Tammy Thomas Garnes

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The Borrower is Slave to the Lender – Almighty Debt: CNN Black In America

In Media, Politics on October 20, 2010 at 9:29 am

When the hubby and I went through our “Financial Peace” course over several months at our church, one thing became clear, almost everyone has financial issues…big, fat, nasty, debt ridden financial issues.  You would think with all of our education, all of our forward thinking–our access to budgeting software and online banking, that Americans…specifically Black Americans who spend so much of our time online, at work and in church, would have killed this debt monster by now.  But most of us haven’t.  No matter how much we bring in…Americans find a way to spend it all, plus a little extra.

This week, CNN brings us CNN Almighty Debt: A Black In America Special with Soledad O’brien, a 60 minute CNN Black in America documentary special premiering Thursday, October 21, 2010.  This timely piece of heart wrenching journalism, digs boldly into the struggles of several individuals and families as they struggle financially, finding hope and peace in their faith along the way.

I had the priceless opportunity to sit backstage at a recent Town Hall taping and discussion here in Atlanta with Soledad, Rev. DeForest Soaries of First Baptist  Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, NJ whose groundbreaking ministry is featured in the documentary, along with Bishop. T.D. Jakes, financial columnist Michelle Singletary, clinical social worker Terrie Williams, and pollster Cornell Belcher (what a smart man), as they addressed bloggers on the issues of faith, money and debt.  I loved the way that Soledad stayed true to her intense journalistic style, never letting up on these powerful voices in the Black community and hitting them hard with the question of WHY? over and over again.

I wish I could say that I walked away from this incredible documentary with concrete answers on how to fix the debt crisis in our community, but I didn’t.  I actually walked away a little more anxious and heck of lot more angry at how my people view and treat money, the church and it’s leaders.  But if that’s that point of a good documentary…to evoke emotion, questions and educate all at once…CNN got it right this time.  This Black In America installment will have everyone talking.

I must say, I found it very hard to listen backstage to the panelists views on tithing and giving.  Even in the midst of severe financial strife, all of the panelists urged Christians to continue to give their 10% to the church, because as one guest said “It’s how we fund our programs.”  I wondered to myself if they really wanted someone to give 10% of their unemployment check.  As a tither myself, I know how long it’s taken to get to the point where I give cheerfully, but there seems to be something very Un-Godlike about asking a struggling single mother to forego food for her kids so that “the church” can thrive.  Perhaps “the church” should pull back on IT’s spending if it’s that dependent on the gifts of the poor.  Or perhaps there are simply too many “the churches,” one taking up space on what seems like every single block in some urban cities, to make the true impact in the world that “the church” is called first and foremost to do.

You know, perhaps it’s my recent mission trip to Haiti, and not being able to find many other Black missionaries from America (because honestly it’s not something the Black church teaches us to do) or it could even be my behind the scenes knowledge of what goes on in certain churches.  But the last time I checked the book of Matthew, which hasn’t changed over the years, it shows Jesus living a lifestyle of frugality and telling his followers that if they want to be perfect (Christ like) they would give up everything, all of their possessions and follow Him.  This command would lead one to think that the opportunity for the church to teach our community about giving and being selfless, while living with less, so they can give more, lies in actually walking the walk and not always simply tossing coins in the collection plate.  You can tithe your time as well as your money and often times your time, which has a monetary value, has a much greater and direct impact.

Our issue as a community with “Almighty Debt” runs so deep, and transcends so many generations and historical events outside of our control, that continuing to teach Christians that all of their money woes will be solved thru tithing and simply budgeting, seems…just wrong.

While I truly admire all of the work that churches are doing to help congregants stay in their homes, pay for college and simply live day to day, and while I know that the church has bills to pay, I would have given money for Soledad to ask the panelists about how pastors who own multi-million private jets, drive audacious cars and wear extremely expensive clothing and jewelry serve as  positive fiscal examples to their congregants.  And let’s not even go there with churches allowing/encouraging members to give with credit cards, purchase books, cd’s, attend conferences, buy special clothing for special church events and the list goes on and on.

But back to the special.  The underlying theme that makes you proud as you watch the documentary is the stick-to-itness that you find in the protagonists.  You cheer for them, you want them to succeed and you see some of them in yourself.  Debt is an equal opportunity anxiety monster and this documentary shows that truth better than any program I’ve ever seen.

We have a crisis in our community when it comes to debt and honestly, sometimes I don’t know if the church is hurting or helping.  Judge for yourself this Thursday night.  CNN is bringing us another powerful documentary, be sure to tune in.


I am a witness to history

In Politics on January 17, 2009 at 11:26 am

We arrived in DC yesterday. Obama chocolates courtesy of Sees candy, greeted us in the airport. The trains were distinctly divided with those getting out of town as fast as they can, and those who were rushing in to fill their space in the moment.

We took the final tour of the Capitol. The last one before Obama takes office. We saw the stairs from which he will descend to take the oath. We, our family, is a witness to history. And it feels good.

Mad as heck….

In Politics on January 9, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Well, that’s 20 minutes of my life that I will never get back again.

I took the bait just a moment ago and actually BELIEVED that I would be able to purchase tickets to the Inauguration Parade through Ticketmaster or by phone.  I mean, there was such a nice press release put out earlier this morning and I had 2 phones and the internet going…and there was this one time in 9th grade when I won $100 by dialing into my local radio station so that proves that I have fast dialing fingers, right?

  • sigh* *whine* *sigh*

Obviously I wasn’t fast enough.  Or perhaps there never were any tickets.  The Ticketmaster site never worked properly, the lines were jammed for 10 minutes prior to the 1:00 on sale time and none of the actual Ticketmaster desks were allowing you to buy tickets from them.  The hubby and I not sitting in the parade bleachers won’t stop Obama from becoming President….but dang, it woulda been nice to have at least had a fair shot at a seat.

I’m sure if I search ticket brokers for the tickets right now, they are selling them for 10 times their worth.  Ok, ok, I’m done being mad..and my pity party is over.  

  • sitting up tall*

D.C. here we come!

Watching and Thinking

In Politics on January 3, 2009 at 9:19 pm

I understand history. I “get” the reasons behind the Israeli/Gaza assaults. But thanks to the modern day media, the stories of those affected by the attacks (from both sides), are much more real to me. When you listen to parents being interviewed on television and radio and listen to the anguish and fear in their voices, it takes the battle from being a blurb in the newspaper or a hiccup during the nightly news….it becomes tangible…..it becomes real….it starts to feel like….but for the grace of God I could be them.  I have that same knot in my stomach that I had when I watched as Katrina victims waved white sheets from their rooftops.  That empty sinking feeling.  CNN just reported a 4 day old baby who was injured in the attacks tonight.  He needs an incubator to survive.  There are none available. *sigh*

This mom’s blog was just profiled on CNN.  Take a look.  http://www.a-mother-from-gaza.blogspot.com/