“The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear” Krishnamurti
Once a week I volunteer at an inner city mission. Interestingly, even though I had volunteered sporadically before with different organizations and missions, it was after reading Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life”, that I made a conscious decision to commit to volunteer on a consistent basis. I came to realize clearly from his teaching that we are created by God with a ministry and a mission to fulfill. Our ministry is what we do in our service for the “Church” and our mission is what we do in our service for the “World”. Both are important. Both influences and strengthens each other. To have the maximum impact as a child of God on those we come in contact with, we have to be committed to being consistent in our ministry and mission.
In reality, this is easier said than done. When I don’t feel like going and can find many excuses to justify staying home or doing something else, I push myself to go. I don’t do this out of fear. I don’t even do this out of a sense of commitment or obligation. I can honestly say that I have progressed to the point where I now do it out of love. Not a self-centered or self-directed love for God, but my love for the people I have come to know and connect with… and what an interesting group they are!
The people who the mission serves are poor, mainly struggle with some form of addiction(s) and many deal psychological and/or emotional issues. Yet in some ways, they are the most caring people I have met. They are always polite and grateful for what we do. Some may drop in for a few minutes, while others stay for hours. They have moments of conflict with each other, but for the most part, they look out for each other.
In conversing with most of them, what has astonished me is that while some (if not most) have gone through… and are still dealing with some real difficult, traumatic and heart-breaking situations… they have a deep faith in Jesus Christ. Not the “church going” or intellectualized faith that we vainly opine and debate about, but a faith based on the unadulterated belief that Jesus has brought them through so far and He will always care for them. What amazes me even more is those with the strongest faith are the ones who have suffered the most. They share with me their stories and like Job’s wife I ask myself: “why don’t they just curse God and die!?”
When I first started volunteering at the mission, I felt God was teaching me that I really have nothing to complain about and I should appreciate my life because in comparison to the clients at the mission, my life was indeed blessed. Over time I have come to realize that what God was in fact showing me was that my faith, in comparison to these people, was shallow at best. Their belief is not based on fear, but on their personal experiences in the love of God.
“If Christianity and it adherents really stand for something powerful and special and good, why aren’t they doing as Dr. Martin Luther King did, getting in the streets, organizing believers and non- and attempting to eliminate all of the ungodly behavior going on in their communities and in their nation? It doesn’t seem that that’s what this religion thing is about…and if its not about what’s moral, what’s evil and what’s right, what good is it??” Lubangakene
This attitude is the reason why our community at large and humanity in general, haven’t progressed further than it has in regards to the common good. Too many of us are looking and waiting for the next Martin (or Malcolm), instead of taking up our own cross and working to fulfill our own mission. Too many of us would rather answer like Cain: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”, than take the responsibility to “really work for something powerful and special and good” in the service for others. The life work of Martin Luther King is inspirational and influential, however I am inspired and influenced by the ONE who inspired and influenced Rev. King: Jesus Christ. He’s the source. His example isn’t one who went to church (synagogue at the time) 4-6 days a week to prove his faith, nor sit in a room and write a treatise (or blog) on the importance of his beliefs. Jesus got involved and served the poor and oppressed… their physical and more importantly, their spiritual needs.
Those looking and waiting for the next Martin and Malcolm, are looking and waiting for the “spectacular” as a measure for judgment. The spectacular event or series of events by the righteous, which appears to have an impact on the world at large, is what they value. However, the truth is the greatest impact is made by those unheralded workers who change the world for one individual, one day at a time. They don’t get a lot of media attention, the vast majority get none at all, but what they do is “spectacular” for those they help none the least.
Yet, let me highlight some of the works of Christians to alleviate the sufferings and oppressions of the poor. There is the Spanish Catholic priest, Father Christopher Hartley and his work helping Haitian migrant workers in the Dominican Republic. His efforts to bring medicine, education and advocate for their human rights is the subject of the documentary: The Price of Sugar. There are the front line workers of the Salvation Army who are committed to meeting the daily needs of the hungry, substance addicted, the homeless and young runaways. Here is a documentary by the National Film Board of Canada on their efforts in my home town of Toronto: “Salvation“. There is the Catholic Bishop Kevin Dowlings who advocates the use of condoms to save lives and prevent the spread of HIV-AIDS in his diocese in South Africa, putting him at odds with his church’s doctrine on contraception. There are the Christian Peacemaker Teams who work in conflict zones in places such as Palestine, Iraq, South America and Africa… and who are committed to non-violent direct action to confront systems of violence and oppression.
One of the columnists I read regularly at the New York Times online is Nicholas D. Kristoff. He travels to some of the most remote parts of the world reporting on the injustices and sufferings faced by the powerless. There is one thing his columns has taught me… there is no such thing as a “god-forsaken place”. In the midst of the sufferings, no matter where in the world, he usually mentions that there is a Christian missionary or worker from a Christian NGO working there to help the people.
