Posts tagged with "religion"

LECRAE - "FEAR NOT" via 360 MAGAZINE

LECRAE – “FEAR NOT”

LECRAE, RELEASES “FEAR NOT” SECOND SINGLE FROM CHURCH CLOTHES 4 MIXTAPE SERIES

Click here to stream “Fear Not,” and Pre-Order Church Clothes 4

As Lecrae releases, Church Clothes 4, he boldly stands at the crossroads of sacred and secular, a lane he unashamedly accepts. In the ten years since the first Church Clothes mixtape (hosted by DJ Don Cannon) released in 2012, no one has been able to surpass the heights that Lecrae has reached crossing CHH over to the mainstream, planting his feet simultaneously in the street and the Church without compromising. While the critics blasted him for not picking a side, the people spoke even louder, downloading the music for the original Church Clothes over 100,000 times within 48 hours. 

On November 4th, he brings the righteous and ratchet together yet again and this time for Church Clothes 4, the last of the mixtape series! He maintains the unashamed posture reflecting on Romans 116, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to EVERYONE who believes first to the Jew, then to the Gentile!’ emphasizing that his music also is not just for believers, but for everyone! In Episode 2 of his Church Clothes TV short airing on YouTube, Lecrae explains, “I’ve always been a combination of my roots and my faith. I love God but I grew up in hip-hop and the hood. People always want to put me in one camp or the other. Truth is you (with me), you can’t have the righteous without the ratchet. They’re two sides of the same coin.”

While Church Clothes 4‘s first single “Spread The Opps,” recognized the opposition, his second single “Fear Not” acknowledges that our faith in God is bigger than our deepest fears! On “Spread The Opps,” Lecrae stated “I’ve been running for so long from the opposition. Since I was a kid, there were enemies, both physical and spiritual, that were trying to destroy me. I decided to stop running. This song, “Spread The Opps,” is me knowing that even in the valley of death, God is with me. He’s scattering the opposition.”

On the second single, “Fear Not,” he shares, “Everyone deals with fear. I’ve met some of the most hardened criminals sitting behind prison walls confess their fears. Fear makes us run, or fight, or do nothing. I believe the cure is fear is faith. Faith in a God who is bigger than our biggest fears. We don’t have to be afraid of the dark. The dark is afraid of the light within us. Fear Not is the articulation of that.” 

A verse in “Fear Not,” speaks to the illusion of fame! “They don’t even recognize me when they see me coming all they see is fame. They don’t know behind these Cartier’s, just a little boy full of pain.”

Church Clothes 4 is coming November 4th! Check out the “Fear Not” lyrics and put yours to rest! 

Lecrae  “Fear Not” lyrics 

Intro

Candlelight shines inside this pumpkinhead 

Waiting on the borderline

Please don’t be afraid, or it’s gonna end

Verse 1

I lied, I panic

My mind wreaks havoc

I cried, can’t manage

I did my damage

I came, I saw, I killed, I’m savage

My crime so heavy, my sin left baggage

Can’t stand it, a liar, cheater, and a killer

Never meant to cause them damage

Looking at me in a mirror

I see myself and start to panic

They don’t even recognize me when they see me coming all they see is fame

They don’t know behind these Cartier’s, just a little boy full of pain

Push me round, put me down

Touched the crown, took me out, yeah

Vegas nights I gave the dice to Satan twice

It’s crazy I ain’t dead

And I should’ve called James White

Flew into Memphis to hang out with soup and tell him that all ain’t right

But I was afraid

Confession bring you peace, secrets make you weep

The devil like to feast on all your sinful feats

One too many drinks, tell my mama peace

Death is on my feet, let me rest in peace

Interlude 1

[Speaker #1]

Candlelight shines inside this pumpkinhead 

Waiting on the borderline

Candlelight shines inside this pumpkinhead 

Waiting on the borderline

Don’t be scared, don’t be afraid

Don’t be scared, don’t be afraid

Don’t be scared, don’t be afraid

Don’t be scared, don’t be afraid

Verse 2

Don’t be afraid of them people

Don’t be afraid of the evil

They can mistreat us, but they’ll never take us from Jesus

He’ll never let them defeat us

They know that they’ll never beat us

God, washed away all my evil, turned me into a believer

You better believe it

Put some more time on my meter

I can not wait till we meet Him

They can not kill us, stop us, or condemn us

They want us living like we ain’t the winners

They keep on tryna tell us that they’ll never help us cause we all a bunch of dirty sinners

It go up, on my side

All this weight on my mind

Don’t you try, bring up my past cause God erased my timeline (I’ll be fine)

Ready for war, I put it all up on the line

Too scared to fight then go let David and kill Goliath 

Walk through the valley, but the Lord is by my side

He heard my cry

Hold me down, hold me down, hold me down, hold me down

Hold me down, hold me down, hold me down, hold me down

Hold me down, hold me down, hold me down, hold me down

Hold me down, hold me down, hold me down, hold me down

Hold me down, hold me down, hold me down

[Speaker #2]

Please don’t be afraid, please don’t be afraid, be afraid

Please don’t be afraid

Don’t be scared, don’t be afraid 

Please don’t be afraid, please don’t be afraid, be afraid

Please don’t be afraid, please don’t be afraid, be afraid

Please don’t be afraid, please don’t be afraid, be afraid

Please don’t be afraid, please don’t be afraid, be afraid

After achieving a Billboard #1 and Grammy Award for his album, Anomaly, Lecrae had to decide what were his next steps. In this short, Church Clothes TV Episode 1: The Consultants, Lecrae recall these moments with consultants who were guiding his next career move!

At the height of his career, Lecrae took an interview with a widely known hip-hop podcast and recalls the experience in this episode of Church Clothes TV Episode 2 Podcast.

ABOUT LECRAEA

Multi-Grammy Award-winning platinum-selling artist, Lecrae has evolved into a New York Times best-selling author, entrepreneur, speaker, thought leader, and philanthropist. 

