Sunday, September 30, 2007

Carnival of Faith

Warning: This post will have a Science Fiction/Fantasy feel, not only because I live and breath the genre but also because for the subject matter works quite well within the genre.


When I was a kid. I did religion, Christianity, Baptist Christianity to be exact. I loved Church! We sang songs, we played games and we learned about Jesus and his unconditional love for the masses, the down-trodden the Meek. Jesus was described as an all encompassing compassionate Activist. He went out into his community-The World and he performed Good Works. Not just Good Works for the noble, learned and washed mind you; but the forsaken, the forgotten, the supposed "worthless" and "degenerated".

When I was a kid I thought I would grow up in this world were Christians would be like Christ--giving to those most in need. I was a Child indeed. Reading deeper the contradictions left people who looked me like between a rock (Iraq) and a hard place. Slavery was justified depending on the pigment of the oppressed. Colonization was (win-win); women were either servants or whores. Since I am black, colonized and female, I figured I better find a faith that didn’t tell me that turning the cheek was more noble than defending and protecting me and mine. I think that Christianity has done us a terrible dis-service in many respects.

Blind faith is far too dangerous to a community threatening to collapse in on itself. I hear a lot of saying phrases like “I’m just gonna give it to God”. It bothers me because I can't see the pro-active aspect in this kind of faith.

See for me that is the trick of Christianity. It beats the have-nots into submission with a permanence that ensures enduring colonization. *I hear the whisper in my ear*

"turn that cheek sister so I can score that one as well and while I'm at I might slap the 2 below your waist--Amen"

Perhaps if a faith wasn’t forced on us as a way to further control us my views would be different. I don’t know but as of this moment, I see a lot of us hiding behind this idea of a great white savior who will ride in and smite our oppressors who have a suspicious resemblance to him.

A religion that offers the follower the opportunity to make their own miracles would be more ideal for our community.

A faith that demands that we invest in our life on earth in a way that builds true pride rather than humbles would be more ideal. We don’t need a faith that offers the gift of total supplication and humility, two ideals that I associate with shame.

How better to keep a slave a slave? Tell them that God wants it, hell God needs it. Replace their home, their language and slay their Gods, permanently and take up the throne for yourself. "Bow down?"

I would like to think that we could take a negative and make it a positive but rape of faith is Corruption of the soul and I would be lying if I said that I believed completely that this kind of violation could transmogrify into something other than what was intended. Certainly some of the tenets are absolutely useful but I wonder----

Our forced Exodus from our home leads us right to the great entrance to cultural confusion and wretched displacement. Then came the Commandments which started with a Doozy

"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;" He wasnt talking about us right here, now was he?

1."you shall have no other gods before me". And so It begins...

2. "You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." Okay our ancestors are artists, craftsmen, woodworkers, sculptors---cease and desist and begin the symbiosis. Not a trace of your former life will be tolerated.
3. "
I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me." I wonder how often this was read.heard before a lynching or cross burning or rape?

Okay so they aint all bad but hell once you start like this, the rest is blood-red gravy...

I mean we shouldn't steal, kill, lie, disrespect our parents, fine but really I feel like I could have gotten that message without the whip hand Boss. The added bonus is that it all discourages digging into the past to retrieve parts of ourselves. Leaves us with that "middle of nowhere" feel that paints us with the bullseye.

Okay to be fair I have dealt ONLY with Christianity in America certainly no religion is the perfect faith but within the very narrow confines of this post I can not say that I feel that Christianity is the ideal faith for Black Americans.


15 comments:

DJ Black Adam said...

@Femigog:

You wrote:

"Okay to be fair I have dealt ONLY with Christianity in America certainly no religion is the perfect faith but within the very narrow confines of this post I can not say that I feel that Christianity is the ideal faith for Black Americans."

What faith do you think is, and why?

Femigog said...

