Thursday, October 1, 2009


When I went home to Sacramento that Christmas of my freshman year, I hooked up with Glenn Jordan, my close friend who had been president of Sac High the same year I served as president of Kennedy. Glenn had fought with me for Black studies back when we were seniors, and then gone off to Stanford. Naturally, we compared notes about our first months in college.

"Corn," said Glenn, "there's a man at Stanford who's changed everything for me. He's everything I want to be."

"Who is he?" I asked.

"St. Clair Drake. He's amazing. He's inspired me like no one else. He's a black intellectual conversant with any idea you can throw at him. At the same time, Corn, he's filled with humility. His fundamental aim is to connect the life of the mind to the struggle for freedom. He's grounded in the struggle for black freedom, but he's also a universalist who embraces all people. He's a professor. And that's what I intend to be. A professor."

At that moment, something clicked. Something turned. Something changed. I had entered Harvard pre-law, mainly on Mom's suggestion. But I really hadn't given it much thought. I hadn't really considered a major or, beyond that, a vocation. Until now. Now, in a moment that I can only call transformational, I was feeling the miraculous passion that professor St. Clair Drake had passed on to Glenn.

A teacher. A professor. Connecting the life of the mind to the struggle for freedom. That was it. That would be my life. And just as on that day in the winter of 1961 when, with Brother Cliff, I committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ, on this winter day of 1970 I committed to the vocation of teaching. From that time forward, I have never veered from either commitment.-pg. 59 of Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, A Memoir.

"C Street Scandal, the Media, the Future of the Family"

Interview with Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family that I had a post about yesterday, at Religion Dispatches

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud

Just came back from the first stop of the book tour for Dr. Cornel West's latest Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, A Memoir.

At the bookstore (said to be the largest one (by floor space) in the country - the Barnes and Nobles on 17th street in Union Square in Manhattan), he shared reflections on his life and answered questions and was, as usual, inspiring and passionate.

I, of course, had to get the book (autographed copy :)) Here's a passage from pg. 5:

But what does it mean to be a bluesman in the life of the mind? Like my fellow musicians, I've got to forge a unique style and voice that expresses my own quest for truth and love. That means following the quest wherever it leads and bearing whatever cost is required. I must break through isolated academic frameworks while, at the same time, I must build on the best of academic knowledge. I must fuel the fire of my soul so my intellectual blues can set others on fire. And most importantly. I must be a free spirit. I must unapologetically reveal my broken life as a thing of beauty.


For Ted, though, the battle boils down to evangelicals versus Islam. "My fear," he said, "is that my children will grow up in an Islamic state." That is why he believed spiritual war requires a virile, worldly counterpart. "I teach a strong ideology of the use of power," he said, "of military might as a public service." He was for preempive war, because he believed the Bible's exhortations against sin set us for us a preemptive paradigm, and he was for ferocious war, because "the Bible's bloody. There's a lot of blood."
-pg. 307 of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power by Jeff Sharlet.
Jeff Sharlet also the wrote the cover story of the May 2009 Harper's entitled "Jesus Killed Mohammed: The Crusade for a Christian Military."

Ted is Pastor Ted Haggard, founder of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Jeff Sharlet writes on pg. 294 that -
"He insisted he was an ordinary man, in an ordinary church, in an ordinary city. On the other hand, he also wanted me to know that he talked to George W. Bush in a conference call every Monday...At the time, Pastor Ted presided over the National Association of Evangelicals, whose 45,000 churches and 30 million believers make up the nation's most powerful religious lobbying group."
(I'm reading The Family for a writing seminar I'm taking at NYU themed around "the faith between us," the title of the book my professor co-authored. I've been really enjoying the class alhamdullilah. Now back to reading for tomorrow!)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

دعاء : اللهم اني عبدك

اللهم اني عبدك وابن عبدك ابن أمتك ناصيتي بيدك ماض فيّ حكمك عدل فيّ قضاؤك أسألك بكل اسم هو لك سمّيت به نفسك أو أنزلته في كتابك أو علّمته أحدا من خلقك أو استأثرت به علم الغيب عندك أن تجعل القرآن ربيع قلبي ونور صدري وجلاء حزني وذهاب همّي