God

The Revolutionary Paideia November 2010 Person of the Month: Bishop Paul L. Fortson

Each month, Revolutionary Paideia selects a person who embodies the “unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing” spirit that founded this blog. The choice this month was too simple. When you think about the month of November as a time to reflect on who and what you have to be thankful for, one of the most important people who I have to be thankful for is my pastor, Bishop Paul L. Fortson. This man is the epitome of what a holy and righteous man of  God is and should be. His love for helping hurting people “unsettles, unnerves, and unhouses” us and lets us know that it is not about our own selfish interests, but it’s about a spirit of compassion for loving and giving to others. In a time when we have questions about the salvation and leadership of certain clergymen, Bishop Fortson is one man we don’t have any questions about. His leadership is simply impeccable. At some churches, the preachers don’t have time to talk to you and even pray for you personally. Bishop Fortson always takes time to pray for you and talk to you.

While many saved and unsaved people criticize preachers about always wanting money, Bishop Fortson is not interested in getting your money. He is interested in how to get you into Heaven and into showing you how you can live a victorious and prosperous life in this present world. Soul winning is Bishop’s top priority—not money! This is why the Lord has blessed him so richly and thoroughly.

I very much appreciate Bishop’s prayers and love. Even while I’m about 15 hours away from him, he’s always praying for me. I appreciate that so deeply. Some preachers are “so deep” that you cannot talk to them, but this is not true about Bishop. He’s a person you can talk to like anyone else. He’s going to tell you what the bible says and what God spoke to him about your life, so don’t get mad when he tells you just like it is. When he tells you just like it is, he does it with love. You should appreciate his candor. We have enough preachers today who are not transparent, but we can be thankful that Bishop Paul L. Fortson is one preacher who is not going to hide anything from you.

This man of God has fed the homeless and given them shelter. We need more selfless people like him in the world. We also need more selfless preachers like him.

When it comes to how he teaches and preaches, he is going to tell you what God said without sugarcoating it. He teaches the bible in a way that adds nothing to it and takes nothing from it.

I could really go on and on about this great man of God, but time and space will not allow me. One day, I’m going to write a book about Bishop Fortson so that it will be a blessing to his members and to the world. The world needs to hear about and learn from this great man of God.

I encourage you to visit Bishop Paul L. Fortson and his lovely wife, Evangelist Carolyn C. Fortson, at Paradise Church of God in Christ at 4234 Hendrix Drive in Forest Park, Georgia. You can email me at antoniomdaniels@gmail.com for information about times and days of church services, and/or you can leave a comment on this blog for more information about church services and directions.

Again, it is with great pleasure that I name Bishop Paul L. Fortson as The Revolutionary Paideia November 2010 Person of the Month. Bishop, thank you for your love, service, commitment, leadership, and example. Revolutionary Paideia highly endorses Bishop Paul L. Fortson. God bless Bishop Paul L. Fortson, Evangelist Carolyn C. Fortson, and family!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Even If You Have to Lose Everything Don’t Surrender Your Principle

In the end, we will all be judged by not only what we have said, but also by the deeds that have been done in our bodies. Even though doing the right thing may be costly sometimes, it’s still worth the cost. It’s always worth the cost to defend and maintain your principle. On the Day of Judgment, God will honor those who have withstood the tests of their principle. I just thought that I would encourage somebody today who might be thinking that it’s not worth it to keep defending and maintaining his or her principle, but I want you to know that the Devil wants you to give up on what makes you purposeful, wholesome, and unique. Embrace your difference. Difference is essential!

Although everyone around you might be giving up his or her principle to get temporary gains, don’t give up your principle for these temporary gains. When those temporary gains seem so attractive, remember that they are just that—temporary! If you are a principled person, you will not leave your principle at home. If you are a principled person, you will not let people fool you into relinquishing your principle. Your principle should always guide you to do the right thing, even when other people are telling you that it’s okay to surrender your principle just for one time.