Then there are those I know personally from my mission work. The two pastors who started and run the mission made a conscious decision to commit themselves to serving the needs of the poor, instead of working in traditional churches. The volunteers are ordinary people, such as university students, homemakers, office workers, etc, who unselfishly give of their time to make a difference. Some volunteers have gone through their own personal battles and are still fighting their own personal demons, trials and tribulations. Yet they consistently show up and serve. A few are clients of the mission itself, who simply want to help.
The one thing all these Christians have in common, from Father Hartley…to the people at the mission… to the countless millions of Christians who quietly, selflessly and consistently fulfill their mission… is that they do what they do out of love, not fear. Their belief, faith and the works that they do is very simply a manifestation of the love of God through Jesus Christ, as well as being their “brother’s and sister’s keeper”. Matthew 22: 36-40
Regardless of your belief, non-belief or philosophy, my question to you is (and it is a rhetorical one): “are you your brother’s and sister’s keeper… and if you are, what are you doing about it?”
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.
I had an interesting conversation with my Brother Carey at Carry Me Home blog. He posed a question: Why is it that most people who have a strong desire to accomplish something, such as weight loss, or overcome a drug addiction will most likely fail at it? He concluded that even though they have the desire, and put in the work they believe is necessary, the odds are against them because they may not have the right information or they may even have misinformation. Brother Carey states that in addition, most fail because they have no true vision of what it would take to accomplish what they desire. He concludes that because of these factors, their failure is truly not their own fault. I agreed with him.
I would like to take this question and give it a Christian spin, a God theme.
Why is it that many people who profess that they are Christians fail at developing a true relationship with Jesus, when they say they have a desire to know Him? Is it bad teaching and preaching that stop us? Is it the bad things that happen in our lives that stop us? Do our issues stop us? Why is it that some of us backslide and fall away from our faith?
We know that there are many heretics out there, and false prophets and carnal minded people in the hierarchy of the church. I just read a post at my sister Ann’s blog, “The Old Black Church”, where she tells of a church which locked its members out of the sanctuary this past Resurrection Sunday, over issues of money. My Brother at Reggie’s Rantings blog just posted about the subject of child molestation in the Catholic church. All of this really looks very bad. We can say that these kinds of reports about the church is the reason that people fall away or never come to Christ to begin with.
But I wonder if all of these reasons are really the reason that many Christians don’t have a true relationship with the Lord? A deep relationship with Him. I wonder if it’s not something other than these convenient reasons, why some don’t develop their relationship with the Lord? I believe we can overcome any reason that would block us from developing a relationship with the Lord, if we want to bad enough. If we want a true, satisfying and personal relationship with the Lord bad enough, Proverbs 3:5-8 tells us:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Then you will have healing for your body
and strength for your bones.
I believe it all boils down to trusting God. Despite all the madness that is out there. There are so many despicable things going on both inside and outside of the church. Many people use the church as a cloak for their own ungodly behavior. But should we allow the wicked to influence us and keep us away from God? If we do allow all that’s going on to block us from God, then isn’t it because we have concluded that God has got things wrong? Isn’t it because we have decided that we know more than God, because we can see wickedness that God apparently isn’t able to see? And isn’t it because we have decided that God is not as smart as we? And if we are honest, then we have to admit that we must be trusting our own understanding and depending on our own wisdom! We can so easily be deceived in this manner. But again, God tells us in the above scriptures what to do. Unlike the initial above scenario, we DO have the right information! Our Bible is the right information and revelation for the Christian to live SUCCESSFULLY, even in this fallen world! Amen
First published at wrestlegod.blogspot.com on 4-5-10
In the days since Michael Jackson passed, I have been thinking alot about his genius. He was a fantastic dancer and had an unmistakable and beautiful singing voice. I have enjoyed his talent since the beginning. I’m an old school fan having listened to “ABC” and the rest. He was also the greatest performer alive. He put so much of himself into all that he did on the stage, and the world loved him for it.
He was also great on the “stage” in productions like “The Wiz” and in all of his videos, which were all fantastic productions in themselves. It was easy for us to see just how much he loved his craft and how much he loved us and loved performing for us. He has said that he felt more at ease on the stage for his fans than anywhere.
In my thoughts about Michael, I think of being “poured out” like a drink offering that’s spoken of by the Apostle Paul. As far as I know, Michael was a Jehovah’s Witness, but when I look at how he poured all of himself into performing with the gifts that God gave him, I can only conclude that he lived his life fully and did what he was sent to do. None of us is perfect and can never be. We all have sin in our lives–Jesus told us so, and He came to redeem us from sin.
