“People love ritual as humans are ritualistic beings.” – Orunmila
Not too long ago I saw an old Star Trek Voyager episode that had Kes, played by Jennifer Lien, suddenly and seriously injured while visiting the inside a religious temple on some far away planet on the other side of the galaxy in the Delta Quadrant. Kes had ventured up to the alter area when she impacted a sudden force of energy. Like most of the main characters that sustained some sort of potentially fatal injury in the world of television serials, Kes wound up in Voyager’s sickbay clinging to life. The holographic doctor, played by Robert Picardo, was helpless. The alien metaphysical science slash religion was beyond the artificial doctor’s comprehension or skill to diagnose and develop a solution. It looked like curtains for Kes.
But Captain Kathryn Janeway, played by Kate Mulgrew, appealed to the priest of the temple for their assistance. Kes’ injury was a result of the spiritual entities that they worshipped. The captain put all her logical thinking and scientific knowledge aside to follow her hunch that these people could help.
The captain was led to a chamber where three other people, two men and a woman, were waiting. The captain asked were they waiting to talk to the gods. The people were kind of eccentric and appeared to be rather clueless. They explained that they had been waiting. Janeway listened to the people but didn’t have the patience for their nonsensical exchange. Janeway pounded on the door. When the priest answered the door Janeway asked if she could skip this part of the ritual and continue her test of faith without having to wait with the people in the room. The priest understood her emergency and granted her wish.
To make a long story short the people in the room were the spiritual entities that the priest worshipped. But because they were nothing what Janeway expected they were dismissed. Janeway left the room and went on to perform a series of task and answer a series of puzzle that had nothing to do with anything. But she felt like she was fulfilling their rituals. Finally the captain discovered that she had wasted a great deal of time performing rituals with absolutely no meaning. Once her expectations were satisfied she was led back into the room with the spiritual entities. The banter continued but her questions were eventually answered. Kes was saved and Voyager continued to next week’s episode. But the message behind the episode stayed with me.
Most devotees of Ifa, as well as a number of other religions, are expecting a series of ritualistic steps and procedures with just about everything that happens as part of our spiritual development. For many practitioners, expectations regarding something as simple as getting a reading can involve a convoluted ritual that does nothing but confuses the issue at hand. Something as totally natural as somebody dying can call for a series dances, prayers and songs to be chanted all night long to assure the person’s soul receives the proper goodbye. And let’s not forget the spread eagle greeting process some devotees have to go through when meeting someone with an elevated sense of ego fueled by a spiritual title obtained in some previous ritual
But rarely do our spiritual associates require any ceremonial procedure with things that are such a natural part of our existence. It is human nature for people to do things with rote ceremony and formal procedures. Indeed, in order for a devotee to prove their worthiness they must learn rote prayers, songs , dances, chants, food preparation, proper dress and costume, greetings, hierarchy, and a ton of other inconsequential trivialities that add no meaning to what is real or to what is truly important.
Every night, every morning, every time we get ready to sit down and share a meal, every time we score a touchdown or hit a homerun, we feel some obligation to give thanks and to praise our spiritual belief system with rote prayer and gestures. Give the Supreme Being of your belief system the praise because he or she or it is the only one that is truly praiseworthy. But if the all powerful Supreme Being is truly supreme then what could our prayers do to affect her or her or its behavior? Not much is for sure. But part of the ritual of being a parent is to teach our children the good habits of prayer and praise for our spiritual belief system. Not to participate in this rote ritual of religion is to not participate in the ritual of being human.
Change is inevitable. The winds of change blow constantly and there is no stopping them. You can’t bargain, plead, buy more time nor force it, when it happens it happens and at the perfect time. Too many people are afraid of change, when change can be one of the best things that can happen for a person. The one thing to stop doing is internalizing change and feeling that it is happening to you and not for you. All you have to do is think of all the things that have changed in your life, which must be thousands by now, and think of the consequences that might be if it had or never happened. For example you may often think about a lost love. But what about that lost love? If you were still with them, you have no basis to know that it would have remained a great love. If the winds of change have blown it out of your life, then you no longer needed it.