Even when times are going rough, don’t be weary about the conditions you are facing. God will reward you for being principled, and He will bring you out of the difficult circumstances you are experiencing. For those who are principled people, God did not give you anything to lose, but all to gain. Don’t get so caught up into things and moments that you forget about the principle that has enabled you to get to where you are today.

If you have allowed yourself to give up your principle for someone and/or something that you did not give your best thought to, you don’t have to wallow in your own pity—just ask God forgiveness and get your principle back. Stay committed to your principle. You will certainly lose respect in God’s eye when you constantly vacillate on your principle. Be willing to lose everything for your principle to gain it all in the end!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Pain of Knowing You Did the Wrong Thing

Did the Wrong Thing

When you know that you have done the wrong thing to someone, you should ask for God’s forgiveness and should ask the person for forgiveness. God will forgive you. The person may forgive you too. You should ask the person for forgiveness in person to allow him or her to see that it is a genuine request for forgiveness—if this is at all possible. People will respect you more when you just come out and genuinely apologize for the things that you have done wrong. Don’t try to make excuses for what you have done wrong—just apologize. When you try to make excuses for what you have done wrong or try to engage in a debate about whether or not what you did was really wrong, then you cause even more pain for your victim or victims and run the risk of never getting forgiveness from that person.

Although some people may never forgive you, you should try your best to get their forgiveness because you are the person who caused the pain in the first place. The one thing that you can do in the future to prevent causing people pain is to simply not strive to intentionally hurt people. When you have developed a reputation for being compassionate, then the times where you unintentionally hurt people will be less of a problem because people will automatically excuse you because your compassionate reputation precedes you.

One thing that makes me angry about people who intentionally hurt others is when they try to cover up the hurt that they have caused. When they attempt to make it appear like they had nothing to do with the hurt that they caused, this represents the essence of cowardice. I have a difficult time not going wild on someone who knows that he or she has intentionally inflicted pain on me, but comes around me acting like everything is okay—like nothing has happened.

Let’s be better people and not intentionally hurt people. If we would not intentionally hurt people, we would not have to carry with us the pain of knowing that we have done the wrong thing to somebody, and what a pain that is.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Keep Chopping

When the storms of life are raging, don’t let them take you out! As Bishop Paul L. Fortson once said, “Down but not counted out!” In life, you are going to face some tough battles and some unfortunate hardships, but you are going to have to learn to deal with them and not let them get the best you. You are greater than your biggest challenge and greater than your biggest problem. What resides inside of you allows you to take on the world and come out on top, so reach inside of yourself and grab your victory! Throughout my life, I have experienced many great challenges and problems, and some would have taken out most people, but I never allowed those challenges and problems to terminate who I am and my life. When things don’t go the way that you want them, keep chopping. By keep chopping, I mean keep moving, keep trying, don’t give up, don’t quit, stay focused on your goals, never give in, and don’t flinch in the face of your challenges and problems.

When people tell you that you will never be anything, or that you will never be successful, I want you to know that this is the voice of the Enemy—he does not want you to win! Defeat the Enemy with your words and actions. Many of the challenges and problems you will face will call upon you to have someone greater in your life than any human being: God. You cannot live without God. A man or woman without God is a miserable creature. If you have doubts about the existence of God, you will have plenty of time in Hell to focus on the reality of his existence.

Too many people let the Enemy fool them and cause them to give up on their passions, dreams, talents, and aspirations. Never let yourself resort to suicide as an answer to your problems. Suicide is the easy way out of your problems. Have greater faith in yourself and God to help you to overcome your problems.

I know that we are experiencing some vexing economic times, but this is not the time to give up. If you cannot find a job or no one wants to hire you, start your own business. Many people are sitting on millions of dollars by not starting their own businesses.

I don’t want to hear about how troubling of a life you have had—get off your butt and die trying to change your situation. Any person can complain and moan about being handed a terrible hand in life, but those who are willing to be courageous and fighters are willing to go out and see what they can do to change the hand they have been given.

Although I have been quite successful, my life has not been easy. Once you become successful, life will still be difficult. I do want you to know that no matter what you face you must keep chopping! God bless you all!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Toward A New Christian Approach

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Last week on Facebook, I engaged in a prolonged discussion with a young White male student who attends University of Wisconsin-Madison on the subject of Christianity. We had a passionate discussion about the existence of God and the usefulness of the bible. I am a devout and unapologetic Christian and he is an atheist. During our discussion, the guy tried to undermine the usefulness of the bible and the existence of God by selecting random scriptures and making interpretations about those scriptures that were totally out of context. During that discussion, an epiphany that I had when I was at the University of Arkansas in 2004 resurfaced: Do not wear yourself out with trying to convince people who do not believe in God that he is real and that the bible is right. While I have had some pretty sophisticated discourses with atheists in the past at Albany State University, Emory University, University of Oklahoma, University of Texas, University of Toronto, Harvard University, and the University of Arkansas, this discussion with this young first-year student at University of Wisconsin-Madison revealed to me that I was talking to a fool. You should never consume too much of your time arguing with fools because they are more skilled than you are with doing what they do best: engage in foolishness. The purpose of this article is to offer Christians a new approach to responding to non-believers who want to challenge the bible and the existence of God.

Instead of trying to defend the existence of God and what the bible says to non-believers who attempt to undermine both, change the discourse into a discourse that forces them to prove evolution or that there is not a God. As Christians, we often waste a significant amount of our time trying to make people think that God exists and that the bible is right. If people are not willing to hear you out about the existence of God and about your explanation of biblical scriptures, then devote your time and attention to someone else or something else. If people want to go to Hell, please learn to just pray for them, but you have to ultimately be willing to just let them go to Hell. Salvation is a personal choice; therefore, people have to make up in their own minds to get it. Some Christians will get all angry with people who challenge them about the existence of God and problems they have with what scriptures say. Again, I have to let you know that you should not be getting angry over people like this. Just let them go to Hell! Hell was created for a purpose. God already knew that some people were not going to make the decision to love and acknowledge him. Hell was created for those people who elect not to acknowledge, love, and serve God.

When I challenged the University of Wisconsin-Madison atheist student about proving to me that evolution is real and to disprove the existence of God, he started to get all angry and called me “the typical Christian.” I would like to inform this young White man that “the typical Christian” is not like me. The typical Christian is not willing to take the kinds of risks I do, he or she is not willing to break with tradition as I am, and he or she is not willing to have discourses about the topics that I do, so I’m not “the typical Christian.” I would love to see a day when more Christians are more challenging, bigger risk takers, and willing to break with tradition more. Fortunately, I cannot be accurately called “the typical Christian.” If you do not believe me, just read the articles on my blog and you will see that I am not “the typical Christian” and do not want to be.

I want Christians to put more of the burden on non-believers to justify why they believe what they believe. The burden has always been put on the believers to justify why we believe what we believe. It is time for us to change this reality. People think Christians, especially many professors in academia, are simple and unsophisticated thinkers just because we believe in what the bible says and because we believe in the existence of God. It is time for Christians to start to challenge this position. I contend that it is highly unsophisticated to believe in nothing. It does not take much intellectual thought to believe in nothing. For me, it’s simple and unsophisticated to believe in nothing. I am not saying that all atheists do not believe in nothing, but I am saying that some of them do believe in nothing. Christians need to rise up and challenge the belief in nothing that seems to consume so many non-believers.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Queer Contradictions of the Black Church

Black Church

Although I am a strong supporter of the Black Church, it is important to think about and discuss some of the most vexing contradictions of it. First, I want to make it clear that I am a Christian, a member of the Black Church, a member of Paradise Church of God in Christ in Forest Park, Georgia, heterosexual, and an African-American. I love the Black Church, especially my church, Paradise Church of God in Christ in Forest Park, Georgia. I love my pastor, Bishop Paul L. Fortson, and my first lady, Evangelist Carolyn C. Fortson. Let’s be clear—this article is not about the church that I attend and my Pastor and First Lady.  This article has a larger purpose: to critique the contradictions in the way the Black Church treats homosexuality.

