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« November 2008 | Main | January 2009 »

Front Page » Monthly Archives » December 2008

By Larry James on December 31, 2008

Last week I found the press release below in the local media. I've omitted the true identities by substituting "Company XYZ" along with other particulars so as not to single out any one person or organization.

Actually, this is a story about us all. And, I mean, the folks back of this effort are surely good-hearted and downright sweet, but... well, read on...

Read more from this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on December 31, 2008

Since I was 17 or 18, I've spent almost every New Year's Eve in church at what we in the African American Church refer to as Watch Night Service. My father, who was also a pastor, introduced me to it (we never had it at my grandfather's church).

I've always found it fascinating and refreshing. It was a tradition that I continued when I became a pastor, eventually holding joint services with him and alternating sites between his church and mine. While there are varying explanations for the origin of the Watch Night tradition, the history is pretty interesting.

"The Watch Night Services in the Black communities we celebrate today can be traced back to gatherings on December 31, 1862, also known as 'Freedom's Eve.' On that night, Blacks came together in churches and private homes all across the nation, anxiously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation actually had become law. Then, at the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and all slaves in the Confederate States were declared legally free. When the news was received, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as people fell to their knees and thanked God. Black folks have gathered in churches annually on New Year's Eve ever since, praising God for bringing us safely through another year."

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on December 30, 2008

The Urban Institute released six new reports on the current recession and various aspects of any recovery we might anticipate. Consider these "facts and forecasts" from their analysis...

Read more from this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on December 30, 2008

Visionary leadership should anticipate the rebound of the economy and prepare to take advantage of any proposed stimulus that will allow public projects that strengthen our city's economic stability. Why are we talking about or thinking about anything else?
My column in Monday's Dallas Morning News deals with the apparent unwillingness of our city and county governments to put on a full court press to develop the infrastructure around a transportation hub located in southern Dallas County. This is a near perfect fit for the proposed public works stimulus package proposed by President-elect Barack Obama.

Read more from this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on December 29, 2008

I am almost always optimistic when facing a new year. But its no surprise we face tremendous challenges as we look forward to 2009.

Last year more than 36 million people were classified as food insecure. That means that these were 36 million people whose economic condition was such that they had to resort to skipping meals. For our math wizards out there that's more than 10% of the country. That figure includes 690,000 children and 780,000 seniors. If our experience at Central Dallas Ministries is any indication, no one rushes proudly to announce themselves as a part of this demographic. Nor are there statistically a significant number of people who are so iniquitous as to try and fraudulently be included in this number to get food for their families. I think its safe to say that the numbers have some meaning.

That was last year. The New York Times reports that this year, in September, more than 31 million people (a million more than last year) filed for food stamps. The reason for the increase?

Read more from this post here ...

By Melissa Tuckey on December 29, 2008

In the past two days US backed Israeli bombs have killed more 300 people, injuring 900 in Gaza, where the humanitarian crisis was already building because of a blockade which has prevented food, cooking gas, and medical supplies from entering Gaza. This is a city of 1.5 million people and these bombs are paid for with US tax dollars. 56% of the population of Gaza are children.

The Bush administration’s response to this violence is inadequate. The US funds the Israeli military (last year alone, $2.5 billion) and is therefore complicit in this violence. We must demand a change in US foreign policy. Please read on for analysis by middle east policy expert Phyllis Bennis for analysis of the current crisis:

Read more from this post here ...

By Janet Morrison on December 29, 2008

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The following 48 countries voted in favour of the Declaration: Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Thailand, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela. Eight abstained (all Soviet Bloc states [i.e., Byelorussia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Ukraine, The USSR and Yugoslavia], South Africa, and Saudi Arabia).

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on December 29, 2008

Think you'd like to have a copy of Food For Thought: The 1st Annual Central Dallas Ministries Family Cookbook? I've got a free copy of this great collection of recipes to the first person who emails me asking for it at Be sure and provide your complete mailing address and I'll be sure to get it out to you right after the first of the year.

