What is 'The Meeting Place: Black Thought From The Shepherd's Staff'?
Welcome to this blog. Thank you for coming, taking a seat, and participating in this conversation. You don't understand? The picture that is the background of this webpage was taken in Nairobi, Kenya in 1993. It is, as you can see, a bustling, traditional African marketplace in the heart of this modern city of 3 million people. Why, then, is this old method of commerce present? It gave a chance for those from the country to sell their wares in the city, and the city dwellers could find fresh produce and other items they couldn't get elsewhere. It also allowed for the exchange of ideas, as shopping in a marketplace is more relaxed and engaging than a supermarket. The shopper could also haggle over price. Try doing this in any of your favorite supermarkets—you will probably be escorted to the door in an unfriendly way.
The main focus of the marketplace is commerce and conversation. This blog, in the spirit of the marketplace, is ‘the meeting place’. Our goal in this space is to have conversation sparked by the issues raised in this blog. I hope they become the catalyst for both thought and action.
What will be the focus of our conversation? Glad you asked! One, it will be a meeting place of two worlds that some people always try to keep separate. Those of you familiar with me, and others who have looked through the website, will see that I host a show that focuses on ‘Black Thought’, yet write a running commentary in my pastorate—about to become a book—called “From The Shepherd’s Staff”. In this space, these two spheres will be one. This will provide interesting dialog, for between those of you who see the church as an imperialist, enslaving force, to those who cannot and may never see the need for ‘Black Thought’, our conversations here will hopefully cause you to view issues through a different prism.
Second, we use the image, the symbol of the African marketplace for another reason. Black, African American, Negro, chocolate people—or whatever we may call ourselves these days (I remember it changing 3 times)— are all over the planet. Light research shows that we are/were the original man/woman. One of the conservations that need to happen consistently is a reminder that, regardless of where we live or are from, we are part of the same family. As you read and watch the upcoming posts in this blog, we will hopefully show that the African Diaspora has some common threads that should help us to increase our connectedness. As we meet in the market—the meeting place—this knowledge should also help us to strengthen our commerce with each other.
Third, we will use this space to dispel negative stereotypes about people of African descent. This is part of the focus on my TV show, and I will bring that to this blog. Some of you may not realize the importance of this approach, because we’ve swallowed in general a negative worldview about anything pertaining to us. Don’t believe me? Listen to the conversations this week as you move around your friends, relatives and others. Many times we talk about ‘what we can’t do’, the scandal of the negative things we continue to do, and how ‘we can’t work together’. Yet, there are examples all around of how these things we count as fact aren’t true. Realize this—just because you can’t see the ocean from your front door isn’t proof that it doesn’t exist!
Finally, all of this blends in a wonderful gumbo as we begin to view pertinent current events. The past helps us to know how we got here, and gives us some tools in the present to shape the future. That will always be the attempt and the focus in this space.
As we move forward together, I encourage your dialog and feedback. There will be times when you will see something here and shout ‘Amen’; there also may be other times when you are tempted to shout ‘crucify him’. The role of this blog isn’t to always cause you to agree, but to make you think. These days, critical thought seems to be in short supply. Many persons who can think deep and well use that ability to brag, flex, and look down upon those who may not be as gifted, educated or able. This is a wrong approach anchored in selfish braggadocio that doesn’t help anyone but one. Others content themselves with letting others do their thinking for them. The last time I checked, receiving a brain is standard issue from the Lord. It is my prayer that in this space you will become emboldened to think, encouraged to speak, and enlivened to act.