Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Morning Inspiration!

When I was a pastor, I would tell our choir that I loved it when they sung scripture. This song based on Romans 1:16, is one of my favorites.

Hope you enjoy it and that it blesses your Sunday morning!


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Teleprompter Anyone?!

I did it one or two times when I was a pastor; I have other friends who have apparently tried it in their ministries. I don't think any of us would recommend it to young pastors.

I mean have an open forum with the people who oppose your plans and vision! You tend to leave those meetings thinking, "Maybe this was a bad idea!".

So why on earth would the President - yes, President Obama - go in front of 140 Republicans and not only make a speech, but field Q&A?!

It was great! Great from the stand point that he directly answered the questions and charges that have been made against him for nearly a year. And great from the standpoint that anyone who wants to be fair in their evaluation of whether or not bipartisan outreach has been real, has to consider whose being fair with whom?!


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Maybe next time we need to get Congressman Henserling a teleprompter!

Oh, by the way. I wanted to see what FOX News had to say about the speech, so while I watching this analysis on MSNBC (which admittedly tends to often be pro-Obama, although they will criticize him), I switched over to get their point of view.

I kid you not - Larry the Cable Guy, was being interviewed. Hannity was asking him his views on climate change.

Seriously!

For Those Who Would Change the Wind

Frank Lloyd Wright
1867 - 1959

Architect, Philosopher


"An idea is salvation by imagination."

Friday, January 29, 2010

Updates from Dr. Jim Walton in Haiti


As I mentioned in a previous post, CDM board member and Baylor Hospital Chief Equity Officer, Dr. Jim Walton has joined other health care professionals and rescue volutounteers in Haiti.

His wife, Dr. Rhonda Walton, has provided us with updates of his experience. It helps me visualize just how extensive the devastation to both property and persons and how it will take the world community to help rebuild and restore this tiny island.

We should all be thankful to anyone and everyone who has devoted their time, treasure and prayerful support to the Haitians and those who have been able and available to respond personally.

Here's an excerpt from a recent update...

"Being here helps me realize the incredible blessing of where I was born and the priviledges I have had as a consequence. Additionally, I see both the opportunity and responsibility we all bear to help those who are suffering and much less fortunate (simply because of their birthplace). It gives me hope that people and organizations in Dallas and all over the world are interested in helping Haiti recover and move beyond their poverty. This will be a huge undertaking. The amount of destruction of the infrastrucutre can't be overstated. As I worked last night in our little make-shift hospital ward, I could hear an occassional US Airforce plane takeoff and land. I thought that it was odd that there were so few of them, when the scale of recovery is so large....then I remembered seeing a ship unloading at a small dock near a village where we made housecalls. Maybe the relief will come by boat now."

And from a more recent update...

"This is exhausting and emotionally taxing....it clarified the need to think carefully about the type of work and the length of commitment to this needy country....community health development would be very helpful, but isn't very glamorous like fixing broken bones.....could take a longterm commitment to a focused community ...and if all the people and organizations could each take one community or area (both inside and outside Port-au-Prince) then the country could improve and realize that there is a God who loves them, in spite of the trauma that was experienced by the earthquake."

"There are lots of prayers as we travel from house to house and tent to tent, because it is all we can think of doing as we do this level of work...."



Jim's due back Saturday. Let's continue to pray for his safe return!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Let Obama Be Obama - It's Time to Get in the Game!

A stinging defeat for the Democrats in Massachusetts.

Health care reform legislation in jeopardy.

The U.S. Supreme Court rules that corporations, because they have the same standing as persons, should not limits placed on campaign contributions, that, have, for all intents and purpose, nearly completed the hijacking of the 14th Amendment and possibly derailed any possibility of serious campaign reform. For those who weren't watching it means while undocumented immigrants can't vote, foreign owned corporations can now buy a politician, with even greater impunity than before.

Take the time to watch this...




The are some nuanced and not so subtle differences, as well as similarities between the reality the current administration and the art that seems to imitate (or prefigure) it in these scenes. But I think you get my drift.

I don't know if there's anyone in the White House whose talking to the President like this. But I sure hope so! If not, somebody needs to start. I hope we see evidence of it tonight.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Praying for Dr. Jim


Central Dallas Ministries board member and Baylor Hospital's Chief equity officer, Dr. Jim Walton, is among the physicians lending his services to help in Haiti.

"On Saturday, two doctors from Baylor University Medical Center left with a group of surgeons and anesthesiologists from Austin-area churches to work with Mission of Hope Haiti...

"[The]Two Baylor doctors, Christopher Berry and Jim Walton, left for Haiti on Saturday with a team of surgeons and anesthesiologists out of Austin. Walton, who practices internal medicine, said the group wanted to include primary care physicians."

"Walton sent this text to Sewell on Sunday:

"“The situation here has changed in the last 48 hours … they state that the relief has caught up with the demands of the injured … people are now moving out of the capital POP, and trying to get out to the countryside … there are large tent cities in POP … thousands of displaced people, but they aren’t necessarily injured … there are not enough operating rooms working for all of the surgeons who are here trying to help … we are setting up a hospital out in the country … ""

"[Jim] also leads the community health improvement efforts for HealthTexas Provider Network, through which he has created numerous opportunities for physicians to become involved in service activities including volunteering at local charity clinics, participation in Project Access Dallas, a community health initiative, as well as international medical missions around the world."

"Dr. Rhonda Walton is ... a major contributor to CDM's effort to support and promote the role of women in ministry among the poor and in churches across the area."

"Dr. Rhonda", is doing wonders working with the staff in Roseland Townhomes providing pediatric services, working with the mothers of children in Roseland, as well as working with diabetic patients to manage their disease.

Jim and Rhonda are a wonderful team. We're grateful and incredibly proud to have them both. Our heartfelt prayers go out to Jim, and the team he's working with, for their work among the victims of the disaster in Haiti and their families as they await their return.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Victory Gardens - In More Ways than You Might Think!

I supervise several of Central Dallas Ministries community based programs. I feel fortunate to work with a number of program directors whose passionate creativity and dedication continues to exceed expectation.