Lecrae is the Co-Owner/Co-Founder/President of Atlanta-based record label, Reach Records. He made history as the first artist to have a #1 Album on the Billboard Top 200 and Gospel Charts simultaneously! His first book, Unashamed is a New York Times best-seller! He is involved and partnered in several community initiatives rebuilding the west side of Metro Atlanta. 

After achieving a Billboard #1 and Grammy Award for his album, Anomaly, Lecrae had to decide what were his next steps. In this “Consultants” short, Lecrae recall meeting with moments in this episode of CCTV, Consultants. 

Follow Lecrae’s YouTube channel and social media platforms for more exclusive content from Lecrae! Learn more at www.lecrae.com or follow him on social media @Lecrae everywhere!

Shawn McKenzie CEO of spiritual word inside 360 Magazine

SPIRITUAL WORD

Spiritual Word is an Instagram platform at the intersection of Hip Hop and Christianity on Instagram boasting over 2.4 million followers

At the intersection of culture and Christianity is Spiritual Word (SW), a globally-recognized digital leader that bridges the gap between pop culture, black excellence and God’s word. The unique mission of the innovative company is to engage their readership multiple times daily on Instagram, where they live; posting content ranging from celebrity news to inspirational quotes rooted in biblical principles. Boasting over 2.4M followers with posts receiving 100k+ likes as well as garnering thousands of robust comments, SW has become the trusted go-to online destination for the millennial and gen z set.  

Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, the burgeoning multi-media empire includes a presence on TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and a website that offers spiritually-themed apparel and merchandise. The unique and influential brand has solidified its positioning within the black community as a swift and reliable sourcing outlet that celebrates cultural nuances. As a result, SW is one of the most cited news sources dominating the internet. From reposts by celebrities, national news blogs and daytime tv talk shows, to reporting trending topics and curating viral video moments, the broad view of media and entertainment is what keeps viewers consistently tapped in. 

In between a relevant mix of must-click headline entertainment stories are uplifting messages designed to inspire and be a spiritual recharge for SW’s impressionable young audience. And based on the power of their diverse cult following, SW carries a tremendous monetary value and the market recognizes it. Individuals have successfully launched and boosted their careers using the marketing arm of SW. Companies have sold out of products and ticketed events within minutes of an announcement on their IG page. The platform has also been able to maximize its popularity by creating strategic partnerships with established brands that encompass music (Roc Nation, Quality Control Music, Capitol Records, Republic Records, LVRN, Motown, Sirius XM, Pandora); tv/film (Netflix); sports (NFL Super Bowl); festivals (One Music Fest, Broccoli Fest, The Strength of a Woman, Jazz In The Gardens, The Roots Picnic); fashion (God is Dope, FashionNova); and media (The Shade Room, Revolt). Additionally, SW has aligned their talents with industry figures such as Lil Kim, Tory Lanez, Justin & Christian Combs, Tiwa Savage, Muni Long, Lil Baby, Keke Palmer, Kash Doll and Diddy. SW continues to set the bar, having carved out a niche to positively impact lives and their bottom line utilizing social media. 

SW was founded in 2011 by Shawn McKenzie, a man with a heart for God and a head for business. Shawn graduated from the University of Memphis with a degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Governing both his personal and professional life by the adage, “You’ve got what it takes,” a quote his mother prays over him daily, the young CEO takes pride in motivating people through spirituality while also remaining culturally relevant.

Butterfly Megaphone via 360 Magazine

Themes for End-Time Life

By: David Hereen

Always based on Scripture, the nine chapters of this book have primary themes. These are relevant for life at any time, but we can anticipate their importance escalating as we move into and through the time of the end. The end-time era will not close until the moment of Jesus’ Second Coming.

Based on the text of my book, End-Time Living, these are the themes that are important to us as we prepare our hearts for whatever may happen between now and the end:

  1. Watch objectively for cultural crises
  2. Attune watchfulness to biblical ethics
  3. Talk (pray) to God about everything
  4. Add this to prayer: Prepare and share
  5. Stand firm no matter what: Fear not
  6. Be God-centered, not self-centered
  7. Always trust the trustworthy Savior
  8. Love Jesus and tell Him about it
  9. Recognize the sky-sign of His return
  10. Abide with Him and receive His love
  11. Tell your Lover details of your love
  12. Pray and praise God amid persecution
  13. Decide: Is my faith fervent or lukewarm?
  14. Obtain fulfillment in prayer and praise
  15. Live a holy and godly life
  16. Joyfully accept God’s love & salvation

Every one of these things is based on spiritual–ethical and/or moral–principles. Even the apparent objectivity of a careful watch (No. 1) should be based upon what is being sought. Are we looking for personal advantage or for the welfare of others? We should watch out for our own well-being, of course, but should not ignore anyone else in the line of fire.

The scriptural phrase “watch and pray” is basic and will become even more important during prophesied end-time calamities and persecutions (Nos. 2 & 3). Jesus spoke more about prayer than anything else, but his end-time sermon reiterated the need for watchfulness most often, especially watchfulness for the celestial sign heralding his Second Coming (Mat. 24:27-31).

Prepare and share is an evangelism plan (No. 4). Since we have been told by Jesus that multitudes upon multitudes will be saved during the time period between tribulation and His return, it is important for us to prepare, that is, to learn how to share the gospel of salvation. Testimony of Christ’s love for us personally may be as important or, in some cases, even more important than the formula for trusting and asking him to forgive our sins and lead us heavenward.

Jesus used the phrase stand firm during his end-time discourse because some of the things he was prophesying were scary (No. 5). Fear is a deterrent to righteous living. To this he added the suggestion that we avoid the related pitfalls of worry and anxiety (Luke 21:14, 34). Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mat. 11:28)

I have heard it preached that the seat of all sin is the self (No. 6). Richard Wurmbrand wrote this about self-centeredness: “Solomon’s Song belongs to those who have made the greatest renunciation of all: the renunciation of themselves.”

The hundreds of self-based words in the dictionary have been mentioned, but what can we do about our sin-center? Jesus answered that question with these words: Watch and pray. Every time we detect sin, we should ask God for forgiveness and strength to withstand future temptation.

