Saturday, May 31, 2008

Thought For The Week

"The best response to evil is to make something beautiful."

--John O'Donoghue,
Celtic writer

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Thought For The Week

"We hunger to be known and understood. We hunger to be loved. We hunger to be at peace inside our own skins. We hunger not just to be fed these things but, often without realizing it, we hunger to feed others these things because they too are starving for them. We hunger not just to be loved but to love, not just to be forgiven but to forgive, not just to be known and understood for all the good times and bad times that for better for worse have made us who we are, but to know and understand each other to the same point of seeing that, in the last analysis, we all have the same good times, the same bad times, and that for that very reason there is no such thing in all the world as anyone who is really a stranger."

- Frederick Buechner
from Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thought For The Week

Sometimes I come across a poem that I wish I had written. The following poem is one of those and I humbly submit it as a thought for the week.

Bring It Forth

Leo, that lionhearted Count
Tolstoy, knew the truth:
"Love is a manifestation of the divine,
for which the notion of time does not exist.
Therefore, love is manifested only now,
in the present, in every instant."

Every instant, every breath
should echo this, "Love
is the most important thing of all.
But one cannot love
in the past or the future.
One can only love now,
at the present time and in the present moment."

Only now, only how
can we understand true compassion?
Who amongst us can love
right here and now, unconditionally
embrace the world,
all its hustle and bustle,
all its multitudes and madness,
and take them all to heart?

Who can become as lionhearted as Leo
and follow his dictum:
"The purpose of life is to bring forth goodness.
Now, in this life."

I ask and I pray,
bring it forth.

(c 2007 thomas fortenberry)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Life Without Black People

A very humorous and revealing story is told about a group of white people who were fed up with African Americans, so they joined together and wished themselves away. They passed through a deep dark tunnel and emerged in sort of a twilight zone where there is an America without black people.

At first these white people breathed a sigh of relief..

'At last', they said, 'no more crime, drugs, violence and welfare.'

All of the blacks have gone! Then suddenly, reality set in. The 'NEW AMERICA' is not America at all - only a barren land.

1. There are very few crops that have flourished because the nation was built on a slave-supported system.

2. There are no cities with tall skyscrapers because Alexander Mils, a black man, invented the elevator, and without it, one finds great difficulty reaching higher floors.

3. There are few if any cars because Richard Spikes, a black man, invented the automatic gearshift, Joseph Gambol, also black, invented the Super Charge System for Internal Combustion Engines, and Garrett A. Morgan, a black man,
invented the traffic signals.

4. Furthermore, one could not use the rapid transit system because its procurer was the electric trolley, which was invented by another black man, Albert R. Robinson.

5. Even if there were streets on which cars and a rapid transit system could operate, they were cluttered with paper because an African American, Charles Brooks, invented the street sweeper.

6. There were few if any newspapers, magazines and books because John Love invented the pencil sharpener, William Purveys invented the fountain pen, and Lee Barrage invented the Type Writing Machine and W. A. Love invented the
Advanced Printing Press. They were all, you guessed it, Black.

7. Even if Americans could write their letters, articles and books, they would not have been transported by mail because William Barry invented the Postmarking and Canceling Machine, William Purveys invented the Hand Stamp and Philip Downing invented the Letter Drop.

8. The lawns were brown and wilted because Joseph Smith invented the Lawn Sprinkler and John Burr the Lawn Mower.

9. When they entered their homes, they found them to be poorly ventilated and poorly heated. You see, Frederick Jones invented the Air Conditioner and Alice Parker the Heating Furnace. Their homes were also dim. But of course, Lewis
Lattimer later invented the Electric Lamp, Michael Harvey invented the lantern, and Granville T. Woods invented the Automatic Cut off Switch. Their homes were also filthy because Thomas W. Steward invented the Mop and Lloyd P. Ray the Dust Pan.

10. Their children met them at the door - barefooted, shabby, motley and unkempt. But what could one expect? Jan E. Matzelinger invented the Shoe Lasting Machine, Walter Sammons invented the Comb, Sarah Boone invented the Ironing Board, and George T. Samon invented the Clothes Dryer.

11. Finally, they were resigned to at least have dinner amidst all of this turmoil. But here again, the food had spoiled because another Black Man, John Standard invented the refrigerator.

Now, isn't that something? What would this country be like without the contributions of Blacks, as African-Americans?

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, 'by the time we leave for work, millions of Americans have depended on the inventions from the minds of Blacks.'

Black history includes more than just slavery, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Marcus Garvey & W.E..B. Dubois.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Words To Live By

I hope I can live according to the words in the following quote by my favorite writer, James Baldwin:

"One writes out of one thing only -- one's own experience. Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from the experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give."
– James Baldwin

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Thought For The Week

"Give your sorrow all the space and shelter in yourself that is its due, for if everyone bears [their] grief honestly and courageously, the sorrow that now fills the world will abate. But if you do not clear a decent shelter for your sorrow, and instead reserve most of the space inside you for hatred and thoughts of revenge - from which new sorrows will be born for others - then sorrow will never cease in this world and will multiply."

