Prayer 101: Invoking the Presence of God

Prayer is a faith act in which we expand our consciousness into the Universal presence of God. There are various forms of prayer, including intercessory, supplicative or affirmative. Meditation is a solitary form of prayer in which we look inward to connect to the indwelling presence of God. Our prayers can be an intimate conversation with our Creator in which we ask God to create alignment and make changes to circumstances and conditions in and around us. Prayer can be as simple as a random utterance of: “Bless you” after someone sneezes, or as elaborate as fasting, with ritual purification with spoken and written petitions to God. The request to get God’s support to achieve a specific outcome can be traced to the beginnings of human history. From the Druids to the Rosicrucians, every people and every spiritual tradition have rituals involving communication between humans and a Supreme Being.

In Matthew 6: 9-13, Jesus instructed his Disciples to:
“9 Pray after this manner: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. “

This prayer is but a basic request that God support us in lifting our Earthly condition and in pursuing the necessities of life and revelation of truth.

ANATOMY OF AN EFFECTIVE PRAYER

Matthew 21:22- And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

The Salutation
Every prayer, much like a letter, begins with a salutation to the audience. Because God can be all things to all people, it is appropriate to tailor the salutation to your traditions and beliefs. Father God, Mother Goddess, Creator, Great Spirit, Source or any combination thereof is appropriate to open your prayer.
The Address
The address of a prayer sets the tone of the conversation. You open the conversation with God by expressing your attitude and stance toward your relationship to him/her. My personal style includes the statement: “Dear Lord, we come to You with love and with gratitude.” By setting the intentional space, you are opening your soul and stepping into a place of open communication and mutuality with God.
The Request
Because the nature of God is to exist in any and all forms, it is beneficial to request that the Holy Spirit of God be present within the intentional space you create. Simply asking God to “Draw near with the Holy Spirit” will invoke the Universal presence in a powerful way. This request also activates the God presence within you. The love of God is infinitely powerful, and He wants to pour an unlimited stream of blessings into your life. One expression of this love is through the work of the Angels and Archangels of heaven. The Archangels Metatron, Michael, Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael, Chamuel and many others were created by God to assist us in our journey through the Earth realm. When you invoke their presence and ask them to help, they always show up.
Subject Matter
What are you praying for? Money? Companionship? Health? Good grades? Perhaps you are asking for a blessing on behalf of another person. The nature of your request will inform the decision on which angel to request assistance from, or which name of God to invoke. For instance, the Archangel Raphael is the angel of healing. His name means: “God heals” This corresponds to an Old Testament name for God: Jehovah Rapha. “I am the Lord Your Physician or I am the Lord Your Healer” – God spoke this name about Himself in Exodus 15:26. Angelic names and the names of God carry power, so use them in your prayers.
If your life were a Hollywood action movie, and you could call the most powerful being in the Universe to your side, what would be its name? The Bible is just one of the world’s sacred texts, but it contains many names for God which correspond to aspects of our human experience. Studying and using the various names of God is a primary element of effective prayer.

The Eight Redemptive Names of God
JEHOVAH-JIREH
“The Lord our provider” – This is also the name Abraham gave to the place where the Lord provided a sacrifice in place of Isaac. (Gen. 22:14).
JEHOVAH-NISSI
“Our banner, a banner of love and protection” – Also the name Moses gave to the altar he built after defeating the Amalekites (Ex. 17:15).
JEHOVAH-SHALOM
“Our perfect peace” – Also the name Gideon gave to the altar he built at Ophrah (Judges 6:24)
JEHOVAH-TSID-KENU
“The Lord is our righteousness” – The name is applied to a future Davidic king who would lead his people to do what is right and thus bring peace (Jeremiah 23:6) and to the restored city of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 33:16).
JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH
“The One Who is with us everywhere for He is Omnipresent” – The Jerusalem of Ezekiel’s vision (see Ezekiel 48:35 margin) was known by this name. Compare text at Isaiah 60:19-20 and Revelation 21:3.
JEHOVAH-SABAOTH
“The Lord of Hosts, our Protector.” C.H. Spurgeon said this about the phrase “The Lord of Hosts:
The Lord rules the angels, the stars, the elements, and all the hosts of Heaven; and the Heaven of heavens is under His sway… [The Lord] is on our side — our august Ally; woe unto those who fight against Him, for they shall flee like smoke before the wind when He gives the word to scatter them.” See text at Psalm 46:7.
JEHOVAH-RAAH
“Our Shepherd Who tenderly leads us, loves us and will keep us safe.” – The famous Psalm 23 tells us that “The Lord is our Shepherd and we shall not want….” Being illustrated as a shepherd implies a relationship with His sheep (His believers). The term shepherd appears approximately 80 times in the Scriptures, denoting meanings of: feeder, keeper, companion, friend, pastor and herdsman.