Trusting the trustworthy should be a principle that explains itself (No. 7). But there are times when we need to remind ourselves of what Jesus has done for us, especially our eternal salvation. We can recognize occasions when our trust is not fully upon Him by the answer to one simple question: Are we afraid or worried about anything? Fear and worry are signs of faltering trust.

In Song of Songs, the Shulammite’s love for the king who allegorically represents Jesus is so intimate and intense that, merely by remaining in her presence, her “friends” are turned from sarcastic observers to believers exercising that faith on behalf of their youngest sibling. We cannot love Jesus too much (No. 8). Talking to Him (prayer) and reading His word (the Bible) are basics, but, if possible, we should not sever communications with Him at all.

Besides this book, I have written several others about the end-time, including two for the purpose of identifying the celestial sign Jesus said would herald his return (Mat. 24:30).  Reasons for my conclusion are to be found in those books: The High Sign and Day of the Lord (No. 9). It is worth repeating that there are more than 200 points of evidence that the sign will be a great comet, and not a single thing I have found that contradicts this conclusion.

The verb abide is related to the noun abode. An abode is a physical dwelling place. But in the figurative language of the Bible, it is a spiritual one. The closeness of our relationship with God may be ascertained through spiritual discernment (No. 10), If we are in an abiding state, the Lord will remain in our thoughts much of the time. Those thoughts will translate into extended times of praise, supplication, and thanksgiving. He will never be far from our spirit and its outreaches into body and mind.

A memorable thing to me about my study of Song of Songs was the candor of the conversation. As God’s allegorical representative, the king held nothing back, praising every part of his bride’s body from feet to hair (No. 11). She, as the believers’ representative in the story, was equally praiseful of everything that she loved about him. This is an ideal, but those of us who are married, engaged or, even if we have a boyfriend or girlfriend whom we sincerely love, should take a chance: We should speak out and tell our beloved exactly how we feel.

Jesus prophesied that during the end-time we (Christians) will be hated in all nations, that is, worldwide, and this hatred will lead to persecution (Mat. 24:9). It will be a great test for us. We will pray. But will we trust God enough to be praiseful of Him? Or will we do more worrying and complaining than praising and thanking? Though the answer to these questions may seem simple right now, it may not be so easy if and when suffering becomes intense (No. 12).

The answers to the hypothetical questions posed in the preceding paragraph should lead to correct conclusions concerning question No. 13. Whichever is dominant in our prayers – praise and thanksgiving or worrying and complaining – probably will give us the correct answer as to whether our faith is fervent or lukewarm. And what is the solution for lukewarmness? We should resolve to praise and thank God even if the situation appears bleak.

Here are those key words again: prayer and praise (No. 14). They have appeared so often in this summary of important themes for end-time living that they must be at or near the top of the list, as far as God is concerned. So, let’s talk to Him with conversation that includes many interjections of praise and thanks. He has said of thanksgiving that we should find something to be thankful about in every circumstance (1 Thes. 5:18). If we emphasize praise and thanksgiving in our conversations with the Lord, personal fulfillment will take care of itself.

In the finality of things, God always prevails. Christians, His people, will encounter rough patches along the way, including persecution and consequential suffering. But, as long as we cling faithfully to Him, and forgive others who do or speak evil against us, we can expect good results: Evidence of His love, eternal salvation of friends and family members, and personal contentment (Nos. 15 and 16).

For use by 360 Magazine

Al Sharpton Responds

Today, November 11, through the trial of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, William Bryan’s lawyer Kevin Gough shared some objections and concerns to the judge. Gough’s objection came from the presence of civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton being in the courtroom. He expressed to the judge, Judge Timothy Walmsley, that the presence of such civil rights leaders is “intimidation.” Reverend Al Sharpton was in attendance of the trial for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery on Wednesday, November 10, 2021. While in attendance at the trial, Reverend Al Sharpton organized a prayer vigil with his parents outside of the courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia. Reverend Al Sharpton has since released this statement following the accusations of his presence being used for intimidation:

“The arrogant insensitivity of attorney Kevin Gough in asking a judge to bar me or any minister of the family’s choice underscores the disregard for the value of the human life lost and the grieving of a family in need spiritual and community support.

My attendance yesterday and in the days to come is not disruptive in any way and was at the invitation of the family of Ahmaud Arbery who have stated that publicly.

The only way I could have been identified as a member of the ministry is if I was recognized for my public position and leadership. How else would the defense attorney know who was a “black pastor” or not?

This objection was clearly pointed at me and a disregard to the fact that a mother father sitting in a courtroom with 3 men that murdered their son do not deserve the right to have someone present to give spiritual strength to bear this pain. This is pouring salt into their wounds.

I respect the defense attorney doing his job but this is beyond defending your client, it is insulting the family of the victim.”

Judge Timothy Walmsley who is overseeing the case indicated that he would not make blanket rules over attendance of the public and acknowledged that the company of Reverend Sharpton would not be a distraction.

Background on the Case

Sunday, February 23, 2020, the unarmed, Black twenty-five year old Ahmaud Arbery was chased and killed by three armed white men in a neighborhood in South Georgia and was killed. The National Action Network has continuously stood by the family of the victim in their quest for justice and continues to criticize the range of the jury for the case. The jury consists of eleven white women, three white men and one Black man in a county that is predominately Black. Though Judge Timothy Walmsley acknowledges the presence of “intentional discrimination” in the range of the jury, he states that the trial over the killing of Arbery will proceed.

*Additional coverage from USA today

Evan Craft by Reb Czukoski for use by 360 Magazine

EVAN CRAFT DROPS DOUBLE ALBUM

Singer/Songwriter Evan Craft Drops Double Album Holy Ground Oct. 1

Holy Ground/Tierra Santa to be released in both English and Spanish.

On the heels of the success of Desesperado, Evan Craft’s double album released in 2020 in English and Spanish with a deluxe bilingual album as well, the singer/songwriter released his next full-length worship album Holy Ground (English) and Tierra Santa (Spanish) simultaneously today, Friday, October 1.