In the Black Church, especially in the Church of God in Christ, I often hear about how God despises homosexuality and I agree with this position because it is very much supported by Scriptures. My problem with how homosexuality is discussed in the Black Church, especially in the Church of God in Christ, is that it often comes off as being very hateful and/or insensitive. You can tell people that they need to change their ways without being so exploitative in the way in which you refer to them. For example, I have often heard in sermons in the Church of God in Christ homosexuals being referred to as “sissies,” “faggots,” and “dikes.” Now, this use of language is unnecessary to inform your audience that homosexuality is not supported by the Scriptures. This use of language seems to be tremendously mean-spirited. The role of the preacher and Church is to help to drive people to Christ—not to run them away. It seems that this use of language emerges from laziness and the failure of Black preachers in the Black Church to employ effective persuasion to change people’s homosexual ways, so they use a simplistic strategy: name-calling. Name-calling is for children—preachers are supposed to be adults, so act like it.

In Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism, Cornel West (2004) writes, “For Emerson, to be a democratic individual is to speak out on uncomfortable truths; to be an active player in public discourse is to be thrown into life’s contingency and fragility with the heavy baggage of history and tradition, baggage like the American legacies of race and empire” (p. 74). As a person with a commitment to Socratic inquiry and bearing prophetic witness to Truth, I have to speak those “uncomfortable truths” that Cornel West states that Ralph Waldo Emerson talked about. If the Black Church was so serious about homosexuality, then it would not take homosexuals’ money during offering time. During offering time, I want to hear these preachers say, “We don’t want your gay money.” I want to hear them say, “Sissies and dikes stay in your seats because we don’t want your nasty money.”

The Black Church seems to be tremendously dishonest when offering time comes: Preachers become everyone’s friend when offering time comes because they want everyone’s money. I would just like them to remember how harsh they are to homosexuals during their sermons, so be consistent and honest and tell them you don’t want their money. If you can speak to them in such disparaging ways during your sermons, then use the same rhetoric when you are passing that collection plate around. How’s that for transparency? Have I unsettled you yet? If not, maybe I will now. In many Black churches, people are gaining salvation while many homosexuals are singing and playing the music that they are shouting and dancing too. Hmm…Now, when will these preachers remove the homosexuals from their choirs and music departments if they are so serious about homosexuality?

The Black Church’s love of money exposes its contradictions on the issue of homosexuality. With all of the sins the Bible speaks about, it seems that the Black Church wants to focus on the most divisive sins in the Bible. The reason why I see that preachers are wanting to focus on the more divisive sins is they gain them much more attention—just like controversy breeds cash in the media, controversy breeds cash in churches. Some preachers have even gained their fame by how harsh they speak about homosexuality, but where is the love of Christ in this harsh language you use about homosexuals? Did Christ say love and respect everyone except homosexuals? No!

While I very much contend that the Scriptures speak against homosexuality, I argue that the Scriptures also tell you to talk about homosexuality with love and compassion. Now, how can you say that you are treating people with love and compassion when you are calling them “sissies,” “faggots,” and “dikes.” I already know I’m going to receive a significant amount of criticism for this article, but what I have said in this article needs to be said. People think it is so funny when preachers in the Black Church try to get the audience’s attention by using derogatory language to refer to homosexuals, but what if more derogatory language was used to expose your lying, fornication, profanity, watching and viewing of pornography, intoxication, gossiping, and etc.? It may not be so funny to you anymore. Hmm…I’m just saying.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison