Happy 41st Birthday to Tunicker M. Jones

Tunicker M. Jones

(Photo Courtesy of Tunicker M. Jones)

After years of her being envious of my best friend, Dr. Santresa L. Glass, I reluctantly decided to write a brief piece to wish Tunicker M. Jones a Happy 41st Birthday! Each year, I compose a piece, an ode to Dr. Glass on her birthday. Jones has desired the same, with me denying her request each year. She has the privilege of being my sister, which, of course, is the greatest fact of her life, of her existence.

Ms. Tunicker M. Jones earned her undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice at Troy University in Troy, Alabama and her master’s degree in Special Education at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. As a certified educator, Jones has over 10 years of professional experience teaching middle grades regular and special education students.

The passion Jones has for ensuring special needs students receive a quality education is commendable. She’s truly committed to helping every child, including our most vulnerable, to be prepared for the future and to experience success.

As I reflect on the vital and challenging work you do each day, I guess you deserve a little recognition on your birthday. Savor this piece, as it’s likely to never happen again.

Although the most important national and international holiday is on March 27th, which, of course, is my birthday, I’ll let you have today.

Happy Birthday!

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Why They Killed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Brief Note

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Death

(Photo Credit: Heavy)

When one carefully studies the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it becomes evident that racists desirous of his death targeted his voice, literally. Various attacks on his body were intentionally centered on his mouth. Even on the dreadful day of his execrable assassination, April 4, 1968, it was a bullet that shattered his jaw. It wasn’t only King’s life that bothered racists, the racial caste system, Jim Crow, and white supremacy, but it was also his voice, that powerful, that revolutionary, that eloquent, that authentically black voice they wanted to silence and bury forever.

Immutable, inextinguishable, fueled by an enduring, unconditional love, King’s voice incessantly and resoundingly speaks from the grave.

Find your voice. Allow no one to silence and bury it.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Travis Greene’s and Chrisette Michele’s Trump Inauguration Decisions: Victims of Misplaced Anger

Travis Greene and Chrisette Michele Perform at 2017 Presidential Inauguration

(Photo Credit: The Washington Post)

A decision to perform yesterday, January 20, 2017, at President Donald J. Trump’s Presidential Inauguration doesn’t constitute an endorsement. Although the thought of a Trump presidency is difficult for most on the Left to fathom, and unsettling for some on the Right, accepting an invitation to perform on Inauguration Day has never historically been viewed as a political act—certainly not an overt political act. Those who have had the distinct privilege to present their talent on this day do it not simply for the new president, but also the nation and world. Travis Greene, nominated in 2016 for a Grammy award for the gospel hit single “Intentional,” exhibited his great talent at one of Trump’s inaugural balls. He, lamentably, received crass attacks from many acrimonious black folks for his decision to sing at this event. Given that Greene prefaced his decision by expressing he seriously contemplated how Jesus would respond to this invitation, it’s reasonable to deduce that the artist isn’t a Trump supporter. For Greene, singing at the inaugural ball presents a prodigious opportunity to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Travis Greene, in a joint performance with Chrisette Michele, who was also viciously lambasted for her decision to sing at Trump’s inaugural event, ministered in song with high-energy and brilliance. Regrettably, for Chrisette Michele, Spike Lee upbraided her for choosing to perform at the event: he discontinued considering her music for his upcoming soundtrack to the Netflix television series adaptation of his 1986 film She’s Gotta Have It. Michele revealed how “heartbroken” she is by the numerous harsh, disparaging responses to her decision.

Both Greene and Michele are young national recording artists. Situated in a postmodern, late capitalist society, both artists must constantly seek imaginative ways to market themselves and their music. What better way to market their music and increase their reach than at a presidential inauguration while the world is watching? If most—if not all—of their disingenuous critics would have been in their situations and had an opportunity for a global audience to witness their talent, they wouldn’t have experienced a moment of reticence; they would’ve seized the extraordinary moment, the remarkable opportunity. Greene and Michele did. They deserve laudatory remarks—not childish invective.

For those believing President Trump is an evil man with nefarious intentions for blacks and other minorities, Greene’s desire to inoculate the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the inaugural ball would seem to be a ray of hope in a dark place. The Gospel calls all of us to seek peace, justice, and love. Wouldn’t this inaugural event be a fine place to proffer a message of peace, justice, and love? A Christian truly following the example of Christ has no problem meeting with and performing for a president he or she disagrees with on many issues.

These unfounded, precarious, censoriously abusive attacks on Greene and Michele exemplify misplaced anger. If one has a problem with Trump, then let Trump truly be the focus of his or her scorn—not two young black national recording artists elated to have enough talent and acclaim to sing for the president, the nation, and the world. As Bernice King, the daughter of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., posited at the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Commemorative Service held at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, “We still have to find a way to create…the beloved community,” the beloved community her father passionately championed until his odious assassination. Adopting a policy, a strategy of estrangement toward Trump will prove immature and ineffective.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Why Don’t We Complain?” by William F. Buckley, Jr.: A Brief Analysis

"Why Don't We Complain" William F. Buckley, Jr.

