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Words from the pulpit: faith in a foreign land.

I want you to consider a familiar passage of Scripture:
 By the rivers of Babylon we sat down;
 There we wept when we remembered Zion.
 On the willows near by
 We hung up our harps....

 Those who captured us told us to sing;
 They told us to entertain them:
 "Sing us a song about Zion."
 How can we sing a song to the Lord
 in a foreign land?" (1)

Come back with me in time, way back to a faraway place, and stand for a moment shoulder-to-shoulder with another people in another place, another time, and another predicament; a people in a predicament of pain nothing like yours, nothing like anything you've experienced or could even imagine. Just quietly stand and feel. Don't say a word; just let their lives speak to your life, their spirits to your spirit. Not even a whisper, for they will fall strangely silent if they detect a stranger in their midst. Just stand where they stand for a moment and listen.

These are an African people, who for the most part are shepherds. They're a relatively peaceful people. They love music. Music permeates the fabric of their lives. They sing when a new life is conceived; they sing when a new baby is born; they sing while they work; they sing as they play. They do hand jive and ham-bone. (2) They are famous for their rhyming and their rapping, and you ought to see and hear their little girls jump Double-Dutch. (3) Such rhythms and made-up rhyming you've never heard.

They sing at weddings; they sing at funerals; some of them sing out their sermons; some of them sing out their prayers. They love music. Music permeates the fabric of their lives. They go into church saying, "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness. Come before his presence with singing." (4)

And drums? You ain't heard no drums until you hear this people on the drums. They have drums for church, drums for play; they have talking drums, male and female drums, and some drums you can hear in the summertime when the weather is warm, sort of beating the beat that makes even the deadbeat want to start moving. Music permeates every fabric of their lives.

And dance? You ain't seen no dancing. They just make up dancing on the spur of the moment, unchoreographed, unrehearsed. Music is like the air that surrounds every living thing for them. They are engulfed by music from the cradle to the grave. They make up impromptu songs to celebrate everything and anything-from a victory in battle, to a religious processional, to lovemaking between a man and a woman. These people love music and they love life. They love the deep things of life and the simple things of life, the things that give life meaning and the things that make life beautiful.

These are profound people, a proud people, and a praying people. It was these people who built the pyramids, which our western minds, for all of their sophistication, still cannot figure out. It was these people who created the first cultures and developed the first civilizations on earth. It was these people, black of skin and wooly of hair, who gave the world Pythagorean mathematics, and the cosmology of Thales of Miletus. It was these people, with their music and their rhythms who gave the world Epicurean materialism, Platonic idealism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These are a profound people, and a praying people.

A People in Exile

But something has happened to these proud people. Stand here and listen. Let's see if we can learn what happened that makes them seem so different. Over here they're singing, and from the song they're singing, it sounds like they're in exile--snatched away from the homes they built, the places where they lived, and the sites that they loved; in exile-pulled away from their places of worship, where they met God and mysteriously felt God's awesome presence; in exile-taken away from the villages and towns where they grew up, fell in love, got married, settled down, started families, and began building on their dreams.

No longer are they in charge of their own lives; no longer are they in control of their daily activities; no longer are they able to sleep as husbands and wives, parents and children. And in some places no longer are they even considered to be human beings. Now they're looked upon as things, pieces of property, as "its," but never as "thous." They're toys to be played with, but never equals to be talked to; they're pieces to lie with, but never persons to be reckoned with, or reconciled to; they're monkeys (if you listened to one racist guest who appeared on the "Oprah Winfrey Show"); they're nobodies, nothings, less than fully human, three-fifths of a person. In exile they are made fun of and mated like cattle. The song they sing sounds like a song sung from the bowels of exile. Listen to it:
 Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, a long way from home.

In exile! Listen!
 By the rivers of Babylon we sat down;
 There we wept when we remembered Zion.
 On the willows near by
 We hung up our harps.

Those who loved music refused to sing in exile.

