Whitney Houston: A Eulogy

In the gospel According to Matthew, Jesus says, “you are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16).[1]

This saying places emphasis on identity and uniqueness. A disciple is unique because of who he is. The identity of a disciple makes him unique. In this case, Jesus identifies a disciple as a light-bearer. What makes a light-bearer unique is what he is contrasted against, darkness. By saying “you are the light,” Jesus should be understood to be implying that there is darkness all around and that the disciple is not like that darkness. Without darkness, it wouldn’t matter if the lamp is placed “under a bowl.”

The light-bearer, who now knows who he is, is told to “let your light shine before men” (5:16). Knowledge of identity precedes that of mission (in this case). Having to be who he is in an environment that is not conducive to who he is, is what the light-bearer is told to do. If he is indeed who he claims to be, then he will be who he is, for he can’t be anything else.

A light-bearer does “good deeds” that are not intended towards glorifying himself, but his “Father in heaven.” This final part of the saying is truly the ultimate purpose of a light-bearer’s existence: glorifying God. Indeed, humanity finds true self-fulfillment in a life that brings praise to the “Father in heaven.” Thus, a light-bearer, when his entire life is viewed as a whole, will ultimately reflect the God whose light he bears.

Whitney Houston was a star, a light that stood out against others that surrounded her, a city on a hill. And she still is all that. Although she now sleeps the sleep of the dead her contribution to this world, especially in music, is colossal. No one can ignore the elephant in the room. The world is full of singers, but none of them sounds like Whitney.

Whitney is missed by her family and close friends. They are the ones who are primarily affected by her death. They are the ones who have watched her grow up to be the star that she is today. Before the lights were fixated on her, they were the ones that first saw someone of worth. At this time, they are in pain. They are not now concerned with what legacy she leaves behind (although they will do their best to make sure that she is remembered as positively as possible). They are grieving over the loss of Whitney, the person.

They are not the only ones that are grieving. Fans of Whitney are grieving also. Fans are grieving over the loss of someone they admire; sing songs recorded by; and watched performances by. They are in disbelief. They weren’t ready for this type of news. For them, it came like a “bat out of hell.” They are forced to say goodbye to a shining light they believe is gone too soon. They are left only with CDs, pictures, and videos of the starlet in all her glory, not enough for hearts that are broken.

Undoubtedly, in Whitney’s official eulogy there will be great praise for what she has accomplished in over 40 years of life. It is a feat that many of will never attain to, let alone aspire to do so. She will be lifted up in grand sermonic discourses describing her towering and iconic status. So great will the praises be that, if it was possible, they would usher Whitney into the gates of heaven—a place she certainly be said to be in. Truly, her family will be proud. But what kind of light was Whitney? Did she leave behind a legacy that praises the “Father in heaven”?

To claim to have an answer to that question would be pompous on my part. Some may be offended that one would even ask such a thing. Only God truly knows whether or not she brought glory to His name. All that can be done now by we who are still living is evaluation of our own lives in an attempt to sort out whether we are living a life that praises God. It is much better to make assessments of ourselves than others. Although we would never admit to this, we tend to make great mistakes when it comes to the latter.

The death of such a young star reminds us that we cannot continue to exist forever. At some point, this life will come to an end, one way or another. Before it does, however, we can take a deeper look at (1) who we are, (2) what we have done and are doing, and (3) who that did and is glorifying: God or the other. The death of Whitney forces us to reflect collectively, as those who are “destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Heb. 9:27).

As we look over Whitney’s life, let us look at ours and sort out what type of lights are we. The heights that can be obtain means nothing if our “Father in heaven” is not praised. That is truly what we were born to do. Although Whitney is resting in peace, we will not be able to have any peace now unless we are living to what we are destined to be.


[1] Unless otherwise indicated, all Scriptures in this article are taken from the New International Version.

Advertisements

Muslim Radicalization Hearing is a Bad Idea

It’s amazing what lawmakers are doing with taxpayers’ money. Representative Peter T. King, the New York Republican and Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, began a “congressional investigation of Muslim American radicalization.”[1] King claims that the catalyst which led him to conclude that a hearing was necessary, was the consistent warning from the Obama administration concerning the rise of homegrown terrorism. I see more problems than benefits. Here are three:

A Commercial for Radical Islam

The hearing provides an opportunity for real Islamic radicals to argue that their hatred for America, and the west for that matter, is reciprocal. They will be able to say, “we hate them because they hate us.” In other words, though the objective of the hearing is to discuss radicalization of American Muslims, it may serve as a poster for recruitment. Perhaps this may seem miniscule or far-fetch. However, it is a real possibility.

The Fear of Muslims

Included in this so called, “free society” of ours are people who are afraid of what they don’t understand. Though in theory, Americans claim to understand that within any major group there are smaller groups which may hold differences that are substantial, in practice, they can’t resist generalizing. Generalizing is extremely dangerous when dealing with people because the tendency to treat everyone underneath the label the same way is irresistible.

