and Kevin Phillips advising him) made an unholy alliance with “Southern America” and totally abandoned the African American vote. Richard Nixon created this Frankenstein and Republican Candidates after him, from Reagan all the way to George W Bush took it and ran with it. Bob Dole being the exception to the rule.

Put it like this, I went to three Obama rallies in Indiana during the primaries and the crowd looked like America. Whites, blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, Indians, and Asians. You go to a Republican rally and it is a sea of white faces with a few black people. It has been like this for about 45 years. Why is that?

Well here is my opinion. Dwight Eisenhower cared about civil rights for all Americans. He was the president that ordered the integration of a high school in Little Rock, Arkansas (research the “Little Rock Nine” for example).

Well, after Dwight Eisenhower left office, John Kennedy came into office and though not perfect, he supported civil rights. After his assassination, Lyndon Johnson carried out a lot of ideas that Kennedy promised to do. It was under Johnson that the Civil right Act was passed. When that law was passed, he said to a colleague, “We have lost the South for a generation”. How prophetic. He lost the South for three generations (and counting). It was also under Johnson that the Voting Rights Act was passed. Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court under Johnson as well.

Hypothetically, if Eisenhower could have gotten another term, I am 100% positive he would have passed a lot of the civil rights laws that Johnson eventually passed. Maybe then the black vote would have stayed Republican or at least be more evenly divided. But we’ll never know. I doubt that Nixon would have done a thing for civil rights if he had beaten JFK in 1960. His actions in 1968 show me that he didnt care about furthering civil rights.

In the 1950s, the Blacks were the Republican BASE. The 1960s was the era when Africans migrated to the Democratic Party. When Richard Nixon got into office, he realized that he was not going to get a huge amount of the black vote. Kennedy and Johnson won the Democratic Party a lot of cool points. So Nixon made an unholy alliance with the segregationist south called the “Southern Strategy”. One of Nixon’s advisors (Kevin Phillips) described it best:

“From now on, the Republicans are NEVER going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they DON’T NEED any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the NEGROPHOBE (ie racist) whites will quit the Democrats and BECOME REPUBLICANS. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old COMFORTABLE arrangement with the local Democrats”.

So the stars alligned (via a Democratic President passing Civil Righs Laws and Nixon’s Southern strategy) and those events made 90% of African American voters vote Democratuc over the last 50 years.

There is a reason why Ronald Reagan deliberately campaigned in Philadelphia, Missisippi in 1980. Philadelphia, Mississippi was the town where three Civil Rights workers were lynched and buried (two Jewish and one black). That town (of all places) is where Reagan stood and said “I believe in State’s rights”. If you lived in the deep south before 1965, you knew exactly what “States Rights” meant. Reagan was just keeping the “Southern Strategy” flames burning and to help keep Lyndon Johnson’s prophecy alive. Ironically, Nixon’s advisor, Pat Buchanon also became one of Reagan’s advisors. Imagine that.

Reagan had another advisor named in his Administration named Lee Atwater. We will get to him in a few paragraphs, but here is how he compared Ronald Reagan’s “kinder, gentler” 1980s version of the Southern strategy to Richard Nixon’s uncut version:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger” (in public). That hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like “forced busing”, “STATES RIGHTS” and all that stuff. You’re getting so ABSTRACT that you’re now talking about CUTTING TAXES, and all these things. You’re now talking about totally economic things and a byproduct of them is that blacks get hurt worse than whites. And SUBCONSIOUSLY maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that CODED, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

After Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush kinda used the same strategy to get elected. He hired the same Lee Attwater to run his campaign. Most consider him the “father of modern day dirty divisive politics”. One of Atwater’s main pupils was a young Karl Rove. We will discuss him later.

Anyway, I believe that neither Lee Atwater nor George Herbert Walker Bush had a racist bone in their body. As a matter of fact Atwater played back-up guitar for Percey Sledge and B.B King on occasions. That being said, they knew politics. They knew they had to appeal to the same “southern voters” that voted for Reagan and Nixon.

