Tag Archives: Christmas

Classic: Silent Night

It doesn’t feel like Christmas Holiday until you hear the angelic sounds of the Temptations sing “Silent Night”! Happy Holidays to all.


A Slave Holiday Experience

African Americans are, arguably, the most religious people on the face of the earth and have always been since arriving in this place the slaves called “merica.” With that said, I am sure many have wondered, in spite of the wretched system of slavery; how was it celebrated by the slave population?

The American slaves experienced the Christmas holidays in many different ways. Joy, hope, and celebration were naturally a part of the season for many. For other slaves, these holidays conjured up visions of freedom and even the opportunity to bring about their freedom. Still, others saw it as yet another burden to be endured.

I suppose, if there was ever any joy, it might well have been during the Christmas holidays for the enslaved African Americans. At least their captures, in the spirit of Jesus’ birth allowed them to have a day free from drudgery. The prosperity and relaxed discipline associated with Christmas often enabled slaves to interact in ways that they could not during the rest of the year.

They customarily received material goods from their masters: perhaps the slave’s yearly allotment of clothing, an edible delicacy, or a present above and beyond what he or she needed to survive. For this reason, among others, slaves frequently married during the Christmas season. More than any other time of year, Christmas provided slaves with the latitude and prosperity that made a formal wedding possible.

On the plantation, the transfer of Christmas gifts from master to slave was often accompanied by a curious ritual. On Christmas day, “it was always customary in those days to catch people’s Christmas gifts, and they would give you something.” Slaves and children would lie in wait for these pittances.

This ironic annual inversion of power occasionally allowed slaves to acquire real power. Henry, a slave whose tragic life, and death are recounted in Martha Griffith Browne’s Autobiography of a Female Slave, saved “Christmas gifts in money” to buy his freedom. Some slaves saw Christmas as an opportunity to escape. They took advantage of relaxed work schedules and the holiday travels of slaveholders, who were too far away to stop them.

While some slaveholders presumably treated the holiday as any other workday, numerous authors record a variety of holiday traditions, including the suspension of work for celebration and family visits. Because many slaves had spouses, children, and family who were owned by different masters and who lived on other properties, slaves often requested passes to travel and visit family during this time. Some slaves used the passes to explain their presence on the road and delay the discovery of their escape through their masters’ expectation that they would soon return from their “family visit.”

Jermain Loguen plotted a Christmas escape, stockpiling supplies and waiting for travel passes, knowing the cover of the holidays was essential for success: “Lord speed the day freedom begins with the holidays!” These plans turned out to be wise, as Loguen and his companions were almost caught crossing a river into Ohio, but were left alone because the white men thought they were free men “who have been to Kentucky to spend the Holidays with their friends.” Harriet Tubman helped her brothers escape at Christmas.

Their master intended to sell them after Christmas but was delayed by the holiday. The brothers were expected to spend the day with their elderly mother but met Tubman in secret. She helped them travel north, gaining a head start on the master who did not discover their disappearance until after the holidays. Likewise, William and Ellen Crafts escaped together at Christmastime. They took advantage of passes that were clearly meant for temporary use.

Christmas could represent not only physical freedom but spiritual freedom, as well as the hope for better things to come. The main protagonist of Martha Griffin Browne’s Autobiography of a Female Slave, Ann, found little positive value in the slaveholder’s version of Christmas equating it with “all sorts of culinary preparations” and extensive house cleaning rituals but she saw the possibility for a better future in the story of the life of Christ.

“This same Jesus, whom the civilized world now worship as their Lord, was once lowly, outcast, and despised; born of the most hated people of the world . . . laid in the manger of a stable at Bethlehem . . . this Jesus is worshiped now”. For Ann, Christmas symbolized the birth of the very hope she used to survive her captivity. Not all enslaved African Americans viewed the holidays as a time of celebration and hope. Rather, Christmas served only to highlight their lack of freedom.