(Photo Credit: National Review)

In “Why Don’t We Complain?,” William F. Buckley, Jr. (1961), arguably the most influential modern conservative intellectual, proffers a clarion call to seize the power of purposive complaining. Too often, unfortunately, Buckley contends, people permit their milquetoast proclivities to render them silent, consigning them to toxic, vexing helplessness. For Buckley, this helplessness results in an increasing eroding of individual rights, abdicating these rights to government. No Luddite, disconsolate about technological change and innovation, the conservative intellectual links this helplessness to unhealthy technological dependency and burgeoning centralized economic and political power.

Writing in 1961, the latter part of the Civil Rights Movement, one may find the author’s frustration with many Americans’ reticence, their unwillingness to muster the courage to raise objections about matters ranging from the inconsequential to the consequential puzzling, especially given the tremendous social unrest and protest of the aforementioned period. Ostensibly, Buckley still sees, at the time of the essay, a general reluctance to expressing sentiments openly, especially vociferously, that may offend someone, permeating the nation.

The piece communicates that many would rather remain uncomfortable than frankly address the root(s) of the discomfort. He uses an example of everyone on a train experiencing agonizing heat, but no one on the train possessing the courage necessary to ask the train conductor to turn off the heater or modify its temperature.

Buckley explains that those willing to complain, to voice their opinions freely often discover their candor distresses many or most. Purposive complaining, therefore, can generate opposition, even acrimonious opposition.

While the intellectual understands not protesting uncontrollable phenomena, he exposes people who fail to address the controllable.

When only a limited number of individuals express themselves, those voices can become the dominant voices, which Buckley identifies as a grave threat to our democracy.

Although many, especially the heedlessly pious, eschew dissent, America thrives when she values it. Buckley leaves us with a dystopian vision of what can occur in a nation full of people apprehensive about dissent: “When our voices are finally mute, when we have finally suppressed the natural instinct to complain, whether the vexation is trivial or grave, we shall have become automatons, incapable of feeling.”

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Church Attendance Matters—Don’t Get It Twisted

Black Women in Church

(Photo Credit: Religion and Politics)

In “20 Lessons I’ve Learned Since Leaving The Church,” Makiah Green offers 20 “lessons” she has learned about church attendance since leaving her church. Green writes, “I never imagined that I could exist outside the Church I once held so dear. But due to the routine state-sanctioned violence that is being inflicted on my people, and the inadequate response from the church (among other things), I have decided to remove myself entirely from a system that claims to value my soul, but fails to show up for my Black body.” While I have (and continue to) passionately critiqued (see 5 Reasons Why Many Black Churches Are Failing) many churches, especially many black churches, for their various failings, bible-based Christians are required to be spiritually and theologically sound in their praxis—not just with their social and political practices and ideologies.

While I agree with some of Green’s “lessons,” much of what she asserts lacks substantive grounding in biblical truths and doctrines. For the sake of time and space, I will address two statements unsubstantiated by proper biblical context and exegesis.

A Hasty, Sweeping Generalization: “These pastors ain’t loyal.” Really?

Before I address the dearth of accurate biblical context and exegesis in the selected statements, it’s vital to highlight one of the glaring fallacies, a hasty, sweeping generalization, in her article: “These pastors ain’t loyal.” Although proffering such a position allows for one to add some hip flavor to the piece, evoking Chris Brown’s “Loyal,” which is problematic for several reasons in itself, painting all pastors with a careless broad brush is toxic, faulty argumentation and unbecoming of a serious “writer” and “revolutionary,” as Makiah Green identifies herself.

Another Hasty, Sweeping Generalization: “White evangelicals (and the Black evangelicals spouting the same white, patriarchal values) are modern manifestations of neocolonialism.” Really?

When she posits that “white evangelicals (and the Black evangelicals spouting the same white, patriarchal values) are modern manifestations of neocolonialism,” the author, again, makes a hasty, sweeping generalization, abandoning the intellectual necessity of pinpointing nuances and variances in this population of believers.

Another Hasty Generalization: “I don’t need a church home in order to facilitate a relationship with God.” Really?

Green, as well as too many professing believers, unfortunately, claim the following: “I don’t need a church home in order to facilitate a relationship with God.” Hebrews 10:25 reads, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” The context of this verse is meeting in a church or synagogue—not in one’s home, not streaming live, not gathering with a group of saved friends in one’s home. In the aforementioned verse, God issues a command to attend church regularly. He wants us dependent on one another, and in his infinite wisdom, He demonstrates how essential church or synagogue is in facilitating such dependency and “exhortations.” God intends, through our interactions with fellow believers at church, to supply the encouragement and persuasion on various issues each believer needs.

Church-based Teaching and Christ-centered Fellowship

Also, Acts 2:42, penned with attending church regularly as a context, says, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” From this verse, one finds that God desires for an immense amount of one’s learning about the Word of God to come from teaching done inside of a church or synagogue, and that He mandates us to partake in the “fellowship” with one another and Him in which we were called when we first received salvation. Christ has created us as one body, for which there is no life and fellowship with Him outside of this one body: “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ” (I Corinthians 12:12).