This will be Craft’s first release as a married man! Him and his wife, Rachel, were married outside Nashville, Tennessee, on September 17.

Music Background

Craft’s most recent single Be Alright, landed the #1 spot on Christian radio Mediabase audience, #3 on Billboard’s Christian/Gospel songs chart, #5 on the Billboard Christian songs chart and cracked the top 20 at radio in three weeks. The album, Desesperado, debuted at #42 on the Billboard Top 100 Christian chart.

The successes of Be Alright have garnered Craft nearly 1 billion online streams and millions of subscribers and followers across social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Spotify.

The release of Holy Ground/Tierra Santa takes Craft back to the start, “Holy Ground is a very special album because it goes back to my roots as a worship leader.” He also mentions the goal he has in mind, “I get to incorporate Spanish language and experiences embedded in the lyrics from my travels throughout Latin America. We started out the year releasing pop music but I also want to lead people to a place of worship and to experience God in a very real way.”

Collaborations on this double release include Christine D’Clario on the feature track Healer, Pat Barrett (Same Spirit), Miel San Marcos (Looks Like Heaven) and Ke’Erron (Fix My Eyes/You Keep Hope Alive).

Latinx Impact

While not Hispanic, Craft has become a welcomed artist in the Latinx community not only for his authentic music, but his actions behind the words. To date he has raised more than $250k for the homeless mission in Los Angeles he co-founded called Mi Casa LA. In 2018 he rode his bicycle 1,200 miles across South America in a fundraising effort for various causes. A book and documentary of this trek are currently in the works.

Early in his career, Craft developed a deep love for the Latinx community in and around his Thousand Oaks, California, community. He began learning Spanish in high school to help his father who was running a homeless shelter in Los Angeles. In an effort to fully immerse himself in the Latin culture, Craft traveled to Mexico and other Latin American countries, which would spawn his first Spanish album.

He recorded Yo Soy Segundo in 2012 and much to Craft’s surprise, it became the No. 1 Latin Christian album. More mission trips would follow to South America and Craft’s online Spanish interpretations of popular worship songs have generated millions of views and earned him a devoted following.

“I have felt an incredible reception in Latin America,” Craft said. “I’ve been to Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile and 99% of the people have honestly embraced me. It’s overwhelming and humbling.”

Image via Reach Records for 360 Magazine

Andy Mineo – It Could Be Worse

Andy Mineo Releases It Could Be Worse, the first official single from Never Land II!

Album Artwork and Full Tracklisting Revealed

Last week Andy Mineo celebrated a few milestones in his career! First, his single, Coming In Hot, featuring Lecrae was certified GOLD by the RIAA selling over 500,000 copies and boasting over 80 million streams. MPJ Freestyle, a new song released as a sneak preview to warm fans up for the album, was premiered on Facebook with an astounding 1.6 million views within 24 hours and 4.7 million by the end of last week. Not surprising for an artist whose single, Coming In Hot, is already over 80 million streams!

With all these amazing moments, Mineo, motivated by fan response, dropped another track, It Could Be Worse, the first official single from Never Land II. It Could Be Worse is my Andy is back track, yells Andy from the studio console at Reach Records. His fourth studio album, Never Land II releases on September 17. 2021 and he’s already recording more new songs. He describes It Could Be Worse, as a hard-hitting rap record that’s straight hip-hop. It’s like an adrenaline shot!

Watch the official MPJ Freestyle music video available now on YouTube and peep the reveal of the album cover and tracklisting below! Stream It Could Be Worse, here. MPJ Freestyle is available here.

About Andy Mineo

New York native Andy Mineo, is a hip hop recording artist known for his reflective lyricism. His sophomore album, Uncomfortable, became the No. 1 Independent Record in the Country and delivered a No. 3 and No. 10 position on Billboard’s Hip Hop and Top 200 album charts, respectively. Mineo headlined The Uncomfortable Tour, a 52 city tour, which sold out at legendary venues across America and in Europe. He has appeared on Sirius XM’s Sway In The Morning, MTV, and his colossal hit, You Can’t Stop Me, won an ESPN Whammy Award for MLB’s Top Walk Up song. Andy is also a content creator. He scripts, directs, and produces many of his own music videos. He also created a 3-season web series on YouTube called Saturday Morning Car-Tunez, which garnered over 1 Million views and gave fans a glimpse into his creative process and personal life. Beyond the critical adulation, he is a born communicator with a comedic timing who has become a social media juggernaut with an audience of over 1.2 million and growing.

About Reach Records

Reach Records is an Atlanta based independent hip-hop label founded in 2004 by Lecrae and Ben Washer. Long before acclaim, awards, plaques, chart positioning, and radio play, the two started the label because they both love hip-hop and Jesus. Reach Records was launched with no strategy, no funds, no big players, but they made big moves! Today Reach Records is a trailblazing label with a roster of nearly 10 artists and a staff of 20 who are unashamed about sharing their faith and passionate about hip-hop. Reach Records is committed to building a movement that combines faith with music and popular culture.

Follow Andy Mineo via Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook

illustration by Mina Tocalini for use by 360 Magazine

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles Announces Naomi Strongin as Vice President

The Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation) today announced the promotion of Naomi Strongin to vice president of its Center for Designed Philanthropy (the Center).  A 12-year veteran of The Foundation, Strongin had most recently served as the Center’s acting director.

In her new position, Strongin will oversee a portfolio of responsibilities that include developing and implementing Jewish and general community grant programs, providing capacity-building support to nonprofit organizations, advising and educating Foundation donors on effective charitable giving strategies, and managing grantmaking for major Foundation fund holders. She will lead a Center team which advances strategic, high-impact philanthropy that improves lives and strengthens society in the Los Angeles Jewish community, community-at-large, and in Israel.

Established more than a decade ago by The Foundation–the largest manager of charitable assets for local Jewish philanthropists–the Center helps donors create more meaningful and effective giving strategies to enhance the impact of their philanthropy.  

Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Marvin I. Schotland stated: “We are pleased to welcome Naomi as a member of our senior management team. During her tenure at The Foundation, she has distinguished herself in positions of increasing responsibility on both grantmaking and donor-advisory sides of the Center. Naomi is an outstanding leader and manager and this promotion is well-deserved recognition of her exceptional contributions over the past decade-plus. Additionally, her thoughtful approach to strategic philanthropy will help our family of donors better achieve their charitable goals and make meaningful investments in the community.”

Strongin joined The Foundation in 2009 with a background in direct social services and fundraising. As a program officer, senior program officer, and associate director of the Center, Strongin has directly managed The Foundation’s institutional grants programs, including its Cutting Edge, General Community, Israel, and Capital initiatives. She also was integrally involved in leading The Foundation’s response to the pandemic as well as its Racial Equity grantmaking in 2020-2021, spearheading its COVID-19 Response Grants and Reimagine Grants programs that provided nearly $12 million in support to approximately 100 nonprofits for pressing and long-term needs. She possesses extensive experience and expertise that includes developing charitable mission and vision statements, providing philanthropic guidance to multigenerational families, and giving interest-area issues such as early childhood development, economic development in Israel, and the Jewish nonprofit landscape in Los Angeles, among others. Strongin earned her master’s degree in social work with a concentration in community organizing, planning and administration from the University of Southern California, and her bachelor of arts in human development from U.C. San Diego. She is a certified 21/64 philanthropic advisor.

About The Jewish Community Foundation

Established in 1954, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles manages charitable assets of more than $1.4 billion entrusted to it by over 1,300 families and ranks among the 10 largest Los Angeles foundations. It partners with donors to shape meaningful philanthropic strategies, magnify the impact of their giving, and build enduring charitable legacies. In 2020, The Foundation and its donors distributed $116 million to 2,700 nonprofits with programs that span the range of philanthropic giving. Over the past 12 years, it has distributed more than $1 billion to thousands of nonprofits across a diverse spectrum.

Mental via 360 Magazine for use by 360 Magazine

Interview with Radhia Gleis

By: Skyler Johnson

From Jonestown to the Manson Family, we as a society have been obsessed with the inner workings of cults. Every few years a new documentary explores the secret lives of a society of people much different than ours. But it’s not very often that you meet someone that doesn’t just explore what crimes a cult committed, but how a cult is formed. This is what Radhia Gleis, an ex-member of the Buddhafield Cult, attempted to do in her most recent book: The Followers, Holy Hell and the Disciples of Narcissistic Leaders. I got the privilege to interview Gleis about the book and her experiences. 

Can you tell us a little about the Buddhafield cult and how you became involved with them?

That is a complicated story, and although the documentary Holy Hell shows the frightening transformation of a beautiful little spiritual community into an abusive cult, the details of this thirty-year journey cannot be told in a hundred minutes, like I can in the book. Like the frog in warm water that slowly comes to a boil, it took twenty years for the teacher to develop into the narcissistic sociopath he eventually became.

My journey started back when I was in Catholic school. I was inspired by the stories of the Catholic saints and their transcendental experiences of the Divine. I took a comparative religions class in ninth grade. We were studying Hinduism when we came across a word in italics: Nirvana! I asked the teacher what this word meant. He said, “Some yogis in India, through a certain practice of meditation, experience God directly.” “Is that true?” I asked. “Apparently!” he replied. And from that time on I spent another twelve to fourteen years looking for Nirvana.

I never came across anyone who said that they experienced God directly until I met the leader, Jaime, and the group, who were practicing these kinds of meditation techniques, referred to as “The Knowledge.” The name Buddha-field has little or nothing to do with Buddha or Buddhism. It was just a nickname we called ourselves. We were closer to Hinduism, although we studied Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism, and Christian Mysticism. Originally that was what the Buddha-field was about—practicing and staying devoted to that meditation practice and a simple life of service and devotion.

In the beginning Jaime’s sharing was always about the “Knowledge.” This ancient technique was introduced to the West by Prem Pal Rawat ji, AKA Maharaji. Jaime was never a disciple of Maharajji; he lied and conned a Premi (one of Maharajji’s followers) into giving him the techniques. Later, when it looked like his guru gig was taking off, Jaime changed the name from the “Knowledge” to the “Knowing” to claim it as his own.  Originally, he used to say, “Connect to God’s love,” but it did not take long before our sycophantic adoration of him fed his narcissism to the point of creating a malignant narcissist, and suddenly the narrative became “Connect to MY love.” 

What do you believe separates a religious movement from a cult?

Chapter 16 of The Followers, entitled “What is a Cult? It’s Complicated,” analyses the definition of a cult. It’s one of my favorite chapters. Certainly one of the more irreverent and humorous. My conclusion is, I’m not sure there is a separation. Or at least they have a great deal in common. One characteristic both share is the opposition to a Socratic method of teaching—a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions, to come to your own conclusions. Most religions regardless of their size are the opposite—non-Socratic. They’re more authoritarian and didactic or patronizing. Whether the group’s origin is based on a historical archetype such as Jesus of Nazareth, Buddha, Mohammed, or L. Ron Hubbard for that matter, the ideology is used in many cases as a form of control and to establish order over a society (large or small). The ideology and its history of origin is usually interlaced with fantastic stories and myths applied to abstract notions of God that enlarge the premise, making it difficult to dispute.

If it’s a newly established philosophy from an individual, such as L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, or Keith Allen Raniere, founder of NXIVM, a multi-level marketing company and cult, the leader develops an exclusive and unique doctrine or dogma that suits the followers’ needs or desires at that place and time. The leader—usually male, usually white—creates, polishes, and purveys the doctrine to use as a tool for their own narcissistic supply. Some leaders rely on an established theme or a variation on a traditional theme, such as Christianity and the Bible. Jaime adapted his creed from mostly Hindu teachings, practices, and texts, then twisted it to make it his own to elevate his status. All social, political, or religious societies can be vulnerable to corruption. Power corrupts, and when we give anyone—a religious teacher, a boss, a CEO of a corporation, a political leader—too much power, it perverts the soul and feeds the narcissistic tendency in all of us.