Those who captured us told us to sing:
 They told us to entertain them.
 "Sing us a song about Zion."

In exile this pained people, 'buked and scorned, cried out,
 How can we sing a song to the Lord in a foreign land?

What has happened to this proud people is that they are in exile, and sometimes it's hard to make merry when you are being messed over and messed on. Wait a minute. Move away from the singing for just a moment and stand over here where the griot, the storyteller, is holding forth, weaving together a message with meaning, simultaneously giving us narration and interpretation. Listen to see if we can learn what happens to a people who are forced to live in a foreign land.

Stripped of Their Names

The griot is talking about his ancestors, a man named Daniel and some friends of his who lived in exile. Early on in this tale (1:7), the griot tells us about one of the first things that happens to a people in exile. The chief official gave them new names: Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The empire of today-those with brutal force, naked power, superior military might and, from time to time, those with somebody who is not wrapped too tight in the executive office; those who are drunk with power and mad with megalomania; the commander-in-chief of the imperial forces, the empire, strips the exiles of their names.

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, all of whom were from the tribe of Judah, were given new names by the empire. Daniel was given the name Belteshazzar. Hananiah was given the name Shadrach. Mishael was given the name Meshach, and Azariah was given the name Abednego. Centuries after the Bible story, people from the continent of Africa-places that today are the countries of Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote D'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, Zaire, and Angola, were given new names by the empire: Negro, Negrito, Moreno, Prieta, Negress, Nigra, Nigger, Colored, Black, Coons, Sambo, Jungle Bunny, Boy, Girl, Uncle and Manny. The empire stripped the exiles of their names and imposed its own names upon them so that five or six generations later the original names were lost to memory except for the griot's, and the only names the exiles refer to are the names given by the empire.

When you take away a person's name, you take away his or her history. My name has a history to it: I did not choose it. It was selected for me by my ancestors, parents, and grandparents long before I was conscious of their decision and what went into that decision. My name has a history. I have a grandson. My son-in-law and my daughter selected my grandson's name long before that moment when we stood in that birthing room together and I got the shock of my life. In that birthing room the nurse said to my son-in-law, "Have you picked out a name for your son?" And he turned around, grinned at me, and said, "His name is Jeremiah." My grandson's name has a history. Your name has a history, like John's name, Jesus' name, Samuel's name, and Daniel's name. They all have a history. They mean something. Daniel's name means "God is my judge." Samuel's name means "ask of God" or "name of God." John means "Yahweh has been gracious," and if you don't believe he has been gracious, ask Zechariah and Elizabeth. (5)

Hananiah also means "God has been gracious." Azariah means "Yahweh has helped." Mishael means "Who is like God?" (6) and Jesus means "Yahweh is salvation." Names have a meaning; names have a history. Wrapped up in a person's name is who he is, what family she came from, and how God has blessed that particular family by his grace in a particular manner.

No African would just willy-nilly change his or her name because each name has a history to it. The Africans in North American chattel slavery sang "I told Jesus it would be all right if he changed my name," but they didn't change their names, because wrapped up in their names was their history. They sang "written down my name"' they sang "Hush, somebody's calling my name"' they sang "I've got a new name over in Glory, and it's mine, all mine." But no African ever willingly changed his or her own name, because that would be like telling their mamas, their daddies, and their ancestors to got to hell, and that's most uncharacteristic of Africans.

Stripped of Their History

The North American slave owners, those "Babylonians," prototypes of the empire and the imperialistic mind-set that disregards anything everybody else has ever done, did away with the natives' names in an attempt to take away their history. As Chancellor Williams of Howard University puts it in his question posed from a Sumer legend: "What became of the black people of Sumer?" the traveler asked the old man (for ancient records show that the people of Sumer were black). "What happened to them? Ah," the old man sighed. "They lost their history, so they died." As Dr. Ofori Atta Thomas of the Interdenominational Theological Center puts it, "They forgot their story." They lost their history, so they died. Our children don't know our story. Any people who lose their story are a dead people. And the established authority, the empire, knows that, so it makes every deliberate attempt to take away the exiles' history. The empire tells them that they have no history prior to the Babylonians introducing them to civilization; the empire tells them outright lies and blatant distortions so that they will disown any linkage that they once had with Africa and they become more Babylonian than the Babylonians.

