Posted: November 8, 2015 in Commitment, Covenants, Duty of Believers, Faith, Personal Testimony, Prophecy, Unity
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     Lately, I have been thinking of my brothers from Theta Xi (qX) fraternity at Trinity College (Hartford, CT) and how, correctly understood, the operations of diversity establish unity where oneness does not have to mean sameness.  Just as the very words that bring us together also can separate us; what generates our independence can both enrich and impoverish us.  I received a letter from one of the brothers who is taking leadership to organize a reunion on campus for 2017.  In hoping to share something that could give him an “update” or quick picture of my present commitment to Christ, and changes in me from my post in Washington, DC that have been made over the years, I wanted to attach a file from the music ministry of Chris Machen, Bow the Knee, from the 1994 album God Is Able.  When I thought it might be too dramatic, and would raise the unwanted question, Why would a black man express himself using a white man’s music? I looked for something else that (1) would express belief, yet, (2) not deny my cultural origins.  I then attached two MP3 music files to my reply.  One was from the music ministry of Steve Amerson, I Will Follow, in the 1991 album He Is My Strength.  The other was from Wintley Phipps, No Need To Fear, in the 2007 album, No Need To Fear.

    Even though I was a member of Capitol Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church, I had never heard Pastor Phipps sing No Need To Fear until he shared it following a lunch-hour prayer meeting on the Senate side of the Capitol.  That was one of the experiences I cherish from that time in my life, along with daily being required to double check everything I would prepare as part of my work in the Library of Congress.  In developing personal standards for balance, self-discipline and spiritual maturity as well as for ethical and professional behavior, I have had to become alert to avoid conflicts of interest, misuse of employer (i.e., government) property and supplies, and conduct that would be seen as pressuring others regarding religious beliefs (i.e., proselytizing).  It was through the ministry and prayers of Pastor Phipps that I was reunited with my college sweetheart after many years of separation.  While I did think so highly of Pastor Phipps that, following worship one Sabbath, I introduced to him the woman I wanted to have as my life companion (we arrived late, and had to sit upstairs in the balcony, able to hear his preaching and singing, yet, unable to see him or be seen by him because he was directly beneath us); even so, I never sat down with either of them to share my personal testimony of having seen Jesus Christ.  (The first time I was able to share that witness after my own mother’s death was with the mother of another Trinity College classmate.)

    The idea of using music and recordings to express your own feelings, or to say what you otherwise could not say with words, was shared with me very early as I was growing-up.  My older sisters (who were also my first dance instructors) revealed that girls often rely upon the words in songs to crystallize their feelings and emotions.  As a radio announcer and broadcast engineer, I was able to share and demonstrate this to the Theta Xi brothers as part of our campus life through WRTC-FM, the Trinity College (Hartford, CT) radio station.  While I did understand then that hymns, psalms and sacred music could be used to express spiritual ideas, I would have to learn that, like preaching and the spoken word, believers are to use music and dance to prophecy (i.e., comfort, edify, exhort), and impart spirit substance from the makeup of divinity.

    When I wrote other of the brothers, I was not sure I should send more music.  I did not want to appear to be proselytizing, or sending out spam.  I thought, the focus should be upon reunion in a way that problems or wounds from the past not be obstacles to the future.  I chose to send only a brief note to one brother in Massachusetts; to a second from Florida, I chose to attach the qX award-winning contemporary blues classic Moonlight Over The Mississippi from the 2012 album ROYAL SOUTHERN BROTHERHOOD (2) by the Royal Southern Brotherhood (see it on YouTube performed for American troops stationed in Bonn, Germany @ https://youtu.be/NbNuvf8K_Yw).  When I wrote the brother who had been my roommate on campus, and with whom I had traveled to provide the play-by-play for broadcasts of Trinity football, I first chose to send an acappella selection that reminded me of the folk music popular during our campus years.  I shared from Glad, Be Ye Glad, in the 1998 album, Collector’s Series, Vol. 2.  Later, I shared “Moonlight” also. 

    “Moonlight” impressed me as having captured the Spirit of our good times together.  When I began at Trinity, the total of African and American blacks within a student population of some 1,200 was still fewer than 10.  My first exposure to New England college fraternity life, and the turning point that made me feel at home, would be a weekend when the Isley Brothers (You Make Me Want To Shout) performed at our campus on an outdoor stage.  Before graduation, Baby Huey from Motown, the Temptations, and B. B. King would also appear.  The men of Theta Xi were dedicated students, and all worked hard to maintain a high academic standard.  The bar for grades was set at B or better for every member of house.  We needed the rest and refreshing of party weekends and other activities away from books; and we were learning and growing at a time when self-discovery and self-expression also meant exploring jazz and rock’ n’ roll.  The Little Rascals introduced a song at our house, Gloria, that took us to a soaring height of unity when we all were dancing and began to sing with the band.  Yet, for me, only the Brotherhood has accomplished what the Rolling Stones hungered for, and worked to achieve with all their might:  being able to play the blues as Masters of the form, despite their being “white boys.”  At qX we were able to release one another, then, from the burdens of racial conflict, distrust, prejudice, and snobbery.  Together we were able to discover and practice the many shared aspects of “Soul” that GOD had placed among us.

    I was not alone seeking to explore what we then called “The Black Experience.”  African History and Black Studies were offered on campus; and an action group was formed to maintain dialogue on issues of race in America.  Yet, the needed focus and work to complete a doctoral thesis while still in undergraduate school—creating curriculum based on learning theory, and designing a school system that would address a range of specific needs and problems within African American communities—distanced me from the men of Theta Xi in many ways.  Later, my experience of Christ while in graduate school at the University of Chicago demanded that I make a full commitment to divinity that continues to set me apart from others.  Even so, when the brothers of Theta Xi come together in reunion, I hope to be there.  I expect we will gather as survivors, those who dreamed the dream; and by what we have endured, those who grasp forgiveness, gratitude, and those without a willingness to quit.  Should it ever happen, it can only be a gathering of those having an ageless spirit in brotherhood, and who still can celebrate with genuine affection, empathy, joy, and mutual respect.

Washington, DC

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