A Pluralism Carol: Burning Babe

18 12 2016

We will guard each [person’s] dignity and save each [person’s] pride/

And they will know we are Christians by our love.”

“They’ll Know We Are Christians” by Peter Scholtes, © 1966


“Burning Babe” has become one of my favorite Christmas songs because it’s about so much more than Christmas.

It’s also about the importance of cultural pluralism and the separation of church and state. It’s about resistance, hope and sacrifice.

The lyrics don’t tell the whole story on their own. A little more context is required to fully appreciate it.

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How to not lose your mind: The difference between Gandalf and Saruman

17 12 2016

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has experienced a few contentious political conversations lately – kind of like Gandalf the Grey’s fateful rumble with Saruman the White. Many of us have questioned people we thought we knew. People who decided to support you-know-who in November (or refused to do what they could to stop him).

“Tell me, friend. When did you abandon reason for madness?”

I know the feeling. But don’t be too quick to dismiss Saruman as “crazy.” I can understand how he feels.

The difference between Gandalf and Saruman was one very important thing – COMMUNITY.

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Concert Benefits DJ Kool Herc, Focuses on Health Care

24 02 2011

Friday, February 18, three of the city’s leading DJs performed at a benefit concert for hip-hop music pioneer DJ Kool Herc.  DJ Pillo, Apryl Reign and Mista Rare Groove headlined the affair at Main Event in downtown Cincinnati. The event was the second collaboration between the three artists as par of a regular show they have begun called “Selectas Choice.”

With the aid of both turntables and laptops, the DJs kept their audience dancing as they spun and scratched records all night from 10pm until after 4am. The set list drew from a variety of hip-hop, R&B and soul musicians including A Tribe Called Quest, Prince, Salt-N-Pepa, Cee Lo and the Jackson 5. Both the music and the cause attracted a lively crowd that included a few influential names in the Cincinnati hip-hop scene like musician Marvin Hawkins, author Kathy Y. Wilson and radio personality Perry Simmons.

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Tweeting from DJ Kool Herc Benefit Concert

19 02 2011

Friday night DJ Pillo, Mista Rare Groove and April Reign — three of Cincinnati’s premier DJs — performed at Main Event for their second “Selectas Choice” concert. This time they donated the proceeds to help hip-hop legend DJ Kool Herc, also known as Clive Campbell. The benefit concert was part of a nation-wide effort to raise money for his recent medical expenses.

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Winter Revolution: A Holiday Playlist for the Rest of Us

5 12 2010

“He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”

– Luke 1:51-53, NIV (from “Mary’s Song”)

See the whole list on YouTube – A Holiday Playlist for the Rest of Us

1. Matisyahu – “Miracle”

The cover of the album "Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration." Released in 1992 by Warner Alliance.

2.  Rage Against The Machine – “No Shelter”

3.  Patti Austin – “But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming”

(from the album Handel’s Messiah, A Soulful Celebration)

4. Stevie Wonder – “Someday At Christmas”

5. Flobots – “Whip$ and Chain$”

6. Kirk Franklin – “Revolution”

7. Tracy Chapman – “Talkin’ Bout A Revolution”

8.  Erran Baron Cohen (feat. Jules Brookes & Y-Love) – “Dreidel”

9. John Lennon – “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”

10. Anita Baker – “Christmas Time Is Here” (originally from A Charlie Brown Christmas)

11. Kanye West – “Family Business”

12. Donny Hathaway – “This Christmas”

13. Queen – “Thank God It’s Christmas”

14. Green Day – “Holiday”

15. Ben Harper – “Better Way”

16. Enya – “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel”

17. Adam Sandler – “The Hanuka Song”

18. Common – “The Light”

19. U2 – “Peace on Earth”

20. Jars of Clay – “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman”

21. José Feliciano – Niño Jesus

22. Kurtis Blow – “Christmas Rapping”

23. Lauryn Hill – “Joyful Joyful”

24. Paul Simon – “Getting Ready for Christmas Day”

25. Will Smith Feat. K-Ci – “Will 2K”

Honorable Mentions — Some of my favorite holiday moments from TV and film

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Great artists that happen to be Muslims: Suheir Hammad

11 09 2010

There’s… adult language… in this. Viewer discretion is advised.

Palestinian-American poet Suheir Hammad is one of those writers that can take the wind out of you with the shear potency of her words.

She was born in Jordan to refugee parents who were expelled from Palestine. The family eventually settled in Brooklyn, New York, where Hammad grew up immersed in the hip hop culture blossoming in the city in the ’70s and ’80s.

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Great artists that happen to be Muslims: Mos Def & K’Naan

20 08 2010

I was flipping through the channels the other night when I stumbled across a couple of great re-runs of Austin City Limits on PBS. (As often as this happens, you’d think I would actually make a note of when Austin City Limits comes on and deliberately plan to watch it. And yet, I don’t. But that’s a blog for another day.) I had way too much fun singing along with the two artists that were featured that night — Mos Def from Brooklyn, New York and K’Naan from Toronto, Canada (by way of Somalia).

After the show was over it occurred to me that both of these inspiring artists are Muslims — people who, by association, are being unfairly smeared by way too many media voices right now. Perhaps fewer people would accept all the stereotyping and hatred directed at Islam if they were more aware of some of the Muslims they come across in life.

So I decided to highlight a few Muslim artists that have made significant inroads with American audiences. It’s my own tiny way of reminding people of the valuable contributions Muslims make to to our culture. So many Muslims are our friends and neighbors, not our enemies. Protecting their religious freedom under the First Amendment is really about protecting those freedoms for all of us.

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