If you downgrade where the exiles came from and what they were once called, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren don't want to have anything to do with their history, and they embrace the culture of the "Babylonians." They walk around with Babylonian hairstyles, Babylonian clothes styles, Babylonian lifestyles, Babylonian ghetto blasters to their ears, and Babylonian cocaine monkeys on their backs. Yo, ya know what I'm sayin'? We can out-Babylonian the Babylonians. In a foreign land, there is a deliberate attempt to take away the exiles' history and replace it with Babylonian history.

The Babylonians told the exiles such things as "In 592 Nebuchadnezzar sailed the ocean blue." (Ask the average African American child when Africans came to this country and you get a black stare. Ask them when Columbus discovered America. "Fourteen ninety-two." Columbus didn't discover America; he got lost in the Virgin Islands looking for India. The Indians discovered him.) Or the Babylonians told the exiles things such as: "In 586 when your ancestors were carried away into slavery, that was the best thing that ever happened to them, because through the goodness of the prejudiced Babylonian God, they were exposed to culture, literature, philosophy and fine arts, serious music and classical music." In a foreign land there is a deliberate attempt to take away an exile's history.

At our church during our seminarians' training, we looked at the tape that Dr. John Kinneym, of Virginia Union University School of Theology, did at the Hampton Ministers' Conference. He was telling us that that's how oppressors deal with marginalized people. The oppressors subsume them under a larger history, so that they can make the oppressed believe that they have never done anything. It's how some white folks trivialize black folks; they tell them that nothing they've done is important.

First they took their names so that they could take away their history--who they were and where they came from and how they got here. Listen to the griot as he tells Daniel's story. First (1:7), he tells how the empire took their names; then (1:4, 17), he tells us that Ashpenaz was to teach them to read and write in the Babylonian language. Verse 17 says God gave the four young men knowledge and skill in literature and philosophy. The empire stripped the exiles of their heritage. They were methodically taught how to read and write in the Babylonian language. Anyone who studies a foreign language knows that one of the first things you have to learn if you are going to learn the language fluently is how to think in that language. While you are learning to think in somebody else's language, your heritage is slowly taken away. For three years, 365 days a year, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were schooled and skilled in the knowledge of Babylonian literature and philosophy.

The African exiles who came to North America also were expected to learn the culture of their empire-their "Babylon." African Americans educated in this country have forgotten what their African forebears had created-the oral traditions and the written traditions. In fact, the "Babylonian" curriculum doesn't even include any African authors. There are just a token few "Afro-Babylonian" hybrids accepted into the canons. These exiles became schooled in Babylonian literature, from Beowulf to Virginia Wolfe, and their heritage was wickedly wiped away from the tissues of their memory banks. They became skilled in Babylonian philosophy from Descartes to Meister Eckhart, from Immanuel Kant to Jean Paul Sartre, from existentialism to realism, from the dialectical materialism of Karl Marx to the wissenschaftlichkeit of Martin Heidegger. They became skilled in Babylonian philosophy, and their heritage was demonically destroyed in the devious process.

Children of these African exiles are drilled in old Babylonian literature, middle Babylonian literature Chaucerian Babylonian literature, Elizabethan Babylonian literature, Shakespearean Babylonian literature, seventeenth-century metaphysical Babylonian literature, eighteenth-century classical Babylonian literature, the nineteenth-century romantic Babylonian writers, and they do not know a thing about one of their writers, because after all, their writers never wrote what could be called serious or classical literature. Their heritage has been taken away from them.

