Update: Brand NEW Posts Coming Soon!!!!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The One About Hymns

You know what bothers me about the church? We don’t sing hymns anymore. Not really. Sure we might sing a stanza of Amazing Grace from time to time, but as a whole we don’t relish the old hymns like we used to. I miss going to church and hearing words like…

“And can it be that I should gain
an interest in the Savior's blood!
Died he for me  who caused his pain!
For me who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!”

Or lyrics like:

Oh the deep deep love of Jesus
Vast, unmeasured, boundless free
Rolling as a mighty ocean
 in its fullness over me
Underneath me All around me
Is the current of thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to
Thy glorious rest above”                 

Or even:

“And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us"               

WOW I wish I could write like that!!!!! You can feel the sincerity of these magnificent words. There is so much theological meaning, so much hope.  Yet this treasure collects dust in church pews around the world every week.  I’m not saying I don’t like modern music. I do enjoy some of it. But it seems that nothing we produce nowadays has the same lyrical depth, timelessness, or integrity of some of our  hymns. A popular youtube channel parodies our modern church music here. I’m afraid that they are on to something! So much of what we call music today is repetitive and lyrically inferior.

I’m not an old person. I’m still in my twenties, but I have always felt a special appreciation for quality music, including the beautiful centuries-old hymns. I think this music has enduring relevance. That’s the thing about a classic: it doesn’t go out of style. Contemporary music and musicians shine for a moment and then fade into obscurity just as quickly with people asking what happened to [insert singer/band/composer here]. Ever heard anyone say that he didn’t want to visit the Sistine Chapel or explore the Coliseum because they are dated and out of style? That’s because real music, real art, and real historical treasures do not have an expiration date.

The modern church sings uplifting praise and worship music which I do not oppose. I go to church and see theatricals and inspirational dances, and all sorts of productions, which can have a proper place, but I miss the old hymns. I miss the solemnity and reverence. I hum hymns throughout my day. They refresh me when my spirits are down and my faith is dwindling.  A few modern musicians such as Selah, Fernando Ortega, Out of Eden etc. have started to rediscover the significance of hymns. They have taken 200 year old songs and transformed them into music that is appropriate for today’s audiences, without cheapening them or burying the sacred messages in loud rock or hiphop music. Yes, a few hymns could benefit from a little modernization, but their essence, their theology has intrinsic value. 

To close this post I will leave you with the lyrics to two of my favorite hymns Let All Mortal Flesh and Once to Every Man and Nation.  

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand….
Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.”

“Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light….
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.”

Pure Poetry! What do we have today that can compare?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

America Might Have Talent, But We Certainly Don’t Have Any Class

Those who know me know that I don’t watch tv, so when I happen to catch a few minutes of the idiot box in passing, I often feel blown away by the sheer amount of  negative content. Tonight I saw a few minutes of the popular show America’s Got Talent. One of the segments included a twelve year old boy who stood up and told dirty jokes. In just a few minutes, he made references to genitalia and oral sex among other inappropriate topics. I was amazed, mostly because these innuendos had come from the mouth of a child and that his parents allowed him to come on television and say these types of things. 

To make matter's worse the audience went wild!! They loved it, praising the boy for being "naughty". The judges ate it up and NOBODY, including his parents, had any objections to the child's “talent". I remember shaking my head and wondering if there was any morality or common decency left on this planet.

I believe that we are what we take in. The type of content we expose ourselves to, the decisions we make day to day, and the words we say all become part of who we are and ultimately who we are becoming.  I often encourage people to turn the TV off or at least limit the time watching it and to be careful about the kind of content they view. Hollywood doesn’t care about your moral sensibilities. It doesn’t care about good or bad. It does not consider children’s moral development. The media is a cash vacuum looking to fill its coffers with maximum profits regardless of the ill effects---including the immorality and desensitization to immorality it leaves in its wake.

I am not here to judge any particular tv show or to scrutinize anybody’s television habits. I just want people to think intelligently about the decisions they make.  I hope that somewhere out there that 12 year old boy hears  messages like the ones contained in this post. I hope he and his parents consider how he is contributing in a miniscule way to the poison churning through the media. I hope that they realize how the media is exploiting their child for a few cheap laughs. Mostly, I hope that that young man cultivates real talent, and maybe even a touch of class.

Good Night Friends

Sunday, June 8, 2014

My Flop

If you know me, you know that I am a baking enthusiast.I post pretty, or not so pretty, pictures of the stuff I bake on my facebook page. But learning to bake, like most things, involves a process. The first icing I ever tried to make went straight into the trashcan. And so many other half baked, messed up, deformed goods ended up being eaten by the garbage disposal. Very few people’s first baked items end up looking like this…..

Most of the time a first baked item looks more like this….

It was much worse than this actually. I didn't have my camera to take pictures of the whole catastrophe. But there was batter all over my kitchen island seeping out like hot lava, and caking (forgive the pun) on my tube pan in funky, disgusting blobs. 

This mess was supposed to be a chocolate pound cake. I followed the recipe to specifications, including the amount  of bake time.  Behold my error! I under-baked the cake. Then as it cooled it sank and came apart. Now I know about the tooth pick trick, but this particular recipe requires that the cake is slightly under-baked. Let’s just say that I made a lava cake!

So I threw away the worse part of it. Cut up the ‘good’ part that wasn't too smothered in batter. Scooped some ice cream and tada! Dessert.

Life’s like that sometimes. Stuff ends up jacked up. Even when you put time and energy into it. You follow the plan to exact specifications and things fall apart. Sometimes you have to throw away huge chunks of things you put time into (friendships, material things, blogs etc). Sometimes your final product comes out different from what you originally anticipated. Life’s a mess.

