- Name: Rowdy Theologian
- Location: The Bawdy Cloister, United States
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Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Mucking the Cloister
Anyway, the bar exam starts today in Texas. Good luck to all my friends taking it. I intend to sit for the bar in February. As the Wise Man from West Virginia once told me, "Summer vacations are too important to spoil with bar preparation."
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Million Man Muttering
My Farrakhan Crispy Bar
So Kerry attended the NAACP convention and Bush is bound to speak to the Urban League. Floridians are fighting to enfranchise felons, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus recently spewed obscene epithets at Ralph Nader. Let’s also not forget about Bill Cosby. All this has got me thinking about a little trip I took to Washington, D.C. almost ten years ago.
I attended the Million Man March. The evening before the march I went to the Prayer & Praise Rally held in the Washington Convention Center. There we read Leviticus 23:23-37. This was followed by a series of speakers imploring the congregation to “Heed the Call.” They spoke in turn: The Call to Atonement, by Rev. Walter Fauntroy; The Call to Reconciliation, by Rev. William Bennett; The Call to Unity, by Bishop C.L. Long; and the Call to Restoration, by Rev. Dr. H. Beecher Hicks. After the benediction I left, invigorated, for the National Mall where I camped by the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. Only a handful of people were there when I arrived. Throughout the night the crowd grew. By 6:00AM there was no end in sight to the sea of black men. Then morning prayers began both Christian and Muslim. The rest is history.
That was 1995. Much of the dialogue in the news today echoes what was spoken then:
Bill Cosby in 2004, “[I]t is almost analgesic to talk about what the white man is doing against us. And it keeps a person frozen in their seat, it keeps you frozen in the hole you’re sitting in”
Hon. Louis Farrakhan at the March, “Black man, you don’t have to bash white people. All we’ve got to do is go back home and turn our communities into productive places.”
Bill Cosby in 2004, “When you put on a record and that record is yelling ‘n---- this and n---- that’ and you’ve got your little 6-year-old, 7-year-old sitting in the back seat of the car, those children hear that.”
From the Million Man March Pledge, “I will support Black artists, who clean up their acts to show respect for themselves and respect for their people, and respect for the ears of the human family.”
Bill Cosby in 2004, “Stop beating up your women because you can’t find a job.”
From the Million Man March Pledge, “I will never abuse my wife by striking her, disrespecting her for she is the mother of my children and the producer of my future.”
However, the spirit of the dialogue is dramatically different. I hear the calls for Unity and Reconstruction, but what of Atonement and Reconciliation? At the March, Brother Farrakhan said, “We’re talking about moving forward to a perfect union. Well, pointing out fault, pointing out our wrongs is the first step. The second step is to acknowledge. ‘Oh, thank you. Oh, man, I’m wrong.’” Today’s rhetoric is inflammatory. Accusations and blame are not followed through with encouragement. That sense of fresh possibility is thwarted with comments such as Cosby’s, “You should have thought more of yourself when you were in high school, when you had an opportunity.” In contrast, Minister Farrakhan said at the March, “We must become a totally organized people, and the only way we can do that is to become part of some organization that is working for the uplift of our people. Now, brothers, moral and spiritual renewal is a necessity. Every one of you must go back home and join some church, synagogue, temple, or mosque that is teaching spiritual and moral uplift.” His words were not mere proselytizing. He was encouraging people to embark on a new life journey with hope and support. He exhibited grace. Rep. Melvin Watt (D-North Carolina) did not demonstrate grace at the recent meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus when he found himself in disagreement with Ralph Nader. There Watt allegedly called Nader “just another arrogant white man, telling us what we can do. It’s all about your ego, another f----- arrogant white man.” The Million Man March was intended for black men only. A few people around me began to mutter about my presence—a rogue white man. Did they react like Rep. Watt? No. The tension broke when a man from the Nation of Islam shouted with an welcoming laugh, “Looks like a million and one made it out today!”
Monday, July 19, 2004
Ikkyu: Father of Rowdy Theology
It is nice to get a glimpse of a lady bathing --
You scrubbed your flower face and cleansed your lovely body
While this old monk sat in the hot water,
Feeling more blessed than even the emperor of China!
From Wild Ways: Zen Poems of Ikkyu, translated by John Stevens. Published by Shambala (Boston 1995).