Problems handling change are mostly due to the internalization of outside forces. Handling change shouldn’t be something taken lightly. In order for you to have a successful life you must be able to handle the changes that come your way. These changes are usually telling you something if you cared to stop and take a look at how they manifest. Most change that occurs might not be intended for you. As things change for others they sometimes have implications for those all around them. So if you are in doubt about how to handle change that is occurring in your life, by all means seek the guidance of Orunmila.
Change isn’t something that one must deal with alone. It is encouraged to share your lives and get help with things. The objective isn’t a test of strength, will, or bravery. It is just another part of life nothing more and nothing less.
When change happens and you feel that somehow this was unfair, since you liked the way things were meaning you were comfortable, you need to take a step back and stop internalizing everything that happens in your life. It is undoubtedly human to feel that everything is all about yourself. But like it is said previously not everything that changes in your life is due to you. Sometimes it is for someone else and it affects you as well. If you are so comfortable that you wish change away, you were stagnated on your path and need to see the change as a boost to keep moving forward in life. You can’t make it to your destination if you are sitting still. Change, even if painful, is still nothing more than a scenic view of life. If a loved one passes on, shouldn’t you rejoice that they are moving on, even if it is without you? Why should this be a bad time in life? would you have them become stagnate just so you can be selfishly happy?
When change doesn’t come and you feel that your situation is unbearable, you also need to take a step back since you might be missing a lesson in the predicament. Or maybe the change isn’t for you but it is dependant upon another. You have to take life at the pace that is set for you. Sometimes it may be fast, sometimes slow, and it all depends on where you are on the path. Remember life is like a road trip, sometimes you will get stuck in traffic.
Knowing your path is the key element to weathering change without too much fuss. When you know where you are going it is a lot easier to see when the changes in the road are coming up. If you are running blind on your path then absolutely you will be blindsided when changes occur. If you are not on your path at all then you will find yourself running into changing situations that end up causing you extreme pain and anguish. It is vital to make sure that you stay on your path and keep change as well as non change into there correct perspectives. Hopefully by reading this it will have some kind of change on the way you think and walk your path.
Trying to do some research on the attacks against Barack Obama’s reputation in his bid for the White House I ran across an article regarding Sean Hannity and how he questioned Obama’s ethics because he attended a black church. Imagine the audacity of a black man taking his black family to a black church! I’m surprised it took so long to expose this case to the public.
In the piece of video I saw on YouTube from the show Hannity & Colmes, Mr. Hannity wants to portray black churches as institutions of racism no different then a white supremacist group. To hear Mr. Hannity tell the story no white person is safe in the black church environment even though they are practicing a form of religion controlled by a white religious organization. Just like the white supremacist who are constantly spreading messages of hate and racial intolerance black pastors are known for their sermons on how all white people need to be killed and how black people need to stop tolerating white people in the name of Jesus.
Mr. Hannity can do his best to confuse the issue, but the black churches that are working for the betterment of the black community are nothing like the white supremacist organizations. I don’t care how conservative it may be no black church has ever advocated the killing of anybody no matter the issue. Black churches don’t operate behind a veil of secrecy. Black churches do not spread the discriminate hate of another race of people.
The question was asked would there be anything different about a black church advocating issues from a black perspective and for black people and its white counterpart that advocates issues from a white perspective and for white people. The answer is a resounding unequivocal yes. The single major difference between the two is that the black church isn’t trying to block other racial groups from participating in the American dream and obtaining a civilized standard of living. The black church isn’t advocating the subjugation of anyone. The black church is trying to uplift and empower the people in the black community. The white community has an automatic and innate fear of anything that is positive for the black community. It is this fear that causes the uplifting of the black community to be perceived as some kind of threat to their white privilege.
An organization that protects white interest wants to maintain the status quo and keep other races from infringing on the white privilege. White privilege cannot be maintained if every race of people is seen honestly as an equal and are actually judged fairly and treated fairly. The black church is a literal threat to the continuation of white privilege. It is only a logical conclusion that if the association of black churches taking care of the needs of the black community is worth examination then white institutions that work to protect white privilege should be examined for their possibly racist practices as well. The very act of Mr. Hannity doing everything that he can to discredit Mr. Obama’s church, and by association Mr. Osama, shows his relentless pursuit and the steps he is willing to take to protect the institution of white privilege.
The black church is one of the last remaining organizations reserved almost exclusively for the black community. Most black churches would be more than cordial to any white visitors. I would imagine the same would be true for black people visiting most white churches. However, some white churches don’t care for the intrusion from black people. Just like there are some black churches that wouldn’t care for white visitors. But such racial discrimination is only a natural component of the diversity of human nature. It is no more a white characteristic than it is a black characteristic or vice versa.
Yes Mr. Obama and many other blacks just like him attend a predominantly black church. Believe it or not there are a number of white people who attend those same churches. The white people are free to leave whenever they want and are rarely held against their will. And believe it or not there are black people who attend predominantly white churches as well. And it should be no surprise that there are white people he attend predominantly white churches. They may not publicly advocate the fact that they are champions of white privilege. Neither does Mr. Hannity. But it is pretty obvious that he does much to protect institutions of white privilege. And which institution of white privilege would need the most security but the institution of the presidency of the United States?
Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. We will add your capability and technology to our collective consciousness. Your people will adapt to serve us. Your freedom is irrelevant. Your history is irrelevant. Your culture will cease to exist and you will become one with us. We will strip away your identity. You will no longer think independently. Your thought patterns will become one with the collective. Your only goal in life will be to serve us. Your defenses cannot withstand our attack. Your only hope of survival is to cooperate. Resistance is futile.
These words may sound like the monotonic speech of the scariest villains from the Star Trek universe. But these words could have just as easily been the words from the Europeans as they descended upon Africa and started to dice and slice the continent up into their colonies.
Like the Borg in the 24th century, the Europeans in the 15th and 16th century knew that to assimilate the people of Africa they had to strip away everything the African knew about his or her world. While the Borg would use technology to assault an individual’s will, the European managed to subdue the will of the African with intense pain, agony, and torment. Like the wild mustang that resisted a saddle or a bridle with every ounce of its strength, the strong willed African became a challenge to the descendant of Europe. The white man had to suffer the possibility of exhaustion and working up a sweat from having to swing a whip to rip away the African’s defiance and gain his or her surrender. The image from the television mini series Roots of a bloodied and beaten Kunta Kinte, played by Levar Burton, hanging from his manacles as he is asked what’s his name. The name Kunta Kinte was irrelevant. The key to salvation from the pain was to submit and admit that his name was Toby.
With the African’s acquiescence of having his or her name replaced by a new designation, the first step in the assimilation process has started. The African surrendered his language as well. It could really hardly matter to the African. All family and friends were gone and the chances of running across someone else from his community were pretty slim so the consequences of forgetting the familiar language were already in progress when he or she was abducted from the home land. In order to keep some kind of social interaction in the new strange place with all the other subjugated peers the familiar language was replaced.
But what was truly a stroke of African assimilation genius was the separation of the African from his or her spirituality. What the white community chose to misinterpret and under appreciate as mere superstition was the African’s native spirituality. The pagan belief system of the sub-Saharan African, who was the primary source of African slave labor, was forbidden and the belief system of the conqueror was provided in its place. The theory here is that the African could not be completely controlled by white people as long as he or she continued to gather their strength of character from their belief systems that operated independently of any Caucasoid influences. The Africans had to be trained to avoid their traditional beliefs like the plague.
The many Africans who continued to value their spiritual beliefs here in the land of severe enslavement did not give them up easily. Some were probably given beatings that would make even Jesus in the Passion of the Christ wince and say, “Damn!” So the old ways had to be abandoned. Some of our ancestors couldn’t quite make the transition to the new European based or European influenced belief systems completely and had developed a hybrid that consisted of elements of the African pagan spirituality with the traditional European belief system. An example of such a hybrid would be the Santeria beliefs that are a heavy dose of Catholicism and an equally heavy dose of the Orisa based Yoruba traditions.
