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On Whitney Houston’s “Home Going”: A Four Hour Observation

A four hour observation

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What I am going to write may be seen, by some,  as sacrilegious. I do

not apologize, These are honest thoughts and feelings after being in my

house during the three hour and 45 minutes “Home Going” for Whitney

Houston. Checking channels, I think four television channels broadcast

the funeral.

The governor of New Jersey and the Mayor of the city of Newark were in

attendance. The church was filled with more than one thousand close

friends, with thousands behind a  barricades several blocks away and

millions watching world-wide. I did not watch the entire spectacle, but

a TV was “on” in the background.

Occasionally, I stopped to watch and listen, such as when Kevin Kostner

spoke, or when I heard a singing voice where I wanted to see the

singer.–for a few moments.

I do  understand, empathize with and respect  the emotions and the

experiences that brought this day to being. I do not understand the

impulse that brought about the attention, nor the time and resources that

were expended.

For the past week, the “airwaves,” and I suppose other media, have been

filled with reports on the “unexpected” death of the American popular

singer Whitney Houston.  I do not have words to adequately convey my

thoughts and feelings about the adulation. No such attention has been

given to any of the occasions that are  important to the health and

well-being of the nation and the world–no four hour directed attention

and use of resources for the deaths of citizens in this nation and

around the world, who are being killed, starved, imprisoned.  Regularly,

I see reports of starving children, the homeless, the ill, the

unemployed. No four hour coverage has been offered for the pleas of,

say, Occupy.

The Rev. Winans perturbed me. He began his sermon at three o’clock–in

a ceremony that was, then, three hours long. He performed for the next

forty minutes. I had wondered who was the cleric behind the podium in

the black garment, with the red cummerbund. I did not think he was a

Bishop or Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. They wear hats. My

determination for his contribution to the service is that this was the

biggest “ego-trip” of the day.

My early religious environment was not in the Baptist church.  My

maternal grandmother was Baptist, and on visits I attended service with

her. There was a difference between those services and the Presbyterian,

USA congregation of my immediate family–including mother, who

converted. I have attended Methodist-Episcopal-Catholic-Jewish-Hindu-

and Muslim services. My brother-in-law joined a fundamentalist

congregation; Pentecostal, I think. His “Home Going’ was interesting,

joyous and filled with song–for about one and one-half hours. He was no

celebrity, of course.

I am annoyed by the term “Black Church,” as if that is a denomination.

There are protestant churches of various denominations, Baptist, being

only one.  I’ve had whites say, “I just love Gospel Music.” I say,  “I

don’t; I did not grow up hearing Gospel Music.” Surprise!!!

Because of my religious upbringing, Presbyterian USA, I have a different

perspective. I respect the beliefs and practices of the people who were

involved in the Home Going, today–everyone.   My experience differs. I

like the Presbyterian and Unitarian Universalist; I am comfortable.  It

is a “cultural thang.”

I heard somewhere, “I like the quiet church.”

I am, deeply, concerned with the attention to a very talented,

accomplished woman of color, who brought pleasure to many people, and

lots of money to some.   I do not deny the experience. I simply wonder.

The Reverend Winans spoke on the theme of “priorities.” I did not

listen, carefully; I was not drawn-in by his demeanor, nor remarks. I do

comprehend PRIORITIES.

Gwendoline Y. Fortune

Author; Growing Up Nigger Rich and Family Lines