Support Haiti’s Preschool and Kindergarten Project (2019-2020)

Hello, Friends: Here are some of the children from Haiti who will be attending our Kindergarten in September 2019. I’m asking you to support their education and this is an important cause that will change their future toward sustaining development and human flourishing.

Please click on the link below to support one of those children as part of the Haiti’s Preschool/Kindergarten Project (2019-2020).

Thank you for your generosity and commitment to change a life in Haiti 🇭🇹– Dr. Lou, President of Hope for Today Outreach

https://www.gofundme.com/haiti039s-preschoolkindergarten-project

https://www.gofundme.com/haiti039s-preschoolkindergarten-project

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“The Problem of the Theological Curriculum: The Chapter on Theological Education in North America and The West”

“The Problem of the Theological Curriculum: The Chapter on Theological Education in North America and The West”

One of the chapters in my forthcoming book (“Evangelical Paradoxes) discusses the subject of theological education that train Christian pastors and Christian academics in North America and the West to serve in Christian churches and the academic world. I am very much interested in these two groups: Christian pastors and Christian academics for six specific and main reasons I offered in the book—given their substantial influence in the congregational life, human relations, and contemporary Christian thought in the sphere of Higher Learning, which engage both culture and society. (In this important conversation, I do not ignore other Christian professionals or ministers who continue to play important roles in the church and in the secular world, serving in different capacities and roles, including Christian artists and worship leaders, psychologists and therapists, missionaries and educators–who have also been trained in theological schools.)

Initially, I wrote a 35 page chapter on the problems—some are structural, systemic, ideological, and others are practical and traditional; yet all of them are practical issues—I observed and researched in predominantly White Theological schools (that have formed me, and they are mostly theological seminaries and divinity schools in North America and in the West) in the training of minority students and integrating minority faculty members in their midst. As a side note, I have earned six academic degrees: a Bachelor, three Masters, and two PhDs; three of these degrees are from Christian and theological schools, and my other three degrees are from the so-called secular institutions and universities.

Interestingly, the research has taken me places that I never anticipated or imagined of going. I ended up writing two interrelated chapters (85 pages in total) on the subject matter. I proposed some practical steps to deal with the observable problems I discussed, and some of those propositions and tentative solutions are non-traditional in and for theological education. One of the core concerns is to bridge the racial, gender, and ethnic gaps in the theological curriculum and theological schools. Since the majority of pastors/ministers and theological academics in the major Protestant denominations in North America are trained in seminary and divinity schools, not often in School of Religion—yet this is now becoming a trend in religious education in the United States—my main emphasis in writing these two chapters is to explore how theological environments could be more democratic and pluralistic. Theological schools should be the starting point to foster candid and unintimated conversations about inclusion, diversity, and difference in society and Christian circles, especially churches. I strongly believe that the theological curriculum is the most feasible place to tackle the racial/gender/ ethnic conflict in contemporary American society and Christian (Evangelical) churches wherein we train pastors and ministers and Christian scholars. Racial/gender/ethnic tension in this country and in Christian congregations is always and almost theological and religious. Hence, we must begin thinking together about these complex issues and finding practical, theological, and intellectual solutions in the theological classrooms.

Finally, the first chapter on theological schools and education introduced the reader to the problems I observed. The sequel to that chapter offered an alternative way to deconstruct the theological curriculum and reconstruct it toward the general welfare/the common good, especially to benefit students of color and minority faculty members. I used various theories of (multicultural and democratic) pedagogy and methodologies including theories in multicultural education and curriculum, and postcolonial and decolonial studies to recommend that the theological curriculum needs to be decolonized, dewesternized, and make intellectual spaces and more room for a more liberal, democratic, and gender inclusive, as well as race and ethnic sensitive theological education that would consider the history and contributions of people of color to global Christianity as well as to integrate the lived worlds and experiences of minority students into the theological curriculum. Some of my proposals are non-traditional and a little revolutionary, and that is okay with me. 😊

Folks, at least, I tried and am trying to bring a solution to the problems in contemporary theological education in North America and Western countries, that have practical implications on how we do church and relate to each other humanly, racially, and Christianly.

“Our Internal Conflict: We Still Remember Our Collective Wounds Every National Holiday”

“Our Internal Conflict: We Still Remember Our Collective Wounds Every National Holiday”

There is a serious internal conflict that arises among the American people of various cultural background, ethnicity, and race in the commemoration of every major national holiday such as the 4th of July, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Holiday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in this country. Among a large segment of the American population, there seems to be a hunger for more democracy and justice and thus a fair critique of the application of the current democracy to the living conditions and existential plot of this nation’s disadvantaged and minority populations. Their repetitive complaints and spontaneous rage make the work of American democracy limited, inadequate, and even bankrupt. For example, many African Americans do not feel comfortable to celebrate the 4th of July (of 1776), the founding of the Republic of the United States of America and its eventual emancipation from the Great Britain.

