This Week’s Pendulum

This Week’s Pendulum

 

 

1 U.S. POLITICS GOVERNMENT TO INFRINGE ON CITIZENS’ RIGHTS….AGAIN

The FBI will release a revised edition of the “Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide” that gives their agents more flexibility when it comes to violating your constitutional rights. It is difficult to believe the agency’s recent action has managed to fly under the media radar, but a great deal of the nation has been overly concerned with Anthony Weiner and his inability to act like a morally reasonable adult. FBI agents will be allowed to use commercial and law enforcement databases to gather intelligence without having to file any records. They will also be given the authority to evaluate “potential informants” by sorting through trash or giving lie-detector tests. In a letter to the director of the FBI, Senator Jon Tester of Montana says “until law enforcement agents have reason to investigate any American, it is unacceptable for those agents to cast a wide, non-specific net when they are evaluating a target as a potential informant.” With Big Brother growing more and more powerful, we may soon be living (and not just reading about) George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

2 WORLD HAVE LUNCH WITH JULIAN ASSANGE!

Wikileaks is auctioning 8 tickets to have lunch with founder Julian Assange as a fundraiser. The bidding began last week and was already at $812 by Wednesday. The lunch will be held on July 2nd, at one of London’s finest restaurants. Along with Assange, guests will have the opportunity to dine with Slovenian Marxist philosopher Slavoj Zizek. Assange is currently on bail and has pled not-guitly for sexual misconduct against two women. Bidding closes today; will you win this once in a lifetime opportunity?

3 ONE FOR ANOTHER RECYCLE SOAP AND SAVE LIVES!

Derrick Kayongo, an Uganda native, was not content with simply fleeing the tyrannical rule of a dictator. Instead he has made it his business to lower child-mortality rates in poor countries. Kayongo and The Global Soap Project (GSP) recycle soap from hotels and create new pathogen-free soap to distribute to struggling villages and families. GSP does not chargerecipients and relies mostly on volunteer assistance. By providing recycledsoap to thousands, Kayongo and The Global Soap project has freed people from having to decide between eating or washing their hands of potential life threatening bacteria. With a more socially conscious generation entering into adulthood, we are bound to see more world citizens like Derrick Kayongo.

4 MUSIC NEW WHITE FEMALE RAPPER CHALLENGES ‘THE JONES’

Kreayshawn, no that’s not a typo, was recently signed to Columbia Records, and has been supported by artist, Snoop Dogg. Based on her single, “Gucci, Gucci,” she is not bound to attract a conservative audience, but there is something worth discussing concerning this artist. Kreayshawn was born Natassia Zolot. She dropped out of high-school, made a career directing music videos, and then decided to be a rapper. Her single dismisses label brands like “Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and Prada,” because she is above labels. Her claim to fame is supposed to be her originality, but aside from her being a white girl from San Francisco, I’m struggling to find the uniqueness. Once again, a gimic wins over the sheep. How will we effectively market real messages in this sea of confusion called the media? Watch Interview below (WARNING: Explicit language) Tweet

5 EDUCATION IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY FOR YOUR CHILD TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR

Leanne Archer is 15 years old and has a successful hair care business that had revenues of over $100,000 last year. Robert Nay is 14 years old and, with no coding experience, went to a library and learned how to create an iPhone app game. A month later, he created Bubble Ball, which has been downloaded more than 7 million times. Lizzie Marie is 11 and the star of the cable series “Healthy Cooking with Lizzie.” These are just a few of the successful young moguls. They all had one thing in common: their parents’ blessing! Encourage your kids now to do what they want to do “when they grow up.”

6 MONEY HOMEOWNERS ANTICIPATE THE NEXT BLOW: INSURANCE PREMIUMS

For the past five years, insurance premiums have remained stable, but due to rising costs of energy and building materials (gasoline is up 37%, copper is up 20%, and plywood is up 8%) insurance premiums are rising. Consequently, premiums at State Farm Insurance Co. increased its rates 7.3% on average last year. Experts anticipate more increases for homeowners as a backlash for the recent uprising of natural disasters around the world; some say the increase could be as much as 20%. How will your family brace for the increase?

7 TECHNOLOGY FORGET SMART PHONES, IBM’S NEW BUSINESS? SMART CITIES.

IBM recently announced that it will offer a packaged software platform for cities with applications such as real-time video feeds and street sensors for police, and aims to eventually offer advancements for urban populations. The first three “solutions” will roll out over the next two years and will provide innovative technology for public safety, water management, and transportation monitoring. The future is upon us!

