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blackface.jpgSome could argue that one of the reasons that Reformed movements have not flourished in black communities (in addition to many lacking an emphasis on exodus-oriented covenant theology) is that too many black and Latino/a bruthas and sistas new to the theology confuse Reformed theology with white anglo-normativity and loose their affections for black people and lose their ability to apply their new found doctrine to the black experience in America of sin and social marginalization.

Michael Kimmel, in his book, The History of Men, is particularly helpful here in thinking about the ways in masculinity is defined in America:

Men's power over other men concerns the distribution of the those rewards among men by differentiated access to class, race, ethnic privileges. . .that's is, the power of upper- and middle-class men over working-class men; the power of white and native born men over nonwhite and/or non-native born men. . .The constituent elements of "hegemonic" masculinity, the stuff of the construction, are racism, sexism, homophobia, and social science has ever been complicit. . .

A version of white, middle-class, heterosexual masculinity emerged as normative, the standard against which both men and women were measured, and through which success and failure were evaluated. This normative version--enforced, coercive, laden with power--academic social science declared to be the "normal" version.

Making the normative into the normal has been the discursive mechanism by which hegemonic masculinity was constituted---Michael Kimmel

Over the years, I've seen many, many blacks (and now Latinos) confuse being Reformed theologically with adopting anglo-normativity and essentially become white men with black or Latino faces. Another way to describe this would be "bleaching" one's ethnic identity in ways that one confuse theology with adopting white, middle-class, masculinity as normative. This can lead to black and Latino bruhs who are willing to put on white face to be validated and accepted as "authentically" Reformed. This can lead to several things:

(1) You can lose your ability to speak into the experience of personal sin and to the social marginalization concomitant with what it means to be black and Latino in a world saturated with white privilege.

(2) You can lose your affection for one's respective ethnic community. For African American men, this can lead to an inadvertent rejection of amoral black cultural forms (and can, in some cases, even lead some to view black women as undesirable and/or sexually deviant irresponsible "welfare moms.")

(3) The content of ones teaching and preaching looses its prophetic voice to speak regularly about life within a context of white racism and other forms of structural injustice. You loose your theology of suffering because middle-class white men in America have no theology of social suffering to teach you how to communicate and exegete for minorities.

This bleaching of one's ethnic identity is celebrated by some middle-class anglo-normativities which seek, in no way, to affirm blackness and often seeks to subordinate and subsume ethnic cultures into whiteness. There is nothing more strange than a black Christian man incapable of affirm the imago dei of blackness. Being black and Reformed should be able to celebrate all the things that come with dark skin.

The discussion of white normativity, encompassing both white dominance and privilege in the field of theology requires a critical analysis of the inextricable relationship between the sociological construction of race, the role of cultural capital, and the development and schematization of white hegemonic structures and how the gospel calls blacks and Latinos to speak truth into white, Western cultural captivity, some people would suggest. This is a profound temptation in Reformed circles because many black and Latinos want the validation of middle-class anglo-normativity as confirmed masculinity Godly identity.

Black bruhs in white face hardly say anything positive about black people or the black church; and rarely say anything positive about the black community (and especially black women). This inability to praise the historical legacy of black women who have suffered oppression along the lines of gender and race is something you will not see in most middle-class anglo-normative cultures and the bruhs in whiteface adopt the same dismissive orientation.

Just as I earlier urged black reformed bruhs to stop bad-mouthing the black church I urge black and Latino men and women entering into Reformed theological communities to not bleach themselves by confusing being reformed with middle-class anglo-normativity.

For my black and Latino bruhs, neither the standard for your masculinity nor your biblical orthodoxy is ever to be measured by white, middle-class masculine normativity. Be not confused. Put the bleach down. Your success or failure has nothing to do with whether or not you preach or teach like any of the white men from whom you learned Reformed theology from but your conformity to Jesus in your blackness or brownness. Jesus loves black and brown people. Do you?

This is the kind of stuff that makes me black and tired.

52412.jpgThe Latin American Social Sciences School (FLACSO) published the results of a study this Monday in which it revealed that 43% of Latin America's place their highest trust in their nation's armed forces more than any other institution....including the Church. This is tightly linked to the insecurity climate that the region suffers from. Other institutions that have a high trust level are the media and the Presidency.

The Church has a "medium" trust level, while political parties have a "very low" trust level.

There is no mention of business, academia or any other institutions, but it certainly should worry us to see that Latin Americans in general are not relying on means other than coercive force as a hope for the future. There is much to be done, specially by the Church!!!!

don_bosco1.jpgIn general terms, I consider myself an open minded guy that can sort of navigate the turbulent waters of Catholic / Evangelical relationships in Guatemala. After many failed attempts at debating, arguing and trying to force the Gospel on my Catholic friends, I have learned -the hard way-, that we need not only to articulate the Story much better, but also to understand our deeply Catholic roots of faith, what the many symbols and rituals mean in our context and to find ways to see how the Gospel speaks to each of them.