JEHOVAH RAPHA
“I am the Lord Your Physician or I am the Lord Your Healer – this name especially was a Name God prophetically spoke about Himself, not one that someone gave Him. Exodus 15:26.

THE CLOSING

Working through the elements of a prayer and combining them to manifest change is brought to life by the sincerity and emotion behind the words you speak. Your belief, passion and strength of conviction are the driving force that allows your prayer to reach the mind and heart of God. Understand that the truth of God’s love can be felt through your entire being…you just have to be open and receptive. Regardless of your faith tradition, or what you call God, true reverence is an understanding that your open heart is the pathway God uses to create a new reality around you. That said, the idea of praying in the name of Jesus arises from his statement in John 15:16:
“16: You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”

TYPES OF PRAYER

Affirmative Prayer
An affirmative prayer is a conscious and intelligent use of that part of us that is Spirit.
“The conscious mind of man is that part of, or unity with, the Supreme Spirit which enables man to be an individual unit, separate in identity without becoming separated from, the Whole Spirit of God, the Whole Mind of God. Without this conscious mind of man in an individualized state God, or the Spirit, would have no independent offspring, therefore God would not be completely expressed.” – Ernest Holmes

I Support the Complete Expression of God-by Carmien Owen
There is one perfect, Eternal Spirit. I am an individualized expression of Spirit, separate in identity, and yet a part of this Whole Mind of God.
I celebrate my knowing of that which enables me to be an individual and yet inseparable from Spirit. I am free to express through my choices, and I choose love. My thoughts dwell upon faith and becoming that which is surging through and as me. I celebrate the reminders of truth that beckon through the ups and downs to life, and that invite me to remember God. I see Oneness through every person and experience, and celebrate that each apparent up or down is my invitation to activate a Universal Field of Unconditional Love. I am inspired to right thought, word and deed in each moment. I celebrate my opportunity to support the complete expression of God.
With a deep sense of gratitude I release these words, impressing them upon the Mind of the One, knowing that it is already done. And so it is. Courtesy of Archives for Affirmative Prayers » Know the Flow – Inspiring people to awaken to their spiritual magnificence.

Intercessory Prayer
Intercession is prayer that asks God to support your needs or the needs of others.
1 Timothy 2:1
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and GIVING OF thanks, be made for all men.

God, we come to You with love and with gratitude for the life of Yolanda, asking that You draw near to her right now with the Holy Spirit and the Angelic Host. Father we ask that you enter Yolanda’s circulatory system and brain stem to restore the fluid balance within each blood vessel and capillary. God please establish perfect stasis and normal cerebral blood flow so that her brain tissue is able to recover from any injury. We know that You are the Divine Healer, the Jehovah Rapha, and we stand on Your word right now as expressed in Exodus 15:26 “I am the Lord Your Physician or I am the Lord Your Healer. Father, allow the miracles to unfold according to Your Divine plan. These things we pray in the name and the essence of Jesus. Amen.

Prayers of Supplication
A prayer of supplication is a formal request addressed to a higher power.
PHILIPPIANS 4:6

6 Fret not about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.
God, we come to the throne of grace, conscious of Your sovereign authority and power over every aspect of Quincy’s life, asking that You send the Holy Spirit and the Angelic Host to lift him out of turmoil and controversy. Lord please create conscious understanding of the teachings that unfold in Your plan for his life. Father in Ephesians 3:13 Paul wrote: “I ask you not to be discouraged.” Allow Quincy to so rapidly grow in Your light, Your love and Your word, that he is promoted and lifted into new responsibilities and new opportunities for personal development. Father, give him all that he needs to fulfill and surpass the potential You have invested in him according to the Divine order You have laid out. These things we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
If we can be consistently motivated by Faith and belief in the love of God, and our oneness with All there Is, our prayer practice can be a positive force of good in our own lives and the lives of everyone around us. The vitality of our prayers allows for spiritual expansion and strength as we walk the path of life in the Earthly journey.