From the African heritage, there are countless powerful writers. One of them, Gabriel Setiloane, who taught at the University of Capetown, is a pastor and a poet. You probably can't even go to some of our black colleges and universities to take a course where you can learn about Setiloane, a South African black man. I recommend one poem called "I am an African."
This mediation is written in the characteristic style of African Praise
Songs' (Lithoko) which the Southern African recites before a Chief on
important occasions. Sometimes a man will sing praises of himself also,
telling of some strong personal experience, such as a battle, in former
days, while today it might be about working in the mines or a long
sojourn in a strange land.

 They call me African;
 African indeed am I;
 Rugged son of the soil of Africa,
 Black as my father, and his before him;
 As my mother and sisters and brother, living and gone from this

 They ask me what I believe ... my faith.
 Some even think I have none
 But live like the beasts of the field....

 'What of God, the Creator
 Revealed to mankind through the Jews of old
 Who has been and ever shall be?
 Do you acknowledge him?'

 My fathers and theirs, many generations before,
 Knew him.
 They bowed the knee to him
 By many names they knew him,
 And yet 'tis he the One and only God-
 They called him:
 UVELINGQAKI: The First One Who came ere ever anything appeared;
 So big indeed that no space could ever
 Contain him;
 MODIMO: Because his abode is far up in the sky.
 They also knew him as MODIRI
 For he has made all;
 And LESA: The spirit without which the breath of man cannot
 But, my father, from the mouths of their fathers, say
 The this God of old shone
 With a brightness so bright
 It blinded them ... Therefore ...
 He hid himself, UVELINGQAKI,
 That none should reach his presence,
 Lest they die, (for pity flowed in his heart),
 Only the fathers who are dead come into his presence,
 Like little gods bearing up the prayers and supplications
 Of their children to the Great Great God ... (7)

That is one of the writings from the African heritage not included in almost any of the "Babylonian" curriculum-the curriculum that is accepted by the "establishment," the white educational system. In a foreign land there is the deliberate and devious attempt to take away the exile's heritage and replace it with a fabricated "Babylonian" heritage that distorts truths and tells outright lies. It is done so methodically and so thoroughly that after several generations you have African exiles paying homage to Hippocrates as the father of medicine, when clearly the African Imhotep discovered and practiced medicine centuries before Hippocrates was born. You have African exiles who know nothing at all about the Africans who were performing cataract surgery a thousand years before the birth of Hippocrates. You will have African exiles who think that unless the Babylonians said it, it ain't true; unless Babylonians wrote it, it ain't right; unless the Babylonians made it, it ain't gonna work.

They Couldn't Take Away Their Faith

In a foreign land an identity crisis is created in a deliberate attempt to first take away the exiles' history and then to completely destroy the exiles' heritage. But as the griot continues to talk about what happens to folk in a foreign land, those forced to live there in exile, there is something else that he says about Daniel that causes his listeners to stir just a little bit. It seems as though the Babylonians went too far when they tried the ultimate thing that Babylonians try, and that is to take away an exile's religion. It seems as though they overstepped their bounds and did not understand how faith in a foreign land has a tenacity that defies description.

Let's let the griot tell his story. The griot says that Nebuchadnezzar's son, Belshazzar had a banquet. (8) At his banquet he brought out sacred objects, which had been stolen from the temple in Jerusalem, and defiled them by pouring wine in those dedicated and consecrated bowls and cups. In the midst of his party a human hand from out of nowhere appeared and started writing on the wall. It wrote "mene, mene, tekel," and "parsin." (9) And nobody could translate those words except Daniel, who interpreted it like this: "mene, god has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting, peres (singular of parsin), your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians." (10) That's what Daniel said, and that same night (it's something how the Lord works) Belshazzar who desecrated those things taken from the temple was killed, and Darius the Mede seized the royal power (as Daniel had said).