Dr. Janet Morrison is one of them.

She's incredibly committed to enlarging the space in which kids have an opportunity to learn. Through her leadership, children at Roseland Home Townhomes are doing incredible things with technology, learning journalism, the environment, reading (kids have been known to argue about buying books, from the library Janet and her team have gotten underway) and a community garden.

I'll admit I was a little cool to the idea at first. But the more I saw the enthusiasm for it and the more I've heard people in neighborhoods express a desire for them, I've begun to see the wisdom and value of the idea.

Just like the kids in Janet's program.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Serious Tragedy Needs Serious Reflection

I was outraged, with Pat Roberson's ridiculous statements regarding the victims of the Haitian earthquake. I resisted posting commentary because it would have been more rant than anything else. And while I'm not above ranting, I just couldn't bring myself to comment on Roberson without also reflecting on the sheer hypocrisy of those who, condemn Jeremiah Wright, without listening to the complete sermon he preached, or examining the full context of his ministry and those who say nothing about this foolishness being spouted year in and year out to literally tens of millions of people.

There, I've said it.

As for Rush Limbaugh, we will no longer be irritated by his inanity, when we stop acting as if he actually has something intelligent to say.

I have already stopped. I invite you to join me...

However, here is a more constructive take on the question of Haitian suffering. I hope this provides a measure of sane spiritual thought, in the midst of what passes for some as 'Christian' teaching. It is by Jennifer Butler, executive director of Faith in Public Life.

"Q: Many have criticized Pat Robertson's suggestion that the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti was the work of the devil or a form of divine punishment. But if one believes God is good and intervenes in the world, why does God allow innocents to suffer? What is the best scriptural text or explanation of that problem you've ever read?"

"What I love about the Bible is the permission it gives to wrestle with God. Jacob wrestled with an angel. Job debated his righteous tormentors (Pat Robertson would have found his place there among Job's friends) and challenged God yet refused to deny God. Even Jesus cried out "My God why have you forsaken me?" The psalm he quoted on the cross (Psalm 22) ends in hope, but the agony on the cross was real."


"As a Christian, I find myself often caught between faith and doubt. I stand between the Haitians proclaiming that God is with them despite their loss, and Michelle Faul's report of one crying out, "there is no God." Which Haitian would I be if left standing in the ashes? Probably both."


"Ultimately faith is making the choice to believe and act even when mired in trial and buried in doubt. Even when we reject God, God remains faithful to us, seeking us until we are found. In short, I side theologically with those who have said God is good and never the author of evil, and suffering is the result of a sinful world and fallen creation."

Read the rest of her thoughts on this matter here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

For Those Who Would Change the Wind

Robert Kennedy
1925 - 1968

Attorney General (1961 - 1964), United States Senator (1965 - 1968)

"All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dallas' District 100 and My Own Pet Peeve

Whose the best candidate for District 100 in the Texas State Legislature? Terri Hodge or newcomer Eric Johnson? While my political leanings are at some times obvious (there are some things on which I'm probably more conservative than progressive), I generally don't endorse candidates and I won't start here.

I know Terri Hodge personally. I first met her in Austin after she first won election to the Texas House. She can be engaging and personable. She's funny. She can be both profane and disarmingly profound. I don't know that I've ever seen her as anything less than helpful.

By the same token, she can be difficult at times. She can be loud and bombastic. She can be intimidating if you aren't prepared to go toe-to-toe with her on issues that you care about. But if you make your case to her and show yourself to be serious, you have no more sure ally.

When I went with a group of interns from UTA to meet with her about legislation to increase compensation for the exonerees. Representative Hodge was almost combative, defending her record and bemoaning the near impossibility of what we were asking. It was a meeting that went on much longer than it should have, with the representative and I going back and forth about why this needs to be done.

At the end of the meeting, I told the group I was with, 'She'll vote for it'. Because I knew she was listening. She may not always say what you want her to, but if you have her ear, she supports you.

That's why I'm irritated.

If a recent story in the Dallas Morning News is correct (no aspertions on the integrity of the paper - but they've been pretty strident in their criticism of local black politicians lately. Ok, they've not been totally without reason...), this race has an element that is a pet peeve of mine.

Ms. Hodge, and her opponent, political new comer Eric Johnson, appeared before DMN's editorial board. One thing came out of the appearance that rubs me the wrong way:

"The stark differences between Hodge and Johnson were evident during their endorsement debate in front of The Dallas Morning News' Editorial Board."

"That's when Hodge, to Johnson's dismay, said property rights were more important than sending people to college."

""One of the most major moves in the city today is taking property rights through the process of eminent domain," Hodge said. "That is a far greater issue in District 100 than how may children we have getting to college.""

"Johnson reacted strongly."

""I don't think, under any circumstances, would I say that issue is more important than children going to college," he said. "I almost detect a tinge of hostility toward the concept of going to college.""

Me too.

Don't get me wrong. I know what Ms. Hodge is saying. First, eminent domain has been an issue for more than 30 years in South Dallas. It hearkens back to the early to mid '70's when the homes of people were condemned to make room for an outdoor theater and a parking lot. There have been proposals for a type of eminent domain recently. Unfortunately, residents were ill informed (and in some cases uninformed), on what was actually being proposed.

Absentee landlords and property heirs (many of whom have taken no effort to repair homes which have become urban nuisances), tend to, as I heard someone say, 'get awfully proud' of their property, when redevelopment begins in the area. In some cases wanting two to three times - plus, what the property is actually worth. The formerly proposed type of eminent domain wasn't meant for private developers to come in and 'take Big Mama's house'. It was intended to make it possible to obtain multiple properties at a reasonable price in order to build affordable housing in a declining neighborhood in Ms. Hodges district. This episode, which turned bitter and contentious, stoked fears about eminent domain as a tool for for-profit developers - in an area that is going to be redeveloped anyway!

