Sunday, April 17, 2005

On God. (a revision)

"We want to worship a living God. I have not seen anything but God all my life, nor have you. To see this chair you first see God, and then the chair in and through Him. He is everywhere, saying, "I am." The moment you feel "I am," you are conscious of Existence. Where shall we go to find God if we cannot see Him in our own hearts and in every living being?

"We want to commune with the Divine. I have not seen anything but the Divine all my life, nor have you. To see this flower you first see the Divine, and then the object in and through the Divine. The Divine is everwhere, saying, "I am." The moment you feel "I am," you are conscious of Existence. Where shall we go to find the Divine if we cannot see it in our own hearts and in every living being?"
-Larry D. Lyons II

On my revision.
1. Worship vs. Communion. I can not say that my impulse is to worship. Beings that desire worship seem, to me, to seek a validation, a reverence that distances the worshipper from the worshipped. And distance is the last thing I want in my spiritual life. I want oneness. I want communion. I want to commune with the Divine.

2. The Divine vs. God. "The Divine" is more than a substitute for God. It's a different paradigm altogether. God, as used in the original quote, is a gendered being. For me, gender is only a useful notion when attempting to classify embodied beings (and even then, it has its limitations). Furthermore, I don't imagine "God" to be a "being" at all. "God" is a spirit, not unlike the spirit of goodwill or the spirit of volunteerism. In the same way that we would not discuss goodwill or volunteerism as "beings", I do not imagine God to be a being.
Finally, I love that the quote acknowledges the ubiquity or omnipresence of the Divine, because I truly believe in the divinity of all things. But I think that using a gendered pronoun attributed a gender to God, and this undermines the otherwise admirable spiritual paradigm the quote models.

3. The chair vs. the flower. This is the least consequential revision; I chose the flower merely because I used the picture of a flower. But I draw attention to it to make a larger point. In conversations like these, I've noticed that people rely on a fairly trite/traditional vocabulary of the beautiful. Flowers, babies, butterflies, serene lakes, [insert the title of any Mariah Carey album here]. Perhaps I should have chosen a different image as to avoid replicating that move... ah, well.. shoot me. What I'd like to say is this: there is nothing more inherently beautiful than anything else. In the place of the flower, I could hase just as easily used any one of the following images:
a bullet wound
two fallen towers
a toenail
a broken condom.

None of these do a better job than any other at realizing/embodying the beauty of the Divine. The more I expand my vocabulary of the beautiful, the more abundant/rich my appreciation of the world and all of its elements.

Where shall I go to find the Divine if I cannot see it in my own heart and in every being?

Monday, April 11, 2005


spring is here
and the view from princeton is beautiful.






Thanks donald for helping me select a digital camera and getting me hip to all things flickr.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Latest on Rashawn Brazell

If you are under the impression that the organizing efforts around the murder of Rashawn Brazell are finished, drawing to a close or losing relevance, you're mistaken. Here's a peek at what's taken place since my last post.

The Vigil:

On Friday, March 25th Rashawn's friends, family and concerned citizens from New York and New Jersey gathered en masse at the Nostrand Avenue subway stop in Brooklyn to honor Rashawn Brazell's memory. Above the tunnel where some of the young man's remains were found, we lit candles, we prayed, we cried and we mourned the loss of the man whose tragic murder reminds us all of the preciousness of life and the terrible wages of violence. The event was well-attended and garnered coverage on a number of media outlets, including ABC 7and UPN 9.

(photos courtesy of: Andres Duque)

The Town Hall Meeting:

On Monday, April 4th we gathered again, this time with the aim of translating our sorrow and anger into dialogue and action. Organized by the Rashawn Brazell Collective, the town hall meeting gave concerned citizens an opportunity to voice their concerns about the case directly to their elected officials, community based organizations and the police. In attendance were:

Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn borough President
Lt. John Moran of the New York Police Department
Lt. John Cornicello of the Brooklyn North Homicide Department
Letitia James
A representative from the office of Councilmember
Albert Vann
Eric Adams, President of
100 Blacks in Law Enforcement

as well as representatives from:

New York City's Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (AVP)
Black Men's Exchnage (BMX)

Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD)
The New York State Black Gay Network (NYSBGN)
People of Color in Crisis (POCC)
Unity Fellowship Church of Brooklyn, New York (UFC)

(photos courtesy of: Bernard Morisset)

Key developments from the meeting:

1. Desire Brazell, Rashawn's mother surveyed the area surrounding her home and was unable to find a single flyer. Many also took issue with the fact that Rashawn's mugshot was being used for some flyer, concerned that doing so causes the confusion of the victim and the perpetrator. In turn, we are partnering with the police to post updated flyers about the murder and the reward in the neighborhood with the goal of soliciting more information from the public.

2. At the time of the meeting, the reward listed on the flyer was the standard $2000. Reasoning that community members might be more inclined to offer tips if there were a more substantial incentive, Councilmember Leticia James donated an additional $1000 to the fund, as did 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement and the Unity Fellowship Church, bringing the total reward to $5000. However, at the mayor's discretion, the reward can be raised to $10,000.

In turn, we ask that you contact the Mayor Bloomberg and communicate to him why increasing the award is a necessity and a priority. Don't know what to say? Why not just borrow a bit from Bernie's letter? Be sure to specify why it's important to raise the reward amount!

Contact the Mayor (email)
Fax (212) 788-2460

3. Your letters, phone calls and faxes are important. "The deployment of resources depends largely on community pressure" say the NYPD representatives. So, make use of this telephone list of the 79th precinct, and let them know that getting this killer off the streets is a pressing matter. You can also email Raymond W. Kelly, the comissioner of the NYPD by clicking here.

4. Letitia James is calling for a press conference on the steps of City Hall. As the city begins to debate it's new budget, she believes more funds should be available to the community-based organizations that have made our organizing possible, that the fullest range of resources should utilized in the investigation of this case and that the case deserves greater visibility amongst the media, the general public and elected officials alike. Needless to say, I'm with her.

5. The Rashawn Brazell Collective will be meeting again in the near future. To stay abreast of our organizing efforts, check out the official listserve which disseminates information on the events planned in response to Rashawn Brazell's murder.

6. Wednesday, April 27th: If you are in the NYC area, attending the 79th Precinct Community Council meeting would be a wonderful way to ensure that our concerns about this investigation remain a priority for police and community members alike. The meeting is held the fourth Wednesday of the month at 263 Tompkins Avenue at 7:00 p.m. .