When Darius took office, he divided his empire into 120 provinces, and he put a governor in charge of each province. Over the governors he put three supervisors: Daniel and two others. And the supervisors only had one job: looking out after the king's interests. Daniel, like Joseph, rose from a position of nothing to a position of prominence in a foreign land, only Daniel did better. Daniel showed very quickly that exile or no exile, minority or culturally deprived, or any other label they wanted to pin on him, he could do better than all of the other supervisors and governors put together.

Daniel was sort of like a Doug Williams in a Super Bowl or a Martin King in the ministry or a Toni Morrison in the field of literature or a Ron McNair in the space program. He was like a Thurgood Marshall on the Supreme Court or a Michael Jordan or a Magic Johnson on the basketball court. He was like a Luther Vandross or a Stevie Wonder in the field of music or a Bo Jackson on the baseball and football fields. He was like a Jackie Joyner-Kersee on a track, or a Melanie Lawson on a news assignment in Panama. (11)

He was like a Carl Lewis or an Edwin Moses in a foot race or like a Jesse Louis Jackson in a presidential race. Daniel could do better than all of them put together. And because he was so outstanding, the king considered putting him in charge of the whole empire (6:3), and that's when the "stuff" started. Those who are inferior can't stand those who are superior, especially when those who are superior are of a despised race, a race that everybody has been taught does not have the mental equipment to be superior. They tried their best to find something wrong with what Daniel was doing, but they couldn't, because he was honest and he was reliable.

So they said to one another, "We're not going to be able to pin anything on him unless it's in connection with this religion of his." You see, they had taken away his history and his name and had called him Belteshazzar. They had taken away his heritage and taught him Babylonian literature, language and philosophy. But when they tried the ultimate take-away-when they tried to take away his religion-they did what all oppressors do: they tried to take away his hope. But Daniel had the audacity to hope. When they tried to take away his hope, they found out that their trying was in vain.

First, they made up a lie and told the king, "Everybody, Your Honor, Your Majesty, all of us (that's a lie; they were including Daniel) including Daniel have come to this agreement ..." Then they told the king what their agreement was: "You ought to sign this order which says that nobody can ask anything of any man or any god for thirty days, and if they do, they'll be put in a pit." Then they got the king to sign the order and went to spy on Daniel to see what he was going to do. They knew that his religion was a way of life for him. They knew that he prayed to the God of his foreparents three times a day. They knew that come hell or high water, problems or protocol, this man of faith was a praying man, and he was going upstairs to his prayer room to throw open his windows toward Jerusalem and call upon the name of the Lord They knew that morning, noon, and night-every day that the good Lord sent-this brother, whom they couldn't stand, was going to be down on his knees saying, "Thank you for another day. Thank you for another night's sleep. Thank you for being my God in a foreign land, just like you are my God in my homeland." They knew that decree or no decree, royal order or no royal order, this man who believed in the power of prayer, this man whose hope was in the Holy One of Israel, would be in that window, hollering, "Father, I stretch my hands to thee. No other help I know."

So they ran as soon as the order was signed to see what God's servant would do. But, verse 10 says they could not take away his hope. When Daniel learned that the order had been signed, he went home and there, just as he had always done, Daniel knelt down at that open window and prayed. You don't pray based upon what a king says; you pray based upon your relationship with the King of kings. Whenever you feel like calling on him, you call on him; you pray. Not when the "empire" says pray. You pray every time you feel the spirit moving in your heart.

