Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Not a VIBE-rant Day- Quincy's Magazine is Closing

Sigh... and another one bites the dust, and this time, I'm feeling bitter. According to Daily Finance: "Vibe magazine, the urban-music magazine founded in 1993 by Quincy Jones, is the latest victim of the media recession. Multiple sources both within and outside the magazine confirmed that it is shutting down." I spent six months at the mag in 2004 as an intern, and the following year, I did a few stories for the website, so this magazine's closing is personal. Sigh... I'll always have the memories. And some great back issues.

The King's Legacy Reigns in the World of Pop

I was thinking this morning of the many Pop/R&B performers who owe a great deal of their success to Michael Jackson. From tight dance moves to fun, flirty lyrics, many of today's most popular artists have taken plays from the Michael Jackson playbook. Below are some links to videos that highlight the King’s continual influence in Pop.

Omarion- "Touch"

Justin Timberlake- "Like I Love You"

Alien Ant Farm- "Smooth Criminal"

Fall Out Boy- "Beat It"

Ne-Yo- "Because of You"

Chris Brown- "Kiss Kiss"

Usher- "U Remind Me"

Fabolous- "Baby"

Genuwine- "So Anxious"

Mariah Carey- "I'll Be There"

Check out the viedo below for an all-star tribute to MJ:

Got some more songs to add? Leave a comment and share!

Monday, June 29, 2009


Thursday, June 25, 2009

His Music Will Always Be A "Thriller"

On this, my one year anniversary of being with Keiron, I think I feel an extra tug of sadness at the passing of Michael Jackson. You see, when he proposed, K played "The Girl Is Mine" a duet with Paul McCartney off the "Thriller" album. So locked indelibly in my memories of that night is my saying "Yes", my nervous and handsome prince's big eyes looking up at me and... The King of Pop.

So rest in peace, Michael, and know that your music, magic and Moonwalk will live on.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Salvation Army

In the article, "Christian Soldiers", Newsweek looks at "The growing controversy over military chaplains using the armed forces to spread the Word."The article cites incidents such as the evangelical Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches (CFGC) "an organization in charge of endorsing 270 chaplains and chaplain candidates for the armed services", releasing newsletters which stated "that the real enemy of the U.S. wasn't Osama bin Laden, but Allah, whom the newsletter called "Lucifer." A 2006 issue argued that all Muslim-Americans should be treated with suspicion, as they "obviously can't be good Americans." In a 2008 sermon, Ammerman called Islam "a killer religion" and Muslims "the devil."

Sheesh... making us all look bad! To read the whole story, click here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Five Things I Hate About Us: An Open Letter

Fellow brothers & sisters in Christ, there have been a few things bugging me lately… and well, it’s about us. As the body of Christ, we are in need of a serious physical. And it’s not all the world’s fault. We’re weak from neglecting such spiritual disciplines as study of the Word and prayer. We’ve become distracted. So let’s put down our stones, and do some self-inspection, shall we? Following is a list of some of our ailments:

· Pulpit Pimps. It’s big pimpin’ for the so-called “Grassley Six”, the group of high profile, prosperity preachers such as Benny Hinn, Paula White and the appropriately monikered Creflo Dollar, who are under scrutiny by the government because of possible “excessive compensation, income unrelated to the business purpose of the ministries, and perks or what is known as ‘excessive benefit transactions.’” This group live in mansions, own jets and are worth millions. Televangelists have long been an embarrassing blemish on the face of modern Christianity. Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Baker caused major scandal in the 80’s and Pat Robertson regularly puts his foot in his mouth today (remember his Hurricane Katrina comments?). These profit prophets are especially hurtful since they have such a wide audience thanks to advancements in cable, satellite and the internet. While there’s nothing wrong with having money, we are clearly warned against loving it. It is insidious to mix the teaching of donating or tithing with admonitions to give to a particular group in order to receive blessings in return, garner God’s favor or receive healing. I pity those who are busy storing up worldly possessions. But I’m more angry that so many people believe doing so is part of the Gospel.