But many of our ancestors had to learn to reject their African beliefs at the end of a whip. For those that learned and adapted quickly they became the overseer of the others and would take responsibility for the spiritual teachings of the slaves. These people were the slave preachers who studied the master’s bible and earned the master’s trust. The preacher spoke on behalf of the master’s god and therefore the master. In the world of the enslaved the preacher was an enforcer. African’s who couldn’t or wouldn’t adapt to their new mandated spirituality would actually invite the entire community to suffer the consequences. The master was liable to cutoff privileges for everyone if they did not do their best to control the rebel rouser. Therefore, the slave community would work to make sure peer pressure is applied for the salvation of any one who defiantly tried to resist spiritual assimilation. The enslaved black community adapted the same assimilation techniques as the plantation. And resistance was futile.
This is not to say that the beliefs of the Christian, Catholic, Jewish, or whatever you may have of the white conqueror were necessarily inappropriate for the kidnapped Africans or for their future generations. Many people of African descent have adapted well and have developed their sense of religion based on the European traditions. There are many paths to god and one is just as good as the other.
But the real problem is that now that so many people of African descent have adapted the European’s belief system, we no longer value the spiritual traditions of our ancestors who lived in Africa free from the European or our ancestors who suffered through the middle passage. Indeed, the black community has learned en masse to turn our collective nose up at our brothers and sisters who still practice any form of African spirituality. We view these misguided souls as evil and anti-Christian. And if we see them as anti-Christian, then we must have no choice but to see ourselves as anti-African.
It’s not just a simple fact that it is different. Black Christians will tolerate the typical Jewish belief even though the Jews do not accept Jesus. The black community will accept the various forms of the Native American’s pagan beliefs. But as soon as we are faced with the beliefs that are our birthright, the African beliefs that go back thousands of years before Jesus and Moses walked the earth in the Middle East and Northern Africa, we are repulsed as if the devil himself has danced across our path.
People in the black community no longer have to fear getting hit with master’s whip for not conforming to his belief. Black people have pretty much adapted to the beliefs of the Europeans. But those of us who choose to honor our African ancestors and return to our African beliefs have to continue to contend with rejection and ridicule from our African peers as if master was still standing over us looking for one of us to slip up. As long as we continue to vehemently reject the spirituality that used to be ours as descendants of African people the more difficult a time we will have trying to establish our identity as descendants of African people. This is not a call for black people to cast their current European based spirituality aside. However, it is a request that you don’t immediately reject those of us who wish to embrace an African based spirituality. Acceptance of the African based spiritualities will no longer bring master’s wrath on your head. Acceptance is not futile.
Life is nothing more than a series of lessons. Our time here is a classroom. Like any classroom there are members/students who are very good at the lessons and others that are at the far opposite end of the spectrum. Some of us will cheat through life to get ahead without putting forth the work or effort or time to learn the lesson. Other students want to do as much studying as possible in order to be fully prepared for the inevitable pop quiz coming. Unfortunately, many of us choose to procrastinate, wait until the last minute, and are caught totally unprepared for our various tests, midterm exams, and finals that we know are coming.
The lessons in life happen in study groups we call family, friends, acquaintances, or whatever. Some of us who have learned lessons in life try to teach others in order to help them learn the lessons as well. Parents try to teach children. Elders try to teach youth. Professionals try to teach the novice. The ones with knowledge try to teach the ignorant. And in many cases, the teachings flow the other way where the neophyte actually helps the experienced to learn something new.
