Empower @ the Lyric Opera: Southside Lives Matter



Empower PhotoLast night I greatly enjoyed the Chicago Urban League’s Empowerperformance at the Lyric Opera. Empower, a collaborative between the two organizations, provided youth from Southside Chicago opportunities to utilize the performing arts to showcase a positive portrayal of life on the Southside. Accompanied by Lyric voices William Liverman and Angela Brown, Empoweractors and singers displayed musical, dance, and rhetorical artistry of original choreography and script reflective of the sounds and themesof African American urban life.

Scriptwriter Ike Holter, resident playwright for the Victory Gardens Theater, and Composer Damien Sneed, 2014 Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient, have much of which to be proud. Creatively their team gave a significant message: Allowing the residents of the Southside to unite to give their own stories of the good life in their community will forcibly dispel the negative portrayals propagated by fair-weather reporters from the outside who only are telling fake news about the Southside, thereby showing that Southside lives matter too. Images of Southside nail and hair shops, a neighborhood store, and Harold’s Chicken Shack, added a setting of bright scenes to the encouraging dialog about memorable times of watching grandparents dance in the kitchen and enjoying neighborhood fish fries.

The theme song and rapping were lit – “lit,” itself, adding nice humor to multiple scenes – and there was a poignant shout out to The Black Panthermovie that brought great laughter to the audience. Yet the stage play remained honest about daily experiences, depicting struggles with bullying faced by a high school student who had acquired scholarships to college. Her resolve to stand up against her opponents rather than politely continue to say, “Excuse me,” or allow another to take up her cause was one of the most significant messages of the night.

With similar reality, the young people’s initial struggle to figure out how to make a beneficial difference in their community was important. As the performance moved toward a resolution, hearing the stories of “the old days” helped them to see that our histories might hold a key to uplifting the community in the present and future. In short, like the Lyric and the Chicago Urban League, the young and old collaborated to sing loudly that the Southside is what makes Chicago a great city. I hope the youth who gave this message will have many chances to repeat it all over Chitown.



Empower @ Lyric Opera

See: https://www.lyricopera.org/concertstickets/calendar/2017-2018-other/productions/lyricopera/empower

EmpowerYouth-911x612-2In this world premiere, a group of South Side youth band together to change their neighborhood and fight against the negative media representation by a reporter obsessed with corruption. From redefining their own narrative to sharing what Chicago means to them, hear the stories and sounds of Chicago’s youth in this groundbreaking new work written by Ike Holter with music by Damien Sneed as it debuts on Chicago’s biggest stage.

This performance is the culmination of EmpowerYouth!: Igniting Creativity through the Arts, a groundbreaking partnership between Lyric and the Chicago Urban League that immerses high school students in the creation and performance of an original opera. Students will perform their opera alongside opera stars Angela Brown and Will Liverman and a 10-piece orchestra, bringing this dynamic new work to Lyric audiences in a fully-staged and costumed opera performance.

“How John Calvin Dealt with Refugees and the Poor” by @CWoznicki

In response to the messages and panel discussions of the TGC/ERLC MLK50 Conference, some might be tempted to think that the organizers and speakers were promoting a “social gospel.” Of course, a “social gospel” would not be the Gospel, but a false gospel. I did not hear a false gospel at the conference. Rather, what I heard is that those redeemed by the work of Christ in his death and resurrection live out the Gospel, including its implications for affecting racial tensions and unity in American society and the evangelical church in America.

Rather than making a Gospel vs. “social” dichotomy, John Calvin saw addressing social concerns in Geneva as an outworking of the Gospel. I think Calvin set an example to be followed both in his practice (e.g., concern for the poor), and his theology—that the church – those transformed by the Gospel – should care about ills in the society around them. To that end, I am glad to reblog, “How John Calvin Dealt with Refugees and The Poor,” by @CWoznicki.


CWoznicki Think Out Loud

In the 1550’s Geneva witnessed an influx of French refugees into the city. William Naphy has argued that this influx, and the growing influence of these French religious refugees was the single most common complaint in Geneva during this period. (Naphy, 121) Prior to the influx of politically powerful French refugees, there was an influx of poor refugees. For example, in October 1538-1539 Geneva’s city hospital assisted 10,657 poor strangers as they passed through the city. Naphy notes that this number does not even include Genevans who would have been attended to by the hospital. (Naphy, 122)

Regularly the hospital would have been charged with the city’s poor. The hospital would be john-calvin-9235788-1-402expected to take care of the sick in the hospital, deal with outpatients as well as people who were housed in the hospital, including orphans. In addition to these ministrations , the hospital had a bread baking ministry…

View original post 1,325 more words

My Suggested Books for A Biblical Studies Major to Read before Graduating from MBI


