by Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr.
Transforming America's racial and cultural dynamics is a lot like running a marathon. The only major differences are time and course. The grueling 26.2 miles of a marathon is run in just over two hours by world-class athletes, while the race toward Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream has already been over 50 years in the making. Although we have some sense of the finish line, the end of our course is not in sight. Further, it is hard to judge our progress. We are not sure whether we should count certain "firsts" as significant. Others believe that the depth of professional penetration by blacks, Hispanics or other groups into various professional arenas is a more appropriate measure of entering a post-racial era.
For example, milestones like the number of black quarterbacks in the National Football League are informative, but how should it be compared to how many black CEOs lead Fortune 100 companies? In this regard, all of us seem prone to measure apples against oranges. My mother's generation of 80-year olds simply beams with pride at the progress, while regretting the state of so many black youth and children. In her mind, the Bible verse that says, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and to lose his soul" is prominent (see Mark 8:36).
Has black America come so close to the dream and annihilation at the same time? Are we on the verge of the ultimate success or are we pursuing the ultimate illusion—by chasing the fool's gold of hedonism? As an African-American, I believe that some folks have run the race successfully (they have survived) but they are also in danger of being disqualified.
Let me explain.
The most recent Pew Research polls on race are exceptionally encouraging. Most people see a "convergence" of both black and white values. More specifically the report reads as follows, "Seven-in-10 whites (70 percent) and six-in-ten blacks (60 percent) say that the values held by blacks and whites have become more similar in the past 10 years." This is a little shocking given the fact that two years ago Pew Research studies had blacks themselves self-identifying as two different black communities—the underprivileged/underachievers, and the aspiring, upwardly mobile blacks. This kind of conflicting self-identification was the source of conflict within schools for teenagers and young adults. Underachievers would call motivated black young people "white," while promoting the thug culture and gangster rap music as authentically being "black."
by Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr.
Research company the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has released a comprehensive report on who the Millennial generation is and how they think. This group, comprised of people aged 18-29, will soon be the America of tomorrow.
On the surface, young people seem less religious, less materialistic, yet, less relationally anchored than previous generations. I would like to talk about what Millennials' attitudes toward faith are and what the evangelical church and social conservatives should do in response. I am convinced they can be reached, empowered and mobilized ... but not with the same old tired rhetoric and judgmental approaches. Before I give a prescription, here are some of the specifics of the spiritual views listed in the Pew report.
Last week, research company the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released a comprehensive report on who the Millennial generation is and how they think. This group, which is comprised of people aged 18-29, will soon be the America of tomorrow. On the surface, young people seem less religious, less materialistic, yet, less relationally anchored than previous generations. I would like to talk about what Millennials' attitudes toward faith are and what the evangelical church and social conservatives should do in response. I am convinced they can be reached, empowered and mobilized ... but not with the same old tired rhetoric and judgmental approaches. Before I give a prescription, here are some of the specifics of the spiritual views listed in the Pew report.
by Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr.
The need for the nation to pray about her problems would be high on my grandmother's to-do list. In fact, she often said, "Prayer changes things!" As a black woman who was also part Native American, she was very proud to achieve the status of licensed practical nurse.
She was a natural caregiver whose profession was simply an extension of the way her mother before her had lived out her faith—visiting the sick and shut-ins her church. Her generation saw America change because of a non-violent civil rights movement that was fueled by civil disobedience and the power of prayer. Her personal life also changed because of prayer and faithfulness. In fact, she lived long enough to see her four daughters and her 15 grandchildren all graduate from college. Two of us even attended a prestigious Ivy League graduate school, with one of her grandsons becoming the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Perhaps political liberals believe that the religious right will be emboldened or strengthened, if they are allowed to pray in public places or on special national holidays. Or maybe they believe that some form of psychological harm will befall those who are not attached to one of the many Christian denominations. Contrary to the public myths, everyone is encouraged to pray to the God of their own religious tradition. More importantly, acts of hatred, name-calling, or intolerant public jeering have never occurred at one of these prayer events.
It seems to me that the great faith of our leaders has not drawn the nation to prayer. Instead the huge needs of the nation have always driven men of faith and goodwill to pursue divine intervention. As I mused on this, I came upon a prayer offered up to God on behalf of the U.S. people in June of 1944. I have included just a snippet of this prayer:
"Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day was celebrated nationwide yesterday, when my good friend, Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr., wrote an outstanding article on the legacy of the civil rights leader and preacher. Click here to read and comment on Bishop Jackson's column.
Bishop Jackson is the guest editor of the January-February issue of Ministry Today, now available.
With the theme of social transformation, the issue coincides with the political season, which many are saying is the most important presidential election of our lifetime.
Because the primary season leading up to the presidential election is upon us, I wanted an issue on political activism. But Bishop Jackson exceeded expectations. He invited other outstanding authors such as Chuck Colson, David Barton and Tony Perkins to write, and the end result is something much more powerful—an issue on social transformation, which involves being involved politically. Read it and be transformed, so you can in turn transform society.
Now is the ideal time to subscribe to Ministry Today. We're currently offering a special promotion that includes a free ESV (English Standard Version) Thinline Bible with a paid subscription. Click here to subscribe to Ministry Today.
In February, we will focus our Ministry Today website and e-newsletter on the life and work of Jamie Buckingham. He was not only one of the most influential leaders in the charismatic renewal for many years, but was the editor of Ministry Today at his untimely death in February 1992—nearly 20 years ago.
Jamie, who died at age 59, was senior pastor of the 2,000-member Tabernacle Church in Melbourne, Fla., a nondenominational church he founded in 1967. He wrote dozens of books, among them the biographies of charismatic leaders Kathryn Kuhlman (Daughter of Destiny), Nicky Cruz (Run Baby Run) and Pat Robertson (Shout It From the Housetops).