Recently I had to endure learning one of life’s difficult lessons from a dear friend of mine I wanted desperately to help. But alas, as Orunmila says, “You can’t save someone who refuses to reach out.” To many people this is a very simple and uncomplicated canon. Yet I find it difficult, akin to a parent standing by helpless while a child dives head long into troubles. Imagine watching a friend or sibling making the wrong choice to an issue that will have consequences throughout the remainder of his/her life and then some. Now imagine watching someone you love playing a sort of Russian roulette with their spirit and the consequences jump to the eternal.
There are truly talented, gifted people in the Ifa community who are doing their best to perform the work of Orisa. Unfortunately, for every person doing the real spiritual work, there are multitudes that are looking for and/or providing something that will be more appealing to the physical desires and wishes. Like moths to the flame we cannot help but be distracted by that which may destroy us. Spiritual substance takes a secondary status to physical illusion. That which is found to be attractive to the ego but otherwise perfectly useless is defended as appealing to the soul.
I have a case for my point. Many people obsess over finding the perfect pot for their Orisa. “I’m about to add another Orisa to my collection and I want them to know that I got them the absolute best pot I could find.” For many people, this is what their soul tells them. Now I know a lot of people simply go to one of the botanicals and buy one of the standard containers for their Orisa. But some people want to go that extra mile to show their devotion.
But let’s look at this for what it truly is. Somebody has the bright idea that the Orisa’s must be having a beautiful pot contest and devotees would do well to make sure that his or her Orisa pot is a contender. The idea of being judged by the pots we keep appeals to the devotee’s spirit. The question is why? Is it really the inner soul of this individual that needs the gaudiness of a gold-plated, costume jeweled, Orisa pot the size of a giant claw foot tub or is it a manifestation of the ego? How would the bling pot better serve the Orisa, the community, or the devotee? It doesn’t.
Contrary to what some of us have been taught and have internalized the purchase of pots is an ego thing that has nothing to do with an Orisa at all. It isn’t the Orisa we want to impress but the other people in our Ifa communities. Look at the pot I got for my Orisa is what we want to yell. We feel good when we hear other people admire our finds. An Orisa will appreciate a good pot. But a devotee will go into debt trying to obtain the most impressive pot, the most impressive shrine, the most impressive authentic clothing, and the most impressive anything that people can judge to be impressive.
I want to share this lesson with people I truly care about. I want to help people learn the lesson that the Orisa is more concerned about the integrity of the devotee’s character more so than the perfect combination of colors for their pot. A devotee with a plain terracotta pot and the most integrity possible will be in a better position than the devotee with the white gold plated, Faberge inspired container for their Orisa and a character that is more concerned with looking good than being good.
But I can’t even get these horses to come to the water let alone drink it. All I can do is supply them with directions to the trough. They’ll either come or they won’t. I have to learn to let it go. And all things considered, maybe this was just one of those instances of me learning another one of life’s lessons.
Yesterday I was walking home from the grocery store when I passed a brother who made eye contact with me and said, “I’ll be glad when my locks come back.”
“Trust me I understand, I understand, I understand” was my simple reply. I really could sympathize with the man. My locks are just beginning to get back to some kind of length.
Two and a half years ago I sacrificed my dreadlocks in order to be initiated as a student of Ifa. I didn’t hesitate. It was standard procedure in the initiation ritual. It was my opinion that no one should allow their vanity to get in their way of their spirituality. My hair was a small sacrifice to pay for the chance to be a lot closer to Orisas and ancestors; my hair and a good chunk of change. At least that was my thinking at the time. I must confess to a little embarrassment now. But I am happy to say that I did not make my sacrifice in vain. Hopefully, others can learn from my experience.
As a brand new iyawo I continued down a path that required me to make a lot of sacrifices in my life. I spent the majority of my time alone and deep in thought. But all the time in solitude with minimal external stimulation I began to formulate a series of opinions and ideas that began to run contrary to what I was being taught as the traditional processes in this African spirituality. I began to ask myself questions about the entire process. One of the questions that I began to ponder was what exactly did my haircut have to do with the initiation process.