Speaking of recipes. Here's one for the Dallas Cowboys...

Read more from this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on December 28, 2008

Dana Jennings is a New York Times editor and writer who is chronicling his battle with prostate cancer.

It is a honest, challenging account of the fear, doubt and uncertainty that men face when living with this disease and going through treatment.

What Dana says about the fears and discoveries of new strength through the support of family, friends and even medical professionals is both refreshing and sobering.

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on December 28, 2008

It is a strange text, but then, there are many in the Hebrew Bible's first entry. Genesis, or "beginnings," seeks to introduce us to some of the first people on earth.

Reading from my new copy of The Poverty and Justice Bible, I came across it all marked up in bright orange:

Lamech said, "I'll name him Noah because he will give us comfort, as we struggle hard to make a living on this land that the Lord has put under a curse. (Genesis 5:29)
It helps to know that the Hebrew name Noah sounds a good bit like the Hebrew word that we translate "comfort." Nice play on words. The Hebrew Bible is filled with these little word plays that enhance the meaning of the message.

Read more from this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on December 28, 2008

Dallas County's first African-American District Attorney Craig Watkins has been selected as the Dallas Morning News' Texan of the Year. This is significant recognition, not only for D.A. Watkins' attempts to provide the County with a professional and trustworthy prosecutorial office, but his pursuit of justice which has led to the exoneration of 19 men, wrongly convicted and incarcerated.

In November, my monthly column in DMN detailed the reasons I thought he was worthy of the recognition and I'm glad the editorial board of the News agreed!

By Denise Cassells on December 28, 2008

On December 17, Robert Redford joined members of Congress and a coalition of environmental, preservation and business groups in an effort to stop the Bureau of Land Management from auctioning Utah wilderness to oil and gas companies. The attempt failed.

On Dec. 22, Tim DeChristopher an economics student at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City had just finished his last final exam before winter break. One of the exam questions was: If the oil and gas companies are the only ones who bid on public lands, are the true costs of oil and gas exploitation reflected in the prices paid? This question drove DeChristopher to quickly finish the exam; then head off on an inspired mission to the highly contested Bureau of Land Management land auction that was being touted as “the Bush administration’s last great gift to the oil and gas industry,” by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

Rather than opting to join the typical protest being held outside, DeChristopher registered as a bidder; then successfully proceeded to bid on and win 22,000 acres of public land located near the Arches and Canyonlands, National Parks and Dinosaur National Monument, and other pristine areas with a price tag totaling more than $1.7 million.

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on December 27, 2008

So, last Saturday evening, Texas Stadium hosted its last regular season NFL Football game involving the Dallas Cowboys. Hard core fans held out hope that there would be future games during the playoffs, but after the loss to Baltimore, any chance for future home field advantage evaporated. This game saw the final curtain drop on the historic stadium.

ESPN invited Dallas sportswriter and legend, Frank Luksa rank the Top 10 greatest moments in the history of the stadium that involved the Dallas Cowboys.

Read more from this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on December 27, 2008

"Men can starve from a lack of self realization as much as they can from a lack of bread."

Richard Wright, Author, 1908 - 1960

By Gerald Britt on December 26, 2008

I just got word that another friend from my youth died. I don't know the cause or when the funeral is, but I have found out as I get older, that news like this comes with increasing regularity.

Eventually, news like this comes not as an announcement, but more like a personal message. It drives home increasingly the vulnerability and brevity of life. We don't all get to be old men and women and we are not all destined for rocking chairs and retirement homes.

Ironically, this yule tide season carries with it its own message.

Read more from this post here ...

By Sarah Burris on December 25, 2008

First let me wish you a very Happy Merry Mistletoe and other such things! If you're looking for a family escape by pretending to read the blogs today, or write blogs, or pretend to do work as a means of ignoring that same story about the odd shaped moles on your relatives, then I'm happy to provide some interesting factoids along with your eggnog.