When Daniel knelt down and prayed to God, maybe he called him Yahweh; maybe he called him Joshua, "Yahweh is salvation"' maybe he called him Miqveh, (12) "the one hope upon whom Israel is waiting"; maybe he called him Uveliingqaki, "the first one who came e'er anything appeared. Maybe he called him Unkulunkulu, (13) "so high you can't get over him, so low, you can't get under him, so wide you can't get around him"; maybe he called him Modimo, whose abode "is far up in the sky." Maybe he called him Modiri, (14) "for he has made all." Maybe he called him Lesa, the ruah the pneuma, (15) the breath of God without which we could not live. Maybe he called him the God of Abraham and Sarah. Maybe he called him Mary's Baby or Gehazi's Judge. (16) Maybe he called him what my grandparents used to call him: Rock in a weary land, Shelter in the time of storm. Maybe he called him Joshua's Battleaxe, (17) Jeremiah's Fire, (18) or Ezekiel's Wheel. (19) But whatever he called him, the message was the same to that listening community, and that message still is, "Hold onto your faith, even in a foreign land. Hold onto the hope that is within you, the hope that maketh not ashamed. Hold onto God's unchanging hand, no matter how hard the circumstances are around you or how they may change." Say like Daniel, and like the African said in slavery, "Yes, there is trouble all over this world, but I ain't gonna lay my 'ligion down."

Folks may mess with your history and make it hard for you to uncover it. They may mess with your heritage and cause you to forever see yourself through the tainted lenses of somebody else, but don't let go of your hope. Hold on to the faith that your mama had; hold on to the faith that you daddy had. Your faith will give you transporting power. It will carry you through dark days and lonely nights. It will give you transcending power by which you will rise above the muck and mire all around you. It will give you transforming power that will change not only you, but those around you, too. Hold on to your faith, even in a foreign land.

Don't let go of the hope that sustains you, no matter how dark the night, no matter how steep the mountain, no matter how deep the valley. Don't let go of the hope that Dr. Watts calls our hope for years to come. (20) No matter how difficult the circumstances, no matter how vicious the enemy, don't let go of your hope. Get up in the morning saying, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness." Go to bed at night saying, "I dare not trust the sweetest fame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name." Don't let go of your hope no matter how high up you go on the "Babylonian" ladder.

You see, some of us have been taught this thing all wrong by some "Babylonians." They taught a lot of us that the higher up you go, the more soft and sophisticated you are supposed to become. We get one or two degrees from the "Babylonian" educational system, and we get "right cultured" and "right quiet." We're too sophisticated to say, "Thank you, Jesus." We're too assimilated to wave our hands. We're too acculturated to praise God anyhow. I know what I'm talking about because I have been there.

But Daniel, who had gone all the way up the ladder as high as he could, threw open his windows and hollered out as loudly as he could. You see, the higher up you go, the louder you're supposed to holler. Don't get too proud to praise the Lord. Hold on to your faith. You can become a dean or a president, head or CEO of a corporation, but don't let go of a balm in Gilead.

There was a time when I didn't understand this. My mama used to be an embarrassment to me. My mama finished college at an earlier age than Martin Luther King finished. She had a master's degree at eighteen and a second master's at twenty-one. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and my mama, with all of that education would say every time somebody preached or prayed, "Well! Well! Well!" See the "Babylonians" taught me you were supposed to be laid back and cool; you don't make comments when someone's preaching. That's how I used to be. Oh, but when God touched my life ...

When I graduated from Howard University, I was still up under that "Babylonian" weight, so I looked around to see who was watching me, and I said a cool, "Thank you, Jesus." When they gave me my master's degree, I was a little higher up and felt a little more free, so I said a little louder, "Thank you, Jesus." People were looking at me. Then, when it was time for my doctorate, the president of the university was there; the chancellor was there. They put the diploma in my hand and said, "All the rights and privileges there unto appertaining," and I said, "Thank you, Jesus!" The higher up you go, the louder you're supposed to holler. Don't let go of your faith, even in a foreign land.

If you want to know how to hold on, no matter what, just remember the story of my daddy. My daddy used to be an embarrassment to me until I found out a few things. He came straight off the farm. His father sent him to college with twenty-five cents, and Daddy had twelve earned letters behind his name: a B.Th., a B.A., and M.Div., and an S.T.M. He had four degrees: one undergraduate, two graduate from Virginia Union University, a black school, and one from the Lutheran School of Theology. Like Martin Luther King, my daddy's mind had been honed by the finest scholarship in German theological circles. Like Daniel, my daddy knew "Babylonian" theology, Christology, homiletics, and hermeneutics. He had studied "Babylonian" exegesis and mastered form criticism.