The Church in the Believer-Messiah Relationship & the Significance of the Preacher

The Apostle Paul delivers this line of rhetorical inquiry: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14). Here, Paul responds to the importance of receiving from God in church and through His messenger, “a preacher.” Moreover, Romans 10:17 informs us that “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Again, in the context of church activity, “faith,” necessary for the Christian life, “cometh” by “hearing” the preached Word of God. The foundation one needs in the Word of God, therefore, emerges in the church setting—not in one’s home, not simply in one’s private bible study.

“As a Black woman, I have the power and autonomy to make my own decisions.” More biblical precision is needed, though.

Although Ms. Green is accurate in part about “As a Black woman, I have the power and autonomy to make my own decisions,” she overlooks the more vital death of self that takes place as part of the new birth in Christ. Yes, God has given us free will; however, our will is to be dominated by His will as we yield our mind, mouth, and ways to Him (Philippians 2:5; Philippians 2:13). When she contends that “I have decided to remove myself entirely from a system that claims to value my soul, but fails to show up for my Black body,” this constitutes a “falling away from grace,” a grace for which she claims to be enthused about receiving (Galatians 5:4). For Galatians 2:14 proclaims, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” A believer must remain “established in God’s righteousness” and not a righteousness based on his or her own self-effort, self-performance (Isaiah 54:14).

Conclusion

In short, in as much as I strongly agree with Makiah Green’s frustrations with how many churches aren’t mobilizing to fight “the routine state-sanctioned violence that is being inflicted on my people [black people],” she has capitulated to a flawed spirituality and troubling theology. Wouldn’t it be better for a “revolutionary” to seek the change in her local church from within—instead of simply avoiding and disengaging with it? How about joining a church where black liberation theology is employed?

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Denver Broncos Need a Quarterback and an Offensive Line

Denver Broncos Trevor Siemian

(Photo Credit: The Denver Post)

Without substantial changes on the offensive line and at quarterback, the Denver Broncos will swiftly become a mediocre team. Compared to the team’s Super Bowl-winning performance last season, this season has been mediocre at best. Yes, since 2015 Denver’s defense has led the NFL in every significant statistical category; it’s the best defense in football. Unfortunately, the dearth of offensive production and efficiency resulted in a rather frustrating season, especially for Broncos’ fans. At this rate, John Elway might as well hire Tim Tebow to become the new starting quarterback and the Alabama Crimson Tide’s entire offensive line. Although the previous sentence proffered to elicit humor is absurd in many ways, it underscores the fact that John Elway must make moves that will produce better seasons in the future than this one.

After last night’s complete spanking delivered by the Kansas City Chiefs and last week’s 16 -3 loss to the New England Patriots, the Broncos demonstrated that they weren’t true Super Bowl contenders, even with an elite, record-setting defense.

How can a team possess an elite, record-setting defense and not be authentic Super Bowl contenders? Enter Trevor Siemian and the Denver offensive line. While many point to Siemian’s numbers not being too shabby, his current performance will never position the Broncos as real AFC and Super Bowl contenders.

Siemian could have performed much better had he been able to benefit from a quality offensive line, however. Let’s face it: Denver’s offensive line is horrible, and this atrocious offensive line is the single most important reason why the team had an average season, one where it will watch teams like the Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders play in the playoffs. Sitting at home on the couch watching these teams play should unsettle Denver and the team’s executive leadership.

Having said all of this, it’s not time for a massive panic in Denver. The team has an outstanding defense and some excellent skill players. What’s needed to win a Super Bowl is present, except on the offensive line and at quarterback. Make some quick and effective hires and trades and return to winning, Mr. Elway.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison

The TouchPoint: Connecting with God through the Bible: A Short Review

The TouchPoint Bob Santos

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

In The TouchPoint: Connecting with God through the Bible, Bob Santos offers an understanding of how a close engagement with the bible allows the Believer to experience authentic encounters with God. The author explains that a serious commitment to the Word of God will cure hardened hearts. Also, Santos gives the reader a fundamental overview of the bible. This work strives to make the bible clearer for all readers. In fact, the author devotes an entire chapter, “Understanding the Bible,” to aiding Believers in gaining deeper revelations about God’s Word.

Too many pastors and preachers lack a real knowledge of the Word of God. Instead of making strong investments in receiving proper knowledge about it, they harmfully substitute biblical truths with their own, subjective advice. Living in this evil and dangerous world, one cannot afford to miss constant encounters with God available through reading, studying, and mediating on the Word of God.

Without question, I highly recommend this book. The TouchPoint: Connecting with God through the Bible promises to buttress one’s relationship with God. Contrary to many apostolic and pentecostal churches’ teachings, a God-encounter emerges from reading, studying, and mediating on the Word of God and not from simply shouting, dancing, and speaking in tongues.

In exchange for a fair assessment, Book Crash supplied me with a copy of this book to pen this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison