On commenting on the post, “The Selling of Jesus” by thefreeslave, my response got so long winded, as I am known to do, that it became a post in itself.
Lubangakene, you made some valid points in your post and asked some stimulating questions. These questions, which have been asked throughout the ages, I have struggled with myself. I don’t claim to have any of the answers, however I’ll humbly provide my perspective for whatever it’s worth.
I just finished reading “The Forging of the Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600-2000″ by Colin Kidd. I am now reading “God’s War: A New History of the Crusades” by Christopher Tyerman. Both books discuss historical aspects of westernized Christianity, the Bible, as well as the “Selling of Jesus”, and how it was all politicized by Europeans for imperial expansion at the expense of “peoples of color”. I have also read “Yurugu” by Marimba Ani. She provides certain truthful perspectives on various European ideologies, including as you state, Christianity. I have also read “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins, who contends that a belief in God or any supernatural being for that matter is irrational and details some of the negative effects of religion throughout history. I found all of these books very informative as well as enlightening. I found them even more influential in strengthening my faith and belief that all religious ideology, in this case European Christian ideology, and having a personal relationship with God, are indeed two different things.
However, I don’t base my intellectual or spiritual beliefs solely on European or “westernized” intellectualism. The world is a very diverse place and it’s western arrogance, among both whites and blacks, why they tend to only perceive aspects of life through this prism of western intellectualism. And what do prisms do? They distort light. Intellectual prisms in the same way distorts truth. That is the weakness in Furqan’s statement, as interesting and enlightening as it may appear. The westernized form of Christianity and it’s history that he riles against, is only one perspective among many. It’s not the be all and end all to judge religion or Christianity by. Regardless, if this is indeed what they are selling, then we need to ask ourselves: are we just buying what they are offering or rejecting it thinking that’s all there is? Or are we being conscientious consumers and putting in the work to research what other perspectives are out there, so that we make well informed choices? This takes time and effort and how many of us are willing to make that commitment, sacrifice or responsibility to educate ourselves?
That is why it is so important to not only read, but to read a wide variety of perspectives on any issue. When it comes to religious ideology, I have read the Bible and Quran, as well as many other books which discussed the historical, political, economic and social aspects of a variety of religions. Some of which I mentioned above, but I have also read materials such as “A Black Theology of Liberation” by James Cone and “A Life of Jesus” by Shusaku Endo, who provides a Japanese perspective on Christianity. I am now searching for a book on Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. A long time ago I came to realize that westernized perspectives of Christianity, the Bible and Jesus aren’t the only or even the dominant perspective out in the wider world. Those who think this is the case are limited by their frame of reference, which is based on seeing the world through the prism of western intellectualism.
Not only is it important to read a variety of ideas, it is even more important travel to different places and converse with local people… and not as a tourist on a resort which caters to western sensibilities. One of the life changing trips I went on was my pilgrimage to West Africa. In the places I went and the people I spoke with, there was one thing that was very evident: Africans are spiritual people. I met Muslims, Christians and those who practiced traditional religions. I came away with two profound realizations. One, the westernized ideology and practice of Christianity wasn’t dominant in these cultures. In fact, a lot of traditional beliefs and practices were intertwined in their Christian (as well as Muslim) beliefs and practices. Two, those of African descent who have lost their spirituality or have discarded it in the name of intellectual supremacy (i.e., western based intellectualism), are incomplete… they are lacking a vital aspect of their essence.
“No, the brain is turned off a bit too much with this religion stuff for my liking.”
Lubankagene, I find it ironic that you make this statement while you use as your wordpress gravtar the image of Malcolm X , a religious zealot who practiced a religion that colonized and enslaved Africans well before the Europeans or Christianity. Although we like to glorify the political and social commentary of Malcolm, we tend to conveniently forget (or dismiss), that first and foremost, Malcolm’s message was a religious one. When he was a spokesman for the Nation of Islam, his message was that the way to salvation and freedom for African-Americans was in following the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. When he left the Nation and returned from his pilgrimage to Mecca, he preached that the way to salvation for all was in submitting oneself to Allah and accepting that Mohammed was his prophet. Would you therefore say that all this “religious stuff” Malcolm believed in turned his brain off, or would you argue that it enhanced his political awareness and intellect? What about Martin Luther King? What you also argue that Anna Renee’s, brotherpeacemaker’s, as well as my brain, are turned off because of the “religious stuff” we believe? If the answers are “no”, then I would argue that it’s a choice. Some people choose to use their religious beliefs as an excuse to turn off their brains (intellect), while others use their intellectual beliefs as as excuse to reject their spiritual nature.
