Be bold. I am slowly leaving the advice-giving business, but if I had any advice to give it would be just that. Unless you are given over to being your own biographer (guilty as charged) there is no need to dwell on any past mistakes longer than it takes you to draw lessons from those mistakes. We assume to much about other people. We often assume people are doing better than we are doing in life because we see and know so little about other people's lives. Some people have actually been married to mass murderers and not known it, so how much could you really know about anyone unless he or she overshares on a regular basis (guilty again)? Social media is great, but you would be disillusioned if you could compare most people's actual lives to how their lives are presented online for better or for worse. You can easily become depressed if you spend too much time admiring or envying someone or something you have seen online.
And the worst part; you could be envying a snapshot taken completely out of context that makes something look better than it looks in reality. In the same way, you might be surprised just how well some people are doing as opposed to what you see, hear or read. So, my advice is find something you really want to do this year, and spend more time doing that thing than thinking about doing that thing. Be bold. Be unapologetic but be patient with those who may not understand your drive. Rejection will be a more constant companion than success, but your successes will compensate for the disappointments. Invent something. Build something. Learn to enjoy setbacks, laugh during the rough times, and I assure you that some good things will happen. I'm not special. I'm just a little guy from Goldsboro, North Carolina who treats life like a full contact sport and has come to realize that getting hit hard comes with the territory. In the same way, touchdowns and championships also come with the territory. Be bold. Be your own cheerleader. Pack your own sunshine for rainy days and expect some ugly days where you simply have to tough it out. Just know that you can tough it out, and 2014 will be your year and the beginning of your decade. Again, I'm leaving the advice-giving business, but I just wanted to share some thoughts and wish everyone a very Happy, Safe, Fortune-filled and Blessed New Year!
"Anger Anthem is a gritty and beautiful book. Jerry Grimes' gut-wrenching honesty brings readers into his life and allows them to see the world through his eyes. At times the book made me laugh and at other times it left me uncomfortable; it frustrated and inspired me at one and the same time--and I'm pretty sure this is why Jerry wrote it in the first place."
— Dave Csinos, critically-acclaimed author, researcher and international speaker
Goldsboro News-Argus, July 25, 2013
Local pastor and former GOP candidate for Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield’s U.S. House seat, Jerry Michael Grimes, has written a book – one he calls “part memoir, part satire.” Entitled Anger Anthem: A Brief and Impractical Guide to Girls, Guns, God, Grace and Other Guttural Matters, the effort was some seven years in the making.
by Matthew Whittle, Assistant Editor
Grimes, pastor of Peter’s Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church – where his father, James E. Grimes had formerly pastored – says he first decided to write the book in 2002 while in a Hollywood lounge with five of his friends and fellow Goldsboro High School graduates. He explained they were there after their film, The Armada – later titled Death of a Preacher – had been accepted into the West Hollywood Film Festival.
His goal, he said, was to let people know who he really was and what he really thought. “People have this perception of me that I’m very stiff, stilted, stuck up and unaware of the world,” Grimes said. “And I felt this was my one opportunity to really put myself out there honestly.
“I never want anyone to be friends with me based on who they think I am.” Specifically, he explained, he sees himself as somewhat out of the regular mold of southern black Baptist preachers, with views and attitudes toward the culture more akin to what he saw in California than in Goldsboro – something he wants his current and future churches to be aware of.“They’ll know who and what they’re getting from the outset. That way we’re not lying to each other about anything,” he said.
The focus of his book is on the five areas outlined in the subtitle. He talks about his relationship, not only with his current fiancée, but with women in general, and offers advice about love and forgiveness.
He talks about his experience in politics in the second chapter, his views on religion and theology in the third, and, in what he calls the most autobiographical part of the book, his own story in the fourth chapter. The fifth, the guttural matters, is focused on the arts and future projects – both books and films – he would like to pursue.