Frederick Douglass described the period of respite that was granted to slaves every year between Christmas and New Year’s Day as a psychological tool of the oppressor. In his 1845 Narrative, Douglass wrote that slaves celebrated the winter holidays by engaging in activities such as “playing ball, wrestling, running foot-races, fiddling, dancing, and drinking whiskey.” He took particular umbrage at the latter practice, which was often encouraged by slave owners through various tactics.

In My Bondage and My Freedom, Douglass concluded that “all the license allowed [during the holidays] appears to have no other object than to disgust the slaves with their temporary freedom, and to make them as glad to return to their work, as they were to leave it.” While there is no doubt that many enjoyed these holidays, Douglass acutely discerned that they were granted not merely in a spirit of charity or conviviality, but also to appease those who yearned for freedom, ultimately serving the ulterior motives of slave owners.

Now we know, and it was not all that grand occasion! That’s my Thought Provoking Perspective!

“Just a Season”

Visit: http://johntwills.com

AMAZON

Legacy – A New Season

The Meaning Of Christmas

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I read an interesting article recently that asked, in so many words, if we actually know what we believe, which caused me to think about that as we approach the Holiday Season. Every year since this week was invented people believe every word of the Christmas story and does not worry about the true in what is told.

I’ll say from the onset, regardless of your religious beliefs you’re probably familiar with the Christmas story; whether you’re a devout Christian, doubtful, unsure or an atheist. You know the story of what is said to be “the greatest story ever told,” which we know that a story is usually a tale that was made up. Or do you? This story with its significance and its traditions are sometimes misunderstood.

This day has been turned into a massive commercial holiday. If you count all the Nativity scenes displayed, you would think Christmas is the most important date on the Christian calendar. On the other hand, Easter is the day in which Christians believe Christ rose from the dead, which has more religious significance than does December 25th.

In fact, science would have us believe that the savior was actually born in the spring. Whereas Easter, the day of Christ’s resurrection means not just that one man’s conquering death, nor was it simply proof of Jesus’ divinity to his followers; it holds out the promise of eternal life for all who believe in him.

The Gospel of Mark, the earliest of the Gospels, written roughly 30 years after Jesus’ crucifixion does not have a word about the Nativity. Instead, it begins with the story of John the Baptist, who announces the impending arrival of the adult Jesus of Nazareth. The Gospel of John is similarly silent about Jesus’ birth. The two Gospels that do mention what theologians call the “infancy narratives” differ on some significant details.

Matthew seems to describe Mary and Joseph as living in Bethlehem, fleeing to Egypt and then moving to Nazareth. The Gospel of Luke, on the other hand, has the two originally living in Nazareth, traveling to Bethlehem in time for the birth, and then returning home. Both Gospels do, however, place Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem. This much they all agree.

Then there is the idea that Jesus was an only child. Catholics, for example, believe Mary’s pregnancy came about miraculously as a “virgin birth.” They also believe that Mary remained a virgin her entire life, although many Protestants do not believe this! For the purposes of this writing, I will not expand on the thinking of the thousands of religious philosophies.

Nonetheless, there are Gospel passages that speak of Jesus’ brothers and sisters that seem to confuse many. For example, in the Gospel of Luke, someone tells Jesus: “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” And in Mark’s Gospel, people from Nazareth exclaim: “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us?” Saint Paul even calls James “the Lord’s brother.” Therefore, I agree with many scholars who maintain that Jesus indeed had brothers and sisters, which might be explained perhaps by an earlier marriage of Joseph. Or not!

Dr. Ben, the noted African historian, points to a story thousands of years before Christ that is very similar that occurred in Upper Africa to Isis, the mother of Horace. This clearly indicates that this person named Jesus was a black man. If this is true, then the greatest story ever told is a recent phenomenon. For sure, the way it’s practiced today is a phenomenon that is not consistent with the true meaning of Christmas. However, worries about diluting Christmas’s meaning go much further back than recent memory.