Initially Michael Dukakis had a SEVENTEEN point lead on George HW Bush in the polls and it looked like he was going to be the next president. The Bush campaign got desperate and needed a “Hail Mary” to win. Hence the infamous “Willie Horton” add. It was the Atomic Bomb. You all know about that add. Lee Atwater said he basically wanted to make Willie Horton a “household name” (which it is to this very day). Even in 2010, you can’t think of Dukakis without thinking of Willie Horton. Well basically, that add scared whites in the suburbs and enraged whites in the south and it was one of the main reasons why George Bush was elected
President. It was kind of disappointing to find out all this stuff about George HB Bush because I loved him as my Commander in Chief when I was in the Marines. I still adore him, but his learning of his campaign leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

By the way, Lee Atwater died of Brain Cancer three years later. On his deathbed, he said that he regretted that campaign he ran in 1988.

As we skip to 2000, we see another Bush running for office. Bush had appointed Karl Rove as his campaign manager. Karl Rove had learned all his tricks from the Master, Lee Atwater. Karl Rove took things to another level and helped create the toxic environment we now currently live in. Ironically, the tactics George Bush and Karl Rove were used in the Republican Primaries against a fellow Republican.

John McCain had won the New Hampshire Primary and was favored to win in the South Carolina Primaries. If McCain wins South Carolina, he had unstoppable momentum. So Karl reached into his bag of tricks and spread the rumor that John McCain had fathered a BLACK BABY out of wedlock. That “black baby” was an orphan that he and Cindy McCain had adopted from Banglasesh. It didn’t matter. The South Carolina voters bought into it and John McCain lost South Carolina. The “Southern Strategy” flame was rekindled and John McCain paid the price. He lost all his momentum and eventually lost every southern state in the Primaries. George Bush won the nomination and the rest is history.

Like all Republican candidates before him, George Bush spoke at Bob Jones University. Bob Jones University banned interracial dating on their campus until AFTER Bush spoke there. They lifed their ban because of the backlash and media scrutiny they recieved.

During the whole Bush Administration, it has been nothing but division. Like I said earlier, ironically Bush pledged to be a “Uniter”. Instead, the only times the country has been more divided were during the Civil War and during the 1960s. You can thank the Bush Administration for that. I personally think George Bush is probably a genuinely nice person, but he surrounded himself with people that didn’t have an ounce of honor in their DNA (like Karl Rove and Dick Cheney).

The environment is to toxic and divisive. Having Right Wing Talk Radio and Fox News easing (and oozing) their way into the political environment only muddied the waters even further. Now blacks are pitted against whites, “Real America” (meaning Red States) are pitted against “Fake Marxist America” (Blue States).

You listen to talk radio and Fox “News” and whether it is from Rush, Coulter, Malkin, Sean Hannity, or whoever and it some of the most vile stuff you will ever hear. I go to the Hannity Message boards and they echo Rush Limbaugh’s views on African Americans. According to them (or a majority of them), the ONLY reasons African Americans vote Democratic is that Democrats give us free handouts. Also according to them, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are our “leaders”.

So basically the majority of African Americans are Democrats because we are lazy and can’t think for themselves? I bet a LOT of white Republicans have been thinking like this for generations and now they have some people that will voice these opinions over the airwaves and into their televisions. How simplistic and dismissive can you get?

So unlike what Rush, Hannity, and their followers (ignorantly) say, blacks didnt just say all of a sudden say “hey lets all vote Democrat because theyre now passing out Government Cheese and other free houndouts to us negros”.

Like I also said earlier, I regretted voting for George Bush and I haven’t voted Republican since 2000 (on the national level). I went to three Obama rallies here in Indiana and you could see every color in the rainbow. You go to Republican rallies and you can spot out the ten blacks out of the thousands in their rallies. I always wondered why.

I live in a “middle class” neighborhood where the houses are worth between $100,000 and 250,000. I also have friends that live in the black suburbs where the houses are worth MILIONS. The thing these neighborhoods have in common is there are Obama signs all through their yards, so it can’t be because of Government handouts, can it? I’m sure those blacks that live in those huge houses didn’t get to where they are at by listening to Al Sharpton either. I know that I didn’t and I consider myself to be living the “American Dream”. So what gives?