As for the title, he explained that the book was indeed, “written out of anger.” Over the seven years Anger Anthem was being shaped by his experiences in school, earning his master's and doctorate degrees, as well as his experinces running for Congress - something he says he doesn't plan on doing again.“I think running for Congress was the final straw. I don’t ever foresee a world where we’ll have an authentic politician,” he said. “It was a culture of inauthenticity and insincerity.” “That really spurred me on to finish this work. That’s what drove me to write this book, because ultimately, we’re fighting over nothing.”
For those who may be interested, I am Jerry Michael Grimes, a former candidate for U.S. Congress in North Carolina's First Congressional District, filmmaker, ordained Baptist minister, author, college lecturer and entrepreneur. I hold an undergraduate degree from Saint Augustine's University in Raleigh, North Carolina with graduate degrees from Virginia Union University, Fuller Theological Seminary, Union Presbyterian Seminary and a doctorate from Liberty University. As both the producer of films such as Death of a Preacher and a university lecturer in the disciplines of religion, theology and philosophy, I seek to push the boundaries of freethinking, political action and nontraditional approaches to education. My academic background not withstanding, I tend to be intellectually unhinged as I claim no allegiance to any particular political party, school of thought or philosophical perspective. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if I can be of some service. Otherwise, try your best not to be offended by my tendency to say exactly what I am thinking and feeling at any given time.
Welcome to my official blog, where I incessantly say things I ought not say about things I ought not discuss because I had much rather be alienated than muffled. A fair warning; I will compulsively blog at times...
Topic: Bill Maher
When Bill Maher lambasts Liberty University and makes light of Dr. Falwell's passing, never does he mention that he and Dr. Falwell shared a basic, mutual respect as witnessed during Dr. Falwell's appearance on Politically Incorrect. Mr. Maher, and so many media personalities more aligned with the Left, never had to schedule interviews with Dr. Falwell's assistant or a press secretary but had direct access to Dr. Falwell via cell phone.
Rarely, if ever, does anyone mention Dr. Falwell's openness to meeting with leaders from the LGBT community, who wanted to personally voice their disdain with Dr. Falwell's rhetoric and positions. When protesters picketed outside of Thomas Road Baptist Church during (a-Lynchburg-cold) winter, Dr. Falwell had no compunction about inviting protesters into the vestibule of the edifice to warmly continue their protest replete with hot cocoa. A United States Senator as far Left as the renown Edward M. Kennedy was not only a guest at Dr. Falwell's home but was invited to speak at Liberty University. While Senator Kennedy was solidly pro-choice and Dr. Falwell doggedly pro-life, Dr. Falwell permitted the Liberty University Debate Team to argue in favor of abortion when necessary resulting in his denouncement and criticism from the Right.
There are still a number of African American pastors leading congregations throughout Virginia today—African American astors whose education was subsidized by Liberty University as Liberty distinguished itself from the racial legacy of Bob Jones University. The behind-closed-doors friendships that former President Bill Clinton, Senator Edward M. Kennedy and the Reverend Jesse Jackson shared with Dr. Falwell are all indicative of the extent to which the media oversimplifies and truncates public figures ultimately reducing their personhood to mere nothingness. It is tragic that many of the same people who attack Dr. Falwell's legacy and debase Liberty University are engaging in the same type of prejudicial, vitriolic practices to which they attribute Dr. Falwell and Liberty University at-large.
To this point, despite my appreciation of what I consider to be the “courage” of the late Christopher Hitchens to speak as he did on matters of religion, even I found his remarks on Fox News immediately following the passing of Dr. Falwell to be unnecessary and more self-denigrating than anything else.
I actually like Mr. Maher and likewise admired his courage to speak as he did immediately following the events of September 11, 2001. Perhaps my greatest concern is that Mr. Maher, and his staff, may find themselves inadvertently alienating Liberty students and other persons who appreciate an array of perspectives. Or maybe Mr. Maher and his staff could less about my opinions and similarly progressive persons, and that would be kind of sad. And I find few things sad. - JMG
Topic: Why You Lyin'?