8 TV WHAT’S NEXT FOR OPRAH? AN O.J. SIMPSON CONFESSION! WHAT?! YES!

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Oprah has declared, “I have a dream of O.J. Simpson confessing to me…And I am going to make that happen people.” Winfrey hopes to bring this exclusive on her new interview show, Oprah’s Next Chapter, which is set to launch in January. Although she has referred to her new goal as not “that lofty,” I doubt Simpson would confess unless he was on his deathbed. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to seeing Winfrey start her “next chapter,” and I hope that inspires other 50-somethings to keep dreaming beyond mid-life.

9 MOVIES WINNE MANDELA CALLS BIOPIC PLAYED BY JENNIFER HUDSON AN INSULT

Jennifer Hudson will play Winnie Mandela in biopic ‘Winnie,’ due later this year. Although the film has been set up as a tribute to Mrs. Mandela, she does not support the film and expressed her disdain in an interview with CNN because she was not consulted. Mandela has never seen the script; she has never even met Hudson. They have positioned the film as a love story between Nelson and Winnie Mandela during the apartheid struggle. Mandela has exclaimed, “I don’t know what would be romantic in our bitter struggle.” Mandela argues that the filmmakers have done exactly what the enemy did, “they thought for (me)…they (know) what I thought, what I felt like….” Powerful words.

Watch the interview below. Do you think the film is an act of disrespect?

10 CELEB TRACY MORGAN GOES INTO PR REHAB

Tracy Morgan had no choice but to go into damage control after saying anti-gay statements in a recent standup in Nashville, TN. Morgan will go with GLAAD to protest the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which outlaws the discussion of homosexuality before the ninth grade in public schools. Morgan recanted his offensive statements saying, “I was bullied when I was a kid. I’m sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean it. I never want to use my comedy to hurt anyone. My family knew what it was like to feel different. My brother was disabled and I lost my father to AIDS in 1987.” Morgan also plans to do a PSA. It seems like every other week a new celebrity has to go into PR rehab after saying an offensive anti-gay statement. Is this an unnecessary parade, or does this issue need to be publicly addressed?

The Prodigal Daughter

The Prodigal Daughter for Urban FaithAs Black movies go, Preacher’s Kid is a refreshing change of pace — a contemporary parable that presents a balanced portrayal of African American manhood and an authentic view of Black church life that confronts the stereotypes head-on. PLUS: Find out how to receive a FREE copy of the DVD.

The movie begins with a church scene — a pastor who can whoop, church mothers wearing elaborate hats, and a gospel choir that can sho’nuff saaang.

The lead character is the pastor’s daughter, a soloist in the church choir whose voice is soulfully angelic. Only problem is that the good girl likes devilish guys. So she spurns the good guy on the way to finding her dream love. Or so she thought.

Church girl meets bad boy, bad boy physically abuses church girl and church girl nearly loses her soul. Bad boy is, of course, handsome, muscular and dark complexioned. Church girl is, of course, pretty with “good hair” and light skin. And yes, there’s a heavyset Black man dressed as a “big momma” wearing a gray wig who, with left hand on his hip, dangles a gun in his right hand like a chicken leg.

It might sound like a typical Black film or play on the Chitlin’ Circuit, but Preacher’s Kid, written and directed by Hollywood actor and producer, Stan Foster, is actually a refreshing and even inspiring take on the genre.

Foster screened Preacher’s Kid last month at Regent University’s School of Communication and Arts in Virginia Beach. The movie stars LeToya Luckett (Angie), former member of the R&B group Destiny’s Child, and R&B artist Durrell “Tank” Babbs (Devlin).

Preacher’s Kid, which opened in theaters this past weekend, is about a 20-something church girl who grows bored with the routine of worship services and looking after her widowed father. Angie wants to explore the world and follow her dream to be a star, so she runs off and tours with a gospel play. Along the way, she gets severely burned by Devlin. Eventually she comes to her senses, gaining a greater appreciation for what she has at home. It’s the modern female version of the parable of the Prodigal Son.

As the Regent audience yelled, “Lord, don’t do it,” and “Girl, don’t believe him” at the screen, I watched Foster sitting in the front row. He was fixed on the screen, seemingly studying every frame.

