Tag: CNN

Stop Dressing So Tacky For Church

If the Rev. John DeBonville could preach a sermon to lift the souls of churchgoers across America, his message would be simple: Stop dressing so tacky for church.

DeBonville has heard about the “come as you are” approach to dressing down for Sunday service, but he says the Sabbath is getting too sloppy.

When he scans the pews of churches, DeBonville sees rows of people dressed in their Sunday worst. They saunter into church in baggy shorts, flip-flop sandals, tennis shoes and grubby T-shirts. Some even slide into the pews carrying coffee in plastic foam containers as if they’re going to Starbucks.

“It’s like some people decided to stop mowing the lawn and then decided to come to church,” says DeBonville, rector at the Church of the Good Shepard in Massachusetts. “No one dresses up for church anymore.”

Church leaders like DeBonville have harrumphed about declining dress standards for Sunday service for years, while others say God only cares what’s in someone’s heart.

But which side is right? What does the Bible actually say about dressing properly for church? And does Jesus provide fashion advice anywhere? Wasn’t he a homeless, Galilean peasant who wore flip-flops?

The answers to these questions are not as easy as they may seem. The Bible sends mixed messages about the concept of wearing your Sunday best. And when pastors, parishioners and religious scholars were asked the same questions, they couldn’t agree, either.

Wearing ties on first dates

There was one point on which both sides did agree: People are dressing sloppier everywhere, not just church.

Take a trek to the supermarket on Saturday morning and you’re bound to run into a sleepy-eyed woman in slippers and rollers at the checkout counter.

Pajamas in public: The battle of ‘appropriate’ vs. ‘comfy’

Or take a walk outside and you’ll be greeted by teenagers slouching around with their jeans sagging over the butt-cheeks.

Even corporate America isn’t immune. Casual Fridays has morphed into casual every day and even tech tycoons like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wear bland T-shirts during public presentations.

It’s a sharp departure from another era in America before the 1960s, when people wore suits, dresses and white gloves in public.

The Rev. Gerald Durley, a sharp-dressed civil rights activist in Atlanta, recalls taking his future wife, Muriel, on their first date. When he showed up at her house, her father opened the door, looked at him, and took him aside gravely, “Young man can I talk to you for a minute.”

“He told me, ‘If you’re going to take my daughter out, you can wear one of my ties,’” says Durley, a retired Baptist pastor.

Jennifer Fulwiler, who wrote an article for the National Catholic Register titled, “Why Don’t We Dress up Anymore,” says her great-grandfather would put on a coat and tie just to go grocery shopping.

The reasons why people stopped dressing up could fill a book. Yet Fulwiler offers one explanation that’s seldom mentioned – lack of gratitude.

Fulwiler’s revelation came one day as she watched scruffily dressed people board a plane. She flashed back to a black-and-white photo she had seen of her grandparents boarding a plane in the 1940s. Most of the passengers were dressed in suits and ties and dresses because air travel was such a privilege at the time.

“We dress up for what we’re grateful for,” she says. “We’re such a wealthy, spoiled culture that we feel like we have a right to fly on airplanes,” says Fulwiler, author of “Something Other than God,” which details her journey from atheism to Christianity.

Church is like air travel now – it’s no longer a big deal because people have lost their sense of awe before God, Fulwiler says.

Yet some of these same people who say it doesn’t matter how you dress for church would change their tune if they were invited to another event, Fulwiler says.

“If you had the opportunity to meet the Queen of England, you wouldn’t show up in at Windsor Castle wearing jeans and a T-shirt,” she says.

The church customer is always king

Shouldn’t people have that same reverential attitude when they show up at church to meet God, some ask? After all, doesn’t your dress reveal the importance you attach to an occasion?

Just what do you mean, ‘dress festively’?

That sentiment, however, is seen as hopelessly old school in many popular megachurches across America. Casual Fridays has morphed into casual Sundays.

And many of the popular megachurch pastors are middle-aged men who bound onto the stage each Sunday dressed in skinny jeans, untucked Banana Republic shirts, and backed by in-house Christian rock bands. They’ve perfected a “seeker-friendly” approach to church that gets rid of the old formal worship style with its stuffy dress codes.

But there’s a danger in making people too comfortable in their clothes on Sunday morning, says Constance M. Cherry, an international lecturer on worship and a hymn writer.

Some churches have embraced a business-oriented “the customer is always right” approach to worship that places individual comfort at the center of Sunday service, says Cherry, author of“Worship Architect: A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services.”