Nothing should keep a person from their spirituality. Growing up a young Christian I learned the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22:1-19 where the Christian god wanted to test Abraham’s devotion by asking him to sacrifice his only son. I must admit that I always wondered why the Christian god saw a need to test Abraham since he is supposed to already know everything. And the test sounds so cruel to any parent’s emotions. But regardless, I internalized the story when I was a Christian and I wanted to prove to my Ifa community that I wouldn’t hesitate to do what is necessary to be a good student of Ifa.
But I soon found out that the problem with being a good student of Ifa is that you would not necessarily be an obedient student. An initiation ceremony doesn’t necessarily imbue someone with wisdom or knowledge. What it might do is give someone a sense of confidence that they may not have had before. So I guess that with my new confidence in myself I began to see the illogic of doing things because they’re tradition especially when they run contradictory to what would honestly be best for the community. Tradition says initiates that have more seniority have more authority in community issues no matter how irresponsible the seniors may be. Traditionally, it is how the African community keeps order. This is not to say that a healthy adherence to traditions is inherently wrong. But a single minded focus on the traditional way of doing things above all else is also a good way for a community to become stagnant.
One of the things I was told during my initiation ceremony is that a good student of Ifa would always stand tall for what was right even if he or she must stand alone. I learned very quickly that I would be spending a lot of time alone or at least away from my original ile. But freed of the interference of elders and seniors I was able to develop a new appreciation for the way Ifa truly works and what is truly required. The integrity of the people who lead in the community is far more important than their seniority. People who suffer from integrity issues may be tempted to put their personal welfare before the welfare of the community. That’s only human nature. But it is an irresponsible community that allows itself to be led by an irresponsible leader.
The haircut of the initiate has an effect on the person. It is a physical manifestation of submission not to spirituality but to the social rules of the ile. Neither ancestors, Orisas, nor Olodumare require people to shave their heads, dance a jig, go deep into debt, or anything else that has become standard practice in most initiation processes. The initiation ritual is little more than a confirmation of a special relationship between the devotee and their spirituality. It is a personal thing that doesn’t require outward manifestations or proof of the change to the crowd or audience.
So to anyone who is told to shave their head or take out a bank loan to get their initiation I strongly suggest that they take the time to think heavily about what they are being told and what they are about to do. Sacrificing your hair isn’t going to make you any more of a devotee and keeping your hair will not make you any less a devotee. I hope this message saves a lot of dreadlocks. In my humble opinion the black community simply looks so much better with as many locks as possible on people’s heads.
And now a word from our sponsor.
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Why I’m at Craaaazzzzyyyyy Baba’s down here at the corner of Cross Road and Market.
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The Catholic Church has settled yet another sexual abuse case. This time, the church settled for an amount just shy of six hundred sixty six million dollars. It turns out that there were more than five hundred outstanding instances of sexual abuse in the Los Angeles area that took four years of legal negotiating and wrangling in order to iron out. The settlement is the largest to date and will gross over a million dollars for each of the victims. But the big question for the people in the news was not how the Roman Catholic Church could condone such behavior for so many years all these years. People wanted to know how the church could afford such a large payout. The catholic church is a co-conspirator in hundreds of sexual abuse cases and all people want to know is where are they going to get the money to pay for the damage settlement.
A church is an institution that is supposed to have the spiritual wellbeing of its congregation at the core of its priorities. Many people bestow a lot of trust and privilege upon their priest and priestesses hoping to learn how to live a better life and hoping to learn how to be a better person. The betrayal goes far beyond the typical stab of someone else in the back. This type of duplicity can be found at the very deepest, darkest pit of human decency. The priests who perpetrated these crimes of their flock are truly wolves in men of god’s clothing. The church acts like Dr. Frankenstein doing anything and everything trying to protect his creation.
The news reports could not care less about the people involved in the story. The people who decide what is news and what opinion the public should have about the news doesn’t want us, the news adoring public, to think about the impact to our community. They who decide what is most news worthy want us to focus on the bottom line, how much money is involved.