We live in what Robert F. Kennedy and a supposed Chinese proverb referred to as "interesting times." I agree. We indeed live in interesting times when so much of what we portray in public is either an act of deception or an ongoing effort to delude ourselves. Now, I don't expect most people to so carelessly and even recklessly discuss their personal lives as often as I do.
However, when concealing fears and weaknesses becomes a way of life...we're no longer living. This is especially true of the postmodern man. It is simply impossible to "be a man" nowadays hence my saying that we are postmodern. Masculinity is dead, and we live in a culture of a type of "Desperate House Husband." Not in the sense of men being kept, though this may be the case in some instances, but in the sense that there is no place for men any longer.
We (speaking on behalf of men-in-general) are all but defunct. Again, delusional persons may argue that we still live in a culture of hunter-gatherers and homemakers, but even so, women are now hunting, killing, gathering, and pretty soon from the board room to the bedroom, determining not only their own futures but those of members in the wider society. In a word; manhood is done.
We might think that we, as a society, are on the cusp of something wonderful here. In that women are increasingly earning that which is long overdue (equal pay, political clout, access capital, equal protection under the law, etc.) we indeed should be celebrating collectively.
However, low self-esteem dies hard, and we live in a self-absorbed, highly-mediated culture of people angrier than this author will ever be (and that is saying a lot). As human beings, barring some major shift in consciousness that is accompanied by opportunities for employment and upward-mobility, we are soon on our way to being a collection of deluded creatures, who believe our own hype.
From the ever-decaying Hip Hop Culture to every facet of social media to include "reality" television and the cynicism that characterizes so much of what passes for meaningful discussion nowadays, we live in a world of people with too little talent and far too little drive to be afforded even the notion that they have power.
I have seen it in our public school system, our electorate and have been taking note of the hopelessness that reverberates throughout coffee shops, classrooms, barber shops and corner stores. We lie to ourselves about problems that need fixing as if ignoring them is going to makes them unreal. I've done it a lot, but getting closer to age 40, either wisdom or new forceful waves of reality have crashed every pier, dam and cove that made being invincible seem like an option.
Chuck Palahniuk wrote brilliance, when he placed into the mouth of Tyler Durden the words, "We're the middle children of history..." If we are honest with ourselves, as 2013 comes to a close, many of us wrestle with a "middle child syndrome" fueled by Quixotic distractions from the difficult choices we must make.
Yes, reality sucks. There's no use lying about it. - JMG
Topic: 80s Baby: Raised in the 70s
The very idea that a Twitter beef or an exchange on Facebook could erupt into a gunfight is definitive proof that Darwin got it wrong. Anyone, who believes our species evolved from and is evolving into something need only look at the overall emotional, psychological and intellectual climate of the world as revealed through social media.
As social media connects and reconnects people; it's great. As social media becomes a safe haven for individuals to pop-off at the virtual mouth in ways they never would in reality; it's annoying. I'm not offended by offensive people mind you. I am offended by unbalanced people, who function between cowardice and psychopathy. For instance, I always attack myself in the pulpit. I am equally self-deprecating in my writings. When I wrote a piece entitled, "Why the Republican Party Should Burn in Hell," I publicly owned up to writing the piece before my congregation, on the street and even sent copies to the current governor of North Carolina and every Republican member of the North Carolina General Assembly. In the same way, I eventually made my way to several Democratic meetings and voiced my disagreements personally (and this was after my congressional bid). You see, I'm an 80s Baby (as Shawn Carter famously said). I'm from an era where quite a few people didn't have phones and might go next door to ask a neighbor to use his or her phone.
When our cars broke down we walked to a pay phone. When we had beef, we faced the person with which we had beef. And in facing people, guns were rarely the first option. Normally, fists would fly and a knife or pipe might come out. Then the beef was settled. If beef started before homeroom, it was normally done by 1st lunch. We had video games, but we were not obsessed with them. Even when we 80s Babies started using cell phones in the 90s, we used them as a means to MEET UP with people. Even when we 80s Babies started using two-way pagers, we used them as a-form-of not in-place-of actual conversation. It may get me killed one day, but I've been in the habit of sending my home address to people that feel the need to really get something off their chests, and 99% of those people never show up. We 80s Babies were not perfect, but we were real. Sometimes really wrong, but real and human all the same.
