Friday, March 21, 2008

Sharpton emphasizes faith, true black culture in city visit

By Abram Katz
Register Staff
The Rev. Al Sharpton took aim at the often violent and sexist lyrics uttered by rappers and blamed such language for defiling black culture, during a sermon at Community Baptist Church Thursday evening.
He mentioned black presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama only once in passing. Some local politically connected religious figures expected Sharpton to deliver comments on race, and the Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns.
Instead he preached a Maundy Thursday sermon.
Sharpton received a typically warm welcome from the congregation. He had been scheduled to appear Wednesday but his trip was delayed by poor weather.
“Blackness was never about how low you could be,” Sharpton said. It was about rising up and seeking a better future.
He said hip-hop performers defend themselves by claiming that they are simply reflecting reality. Everybody can already see reality, Sharpton said, and there’s no skill in that.
“Providing a vision of what could be, that’s what black culture has always been about,” he said. “During slavery, we sang ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,’ and ‘Go Down Moses.’ We didn’t sing songs about picking cotton and getting whipped,” he said.
In a similar way, many churchgoers go through the motions, reciting words without understanding their significance.
“We must consider how religion relates to us. Most go through the motions rather than making religion a part of you,” he said. “Most churches just go through the motions.”
The same people who pay not attention to profane lyrics also do not give a great deal of thought to their words, Sharpton said.
Referring to Obama’s book. “The Audacity of Hope,” Sharpton said “hope” is no substitute for faith.
“Faith is when the doctor gives up; when you have bills and no money. Faith ain’t in your laptop. Faith is when it don’t make sense. You can’t figure it out.”

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