On the Issue of Achievement Gaps

On the Issue of Achievement Gaps

Each individual has a sensory learning style that allows for optimum absorption and processing of knowledge based on the connection to the student’s auditory, visual or tactile centers of the brain. This is the key to bridging learning gaps. To foster accelerated learning, and allow students to ‘catch up’ to higher performing peers in their age group, the system has to organize classes based on learning style and then teach to the learning style with state-of-the-art methods.

DCPS should launch a pilot program to implement small group learning aimed at developing individual creativity and love for knowledge. Methods used in independent schools may be effective at fostering accelerated development. Use of the Harkness Table, for instance,is a method in which an oval table seating 11 students is the centerpiece of a classroom. Students are involved in a collaborative discussion of material and the teacher demonstrates how to learn as well as what to learn. Early childhood implementation of this system could revolutionize classroom experiences for our children.

Harkness Tables originated at Exeter Academy in 1931 when philanthropist Edward Harkness challenged the Exeter faculty to create an innovative way of teaching. The purpose of the Harkness Table was to make class more involving. The 1930s faculty also understood that Harkness Tables would make being smart more fun. They knew that discussing even your least favorite subject around the Harkness Table would make that subject more interesting. But did they know that the Harkness Table would teach students to collaborate rather than compete with each other inside and outside class? And did they know that it would make the whole community respect one another’s ideas and become a safer place to learn and live? (Duke TIP Digest of Gifted Research)

Our broadcast discussion on 12/20/2012 touched on a description of the social and psychological challenges inherent in being smart. We have arrived in the era where fostering a new urban value system that embraces exceptional school performance requires us to confront the hard issues arising from the definition of what it means to be ‘cool’ or acceptable within the social peer group. Is it safe to be smart in the African American community? Do we value learning to the same degree as our peers in other groups? Are we really cognizant of how lack of education plays into limited life choices later on? Who gets to start this dialogue and what are the potential pitfalls? Do we have the courage to ask the questions, and will God help us face the answers?

IMG_1510momface

Originally posted on Watchoutmomshome's Weblog:

Responding to a recent story of an African American woman slapping a Hispanic woman with the words:  “That’s for taking our jobs,” I realize in walking the talk of loving people wherever they are, I would have fought that Sister to protect the Hispanic woman, and probably taken an ass-whipping.  Our City rocks with a new and wonderful energy because we are blending many cultures, and flavors and vibes, but let’s pull the focus upward and observe this awful incident from a macro level…
 
What would it be like to have so much power that all you had to do was sit in a room with other policy scientists and look at empirical data regarding demographic groups and say: These people are moving too fast, and there’s a subset of their group that actually threatens the status quo.  We have to pose (cosmic death-blow type) obstacles in their way…

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Once Upon a Time in Washington

Responding to a recent story of an African American woman slapping a Hispanic woman with the words:  “That’s for taking our jobs,” I realize in walking the talk of loving people wherever they are, I would have fought that Sister to protect the Hispanic woman, and probably taken an ass-whipping.  Our City rocks with a new and wonderful energy because we are blending many cultures, and flavors and vibes, but let’s pull the focus upward and observe this awful incident from a macro level…
 
What would it be like to have so much power that all you had to do was sit in a room with other policy scientists and look at empirical data regarding demographic groups and say: These people are moving too fast, and there’s a subset of their group that actually threatens the status quo.  We have to pose (cosmic death-blow type) obstacles in their way, or our hegemony is over?”
 
Big business likes cheap labor.  That’s what drives the immigration laws. This is why Mitt Romney will never alter the new immigration initiative posed by Barack Obama.  Historical trends suggest that Immigrant populations are less likely to strike than Blacks, and the ruling class is more than aware of internal issues African Americans face in developing collective strategies. After all, the most effective strategy employed by COINTELPRO in the 1970′s was the “bring a bone, take a bone”  style of dividing and creating mistrust among coalitions of Black leadership.
 
What we had once upon a time in Washington, DC was a vibrant culture of business, music, art, theater, and a well-established, upwardly mobile, very well-educated Black population that created jobs for others.  Before the explosive growth in the Hispanic population, before the crack and gun wars, before the dismemberment of incentives for college matriculation, African American people were on track to build a kind of lasting stability that would have ensured a future we could have been proud of.
 