This American freedom, which they argue, is not their own, since their African ancestors were still historically enslaved in a country that just became politically free and independent from its former colony. Rather, they proclaim that their true independence occurred not in 1776 but in 1865, known as “Juneteenth,” the historic commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, in June 19, 1865, and the historic moment the transatlantic slave trade was legally banned and condemned.

A second source of internal conflict is the Martin Luther King Jr. Day (June 20). Many Black Americans and immigrants equally claim this day as theirs as they collaboratively remember and celebrate Dr. King’s magisterial labor, enduring efforts, and resilient activism that practically embody the soul of the American democracy and its connected lofty ideals and principles of American unity and solidarity, and human rights and civil rights for all America’s children—black, white, brown, Asian, native American, mixed, and those yet to be born. By contrast, many White Americans do not feel the same way and often are not enthusiastic about celebrating the achievements of a “Black Hero,” and paradoxically, he was and is a “native son.”

A third source of internal conflict arises in our midst during the celebration of the Thanksgiving Day (It is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of November). Many White, Asian, Hispanic, and Black Americans wholeheartedly celebrate this (in-) famous holiday without any regard to the history of conquest, colonization, and the eventual genocide of the native American population. By contrast, the majority of individuals and families from the Native American population (and a minority of the American population from other ethnic groups or races) refuse this celebration and for them, the Thanksgiving holiday is a day for national lament and repentance, and correspondingly a moment called for national reckoning and retribution.

How shall we then be reconciled to each other? How shall we then move forward as a nation and people without forgetting the historical past but not dwell upon it? How shall we then cultivate genuine interracial friendship and authentic social relationships among ourselves? What constructive steps should we now take collectively to foster a sense of national unity and collective destiny? Honestly, I do not know the best possible solution, but I would like to offer a prayer for this nation and its people on the 4th of July (Yes, beyond offering a word of prayer, I also believe political interventions and public policies grounded on the common good and human flourishing and governmental actions rooted in the idea of a social contract to lift up the poor and the vulnerable are critical and urgent steps to achieve the work of democracy for all.)

“A Prayer for National Healing and a Wounded Nation”

O Gracious God and Sovereign Lord of the universe and all nations: We pray in this way for holistic healing and restoration of this nation:

where there’s hate, grant us love.
where there’s despair, give us hope.
where there’s division, grant us unity.
where there’s chaos, give us peace.
where there’s isolation, grant us community.
where there’s sin, give us repentance.
where there’s retaliation, grant us forgiveness.
where there’s vengeance, grant us reconciliation.

“On Kindness, Privileges, and Change”

“On Kindness, Privileges, and Change”

It’s really not a good idea to use your privileges (i.e. financial, gender, ethnic, racial, sex, class, education, nationality) or fame to make life in this world an uneasy journey for those with less privileges or no privileges at all.

The individuals who have changed the world and human dynamics in society used their privileges (i.e. power, influence, reputation) to uplift the weak and empower the disavantaged to dream again and hope for another world that is more promising and fulfilling.

They share a common characteristic: self-denial. They became small so others can become big. They put the needs of others above theirs. They always find creative ways to love people, and to show kindness and acts of compassion to those who are hungry and thirst for justice, peace, and righteousness. They love gently, treat others caringly, and give themselves unselfishly. These individuals, both men and women, live life in this world with an unwavering commitment and passion to make it a better place for all, especially the poor.

These individuals also use their power and privileges not to oppress, exploit, or shame the poor, the unfortunate, and those living in the margins; rather, they hold truth to the principle of human brotherhood and “I am my brother’s keeper.”

Friends: if you are a privileged individual in society or have power to effect change in your city or wherever you’re exercising these abilities, please use them for the good and welfare of the least among you and us. Trust me you won’t beccome a a less privileged and powerful individual when you exploit your resources for the sake of others, and toward the common good, human flourishing, and a better society.

“What Makes a Nation Great”

“What Makes a Nation Great”

The progress of a nation in economic strength and political and military power should not be equated with the moral consciousness of that nation to act justly, equitably, and fairly toward all of its citizens.

Power can’t buy compassion and money does not make people more generous toward the poor and the needy or toward each other. A nation that is not generous and kind toward its most vulnerable population is a nation without a soul and a people without a national consciousness. A democracy is not contingent upon the success of the individual, but of the collective, the people as a united front.

The greatness of a nation is reflected not only in its just laws and public policies–which forges the content of the nation’s character–that promote human flourishing and the common good, but also in the interventions of its government to act always in a manner that sustain human development and dignity, and national unity and human solidarity.

The quality of a nation is built upon the premise that the people share a collective identity and understanding of who they are in relation to each other and in relation to their responsibility to their country. This communitarian spirit is also grounded on the ethics of accountability and relationality that every citizen has worth and value, and every person has potential to transcend the odds of life and beat the spirit of defeat and failure. This is a collective and national effort, not the work of the individual citizen.

“The End of Race: Who is Black and an African American in the United States”?

“The End of Race: Who is Black and an African American in the United States”?