“Many young people and boomers judge the value of worship service based on personal satisfaction,” Cherry says. “If I get to wear flip-flops to Wal-Mart, then I get to wear flip-flops to church. If I get to carry coffee to work, I get to carry coffee to church. They’re being told that come as you are means that God wants you to be comfortable.”

What the Bible says

The Bible says that’s not true – people had to prepare themselves internally and externally for worship.

In the Old Testament, Jewish people didn’t just “come as they are” to the temple in Jerusalem. They had to undergo purification rituals and bathe in pools before they could enter the temple, says Cherry, who is also a professor of worship at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Both Old and New Testaments suggest that people should not approach God in a casual manner, Cherry says. Psalms 24 urges the faithful to “ascend the hill of the Lord …with clean hands and pure hearts.”

When Jesus taught in the synagogues, he also observed the rules and decorum of being in God’s house, Cherry says.

Cherry isn’t calling for a restoration of first-century cultural norms, such as women covering their hair in worship, or a rigid dress code. She says churches should meet people where they are, and make even the poorest person feel welcome.

She just says that preparation for worship should give less thought to people and more thought to the divine.

“There should be some sort of approach to God that will include certain steps to honor the God that is not our buddy but fully The Other,” she says.

Others back up Cherry’s call to keep the Sabbath special. Dressing up really makes a difference on Sunday, they say.

“It puts you in a different mindset,” says Tiffany Adams, a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who grew up wearing jeans in church. “It actually sets the Sabbath apart from every other day.”

And there are still pockets of church culture where no one has to persuade people to look sharp on Sunday.

The African-American church is one such place. Many of its members still insist on dressing up on Sunday because of the historical struggles of blacks. Sunday morning was often the only time in the week that a black person could assert their dignity, says Durley, the Atlanta civil rights activist who also is a retired Baptist pastor.

“On Sunday morning, when you put on your tie, your shirt and put your palms together and slicked down your hair, you were no longer the hired help, you were a trustee, a deacon or you chaired this board and you dressed accordingly,” Durley says.

What would Jesus wear?

There are others, though, who say God cares more about the person’s soul than their style. No one wears a bracelet today asking, “What would Jesus wear.” Clothes just weren’t important to Jesus or the early church, they claim.

The early church was anti-hierarchical and adopted a “come as you are” approach to worship, welcoming outcasts and the disenfranchised who often couldn’t dress in fine clothes, says Carl Raschke, a religious studies professor at the University of Denver.

Raschke cites Mark 12:38, where Jesus mocks the fine clothes worn by the Pharisees, a group of elite Jewish religious leaders of his day.

Others cite James 2:2-4, where the writer of the New Testament book criticizes early Christians for discriminating against poor people visiting the church in dirty clothes and favoring the man “wearing a gold ring and fine clothes.”

“Adopting a dress code would not only be suicidal for American Christians who are swimming against the stream of casual secularism, it would be antithetical to what Christianity sees increasingly as its abiding mission – to reach those who are marginalized and ‘don’t fit in,’ ‘’ Raschke says.

Some people, though, remain convinced that casual Sundays are getting too sloppy.

“The casualness of Sunday church attire has gone too far,” says DeBonville, the pastor of the Massachusetts church. “It’s about respect and honoring God.”

When DeBonville looks across the scruffy fashion landscape of America, he sees only one profession that’s holding the line against tacky dress.

It’s not the preachers or priests, though. These people belong to another profession whose members aren’t exactly known for respect and honoring God.

“The last ones wearing shirt and ties are the politicians,” DeBonville says.

Easter is supposed to be about the renewal of hope, but when asked if the spread of sloppy Sabbath can get any worse, DeBonville sounds gloomy. Yoga pants in the pews, pajamas near the altar – will everyone soon start showing up at church dressed like “the Dude” in the film, “The Big Lebowski.”

Nothing would surprise DeBonville anymore.

“There’s growing casualness everywhere,” he says. “I don’t know if it can get much worse.”


*Originally published on CNN’s Religious Blog.

Donald Sterling, Are You Jealous Of Magic Johnson’s Success Or Just Ashamed Of Your Own Failures?

Yesterday, I watched CNN’s Anderson Cooper interview with Donald Sterling followed by Magic Johnson’s response. Needless to say, there was a lot of blog material within the first 3 minutes! Donald Sterling should have never brought up Magic Johnson but since he did I thought I’d blog about it:

Donald, you profess to be active in your Jewish faith so let’s take it to the Old Testament. In the book of 2 Samuel, there is the infamous story of David & Bathsheba where David, King of Israel, takes another man’s wife to be his own but not before having an affair with her. Of all the women he could’ve chosen he decides to take one who is already married. They got pregnant but the Lord ends up allowing their newborn to die. Does any of this seem familiar – A very high & powerful man breaks up a marriage because of a beautiful woman and ends up losing his firstborn son? Hhhmmm….

