Brad Pailsey and LLCool J’s ‘Accidental Racist’

A couple years ago country singer/songwriter (and phenomenal guitarist) Brad Paisley got together with rapper/actor LL Cool J and released a song “Accidental Racist” on Paisely’s album ‘Wheelhouse’ (Arista Nashville, 2013). Paisely drew a fair amount of criticism for the song, citing it was too meager a response to a subject as complex and substantial as race relations in the U.S. For my own part, I found the song to be a fabulous contribution. You have to start somewhere, and a country western singer teaming up with a rapper provides a venue to speak from that activists, preachers and politicians don’t enjoy. Thank you, James and Brad.

 

 “Accidental Racist”

(feat. Ll Cool J)

To the man that waited on me at the Starbucks down on Main, I hope you understand
When I put on that t-shirt, the only thing I meant to say is I’m a Skynyrd fan
The red flag on my chest somehow is like the elephant in the corner of the south
And I just walked him right in the room
Just a proud rebel son with an ‘ol can of worms
Lookin’ like I got a lot to learn but from my point of view

I’m just a white man comin’ to you from the southland
Tryin’ to understand what it’s like not to be
I’m proud of where I’m from, but not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn’t start this nation
We’re still pickin’ up the pieces, walkin’ on eggshells, fightin’ over yesterday
And caught between southern pride and southern blame

They called it Reconstruction, fixed the buildings, dried some tears
We’re still siftin’ through the rubble after a hundred-fifty years
I try to put myself in your shoes and that’s a good place to begin
But it ain’t like I can walk a mile in someone else’s skin

‘Cause I’m a white man livin’ in the southland
Just like you I’m more than what you see
I’m proud of where I’m from, but not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn’t start this nation

And we’re still paying for mistakes
That a bunch of folks made long before we came
And caught between southern pride and southern blame

(LL Cool J): Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood
What the world is really like when you’re livin’ in the hood
Just because my pants are saggin’ doesn’t mean I’m up to no good
You should try to get to know me, I really wish you would
Now my chains are gold but I’m still misunderstood
I wasn’t there when Sherman’s March turned the south into firewood
I want you to get paid but be a slave I never could
Feel like a new fangled Django, dodgin’ invisible white hoods
So when I see that white cowboy hat, I’m thinkin’ it’s not all good
I guess we’re both guilty of judgin’ the cover not the book
I’d love to buy you a beer, conversate and clear the air
But I see that red flag and I think you wish I wasn’t here

I’m just a white man
(If you don’t judge my do-rag)
Comin’ to you from the southland
(I won’t judge your red flag)
Tryin’ to understand what it’s like not to be

I’m proud of where I’m from
(If you don’t judge my gold chains)
But not everything we’ve done
(I’ll forget the iron chains)
it ain’t like you and me can re-write history
(Can’t re-write history baby)

Oh, Dixieland
(The relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixin’)
I hope you understand what this is all about
(Quite frankly I’m a black Yankee but I’ve been thinkin’ about this lately)
I’m a son of the new south
(The past is the past, you feel me)
And I just want to make things right
(Let bygones be bygones)
Where all that’s left is southern pride
(RIP Robert E. Lee but I’ve gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean)
It’s real, it’s real
It’s truth

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Is the rapture a biblical idea?

Last week was a week of deer hunting with my kids. What a great week. In the meantime, standout Nazarene preacher and President of Trevecca Nazarene University (Nashville, TN) Dan Boone did a nice write-up concerning the idea of “the rapture.” This is a great little post. The only thing is, Dan constantly says he’s in the minority view. The thing to note is, the “minority” happens to be virtually everyone who is actually paid to study the New Testament. I’ll stick with the minority! I remember about ten years ago when I slowly discovered a better story in the Scriptures than what the “left behind” American version had taught me growing up, and what a radical, wonderful, joyful story the Bible’s story became, instead of the disheartening, dreadful one so commonly believed by American evangelicals. A friend of mine and I were talking and we agreed it literally changed our lives, and our understanding of the Gospel, in incredibly wonderful ways. Another friend of mine this weekend said “I am more hopeful these days” because of this re-discovered storyline the Bible tells. Thanks Dan. Here’s the link

http://www.danboone.me/left-behind-rapture-biblical/

I love America

Last night I was sitting in a football stadium overlooking a trillion colors of leaves on the first ridge of the Appalachian mountains just beyond the stadium, where the high school football teams from two little, next to one another, towns in rural Pennsylvania were playing the most important game of the year; The LBJ – the Little Brown Jug – an ultimate, yearly, rivals contest to win the old ceramic whiskey jug. The place was electric, the crowds at capacity, a total uproar, with towns small enough it felt like you knew everyone in the stands.