Gift-giving, for example, was seen as problematic as early as the Middle Ages, when the church frowned on the practice for its supposed pagan origins. The holiday season has become so distorted that our children now think that Jesus was born at Wal-Mart.

This recounting of these few recorded facts is in no way intended to steal your joy or deter your faith. As we all know, faith is, believing to be true that which is unseen. No one really knows the truth of this miraculous event that resulted in a poor peasant boy changing the lives of mankind since his birth two thousand years ago.

The point is this: in the midst of our joy and celebration lest not forget the true meaning of Jesus’ birth that is to love one another and humanity. After all, the purpose of our existence is to continue the species – mankind – which is what Jesus preached!

I am looking forward to the blessings and opportunities that the New Year can bring all of us and wish you and yours a Happy Holiday Season, full of Abundance, Prosperity and an Extraordinary 2016! Therefore, I send the gift of love and empowerment to all. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


The Christmas Story

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There are so many fallacies associated with every holiday with none more than Christmas. We know European’s created many myths presented as truth. In fact, what we worship in the form of religion is actually a collection of historical stories stolen from cultures that predated what we know as Christianity. What they have us practicing, worshipping might be a better word, through their religion and churches is little more than brainwashing to fund an economic engine for the benefit of those who drive the machine, and frankly, has very little to do with Jesus or God.

They created a holiday called Thanksgiving and each year after the Thanksgiving spending spree, most people’s thoughts turn to Christmas. It is a thirty-day mass-marketing celebration of a time when most people, you should think would be focused on the birth of Jesus Christ and the day of his birth. After all, it is called “Christ-mas” season!

Christian’s and non-Christian’s alike celebrate this assigned holiday honoring the birth of Christ, which has become the biggest economic period of the year. The origins of Christmas evolved over two millennia into a worldwide religious and a secular celebration that derived from many pre-Christian, pagan traditions into the festivities along the way for the rich to get richer. I don’t have to tell you that there is a lot of money in the name of Jesus.

Now, I don’t have to remind you of the traditions associated with the day has nothing to do with the Saviors birth. For example, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, holly wreaths, decorated trees, mistletoe, season’s greetings cards, seasonal music, and “chestnuts roasting on an open fire.” However, my personal favorite is this jolly white man called Santa Claus that is associated with this holiday and usually the face of it that brings warm feelings to those who celebrate it.

Almost every child the world over has been conditioned to believe this myth. Two things here, if you are African American, few white men in the history of white men period have given black people “anything,” rather it is this group that black people gave to them, in most cases their hard earned dollars. Second, most do not have a chimney for him to shimmy down with the gifts to put under a pine tree. The sin in this is that you work to earn money, buy the presents, and lie to your children telling them that a jolly white man cared so much about them and gave them the stuff for being good.

Dr. Clement Moore, a professor at Union Seminary, published a poem in 1822 based on the character Santa Claus: “Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in the hope that Saint Nicholas soon would be there…” Moore innovated by portraying a Santa with eight reindeer who descended through chimneys.

The Bavarian illustrator Thomas Nast almost completed the modern picture of Santa Claus. Before Nast, Saint Nicholas had been pictured as everything from a stern looking bishop to a gnome-like figure in a frock. Nast also gave Santa a home at the North Pole, his workshop filled with elves, and his list of the good and bad children of the world. All Santa was missing was his red outfit.

In 1931, the Coca-Cola Corporation contracted the Swedish commercial artist Haddon Sundblom to create a coke-drinking Santa. Sundblom modeled his Santa on his friend Lou Prentice, chosen for his cheerful, chubby face. The corporation insisted that Santa’s fur-trimmed suit be bright, Coca-Cola red And Santa was born; a blend of Christian crusader, pagan god, becoming a commercial idol and what we now know as the face of the holiday.