The point is, any politician, Ms. Hodge, Mr. Johnson - anyone - could go in and educate the community on what is happening and how to participate in and benefit from the redevelopment rather than feed the fear as a campaign issue. Ultimately, you end up playing to the baser instincts of fear and suspicion, rather than the making the choice of becoming a hero by leading the community by promoting opportunity and hope. It saddens me to see Ms. Hodge choose the latter. In the areas of South Dallas specifically, and southern Dallas in general, redevelopment ought to be something on which a State Representative leads the charge. "Big Momma" (a colloquialism for 'grandmother', for those among the great unwashed), can stay in a brand new house in the same area if the right kind of policy is enacted. Its being done all over the country and it can be done in Dallas. Besides, Texas' eminent domain laws have been changed to offer greater protection to property owners.

But that's not my pet peeve!

""One of the most major moves in the city today is taking property rights through the process of eminent domain," Hodge said. "That is a far greater issue in District 100 than how may children we have getting to college.""

No! Terri, NO!

There is no greater issue in District 100 or any other district than how many children go to college!

""Believe me, I believe in education," she said. "I would love for every child to finish high school and go to college. But all of them will not do that. We need other alternatives for those students.""

I know, common sense tells you, that every child won't go to college. Every child who goes to college will not finish. But there are far too many variables which influence why that is true (many of which are rooted in state legislation), to send any message that suggests that college is not a 'live' possibility for the child who wants it. I cringe whenever I hear anyone say this!

The fact is we don't know which child will or will not make a good college student. Some kids who are stellar public (or private) school students, don't do well in college. Other students who can't get their act together in high school go on to graduate magna cum laude. If you begin with the premise that its not a possibility - and if you do not work to make it a reality - for all children, someone is short changed. And many of those who are short changed live in District 100.

And to suggest that the need for all children in that district to attend college is subservient to some lurking suspicion about eminent domain, is ridiculous. A politician, willing to put this picture properly in its frame, can allay those fears and help create an atmosphere in which a quality 16 years of education is possible for all of her constituents and their families is an opportunity too good to pass up. The right message has to be sent.

Oh, and there's one other thing...
There was a time when African-Americans valued education and its importance. There was an older generation who celebrated the academic achievements and exploits of the children in the community. They wanted them to finish school; they encouraged them to go to college. They applauded them when they graduated and returned home. Whites and blacks invested in the education of black youth and young adults in establishing Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's) and civil rights victories made it possible choices between Morehouse and Michigan a reality instead of a dream.

Criticism of Barack Obama for being 'elitist' and 'not black enough' because he was Harvard educated irritated me. With all of the criticism of the drop out rate among black youth, what do you tell them when you criticize a presidential candidate who happens to be African-American because he is 'too educated'?

Eric Johnson has a Harvard education as well. He is a native Dallasite. For one African-American to demean, in anyway and for any reason, his education and cite is as something that disqualifies him as a serious candidate - in anyway and for any reason - sends the wrong message to black youth. Whether his degree is from Harvard or Hardin-Simmons, his education is a life achievement that says something about his ambition and his determination. Things to which young black, Hispanic and white youths ought to be encouraged to emulate.

You just don't tell them that they can't accomplish the same thing in order to win an election.

Come on Representative Hodge, you're much better than that.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Oh Boy!

So I was surfing the internet a little, looking to see what else people were saying about the King holiday and I found this:

"Today, our nation celebrates a holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. This is the day we praise in honor of the heroic figures of the Civil Rights Movement. Nevertheless, the Microsoft Network (MSN) web page published an article by Maia Szalavitz, who works for MSN Health & Fitness, which announced that the MLK holiday is "The Most Depresing Day of the Year," according to an equation devised by Dr. Cliff Arnall, a British Researcher from Cardiff University.""

Now if you haven't checked out the link this is from The Dallas Blog. It's a conservative blog which I read occassionally to see what people who think differently from me are writing. Tom Pauken is the president of The Dallas Blog. Pauken is also chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission, and is former chairman of the Republican Party.

Pauken, in all fairness didn't write the post, that is the fine work of Tom McGregor.

Now, I didn't see anyone walking around depressed on Martin Luther King Day. I attended two events and people were serious, but not depressed - certainly not clinically so. So I had no idea what McGregor was talking about! What did he read? Is it the race issue that is getting people depressed? Perhaps its the Obama presidency, I know some people who have manifested unbelievable cruelty and meaness towards - well anyone who the think might have voted for Obama - but depression? Vitriol, definately, but depression?! Was some study done that showed that maybe black people are more depressed than the rest of the population.

So I read the link. Here is what it said...

"Poets, publicists and psychiatrists all have their candidates for the bleakest time of the year. According to one equation devised by Dr. Cliff Arnall, a British researcher from Cardiff University, Jan. 18 is 2010’s [italics mine]most depressing day. His formula for this bleak prediction takes into account factors like post-holiday blahs and debt, failed New Year’s resolutions and, this year, the nasty chill that has reached much further south than usual. This particular peak in seasonal affective disorder (SAD) isn't the only time that we're prone to feeling low."

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! McGregor (or somebody) must have been pretty desperate to find something wrong with MLK Day to reach this conclusion - and it was a reach.

To be clear - THE DAY, January 18th is the most depressing day, NOT the MLK holiday!

What could possibly be the real reason for such a ridiculous post? Let's see what the rest of McGregor's post reads...

"MSN co-ordinates operations with MSNBC, a left-leaning, Obama-praising cable TV news network..."

Mr. McGregor, here's the rule: if you don't like Obama, its ok to just say so. If you don't like MSNBC, just watch FOX, its alright.
____________________
You can read my monthly column in the Dallas Morning News here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Tomorrow we commemorate the work and celebrate the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

If, along with your service activities, you would like to spend some time learning and reflecting on this soldier for freedom and justice here are a couple of opportunities here in Dallas.

At 8:00 am - 9:30 am, I will be the guest speaker for the Jewish Community Relations Council at their annual breakfast honoring the life and work of Dr. King. It will be held at Congregation Shearith Israel. The theme is Fighting Poverty Then and Now: The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." You can find more information here.