Having said that, this week we had an unusual event in Guatemala. We've had the Pope visit 3 or 4 times in my lifetime, but this is the first time we've actually had the relics of a Catholic Saint flown here and have a massive turnout to look at them and reflect upon the life of the man being honored. Although we have quite a tradition of statue veneration (the Esquipulas Black Christ, the Virgin of the Assumption, and Saint Simon (or Maximon)), along with Antigua Guatemala's famous Easter processions, never had I seen people get so worked up about a statue of a saint as he looked like when he died, and an urn carrying his right hand (the one he used to bless people with) around.

5 (1).jpgLast night, the relics of St. John Bosco -Don Bosco- arrived in Guatemala City and thousands of young people gathered to venerate the saint's remains. I am at a loss for words. I just do not understand it. When I confessed my lack of understanding on why in 2010 people will still flock to venerate relics and hold masses in their honor, etc., the typical Evangelical response reeks of anti-catholic sentiments and accusations of idolatry, while the Catholic response is an apologetic that defends this by stating that people are inspired by this man's faith, and that they do not worship the relics...which they flock to see...but rather, seek to emulate Don Bosco's example as a man of faith. I still haven't figured out a way to missionally engage this.....which I am sure that the Gospel speaks to. There is something about the tangible aspects of faith, about objective points of reference that we seem to miss.....any ideas? What can youth leaders learn from this Father to the Young?

100616_91001093.jpg"Every time I go to Guatemala, I find a dead body," says Manuel Orozco, a Central America analyst at the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. "Anyone can be a target for any reason."
Over the last three years, narcotrafficking in Guatemala and Honduras has gotten a lot worse. A mere 1 percent of South American cocaine went through Central America as recently as 2007; today, somewhere between 60 and 90 percent does. Cartels from Mexico, feeling squeezed by President Felipe Calderón's war against them, have moved south, while Colombian traffickers have moved north.
So begins "Foreign Policy Magazine's most recent article on their watchlist of four nations that are on the brink of becoming "failed states". (Read the rest of the article here)

And so, the continuous saga of moving away from the ideals of democracy, rule of law and justice continue to evade our nation, Guatemala. Failed socialist policies of "social cohesion", crony mercantilistic policies that prevent the benefits of free trade to expand throughout all the people, corruption and a President in a continuous state of denial of the real issues that affect the nation, undermine important institutions, open the gates wide for drug dealers (a gram of cocaine costs US$25 in Guatemala and sells for US$250 in the US), juvenile gangs, organized crime and widespread fear and instability.

The irony is, over 40% of the population claims to be born again. The irony is that we have an absentee Church caught up in building projects, a race for numeric growth and completely detached from our political reality by even housing, yes housing and supporting, corrupt government officials that form part of their ranks of faithful tithers and attendees.

The international community seems to not get it either. During her recent visit to Guatemala, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed a "raise taxes" agenda, while at the same time, demanding we fight drug traffickers while offering no solutions to the source of our drug traffic....high drug consumption at the retail level in the US.

Alvaro_Colom_1.jpgThere is little hope when a weak government loves to victimize itself by claiming to be the victims of systematic attacks by a strange collusion of organized crime, opposing political parties, the private sector and the press. Yes, Mr. Alvaro Colom is a victim and therefore, he cannot go on "fighting for the poor" the expense of the rich, at the expense of the working class, at the expense of over 20 families that suffer the murder of their main provider every single day.

Hopefully this Foreign Policy article can bring some sense into our governments, but more importantly, I pray that the Church understands that we must go beyond buildings and therapeutic sermons and move towards a life in mission of every believer fighting in their own spheres of sovereignty for the Gospel, for justice, peace and love.

6a00d8341bf67c53ef0133efa1341c970b-800wi.jpg The giant sinkhole that opened beneath downtown Guatemala City over the weekend is all the rage right now. There's just one problem: it isn't a sinkhole.

"Sure, it looks a lot like a sinkhole," geologist Sam Bonis told Discovery News from his home in Guatemala. "And a whale looks a lot like a fish, but calling it one would be very misleading."

Instead, Bonis prefers the term "piping feature" -- a decidedly less sexy label for the 100-foot deep, 66-foot wide circular chasm. But it's an important distinction, he maintains, because "sinkholes" refer to areas where bedrock is solid but has been eaten away by groundwater, forming a geological Swiss cheese whose contours are nearly impossible to predict.

The situation beneath the country's capital is far different, and more dangerous.

Read the rest of the article here.