The fact that a hearing is being may suggest to Americans that the Muslim community is a big threat because of its susceptibility to radicalization. Those who were already terrified of the Muslims next door, will not only be more afraid, but will see their camp enlarge.

The Impact on Muslims

Though some Muslims think that the hearing is a good idea—they are hoping that it will show America a better portrait, some feel that it is undue attention that will do nothing but promote hate. If the hearing does have negative effects, as I’m suggesting, then naturally it will affect a Muslim’s experience in this country. Having someone look at you with hatred or fear is disturbing, especially when you have no desire to invoke those emotions.

Conclusion

That is it for now. School work and preparation for doctrinal studies are preventing from fully developing my thoughts on this issue. However, you get the point (smile).


[1] “Domestic Terrorism Hearing Opens With Contrasting Views on Dangers,” The New York Times.  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/11/us/politics/11king.html?ref=us

Burning the Qur’an: How to Further Fuel Radical Islam’s War with the West

All the world wonders after Islam, so it seems. As if the controversy over the mosque wasn’t enough, a pastor by the name of Terry Jones has become the personification of American hatred towards Islam. Jones, with his congregation, is planning to have a burn the Qur’an day on September 11–the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the pentagon and the world trade center. Though many religious leaders, the white house, and Gen. Petraeus have spoken out against this act, Jones seems unswayed and is determined to carry it out.

The most immediate impact of this decision is the danger that pastor Jones has placed himself and his congregation. The heavy weights of terrorism are probably applauding his decision because it supports their agenda–they would like the Muslim street to believe that Islam is at war with crusaders from the west. Therefore, I don’t believe that any retaliation would come from them. However, there is the possibility that there are some other minor elements in the terrorist movement that may be eager to avenge the Qur’an’s burning. Not to mention, the average peace loving Muslim would not be to fond of the idea, to say the least.

As a Christian pastor, Jones’ proposed action can be viewed by Jihadist as a mean of solidifying the reality that they claim to be living in. Since the Jihadist is in a holy war it would help if he had someone as active in the war as he is. Up to now, they have been locked in mortal combat with the American army. However, the American army doesn’t have a clear religious affiliation–though Christianity is projected unto it. Since Jones is providing that, the holy war seems more like a reality.

Jones shouldn’t be viewed as a lone ranger. He is a expressing the feeling of many Americans towards all things Islam. Americans may not be willing to admit it, but they have become extremely intolerant towards Islam. America has had negative experiences with religions before, however, their experience with radical Islam has push them to the point where a majority of them are willing to deny well-t0-d0 Muslims–at least to our knowledge–a place of worship because of location.

The public outcry against the burning of the Qur’an is not as loud as the building of the mosque near the WTC, even though the former is clearly worst. This suggests that the idea is somewhat comfortable to the minds of Americans. They are not as bothered with the rights of others as they are with issues that they view as directly affecting them. Well, they are mistaken in their analysis because this does directly affect them. If this kind of behavior persist, America will begin to look more and more like the chaotic middle east. In a way it would be reverting back to its pre-civil rights days, with a majority–though they didn’t promote the wrongs that were done–were indifferent towards what was taking place.

Indifference towards wrongs is a disease that weakens morals and solidifies bigotry. One may arrive at a place that they never intended to simply because of indifference. In a nation as diverse as America indifference towards the isolation and demonizing of a particular religious group should strike fear in the hearts of all religious institutions. If it could be done to one, it can be done to another. All that’s needed is a radical faction operating on its own agenda.

The religions of the world are systems that certain factions of humanity have adopted in their quest for God. Though I don’t believe that all roads lead to the same God, I do agree that it’s the same one they are looking for even though they may not know it. Therefore indifference towards the rights of others to search through their accepted mean says a lot about the system that a majority of us in north America have adopted. It’s hypocritical to tell Muslims about the Christian God when we stay silence while their Bible is treated in such a manner. Hate filled evangelism is the stuff of Nazis.

What should we do now? How about having a public outcry against the burning of the Qur’an. Then America will look more like what it claims to be, a place in which all religions are free from harassment even though they have dangerous factions. The sins of the few are not the sins of the majority.

Of Oil Spills and Anger Management

Image from Political Vindication

The British Petroleum Company, popularly known as BP, has found itself wallowing in an oil spill seemingly beyond its ability to control. What started out as a burning oil rig with 11 dead persons over 50 days ago, has now become a major economical and ecological crisis with far-reaching consequences—some of which goes beyond an analyst’s ability to predict.

BP is currently the third largest energy company in the world. It traces its history back to the May 26, 1908 discovery of oil in Masjed Soleiman, Iran, by explorer George Reynolds—whose expedition was funded by William Knox D’Arcy. The discovery brought about the creation of a company called the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) in 1909, with Burmah Oil as the parent company. APOC was re-named the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) in 1935, and the British Petroleum Company in 1954.