The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture will have its 5th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium "I Have a Dream: The Promisory Note" and will feature noted lecturer, preacher, sociologist and public theologian, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. Dr. Dyson is professor of sociology at Georgetown University and one of the most profound thinkers today. Among the books he has authored are two on King's life and legacy, "I May Not Get There With You" and "April 4, 1968".

I'd love to get a chance to meet you at either one of these events! Make sure to introduce yourself if you can make it.



Friday, January 15, 2010

There Was A Time When We Pursued Peace


This speech, given June 10, 1963, by President John F. Kennedy has been a favorite of mine since I heard excerpts of it several years ago. It is, of course, dated in its references to the Cold War and the Soviet Union. Relatively fresh from the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis, nearly a year earlier, Kennedy had overseen a confrontation with the Soviets that brought the world to the brink of nuclear destruction. In its aftermath, he sought to lead this country into a new period of peace and abroad and at home.

His words while sobering, soared with hope, at the same time seeking a peace in which mankind can learn to live with one another on 'this small planet'.

Here are some of my favorite passages from it. You can listen to the rest of it below.

"I have...chosen this time and place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth too rarely perceived. And that is the most important topic on earth: peace. What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, and the kind that enables men and nations to grow, and to hope, and build a better life for their children -- not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women, not merely peace in our time but peace in all time..."

"First examine our attitude towards peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it is unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable, that mankind is doomed, that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade; therefore, they can be solved by man..."

"Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions -- on a series of concrete actions and effective agreements which are in the interest of all concerned. There is no single, simple key to this peace; no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process -- a way of solving problems..."

"With such a peace, there will still be quarrels and conflicting interests, as there are within families and nations. World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor, it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement. And history teaches us that enmities between nations, as between individuals, do not last forever. However fixed our likes and dislikes may seem, the tide of time and events will often bring surprising changes in the relations between nations and neighbors. So let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable, and war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all people to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly towards it..."

"No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking in virtue..."

"...let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal..."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

He's No Joke

I thought it was a joke when I first heard that Al Franken was going to run for senator.
If it's a joke, it's certainly not on him!




There are a number of serious people, who, for serious reasons don't like the Senate version of the health care reform bill. But they have an obligation to tell the truth about the bill.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thanks Don!

The year 2010 is going to be a year of changes, as of course is every year.

But for me, this year is going to be significantly different and I suspect it will be so for Dallas. Hold on minute. This is neither preacher hyperbole nor an over inflated sense of my importance. But I am serious.

This year, the Foundation for Community Empowerment, a non-profit organization founded by Trammell Crowe Corporation's chairman, J. MacDonald Williams, is changing its mission slightly. Call it a narrowing of focus. FCE had been a resource for other non-profit organizations in South and Southern Dallas, helping them build their capacity; providing leadership training, research, grants, loans, political access and intellectual capital and a focus on the southern sector of the city that will be missed beyond our ability to measure immediately.

To top all of it off, I consider Don Williams a friend. He has celebrated significant family events with me; encouraged my work as pastor; supported my change in roles from church leader to my work with Central Dallas Ministries, he even spoke at my son's funeral.

FCE's down sizing has little, if anything at all, to do with the economy. Don is going to take some time to do a few other things of interest to him. Not totally going away, but certainly take what friends of mine call some serious 'me' time. My first inclination is to say 'Good for him!'.

I first met Don almost 20 years ago, when he committed to help Dallas Area Interfaith, at that time a fledgling community organizing concern affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation help get a living wage employment strategy called, "WorkPaths' off the ground (I confess, I co-opted the name for CDM's job training program). Don worked with the organization to identify 600 jobs for which we could provide training for members of our congregations and communities. He also identified other business leaders with whom we could consult and council. He lined up serious 'heavy hitters', like Bill Solomon of Austin Industries and Roger Enrico of Pepsico, who worked with us through the design and implementation of the entire program. Eventually, we identified about 200 jobs before the program was absorbed into what now is Worksource of Dallas County. But those were two hundred jobs, primarily in the health care industry that provided living wages (at that time $9-$10 an hour), with benefits and a career track. Some jobs paid much more than that.

I can't say beyond a shadow of a doubt that this involvement changed Don's life, but it certainly didn't cause him to lose his taste for engagement with low income and poor communities. I got to know Don Williams beyond DAI and when we both were invited to participate in a study group for leaders across Dallas, organized by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. It was a group which included clergy, academics, business leaders, politicians, public officials from virtually every sector of the city. We studied classic literature, historic speeches and other documents in order to determine what kind of civic life we wanted for all of Dallas.

Somewhere along the line, the idea was introduced about what to do with the 'second half' of one's life; what does one do after career goals have been met, money had been made and prestige and acclaim had been achieved? If the first half of one's life is devoted to success, what does it mean to devote the second half to significance? Over an extended period of time, I watched the group's numbers dwindle but three men I watched as they obviously allowed those questions to challenge them - and, to some degree, I believe, change them. Bob Buford, cable television executive, who eventually wrote the book 'Half-Time'; John Castle, a senior vice-president with Electronic Data Systems (EDS) and Don Williams. All three men have had similar commitments to helping change the lives of people, and all in line with a serious faith commitment. But as time went on, I had the chance to work most closely with Don.

Don walked the streets of South Dallas. He got to know people in the community, the leaders, small business owners, principals and teachers. He got to know pastors, executive directors of small community non-profits and neighborhood association leaders. He asked questions and he listened. And he asked more questions. And he listened more. And then he hired people to help him ask even more questions and to listen more.

He not only asked questions of people who lived and worked in the neighborhoods of South Dallas. Don Williams leveraged his status to go to city hall and state government, to business leaders and large foundations and ask hard questions of them, based on what he heard in some of the poorest neighborhoods of South Dallas. He made them uncomfortable. He challenged them to come and see, and meet people about whom they theorized.

Eventually Don Williams organized the Foundation for Community Empowerment. He started out connecting non-profit and community leaders to the business leaders and politicians to whom they either had either little to no meaningful access or from whom they got little serious results. Don didn't just make phone calls, he stood with them in many cases. Not as a patron, but as a partner. Don gave them public recognition through FCE. He took them to other cities to see how their dreams and aspirations were being realized in other cities. And then worked with them to achieve similar results here in Dallas.