This morning I stood in a warm kitchen with my sons layering up in our hunting clothes, jumped in our pickup truck where we drove 3 miles to the Blue Ridge Mountains to publicly owned land where it was perfectly legal for us to climb the mountain with our perfectly legally owned high power rifles to perfectly legally hunt wild deer.  (All things very much more difficult to do in most of the world). What a day looking over what the mast crop means this year, how much sign was on the ground, what sassafras is and tastes like, how to tell if the deer have been browsing an area, what the squirrels were eating this time of the season. The excitement of the running shot our youngest son took at a good doe that came through a zillion miles per hour was simply icing.

And this afternoon I just returned from that same football stadium after dropping that son off for a pre-game practice where we will soon watch him play (three leagues the younger) the little little little Little Brown Jug. I crossed the rolling farm country hills of the Cumberland Valley in between the mountains; corn crops being harvested, dairy herds moving together toward the milking barns, 150 year old barns and farm houses everywhere, October clouds racing across the sky and over the mountains.

When people were imaging a life of abundance and freedom in America 250 years ago and more, it sure seems to me the life we have here in these little towns is sure that. The people I live among here think this is the greatest place ever. The crowd I run with theologically more often has a dis-appreciation for America and its place in the world, and the injustices that still occur in this land.

But, I, on this perfect Fall day in between the mountains of Pennsylvania, perhaps made bitter sweet by the prospect of leaving the U.S. for a career change, I love America. And when we stand for the National Anthem tonight, my heart will be full of many thanks.

This is Classic NT Wright !

If you have any doubt that some major theological themes need reworking in our time, read NT Wright’s Justification. It’s an incredibly enjoyable read, and well done. Here’s a classic bit of his writing:

“The theological equivalent of supposing that the sun goes round the earth is the belief that the whole of Christian truth is all about me and my salvation…. That the central question is, ‘What must I do to be saved?’

Now do not misunderstand me. Hold the angry or fearful reaction. Salvation is hugely important. Of course it is!  Knowing God for oneself, as opposed to merely knowing or thinking about him, is at the heart of Christian living. Discovering that God is gracious, rather than a distant bureaucrat or a dangerous tyrant, is the good news that constantly surprises and refreshes u. But we are not the center of the universe. God is not circling around us. We are circling around him. It may look, from our point of view, as though ‘me and my salvation’ are the be-all and end-all of Christianity. Sadly many people – many devout Christians! – have preached that way and lived that way…. It goes back to the high Middle Ages in the Western church… But a full reading of Scripture itself tells a different story.

God made humans for a purpose: not simply for themselves, not simply so that they could be in relationship with him, but so that through them, as his image-bearers, he could bring his wise, glad, fruitful order to the world.  And the closing scenes of Scripture, in the book of Revelation, are not about human beings going off to heaven to be in a close and intimate relationship with God, but about heaven coming to earth. The intimate relationship with God which is indeed promised and celebrated in that great scene of the New Jerusalem issues at once in an outflowing, a further healing activity, the river of the water of life flowing out from the city and the tree of life springing up, with leaves that are for the healing of the nations.

….we are in orbit around God and his purposes, not the other way around. If the Reformation tradition had treated the Gospels as equally important to the Epistles, this mistake might never have happened.”

– Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Vision (2009; InterVarsity Press) p. 23-24

A humorous description of emergent Christians, part Two

I’ve been tied up for the last three weeks, rushing to meet a publisher’s deadline for a book I wrote on postmodern Christian faith. So, three weeks ago I said I’d post the second half to a humorous, but mostly accurate, description of “You might be emergent if…”  It’s from Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck’s Why We’re Not Emergent (Moody, 2008). I have already said in other places that their book is my favorite anti-Emergent book, written without aggressive name-calling. My conclusions are different than theirs, because we come from different branches of theology on the family tree. But this description is classic. I put up the first part in my previous post, here’s the second half:

You might be emergent if…

“…if you grew up in a very conservative Christian home that in retrospect seems legalistic, naïve, and rigid; if you support women in all levels of ministry, prioritize urban over suburban, and like your theology narrative instead of systematic; if you disbelieve in any sacred-secular divide; if you want to be a church and not just go to church; if you long for a community that is relational, tribal, and primal like a river or a garden; if you believe doctrine gets in the way of an interactive relationship with Jesus; if you believe who goes to hell is no one’s business and no one may be there anyway; if you believe salvation has little to do with atoning for guilt and a lot to do with bringing the whole creation back into shalom with its Maker; if you believe following Jesus is not believing the right things but living the right way; if it really bugs you when people talk about going to heaven instead of heaven coming to us; if you disdain monological, didactic preaching; if you use the word “story” in all your propositions about postmodernism – if all or most of this tortuously long sentence describes you, then you might be an emergent Christian.”

Priceless.