Now that the election is over I can go back to doing things that require more reading, like books. So I finally picked up The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church by Christine Wicker, an x-evangelical who discovered she'd been duped.

One thing you see 'round these parts of America are megachurches. You know, those giant buildings filled with pristine carpet and that always smell like new construction and chlorine. Driving south on the 35 from Kansas City into Oklahoma City, I'm always faced with what I lovingly refer to as the big-damn-cross, displaying the perfect marriage of Jesus and an one of the wealthiest cities in Oklahoma displaying their support of another excessively wealthy church.

According to Wicker, while these churches are flourishing under such wealth and power, their pews and/er stadium seats are increasingly empty.

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on December 25, 2008

It is a very good question, and more than worthy of our reflection.

Over the years I've come to the conclusion that grappling with this question is especially important as we consider both our own understandings of this person named Jesus and, even more so, as we consider how he is to be understood by our children (the next generation).

Moreover, the answer to this question will be extremely important to those of us who are concerned for the health. well-being and just development of our communities. Of course, I realize that not everyone who works in the arena of community development comes at the task from a faith perspective.

Read more from this post here ...

By Gerald Britt on December 25, 2008

"And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

"And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

Read more from this post here ...

By Janet Morrison on December 25, 2008

When I heard about the Madoff scandal, I was irritated. It bothers me that people are so greedy. It bothers me that our capitalistic society has driven people to "capitalizing" in order to benefit themselves. It bothers me that we take so much pride in this capitalization.

My dad asked me if I knew of anyone who had lost money and was hurt due to Madoff. (I assume he was asking about wealthy people.) At this point, as far as I know, no one I know invested with Madoff and our non-profit was not affected by that... as far as I know. But as I was driving home last night, I heard something very troubling. Dallas County's Innocence Project has been affected by his panzi scheme.

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on December 25, 2008

Anyway, with the economy six feet under and Christmas running on about three and a half reindeer, it's nice to know that one of the best presents you can give is still absolutely free.


I've read Rick Reilly's commentary for years. He left Sports Illustrated to join ESPN. I love what he writes. But, I've gotta tell you, I've not read anything before like this. Talk about a community intervention! Attitudes like this could change life for millions. Don't miss it. Then, tell me what you think.

Earlier posts in this month:

Oh Holy Night!, December 24, 2008
A Christmas Sermon on Peace, December 24, 2008
Season's greetings and holiday jeers, December 24, 2008
Choosing to Be Tall, December 23, 2008
Unleash the Arts: One Percent for Arts Petition, December 23, 2008
Obama Economic Team Doesn't Inspire Confidence, December 22, 2008
Rick Warren Equates Gay Marriage with Incest, Child Abuse, December 22, 2008
A Dialogue Between LGBT Community and Evangelicals, Catholics, Mormons, December 22, 2008
Mankind Is No Island, December 22, 2008
An Immodest Proposal?, December 21, 2008
I Miss Christmas, December 21, 2008
Who Steps Forward in Uncertain Economic Times, December 21, 2008
Another Controversy We Can Do Without, December 21, 2008
Church Cartoons for the Year, December 21, 2008
Capitol Men, Lives of the First Black Congressmen, by Philip Dray, December 20, 2008
For Those Who Would Change the Wind, December 20, 2008
The 'War' on Christmas and Christianity, December 20, 2008
Provoke Radio, December 20, 2008
Obama's Choice of Rick Warren, December 20, 2008
Overcoming the Obstacles to Neighborhood Redevelopment, December 19, 2008
More of Us Could Share More, December 19, 2008
Can we sing a new song this Christmas?, December 19, 2008
Secretary of Ag Vilsack Should Reach Out to Youth to Save Rural America, December 19, 2008
Urban RE:Vision Dallas Dream, December 19, 2008
'No secret that I am a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans', December 19, 2008
Accountability Means Asking Hard Questions, December 18, 2008
A Bobby Kennedy Speech at Berkeley, December 18, 2008
Senator Kennedy of New York, December 17, 2008
Save an Executive: Only $3700 a Day, December 17, 2008
What Business Are You In?, December 17, 2008
The Disconnect of 'No', December 17, 2008
Why are civil rights still locked in battle today?, December 16, 2008
Effetely Editors Creating a Prostrated Press, December 16, 2008
America's MVPs (Most Valuable People), December 16, 2008
The Green Collar Economy, by Van Jones, December 16, 2008
It's beginning to seem a lot like Christmas, December 16, 2008
Goodbye, Mom, December 16, 2008
What Can We Do, December 15, 2008
Merton on Humanity, December 15, 2008
The Shoe That Triggered the World Pulse, December 15, 2008
Speaking Truth for Widows, Orphans and Those Killed in Iraq, December 15, 2008
What an Interesting Irony, December 15, 2008
Why Do Good in a Hopeless World?, December 15, 2008
Republicans Maintain Mantra: 'No, we're not in a recession!', December 15, 2008
Sweetheart, just tell them I'm a professional beggar!, December 15, 2008
Don't Have to Choose, December 14, 2008
Benjamin Banneker, Thomas Jefferson and the Question of Racial Equality, December 14, 2008
A Year Back in Church, December 12, 2008
Reinvent Public Education for the Students and the Country, December 12, 2008
The Difference Organization Makes, December 12, 2008
10 Reasons to Support Central Dallas Ministries, December 12, 2008
Amazing Youth: Chicago Students Pursue School Finance, December 11, 2008
Poverty's Physiology, December 11, 2008
A Healthy Investment, December 11, 2008
Imagine a community without a library, December 10, 2008
Classrooms we can learn from, December 10, 2008
Culturally sensitive, or simply increasing their bottom line?, December 10, 2008
How Green Grinch Saved Christmas, December 10, 2008
Kansas Democrats left scratching heads over '08 Election, December 10, 2008
Speed Giving, the Adaptive Unconscious and Gut Formation, December 10, 2008
Christmas presents you can feel good about!, December 9, 2008
Glad the Supreme Court Was Thinking!, December 9, 2008
Annie, Get Your Gun (Back), December 9, 2008
Spreading Health and Hope, One Block at a Time, December 9, 2008
43 Days to the Obama Inauguration, December 9, 2008
Rich and Poor, December 9, 2008
For Those Who Would Change the Wind, December 8, 2008
Tribute to a slob-hunter, December 8, 2008
Medgar Evers: A Patriotic Resolve, December 8, 2008
Disability Backlog Has Tragic Results, December 8, 2008
Texas Values, December 8, 2008
Boomers and Social Networking: Never Ever, Ever? Ever?, December 7, 2008
What do we do now?, December 6, 2008
Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Dissident Poetry, December 6, 2008
Family Values the Right Way: How the Kennedys Walk the Walk, December 6, 2008
Daniel Berrigan and His Poems, December 6, 2008
What's in a name?, December 6, 2008
Just Deportees?, December 5, 2008
He's our dog, Dammit, December 5, 2008
Courage, December 5, 2008
New Media is Good for Youth - Like eVitamins, December 5, 2008
Clarence Thomas vs. Barack Obama, December 4, 2008
Question about the bailout, December 4, 2008
Poverty and Justice Bible, December 4, 2008
What to do about the Big 3… huh?, December 4, 2008
Emmett Till, Joseph Smith, Matthew Shepard and the Results of Prejudice, December 3, 2008
Local Politics Need the Federal Government's Support, December 3, 2008
I Ain't Got No Home, December 3, 2008
Black Friday: Tis the Season to be Maniacs!, December 3, 2008
Homeless and Lost, December 3, 2008
Golf clubs give way to parkas, December 3, 2008
Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and the Fantastic Four, December 1, 2008
Observing a Pre-Presidency, December 1, 2008
Beauty Close at Hand, December 1, 2008

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