Donald Sterling is no doubt a racist but he seems to have particular aught with Magic Johnson namely because of his HIV status. It sounds like he feels that Magic doesn’t “deserve” to be as successful as he is because of his sordid past.  Hhhmm…..I DO understand his point, however, I DO NOT agree.

First let’s address Donald Sterling’s comments about Magic Johnson’s achievements in the community. He said & I quote:

“What has he done? Can you tell me? He’s got AIDS. Big Magic Johnson – what has he done?”

“Did he help anybody in South LA?”

“What does he do for the Black people? The Jewish people have a company & it’s for people who want to borrow money at no interest.  They want to give them a fishing pole; they wanna help people. He does nothing. It’s all talk.”

 There is no doubt that Magic Johnson has done a lot for the urban community including business ventures that employ minorities throughout not only Los Angeles but also across the country. His business partnerships with corporations like Burger King, Aetna and Washington Mutual prove this. Countless jobs have been created, as well as his presence alone has diversified many executive boards and corporate offices alike.

According to CNN, the same month he tested positive for HIV in 1991 he formed the Magic Johnson Foundation which “works to develop programs and support community-based organizations that address the educational, health and social needs of ethnically diverse, urban communities.” In the past 23 years, his foundation has raised more than $20 million for charity and given out almost $4 million in scholarships. In other words, he’s brought business to minority communities & has helped students obtain higher education. His focus has always been on serving diverse communities, bringing high-quality businesses to minority areas typically underserved by larger corporations. And Johnson seemed to invest in nearly everything — theaters, restaurants, fitness centers, sports teams and a TV network. Currently, Johnson’s entire empire is estimated at $500 million and he’s only 54 years old. (To read more about his organization, click here).

Donald Sterling goes on to say, “What kind of a guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV? Is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about? I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background.”

But let’s be clear – Magic Johnson didn’t sleep with every woman in every city. Even if he did sleep around a lot, it only takes one time to catch HIV or AIDS. But why should he go into the background because of it?

Life is unfair. You can create one of the most notable companies of all time worth over $650 billion but still die young of cancer – look at Steve Jobs. Or you can win 6 Grammy’s and overdose on drugs – just ask Amy Winehouse. She was so young, so famous but was responsible for her own demise. Oh & let’s not forget about Kim Kardashian who rose to fame because of a simple (and might I add not a very good) sex tape. She’s now worth $40 million just for ‘sleeping around’.  How is that fair? There are plenty of women who are highly educated, hard workers, attractive & smarter but don’t have any of these things? The answer is simple: Life isn’t fair. Good people end up getting hurt, nice people don’t always win, smart people don’t always make the most money and there are those who have brought misfortune upon themselves but still end up making it big. Donald, it’s called life. The pretty girl doesn’t always win the crown.

My question to you, Donald Sterling, is how is it fair in your mind that your mistress got a $1.8 million dollar condo, multiple Bentley’s and hundreds of thousands in other gifts but she didn’t work, didn’t go to college & has no legitimate transferable job skills? You’ve given more to her than your own charitable foundation, the Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation. Never mind the fact that you are still married, but showcasing your mistress at all of your games with courtside seats. What will you tell your own grandchildren? How is that for respect, Donald?

In Magic Johnson’s case, he contracted HIV but ended up very wealthy. Instead of fading into the background he has chosen to step up & use his fame and fortune for good. He has chosen to further HIV & AIDS awareness, employ tens of thousands of people, donate to charity on a consistent basis & promote higher education. Sterling, on the other hand has seemingly donated less than 1% of his nearly $2 billion fortune (see LA Times article here).

Does Magic Johnson deserve all that he has? He deserves that & more because to whom much is given, much is required. He’s proven his commitment to the urban community. Donald Sterling, if you’re so “jealous” of Magic Johnson then why don’t you step up & match his contributions dollar for dollar? Why don’t you partner with him & seek to help build up the lives of the people that you hold in such low regard? As we say in my community, “Don’t talk about it, be about it.”

At the end of his CNN interview Donald Sterling says, “If I said anything wrong, I’m sorry.” Well, Donald Sterling, you finally got something right – you ARE sorry.

Magic Donald

Do Women + Guns = Safety?

