I heard this quote sampled on WPFW, the local Pacifica station, last night during the Soul Controllers hip-hop show. It’s from a 2008 interview that then-Senator Obama gave on Black Entertainment Television.
“I love the art of hip-hop; I don’t always love the message of hip-hop. There are times where even . . . with the artists I love, you know, there’s a message that is not only sometimes degrading to women; not only uses the N-word a little too frequently; but — also something I’m really concerned about — it’s always talking about material things. Always talking about how I can get something. … The thing about hip hop today is that it’s smart. It’s insightful. The way that they can communicate a complex message in a very short space is remarkable.
A lot of these kids are not going to be reading The New York Times. That’s not how they are getting their information. So the question then is what’s the content, what’s the message? I understand that folk want to be rooted in the community, they want to be ‘down.’ But what I always say is that hip hop is not just a mirror of what is, it should also be a reflection of what can be. A lot of time folks say ‘I want to keep it real’ and ‘I want to be down.’ Then we’re just attracting what is. Imagine something different. Imagine communities that are not torn up by violence. Imagine communities where we are respecting women. Imagine communities where knowledge, and reading, and academic excellence are valued. Imagine communities where fathers are doing right by their kids. That’s also something that has to be reflected. Art can’t just be a rear view mirror. It should have a headlight out there pointing to where we need to go.”–President “B-Rock” Obama
Watch the video here.
This morning I came across Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus: Catholic Social Teaching at Work Today that’s a great “cheat sheet” on Catholic Social Teaching and the biblical issues of charity and justice. It’s part of the basic catechism of the Catholic church and one of the greatest gifts we Catholics have to offer the rest of the world. It’s a great thing to hand out at church. Here’s an excerpt:
There are a number of ways that we can walk in the footsteps of Jesus today. We can help in a soup kitchen, visit someone in prison, or help resettle a refugee family. We can contact legislators, work for peace, or support a local community organization that empowers low-income people to address issues that impact them. These examples illustrate two distinct yet complementary ways to put Catholic social teaching into practice: charity and justice.These two types of responses have been called the two “feet” of Christian service. We need both feet—charity and justice—to walk the walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
Catholic social teaching calls us to both charity and justice. Charity meets the immediate needs of persons and families; but charity alone does not change social structures that attack human dignity, oppress people, and contribute to poverty. Pursuing social justice helps us change oppressive social structures; but we cannot ignore the urgent needs of persons while we work for social change.
Charity and justice are incomplete without each other; they are two sides of the same coin. Charity calls forth a generous response from individuals; justice requires concerted communal action to transform institutional policies, societal laws, or unjust social situations. With our emphasis on individualism, we Americans tend to emphasize charity over justice. The challenge for Catholics is to appreciate the demands of both charity and justice.
Read the whole thing here.
Catholic Social Teaching is often referred to as the “best kept secret” in the Catholic Church. It’s even a secret from Catholics and many priests! But it provides some of the most strenuous theological ethics available to all Christians for teaching values, ethics, and moral reasoning. While many denominations – including Catholics – teach church goers the “do’s and don’t’s” of Christian morality, too few teach the roots or values behind the “law.” And in the moral quagmire of today’s world – where the decision of one individual can have global consequences – it is more important than ever to teach moral reasoning, not just moral outcomes.