“Every time I watch it, I’m thinking about what I could’ve done differently,” Foster told me afterward. “I’m wondering if the audience is catching some flaws.”

Only Foster saw the flaws. The audience loved the film.

Black films tend to follow stereotypical formulas. Foster, who began his unconventional career (he didn’t attend acting or film school) in the 1980s as an actor in the Emmy-winning CBS television drama Tour of Duty, aims to diversify the mix. Preacher’s Kid, actually criticizes the genre’s flaws. Foster consciously rejects stereotypes such as skin color, where, the lighter women are slim and more lady-like than their darker, heavier and sassier sisters. For example, he originally wrote the lead for darker complexioned R&B singers Fantasia Barrino and then fellow American Idol alum Jennifer Hudson, both of whom had to back out. This opened the way for Luckett’s first acting role. She is wonderful at playing a character that is authentic, like the sister who lives next door or your daughter.

As a Black husband and father, I often find it difficult to watch Black films because of the negative ways men are over portrayed — violent, irresponsible, lazy or absent. Preacher’s Kid enabled me to exhale. In the characters of Bishop King (Gregory Alan Williams), Wynton (Sharif Atkins), and Ike (Clifton Powell) there is a balance of well-rounded Black men who are like most of us in the real world — positive, though flawed. And, unlike typical Hollywood love stories, the hero is not the most handsome guy.

“I intentionally didn’t want a pretty boy to be my good guy,” Foster told me. “Instead, I wanted a guy with a pretty heart.”

Preacher’s Kid is a pretty good movie.

Preacher’s Kid is now available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

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The Preachers Kid DVD for Urban FaithWin a FREE Copy of Preacher’s Kid

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Post your responses until Monday, May 10. We’ll randomly select FIVE names from among those commenting and notify the winners the next day, Tuesday, May 11. The odds of winning depend on the number of comments we receive. Though you’re welcome to leave as many comments as you’d like, there’s a limit of one contest entry per commenter for the giveaway. Comments must be received by May 10 at 11:59 p.m. Central Time in order to qualify.

The retail value of the book is $27.95. No purchase is necessary to enter or win, and the giveaway is void where prohibited.

A Prodigal’s Song

A Prodigal's Song for Urban FaithAs Black movies go, Preacher’s Kid is a refreshing change of pace — a contemporary parable that presents a balanced portrayal of African American manhood and an authentic view of Black church life that confronts the stereotypes head-on.

The movie begins with a church scene — a pastor who can whoop, church mothers wearing elaborate hats, and a gospel choir that can sho’nuff saaang.

The lead character is the pastor’s daughter, a soloist in the church choir whose voice is soulfully angelic. Only problem is that the good girl likes devilish guys. So she spurns the good guy on the way to finding her dream love. Or so she thought.

Church girl meets bad boy, bad boy physically abuses church girl and church girl nearly loses her soul. Bad boy is, of course, handsome, muscular and dark complexioned. Church girl is, of course, pretty with “good hair” and light skin. And yes, there’s a heavyset Black man dressed as a “big momma” wearing a gray wig who, with left hand on his hip, dangles a gun in his right hand like a chicken leg.

It might sound like a typical Black film or play on the Chitlin’ Circuit, but Preacher’s Kid, written and directed by Hollywood actor and producer, Stan Foster, is actually a refreshing and even inspiring take on the genre.

Foster screened Preacher’s Kid last month at Regent University’s School of Communication and Arts in Virginia Beach. The movie stars LeToya Luckett (Angie), former member of the R&B group Destiny’s Child, and R&B artist Durrell “Tank” Babbs (Devlin).

Preacher’s Kid, which opened in theaters this past weekend, is about a 20-something church girl who grows bored with the routine of worship services and looking after her widowed father. Angie wants to explore the world and follow her dream to be a star, so she runs off and tours with a gospel play. Along the way, she gets severely burned by Devlin. Eventually she comes to her senses, gaining a greater appreciation for what she has at home. It’s the modern female version of the parable of the Prodigal Son.

As the Regent audience yelled, “Lord, don’t do it,” and “Girl, don’t believe him” at the screen, I watched Foster sitting in the front row. He was fixed on the screen, seemingly studying every frame.

“Every time I watch it, I’m thinking about what I could’ve done differently,” Foster told me afterward. “I’m wondering if the audience is catching some flaws.”

Only Foster saw the flaws. The audience loved the film.