My daddy had gone all the way up the ladder, but where the "Babylonians" had honed his mind, the God of Abraham and Sarah had tuned his heart. When he came home from his ministerial association meeting one cold Monday afternoon in September of 1941, they told him that his wife, who had had a difficult pregnancy, had passed out on the floor. The baby had come out six months into her pregnancy with the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck. At the hospital the baby had been pronounced dead on arrival, and they were trying to save his wife. My daddy didn't call on no "Babylonian" theology; my daddy didn't look up no "Babylonian" Christology; my daddy got down on his knees right there on the floor next to his wife's blood and called on the God of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and said, "Lord, if you can and if you will, I know you can save my boy." And fifty-two years later, here is the one that was pronounced dead on arrival. Don't you tell me what God can't do. God stepped into that emergency room. While my father was just praying, the Lord stepped in and changed the diagnosis from dead on arrival to divinity on the agenda.

Thank God! Thanks God! Don't let go of you faith. I don't care how high up you go. Don't let go of your faith.


1. Psalm 137:104, Good News Bible (Today's English Version)

2. Hand jive and hambone, games enjoyed by African American children, employ rhythmic chants, claps, and body-slapping motions with the hand from thigh to shoulder.
 Hambone, hambone have you heard?
 (slap slap slap-slap, slap slap)
 Papa's gonna buy us a mockingbird
 (slap slap slap-slap, slap slap)

3. Similar to hand jive, Double-Dutch is a rhythmic rope jumping game in which two crisscrossing ropes are turned on a beat by two turners standing opposite each other, while a jumper jumps in the midst of the two ropes and performs a dance-like routine, skillfully stepping in order to avoid being tripped by either rope.

4. Psalm 100:1-2, King James Version.

5. Luke 1:5-24

6. Not only were the meaningful names of the Hebrew boys changed, but the Babylonian names that they were give were idolatrous. Daniel's name included the "El" meaning "God." His name meant "God is my judge." The Babylonian name for the god was "Bel," so his new name, "Belteshazzar," meant "May Bel protect his life." Every time this name was said, God was profaned. Similarly, Hananiah, meaning "Yahweh is gracious," was changed to Shadrach, which mean "command of Aku," the moon god. Mishael again contained "El," the Hebrew name for God. It meant "Who is what God is?" But Meshach is believed to have meant "Who is what Aku is?" Azariah meant "Whom Yahweh helps." His Babylonian name, Abednego, meant "Servant of Nebo.

7. "I AM AN AFRICAN" first appeared in Frontier Magazine of the Church in Society (London), No. 3, October 1969.

8. Daniel 5

9. Daniel 5:25, RSV

10. 5:26-28, RSV)

11. Melanie Lawson, a television anchorwoman in Houston, Texas, is the daughter of Rev. William A. Lawson, pastor of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, where this sermon was preached.

12. Yahweh and Miqveh are Hebrew names for God and the Messiah.

13. Uvelingqaki and Unkulunkulu are South African names for God.

14. Modimo and Modiri are South African names for God.

15. Lesa (Souther African), ruah (Hebrew), and Pneuma (Greek) all mean "spirit."

16. For Gehazi's Judge see 2 Kings 5:30-27.

17. For Joshua's Battle axe see Joshua 1.5. God was Josua's might weapon in battle.

18. Jeremiah 20:9

19. Ezekiel 1:15-28

20. Dr. Isaac Watts (1674-1748) wrote the hymn "O God, Our Help in Ages Past," which includes these lines.
 "O God our help in ages past,
 out hope for years to come."

Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.
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Author:Wright, Jeremiah A., Jr.
Publication:Cross Currents
Date:Jun 22, 2007
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