Do you blame the government for not being able to prosecute leader Jaime Gomez, also known as The Teacher?

I never thought of blaming anyone, other than myself for not following my instincts and the other members of the group for not having the courage to come forward with the truth about what was happening behind closed doors. And I still don’t blame them; I understand why.  It’s complicated, and that is what the book is about. Why do we do the things we do? What makes people give up their will, their sense of right and wrong—give up their moral compass and family ties for a person or an ideal?

 As I said throughout the book, it was a collective deception. If one were to expect the government to step in, where does that stop? Step into what? Most of us had no idea the abuse was happening, and we had no proof or witnesses coming forward. We were all adults. The old saying, “One man’s religion is another man’s cult” applies. And we must be careful of using words like brainwashed.

The definition of brainwashing is the process of pressuring someone into adopting radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible means. By that strict definition we weren’t brainwashed. We didn’t adopt radically different beliefs. Most of us were already on the path of beliefs Jaime “taught” before we even met him. And we were not physically forced, like prisoners of war. This is the common mistake when we say that someone is “brainwashed,” that takes the responsibility away from them as enablers.

I heard someone on a podcast discussing Holy Hell. She said, “…and what’s with that Radhia woman? She seems like she wouldn’t take shit from anyone.” We were following the Eastern religious practice of master-disciple relationship. And I signed on to that at the time. The “shit” that I was taking from Jaime was part of the discipline. The ego is the identity of self, and I believed you could not be one with God if there was a “you.” If there is a “you” and God, by the very nature of that duality, there is a separation. That’s why I never believed I was being coerced. I was a conscious and willing participant. I was eager to let someone challenge my ego in order to overcome that ego. Willing to override my instincts and insert myself into the practice whole-heartedly as part of the discipline. What a perfect scenario for a malignant narcissist to take advantage of! But I was exercising my beliefs at the time and would have been very pissed off if the “government” came in, having no understanding of my choices, and tried to take that away.

Do you believe there should be more restrictions on cult activity in the United States and abroad?

Everything is relative and should be handled on a case-by-case basis. We have laws to deal with child abuse, sexual abuse, kidnapping, and so on—whether committed in the context of a cult, a family, a traditional religion, or among strangers. Groups we may identify as cults are not by definition abusive or criminal. The general tenet of the Buddha-field was to live a healthy, virtuous life, practicing meditation techniques, exercising unconditional love and selfless service. We were a cult of love, and we weren’t harming anyone or imposing our beliefs on anyone outside our community. And had it not been for a narcissistic leader taking advantage of our innocence, we would still be living that life in that idealistic community. But if you’re a cult of hate and division, advocate violence or show potential to do harm, or attempt to force your beliefs on others, then yes; restrictions would be appropriate.

What types of people tend to get involved in cults?

In the third section of my book, I talk about several types of people who join cults. Except for sociopaths, I believe most human beings have a conscience that dictates a line in the sand that they will not cross. A place in their soul where their moral compass finally takes the wheel and says, Stop—no more. But that line is usually preceded by little gray lines that we step over before we reach that point. From my observations, I’ve identified three basic types of people who join a cult: the hummingbirds, soldiers on a mission, and the kamikazes.

Hummingbirds are browsers. They are like looky-loos, fluttering through the fanciful world of spiritual communities. They circle around the perimeter, not ready to commit fully, but if it looks interesting, they will hang around for a time. They don’t know what they want, exactly, but they are not satisfied with what they have. They are searching for a place to belong. They will hop over a few gray lines, but when the going gets tough—they’re out.

The second category of people who join cults, after hummingbirds, is a little more complex. I call these people “soldiers on a mission.” I admit I fit more into this box than the others. This group is for those who know what they’re looking for and they are willing to step over a lot of gray lines to get it. For fourteen years prior to meeting the leader and members of the group, I was on a mission to experience God Realization, Nirvana. And when I found someone who claimed he experienced that and could show me the way—I was all in. I was willing to do the hard work and jump over a lot more gray lines to reach my goal of enlightenment.

The third type of people who join cults are the kamikazes. They don’t seem to have a final line in the sand. They come to the abyss of reality and jump off. They can range from benign people who will follow their leader to the bitter end, regardless of facts or morals, to dangerous, destructive, blindly obedient devotees who will kill or die for the leader. Examples of the latter include the followers of Charles Manson; Timothy McVeigh and other domestic terrorists; or those willing to commit suicide at the behest of the leader, such as followers of Jim Jones or the Heaven’s Gate UFO cult; ISIS suicide bombers; or Japanese kamikazes.  

What types of people tend to create cults?

It would seem to me that one would have to be pretty impressed with themself to deliberately create a cult. That type of person would be your quintessential narcissist. It’s one thing to have a prayer or meditation group, a club or gathering of people who share ideas in a Socratic format.  And sometimes it requires a board or organizers or even instructors or teachers. But when one person takes on a leadership role and is allowed to adopt a non-Socratic influence over a group, that has all the makings of a dangerous escalation of corruption and abuse.

It’s important to understand that the narcissist and the followers have a feedback loop. Together they operate on a constantly reinforced message of perceived “specialness.” Narcissism demands to be fed; and when fed it grows, eventually subsuming followers in a toxic tidal wave that forces them to sink or swim for freedom.  It is up to us to recognize and protect ourselves by avoiding the narcissist wherever possible; withdrawing our fealty; or starving their insatiable appetite for self-aggrandizement. We must not expect or wait for them to change. They never will; and the more we feed them and let them get away with it, the more dangerous and powerful they become. 

Do you believe there are cults that don’t get the media attention they deserve?

I don’t know offhand which cults should get more or less attention because I’m not a part of them, so I don’t know their story. When you say “media,” what type are you referring to? The media landscape today is not the same as the media of yesteryear. Much of media business models are about sponsors and ratings, rather than straight journalism that presents factual news or in-depth investigations. They wrap information in partisan pundit opinions and shovel a mixture of selected facts, lies, and biased appraisals into a mini horror series in order to scare the bejesus out of us, because—that’s what sells.