Black films tend to follow stereotypical formulas. Foster, who began his unconventional career (he didn’t attend acting or film school) in the 1980s as an actor in the Emmy-winning CBS television drama Tour of Duty, aims to diversify the mix. Preacher’s Kid, actually criticizes the genre’s flaws. Foster consciously rejects stereotypes such as skin color, where, the lighter women are slim and more lady-like than their darker, heavier and sassier sisters. For example, he originally wrote the lead for darker complexioned R&B singers Fantasia Barrino and then fellow American Idol alum Jennifer Hudson, both of whom had to back out. This opened the way for Luckett’s first acting role. She is wonderful at playing a character that is authentic, like the sister who lives next door or your daughter.

As a Black husband and father, I often find it difficult to watch Black films because of the negative ways men are over portrayed — violent, irresponsible, lazy or absent. Preacher’s Kid enabled me to exhale. In the characters of Bishop King (Gregory Alan Williams), Wynton (Sharif Atkins), and Ike (Clifton Powell) there is a balance of well-rounded Black men who are like most of us in the real world — positive, though flawed. And, unlike typical Hollywood love stories, the hero is not the most handsome guy.

“I intentionally didn’t want a pretty boy to be my good guy,” Foster told me. “Instead, I wanted a guy with a pretty heart.”

Preacher’s Kid is a pretty good movie.

Preacher’s Kid is available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc starting May 4, 2010.

Who’s That Girl?

pop circumstance impaceIn a moment reminiscent of the funerals of Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy Jr., the world paused on Tuesday to mourn the loss of “the King of Pop,” Michael Jackson.

After the parade of stars crossed the stage at the memorial service, one big question lingered for millions of folks who watched — who was that unfamiliar Asian girl singing “Heal the World” like she was somebody we should know? Well, I’ve been grinning from ear to ear, because while the media’s been speculating over her identity, I instantly recognized her as the incredible vocalist Judith Hill, a fellow Biola University alumna.

Before we both graduated from Biola back in 2005, Judith’s powerhouse voice could be heard echoing off the walls of Crowell Hall at the Biola campus, while she studied under Dr. John Browning to get her degree in music composition. At Biola, she sang in an urban gospel group called Unveiled. I also remember Judith picking up gigs at local coffee shops and performing in events for Biola’s Conservatory of Music. She even appeared on a jazz CD for the school called Crossroads, where she sings the Doxology. And though Judith has been a Christian since she was young, her life has been marked by the challenges of finding her way socially given her biracial background — her mother is Japanese and father is Black. Her website reveals, “Depending on the social circle, she was labeled ‘too quiet,’ ‘too loud,’ ‘too black,’ ‘too Asian,’ or too something.” But the need to measure up to the world’s standards didn’t get her down for long. She goes on to say, “I had a pretty good life in my childhood. Me and God were friends since the beginning. That helped a lot.”

After college, Judith went off to France to sing background vocals for pop star Michel Polnareff. The tour opened her up to a host of experiences, enriching her life story and deepening the richness of her sound. After a brief hiatus from music to battle some personal demons of family issues and depression, this June she was back and stronger than ever, ready to join Michael Jackson on tour in London … that is until his fateful death.

Her strong appearance at the Michael Jackson Memorial has been praised by the industry and fans alike. Now Rolling Stone reports that Judith and her fellow members of the Michael Jackson “This Is It! Tour” will be a part of a tribute concert AEG is planning. Her mother Michiko Hill told Biola, “We didn’t expect this, but it seems like God put her there for a purpose — to bring hope,” she said. “We’re praying that the Lord will use her and she will be an ambassador for Christ through her music.”

Donald Gordon, a fellow Biola University alum who sang with Judith in Unveiled, says he isn’t surprised by her success. “Watching her sing at Michael Jackson’s funeral reminded me of singing with her in Biola’s chapel or at churches,” he told me. “Same Judith — no difference. I want people to know she’s just as passionate about her faith as she is about her music; it’s one and the same.”

Well, all I can say is Godspeed to you, Judith. Despite the sad circumstances, you stood as a shining light of talent and grace. In front of an audience of literally every recording-industry executive, musician, producer — not to mention much of America and the watching world via television — you held your own. And now millions are finding out about you and the fact that you serve an awesome God. Just keep the faith and remember your Biola friends when you blow up!