I was born during Carter, raised during Reagan, I came up under George H.W. Bush, and I remember the first Iraq War. I remember when talent meant Stephanie Mills and Anita Baker. I remember when mixtapes were actual tapes. I remember when we were unafraid to discuss AIDS, teenage pregnancy and adult illiteracy. I remember when people left the club in their cars not in ambulances. I remember when only journalists referred to rappers as "gangstas." Thanks to social media, we now have millions of new "gangstas," and they are unreal. I'm not saying that this new era is awful. I'm an 80s Baby. I know it's awful. - JMG
Topic: Under Daily Pressure
Paul once remarked that he was under "daily pressure" due to anxiety. His anxiety was drawn from the pressing concerns of the congregations he served; concerns ranging from internal disagreements to physical persecution. This notion of "daily pressure" used to intrigue me, but now it comforts me. I am supremely comforted by the idea that I am not the first person to be under daily pressure for the sake of trying to do something helpful. Sometimes, there's nothing harder than trying to be of help. In fact, trying to be of help can be harder than actually providing help. I have watched many of my mentors in ministry, academia and other fields, silently suffer with major issues and thought, "If only I had the resources to be of help."
By "resources," I am not strictly speaking of finances. Though financing is needed for most things, I am speaking of creative solutions for relieving anxiety. Before most people suffer major physical or emotional breakdowns, there are hundreds if not thousands of warning signs beforehand. Fatigue is usually the root cause of most breakdowns, and most fatigue is the result of limited options for stress-relief. I seriously doubt if any parent chooses to be overworked to the point of irritability by the time he or she comes home from work. I doubt that most people plan on appearing before a judge as a result of some regrettable action. I honestly believe that only persons suffering from some form of mental illness are prone to sadistic, destructive and self-destructive behaviors. While clinical medicine is quite far from my field, it is my opinion that most people seek security and solace during times of stress.
So, while I do not have the vast resources I wish I had, I will offer some advice in the context of leading a congregation that I hope can be applied to leading a household, personnel in the workplace or people in general.
1) Provide quality service to a core group of people: You cannot serve everyone, and it is better to serve a few people extremely well than to poorly serve large groups. I personally cannot pastor more than 50 people, and even then, 50 is a lot when one considers funerals, visitations, regular phone calls, business sessions, conferences and the regular duties of the parish. In the context of a family, care for your immediate family with dedication before assisting your extended family. Otherwise your unattended home may become unhappy thereby making it more difficult for you to care for your extended family.
2) Develop new material: Whether sermons, lesson plans or training modules; always have fresh material. In the home, continue to introduce something new into the life of the family. As human beings, we bore quickly and need new preoccupations.
3) Keep pressing onward: Laxity is, and has been, the undoing of marriages, empires, businesses, congregations and societies. Even if you make a disasterous, blunderous mistake, keep pressing onward. As Denzel Washington once said in an interview, "Why look back? I've already been there?" The time spent dwelling on things that did not work could be time applied towards things that will work. No matter how draining, embarrassing or hurtful the situation, keep pressing onward. This may even mean resigning from a position, ending a relationship, reassessing your life or starting over. Fine. Ask for forgiveness, forgive those who have injured you then keep pressing onward.
4) Train. Train. Train: Train people around you to do everything that you do. True power does not devour others it empowers others. Freely give away your power and watch it grow. Be selfish with your abilities and resources and watch them diminish. Wisely choose your trainees, but always, always, always have trainees. Your trainees will eventually assume some of your duties enabling you to get some much-needed rest.
Again, I am only offering advice that may be of help to someone, and there is tons more that I would write, but I have said more than enough. - JMG