DJ@ To answer your question---I honestly don't really know. Maybe the distraction of God is what keeps us pacified and immobile. Maybe some Pagan/Christian Hybrid that stresses not only good work for others but preaches upward mobility for ourselves as well. I know that our old way isn't as productive as we need in the amount of time we need. But in my very humble and perhaps singular opinion Christianity is not getting it done for us. It gives me the "Waiting For Godot" vibe personally...Why wait for divine intervention when we are already here and can intervene on our own behalf?

To ramble on I want to add that
I was raised in the church (Baptist) and right now attend a Catholic Graduate school that focuses on volunteer-ism and helping the down-trodden, my issue with this is that the help that is stressed through the faith is sometimes defeating and fatal because it creates a dependency on someone other than the individual to "save" them. Of course I want us to have access to help when needed but I think that Christianity tends to keep us dependent on outside or "other" saviors at the risk of overlooking ourselves as the makers of our community and collective destiny.
We continue to employ the same methods expecting different results, maybe the method is the madness and we need to explore other options and that includes taking Religion out of some processes altogether.
I have a great respect for Christianity as a faith just not as the faith for us...The academic arguments for the faith are well received but the practice of the faith as I have lived and witness seem extremely lacking..

DJ Black Adam said...

@ Femigog:

"The academic arguments for the faith are well received but the practice of the faith as I have lived and witness seem extremely lacking.."

I am inclined to agree with you there, to the extent that I have seen people of all religions who are lacking, yet I have seen some in all religions who strive to exemplify the best of their faith.

You also wrote:

"Why wait for divine intervention when we are already here and can intervene on our own behalf?"

Well, this is one of the reasons I encourage Christians (and non Christians) to learn about Jesus from the source, the Bible. This is above and beyond "religion". Though I use my Ethiopic version, a KJV, or NIV still all are consistent with the overall theme and message of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. It is, at base, a message of repentance (turning from the wrong direction) and new beginnings (spiritually rebirth) where we change through Christ, guided by the Spirit of the Most High God. It really isbeyond Religion, but about fellowship and relationship with God

Femigog said...

I agree with you when you say that at its base it is "a message of repentance (turning from the wrong direction) and new beginnings"

What I don't see is the growth that should come out of it and this employment of the doctrine in many cases. We get our religious teaching as children and the curriculum has stayed the same from the time of our enslaved ancestors until the present.
Now a fellowship with a higher power I am all for, but the canned Christianity I see and have endured is lost on me and a multitude of others.

DJ Black Adam said...

I can see where you are coming from. I also am not a fan of the form and fashion that passes itself off as "following Christ".

Might I suggest (merely a suggestion) that you review Jesus' words in the scriptures, particularly in the book of Matthew, and decide to reject or accept them based on Him, above the "religion". His message was and is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, repentance of (turning from) sin and living a life of love, integrity and honor by the Spirit. That message is beyond religion.

Again, just a suggestion, I of course mean no disrespect.

Femigog said...

Absolutely no disrespect taken. I invite the discourse.
I agree that the message is beyond religion,certainly. My answers were in reference to mainstream Christianity and not in individual practice.

I do indeed believe in a higher being, I do not reject Jesus as a prophet and leader of men to a higher state of existence. At best I am Agnostic at the worst a true heathen but always I respect the faith of others and their application of that faith to their lives. My apologies if it seems otherwise. My criticisms are directed at mainstream practices, and the incarnation of the mega-church.

And I will read Mathew again as you have suggested (in my course of study I am required to utilize biblical texts frequently but to be honest I no longer apply them directly to my life regularly. My pursuits in their use is almost purely scholarly. and so I will read for my own absorption and re-examine my opinion. While no spontaneous conversion is likely forthcoming at the very least a new sort of understanding my be born.)

Manchild said...

Hello Femigog,

As evidenced by your post, "publicly professing Christians" have done a horrible job following the example of leadership Jesus Christ displayed when He loved imperfect people like us with great weaknesses like ours enough to die on an old rugged cross so we could live.

I'll be the first to admit that organized religious activities have done nothing but create confusion, strife, and division. But Jesus Christ didn't. May I remind you about the parable of the 10 virgins who sat amongst a congregation of church folk. Only 5 had oil in their lamps. The other 5 were just "pretending" to be Christians. Imagine that!!