William Wilberforce.jpg"I was much impressed yesterday, with the similarity in some respects of my own situation to that of Lizzie's dear little innocent, who was undergoing the operation of vaccination. The infant gave up its little arm to the operator without suspicion or fear. But when it felt the puncture, which must have been sharp, no words can express the astonishment and grief that followed. I could not have thought the mouth could have been distended so widely as it continued, till the nurse's soothing restored her usual calmness. What an illustration is this of the impatient feelings we are often apt to experience, and sometimes even to express, when suffering from the dispensations of a Being, whose wisdom we profess to believe to be unerring, whose kindness we know to be unfailing, whose truth also is sure, and who has declared to us, that all things shall work together for good to them that love Him, and that the object of His inflictions is to make us partakers of His holiness." (William Wilberforce)

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If you and/or your church want to help, please do so by contacting Casa de Libertad's (the church I attend) mission department here or, you can also donate here. Thank you!

This case made the headlines this week in Guatemala. The "Guatemalan Hero", an immigrant who protected a woman from a mugging was stabbed to death in NYC. Ironically, he agonized on the street as over 20 people walked by over the course of an hour...none of them helping him.

Are we so impervious to death and suffering?

jenniferknapp-apr10-1.jpgSeven years ago, while at the top of her game, Jennifer Knapp announced what seemed to many a sudden decision: She was stepping away from Christian music, taking an indefinite hiatus. Rumors began to swirl--she was burned out, she needed a rest, she was upset about something, she was gay. Turns out that all the rumors were true, as Knapp reveals in this rambling, exclusive interview with Christianity Today. The one-time Grammy nominee ended her hiatus in late 2009 with a few small shows, an updated website, and an announcement that she was writing new songs. Many of those songs will be featured on Letting Go, releasing May 11, her first album since 2001's The Way I Am. The rest of the interview in Christianity Today here.


| 1 Comment anyone with a straight face can call this "Christian Music" totally escapes my mind.....translated lyrics below:

I still have on my iPod
Our song
And on my phone
The picture of the day we met
At church

Everything was lost
All this time
Together you and I
Because you listened
To that person who confused you
Telling you that what we have
Is not from God

I too cried,
I too suffered
I never wanted to be far from you
And today I realize
It was a mistake
For anyone to reject
Our love

Our love is from God
And He gave it to us
And nothing or no one
Will separate us
No lie
Or what anyone says
Will ever
Hurt us.

A gift from God
A gift from God
Is having you by me my love.
A gift from God
A gift from God
You add blessing you my life
A gift from God

Now I don't understand
How there are people
That ask God
That we may break up
And then come to you
To offer advice
With hidden intentions
Some say they are friends
But they will destroy my heart
If I'm not careful
They will extinguish the love
That we feel and the dream we have
Of getting married

Chorus, etc.

This is one of my favorite Brazilian TV commercials. It asks the following questions:
Wouldn't it be nice to live in a world without vanity? A world in which personal image did not matter? A world in which beauty had no value? Wouldn't it be nice to live in such a world?

No, it wouldn't. Believe in beauty.



priest.jpg.display.jpg WORSHIPPERS at one York church got a shock when their parish priest used the last Sunday before Christmas to advocate shoplifting.

Father Tim Jones, parish priest of St Lawrence and St Hilda, broke off from the traditional Nativity story yesterday, and said stealing from large national chains was sometimes the best option many vulnerable people had.

He told the congregation: "My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift. I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither.

"I would ask that they do not steal from small, family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices. I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need." (full article here)

When I read this and compare it to what I've recently learned from Matt Chandler and John Piper on suffering well, I cannot but grieve for the Church. We are missing it completely...we are completely irrelevant as we have succumbed to worship the exact same things the world does, except we throw in a couple of verses to butter it up and make it an easier pill to swallow.

I trust that worshippers at St. Lawrence and St. Hilda have read their Bibles and quickly dismiss this offense to the Gospel and I hope this sort of "ends justiflying the means" mentality is removed from our churches.

594477_101.jpg According to an article in Prensa Libre, a Chilean former police prefect invented and patented (and will soon release to the market) a lifesize male doll that women who drive by themselves in their cars can place on the passenger seat in order to disuade robbers from attacking them. The doll will retail at about US$190. How about that for a stocking stuffer?
Yes...things are this bad in our region. Everyday someone gets mugged in traffic...some are even shot if they refuse to give up their cell phones. Robbers use bluetooth devices to "see" which cars have the best phones, etc.



Taken from:

Conservative Bible Project

Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations. There are three sources of errors in conveying biblical meaning:

* lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts introduced by Christ
* lack of precision in modern language
* translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one.

Of these three sources of errors, the last introduces the largest error, and the biggest component of that error is liberal bias. Large reductions in this error can be attained simply by retranslating the KJV into modern English.[1]

As of 2009, there is no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines:[2]

1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, "gender inclusive" language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity
3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level[3]
4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop;[4] defective translations use the word "comrade" three times as often as "volunteer"; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as "word", "peace", and "miracle".
5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as "gamble" rather than "cast lots";[5] using modern political terms, such as "register" rather than "enroll" for the census
6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
8. Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word "Lord" rather than "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" or "Lord God."

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