In yesterday’s MBI Bible Department chapel, Dr. John Goodrich asked me what books would I recommend a student majoring in Biblical Studies read before graduating. In the shortness of time, I mentioned this list:

  1. Hirsch, Validity in Interpretationbecause Hirsch used to believe meaning is stable.
  2. Johnson, Expository Hermeneutics, because Johnson built a model for interpreting Scripture based on Hirsch’s theory.
  3. Ward, Planet Narnia (also Kindle), and both the Narnia series and the Space Trilogy series by Lewis, because Planet Narnia is a great piece of literary criticism that also will help one learn to discern meaning in texts.
  4. Ellison, The Invisible Man, because it is apropos for the divided American society in which many Biblical Studies majors will serve. (Kindle)
  5. Meade, Teaching Hearts, Training Minds or Comforting Hearts, Training Minds, because many of them will begin families of their own one day and need a resource to help disciple their children, and in discipling their children they also will see a good text and method for discipling church members in theological truth.
  6. As many Christian classics as one can (including those in the Catholic tradition), because we should know our own classics and interact with their enduring ideas.

To this list immediately I would add Carson’s, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, The Gagging of God, Exegetical Fallacies, The Intolerance of Tolerance, and The Gospel of John  , because Carson is all about rightly reading Scripture and engaging culture with the gospel, and Packer’s, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, because personal evangelism should be one of the ends of teaching and learning Scripture and we should do it in the truth of God’s grace.

An exhaustive list would be too long for a blog post.

Dr. Eric Mason, Sermon: “Seeing Through the Lens of the End” (Rev. 7:9-12)

Dr. Eric Mason’s Founder’s Week sermon, “Seeing Through the Lens of the End,” is powerful, bold, and poignant for this time in American society. He preaches the gospel of grace, and courageously applies it to the American Dilemma.

I hope Pastor Mason will gain other opportunities for evangelicals in every corner of the country to hear this message. I was blessed tremendously by this word.

#Charlottesville: Some Gospel Thinking on White Supremacy, in Themelios

Cover to CharlottesvilleThemelios 42.3 posted today, and it includes the article, “#Charlottesville: Some Gospel Thinking on White Supremacy,” co-written by Walter J. Redmond, Jr. (my father), Charis A. M. Redmond (my daughter), and me. I am grateful to the editors of Themelios for their kind inclusion. I hope that an article in an evangelical journal co-written by an evangelical who works for two evangelicals institutions might gain a hearing among evangelicals.

Engaging Scripture Deeply: Spring MDL/SLA Course Registration Open


, , ,


Spring Registration is OPEN for the Spiritual Leadership Academy Course, Engaging Scripture Deeply. If you live in Chicagoland, join us!

I encourage you to invite and bring your Sunday School Class, Bible study group, small group, and/or ministry leadership team too. This course is for everyone!

Texts for the course: Ephesians (Stott) and Ephesians (Redmond). I selected Stott’s commentary because I want to demonstrate the role of using a tool in studying deeper, not because Stott offers an exegetical commentary (which he does not). But going deeper does not require the use of an exegetical commentary, if deeper involves more than intellectual inquiry. Leave the Greek exegetical work for the course professor to explain. Stott is sufficient for our learning together. I will be providing elections from Ephesians in the ESV Study Bible too.

Raymond Chang: “Open Letter to John Piper on White Evangelicalism and Multiethnic Relations”



In CT, Raymond Chang responds to John Piper’s post on Lecrae and evangelicalism. Previously Raymond shared a post on this blog here. In the current article, Raymond writes,

For better or worse, we are only at the beginnings of this “Reverse Exodus,” since, at the moment, there aren’t many better options to turn to for people who hold the same doctrines as white evangelicals hold. Evangelicals of color are growing up in, getting trained by, and seeking participation in white evangelical spaces because there aren’t many viable options of another sort who hold the same theological convictions – except in the historically black church which emerged out of exclusionary practices by white Christians who held convictions nearly identical to the ones evangelicalism promotes. Despite this, there are many evangelicals of color who still hold onto a genuine hope and willingness to endure in order to see the church demonstrate what Gospel centered unity in diversity can look like. This flickering flame is what I hope we can fan into a blazing fire.

However, the willingness of evangelicals of color to remain will likely change when they begin to realize that they too are the token/mascot/poster child for white evangelical churches or institutions. Unless white evangelicalism wakes up to the realities that it’s unwillingness to sufficiently change keeps it behind the culture, instead of leading prophetically with a clear vision of the Kingdom of God, the exodus will ensue.

My hope is we can work towards an equitable unity where all people mutually submit to and honor each other.

You can read the rest here.

Thank you, Raymond, for your love for Christ and his church.