To add some context to the Christmas story; there were no existing eyewitness’ or contemporary accounts of Jesus at the time of his birth. All we have are later descriptions of Jesus’ life events by non-eyewitnesses, most are obviously biased. Little can be gleaned from the few non-Biblical and non-Christian sources, with only Roman scholar Josephus and historian Tacitus having a reasonable claim writing about Jesus about 100 years of his life.

Scholars agree even that although the accounts of the child’s birth are shrouded in controversy, with disagreements over what parts have obviously been changed by Christian scribes. The fact that both of these authors were born after Jesus died says they received their information second or third-hand, and it is odd that centuries past before Christian apologists start referencing them.

I know most believers, who are excitedly preparing for their Christmas celebrations would prefer not knowing about the holiday’s real significance designed purely as an economic engine. If they do know the history, they often object that their celebration has nothing to do with the holiday’s history and meaning. “We are just having fun and spending your money.” And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


A Slave’s Holiday Experience

slave xmasIt is no secret that the stolen people of Africa are arguably the most Christian people on this little rock called earth and have been since arriving in this place they called “merica.” Now that the holiday season is upon us, I wondered and maybe you have also, in spite of the wretched system of slavery; what was Christmas like for a slave. You know the chattel property of white folk. How was it celebrated for those who were viewed as nothing more than a dog or any other farm animal?

The American slaves experienced the Christmas holidays in many different ways. Joy, hope, and celebration were naturally a part of the season for many. For other slaves, this holiday conjured up visions of freedom or the opportunity to bring about that freedom. Still others saw it as yet another burden to be endured.

I suppose the enslaved black people; if there was ever any joy, it might well have been on Christmas. At least, their captures, in the spirit of Jesus’ birth allowed them to have a day free from drudgery. It may have been that “Ol Massa” relaxed discipline on that day associated with Christmas to enabled slaves to interact in ways they could not during the rest of the year.

They may well have received material goods from their masters: perhaps the slave’s yearly allotment of clothing, an edible delicacy leftover from Massa’s table, or something above and beyond what he or she needed to survive. For this reason, among others, slaves frequently married during the Christmas season – if it was allowed. More than any other time of year, Christmas provided slaves with the latitude that made a formal wedding possible.

This ironic annual inversion of power occasionally allowed slaves to acquire real power. Henry, a slave whose tragic life, and death are recounted in Martha Griffith Browne’s Autobiography of a Female Slave, saved “Christmas gifts in money” to buy his freedom. Some slaves saw Christmas as an opportunity to escape. They took advantage of a relaxed work schedules and the holiday travels of slaveholders, who were too far away to stop them.

While some slaveholders presumably treated the holiday as any other workday, numerous authors record a variety of holiday traditions, including the suspension of work for celebration and family visits. Because many slaves had spouses, children, and family, who were owned by different masters and lived on other properties. Slaves often requested passes to travel and visit family during this time. Some slaves used the passes to explain their presence on the road and delay the discovery of their escape through their masters’ expectation that they would soon return from their “family visit.”

Jermain Loguen plotted a Christmas escape, stockpiling supplies and waiting for travel passes, knowing the cover of the holidays was essential for success: “Lord speed the day!–freedom begins with the holidays!” These plans turned out to be wise, as Loguen and his companions were almost caught crossing a river into Ohio, but were left alone because the white men thought they were free men “who have been to Kentucky to spend the Holidays with their friends.”

It was during Christmas that Harriet Tubman helped her brothers escape. Their master intended to sell them after Christmas but was delayed by the holiday. The brothers were expected to spend the day with their elderly mother but met Tubman in secret. She helped them travel north, gaining a head start on the master who did not discover their disappearance until the end of the holidays. Likewise, William and Ellen Crafts escaped together at Christmastime. They took advantage of passes that were clearly meant for temporary use.