Eventually FCE took on a more corporate model, but it had the same goal. Don didn't abandon what he knew, he simply used it as a template to help bring bring effectiveness and credibility to the organizations with whom he worked. Just a few of the initiatives spear headed by FCE under Don's leadership:

Dallas Achieves, a strategy for increasing effectiveness in urban schools

The J. MacDonald Williams Institute a research arm of FCE which utilized empirical data to inform the work of FCE and the South Dallas community, 'proving up' with data the anecdotal claims of the residents in the areas of housing, health, civic culture, economic development and political engagement

Frazier Redevelopment Initiative a community redevelopment arm for an area of South Dallas near Fair Park (an area of Dallas whose demographics were worse than New Orleans' lower ninth ward, pre-Katrina).

The Southern Sector Economic Development Agenda, which brought together three dozen stake holders to develop a consensus on economic development for the South Dallas/Park area

Don's not perfect. And I never believe in absolute pure motives - as a preacher I admire once said, 'We've got too much dust mixed in with what little Divinity we might have in us'.

Don approaches work in the community with a business leader's mentality and expects things to get done. That can be good and bad. And there have been some, both at City Hall and in the community that have felt the pressure that came from his unrealized expectations. Don and I have not always agreed. I'm not a huge fan of the Dallas Achieves initiative, for instance. But that has never stopped us from working together. And it has never stopped him from seeking my advice or counsel when he has had an idea, or was engaged in something meaningful. As far as 'pressure'? Don's been far more patient in many instances than I have been!
I don't know how long Don's sabbatical is going last. But for however long it lasts, we are going to miss his up front engagement. I don't know how many times over the years, when someone wanted to get something done, that I've been asked, 'Do you think you could get me a meeting with Don Williams?' 'Do you think this is something Don Williams could get behind?' 'Do you think Don Williams will support this?'
Don Williams' investment of time, talent and treasure in South Dallas redevelopment has been substantial...very, very, substantial. But we don't know what it cost him otherwise. I know early on, Black community leaders questioned his sincerity, white business leaders questioned his sanity. None of that deterred him and I am hard pressed to find words to express my gratitude for how he has inspired me through his example. In my opinion, far too few of us have ever adequately expressed thanks for his work and sacrifice.

There is a short list of men and women, outside of Dallas' minority community whose leadership and dedication I hardly ever question. Ernesto Cortez, Jr., Southwest Region Director of the Industrial Areas Foundation is one; Larry James, CDM CEO and President is another (I've told him that long before I came to CDM) and Don Williams is another.

Don's taking some much deserved time off. I know I'll miss him. Dallas will too - the thing is, they just don't know how much!
Of course, while Don Williams is away, there is plenty of room for more well to do African-American men and women to step up to the plate and work shoulder to shoulder with these same leaders in the same way.
There's plenty of work to be done still!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Racism vs. the Realities of Race - What's the Big Deal?

Is there a difference between a racist comment and a comment on racial social and political realities? Who gets to decide? The party (or parties) toward whom the comments are directed? Sympathizers who are offended? Other parties who have been accused of making racist comments ('if what I said was bad, what about him/her?')?

The uncertainty of these questions go to show how thorny the issue of race is in our country.

Nevada Senator Harry Reid, no stranger to controversy, last got into hot water over race related remarks last year, when he compared conservative opponents to health care legislation to supporters of slavery and segregation, has done it again.

In a book co-authored by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann entitled, 'Game Change', a chronicle of the 2008 presidential campaign, Reid opined in a private conversation on the readiness of the American electorate to support an African-American for the office of president. Of course, he was talking about then candidate Barack Obama.

" [Reid's] encouragement of Obama was unequivocal. He was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a "light-skinned" African American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one," as he said privately. Reid was convinced, in fact, that Obama's race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination."

Of course, condemnation has been swift and unsparing...

"[Nevada businessman and political opponent Danny] Tarkanian said that Reid "disgraces himself almost monthly with some disparaging remark about his constituents, political opponents, or now the president," in a statement released Saturday afternoon."

"The National Republican Senatorial Committee echoed that sentiment in a statement of its own release Saturday afternoon. "For those who hope to one day live in a color-blind nation it appears Harry Reid is more than a few steps behind them," said communications director Brian Walsh. "Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a long history of embarrassing and controversial remarks by the senior Senator from Nevada.""

Sunday morning's political talk shows and newspaper articles included both reports of this excerpt, as well as calls for his resignation. But was Reid's comment racist or a comment on what he believed was Americans' attitude toward race? Reid has since apologized....

"I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words," said Reid in a statement. "I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans for my improper comments."

Was there really any need?

And, as was pointed out by some Republicans on Sunday, was this an instance of liberals blanketly giving their own a pass, when it comes to race, while vilifying any conservative who dares to broach the subject?

What's the difference between Reid's comment and Rush Limbaugh's observation some time ago that the only reason Philadelphia Eagle's quarterback Donovan McNabb, was not more heavily criticized was because of the color of his skin? Or, as some pointed out, Senator Trent Lott's exuberant support of Strom Thurmon's position as a presidential candidacy in 1948, when he led a walkout of Dixiecrats at the Democratic Convention over the issue of the party's stance on segregation.

Does any remark about race that does not speak in glowing idealistic terms of the racial realities of this country's past (or present, for that matter), constitute racism?

After all, isn't it a reality, a reality regarding racial attitudes in America, that many white and black Obama supporters, weren't initially on board with his candidacy until the Iowa Caucuses? That was when he showed the rest of the country that he could appeal to white voters. Isn't it true that a darker skin, less articulate Black man would have been perceived as less intelligent, more militant and more threatening than Obama? Or is that analysis of the American mood and temperament regarding race, in itself, racist?

It is an unfortunate aspect of our culture that in situations in which African-Americans consider public office (and advancement in the private sector as well), there has to be a consideration as to how 'acceptable' we can be to white people. It is a reality. Is it racist for a white man to mention that, no matter how inelegantly that may be done?

