Weak gods and no gods
So I am little agitated this morning simply because I could not have a cup of tea —long story. I figured some writing therapy (works every time) might be the way out. I decided to tackle some of the issues I have encountered in my many debates on and off social media. They are mostly about religion and afro-centrism. In my many escapades, I have identified five groups;
1 Those who preach atheism and in their cluelessness confuse it with afro-centrism.
2 The pseudo-atheists/near-agnostics who are in search of a black god to emancipate them from their mental slavery and deem it fit to preach it to others though they themselves haven’t found him yet.
3 Christianity haters who do not even know why they do it so they promote anything that sounds anti-Christian even when they don’t understand it; often collapsing their own arguments even before it has begun.
4 Baby-Christians who do not understand a lot of what is being said; so they occasionally question their faith.
5 The very interesting group who have a burning need to isolate spirituality from religion. This group is very diverse and surprisingly includes even atheist. It is however, dominated by new agers and serves as a converging point for all types including some Christians who say things like; “God is not a Christian”.
While I might not be able to address all of these groups, I will attempt a general response to some of the issues they keep raising to make their comical cases often erected on wobbly scaffolds.
First it will be interesting to examine what kind of a person pressures another to abandon their faith to join them in their faithlessness. Faith forces a modification of conduct—discipline and a conformity to a set of rules. The opposite of that is chaos to say the least. A life that doesn’t believe in anything is border-less and value-deficient. This type is a personification of anarchy and manifests as a rebel without a cause and must of necessity amount to nothing. It is a purposeless life that has no anchor. Its direction is uncertain because its goal is non-existent. It epitomizes the word LOST.
Take some time to think about it. When a man tells you to leave what you have and come to nothing; take a critical interest in his motives. They are not as intelligent as they try to sound and they don’t know the things they claim they know. In my experience 90% of the people who claim they have read the Bible have not. Especially those who claim they have read it from cover to cover. So how then do we validate their quoting of scripture, warped exegesis, and distorted homiletics? Not to mention their unpardonable blasphemy against history as a discipline.
If a man of Richard Dawkins’ caliber can make a complete monkey of himself with hate comments not befitting of his intellectual stature, it is not beyond these one-book-readers who parrot utter poppycock because they heard something somewhere that justifies their carnality. If you walk past a person who tells you to love even your enemies only to go with a person who tells you to mock and hate someone who believes something different from them and then comes back and chants one love, you have MAJOR issues.
I had a conversation with a Bobo Shanti priest recently. He was busy with his burn Jesus mantra prior to that. I asked him a few questions concerning the basis on which he claims Haile Selassie as the return of Christ. After yammering about how many psalms he reads a day and what the difference between knowledge, wisdom and understanding is, we finally got to the point. For his theory of Haile Selassie second coming and kingly manifestation of Jesus to work; he first needs the same historical Jesus he was burning and claims never existed. In effect; burn Jesus and lose Rastafari. You cannot have the reincarnation of something the never existed—that’s below even basic logic. When he couldn’t explain himself any further, he resorted to cussing and called me a journalist (I never understood that part) and a trickster. So much for the TRUTH he was teaching.
There is also the “my culture” people, who are guaranteed to be shocked out of their melanin laden skins if they should learn about the causes that have formulated what they now call their culture. But verily verily I say unto you; a culture that does not evolve is doomed to failure. Nowadays I hear families are accepting ipads as part of bride prize. You might be disgusted but I say that’s smart thinking. I will choose an ipad over a bottle of schnapps from Holland any day. And if you think our ancestors were wearing kabba made from wax prints before they met the Dutchman, think again. There are some musicians who claim, hi-life is our traditional music insisting that the youth must stick to it if they want international recognition. In the mean time they themselves in their days played funk and jazz and force-labeled it hi-life: it will be interesting to know which one of the instruments they use to make their “traditional” hi-life was invented by their ancestors? If it is not the guitar then maybe the keyboard or even the drum? Perhaps hi-life started with xylophones and jembe and kpalogo drums—we really ought to know the difference. One thing is for sure; a culture that remains the same in a changing world is in danger of trailing behind the progress of the very humanity it is a part of. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised at the current state of affairs.