Many years ago a friend gave me an audio cassette of a lecture by Dr. Edwin Nichols, a Black clinical psychologist, called “White Supremacy-A Paradigm”. It was based on a lecture he gave entitled: “Philosophical Aspects of Cultural Difference”. One of the points Dr. Nichols made was that European (western) intellectualism divided the mind, heart and soul into separate entities. He mused that was why white people would say things like: “tell me what you think, not what you feel”. For them, they process the world primarily through their intellect, therefore emotions and faith are considered inferior entities and any beliefs or cultures which operated within these realms were also inferior. Rationality and logic is the foundation from which they interact and interdict with each other, as well as with other cultures.
Dr. Nichols states that by contrast, within African culture, as well as most other cultures worldwide, the belief in this type of separation is non-existent. Historically, African cultures were the first to create science, art and religion with no contradictions. Their spirituality and religious beliefs didn’t turn off their brains. In fact it augmented it. Therefore I would argue that those of African descent, who have internalized western intellectual ideology and view the world primarily through it’s prism, also believe in this separation, that the intellect is superior and that if you live by faith, then you have turned off your brains, so to speak.
“No, I struggle reading here the repeated references on this blog to folks needing to “turn to GAWD, turn to Jesus.”
I don’t know if you were following the discussion on the post “Is Satan Speaking and Are you Listening?” by our sister Anna Renee. A commenter, The Precision Afrikan, also struggled with the recent religious content on this blog. I want to highlight a couple parts of my response to him:
This is a space where all views… political, social, secular, as well as religious, are welcomed to be shared, discussed, debated, but most importantly: respected. This is the reason why for example, thefreeslave and I, who have different political and religious beliefs can come and work together here, as well as be good friends. If we had your attitude, this forum would never have been created and we would consider each other enemies.
But you hit the real issue when you state that you became “accustomed to this blog as a primarily secular space to discuss Pan-African political issues from the perspective of reality and the material world, using critical thinking.” I observed the same thing as you and felt the need to expand our topics for discussions and therefore made a conscious effort to include more religious and spiritual perspectives, for we are also a religious and spiritual people, as well as politically and socially conscious. There is no reason why can’t discuss religious and spiritual issues here, even within the framework of what you term: “critical thinking”.
Therefore I say it’s good that you struggle. I struggle most times with the material which is posted here also… some of which I authour! However, read our Mission Statement once again. This forum has always been about sharing, discussing and debating ideas and beliefs. If every time someone comes here, they leave agreeing with everything that was said, then did any of us really learn anything? Our beliefs and perspectives should be challenged in some way, at some time. However, I have also come to realize that there is some risk when you take this position. I read a report recently based on a study which concluded that although the internet theoretically makes it possible to be able to access a variety of informational sources and points of views, most people will frequent sites that reaffirms their beliefs and worldview. Most people are not too open to consider varying beliefs and/or perspectives and are in fact very narrow-minded in their scope of the world.
One of the things I have learnt over the three years that I’ve been involved in blogging, is that it’s easier to claim to be down with exchanging and discussing ideas than it is to actually be committed to doing it! I have had emails from those who consider themselves to be intellectuals and are quick to testify that they are on a journey of enlightenment and self-empowerment, whether political, social and/or religious, who state that they will no longer visit this blog because we allow different points of view to be discussed here! One was upset that I posted articles from members of the black conservative network Project 21.
The question for me becomes, regardless of my personal beliefs, do we refuse to allow others to express their point of view here because we might not agree with their political, social or religious beliefs? Do we take the “us vs. them” position of western intellectualism… that if you don’t believe as I do, then “you’re not for us, you’re against us!” Or do we take a more holistic… and dare I say… “spiritual” approach and acknowledge that as black people, we are not homogeneous in our beliefs and that by listening, discussing and even challenging these beliefs in a respectful manner, we will ultimately become a more empowered and enlightened people. I know… I’m being naive.
“The conflagration that kills first is the one that scorches the gray matter.”
Lubankagene, allow me to build upon your above statement and add a quote from Hamlet:
“There are more things in heaven and earth Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Walk good Lubankagene. I wish you heaven… whatever that may be for you.