Instead, the expansion of opportunities for immigrants grew in direct proportion to severe limits placed on Black employment, this event co-coincided precisely with the influx of guns and drugs into the inner cities in DC and all over America.  C’mon…we are not stupid.  This perfect storm of events was meant to hobble a specific group without the appearance of direct involvement. History may effectively conceal the degree to which the DOJ was in the business of selective investigations, selective prosecutions and other strategies to prevent a lasting culture of success in the Black Community. The spiritual finishing blow is to have people come in to criticize and imply:  “We had to come clean up this mess, why didn’t you do this before”
 
For newcomers, you are viewing these developments in a vacuum, and you get to mop up distressed properties after the economic infiltration of the community. The financial sector has always red-lined even the best black neighborhoods, and there were many  commercial projects partnered or led by Blacks, but that level of economic activity is hard to sustain without expanded educational opportunities for young people coming into the pipeline.  The Bakke decision, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978)  had a massive chilling effect on University enrollment which continues to this day.  Bakke shifted the emphasis from “let’s go to Harvard and see where life takes me” to “If I apply to Harvard, everyone will think the only reason I got in was because I’m Black”  A ‘friend’ actually said that to me once.
 
As city dwellers begin to weave the fabric of a new multi-ethnic municipal order, it would be so easy to observe the current downward spiral and say:  “You people need to care about education and you need to own homes…. you people, you people, you people…” and wag the disdainful finger while  never understanding that the agenda of domestic social control is being played out right before our eyes with ALL of us as pawns.  Trust me when I tell you even a mildly intuitive person picks up the nuances of speech and the body language, and the awkward fearful looks and conversation.  It’s a shocking and painful time to be a Washingtonian of any race.
 

Originally posted on Watchoutmomshome's Weblog:

216again

I received a priceless gift one afternoon as I left my office to grab a bite to eat. Before I focused on the temperature, or the people jostling along the sidewalk, or even my appetite, my attention was drawn to a man sitting in front of the building in a motorized wheelchair. He had an oxygen tank beside him which was hooked up to an outlet in a bank lobby next door. As I walked by him, as is my custom, I made eye contact, smiled, and said “hello.”

Because Washington, D.C. has so many homeless people, the average pedestrian has to make numerous split second decisions about whom to engage or avoid. The criteria for these choices probably arise from each individual’s values, beliefs and upbringing, mixed with the survival skills, or “street smarts” all city dwellers acquire over time. Also, The House of Ruth, a Washington shelter, used…

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Fleeing from a Truth Too Deep

My ex-husband and I once had the occasion to rush our then four-year old to the emergency room for treatment of a deep gash in his forehead. Although the wound was cavernous, and watching the technician place the stitches was practically un bearable, an abomination of another kind occurred while at the hospital.

Since the accident happened so quickly, and we were terrified that the injury could have resulted in long-term residuals, we scooped our son up and rushed him to the emergency room. In doing so, obviously neither my ex or I took time to put on ‘the Costume.’

You know…the makeup, suit, heels and hair that supposedly mark our membership in the professional ranks and make us immune from the disses, slights and insults tossed our way like so many chewed bits of gum. All in my mind, you say? Let me recount the story and you be the judge.

As we arrived at the hospital holding bloody towel to the forehead of a limp toddler, an emergency worker yelled at us to enter through another door: “This entrance is for emergency personnel only!!” He bellowed. In my natural plus-size lawyer Barbie mode, I’d have taken him out in one breath, given that I’m not one to back away from anyone’s mistreatment. In my fear, however, I just ran down the walkway and went through the other door.

Once inside, given the circumstances, the usual triage protocol was expedited, and my son was immediately taken to an emergency bed. That should have been the end of the story, but that’s where the real atrocity began.

The emergency room physician introduced himself and the suture technician. I found his relatively matter-of-fact demeanor reassuring.

As he described the procedure to close the wound and the lack of findings on the x-ray, I felt more comfortable that my beautiful baby boy would not be physiologically impaired or horribly scarred by his accident. When he asked if we had questions, I asked: “Will the wound granulate up from the muscle tissue, or will it close from the skin down?”. He looked at me, took a breath, and asked: “How do YOU know that word?”

I explained that I was a medical malpractice attorney at one time, and that I spent many years working as a disability attorney. He then launched into a lecture about how they disliked treating the children of attorneys, and how hard trial attorneys made it for them. I stayed nice and calm, and explained that I was only there in my capacity as a Mom.

I understand that the average urban hospital ER physician meets dozens and dozens of people who may have little or no exposure to medical terms or concepts, and that with curlers, dirty t shirt and shorts, I surely wasn’t wearing the usual symbols of my profession.