Michael had a lot of self inflicted torments, and many more that were inflicted on him by evil, self-absorbed people, and we all were able to see the manifestation of all his troubles in more ways than one in his life. His pain was very visible to us. Yet if one asks if his talent was God’s gift to the world, we have to say yes, because the world loves him. And if we ask if he used the gifts that God gave him, then we again must say yes!
To me, Michael is a great example of the sacrificed life to the glory of God! He blessed many people in the assignment God gave to him to do. That is what we are all supposed to do with the gift/assignment that God gives us. I believe God is well pleased with Michael.
First published on July 1, 2009 at wrestlegod.blogspot.com
There is a lot of talk these days about marriage and how difficult it can be. Everywhere you turn, someone is talking about how many marriages are failing. How divorce is soaring, even in the “church”. Some folk even believe that the marriage covenant isn’t necessary in this day and age. Many feel that the marriage license, the papers, is where the problem lies.
Those of us who believe in the sanctity of marriage are perplexed about all this. We don’t understand why our marriages are failing, and we are trying to figure out what’s going on! Some pastors are preaching that it’s because we dont “interview” our prospective mates! We don’t know what we’re getting! We don’t find out their views on money, children, work, business, family, etc. Some pastors are saying that we are letting carnality lead us in choosing our mates–we are looking at whether they look good, have money or prestige. Some experts are saying that those we are choosing are not emotionally whole–we’re not finding out if the prospect has any issues–like anger, greediness, selfishness, hatred, etc. The implication is that we should eliminate these types from our pool of choices.
I have trouble with this. Mainly because I fit into many of these categories! Don’t we all have some issue or another? Is a marriage relationship something that should be perfect and complete from day one? Isn’t a relationship built over time? As a married woman, I know that the marriage relationship is something that must be developed. It takes a lot of emotional work and prayer to make it work.
If we accept what the “experts” tell us are the proper criteria, then no one would qualify for marriage!
Let me propose something. As Christians we already have the solution to build a great marriage with the mate of our dreams.
First, God is our foundation on which to build a good, satisfying marriage. That means that at the start of that marriage, there’s nothing much there. The foundation must be set in place. Then if we trust in the Lord and follow His precepts, we will be victorious in all things. It’s God who guides us in everything to develop our relationship with our mate. When we as weak humans run into disagreements, we look to what the Word says, we follow it, and things come back together. When we have doubts about each other, we take our burdens to the Lord in prayer and find out what the Word says. When we are angry at each other, we take our troubles to God and do what He says concerning anger. We forgive each other. If we follow Christ in all our ways, we will practice love and forgiveness in all our ways to the best of our ability. God will bless our efforts, and we will see victory in our marriages, despite our issues, weaknesses, and problems. It’s not wise to think that we should be compatible in everything.
We are individuals and that means we see things differently one from the other. We ought not to expect to agree on everything. We ought to expect that at times we won’t be happy with each other. That’s not a reason to fall apart but to do what God says and forgive. In going through the issues of marriage, our relationship grows. We develop patience and love and appreciation for each other. The “experts” say we won’t have to go through too many trials, if we choose correctly. God says that we are victorious in Him in all our ways, despite problems.
I’m going to continue to go God’s way so my marriage will continue to blessed! Amen.
The Greatest Woman in History: A Rock
The woman, a peasant, in the field, worked from dusk to dawn to reap its yield, she dug and planted yam to feed her fam. Sorghum, too, its grass to line the beds where her children lay their heads. Her husband was a farmer, hunter and went off to fight, while the woman kept the home fires alight. She cooked, she weaved. She traded in the market.
She has five children. One grew up; she got married young. The others still lived at home, their skin black and smooth, their smiles big and bright, like their eyes. Another she carried silently within. Then men came with talking sticks, that barked loud fire words. The villagers ran for the forest, tho their flight did them no good. They captured her, she fought and strained. And then tied and bound she was led down to a ship, thrown in its hold, dark and cold.
For forty nites upon the seas, she lay there chained amidst death and disease. When at last she emerged upon the deck, it was in a storm the ship was wrecked; her captors led her to the shore where she would see her Motherland nevermore. She was bought and sold to work a field not her own, when the sixth child was born. The last member of her old fam, so the master let her grow then sold her to another man.
Raped and sold at twelve the girl caught hell, beat and worked like a mule, reviled for her black skin. Preached at, raped again, the women took her in. She planted and plucked the cotton, she hated her life. One day she ran away and ran and ran until she was free. Then she went back. She returned to her old plantation, saw her momma’s face, in the dark. Her mother’s broken gaze by the dim fire light.
That nite she stole away, with her mother close behind, running, until they were beyond the reach of slavery.
The girl went back. No longer a girl anymore, she returned time and again until she stole away with three hundred men, women and children. A thief, a bounty on her head. Stealing property from wealthy slave owners. She traveled with a gun, on her railroad, underground.