Throughout its history, and possibly today, BP had always maintain a strong connection with political entities. Even its very name, “British Petroleum,” was acquired through the British Government’s seizure of a German firm’s asset in Britain during World War I. The British sold the name to APOC in 1917. Other then the British, BP has been linked to the Iranian and the American governments, and even the CIA.

Though it is the one who is primarily responsible for the cleanup–due to the fact that it has the technology and the research to back it up–BP is starting to lose the spotlight to another. In comes president Barack Obama who is now the target of a frustrated public’s oily tipped arrows. They are not angry because they sense a lack of awareness on his part of the magnitude of the spill, but because he doesn’t display enough anger about it. They want to see the president get mad.

To be fair to Mr. Obama, I think the public is exhibiting a lack of comprehension concerning personality types. We can’t expect everybody to react the same way. A friend of mine, and I suspect that many have thought of this, believes that if Mr. Obama was to show any anger he would then be classified as the typical “angry black male.” It would be viewed as political capital by the Republicans, who would then launch an assault so menacing, that Mr. Obama won’t know what hit him until he wakes up the day after he looses his bid for re-election.

On the other hand, whether we want to admit it or not, politics involves a great deal of emotions. In order to win the people you must capture their hearts. In fact, any position dealing with the public will require medium to high level display of emotions. I’m not suggesting that it should be like this, but simply stating that this is how it is. In America, anyone can get up and speak, but the one that finds a way to connect his/her emotions to the listeners, becomes the new poster child of the republic.

With all that being said, Mr. Obama is already in office. We shouldn’t be concerned about the amount of emotions that he displays but the work that he gets done. Save the emotion debate for another time. We have an ecological disaster in our hands. I’m obliged to say that there is a cancer ravishing the cells of the American press and it has caused it to lose its ability to prioritize issues. How can emotions take precedence over the oil covered animals in the gulf of Mexico? Somewhere along the way a few marbles have been lost.

The pressure needs to stay on BP. We need to know how do they plan to deal with the environment that they are destroying. Paying the fisherman and local area businesses compensation for their loss is one aspect of what is necessary. But what is BP’s plans for the pelicans, the fishes, and all the other creatures in the area–the wildlife and the environment. The food chain has been disrupted and it’s only a matter of time before humans feel the impact of that disruption. Sometimes, what you destroy can’t be replaced.

*The image featured on the home page and on top of this article is taken from here.

Sources:

New World Encyclopedia http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Anglo-Iranian_Oil_Company

BP History 1901-1908 http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9014440&contentId=7027520

BP History 1909-1924 http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9014441&contentId=7027521

Memorial Day: Tales of BBQs and Firecrackers

Memorial Day, observed in the last Monday in May, is a holiday that few Americans know anything about. It is comfortably nestled amongst the “BBQ and Firecracker” holidays. Not that it was designed for such classification, but it has been placed there by an American generation consisting of some individuals that are either actively anti-tradition and values, uneducated concerning American history, sees no need for such a holiday, or just plain glad to get the day off. In fact, in this country, what is becoming increasing evident is that patriotism functions much like a basketball, rising high after hitting a hard surface. That hard surface, for the last ten years, seems to have been terrorism and natural disasters. Nothing gets America more excited about itself then when it is touched by people or situations that can contribute to its demise.

Well, what exactly is Memorial Day about? Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, is linked to General John A. Logan and several post-Civil War cities. General Logan, who was at the time a part of a Civil War veterans group known as the Grand Army of the Republic, wanted to honor the men that fought in the civil war. On May 5, 1868 he issued “General Order no. 11,” which called for the May 30th honoring and decoration of Civil War soldiers’ graves.

Logan’s idea was not unique. Decoration Day had already taken place since the war ended by many who wished to honor the dead. In fact, the founding of the day is attributed to Waterloo–which is believed to have been celebrating it since May 5, 1866–by President Johnson’s administration in 1966, because it was the town that was considered foremost in its celebration of the holiday. Memorial Day became official in 1971 when Congress declared it a national holiday to honor all of America’s fallen soldiers (to read more: History Channel).

Though there are many televised services, Americans, in general, are not really concerned with the essence of the day. The thought-provoking question that stirs their noggins is, “Who’s having a BBQ today?” It is a military holiday in which respect is shown for those who sacrificed their lives for the country, in theory. However, it is a family and friends’ socializing-fest, in practice (for most, me included). Shall the twain meet? They have. Should they? That’s up for debate.

Personally, the decoration of graves is not appealing. However, the remembrance of those who sacrificed their lives for a nation should be commemorated by that nation and the citizens of that nation. Of course, there are always exceptions. Perhaps an individual’s religion or personal belief forbids taking part in such a commemoration. That individual should be allowed to uphold those values and beliefs with dignity. America is not a totalitarian state. What do you think?

Memorial Day and all other warm weather related holidays will always be engulfed in scents of burgers, hotdogs, and lighted firecrackers. There will always be a jovial host drawing out smiles and laughter from the beef-filled masses. Whether we like it or not, this is America and this aspect of it will not change.