· Republican is NOT a denomination within Christianity. But neither is Democrat. There is nothing wrong with voting according to your conscious, and although the Jehovah’s Witnesses would disagree, being politically involved. There is much wrong with blurring faith with politics to the point the two are seemingly indistinguishable. While in the U.S. the Right has been the de facto party for the religious since the 80’s, all that political involvement is coming back to haunt us now. According to “unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters” by David Kinnamon and Gabe Lyons, thousands of nonbelievers are turned off from the Gospel message by evangelical Christians who seem more preoccupied with politics than prayer. If you fall in this category, I admonish you to refocus on Christ and “Him, crucified.” Oh, and lest my conservative friends think I’m only picking on you, I’m not. At least you all never said Bush is sort of God, like some Dems have said referring to Obama. Which is just downright creepy.

· “It’s the End of the World and They KNOW It.” This one’s dedicated to those who expend massive amounts of time, energy and even money fixating on the date of the Savior’s return. This is nothing new to Christianity; back in the 1800’s thousands of Christians left mainstream churches in droves convinced Jesus was coming back (they even disposed of property and possessions). The latest movement was spawned in part by the extreme success of the “Left Behind Series” in the 90’s and has led to an abundance of books, miniseries, documentaries and websites. This fascination on the future has led to two major problems. First, some Christians have become so preoccupied (obessessed?) that they neglect to live life in the present. They might not be signing away the deed to their homes like the Millerites, but they hardly seem to care much for the daily struggles which this present life entails- neglecting Jesus’ message to give to “the least of these.” Some have actually fallen into sin by becoming false prophets- setting actual dates for the Second Coming. This is in direct conflict of Matthew 24:36 which says “No one knows when that day or hour will come-not the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father,” and Acts 1:7 goes further saying “…It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority”. So stop overstepping your bounds. Do you really think you know more than Christ Himself???

· They Wear Their Faith on Their Sleeves (But Not in Their Hearts). These believers are easy to spot. They’re the ones with the biggest crosses hanging from their necks, Bible positioned in full view in their back windshields and the requisite Jesus fish plastered on their back bumpers. And unfortunately, the ones flipping you the bird as they cut you off, mouths full of expletives. They’re all about Jesus. They blast Kirk Franklin or Mary Mary, or listen to Lifehouse proudly. They more than like Him… they have hoodies emblazoned with “Jesus Freak” on the back. He is their homeboy after all, at least that’s what their t-shirts say. And like Kanye West, “Jesus Walks” with them. But with words and actions so full of venom, I’m left wondering, but do you walk with HIM? As Christians, we’re meant to follow, or be disciples of Christ, not the other way around. Truly giving all to Him is about sacrifice. Romans 12:1 says “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Every day, I must kill my selfish desires, not merely draping myself in Christianity, but allowing the Holy Spirit to work on my heart. There is nothing wrong with displaying your faith- right now I’m wearing a cross and (full disclosure) I own a “Jesus is my Homeboy” t-shirt, which was a gift from a few years ago. But just owning Christian gear does not a Christian make. How can you tell if someone is really committed to Christ? “Ye shall know them by their fruits… Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” Matthew 7 continues with this stark warning “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

· An Inconvenient Truth. The thing about truly following Christ is... with all that blessing those who curse you and turning the other cheek... well, in a world that glorifies winning at all costs (get that man even if he's married!... so you had to lie your way to the top, now you're the boss!... the ends justifiy the means)... is just so inconvenient! Who really wants to deal with doing all this good anyway? And what about all the mess in this world...some wrongs are just plain evil- think of the child molesters, the rapists and murders. Yet, we are told to forgive them. I'll admit, I struggle in the forgiveness area. It's hard. The best advice I received on this was from my former pastor who told me that forgiveness is a process, one that might have to be repeated daily. Yet, the reality is, Christians must forgive, and give, and above all love. And in a fallen world, this is a very tall order. But Jesus made it clear: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6) Inconvenient it may be, but as Christians, we must follow the Truth, and nothing but the Truth, so help us God.