And then there’s the Frankenstein of the internet. The amount of traffic to mainstream social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube has exploded since 2017. We find comfort in echo chambers provided by media and in social viewpoints that reflect what we already have been indoctrinated to think because it’s easier and more comfortable than taking in new information, especially if it conflicts with our preconceived notions.

In many cases social media is a rogue thought machine, with little or no filters, editors, or fact checkers. There are hardly any rules or decorum in this mock-journalism today. It’s a free-for-all. And social network platforms do not judge your beliefs. There is limited personal discernment, just algorithms designed to target your interests; so, if you’re posting or commenting on a topic, the platform’s algorithm will gladly send you more and connect you to other like-minded users to interject their latest toxins. Social media can have its advantages when trying to bring awareness, but it can also have a dark side—a recipe for abuse and exploitation.

Very often the complexities of a person or a group of people’s lives can end up as sound bites—fodder for the public’s entertainment and media profit. That’s why I wrote this book. As good as the documentary Holy Hell was, it was snippets out of thirty years of the lives of 150 individuals, each having their own experience. Don’t get me wrong, Will Allen, the filmmaker, did an amazing job telling the story. And the film opened up this important conversation. But when you put a person’s life in soundbites and leave the rest up to the viewer—strangers looking for entertainment at the expense of that person’s very personal, painful trauma—that’s the price you pay when it is put in the hands of the media. So to answer your question, I think it all depends on what media is telling the story and how thorough and sensitive the journalist or pundit is to the situation.

 Do you think the media tends to help or hurt cult activities?

I got a call from a friend one day who said she was driving in her car and heard two people talking on a podcast about me! It’s the weirdest experience to have perfect strangers talk about you on a public forum. I heard another podcast talking about Holy Hell. These two commentators saw the film and they were enthralled, giddy, like two mean girls in high school gossiping and judging about something they knew nothing about. I had to laugh because I get it. All they had was the snippets to make their conclusions and present their case to the court of public opinion. One woman on a podcast opened her episode with a caution to her listeners that Holy Hell was a “disturbing horror story and the leader was literally a hideous monster, and we were all stupid, brainwashed, sex slaves.” Whaaaat?

I will say, those podcasters inspired me to clarify what they thought they saw in the film. But if you don’t happen to have two and a half years and a lot of money to publish a book, the subjects in question are left with an indelible, distorted, and obscure impression of who they are talking about. Whether it hurts or helps—that’s a complicated proposition. Because it’s such a wild, wild West on the internet, and anyone can produce a podcast, YouTube channel, or social network—so we shouldn’t be surprised there are a lot of unprofessional “media” personalities out there, voicing their unqualified opinion. Cults are complicated, dangerous, and traumatizing—no one needs their kind of help. And it takes courage and confidence to tangle with the media.

What can we expect in your new book: The Followers: “Holy Hell” and the Disciples of Narcissistic Leaders: How My Years in a Notorious Cult Parallel Today’s Cultural Mania?

Expect a wild ride. I see so many people in a state of dis-ease, confused, frightened, and overwhelmed by what is happening in America and around the world today. And because of my twenty-five years’ experience in a cult, under the influence of a narcissistic leader, I get it on such a deep level. And like I do in my wellness practice, I conducted extensive research for The Followers from a myriad of scholastic books, articles, journals, and periodicals, but unless you’re a researcher or have a vested interest in this subject, who has time to slog through the academic material? Nobody! Except me. That’s sort of my schtick. I read, studied, digested all that material for you. But I knew if I were going to shine some light on the complexities of our present situation, I had to make it personal, humorous, raw, and entertaining as well as provocative. 

I definitely open the kimono, so to speak, in this book. I knew if I wasn’t real and honest, the reader wouldn’t trust me. Although the archival footage in the documentary Holy Hell on Amazon gives you real footage of the inside of the cult, the story is so much bigger than a 100-minute documentary could tell. I invite the reader to take a journey with me down the road of my life in the safety and comfort of their home, in hopes that they will learn from my experience and not have to take the same road. I have lived an extraordinary life. I’ve done things that most people can’t even imagine. On this journey you might laugh, you might cry, you might get angry, or you might find relief that you’re not alone. I invite you to go all the way to the end with me, even if you find some discomfort along the way. In my life I chose the road less traveled. I spent sixty-plus years in contemplative practice, and at the end of this book I promise I won’t leave you without some pearls from my experience to help you navigate this crazy world. The book The Followers, Holy Hell and the Disciples of Narcissistic Leaders is not a story about me per se, or some broken, gullible individuals, or the past; it’s a story about what’s happening todayto all of us. 

The book is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble but if you don’t like or have time to read, it’s also on Audible in my voice.

LGBT flag illustration by Symara Wilson for 360 Magazine

Netflix’s Pray Away Reveals Horrors of Conversion Therapy

By: Skyler Johnson

Edited By: Andrew Shibuya

Conversion therapy, or the pseudoscientific practice of changing someone’s sexual orientation, has been considered and practiced for over a century now. Dubious to many of its’ creators’ contemporaries, conversion therapy’s capacity for change has long been contested and considered futile. The practice itself is scientifically baseless and detrimental, and what is essentially man’s foolish and ineffectual attempt to change human nature. In recent Netflix documentary Pray Away, the effects and harms of this “therapy” are explored and uncovered throughout investigation of its century-long practice.

Pray Away follows ex-leaders and survivors of the “pray the gay away” movement, focusing on Exodus International, a conversion therapy organization that only ended eight years ago in 2013. The film follows several people as they detail their horrific experiences and the consequences of their both voluntary and involuntary participation in the practice.

Conversion therapy was publicly started in the 1890s, when Albert von Schrenck-Notzing stated in a conference that he was able to turn a gay man straight through hypnosis. Decades later, Eugen Steinach would later transplant the testicles of a straight man onto a gay man to “cure” homosexuality. Lobotomies, chemical castration, and aversion therapies became popular as “therapeutic” techniques. This lasted throughout the earlier half of the 20th century into the 1960s and 1970s, during the rise of the LGBT Rights Movement, when psychiatrists began to shy away from the practice. In 1973 the APA removed homosexuality from the DSM. Unfortunately, conversion therapy did not stop but was instead utilized by faith-based groups, including Exodus International.    