Of course if Reid was saying that the reason he found Obama acceptable, is because he is light-skinned, articulate and without a Negro dialect, then that is something else altogether.

On the other hand, let's take Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. He too is African-American, articulate and achieved some comfort level with white people in his party. Recent comments on the part of Steele, that Republicans would not regain a majority status in the coming election cycle, because they are not ready to lead; his book written and published, 'independent' of his role as RNC chair, his recent public comments to critics within his party to '...shut up, get on board or get out of the way...' and his embrace of the 'tea baggers' and 'town hallers' (abandoning his earlier attempts to give Republicans and conservatives a more 'urban' appeal) have some party members and leaders calling for his head!

Is this 'racism'? An effort to try and get the head of the RNC 'under control'? Why is it appealing for Sarah Palin to 'go rogue', as it were, and not Steele? Don't get me wrong, I think Steele is on the wrong side of history in a number of ways. But is he the head of the RNC or not? According to his own defense of his leadership, he has done at least as good a job of bringing money and members to the party as has Tim Cain, is Democratic counterpart - so what's the problem?

The problem is, race is indeed a thorny issue. For minorities and whites. Without a courageous willingness to debate and argue (in the best senses of those words) where we are and where we must go in this country with this issue it will continue to be. Race conversations are heavy with the need for admissions of public and personal responsibility. It is hard for most of us to have talks and negotiations without feeling that something is being taken from us or being withheld from us. They must be held throughout political cycles, economic upswings and downturns. They must be inter-community dialogues and intra-community dialogues. They must be had until trust is earned, healing continues and shame is no longer a factor. And it is dialogue of which we cannot become weary.

To be honest, I don't know what Reid meant, because I don't know Reid, I do think he should stick to thoughtful written statements - or go nowhere without an interpreter. I thought Trent Lott's apology should have been enough. I have a hard time taking anything Rush Limbaugh says seriously. And I believe that Michael Steele needs to tell somebody where he thinks he's leading the Republican Party so they can make up their minds whether or not that's where they want to go, but publicly telling people who have to support you to 'shut up' is sheer lunacy, not leadership.

And I believe that in a country that has legitimate problems dealing with race, precious few people making a big deal out of any of this have intentions to do anything about it.

And that's the real problem!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

This Culture of Violence: We Can Overcome!


This story of this inner city funeral director in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in a recent Religion & Ethics broadcast, is the heart breaking reality in too many cities. I need to hasten to add it is not the only reality. But it is a serious problem. Do yourself a favor and watch the video.

I was blessed in 22 years as a pastor in one of the poorest areas of South Dallas, to only have to do one funeral for a young man whose death was gang related. I hope I never have to do another. One of my assistants and I attended the wake. We watched young boys and girls coming to grips with death in a way that was unnatural and unnecessary. I walked away determined to make your ministry to youth as robust as possible, to try and provide an alternative vision for the lives of young people and hope for a different type of future. I know we rescued some lives.

But we were only one church. Other churches tried as well. But that was several years ago now. We hear, just like in this Philadelphia story, that violence is going down. Even in our inner cities. There seems to be some question about the degree to which that is happening in Dallas. Whether we believe that or not, we still need to address and attack, if you will, a culture of violence - on the part of youth and adults - that is far too prevalent. It prevents every aspect of growth and redevelopment we hope for in communities of concentrated poverty. But beyond that, it is just wrong.

Poverty is a reason for much of the violence we see. People living isolated from virtually every sign of hope that they can do better and every frustrating enticement for 'living the good life', while at the same time, every opportunity to 'medicate' the frustration through self-destructive behavior. Poverty is a reason for much of the violence we see...but in can't be an excuse! I know that people can live with dignity and self respect, even without much money, because I have seen it and see it still today.

Pastors much preach against this violence. For all my defense of what is preached in the black pulpit, that isn't preached nearly enough. And the pastor in the Religion & Ethics piece is right, most of the one's who either commit, this violence aren't in church. But in so many cases, their parents are, so are their uncles and aunts, their teachers, their friends. It needs to be preached to those who are there. They must join hands with principals, politicians, business owners, parents, guardians and whomever else they can find, to develop solutions to the problem.

But this isn't just a job for Black preachers. All pastors have a responsibility to speak prophetically about and against a culture of mindless materialism, greed, obsessive consumerism and selfishness. We have become a culture that make value judgements regarding character and worth, based on what people have and are able to acquire. And it destroys any sense of genuine community, because we come to believe that the only people with whom we have something in common are those who are able to possess what we possess.

For those armchair theologs, sociologists, and legal experts, who have read articles, books and watched television and think its just a matter of teaching 'values' - we need you too. They need you to become involved - no engaged - in working to end cycles of poverty and violence where you can. We won't end it all. But there's nothing natural about burying a 15 year old whose life ended in a hail of gunfire. And 17 years old is too young for anybody to think there is no other way to live.

This won't stop until adults have decided its time for it stop.
In a few days, we'll be celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life. We tend to forget his militant commitment to eradicate violence and poverty. If we truly appreciate those vital commitments, perhaps instead of singing, 'We Shall Overcome', we similarly devote ourselves and sing, 'We CAN Overcome"!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

For Those Who Would Change the Wind

Carter G. Woodson
1875 - 1950

Historian, Author, Activist



"When you control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his actions."

Friday, January 8, 2010

If You're Really That Mad DO Something! Here's a Suggestion


One of the problems that I've had with much of the protests we've seen over the past year was the constant, hysterical, impotent rage which yelled and fulminated but in the end accomplished little. It more than a few cases, it was personal, mean spirited and lacked any sense of thoughtful reflection necessary to provide an alternative solution (other than a return to the 'good ole days' that gave us the problems in the first place!).

