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.

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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

Unplugging DJ Cipha Sounds

unplugging the machine
Image by functoruser via Flickr

The Haitian community is in an uproar over a remark that Hot 97’s DJ Cipha Sounds made about Haitian women. In a moment of moronic jesting, Cipha Sounds presented the threat of acquiring HIV as his reason for not being with Haitian women. Some have asserted that Haitian sensitivity is high right now due to the earthquake and the cholera outbreak that followed. It is true that any event associated with ones’ country will generate increasing sensitivity. However, to state that this is the reason for the Haitian community’s abhorrence of such an atrocious statement is wrong. Even if the earthquake and the cholera outbreak did not happen, Haitians would have reacted in like fashion. Indeed, they must. Nothing short of firing Cipha Sounds will suffice.

In response to the call of listeners, Cipha Sounds issued an apology on the airwaves. This apology seems to serve a triple purpose: to apologize for what was said; to clarify that he was the one that said it; and to take a subliminal shot at those who are not regular listeners that called and complained. Apparently, he found time to reflect on those who don’t tune in — which are all the wiser for it – instead of fully focusing on the impact of his stupidity. In light of this apology, including Hot 97’s decision to suspend him and provide moral training, some have felt that this is all that is needed. Left out of these reflections is the reality that if that remark was made concerning other nationalities or religious groups that are, apparently, deemed more valuable, tougher actions would have resulted.

Inaction by Hot 97 would have been a display of their view on Haitians. It would also have shown their view of how they think the public feels about these types of remarks. Business wise, all these reflections are done by entertainment entities because of potential damages that may result. If nothing was done, that would have indicated that they didn’t see a significant risk. Whatever their true reasons for taking action – it may be that they truly disapproved, it is clear that they felt something needed to be done. However, they did not go far enough.

In punishment, consideration should be given to the impact of the action. Consider the young Haitian women who are now subject to verbal onslaughts from some students who don’t care about the significance of what comes out of their mouths. It is no secret that some youngsters don’t reflect much on what they say. Combine that reality with what Cipha Sounds have said and you’ll still be nowhere near the effects of his on air remark. The real impact of that remark, from a social standpoint, is nothing short of a degradation of Haitian women. The self-esteem of younger women, who are especially vulnerable, will be severely affected by the hearing of such a remark.

The myth of Haitians and HIV has been an issue that arose in the past. Apparently, it is still in the minds of some as something to laugh about. Cipha Sounds’ 15 minutes are up. It is time to unplug.

The Long Arm of the American War Machine

Combined Task Force 151 - 090212-N-1082Z-066
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The New York Times reports that a “436-foot-long German-owned cargo vessel called the Magellan Star,” with a crew of 11, was hijacked in the gulf of Aden by Somali pirates on Wednesday morning. Coming to the rescue of the Germans was 24 American marines. They boarded the ship and captured the pirates without firing a shot. I’m sure that their arrival was a welcoming sight to the detained crew members. However, this raise critical questions concerning America’s role on the high seas.

Let me be upfront concerning what I don’t know. I’m not aware if there is an American, NATO, or UN policy that places the United States in the role of international naval police. If that is a reality then the fuss that I’m about to make concerning the actions that the military took is unwarranted. Furthermore, America could have spoken to German officials and received permission to act in behalf of their captured countrymen, or perhaps the sea of Aden falls within American jurisdiction–this is probable if the U.S. has bases in the area.

If the points stated above are not true, then I invite all to entertain my musings on U.S.’ military involvement where, perhaps, it shouldn’t be. Before I go further, let me say that I’m not against the idea that America shouldn’t be stagnant in responding to emergencies in which it is capable of providing superior aid. With that reasoning, there is also a need to set up policies and regulations concerning what should be viewed as an appropriate emergency to be acted on and what should the appropriate actions be.

In cases which require humanitarian aid it is often easy to make quick and quarrel-less judgments concerning if action should be taken and what type. Flying over a village and dropping sacks of rice and/or medical aid will usually get you less gun fire than marching U.S. soldiers into a sovereign state, even if it is to liberate them. Everyone is excited about liberation but no one is excited about occupation–which is necessary if peace is to be sustained until the freed people establish their government. Of course, the manner in which one is occupied plays a major role in their view of the occupiers.

With the boarding of the German ship, the American military retrieved the assets of employees belonging to another nation, and saved their lives. What if these employees where killed in the rescue attempt, would the Germans have been angered at the Americans? What if it was a Saudi ship? What would have been the result? Though involving in these situations is noble, it may get complicated.

This is why, if it hasn’t done so already, the UN needs to establish some sort of international naval police. There is no need to allow the U.S. to run amok as if it is some kind of international police. What if it was another nation that boards an American vessel in order to save it and the mission goes wrong? There is no outrage when things go right, but as soon as there is a problem intentions are forgotten.

America has become too involved in the affairs of others. The Somali pirates need to be dealt with by the Somali officials if they are operating on Somali owned waterways, and the UN if they are operating on international waterways–meaning, areas of the high seas that do not fall under the jurisdiction of any nation. The American military is stretched out as it is and the last thing they need is to be the sea police.

The United States seems to have become like the old British empire, upon which “the sun never sets.” Well, the sun did eventually set–though it may be argued that the British still retain major influence in large parts of the world. Their influence is no match for America’s dominion of the world. This is due largely to the long arm of the American war machine. The sun never sets on the American empire.