The political campaigns for the Presidential Election for the year 2020 are revealing something utterly tragic about America’s racial identity and racial consciousness. In particular, the question about the racial identity of the democratic candidate Kamala Harris has raised more questions about the subject of race and revealed the deep internal division that exists between people of African descent in the United States, which for many critics, is the consequence of American imperialism and European colonization.

To question the credentials of the U.S. Senator Kamala Harris because of her multiracial heritage reveals the moral bankruptcy of America’s political system and the restrictions race has placed upon the American conscience.
Chiefly, the subject of who is “Black” and an “African American” in the United States is creating more interracial tension that already existed in this country and honestly, more we can handle as a people. The intra-racial conflict between different expressions of global blackness represented in the American society and correspondingly between individuals of African ancestry residing in the United States has heightened the racial crisis and deteriorated our racial wounds and ethnic injuries. (A very good and influential text on the subject matter is “Interracial Justice: Conflict & Reconciliation in Post-Civil Rights America “by Eric K. Yamamoto; NYUP, 1999).

For many critics, the root of this problem can be traced to America’s obsession with the race concept and racial identity, as well as the system of slavery and Jim Crow segregation. Race is particularly historicized and evolved, bears a distinctive psychological mindset, and is established firmly within various cultural practices and categories, historical trajectories, and religious habitus in the United States.

Some years ago (2008), I attended an academic conference in Boston and the speaker was an African American public theologian and public intellectual, whose work I have admired for years. In this particular talk, he was addressing the narrowness of white evangelical scholarship and the exclusivity of theological education in evangelical seminaries that claim to train people of all races and ethnic groups to serve the “Church” and share the Gospel with all people. He lamented on those legitimate issues and hoped for a more inclusive theological curriculum and Christian evangelical scholarship that would actively engage the works of people of color in Christian academia.

When giving an opportunity to ask questions, I made a public observation about the possibility of a shared history of slavery and oppression that created a seemingly psychic unity among the people of African descent, in the states and elsewhere where black people live. To paraphrase, he responded to me with this comment, “I understand your perspective, but you are not a “true black.” The true blacks are African Americans.” I was appalled because I have always believed that I was a “black dude,” having been born in one of the blackest countries in the world: The Republic of Haiti that was founded upon the eradication of the unholy Trinity of slavery, colonization, and white supremacy. Furthermore, on a different occasion, a friend of mine, who is also African American, reminded me that “Black immigrants” from other countries (i.e. Haiti, Jamaica, Nigeria) are reaping the hard labor of African American freedom fighters and especially civil rights leaders of American Descendants of Slaves (@ADOS).

As a “black immigrant,” I am very grateful for the incalculable sacrifice many African Americans, who have come before me, made to welcome me and other individuals who were not born in this country. They have given us the gift of hospitality by suffering martyrdom and public lynching, degradation and humiliation in a society in which they were born and came to validate their humanity, which has also shaped their racial consciousness: their collective identity and shared history of suffering and pain. I do not claim to share this particular North American experience, but my people from Haiti have comparatively suffered European slavery and colonization (i.e. Spain, France, England), American military intervention and imperialism, and we have also been affected by the race concept because of our shared blackness with our African American brothers and sisters. We sympathize with you in your collective suffering and as a result, we are united in this same struggle for freedom, collective agency, and emancipation, not simply because of a shared racial sameness, but also, we are children of the same Father and Creator, who unequivocally call us his own, and whose image and glory we unashamedly bear.

Finally, to alleviate the pain of race in our lives and in this society, we have first to undo race and its devastating damages, in its various forms and manifestations, it has introduced and matured into our (individual and collective) experience. Second, we should always seek various ways and means to transcend the racial divide and the inter-ethnic conflict, and to be a nation and a people who are united “against race.” Third, we should deliberately pursue each other for fellowship and inter-relationality and find meaningful ways and venues to seek the best interest and welfare of other individuals, our neighbor who may not look like us or speak English as fluent as we do or those individuals who have brought a different culture in our midst.

Finally, while I believe that the problem of race and ethnicity is systemic and structural in the American society, it is also economic, political, cultural, psychological, and theological. To erase racial discrimination and unmake interethnic conflict toward the projects of interracial justice, racial healing and unity, and human flourishing in this country, we would need to listen and learn from each other; to genuinely treat people with respect and human dignity; to become an ally to those who are weak and vulnerable; and to work together to challenge and deconstruct systems and forces of human oppression in this culture that reinforce racial stereotypes and heighten our racial wounds and ethnic sores.

Pwojè Lekòl (Kindergarten) pou ane 2019-2020: Ede n Voye 25 Ti Moun An Ayiti Lekòl

Pwojè Lekòl (Kindergarten) pou ane 2019-2020: Ede n Voye 25 Ti Moun An Ayiti Lekòl

Gade ti anons sa a, patisipe nan travay sa a, e pataje li ak zanmi w yo.

Pou pliz enfòmasyon, Kontakte nou:

Hope for Today Outreach (HTO)
P.O. Box 7666
Port Saint Lucie, FL 34985
hopefortodayoutreach.org
hopefortodayoutreach@gmail.com

Mèsi ampil e ann kembe fem!
Doktè Joseph