Take, for instance the bank bailouts. Driven by the fear of near economic collapse, banks were 'forced' to take trillions of dollars to balance their books, and to begin making loans. Of course we know what happened. Some of the banks are healthier, some have even repayed the bailout money. But small business and home loans are much more difficult to get.
Some are organizing to 'throw the bums out'. Which will probably result (if successful) in 'fresh meat' for K Street lobbyists in D.C. Still others have become disengaged. The political ferver of 2008, cooled by the 'reality' of governing in hard times. Choices have to be made. Actual or implied promises have been broken and trust has been violated. Still others have the legitimate criticism: righting the economic ship of our country has focused on the financial institutions that got us in trouble in the first place, while those still in the water are still waiting for their life preservers! These are families who have lost jobs, houses and hope.
What can any of the rest of us do?
Arianna Huffington is proposing a pretty ingenious, and very simple idea. The editor of The Huffington Post says, 'Make the banks that are too big to fail, smaller'! If you resent the mult-million dollar bonuses of financial executives, the arrogance, insensitivity and indifference of financial institutions deemed 'to big to fail', simply take your money out of those banks and put your money in a small community bank. In other words: move your money!

Now, this isn't an official endorsement and there's no such thing as a perfect strategy - but you gotta admit, its a pretty smart idea. Think of it. If you seriously are upset by the bailouts here's a non-partisan, civic action that has the potential for real economic benefit. You don't have to 'destroy' the system. You don't have to insult anyone. Simply demonstrate your displeasure, by moving your money.


You can find more information at http://www.moveyourmoney.info/. It not only explains the action, it also provides you with a list of community banks and credit unions in your area, all FDIC insured, all with a rating of 'B' or above (their not about to close, in other words).
Again, a pretty interesting idea. And for those who want to do something more than complain, it is action. That's what citizens do - they don't just throw temper tantrums, they act.
And by the way, I moved my money to a community bank before the bailout. Its on the list!

No Escape!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

How Safe Can We Expect to Be?

The recent attempted suicide bombing has led to an understandable revisiting of our country's safety. September 11 shook the confidence of America's immunity to the types of terrorism that has taken place on foreign shores.

But just how safe can we really expect to be and to what extent are we going to have to accept the fact that, for all of our efforts, we will never be able to totally eliminate threats or attempts by foreign terrorists to harm Americans?

A recent New York Times column by David Brooks, suggests that our expectations of an infallible way of detecting and protecting ourselves from those threats and attempts is unrealistic.

"After Sept. 11, we Americans indulged our faith in the god of technocracy. We expanded the country's information-gathering capacities so that the National Security Agency alone now gathers four times more data each day than is contained in the Library of Congress."

"We set up protocols to convert that information into a form that can be processed by computers and bureaucracies. We linked agencies and created new offices. We set up a centralized focal point, the National Counterterrorism Center."

"All this money and technology seems to have reduced the risk of future attack. But, of course, the system is bound to fail sometimes. Reality is unpredictable, and no amount of computer technology is going to change that. Bureaucracies are always blind because they convert the rich flow of personalities and events into crude notations that can be filed and collated. Human institutions are always going to miss crucial clues because the information in the universe is infinite and events do not conform to algorithmic regularity."

"Resilient societies have a level-headed understanding of the risks inherent in this kind of warfare. But this is not how the country has reacted over the past week or so."

"There have been outraged calls for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to resign, as if changing the leader of the bureaucracy would fix the flaws inherent in the bureaucracy. There have been demands for systemic reform – for more protocols, more layers and more review systems."

"Much of the criticism has been contemptuous and hysterical..."




What do you think? How far should we be willing to go to ensure our safety?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

CityWalk@Akard: The Poor and The Poor in Spirit


Interesting.

The first residents of CityWalk@Akard, are already in. And what I'm hoping is it will help change attitudes toward the homeless population and that it will spur Dallas officials, more particularly political officials, to see that investment in permanent supportive housing must become more than just a stated goal.

I have to be more patient in understanding that there are people who will not give up their stereotypes easily. Its hard for some to see that people who live on the street are poor. Poorer than most poor people, but poor nonetheless. Poverty does not mean that they are all criminals. It doesn't mean that they don't work. It doesn't mean that they are all predators or parasites. It means that they are poor.

It's also hard for some people to see that public money that goes into housing for the poor is not charity. It is investment in human capital. The true drain on public resources comes from incarceration, hospitalization and the mere provision of temporary shelter. There is not enough charity to address the problem. Not enough churches. Not enough non-profits. Yet, many of the pathologies associated with living on the streets are addressed by providing the homeless with a home. As a matter of fact, as soon as you provide people with a place to live - an apartment or a house - the very moment they move in they are no longer homeless. That's a challenging concept, I know, but it seems pretty logical to me.

I read with wonder, the attitudes and perceptions of people with regard to the homeless.

Take for instance, John Greenan's recent post in which he relates questions that he fielded regarding 511 Akard:

"Do you set certain goals that they have to meet besides passing a background check? I hope so. My thought is that CDM should turn out people who can now give back to Dallas with their tax dollars like it or not."

Neither Central Dallas Ministries nor the Community Development Corporation, are trying to 'turn out' anyone! The people who live at 511 Akard (which includes affordable housing, and market rate housing, as well as housing for the formerly homeless) will have leases. They will have to abide by those leases just like any tenant in the building. We aren't going to manage anyone who lives there. For those who need help with getting established, we'll provide them with the help they want or need. But we are not requiring them to 'give back' to Dallas. Besides, has anyone ever thought that anyone who buys anything in Dallas pays taxes?!

The fact remains is that people can find those who were once homeless who have now put their life back together and contribute to society. I hope that is CDM's goal otherwise it would be a waste. I have family who have donated their time and money to the homeless. There are some who want to make it, others who don't. If there is someone who is not meeting the criteria will they be put out of the building?

The criteria to stay in the building are simple. Pay your rent and obey the building rules. If someone does that, then I'm happy. The government agencies providing rent subsidies have other rules. Central Dallas Ministries will be providing services and has additional goals. But I'm not the parent of the tenant's living at 511 N. Akard. Just like any other building owner, I provide a place to live in return for rent. That's hard enough to do well with a low income population ( John Greenan's answer - and its a good one!). Read the entire post here.