But this isn’t the first time community takes a back seat to finances. The American way is to focus on the bottom line. Screw your neighbor if you can for as much as you can. Responsibilities to the community are nothing when they are compared to the financial bottom line. An oil tanker can run aground and spill its rich, thick crude on the most pristine of Alaska’s coast line. The response of the corporation that owned the tanker was to minimize the damage to the community, make a few photo shoots of actors cleaning rocks with Bounty paper towels, and protect the bottom line.
A chemical company’s factory can explode and release a poisonous cloud of gas that kills thousands in Bhopal, India. The company responds by minimizing the damage to the community (no Americans were killed after all), tie the plaintiffs up in court, make a few political contributions, and protect the bottom line.
A religious institution can be instrumental in the development of an army of people with pedophilic tendencies to prey on innocent children in an environment chocked full of religious secrecy. The church responds by moving the perpetrators to a different location so they can prey on even more sheep, cover the tracks, deny any wrong doing, tie the litigation up in the courts, and then, once all the other avenues have been exhausted, negotiate a settlement and protect the bottom line as much as possible.
The Catholic Church isn’t going to be hurting from this latest financial setback. Six hundred sixty million dollars is like a drop in the bucket compared to the value of all its land holdings. By some estimates the Roman Catholic Church sits on top of a four billion dollar land treasure. The church won’t have to liquidate a single asset to pay this bill. Two hundred fifty million will come from the archdiocese, two hundred thirty million will come from insurers, sixty million dollars will come from the religious orders whose priests committed the abuses, and the rest will come from miscellaneous sources. No, the church won’t be hurting at all. In fact, there’s more than enough money to handle the next outbreak of priestly indiscretions that will make their way to the light.
What would Jesus do was such a popular expression not too long ago. As the epitome of Christianity the great majority of Americans look to Jesus for spiritual, moral, and ethical guidance. But a lot of people only want to scratch the surface of what the man Jesus was like.
I have nothing but utmost love, respect, and admiration for our collective ancestor the man that many people know as Jesus Christ. For the Ifa faithful, although many claim him to be a child of their personal Orisa, it should be noted that Jesus was a child of Orunmila, the Orisa of fate. For a major portion of the world, time itself is measured by his existence. He is known by many titles such as king of kings, son of man, son of god, and prince of peace. Yet so much hate, death, destruction, prejudice, and downright selfish thinking are carried out in his good name and the principles he preached. Even the President himself is on record saying his Christian faith convinced him to invade Iraq. And so many good Christian people bought what should have been obviously ridiculous hype. How many people stopped to ask themselves what would Jesus do? The answer is obviously not nearly enough. Or maybe people think Jesus would sign himself up into the Air Force and drop his fair share of bunker buster bombs from his F-15 “Superstar” Eagle.
If what I was taught in Sunday school when I was knee high to my dad was any indication, if Jesus was alive today I would imagine he would be severely disappointed by the behavior of so many people who claim to follow his teachings so diligently. The principle of “love thy neighbor” has been modified slightly to a principle of “stomp that bastard into the ground at each and every opportunity so you can have all the material wealth you can muster and they can have your crumbs”. Now the prince of peace is synonymous with such things as the war on terror and the bombing of innocent men, women, and children, in a fruitless war in an attempt to destroy a concept.
I would imagine Jesus would step forward and vehemently speak against the fact that so many people have been thoroughly desensitized to so much strife and conflict going on locally and globally and every area of geographical measure in between. I seriously doubt if the son of man would quietly sit back on a church pew and nod his head in affirmation to the teachings of the prosperity doctrine from the likes of T. D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Joel Olsteen, Paul Crouch, Pat Robertson, and the like. If people thought the son of man was angry when he drove the money changers out the temple, they ain’t seen anything yet. Let him inside one of these mega-churches with its billion dollar collection plate and Jesus is likely to go postal like only the son of god could.