Talk therapy now makes up the bulk of all current conversion therapy procedures. While this may seem a lot less intimidating, the effects of this talk therapy can be powerful, especially when utilized by the wrong people. The film exposed how many ex-gay leaders weren’t licensed professionals, and how, if they believed someone were gay, it was because they had a poor relationship with their parents. And if not, they must have been sexually abused even if they were unable to recall any abuse. To a lot of young people, this thought process made sense, as many were too young to truly understand its flaws.

The film also displayed how the people involved in this movement were dishonest about the “progress” they were making. They included the story of John Paulk, once claiming to have become a straight man through the therapy. John later admits that the entire time he was consumed with gay thoughts and was mendacious about his reformation.

The documentary exhibited that there are a lot of people that still hold their beliefs. Organizations still exist that enforce conversion therapy. It’s not a thing of the past. This was highlighted by the film’s portrayal of the leader of the Freedom March, Jeffrey McCall, an ex-transgender woman living as a man with the belief that being trans is a sin. The organization’s Facebook page now has 10,000 followers and is still growing.

While the film primarily covers people that were able to escape the movement and live better lives, there remains great struggle that many people experience. The film’s director, Kristine Stolakis, decided to make Pray Away when her uncle, who had gone through conversion therapy, committed suicide. Julie Rodgers talked about self-harm, which is something that’s incredibly common, most notably in people who have undergone conversion therapy. Participants have been 8.4x more likely to commit suicide and 5.9x more likely to undergo severe depression. It’s also been connected deeply to an overall sense of hopelessness and an increase in self-hatred.

Conversion therapy is a practice that causes pain for the many people that were subjected to it. But the film did also evince that there is, at least somewhat, a way out. Many of the film’s subjects were able to enter into healthy homosexual relationships. On the film’s website, they list a variety of resources for those anguished by conversion therapy. These can be found HERE.

Tara Reid Image provided by Jennifer Gulley and Full Scale Media for use by 360 MAGAZINE.

Tara Reid Opens Up

Tara Reid burst onto the scene as the flawless blue-eyed babe of the iconic 1999 camp comedy American Pie, a Fast Times at Ridgemont High for twenty-something Gen-Xers and precocious Millennials. Her flawless all-American looks led to films from cult favorite The Big Lebowski, to Urban Legend, Van Wilder, Josie and the Pussycats, Dr. T & the Women and My Boss’s Daughter. She starred and held her own alongside Ryan Reynolds, Ashton Kutcher, Rosario Dawson, Kate Hudson, Richard Gere and other movie heavyweights.

And then… something happened. Reid was young, stunning and famous; and the media began taking more of an interest in her after-hours role as Hollywood’s resident party girl.

A painful public breakup with then-fiancé Carson Daly and a bout with botched plastic surgery further spun Reid’s public narrative out of control. She recently told E! news, “They almost make a cartoon character out of you, and they keep going with it,” referring to the rampant tabloid journalism of the 2000s.

The experience sent Reid reeling, and into a self-imposed exile where she learned to reflect, regroup, and re-emerge focused on her craft, and with a healthy sense of humor as she displays in her willingness to embrace the camp genre with the Sharknado film series. In addition to working in front of the camera, she’s added film producer to her resume, with an upcoming slate of releases under her production banner, Hi Happy Films.

The following are excerpts from internationally syndicated columnist Allison Kugel’s latest interview, featuring Tara Reid. The interview is available for re-publication in its entirety, or in select quotable excerpts.

On working with the late DMX on his last film:
“It’s a movie called Doggmen. It’s his last film and it was really interesting, because he didn’t get to finish the whole film. They had to do what they did with Paul Walker (in his last Fast & Furious role). They make these facial sculptures and they put it on a face, and it looks exactly like him. It’s crazy. The last couple of scenes that he has to film, that will be what they are doing. It’s incredible and it looks so real. So, that is how they are going to film his last scenes, and I’ll be in those scenes with him. I think everyone was absolutely broken by DMX’s [death].  He wasn’t just a great rapper, but he was a poet. I think he was one of the best rappers of our time, and this movie explains that. The last person that really did that was Tupac. I think it will be a great film. He’s a great actor, he’s a voice, and that mattered a lot to him. I think he will be really happy about how this movie comes out and looks. It’s DMX, and just to be a part of that history with him is pretty much incredible.”

On forgiving the tabloid media for how they treated her in the past:
“I didn’t [for a long time], and I was upset about it when I was younger. But I realized the only way I was going to grow and get out of that situation was to grow as a woman. So therefore, I do forgive them now. I have moved on, and my press has changed. I’m not angry about it anymore. When you finally let something go, it goes. It’s like taking a balloon and putting it up in the air, and it’s gone. I’m 45 years old and I’m not a child anymore. I’m not the little girl from American Pie.”

On one historical event she would love to witness if she could time travel:
“I wouldn’t want to change anything, but if I were to go back in time to a historical event that was fun, I would have loved to have been Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday” to the president [John F. Kennedy] (laugh). It was such a legendary moment.”

On freezing her eggs for a maybe baby:
“Will I have kids?  Let’s see what is in store for me. It’s not a no, and it’s not a yes. I have gotten my eggs frozen so there is definitely the potential of that. If it is meant to be, it will happen. If not, I’m very comfortable where I’m at.”

How prayer and listening to Deepak Chopra changed her life:
“I do pray, and who I pray to depends on what situation I am in. I pray to Jesus, but I also pray to my parents all the time. They are probably my number one. And I pray to my guardian angels; I pray to St. Jude, St. John, or St. Christopher. They have different meanings depending upon what you are in need of. I also listen to tapes by Deepak Chopra which has helped me tremendously. His tapes help you break down, ‘Who am I close to? Who am I? What do I want? What do I not want?’ And you really have to write it out in a diary form. My life started changing. A lot of us don’t know how to direct that positive energy, and I think that he is someone that really knows how to give that to you.”