“This same Jesus, whom the civilized world now worship as their Lord, was once a lowly, outcast, and despised; born of the most hated people of the world . . . Laid in the manger of a stable at Bethlehem . . . This Jesus is worshiped now”. For Ann, Christmas symbolized the birth of the very hope she used to survive her captivity. Not all enslaved African Americans viewed the holidays as a time of celebration and hope. However for a slave Christmas served only to highlight their lack of freedom.

Frederick Douglass described the period of respite that was granted to slaves between Christmas and New Year’s Day as a psychological tool of the oppressor. In his 1845 Narrative, Douglass wrote that slaves celebrated the winter holidays by engaging in activities such as “playing ball, wrestling, running foot-races, fiddling, dancing, and drinking whiskey.” He took particular umbrage at the latter practice, which was often encouraged by slave owners through various tactics.

In My Bondage and My Freedom, Douglass concluded “the license allowed [during the holidays] appears to have no other object than to disgust the slaves with their temporary freedom, and to make them as glad to return to their work, as they were to leave it.” While there is no doubt that many enjoyed these holidays, Douglass acutely discerned that they were granted not merely in a spirit of charity or conviviality, but also to appease those who yearned for freedom, ultimately serving the ulterior motives of slave owners.

Now we know what it was like for those poor souls captured and held in bondage! So as you recount your blessing of this holiday; think about those whose shoulders you stand and imagine if you will, what it was like to endure what was nothing more than psychological warfare. And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective…


The One And Only

On October 1, 1945, the world was gifted with a singer/songwriter/keyboardist best known for his duets with Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway. Donny fused R&B, gospel, jazz, classical, and rock strains in a modestly successful solo career. He was raised in St. Louis by his grandmother, Martha Pitts, a professional gospel singer. From the age of three, Hathaway accompanied her on tours, billed as the Nation’s Youngest Gospel Singer. He attended Howard University in Washington, DC on a fine-arts scholarship.

He worked as a producer and arranger for artists such as Aretha Franklin and the Staple Singers. After serving as the band director the Impressions, he recorded the single “I Thank You” for Curtis Mayfield’s label and sang backup with the Mayfield Singers. His first single “The Ghetto, Part 1” reached #23 on the charts. After recording several more singles and an album, Donny recorded “You’ve Got a Friend” with Roberta Flack. Their single “Where Is the Love?” reached #5 on the charts & earned them a Grammy Award.

He sang the theme song for the television program “Maude” and was hired by Quincy Jones to score the soundtrack for the 1972 film “Come Back Charleston Blue.” In 1973, reportedly suffering from periods of depression, his partnership with Flack deteriorated and Hathaway faded into relative obscurity. Five years later, he recorded “The Closer I Get to You” with Flack. This was their biggest hit & reached #2 on the charts as well as earned them another Grammy nomination.

Gone too soon, but he left a profound footprint upon the souls of mankind. We loved you Brother Donny and miss the gift you shared with the world but you will never be forgotten. Rest In Peace!

Listen to the music I’ve added; trust and believe it will warm you heart. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Put Your Hand In The Hand

Young, Gifted, And Black

What’s Goin On

“Just a Season”

AMAZON

Legacy – A New Season


A Blueprint for Accountability

I was being interviewed recently by a radio show host who asked a question that I had not thought much about. The question was “what was the message that I was trying to send and why did I create THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVES?” It made me wonder if the 14,000 plus followers wanted to know the answer too. My response was simple – to empower the minds of mankind. I understand that word have meaning and are powerful. Therefore, if I can induce thought and cause one to see things from a different perspective – I say well done.

Some have commented that my topics are racial, liberal, and too long. I say they are detailed reminders of the ghost of the great who paved the way and wrote the Greatest Story Ever Told! And the perspective’s relating to the political topics; well, they are reminders that as much as things change they remain the same and that history is written by the victor to enslave minds. With that said, this Sunday morning I will not take you to church but I will give you the word!

Think about the message and maybe you can find the strength to make a difference. And That’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

“Just a Season”

Visit: http://johntwills.com

AMAZON

Legacy – A New Season


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