That said, what would have happened if I’d taken offense at his question, instead of internalizing the pain that it caused? What was the implication to be taken from his question? That someone who looks like me is so inherently ignorant that I should be patently unable to comprehend anything he had to say? Was I rendered unworthy of a straight answer because I hadn’t had time to put on the ‘face’ that morning? The little indignities that we hurl at one another all add up to a monstrous truth: We make assumptions about each other based on superficial factors, then back up those assumptions with hurtful or harmful actions. Because America’s social hierarchy still clings to the value system that places people of African descent at the bottom, we continually inflict harm or suffer. When will it stop? When can people connect to each other spiritually without regard to race or class? I have no answer, and since this is not a polemic challenge to the system we live in, I’m posing these questions simply because our survival as a species depends on our ability to take stock of our collective pain, get past these issues, and develop more compassionate, loving ways of dealing with each other.

Playing in the Schooltime of Others

A typical day in the life of an American toddler might include a trip to the playground, some television, snack time and perhaps a play date with a friend. With a few inexpensive additions to the normal routine, a youngster’s pre-school experience could be transformed from mundane to spectacular. A field trip to the museums, or a day at a petting farm are just two of the many exciting adventures that might spark a child’s imagination and eventually make an enormous difference in his or her performance in school and on standardized tests.

Very young children learn best when exposed to information that is visual or tactile in nature, that is, if a 2 year old can feel a bunny’s fur or hear a donkey braying, he is likely to recall those events, even unconsciously, when asked to make word associations on standardized tests. Observing the patterns in the veins of a leaf, or watching the legs of a caterpillar as it crawls, or listening to the chord progressions in a Bach melody are mathematical learning experiences more valuable than a thousand classroom hours could ever be.

When my oldest child was an infant, my law school professor suggested I try the Glenn Doman programs. “Teach Your Baby to Read”, and “Teach Your Baby Math” are effective strategies to introduce letters, words and numbers to young children, and we had lots of fun with them.

Aside from the educational value, the time that parents invest in their toddler’s early learning experiences will reap priceless psychological benefits. The emotional bonds developed between parent and child are the foundation for the child’s self concept. A healthy, well-adjusted sense of self is critical in the child’s later efforts to build positive relationships throughout life.

For parents, the seemingly childish act of laying face up on the grass to observe white clouds pass across the sky could be a profoundly relaxing departure from the challenges of the grown-up world. For a child whose parents took that time to spend with them, it could mean the world.

Book Review: War Anthem by Keith Andrew Perry

War AnthemWar Anthem by Keith Andrew Perry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

War Anthem, A Review

From the evocative use of language to the stirring plot, this novel provides an insightful analysis of human behavior and politics.

The rich emotional life of the main character, Jason Diggs, is the backdrop for a description of historical events few have known of before now. From the rise of Washington, D.C.’s Black intellectual class to the development and implementation of DC Home Rule, the writer, Washington, DC lawyer Keith Perry, chronicles the dazzling changes which occurred in Washington from the late 1950′s to the present time.

War Anthem takes an unblinking look at the superficial value systems and shortcomings of the Black middle class, much like E. Franklin Frazier’s Black Bourgeoisie. However, Mr. Perry also makes a largely positive and optimistic critical analysis of the way in which unique challenges and opportunities were confronted by Black Washingtonians.

Many DC political figures will recognize themselves on the pages of War Anthem. From the late Dave Clark and Walter Washington to Marion Barry, the personalities and behavior patterns of well-known individuals are clearly described. Without exception the writer treats individuals characters with respect and kind detachment.

Like all good literature, War Anthem tells more than one story. This book is a beautifully-written memoir about coming of age in Washington, D.C. as a fully conscious, self-aware Black male who understands the leadership responsibilities placed on gifted individuals.

“I understood how death changes both the future and our understanding of the past.

Gray images flashed before me of mother’s heroism during her illness and I considered the vacuum she was leaving behind. Had I been a weaker man, I might have passed through this time immune to my suffering, spurred by some grief induced amnesia; but like my mother, it was my privilege to consciously endure.”

Mr. Perry amplifies many archetypal themes in War Anthem, and in so doing provides a great service for us all. His achievement in this book is that he has woven a magnificent human tale regarding rites of passage and manhood with a story of political intrigue and municipal history. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I most assuredly recommend it as a piece of literature which I suspect will soon be required reading for young men matriculating through colleges all over the world.