In the wake of the Navy Yard shooting on Monday, I’d like to explore gun ownership. I’m not on either side of the gun-rights argument but I did start wondering whether or not this country would be any safer if more women bought guns.

As of 2011, it has been estimated that the number of women who own guns in this country is up to 23%. That’s about 15-20 million women and that number has surely increased since 2011. There’s a famous quote that goes, “God created all men, but Sam Colt made them equal” so many women feel like it’s empowering to own a gun.

Let’s take a look at some reasons why I think that it’s safer for women to own guns:

  • Less violent – According to White House statistics women are more likely to be arrested for nonviolent crimes than men are and only commit 10% of all murders
  • Don’t commit mass murders – Women tend to be more nurturing and are less inclined to take human life. There are some exceptions to this rule but there has only been one female mass murderer since 1982
  • Protection not sport – More and more women of all demographics are arming themselves and one of the most commonly cited reasons is the need to independently defend oneself.

As one woman says, “It thrills me that more women are learning how to be their own heroes.”


Below are some websites geared towards women who own guns:

The Girl’s Guide to Guns: www.girlsguidetoguns.com

The Blaze: www.theblaze.com

National Shooting Sports Foundation: www.nssf.org

NRA: http://www.nrawomen.tv/ & http://women.nra.org/

African American Children Are Being Abducted Too

By now everyone has heard the great news that 14-year old Ayvani Perez who was abducted from her home in Georgia on Tuesday has been found and she’s safe & sound.

African Americans make up about 13% of the U.S. population, but are almost 1/3 of all missing person cases reported each year. So why don’t we garner the same amount of attention as non-Black abductees? According to the FBI’s missing persons database (NCIC) there are approximately 87,000 active missing person records as of December 31, 2012.  Juveniles under the age of 18 account for almost 40% of these cases and minority children make up 65% of all non-family abductions, African-American children – 42%. I’ll bet you can remember Jon Benet Ramsey, Caylee Anthony and Elizabeth Ramsey but how many African American young kidnap victims can you name? Read the piece below from The Milwaukee Journal to learn about one little girl who was abducted the same year as 14-year old Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from Salt Lake City, UT (who, coincidentally, was found 9 months later – ALIVE) –

Alexis Patterson, a seven-year-old, African-American girl from a poor part of Milwaukee, also disappeared in 2002, after being walked to school. Local law enforcement and volunteers immediately mobilized to find the young girl. Her mother, Ayanna Patterson, appeared on national shows such as “Maury Povich” and “Ricki Lake” over the last 10 years. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett last year proclaimed May 3rd as “Alexis Patterson: Forget Me Not Day.”

Patterson told The Milwaukee Journal: “We must never forget her. I can’t ever forget her.”

It appears that Patterson has done everything right to maintain attention on the disappearance on her child. Still, the case never achieved the level of national coverage as the Elizabeth Smart case. Although there are infinite possibilities for outcomes, the contrast begs the question: What if Alexis Patterson received the same coverage as Elizabeth Smart?

In 2010, Pace University (N.Y.) professor Seong-Jae Min and Rowan University (N.J.) professor John C. Feaster released a study comparing the proportions of race and gender from the news coverage of five national television stations between 2005 and 2007 to official missing children statistics. The study showed that African-American and female missing children were significantly under-represented in television news coverage.

There is a television show that is dedicated to spotlighting people of color – young and old – who have disappeared without a trace. The show is called Find Our Missing and hopes to provide viewers with details of kidnappings that may jog the memories of any unknown witnesses. It airs on TVOne, and is hosted by S. Epatha Merkerson, who is best known for her role on Law & Order.

So what should you do if your child comes up missing? These are some of the precautions you can take –

  1. Keep a complete and current written description of your child
  2. Take color photos, digital if possible, of your child every six months or more often if your child’s appearance changes
  3. Know here your child’s medical and dental records are located and how they may be obtained
  4. Contact your local law enforcement agency to see if they offer fingerprinting for children. If so arrange with the agency to have your child fingerprinted
  5. Collect a DNA sample from your child

Also, there are resources available to those who know someone who has been abducted:

  1. Black and Missing Foundation, Inc., (BAM FI) – The mission of BAM FI is to create awareness about missing persons of color, and provide resources to the black community concerning locating missing persons.
  2. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s – Call 1-800-THE-LOST. This hotline is available 24/7
  3. Contact the local authorities to issue an Amber Alert. The Amber Alert was designed to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and the safe recovery of the child.