Let no man deceive you. Jesus Christ said, "I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." John 8:12. I quote this particular Scripture to remind you that Satan is a beautiful, albeit false, angel of light.

Please don't let the fallen father of lies deceive you long enough to steal the greatest gift of all or deny you the experience of receiving the greatest love of all. Don't believe the lie Satan told and sold to keep you from your eternal destiny.

But by grace still go I.
Manchild

Femigog said...

@manchild--thanks for your response and I am glad that you have been able to find faith among the faithless. Honestly I dont believe that Jesus was more than a man and prophet and I honestly dont believe that heaven and hell exist. I am all for faith but not at the risk of waiting for salvation from outside of myself and I dont think that it is a luxury we as a people can afford.

Maxjulian said...

Femi,

I forgot to give you credit for something I wrote in my post. I swear I wasn't trying to plaigirize you -- but I did:))

Maxjulian said...

Femi, I don't understand how people can speak of "the
Word of God" and "Jesus said" when there are no direct quotes of Jesus as he never wrote anything. So who wrote the Bible?

Also,why do people believe that a faith born in the East is in any way, shape or form, applicable to black people born and living in the West in 2007? There is an obsession with maintaining the "universal" appeal of Christianity, attempting to bend it just enough to make it appear as some kind of global solution to our problem here in the States when it has truly been nothing but trouble for us.

The only GOOD religion is one created by you, in the land YOU occupy, that speaks with clarity (something the Bible is not known for), speaks directly to your current experience, in your vernacular, speaks to your conditions/spirit/needs.

There is a psychological dependence born of brainwashing and fear (if you don't believe in me, you're going straight to hell) that people will not admit; a gun is placed to the head of the "believer" to believe or face eternal damnation. What kind of faith does that engender?! Is it any wonder that Christianity is not a revolutionary tool, but a conservative, restrictive covenant that keeps us tethered to the underclass where we can be perpetually fed at the spiritual breadline.

Manchild said...

Hello Femigog,

Thank you for responding. Two quick questions. If Jesus Christ is indeed a counterfeit, who or what is the source of your inspiration "during dark days and lonely nights?"

Come morning, the light from the rising sun will always overcome the darkness during those dark days when we struggle to conquer our doubts and deepest fears about God's amazing grace.

God only requires to have enough faith to fill a teeny tiny mustard which means that the "size" of our faith is not as significant as the "strength" of a faith in God that's been severely tested.

Since Satan is supernatural, it doesn't surprise me that that the master of confusion has managed to get so many of God's children to doubt the veracity, the infallibility, and the inerrancy of His living word, not man's dying word.

Last question. Who or what convinced you that God told a lie about the deity and divinity of Jesus Christ? Nobody but Jesus was ready and willing to die for imperfect people like us so that we could believe in God's word and receive the greatest gift of all.

Accepting God's grace and mercy is something you can do today even if you still don't understand God's thoughts or God's way. You don't have to wait to accept the best thing that will ever happen to you.

As always, the choice to do so is yours alone to make. In the meantime, I will still love you and respect you because God loves you too.

Thank you for sharing.

Manchild

Femigog said...

@Manchild
First of all I didnt say that Jesus was counterfeit (that is your word not mine) I said that he was a man. I said that he was a Prophet and as far as I understand he indeed was a man who died a very very mortal death next to 2 other men I might add.

I never said that I was faithless, far from it in fact. Just because Jesus isnt my answer doesnt mean that I have No spiritual compass (there are countless faiths which do not include Jesus mine is but one)

I never said that God told a lie sir. Not once, again these are your words. I don't believe as you believe, why should that matter if your God is all loving and all encompassing?
Why can't you practice your faith without the aspect of conversion(which you employ in your response to myself)?
"Imperfect people like us"?
WOW I thought we were all imperfect not just those who like myself believe differently from you...