Want more of Judith Hill? Check out the performance below of her performing “One Love Forever” back in 2008.

15 Moments That Made Me Yell “Preach” During the MJ Memorial

The memorial, which dominated nearly every television station and monopolized the web and Twitterverse, was heavily religious in tone. While expressions of spirituality are not unusual for a funeral, given the vast audience of attendees and viewers, the messaging was shockingly Christian-centric.

Here are the top 15 moments from the memorial that made me want to scream, “You better preach!” at the television screen:

1. The entrance of Michael Jackson’s body as the Sandra Crouch-led choir sang the sharp lines of “We Are Going to See the King.” In a moment, the Staples Center was instantly transformed from the Lakers’ playground into a house of worship.

2. Pastor Lucious Smith’s opening speech that reminded us of Michael’s humanity. A close friend of the Jackson family, Smith said, “We remember this man by celebrating his life and all of the love that he brought to our own lives for half a century.”

3. Mariah closing out her oft-celebrated rendition of “I’ll Be There” (featuring Trey Lorenz) with a grateful “Thank you Jesus.” Her vocals aren’t what they used to be back in the day, but her faith might be stronger.

4. Queen Latifah’s recitation of Dr. Maya Angelou’s eulogy “We Had Him.” Angelou’s words always wrench the heart and stroke the soul. Yet again she left goosebumps on the packed crowd.

5. Lionel Richie taking a stadium full of people to church by singing Commodore’s classic “Jesus is Love.” The moving lyrics call on the name of the LORD saying, “And I know the Truth and His words will be our salvation. Lift up our hearts to be thankful and glad that Jesus is love.” (FYI — gospel favorite Smokie Norful and Heather Headley recently remade this song on Norful’s recent Live album).

6. Barry Gordy delivering the best tribute to Michael Jackson to date. The music legend recounted Motown memories to the crowd making us feel like we were all right there with Michael when he signed to the label at 10 years old.

7. Stevie Wonder saying “I do know that God is good” before singing a stirring medley of 1971’s “Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer” and 1974’s “They Won’t Go When I Go.” He’s just good, all day everyday.

8. Acting as the unofficial mayor of the Staple Center, Magic Johnson laughing over eating Kentucky Fried Chicken with Michael Jackson. After his KFC promo, he spoke directly to the family saying, “May God continue to bless this incredible family. We want to say that we’re praying for you. Remain strong.”

9. A very pregnant Jennifer Hudson commanding the stage with her powerful voice. Hudson was so good she made us momentarily forget about the controversy over her pregnancy. She brought the gospel into every note of Michael Jackson’s “Will You Be There.”

10. Reverend Al Sharpton honoring Michael’s ability to connect people around the world and push through boundaries with the power of his dream. In a moment that made the church say Amen — complete with a tambourine shaking in the background — Sharpton brought the crowd to its feet, saying, “I want his three children to know, wasn’t nothin’ strange about yo’ daddy. It was strange what yo’ daddy had to deal with.”

11. The children of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. empathizing with the Jackson family’s public loss, as only they could do. Martin Luther King III intoned his father, saying “The heavens must be proud of how Michael entertained the world. Then King’s daughter Bernice echoed the truth of Scripture, preaching, “My prayer is that no one and nothing, public or private, fact or fiction, true or rumored, will separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. […] It is only God’s love that will anchor you, sustain you, and move you to a higher ground above the noise of life.”

12. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas sharing the story of the Good Samaritan before an international audience. She said Michael Jackson called us all into public service with his record-breaking humanitarianism.

13. Smokey Robinson summing up our peace for today and hope for tomorrow. The Motown crooner said, “I believe so much in God. I believe that this is not it. We have life after this is done.”

14. Newcomer Judith Hill leading a stage full of children and celebrities in a performance of Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World.” Aside from our excitement over Hill being a strong Christian (and Biola University alumna!), the moment was fitting in that more than any other, it seemed to be exactly what Michael Jackson would have wanted.

15. Little Paris bursting into tears as she spoke about her father. The famous daughter touched the world’s heart and finally humanized Michael Jackson when she tearfully shared her feelings on her dad’s passing: “I just want to say, ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine. And I just want to say, I love him so much.”

It was a beautiful memorial, full of music, laughter, and fond farewells. Who knows what Michael Jackson’s spirituality was like at his death? But this celebration of his life certainly honored God. We are thankful for the blessing he was to the world of entertainment.