So that’s enough of my philosophizing. I’m not a pie in the sky optimist: Lemons aint always lemonade! But sometimes a flop can be a learning opportunity (for me it means to calibrate my oven and watch my bake time) or a chance to create something else out of the ruin.

Hope you enjoyed this quick post. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Me and My Hair

It has been 7 years since my last post on natural hair. (FYI my other post is here ). I am still not my hair. It does not define me. I’m not radical. I’m not out to make political waves. I just want to wear my hair the way it grows from my scalp: unprocessed. I’ve been natural years before “natural” became the latest fashion fad, long before youtube vids, and tons of self-proclaimed hair gurus. I’ve told this story before, but I “went natural” because I had a falling out with my hairstylist back in 2006. I decided not to go to her again and in the interim I wasn't able to find anyone who could style hair as well as she did. Meanwhile, my hair started to outgrow the relaxer which made me ask myself a lot of questions like,” Oooh I wonder what my hair looks like unprocessed?” and “Why am I perming my hair if I hate the relaxed look on me and the chemicals burns and irritate my scalp!” Yup, my hair was literally getting  thinner and thinner and each relaxer session was burning me more and more. Then I started questioning the societal norm that said that I must chemically process my hair to be socially acceptable.  But initially,I wasn't out to revolutionize anything. I just didn't want to process my hair anymore. I wasn't out to make a statement or put anyone down for making different hair choices.

So here is my hair update 8 years post relaxer.

1) I still love wigs, weaves, extensions, etc.

2) I still don’t use a lot of products on my hair. In fact the entire time I lived in Ohio I owned a basic shampoo, a basic conditioner, and some extra virgin olive oil. I have never felt like I needed to own 105 different hair care products to have healthy hair. I also don’t think there is a magical hair potion or vitamin or product that will make your hair grow or be more than it was meant to be. There are too many products out there and the options are overwhelming. Each product promises a miracle in a jar. I’m over the hype. I just want clean, conditioned hair. End of story. I don’t need a creamy yogurt hair custard soufflĂ© with yak oil and imported [insert natural ingredient here] from some obscure country. Uh, no thanks. (Tangent: sometimes with names like custards, and ingredients like milk, honey, and raisins I can’t tell if a product is for my hair or if it is a dessert).

3) I still don’t use a system of letters and numbers to define my hair. Though hair categorizing is fascinating, there are many real words I can use that better capture the characteristics of my hair. Words like, soft, tangled, coiled, nappy, frizzy, kinky better classify my hair than an arbitrary letter or number combination.

4) I still DO put heat in my hair. When I wash (every two weeks, sometimes once a month) I blow dry. About once a year I flat iron. What’s the point of having hair if it becomes a burden or you can’t style it the way you want? Some people worship their hair. Really it’s not that deep. It’s just hair, people!

5) I still don’t follow a regimen. I like low maintenance hairstyles with lots of longevity. I don’t like spending a lot of time on my hair. I have a life and interests and responsibilities,  etc. Additionally, I do not have a bottomless wallet that allows me to try every new miracle product that comes on the scene with its magical collection of wonder ingredients that promise me hair like [insert celebrity here].

6)Many people still have the same negative attitudes to natural hair. I still don’t care. I’m so over it. People have the right to style (or choose not to style) their hair the way they want. They have a right to process, color, braid, and iron, etc. their hair to their liking. I'm still not out to put anyone else's hair choices down. There are people who feel I’m not as "natural" because I wear wigs. I even know a black hairstylist who refuses do my hair—simply because she believes natural hair is difficult or time consuming. My life has real problems. There are too many real world issues to concern myself with. I can’t be bothered with what someone else thinks about my hair.

7) I clip my hair when the ends are ratty. PERIOD. That’s it. Not every two weeks or three weeks or 6 months. I simply get a trim when my ends need it.  

8) I’m still indecisive about how to style my hair. I still don’t like getting my hair done. I love a nice style but if I had it my way hair styling would take 10 minutes and last 4 weeks. I suppose I’ve never been much of a girl.

9)I’m not a guru. Just because I have natural hair I can’t tell you what to do to YOUR hair to make it grow faster or achieve a certain look. Sorry.

10) The worse thing I can do to my hair is neglect it. Otherwise it tends to go along with whatever I do to it. It is not fragile. I don’t usually worry about it falling out. I only had damage during those long periods where I wasn't going to the salon or I was keeping my hair in the same style for months at a time. Neglect is the only thing that hurts my hair. Otherwise, braids (even too tight braids, heat (even Dominicans), sulfate shampoo, mineral oil products etc have never harmed my hair. (Though, just a caveat, I don’t recommend too tight braids or Dominican blow outs btw).  Hair tends to be pretty resilient. I mean we modern folk are not the first people to have hair. Folk have had hair for thousands of years.

11) I try to keep my life as simple as possible. That includes my hair, and my attitude towards it. On those days when I feel I hate my hair, I realize it isn't my hair I hate only my inability to do it. Then I take a deep breath and do something easy to it.

12) I have shaved my head two times. Once in 2008 and another time in 2009 and it grows back. WOW! It still grows. 

13) I still don't differentiate between protective styling and regular styling. Nor do I feel like I am only limited to so called protective styles. Call it a protective style or whatever. I just wear what I like. 

So as you can see not much has changed with my hair. A few years from now when this alleged "hair movement" has faded I will still be here.  I will still be simple. I will still be me.