The Jazz Theologian

Genelle Guzman-McMillan was the last survivor rescued from the rubble when the towers collapsed.  Here’s her story in her own words:

“Today I still work for The Port Authority as I did when I clocked in at the World Trade Center at 8:05 that Tuesday morning 10 years ago. But now on September 11, I try to take the day off. I want to be in a quiet, peaceful place praying. It is a day I both mourn and celebrate.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had left the 64th floor of the North Tower earlier and escaped unharmed. What if I hadn’t been buried in debris, the ground falling out beneath me at the 13th floor as I was racing to get out of the building? What if I hadn’t been stuck under rubble for 27 hours before rescuers finally found me? I would have been grateful, but I wouldn’t have looked any deeper at my life. I would have chalked my survival up to quick thinking or quick moving or plain good luck. I would have gone on with my life avoiding God the way I had ever since I lost my mom to cancer in 1999.

Instead I lay there trapped in the dark after the building collapsed, rethinking my life. I ended up doing what my mom would have done. I prayed. Well, it was more like pleading, screaming, promising, asking for some sort of miracle until I pushed my hand through a few inches of rubble above my head and felt someone’s warm hand close around mine. Then I heard a male voice say the four sweetest words I have ever heard: “I’ve got you, Genelle.”

Click to read full article at GuidePosts.

John Howard Griffin is one of my heroes.
He’s the white man who took the amazing journey of living as a black man in the Deep South in the late 1950’s.  Ultimately, he recorded his saga in a book, Black Like Me.  He drew his title from the closing lines of a poem called, “Dream variations” by jazz poet Langston Hughes (“Night Coming tenderly, Black like me”). I wrote about him in my book, Finding the Groove: Composing a Jazz-Shaped Faith, for he is a wonderful example as to what it means to “Develop Our Ear.”

There’s new documentary John Howard Griffin called, Uncommon Vision:  The Life and times of John Howard Griffin. recently interviewed filmmaker Morgan Atkinson about his work (read it here).
The film is both informative and inspiring.  It tells of his years of blindness and conversion to Christ.  Mostly, it tells the tale of how Griffin decided to discover for himself what it was actually like to live as a black man in American during the late 1950’s–to listen incarnate.  Aided by medication and sun lamps, he darkened his skin.  With shaved head he set  out on a spectacular journey into the land of lynching, segregation, and oppression.  He models for us the way of incarnation.  Griffin was able to speak to the problem of race in American because he was willing to become one with the oppressed in order to speak prophetically on their behalf.   I admire this man who chose to experience a foreign pain and struggle.

In a previous post I wrote about, The Other Wes Moore, the story of two men with the same name and similar backgrounds yet vastly different destinies.

Recently, the Rev. Leon Kelly stopped by The Sankofa Institute for a conversation.  He spoke us about A Tale of Two Michaels:  Michael Hancock and Michael Asberry.

Recently The Denver Post wrote:

Michael Hancock and Michael Asberry were born in the same year and grew up in the same northeast Denver neighborhood.  They knew each other.  Were friends.  Lived through similar hard times.  Both were natural-born leaders.  Hancock ran for student council, led a nonprofit, became a citycouncilman, and…became mayor of Denver.

Michael Asberry formed the city’s most violent criminal gang, Denver’s version of the Crips, in the 1980s.  Known as “Cyco” on the streets, Asberry was in and out of prison through his adult life and was trying to put his life in order in 2008 when he was shot and killed in front of an Aurora apartment.”

(Read the complete Denver Post Story here)

As you watch Michael Hancock’s campaign video (below), “Never Gave up” and consider the very different outcome of Michael Asberry’s life–again, “What made the difference?”  Is it the person?  Is it thee environment?  God?

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