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Sunday, June 05, 2011

African American Music Appreciation Month

African American Music Appreciation Month continues with...
The Black Church

Its no secret that the African American community has strong ties to the church, sometimes to a fault. We love Jesus. Ok that was racist and assumptive but whatever. This entire post is going to be filled with generalizations so if you have a problem reading them you should stop reading now. Buh bye.

Still here? Good. I like to give people the opportunity to walk away without feeling guilty and I'm glad you stayed.

While searching for my gospel favorites on Youtube, I came across this interesting video.

It is a discussion of the black church and it moved me to change the way I approached today's post.
I should premise everything by saying I grew up in the church. That means, I spent a good amount of my childhood involved in church activities. I was in the choir, I performed praise dances and poems for Jesus and at one point I was an usher. Growing up, I did not go a day without hearing phrases like "Let Go & Let God," and "God didn't bring you this far to leave you" and the ever popular "If God brought you to it he will bring you through it." I plan on handing these phrases down to my children. Stick with me. The black church is a strong force in how some black people conduct themselves. We make certain decisions not because we want to make them but because we were advised to do so by our church. Some pastors are so concerned with your personal life that they ask to look at your personal tax returns, conduct marriage counseling sessions and other personal matters. In most instances, the "spiritual leaders" are not trained in handling such matters and they end up exacerbating the situation.

The black church is so powerful and influential that politicians make it a point to stop at black churches on the campaign trail. Clearly, the power is amazingly far reaching BUT it has its flaws. The fundamental problem is many of the church leaders are more concerned with the way things "look" than they are about the way things "are." I once went to a church where the pastor had a G-4 jet and spoke of it was a simple possession. That made me feel some type of way because he was a shepherd for a congregation of struggling people. I thought about how much of a difference he could have made in their lives instead of purchasing the jet. How could he speak to people about trusting their finances to God and "planting a mustard seed" in hopes that their situation will improve when he only flew on a private jet?

I love my black churches but my love is not blind. The influence of the black church is far reaching and I respect that.  Its clear that the black church is part of the reason we turn up our noses at the thought of seeking pyschotherapy. You better take your problems to Pastor and let him "lay hands" on you. Oh thats just the black families I know? Oh ok. What saddens me is that for most churches, attendance on Sunday mornings is more of a stage production than a spiritual healing session. People come to church to be seen and not to learn about how to improve their relationship with their creator. Judge me all you want but if you live in a glass house it would behoove you to keep your stones to yourself. Trust me, I have boulders in my arsenal.

*Looks around* How did I get on this soapbox? Excuse me while I jump off and get back on topic.

Regardless of my issues with the direction of the black church, I still love Gospel music. It is a huge part of the black church and it is what keeps me going when I feel like quitting. We do not praise like "other" church going people. We dance. We shout. We scream and we sing. We make a fool of ourselves in honor of our God and I wouldn't have it any other way.  I heard this song my 1L year and every time I found myself second guessing myself I listened to the words of this song. Speak over your doubts and encourage yourself.

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