Some Saturday Stuff: August 9th.

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Zoe and I enjoying the beautiful weather on Thursday.


Happy Saturday! I’ve had a pretty great week with my nephew Justin here. I’m very sore now, the result of three days of walks to the park, stores and a farmer’s market, but it was totally worth it. Zoe had a blast, and Justin, although perpetually having a teenaged grumpy face, has had fun, too. I really, really, really wish he could stay another week.


Let’s go to the links. First up, this story by Kristen E. Vincent on Protestant prayerbeads, a.k.a., rosaries:


“Is it okay for Protestants to use prayer beads?”


In the five years I’ve been writing and teaching about prayer beads, this is, by far, the number one question I hear.

The subtext of the question seems to be, “Are we going to get struck by lightning if we use beads in prayer?” There is fear, or at least, concern.


Granted, not everyone is tentative about using beads. Many people take up the beads without hesitation, thrilled to have another tool for prayer. But there are enough that it warrants addressing the question, particularly in my (southern) neck of the woods.


I always begin my response with the Old Testament story of the Israelites, newly-freed from slavery. They were headed to The Promised Land, this wonderful place that God had set aside for them. But in between them and TPL was a massive desert with no planes, trains, or automobiles in sight. In faith, they set out on their journey, not realizing how long it would take. As the years passed and they got more and more tired of being hot and sticky and thirsty, they began to rebel. They even argued with God, saying they would be better off as slaves back in Egypt. They were beginning to think God had abandoned them.

In response, God told them to take up the fringe on their garments. Bet they didn’t see that coming! How could fringe help them in this situation? But God understood the Israelites were physical beings. Even though God had promised to be faithful and always be with them, God knew the Israelites would get so focused on being hot and miserable and forget God’s promises. God knew they needed something tangible – physical – to hold onto and remind them that God was with them. So God told them to take up fringe – a common, ordinary, everyday object – and hold onto it when they needed comfort, guidance, assurance, love.


So if the question is whether it’s okay for Protestants to use beads – a common, ordinary, everyday object – in prayer, we have only to look at the book of Numbers (chapter 15) and read how God offered fringe: the first prayer tool. That’s how we know we’re safe from lightning strikes (aside from the fact that God is not in the business of lightning strikes).

At this point most people are able to relax and consider incorporating beads into their prayer time. Others, however, have more questions:


• When people use prayer beads, isn’t the focus on the beads rather than God? No. The focus is on developing and going deeper into one’s relationship with God. That’s what prayer is about. The beads are just a tool to facilitate that.


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My Anglican rosary and Common Book of Prayer. I purchased the rosary at Full Circle Beads.



Read the rest here. I purchased my first Protestant prayerbeads- I call them by their other common use name, Anglican rosaries– five years ago. I’ve used them intermittently. I have issues with keeping up devotional habits; I’ll set aside time for Scripture and prayer, and stick to it for a few weeks, only to stop because of everyday tasks. When I do actually use it, I can attest to appreciating what a tactile object can add to prayers. I also like the circular movement of counting off the beads. Physical movement in worship, from lifting hands during a praise song to kneeling in prayer, helps focus all of me.


Now, a turn of 180 degrees to this story on the depiction of women (especially Blacks) in music videos. From The Root:



A searing new report revisits an age-old concern about the portrayal of women, especially blacks, in music videos, which are engulfed in overtones of racism and sexism, researchers say, according to the International Business Times.


The depiction of women in music videos “creates a ‘conducive context’ for violence against women and girls,” the IBT writes about the recurring theme, which is especially prominent in hip-hop lyrics.

The report, Pornographic Performances, released in Britain by End Violence Against Women Coalition, Imkaan and Object, condemns the portrayal of women in pop videos as hypersexualized and “endlessly sexually available” objects, the IBT writes. IBT’s reporting cites as examples “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, “Summer” by Calvin Harris, and “Never Say Never” by Basement Jaxx.

The activists are calling on leading figures in the music industry, as well as media regulators and politicians, to make changes, IBT says.

Further, the study denounces the depiction of black women as “wild and animalistic” hypersexual objects, IBT says. It also states that “racialised tropes” cut across all genres of music.