Then there is the “we have our own god(s) people”, I say; you do indeed. Go to Cape Coast castle and take the tour. When you get to the shrine that in all honesty is an obscenity that stains what would have been an insightful tour, ask the perpetually silent, poker-faced attendant who I guarantee will be sunbathing somewhere on the shores of hebetude a question. The guide will refer to him as a “fetish” priest and (I have never understood why he can’t just be a priest without the fetish). Beseech him to explain how it is that the god he represents did not stop the white man and his god from subjecting his people to the atrocities we are all ashamed of. You might not get a chance until you ask the guide why there is a black man’s shrine sitting in the middle of the white man’s castle. So be sure to ask. Then you will learn, that apparently, this god of ours was sitting right there on the shore when the white man showed up with his god, gun and whisky. (Talk about selling your birth right for a pot of stew) If you have ever spent some time on National Geographic, you must know that even animals defend their territories (until they encounter inhabitants of the higher strata of the food chain of course). But the white man did not just rob, rape, kill and enslave, he also built a castle right on top of the shrine in which he engineered and managed the crimes even as he worshipped his god every Sunday while our god just sat there and did absolutely NOTHING for four hundred years. He did not even call for backup(LAPD style) from the battalions of gods across the nations.
It is easy to isolate an issue and discuss it as if your perspective is all there is to it. As Platonians show with their allegory of the caves, slavery as you know it may be your reality and you might believe that what happened in the middle ages is the first encounter between the two races concerned. You might even think; as many do that yours is the first slavery story in history. But the reality is that the transatlantic slave trade is but a sub-stratum of a larger slavery problem that dates back the empires of antiquity. Unjustifiable as it may be, it is what you will see if you are willing to look beyond the shadows on the wall of your little cave. Your true character begins to show when you insist that the larger problem must be interpreted by all through your narrow perspective. Such behavior is indistinguishable from selfishness and is in fact Nazism in essence. Many of these people, I am willing to wager will be among the first to engage in the same acts they claim to hate if the tables should turn.
When afro-centric historians write and speak about the so-called glorious days of the black man, they are not ashamed to mention how the moors traded white women and how other “inferior” races were enslaved too. It has always been a norm with every dominant force to make slaves of inferior forces. You might want to look into your own traditional history and you will see it there. It is the reason many who parrot Garvey still do not understand some of the agreements he made with perceived enemies. Such thinking is beyond normal people. His was an attempt to correct the ills of humanity slavery clearly being among the worst of them. So he posits, we are not against the white man, we are seeking to better the Negro (I paraphrase), Very few people understand the difference you see. He found grounds on which he engaged with the Ku Klux Klan of all groups. There is a common cause and in this cause even the enemy is an ally. I submit to you; that the best scenario for humanity is to have all groups function at their full capacity. Race, color or creed not withstanding (maybe that will sound familiar). Emporer Haile Selassie’s groundbreaking speech at the League of Nations made famous by Bob Marley in the song; war, contrary to what many believe was more pro-humanity than it was pro-black.
“Until the color of a man’s skin is no more significant than the color of his eyes”
Regarding matters of Pan-Africanism, they don’t come any bigger than Garvey and the good Emperor. On religion, what Garvey sought to do was to blacken the Jesus that the white man has presented as white. Not to replace him with the 99 gods in Brekuso. He, together with Bishop Mcguire who argued that Christ was historically reddish brown rather than white, will later form the African Orthodox Church under the wings of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).
We believe in God, the creator of all things and people, in Jesus Christ his son, the spiritual savior of all mankind. –UNIA Creed
What Garvey believed is that religion can be a powerful tool for liberation. I personally believe; if it can be used to lock the mind, it can be used to unlock it. It is an absolute absurdity, to lock something with one key and seek to open it with another. The key may look like it fits but can it open the door. If it is the church that has sold a white Jesus to our people, who better to sell a black Jesus (or better still a universal Jesus for all) to our people and indeed many churches are doing that. Nowhere in the Bible did Christ mention that he had come to save any particular race. On the contrary, did he not make it possible for gentiles to become heirs of the Abrahamic covenant and is his kingdom not universal?
The roots of Christianity are no secrets. The ills that have been committed in the name of Christianity are no mystery. The true positions of Christianity on many issues including these crimes against humanity are clearly stated in the Bible for those who are willing to read it well enough. The liberation and salvation of mankind is the very objective of the Christ way. For those who insist that religion and Christianity for that matter is a weapon of the white man against the black man, tell us what your weapon against him is. The gods at cape coast castle couldn’t stop him. If you are going to worship idols in the name of African spirituality, no one will stop you but I sure hope they bring you the mental freedom that you seem to think rest outside of yourself. Whatever you do be sure to remember that others are entitled to their preferences too and that atheism fundamentally is un-African.