Julianne Robertson King

When Disrespect is the Status Quo

I admit it, I’m fascinated by the national celebrity status recently conferred on DC School Chancellor Michelle Rhee. With the powerful Oprah Winfrey media machine and the blessing of U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, she appears headed for an illustrious career as the national poster girl for educational reform.

There’s only one problem:

The objectively quantifiable data shows that her efforts have hurt student progress in District of Columbia Public Schools.

Math Proficiency Scores:

-14 schools are worse off in 2010 than in 2007 with declines as high as 25% and an average of 8%
-41 schools are worse off in 2010 than in 2008, with declines as high as 35% and an average of 11%
-61 schools (52% of all schools) are worse off in 2010 than in 2009, with declines as high as 30% and an average of 10%

Reading Proficiency Scores:

-40 schools are worse off in 2010 than in 2007, with declines as high as 45% and an average of 6%
-58 schools are worse off in 2010 than in 2008, with declines as high as 36% and an average if 9%
-66 schools (56% of all schools) are worse off in 2010 than in 2009, with declines as high as 41% and an average of 9%

(source withheld)

Other performance facts:

-AYP (Annual Yearly Progress) under Leave no Child Behind, results for DCPS: 10 schools achieved AYP in 2010 a 70% decrease from 2009, when 34 achieved AYP.

-The achievement gap between White and African-American 4th grade students for Math has increased to a 58 point gap in 2009 from a 53 point gap in 2007.

-DCPS tested 14% fewer African-America children in 2009 indicating that many African-American families are leaving DCPS for charter or private schools.

-Since 2007 DC School construction shows favoritism toward Wards 2 and 3, where outlays average between $118 and $152 per sq. ft. compared to Wards 7 and 8 where expenditures drop between $40 and $54 per sq. ft.

(source withheld)

The truth is that systemic educational reform is holistic in nature. The history, economic development, and social structure of the student population has to be accommodated before lasting change occurs.

Positive educational outcomes for all children require analysis of the learning styles, and teaching strategies that work best for each demographic group. I strongly urge that educators study a focus group created by DCPS in the 1970′s called The Innovation Team, which was formed to study the challenges and opportunities specific to Urban education.

Washington, D.C. was decimated by the crack and gun wars of the 1980′s and 90′s, and some of those lost were among our most vibrant, creative and intellectually curious. Domestic and educational policy of the Reagan Bush years has had the effect of stifling the momentum of the 1970′s as related to Black consciousness and upward mobility. The collective psychological development of the Black community is diminished as a result. The children we see in the classroom today are essentially postwar survivors, yet we haven’t developed a plan that faces that excruciating truth. The sick joke is to send Rhee here, to insult and demean and blame our community for failing to effectively protect our young people.

If Oprah cares, and I believe she might, if properly informed, she needs to focus, not on personalities and style and money, but on history. Refugee and post-war children around the world have to be nurtured in a very focused way to be returned to their natural brilliance.

A Sheep in Lion’s Clothing

When news of the Eddie Long scandal broke, people didn’t want to believe that he was guilty. He may not be guilty. The events leading up to this scandal, however, are reminiscent of horrific stories coming forth from Catholic congregations for decades. No one wanted to challenge the power structure or question the behavior of the seemingly Godly men in whom they placed their trust. Now the Catholic Church is paying billions of dollars in damages because the population failed to take precautions and speak out against sexual abuse of children. To be sure, someone within the New Birth congregation had an inkling, a feeling that something was amiss in their pastor’s behavior toward boys and young men.

Now, incredibly, people are postulating that this crisis should spur new dialogue regarding homophobia in the Black community. To be sure, that is a critical piece in the healing and reconciliation that has to occur among segments of the African-American community. Would Eddie Long have been as successful in the ministry as he was if he had been openly gay? Is it unrealistic to place the expectation of genuine moral purity on powerful men? Do their words mean less if we find them to have fallen from Biblical precepts? These are important questions.

However, the conversation regarding sexual orientation should take a back seat to the conversation about protecting our children from sexual predators.

Future generations of African American people will ponder the way we handle this current crisis in the Church. There are other sexual scandals brewing in several Black mega churches in the U.S., and whether they are quietly settled or brought to the public by the media, we all have to confront the inconsistencies between what we say we are and what we really are.

This situation calls for more than prayer. Someone has to speak for our children. Do we cherish our children enough to put their safety above the need to idolize men like Eddie Long?