Researchers say that viewers have been found to have “an associated tolerance of racist, sexist and even rape-tolerant attitudes,” according to IBT.

Additionally, findings show that those who watched music videos in a controlled setting exhibit “more sexist attitudes towards women and are more tolerant of sexual harassment,” IBT reports. They are more likely to endorse a “sexual double standard”—which sees men who have many sexual partners as admirable and women who do so as “sluts,” the IBT notes.


I don’t watch new videos too often today. I feel I’ve outgrown much of it. But yes, the nearly naked girls, used as props, splayed across cars, beds, walls… augh. Reminds me of Lupe Fiasco’s “Bitch Bad”. Watch it below. Excuse the use of “bitch”. It’s in the song quite validly.

This week, with President Obama’s announcement of the United States’ step up of support in Iraq to battle Islamic State, I began reading about the persecution being faced by the Yazidis. While I was aware of what was going on with Iraqi Christians, I had never heard of the Yazidis. Here’s a primer from BuzzFeed:
The Yazidis are an ethnic and religious minority living mostly in northern Iraq.

The Yazidis live in a semiautonomous part of northern Iraq with the Kurds, but see themselves as distinct from their Kurdish neighbors. The Kurds, on the other hand, see the Yazidis as Kurdish.

Yazidis mostly speak Kurdish, a language in the Iranian group. They number between 500,000 and 600,000 in Iraq and about700,000 worldwide. The Yazidi people have a strict caste system.

There are also Yazidi communities outside of Iraq in Germany, among other places.


The Yazidis practice a religion that draws from numerous traditions.

The religion is a monotheistic, non-Abrahamic faith. Its influences date back thousands of years and include elements of Christianity, Sufi Islam and, notably, Zoroastrianism — an ancient Persian faith. The Yazidi belief system also incorporates parts of ancient Roman and Assyrian religions.

The Yazidi religion is primarily oral, rather than scriptural.

Sheik Adi bin Musafir is a venerated and pivotal figure among Yazidis — and is sometimes characterized as the sect’s founder — and lived during the 12th century. His tomb in the northern Iraqi city of Lalish is now a pilgrimage site. Religious practices are diverse in the Yazidi religion and include things like circumcision and baptism. Other practices range from not eating lettuce or pumpkin, among other foods, to restrictions on women cutting their hair, the timing of marriage, and an array of other things. They believe inreincarnation, and fire carries special significance.

Outsiders have called the Yazidis “devil worshippers,” though it’s really more complicated than that label implies.

Malak Taus (there are many English spellings of his name), or the Peacock Angel, is a central figure in the Yazidi religion. He isconsidered a fallen angel — like Lucifer in Christianity — of ambivalent moral orientation, but one who ultimately repented and returned to God.

Malak Taus is especially important for understanding the current conflict because other religions — Islam, Christianity — have viewed him as the devil, consequently earning the Yazidi a reputation as devil worshippers. The issue is complicated, however, because Yazidis think of Malak Taus differently than the way other religions see the devil. For example, in 2007 a Yazidi spokesman living in Germany told a Telegraph reporter his people do “not worship evil, we just see that the world contains good as well as bad. Darkness as well as light.”

The Iraqi constitution specifically mentions the Yazidis in its section on religious freedom. In an address Thursday night, President Obama called the Yazidis “a small, ancient religious sect.”

ISIS istargeting Yazidis for both their religion, and because it wants their territory.

ISIS considers the Yazidis devil worshippers and therefore incompatible with the goal of establishing their version of an Islamic state.

However, ISIS also is making gains for the first time into Kurdish territory. The militant group captured the town of Sinjar on Aug. 3, marking the first time they had overrun the Kurdish forces that defend the semiautonomous region. The Iraqi military will support the Kurds, but that hasn’t stopped ISIS from targeting the Yazidi.

In his address Thursday, Obama said ISIS has “called for the systemic destruction for the entire Yazidi people.”



Read the rest. This week, I’m choosing the beautiful Janelle Monae with the fun “Electric Lady”. Loving the college sorority setting (and Janelle’s gorgeous fro). Have a great weekend.

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