May I say that my faith has not led me to try and convert you and I ask that you practice your faith the same way in reference to me. This is another issue I have with the faith as practiced today, this need for conversion. I appreciate your sentiments and invite more debate but please try to curb the evangelism where I am concerned.

I have nothing but respect for you as well and as proof will not try to convert you to my faith.
Thanks

Femigog said...

@Max
I understand how we can embrace the faith (we were force fed it 400 years ago and that is a hard habit to break) I dont have a problem with Christianity per se but its current incarnation is corrupt and holds our community back in my opinion.

Manchild said...

Hello Femigog,

I closed my last comment with the words, "As always, the choice to do so is yours alone to make. In the meantime, I will still love you and respect you because 'God loves you' too."

Not once did I infer or insinuate that "you" said, with specificity, any of the statements that may have offended you. If you do indeed feel offended, please accept my heart-felt apology. My goal is not to convert you because the choice to do that is yours alone to make, not mine. But I will challenge you to think critically about what you do believe. Hopefully, you'll do the same to me. I'll welcome your challenges with open arms.

I did, however, ask you "Who or what convinced you that God told a lie about the deity and divinity of Jesus Christ?" in my attempt to "understand" how you managed to reach the conclusion that Jesus Christ is not who He claimed to be. To deny the deity of Christ is to call God a liar as evidenced by the Scriptures describing "false teachers" and "false prophets." Before you ask, I'm only seeking to understand why you think Jesus is only a mere mortal and not the "Son of God" as He, Himself, said on more than one occasion.

As evidenced by my blog post, I challenge my culturally diverse readers to "think critically" about the Scriptures in hopes of gaining additional insights about the Bible. Both atheists and agnostics frequent my blog because I respect them even if we don't agree.

I hope you understand what I've said and why I'm asking you to clarify what you believe and why. Satan is a "master deceiver" as evidenced by his ability to persuade the "angels already in the heavens" to rebel against God.

Respectfully,

Manchild

Femigog said...

You asked me--
"If Jesus Christ is indeed a counterfeit, who or what is the source of your inspiration "during dark days and lonely nights?"

I didnt say that he was counterfeit so I cant argue that point. I said he was a man who died a mortal death with 2 other men. This doesnt make him counterfeit on the contrary it lends credibility to his life and work as a peace loving Prophet(which I actually admire).

I dont believe in Satan. I dont believe in Hell. I dont believe in Heaven. I believe that we build our own Heavens and Hells in this life.
I believe the idea of these places above and below is tantamount to a scare tactic which might have been quite necessary to quell a bound and subjugated people (African Slaves)

I did perceive your tone as arrogant and evangelical. I appreciate your apologies and accept them as such. Forgive me as you say this was not the case.

I would like to invite you to employ critical thinking as well. With so much ill in this world the idea of Hell somewhere worse falls short. We create our Hells by our actions. I believe that There is no pit of fire only the fire of the conscience(and consequences of law or those seeking revenge) when we seek to wrong others for our gain--what you call "sin".

The exercise was to discuss the merits of mainstream religion as it applies to the needs of blacks today and I still and will likely always feel as though it fails us because it was used to pacify us initially and so does it continue.

I don't believe in the Bible as a living text. I don't believe that Jesus said all that is reported to be his word nor do I believe that God is represented by the red lettering in the Bible.

You ask why I think God told a lie...to this I say that I don't know nor do I believe that anyone can know what God did or didn't say. I don't believe that we can know the true life of Jesus. I believe that the Bible has been so much written and rewritten that the text leaves much to the imagination of the interpreter.

I believe that there is something unknown in our midst but I dont believe that we can know what that unknown is let alone if it is Male or Female.

So I don't think God lied sir, I just don't think he said all of what people have gathered he said from a text that has passed through many hands and lived many incarnations.

Why do you believe that God is represented by the Bible?
Why do you believe that God is male?
Why do you believe that the Bible is indeed Holy?
What makes your faith so?
I have seen new life come into the world by a woman's body. I believe that if there is a great Deity then surely that Deity is in someway Female or of some androgynous sort.