- Etty Hillesum
quoted in Marc Ellis, "Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation"

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Little Bit Of History To Put Things In Perspective

I wish I had written this, because it encompasses everything I believe, but I gladly post it here for all to read and to contemplate.

Why is it that a Black Man can create a tiny piece called a filament(electric light - Lewis Latimer) that allows people to see in the dark?

But can't be seen fit to lead a country to the true light.

Why is it that a Black Man can create an instrument(clock - Benjamin Banneker) that all People use to tell time?

But people don't think it is time for him to run a country.

Why is it that a Black Man can design a place for the high authorities to meet in & a place for the President to live in (The Capitol & the White House - Phillip Reid (a slave) & Pierre L'Enfant)?

But not good enough to lead these meetings or live in himself.

Why is it that a Black Man was brilliant enough to do the first open heart surgery (Dr. Daniel Hale Williams) and show the world how to get and preserve plasma (Dr. Charles Drew)?

But not good enough to put a program in place where everyone can afford this

Why is it that a Black Man was creative enough to design an instrument (traffic light - Garrett Morgan) to bring multiple people (traffic) to a halt?

But not seen creative enough to design a plan to bring all this unnecessary and worthless fighting between countries to an end.

Why is it that a Black Man could create the soles (shoes - Jan Matzeliger) that people walk on everyday?

But not seen good enough to fill the shoes of a bad president.

Why is it that a Black Man was smart enough & brave enough to teach himself(Fredrick Douglas & Thomas Fuller - both slaves) and others how to read, write and/or calculate math?

But not seen (as) smart enough and bold enough to calculate a platform to be
President to a country that sure needs another first by us.

So you see my Brothers and Sisters, what I am saying is let us not forget our

Which led us to our present and can definitely be the backbone to our

We were good enough, smart enough, creative enough, and bold enough then, so

Let's all give Obama the chance to show that we are still these things and

We all are as strong as our weakest link, so don't be that weak link that
denies our people that chance to show we still can OVERCOME & BE THE FIRST.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Doing The Wright Thing

The following is in response to an emailed response I received from an old college friend and fellow Obama supporter, to whom I posed the question of what she thought regarding the whole Rev. Wright situation. I've included her inital response to the question, to provide context, followed by my response.

"From the moment I first heard the sound bites I thought, 'People like Ted & I will probably agree with or at least understand where he’s coming from as soon as we hear the whole context. But sooooo many others are going to have a big problem with this!' And I was right. We totally get the whole “chickens coming home to roost” sort of thing and the fact that God does not bless the bad things we do. I admire Rev. Wright. And even though I think this will hurt Obama, I admire the way Rev. Wright will not back away from defending what he believes and speaking the truth as he sees it! I also understand Obama’s response in distancing himself from someone who will cause “divisiveness”. Obama’s goal is to bring everyone together in order to move forward together.

"What do you think?"

My response:

What I think is, "Thank you", for seeing this as I see it. I totally agree with what you just wrote. Rev. Wright is not saying anything that hasn't been said within the black community for a number of years. I think it's unfortunate regarding the timing of this with Obama running for president and I hope this doesn't have an adverse effect on his candidacy. But sometimes when you speak the truth, you run the risk of alienating and dividing people. The Old Testament prophets were considered crazy for their preaching, too. And it's been noted that a sermon that Dr. King was working on before his death, was titled, "Why America May Go To Hell"; he was vilified for his stance against the Vietnam War, saying that America was the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. But as always, America has short-term memory, as evidenced by how we choose to remember him every February and on his birthday. And why is what Rev. Wright's been saying any more outrageous than anything Jerry Falwell, Pastor Hagee, or Pat Robertson have said and been saying for years? Why hasn't the media focused on those statements like they have with Wright?(I don't think I need to answer that, if you know what I mean). I hope down the line that Obama and Rev. Wright can sit down and work this out--it would be like disavowing the knowledge of having an uncle. And I also hope that Obama can move forward and that people will see through the media smokescreen and diversion that this is and see Obama for the person that he appears to be and wants to be as president and that is, someone who does want to unify us and move this country forward.

Besides, we've had 8 years of a president who claims Christ as his favorite philosopher and yet, has no intention of admitting he was wrong about the war or of trying to get us out of it; who dropped the ball on Katrina; and wants to put the blame for the economy on Congress, but yet wants to continue to send billions and billions of dollars to Iraq. And they say that Wright is divisive? Or Obama, for having gone to his church? Don't get me started!! "Nuff said!!