I mean, don’t get me wrong, the Conservatives have good theories. Nothing wrong with “family values”, lowering taxes and being fiscally responsible (even though there hasnt been a fiscally responsible president in more than fifty years). Economically, Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams make a TON of sense to me.

It’s not the MESSAGE, it worked with African Americans when Eisenhower was President. It is the MESSENGERS and the history. African Americans have very long memories and we pass history down from generation to generation. We haven’t forgotten which party passed all the major Civil Right laws. We also haven’t forgotten which party totally abandoned us to cater to the “southern vote”.

African Americans that vote Democrat also notice that the Pat Buchanons, Bill O’Reileys, Rush Limbaughs, Ann Coulters, Sean Hannitys, and the Glenn Becks of the world all flock to the “conservative” side. The same guys and gals that say blacks vote for Democrats are lazy, love handouts, and can’t think for themselves. The same people that dismiss and sterotype a whole race of people.

Maybe these are the reasons why blacks have voted 90% Democratic since the 1960s. That won’t change any time soon and won’t change after Obama is out of office in 2016.

In my opinion things will never change because the history is too deep and to be honest, only a few Republicans have even tried to court the black vote. One is Jack Kemp and the other is Mike Huckabee (who got 47% of the black vote when running for Governor). Unfortunately Jack Kemp died last year and Mike Huckabee made that stupid comment at the NRA Convention about someone SHOOTING Barack Obama.

I know that “Politics make strange bedfellows”. How comfortable are the African Americans here with your fellow “conservative” talk show hosts dismissing blacks as sheep? Or do you agree with them? Or better yet, how did you feel when you went to You Tube and saw Republican rallies where people brought in Monkeys to Sarah Palin rallies (some with nooses around them) that had Obama pins on them? Did you notice all the people around them thinking it was funny? Was that funny to you?

How about when that Republican was circulating a picture of the “new Obama White House Lawn” and it was a garden with nothing but watermelons in it? How about the picture of the new “Obama Dollah” and it is a Welfare Check with Barack Obama’s picture in the middle? Is that funny to you? These are your bedfellows, your fellow “Conservatives”. These are the same guys who wore shirts saying “Keep the White House White”. Do you think these Republicans respect you? Do you think they respect Michael Steele? I don’t.

My question is how much do you embrace the divisive retoric that Rush spew or do you just listen to “the good parts”?

Do I think the Republican Party is filled with racists? Absolutely not. Do I think the Democratic Party are filled with Martin Luther Kings? That’s laughable. Hillary Clinton ran a despicable campaign that would have made Nixon proud. Hillary and her “First Black President” will never get back the cool points they lost among a lot of people. I’m glad the good prevailed over that mess.

Your party doesn’t even bother to court African Americans. Just like in 1968, you have written off a whole race of people. It’s quite a shame that there are no Jack Kemps on the national level. He was for tax cuts in urban areas and even wanted to speak at the Million Man March. Imagine that.

So in my opinion, the way your party to get back
the African American vote is to:

1. COURT THEM!! (duh)
2. Get as far away from the Southern Strategy as possible.
3. Distance yourselves from Talk Radio personalities.

But the Republicans won’t do that and will mainly be a “Whites Only” club. They will screw around and make the Hispanics vote in the same percentages as African Americans. That hurts the Republicans because the Hispanics will be the majority of the US population within a generation.

These are the same Hispanics that turned Republican strongholds (like Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, my state of Indiana, Iowa, Virginia, and North Carolina) into Obama states in 2008. There are huge Hispanic Populations in these states and they will only get bigger. Could you imagine Texas not voting Republican? I can.They have long memories too. They will remember being dismissed and all lumped together as “illegals” who sneak over the border to get on Welfare. Your party has a reputation of stereotyping whole races.

The point of this super long message is that until your party ditches your Southern Strategy and dumps the Rush Limbaughs and Glen Becks of the world, your party will continue to only get 5% of the African vote and a “Black Conservatives” Facebook page will only have only 200+ members (1/3 of which happen to be white) instead of having 10,000 members.

Unfortunately, the Southern Strategy has been embedded into the Republican Party and the Rush Limbaughs arent going anywhere. That is sad for your party and it is sad for America.