And I believe, this is where the previous four types of Christians have gone wrong. They have lost sight of Jesus, replacing Him as their central focus with money, politics and Armageddon. Or they are "reppin'" Christ- without following Him and His commandments. I want to close with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi: "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." It's time we started being more like Christ.

Signed your sister,

Alisha aka FAR

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

This Is No "Superstition"- Lenny Kravitz Is Going God's Way

In this Telegraph interview, rocker Lenny Kravitz describes giving up his sexual past ("...he believed it was wrong to have sex without being married. 'Obviously,’ he conceded, 'I break the law. I don’t like to, and I ask for forgiveness, and I try not to do it as much as possible. I’m just like, “God, forgive me.”’) and embracing celibacy ('It took years to get it right. To actually do it, and really try to walk the walk and not just talk it. It’s not like it’s not important – I think sex and intimacy and all that is very important. It’s just that I’m going to do it with my wife.’ He laughs. 'And not everybody else.’)

Awesome article. Being celibate isn't about a bunch of "no's" but about freedom from sexual sin. Freedom which makes me think of my fav Lenny song, "Fly Away."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

And Another One Bites The Dust...

... in this case, it's Christian mag "Today's Christian Women." It's not just secular print publishing that's on life support. Another reason why I won't be writing for a living anytime soon.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Has La La Lost It?

Why? I get the shaved look when you have short hair, but I don’t get this… I'm sorry, I'm just thinking "Yikes!" A few responses from my peanut gallery:

Lori says:
"Hmmmm….this is why I can’t be trendy! I’ll keep it classic!" In response to La La's hair. She then said, "Oh…hell no!" regarding singer Cassie's more extreme do.

Cliff says:
"I don’t know ladies…. Not attractive at all… looks like a chick from Xena Warrior Princess. LOL

Well maybe it’s the best of both worlds… if the dude wants to rub a bald head one night he aims for the left, if he wants to feel hair the next aim for the right. LOL"

Want to add your opinion? Leave a comment!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Heart of Worship

High liturgy or low? Check out this article by R.C. Sproul on what kind of worship God truly desires.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Survey Says: FAR Readers Run on Dunkin'!

The Lovely Lori displays the winner of who has the best coffee: Dunkin Donuts.

In the first Far Above Rubies survey, I asked readers to choose their favorite java stop, and the winner is Dunkin' Donuts with 2 votes out of a total of four. Which is pretty pathetic. Come on, folks, either you're all tea devotees or you didn't notice the survey [or you didn't care to vote :-(]. At any rate, let this this serve as notice that there is a survey area over to the right, and I'd like you to vote. Because you're not really rockin' it.

But back to these results, Starbucks received one vote as did "Other." Maybe a chai lover? Thanks to those who participated.

Next up: What kind of animal makes the best pet? Polls are now open!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Have Seen the Enemy and it is Us

Looks like our biggest threat as far as terrorism goes in the near future will be of the homegrown variety. Watch the video below for more...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Went to College For THIS???

Meghan, Gi Gi, Rob and I in February 2008

I finally found a little complaint-laden blog I wrote in 2006 and posted on MySpace about my experience working my first full time job out of college (be forewarned class of '09, the real world ain't pretty). I figured I'd share it with you all... enjoy!

Right now, this is just a job. If I advance any higher in this company, then this would be my career. And uh … well, if this were my career, I’d have to throw myself in front of a train.” ~Jim, from the “Health Care” episode of “The Office”

Yeah, so I hate my job. I mean, at this point, if I looked into a crystal ball to see my future and saw that I was still working here 5 years from now, I’d probably go hang myself from one of the stupid air conditioning vents at work that has left me with a mild case of hypothermia every week for the past month. Or maybe just throw myself in front of a train.