Another reaction that comes from Dallas, one of the most churched cities in the nation. This was the online response to the article that announced that CityWalk@Akard had received its certificate of occupancy.

"As anyone who has lived or worked in a city for any length of time knows, when you give something to a bum, you encourage them to hang around and ask for more. Giving free housing to bums will not solve the problem of "homelessness", it just encourages their behavior. If we want to drive people to become productive members of society, we should be making it as UNpleasant as possible to be a bum in this city, not giving them favors."

And another respondent:

"You're setting up shop just a few blocks where the homeless interact socially. Is there anything to prevent a formerly homeless resident from inviting several of his homeless friends back to his place to share drinks, and possibly drugs?"

"Surely you know this is a problem with many lower-rent apartment complexes. They screen the tenants but they can't keep out their guests who deal drugs and cause problems. When I say "problems" I am including gun play."


Of course, nothing like this ever happens in the suburbs!

And, one of my favorites....

"So we are rewarding the lazy and criminals, cool Dallas!"

I'm probably paying way too much attention to the critics, because this project has scores of supporters. What bothers me is the callous, mean, heartless attitudes of my fellow citizens towards poor people. Even those who are Christians. It's not discouraging, it is profoundly sad.

Oh by the way, these people that are supposed to be such a detriment to downtown Dallas? It could be the end of civilization as we know it, if we keep leasing apartments to people like this!

"Sharon Tillis had one question before she signed her lease."

""Who is going to watch us?" the 49-year-old Dallas woman asked before she was told that her new CityWalk@Akard apartment was exactly that – hers."


""I'd been in a shelter for so long living under rules that I've been institutionalized," Tillis said Tuesday as she signed her name countless times on the packet of papers in front of her. "Not having restrictions on visitors, taking a bath, having a meal that you prepared – this is freedom.""

"Tillis was among the initial round of tenants to move into the city's first mixed-use housing development with units set aside for low-income residents and the formerly homeless."

"The 511 Akard St. location sits smack in the middle of downtown Dallas. Central Dallas Community Development Corp. and partner Central Dallas Ministries engineered the project and will office in the building, along with several other companies and a 7-Eleven convenience store. They hope to have CityWalk completely occupied by February."

You'll forgive me, but I'm far more concerned that 511 Akard tenants will run into people like the ones who are so free with their unkind opinions and stereotypes...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

In Memoriam: Percy E. Sutton (1920-2009)


When I was growing up my window to the world of Black America, as it were, were national Black periodicals. Sepia Magazine, Ebony Magazine and Jet Magazine, to name a few. Of course there were the local publications as well: The Post Tribune, the Dallas Express and others. But nationally, the aforementioned publications were the means by which you were exposed to national news and news makers important to African-Americans. I had some role models that covered a broad spectrum of entertainment, sports, business and politics. There was one such role model who managed to traverse nearly all of those areas and he recently passed away.

Percy E. Sutton, was an attorney, entrepreneur and politician in New York, whose accomplishments were constantly spoken of in the Black media. Of course in New York and elsewhere, he was known in almost every circle. Sutton died December 26, 2009, at the age of 89.
He was a native of San Antonio, Texas and a Prarie View A&M University alum, whose success as attorney to Malcolm X and Manhattan borough president made him a near legendary figure.

The New York Times reported, "Mr. Sutton, whose passion for civil rights was inherited from his father, was arrested as a Freedom Rider in Mississippi and Alabama in the 1960s, yet once described himself as “an evolutionist rather than a revolutionist” in matters of race. “You ought always to keep the lines of communication open with those with whom you disagree,” he said."

"He was the senior member of the group of prominent Harlem politicians who became known, sometimes derisively, as the Gang of Four. The other three were David N. Dinkins, New York’s first black mayor; Representative Charles B. Rangel; and Basil A. Paterson, who was a state senator and New York’s secretary of state. Mr. Sutton was also a mentor to Mr. Paterson’s son, Gov. David A. Paterson."

"“It was Percy Sutton who talked me into running for office, and who has continued to serve as one of my most valued advisers ever since,” Governor Paterson said in a statement on Saturday night."

"In a statement on Sunday, President Obama called Mr. Sutton “a true hero to African-Americans in New York City and around the country.”"


Sutton for years, was New York City's highest ranking African-American politician. He was a towering and dynamic figure, in the political, business and social landscape of New York and the nation. In the number of 'firsts' of which we are rightfully proud, Percy Sutton was not only one of those 'firsts' he was among the best.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cornel West: Living and Loving Out Loud

I'm a huge fan of Princeton University's Cornel West . I've read several of his books, but most inspirational has been the opportunities I've had to meet him on a couple of occasions. The first time was at a seminar sponsored by the Industrial Areas Foundation, where I and a group of leaders from across the southwest engaged in community organizing had a chance to not only listen to him lecture, but engage with him personally.

The second time was when I had the privilege of being a member of the inaugural class of Harvard University's Summer Leadership Institute. He was one of the presenters, at that time a member of Harvard's 'Dream Team', a group of African-American professors whose academic excellence and prodigious intellects were held in high regard.

West's own intellect is without parallel. He is indeed, for African-Americans of my generation, our W.E.B. DuBois! What I found to be amazing, and what continues to amaze me about him is his breadth of concern for all people, his truly prophetic stance on politics, and his tremendous accessibility. When you speak to him in a small group, or one on one, his intense personality, his genuine spirit and his keen sense of humor shines through. Yet, at no level, are you left without a clear impression of his commitment to justice, and the respect for the dignity and humanity of all people.

Dr. West is also a prostate cancer survivor, which gives us something in common. He now has a memoir out that is now on my 'got to get' list, "Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud". In this C-Span interview he talks about his own experience with the disease, his view on health care and his surprising perspective on the presidency and potential of Barack Obama.

Hope you enjoy. And if you're interested in hearing more of this brilliant philosopher preacher, do yourself a favor and you can find more here. I'd be interested in reading what you think...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

For Those Who Would Change the Wind

Shelby Foote
1916 - 2005

Historian, Author


"I think making mistakes and discovering them for yourself is of great value"