Bring our children home!

kidnap 5

Grown Men Shouldn’t Text Me

I’ve already talked about how much I hate when men choose to text me. Unless you are under the age of 25, you need to pick up the phone & converse with me like a grown-up. I got a text the other night from a phone number that I had previously deleted and did not respond to it because he did not have the decency to actually call me.

This article hits the nail on the head (again) –

Real Men Talk, They Don’t Text

By Roxanne Jones, Special to CNN
updated 10:06 AM EDT, Wed July 3, 2013

(CNN) — That’s it. Starting today the next guy to text me and ask me on a date will be deleted from my cell phone — permanently.

Want to make plans for the weekend?

Wondering how my day was?

Need to discuss our relationship?

Call me.

Save texting for simple stuff: Let’s meet at 8 p.m.? Do you like sushi? Or even, you looked so hot last night! When it comes to texting, the KISS rule applies — Keep It Simple Stupid. Now of course, there are times when a “U & I R DUN” text may be in order. But that rule is only acceptable if you’ve gone out once or twice and had an awful experience.

Dumping or even divorcing someone via text message is just cowardice. It’s a punk move but it happens quite often and not just among teens, as pop star Katy Perry tells us in the July issue of Vogue magazine. “He’s a very smart man, and I was in love with him when I married him,” Perry says, of her ex-husband Russell Brand. “Let’s just say I haven’t heard from him since he texted me saying he was divorcing me December 31, 2011.”

It’s best to say good riddance to a loser like Brand. Because while it may be cute for teenagers to text their sweetheart all day and night, that is really no way for intelligent, confident adults to communicate. “People can hide themselves in a text message,” warns Bela Gandhi, founder of Smart Dating Academy in Chicago. “When you talk to someone on the phone that’s when their true personality starts to shine. Hearing someone’s voice tells you if they are positive or negative, or enthusiastic about life. The voice conversation is very important. It keeps people from hiding. The phone is a screener.”

As a happily single woman, I am shocked at how many professional, attractive and otherwise intelligent men have no idea how to hold communicate effectively by phone or face to face. Real communication often takes courage. It’s not easy to drop our defenses and reveal our insecurities to one another, especially if we’ve gotten our feelings hurt a few times. But developing your emotional intelligence is a critical ingredient in all healthy adult relationships.

A short text in the middle of the day to let someone know you are thinking of them is a sweet gesture. But if you imagine that sending a daily barrage of texts, such as “driving to work, heading to lunch, or just left a meeting” is a romantic way to show you are thinking of your partner, think again. Or texting in the middle of the night. I once dated a 50-something guy who thought it was romantic to send me a “good morning” text at 4:30 a.m. Good grief. When the chime on my phone jolted me awake, I panicked: “Someone must have died,” I thought. Why else would anyone text me at this hour? Bad move.

“Texting is not the place for anything serious. Never handle something over text that should be handled in person or over the phone. This just shows that you are a weakling who deserves a good slapping. Swallow your fear, and pick up the phone.” says relationship expert Michael Masters, author of “TextAppeal — For Guys! The Ultimate Texting Guide.” Don’t get me wrong, no one has time to be on the phone all day every day, but I can guarantee you that if the woman you’re dating would rather text you than call, the relationship is over.

Also, it’s best to avoid needy “Crack Texting.” “This is hands-down the number one mistake people make,” says Masters. Texting is best used as a slowly developing conversation. And the benefit of texting is that you actually have time to think before you blast off an inappropriate message. I like Masters’ rule: “The hotter the person is, the less you should be texting them. Don’t be needy.”

I get it. I love technology and I text, tweet, tumblr, pin, and share on Facebook with a passion. Social networking is an integral part of my life. But when it comes to romance, women still need to hear your voice or look you in the eye when we’re talking. “[Research shows] that about 93% of how we make our first impressions of people within 30 seconds of meeting them is nonverbal communication — body language, voice tone, personal appearance … ” Gandhi reminds us. “And relying on texting to build a relationship is a recipe for miscommunication, and premature intimacy.”

Don’t let technology turn you into a coward who is afraid of real conversation, or sharing yourself in any meaningful way. Don’t be a Russell Brand. If you have more virtual friends on Facebook than you do in reality, it’s time to reevaluate your life. Get out there make a few actual friends, in person.

Dating is easy. It’s risky. But it is not nearly as complicated as many people make out — as long as you actually like yourself first and are basically satisfied with your own life. I admit there is one date text I always will answer: “Want to go to the Knicks game tonight?” Now that message just might be the start of a beautiful relationship.