She peeled the caps of the Confederates; behind enemy lines, disguised as a washerwoman, she signaled the Union spies. Slave girl, runaway, mother redeemer, Mata Hari.
Her children grew. One came to rule in Liberia far away. Another girl who once knew slavery, grew into a woman, started a business with her man. They grew influential, their plan to lead their community. Then instability. The crackers rose, burnt the town, lynched her man, the people fled. She wept and bled a rage that burned within all her living days. Jim Crow ruled the world when five crackers raped her then. She gave birth to a girl.
A girl became a woman who watched Jim Crow shrink, it never really disappeared. However, she raised a family and those she reared came along in a new age. She joined a movement called Black Power. Instead of the cracker mob the police took the job to lynch her man. They shot up her house, killing a party captain. Her man, drugged by a snitch lay in bed; the cops dragged him out and put a bullet in his head. She fled before the pigs made a tomb for the baby in her womb. Underground and on the run, she gave birth to her first, and last.
Another generation born. That girl became a woman whom, for reasons unknown, strayed from the path which marked her way. She, from a line so proud and bold, broke down in the dark cold winter of the racist summer, picked up the pipe, smoked the crack and never turned back. She sucked and whored thru the streets, never finding rest for her feet or her head. Raped, bobbed, beaten. Homelessness. Sometimes she went dirty begging for money, ended up in jail. Out, on the bricks, suckin you kno what for a few dirty dollars from tricks, lifting wallets and stuff. Her babies raised by the eldest of five, if that aint jive tell me who is going to make sure they thrive.
Eldest daughter started slinging, got caught up in the slaughter, took a fall from the government war against us all. And now she went to prison where she somehow came into another understanding of her place in this world. Lots of lessons to learn there yet she tried Jesus, then somewhere a book that turned her life around. When she got loose things had changed. The world appeared different. Her mother, beat down, broken cracked out still. Her sisters and brothers, some were well and some were ill. This one picked up and trod a different road, the road to liberty in a land where freedom was built on slavery.
Dreadlocks, cowries shells, sound of the cow bells and congos, the rhythm runs deep.
A woman standing up for liberation against injustice. Fighting for her children. Women raped in the Congo, she fights for that to end. Women, old women, who lost their pensions and homes and families in the financial swindles tear at her heart. Refugees from Darfur, in a strange land, their women dragging children behind them, clothed in headscarves and ankle-length skirts, arrive at the welfare office where she greets them and tries to make them feel at home. Lesbians turned out by their families. Runaway school girls at the bus depot, scooped up by her before the pimps suck their blood. Families without healthcare, they need a fighter, too.
Any woman working, feeding and clothing her family. Any woman, loving her man. Any woman, liberating her nation and standing tall against the odds, bleeding Harriet Tubman, Samora Machel, Mumia Abu-Jamal. The African Woman, the future, our mothers and lovers, our sweetest comfort when we BLACK MEN stand up and strike for right! When you have touched the women, you have struck a mountain.
For our Sisters. Eternal love and respect.
March. African Womens Month.
Recently I have been contemplating if the church has any real significant and positive influence on the world today, especially in the beliefs and actions of western society in particular. There was a time when Christian ideology, through the church was very influential (good and bad) in shaping political, social, cultural and even personal beliefs and viewpoints. I would argued that today this influence is not as great as it was say… even 30 years ago.
I read an analytical report on The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life website which somewhat dealt with this issue, from an interesting point of reference. This article entitled: “Science in America: Religious Beliefs and Public Attitudes”, discussed the findings of a survey which concluded that “when scientific evidence and long-held religious beliefs come into direct conflict, many Americans reject science.”
According to the authours of the report, American society has a unique dichotomy in that on one hand, it is the most religious of the advanced industrial democracies, while on the other hand, it’s leadership in scientific research and application has been instrumental in making it a powerful nation. This has… not surprisingly… created some conflict between faith and science on societal beliefs, particularly on controversial issues such as evolution, homosexuality and global warming. The report primarily looked at the influence of religion and science on these three topics in American society.
The report contended that a close reading of the survey shows that large majorities of the American public respect science and scientists, but where scientific evidence and long-held religious belief come into direct conflict, “many Americans reject science in favor of the teachings of their faith tradition.” However, surprisingly today such areas of explicit differences are not common.
It was interesting to compare the beliefs of Black and White Christians (specifically Evangelicals) on the above three issues, as well as secularists, Conservatives, Moderates, Liberals, college and high school graduates. The results were not as straightforward and/or obvious as one would be expect. There are definite mixtures and combinations of scientific and religious influences which run through even strong held beliefs and opinions.
The report does not necessarily answer my original question on whether the church, Christianity and religion in general is a positive driving force on western society, but it does offer some insight on what motivates beliefs and therefore actions… which can have obvious implications in areas such as the formulation of government statutes and public policies.