Cornel West

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Cornel West Week: leftovers

In the spirit of Thanksgiving being yesterday, here are a few leftover quotes from Dr. West.

"Interrogate your hidden assumptions."

"To be a Christian is to live dangerously, honestly, freely--to step in the name of love as if you may land on nothing, yet to keep on stepping because the something that sustains you no empire can take away."

"I cannot be an optimist but I am a prisoner of hope."

"You can't lead the people if you don't love the people. You can't save the people if you don't serve the people."

"Love is a steadfast commitment to the well-being of others."

Cornel West Week: young people

"You can't develop and sustain leaders unless you get motion and momentum on the ground among ordinary people, especially young people."

"Young folk are shaped by what older folk present to them." "If young folk have access to a vast array of courageous and great examples, that will serve as the foundation for their judgment."

Cornel West Week: cracked vessels

"We are all cracked vessels; trying to love our crooked neighbors with our crooked hearts."

There is a paradox which few human beings have learned enough to enact. Power is found in humility. Authority is found in humility.

Humility recognizes that I am as broken as you if not more so. It recognizes the outrageous crooked heart within myself. It regrets my own crooked heart more than it hates a crooked person.

The paradox is in the misunderstanding that humility = weak and cannot understand that humility is power.

It is the power to see that the crooked heart in me loves the crooked heart in you.

It is the power to  recognize that a cracked vessel waters the flowers along the path.

It is the power to truly love.

Cornel West Week: faith

"There is a difference between 'rational certainty' and 'blessed assurance'; blessed assurance is stepping out on nothing and landing on something."

This week I will be highlighting a few quotes from Dr. Cornel West; one of today's most provocative thinkers. He is a champion for racial justice as well as a strong advocate for the poor and marginalized.

The quote above is a favorite of mine as it truly strikes at the core of faith. It is a reminder that one of the absolute ingredients of faith is risk. Faith is a trust, and to trust anything or anyone there must be a risk you are willing to take. You have to step out on something. If you have not taken some sort of risk, it is not trust. It is not faith. You have to step out on nothing to land on something, and once you land on something you get the assurance and affirmation of that trust. But it does not happen in the opposite order.

Dr West also said,"There is always an element of doubt in your faith because it is not always all about you. You are acknowledging something greater than you."

Jesus said the greatest commandment before us is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Wonder and awe are love languages of the soul. To have faith is to acknowledge that God is bigger and beyond you. It is to acknowledge that he does not fit into the constraints of your ability to comprehend with your left brain logic. It is to step out with our right brain imagination and wonder.

Shad - hip hop artist highlight

"Too often, hip hop still lacks deep vision and analysis. It's morally underdeveloped and spiritually immature." - Cornel West

Most people would be surprised to know how much I enjoy hip hop. At least, my guess is most would be surprised. I really love hip hop, but I am incredibly picky as to what hip hop I will endure.

Dr. West's thoughts above get to the heart of my picky-ness as it relates to the hip hop I enjoy. There are a few criteria an artist has to meet for me to enjoy them.

  1. Is it well-written? I care too much about the beauty and art of written and spoken word to waste time with "artists" who pay no mind or effort to the craft.
  2. Is it thoughtful? I am no longer (and never was) interested in how much more sex, money, or arrogance you have than me. But if you are writing for a purpose outside and beyond yourself, I am all ears.
  3. Is it redemptive or impactful? Tricia Rose said, "Hip hop has become a primary means by which we talk about race in the United States." I not only agree but would say that, as any artistic expression, hip hop has the capacity to be dramatically redemptive and impacting in endless issues.

One artist in the last few years has surfaced for me as one fulfills all of these criteria as well as many others. Shad is out of Canada and still has a swagger you do not expect from mounty country. He is uber-creative, thoughtful, and well-thought. It is evident in his work. Get all three albums and thank me later.