The most disappointing thing about my current situation is that last year this time, all I wanted was “a full-time job with benefits that paid decently”. Perhaps when I said my prayers, I should’ve added, “and won’t make me so depressed that I fantasize about being sick just to stay home.” I don’t want to seem unappreciative, but… well, I don’t appreciate this job. I detest it. I sit in a stupid beige half-a-cubicle made of snap together pieces using a computer that hasn’t been new since “Dawson’s Creek” was a hit on the WB. I have a BA in English, yet all I ever write is memos… and emails regarding those memos. And my boss (who will heretofore be referred to as Evil) is a wretched combination of lazy and incompetence and is pretty much useless… to the world. Evil has managed to piss off most of the staff, violate a number of confidentiality rules, and do absolutelty no work in 8 months, all while sporting a collection of brightly colored suits last seen on Whitley Gilbert on “A Different World.”

The only positives in this abyss of negatives are my co-worker friends. They have been there for me when I cried, have made me laugh, and been there for me again when I inevitably cried again. Gi Gi has been my best friend for years, and has amazingly remained so even though I got her this job in the third circle of hell. I love her so much and I might just go insane when she goes on maternity leave next month. But then sweet Meghan wouldn’t let me go crazy. At least not without her. She’s such an incredible person: animal lover, socially conscious, and she’s hot but isn’t conceited about it. And then there’s Robyn. My constant co-worker since ’01, her witticisms got me through inane envelope stuffing at the CNS [my on-campus student worker job], and inane memo writing in the third circle. Wow. That last sentence just made me realize that 5 years and a degree later, I’m still doing pretty much the same stupid work. I went to college for THIS?!?

Soulful Seoul

Wow! Check this out! Universal Gospel!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What God Desires...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

NO, God IS Great

This morning, I had a freshly brewed cup of El Pico coffee in front of me when I logged on to Facebook for a bit before taking a shower to get ready for church. I quickly noticed my poet friend Kathy's latest status update: "A private plane, Citation 10 just landed. $30 million dollar plane. Guess who owns it - a Brazilian Church in Houston. they tell their members: "If you don't give, God does not look at your problems.'' They ask their members to donate $500!!!!! They play on people, using faith to get money for their luxurious toys! I hate organized religion when it plays on people's faith! ggggrrrrrr". Kathy works at an airport, and has seen all kinds of craziness, but the pastor of this church took the cake. (She later shared with me that he was less than pleasant, too).

That status update launched a bevy of responses. From disgust at the exploits of so-called Christians to, unfortunately, a disgust of Christianity altogether. One commenter referenced atheistic evangelist Christopher Hitchens' notorious book "God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything." Sigh... okay, yes, there are quite a few stinkers in Christianity. I'll admit it. I've been hurt by them. I know I've hurt a few people, too, which makes me cling to Christ even more so. My problem with some of the comments were the crass generalizations. While there are plenty of people who abuse and misuse religion, not all of us do. What makes me particularly upset is how it's quite p.c. to stereotype the billion of us on this planet who claim Christ. Imagine if such adjectives as "frauds", brainwashed", "weak", "dumb", "cheats", "thiefs", or "molestors" were branded on to a particular racial or ethnic group. The media along with a majority of people would cry out in despair. So why the free pass to bash Christians?

God is great. Maybe not in man's small finite view. But the thing is, man is not great. Man even in attempting to do good, is not great. Why? Because SIN poisons everything! But all thanks to God, for Christ's atoning death on the cross. For although the wages of sin is death, we can have eternal life because of Christ! God is so great.

If you're interested, click here to read a debate between Hitchens and Christian theologian Douglas Wilson.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I Know We're A Peculiar People & All, But...

... it's sites like these that just make us Christians seem strange. The Rapture Index??? Really??? No, I mean REALLY?????? For His sake, step away from the keyboard and your holy Kool-Aid and get a life. If you sincerely believe He's going to come back soon, stop wasting time and web domain and go spread the Gospel as He commanded. Cause only the Father knows when Jesus is going to return anyway.

I'll Be Headed To The Shrink Now...

This might explain a lot about me...

I saw this first on Catholic & Enjoying It!

