Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver

It was just a couple days before the Buffalo shooting I was debating to read Soul on Ice or the essays of Audre Lorde. I had both copies on my shelf and I went for this one. I would encourage everyone to read more work by black authors. This one in particular has been enlightening. The Buffalo shooting is terrible. If anyone of us is dying because of ignorance and hatred then we are all dying. Sometimes, when I’m faced with it, I’m overwhelmed by our broken world.

Eldridge Cleaver was one of the early leaders of the Black Panthers and was editor of their newsletter. He was convicted of several crimes which resulted in his imprisonment in Folsom Prison—same prison in which Johnny Cash cut a live album in 1968, two years after Cleaver would be released. It was in this year (1968) that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Cleaver was a follower of Malcolm X and was devastated by his assassination in 1965. It could be argued that this event really influenced his activism going forward, his involvement with the Black Panther Party, and his running for president via the Peace and Freedom Party ticket.

📸 wikipedia

“From my prison cell, I have watched America slowly coming awake. It is not fully awake yet, but there is soul in the air and everywhere I see beauty. I have watched the sit-ins, the freedom rides the Mississippi Blood Summers, demonstrations all over the country, the F.S.M. movement, the teach-ins, and the mounting protest over Lyndon Strangelove’s foreign policy —all of this, the thousands of little details, show me it is time to straighten up and fly right. That is why I decided to concentrate on my writings and efforts in this area. We are a very sick country —I, perhaps, am sicker than most. But I accept that. I told you in the beginning that I am extremist by nature —so it is only right that I should be extremely sick. I was very familiar with the Eldridge who came to prison, but that Eldridge no longer exists. And the one I am now is in some ways a stranger to me.”

— Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice, 1968

Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:18-19)

I’m so glad I am ending my year-long Bible sessions with a letter from Paul. His work is such a pleasure to read, so beautiful and profound. I like Paul’s verse on hope, that we are called to it. Hope is a powerful feeling. It can take us from the depths of despair if we don’t have any to total elation if it is restored to us. Isn’t having Hope then like having God? Is God hope itself in addition to many other beautiful and good things? And along with the hope God gives we must carry gratitude. I think the two are inseparable. When we lay our hope in God’s hands, therefore surrendering our will, we make ourselves vulnerable and equally indebted to God when God delivers us from despair. Thanks be to God!

Thank you for staying with me through this journey of the Bible! Check out my story every day as I post my past posts of the books if you’d like a concentrated look or follow #fridaybiblepost!

The book of Zechariah

“…’Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’…” (Zechariah 1:3)

Zechariah is another prophet. He and the prophet Haggai (see yesterday’s post) are both trying to encourage the people to complete Jerusalem’s temple, but the people keep getting distracted by other things. Sounds a lot like when God calls us to do something, but OUR plans take over or we are sidetracked and veer off God’s path. Zechariah was there to herd the people back to finish what they started.

Kind of like me finishing these Bible posts for the entire Bible. I said I was going to do it, so here I am finishing what I was called to do. Now there are only two posts left until we’ve done them all! Whether they helped you or not I’m thankful to all of you who have supported me in this endeavor. I enjoyed this journey probably more than anyone else. 🙃And I do encourage everyone to read the Bible, especially if it’s something that is nagging you–that might be God calling!

Not only is it a great goal to read the whole thing, but it is also great protection against people who use the Bible as a way to spread hate and fear. If you’ve read it, you can set many people straight (including yourself) and possibly inspire with your knowledge of Christ as love and mercy. It is better than sitting back allowing the world to fester in its own lie (fear and hate), as I did for so many years, almost to the point where I started to believe the lie myself. Get back to building that temple inside of you! 😄

Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh…three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Saint Paul is so good and his words so powerful that I did not think this needed any additional stuff from me. No explanation is needed.
Who doesn’t love Saint Paul the Apostle?

The book of Jonah

“You have been concerned about this plant [providing you shade], though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” (Jonah 4:10-11)
Jonah loved a single leaf that was providing him shade while he sat back to watch what would become of the evil city of Nineveh, but he sat idly by while a worm ate up the leaf he loved. How stupid, right? Well God explains that God too, loved the people of Nineveh, so how can God sit idly by and watch a “worm” (evil) eat it up? God sent Jonah, a prophet, to relay God’s message to the king of Nineveh, but Jonah disliked the people of the city so much he escaped this call, in which case he was brought back to the city in a whale’s mouth.
The story of Jonah is so charming and cute! Though it is meant to be looked at as an allegorical tale, I think it shows God’s sense of humor, and that God will stop at nothing, when God calls, to show us what our calling is. Not only that, but it proves that God’s call for us is to help each other see God, recognize God, and know that God loves us no matter who or what we are/were. And its message says that we are to help those we dislike. Even those who storm the capital because of their “confusion”. How can you help someone see God today, tomorrow, etc.?

The Book of Joel

“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand…” (Joel 2:1)
Here Joel is the watchman warning the people of the plague of Locusts who will devour all the vegetation and make the land have the appearance of death, dry as if to not have any life. It will be devoured by gluttony and greed and selfishness—qualities we can give to the locusts as they work on these terms. This reminded me of Isak Dinesen’s experience with the grasshoppers on her farm in Africa. In her book, ‘Out of Africa’, she explains the intense fear the people have of these creatures. A messenger would ride from town-to-town warning farmers of their coming. They would come in swarms. They would black out the sky. People would try to hold them back, but their numbers were so great it was no use. The devastation was immense.
A few years ago, I kept getting a waking vision of a train coming at me. I saw the light and felt the speed of the train as it barreled toward me. I knew it would hit me, I knew, and I could feel something terrible was coming but like most ‘visions’, I disregarded it as my imagination and ignored all warnings to prepare myself for disaster. What could I have done anyway when it hit so to blackout the sky? Not a year later disaster struck my family more than once and left us all terribly injured emotionally for many years and still recovering. Is it possible that we have watchmen for our own lives? Would we call it the Holy Spirit? When it moves, when it aches, when it laughs will we disregard it as our imagination? Or will we heed its gestures to love more, help more, say more?

The book of Hosea

“It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them, I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.” (Hosea 11:3-4)

When I read this the first time I was struck by this image of God as feminine and motherly. It is so easy to forget to thank God for the little things, even the people God sends to us to help us in our times of need, even words spoken by strangers that keep us in deep thought all day. We forget that even the simplest favors were done for us out of Love by God and sometimes through others. Just like our mothers, parents, guardians, and friends who do things for us simply out of their great love.…And the things we have done for others out of love. One thing I do in secret is remove all obstacles (dog bones, pillows, blankets, toys) out of my husband’s path before I go to bed, so he doesn’t trip in the dark when he gets up (usually very early). When I told him this (no longer a secret) he laughed and made the joke that I’m like Charlie in the show ‘Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ who secretly protects ‘the waitress’ because of his great (hilariously obsessive) love for her. I thought that was funny.

Who are you secretly helping and who do you think is secretly helping you? Do you think God is working through them/you? How can we show our gratitude for these secret favors of Love?