Moment of Silence

Although no one felt it was worth leaving a comment about (sigh), my blog from earlier this week seems to be on point regarding Autotunes and guys in tight jeans- since Jay Z's latest, "DOA" is eulogizing them both. Thanks are in order to K for tipping me off to this, which is classic Jigga... tight rhymes, witty lines and actual music on the track.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thought For The Day

"{Jesus} either was (and is) just what He said or else a lunatic, or something worse. Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God."

~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Requiem for New Millennial Craptastic Trends

Rihanna and an umbrella-ella-ella. Eh-eh-eh.

Over the weekend, the hubby and I were watching the 2007 installment of VH1’s “I Love the New Millennium” which pondered such great questions as why did Rihanna add so many syllables to the word “umbrella” (“UM-BRELLA-ELLA-ELLA-EH-EH-EH”), and I started thinking of all the fads and trends that emerged in popular culture this decade. Thankfully, many of the whoops corrected themselves (like, say for instance, the TMI-revealing combo of low rider jeans and thongs, which admittedly, I was guilty of wearing in 2001), and I hope they never return. Following is a list of things K and I did not love about the new millennium:

1. Repetitious sounds in pop songs such as the aforementioned “UM-BRELLA-ELLA-ELLA-EH-EH-EH”, Sisqo’s “THONG, THA-THONG, THONG, THONG” in “The Thong Song” or Jamie Foxx’s recent “AH-AH-AH-AH-AH-ALCOHOL” in “Blame It (On The Alcohol)”. I’ll admit these sounds are catchy- like catching a mental cold you can’t rid yourself of. Ever laid in bed unable to sleep with any of these sounds replaying in your head? Torture. Entertaining, but torture.

His songs were "MURDER!" On my ears.

2. Ja Rule. Yes, he came out in the late 90’s, but it was the sickeningly sweet duets in the early 00’s with Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige and especially Ashanti that left me saying “I Cry” every time this dude had a single out.

3. America’s Next Top Chef Model Talent Fashion Survivor. The reality is these shows are real… played out. This country needs these shows like we need another Taylor Hicks album. Meaning, we don’t. Whatever happened to sitcoms anyway?

4. Auto-tune songs. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, listen to any song featuring or produced by T-Pain. Kanye West’s devastatingly bad “808’s & Heartbreak” was full of the electro-sounding mess. I think it’s funny that 10 years after Cher used the technology in “Believe” rappers have discovered it. And have now killed it. Please bury it.

5. Stupid Girls. You know the celebutantes. Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and Nicole Ritchie during her former pre-Joel Madden life. I think the epoch of the star-struck worship of the stick thin, crappucino drinking, huge sunglasses wearing, puppy toters was about 2005. Like Pink, I hope this love of dumbed-down female starlets never comes back into fashion.

6. Cornrows. I wore this early 00’s look, too, as did K. I was inspired by the beautiful Ms. Keys, plus I didn’t relax my hair at the time, so when it was humid, it was a savior. But undo the braids, put the beads and rubber bands away and lay this one to rest because it’s over. When Iverson shaved his off, the look was officially eulogized.

7. Skinny jeans on guys aren’t cute. Heck, it’s a risky venture even for many girls, but when guys wear them, it often looks awkward. When guys are tall, it looks like their jeans shrunk. And even for shorter guys who pull it off, sagging already tight jeans is just bizarre. No one wants to see the top of your underwear, or worse, plumber’s crack. I’m looking at you Pete Wentz.

Bob is currently consulting with lawyers over possible copyright infringement.

8. Co-opting Obama’s campaign slogans to hock products. Starbucks, Pepsi and now even pharmaceutical companies have borrowed from the Prez’s 2008 campaign to show they too believe in “Hope” and “Change.” They even proclaim “Yes, we can!”… but end up sounding like Bob the Builder. Quite special. I know in this country anything gets sacrificed on the altar of the almighty dollar, but give it a rest. And that’s change I can believe in.

Are there some annoying trends, fads or styles you are glad to see come and go? Or are still hoping to see pass away? Leave a comment and let’s keep this list going.

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K and Z enjoying the Christmas tree.

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