Matthew 19:23 and 24 says Jesus spoke to his disciples, “Truly I say to you it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of god.” That’s got to be seriously hard. But these words do little to keep the televangelist from setting the Christian example of living large in mansions that would make the late Howard Hughes drool with envy. These words as recorded in the Christian bible do little to keep the televangelist from flying to work every Sunday morning in their personal Bell 407 helicopter or in a Gulfstream G500 business-class jet with rich Cardassian leather throughout the cabin. And the words of Matthew do even less to prevent the majority of the Christian populace of the United States to keep their top priority or sole motivation in life off the accumulation of material wealth and status.
It is interesting how many people who believe they live as good Christians do little to follow the true example of Jesus who owned nothing more than the clothes on his back and the sandals on his feet. I hope someone corrects me if I’m wrong but as I recall the only animal Jesus used for transportation was an ass, truly one of, if not the most, humble means of transportation available back in Jesus’ day. Jesus did his teachings without a certificate from Holier Than Thou University hanging in his office or a not-for-profit license from some government agency in his wallet. But, somehow his example has been lost even though Christians everywhere know it quite well.
Way too many people of the Christian faith choose to follow the example of the televangelist or the politician or the celebrity who want to demonstrate their pious humility in the eyes of the public to win the approval of men instead of professing their humility to god in private in a private ”A and B” conversation. Many will exhibit a righteous life every Sunday morning and sporadically throughout the week. We claim to admire people like Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi for their sacrifice. But then we turn around and do our best to live like pharaohs over the minions in our comfortable homes worrying about providing for an even more comfortable future for ourselves and our children, all the while many brothers and sisters are in a never ending struggle just to get through the day.
There is an old joke about Saint Peter standing by the pearly gates turning away men so secular that one married a woman named Penny showing his love of wealth, another man married a woman named Betty indicating his love of gambling, while a third man married a woman named Fanny indicating his love of things of a more carnal nature. But there’s a very materially successful and wealthy televangelist named Creflo Dollar that many people support day in and day out. Am I the only one who gets the punch line?
Someone was trying to tell me how powerful and omniscient god was and said that god knew when a sparrow fell from the sky. My first reaction was to laugh, not because I thought this person was wrong. But I have to ask the question, why would god be interested in a sparrow falling out of the sky? I don’t know too many people who believe in god and don’t believe that he is all powerful and all knowing but are we so arrogant to believe that we rate that high on god’s attention meter.
The universe is a seriously vast entity. According to the simple human interpretation of the space and time continuum, the universe stretches from one side of infinity to the other and god is working across it all. Throughout all of this there are countless galaxies with countless stars with a number of planets with a countless numbers of individuals and plants and animals and god is supposed to expend his limitless power on knowing when one of the countless sparrows on this single planet buys the farm. If such a concept was uttered by a five year old it would be cute in its total simplicity. Such a notion would rank right up there with the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Great Pumpkin, the caring American, Peter Pan, Captain Crunch, and the like. As a people, we really need to do a better job developing our understanding of our relationship with the infinite being and grow out of the simple, feel good notions we learned back in Sunday school when we were knee high to our parents.
Our self importance in the cosmos knows no limit as well. If we are taught to believe that god is some voyeur all up in our business because we are just so special then it is a prime example of humanity’s self centered-ism at its finest. God gets furious about our adultery. God hates our active sex lives without marriage. God punishes the evil that people do and is ready to pounce because we’re all that and then some. People need to learn a little more humility. God is a busy Supreme Being. As I write this and as you read it god is building entire galaxies at the outer edge of the universe. Millions of planets need forming and countless species need planning. And that’s in this universe alone. There are other universes and other realities that need his attention as well. And he’s supposed to stop all this activity to take note of a little birdie that’s about to hit dirt.
Nobody may realize this but god knew that birds die when he added them to the mix of species on this planet. In fact, I would fathom a guess that god knows all of us are going to die. In god’s celestial plan the entire species of birds will one day become extinct. This very planet will one day cease to exist in god’s divine plan. As far as god is concerned, the entire zillion years of our planet’s existence is nothing but a sweep of the second hand on god’s celestial Timex. We have a tendency to think god is doing little more than standing ready to hear all our prayers and respond to them in mysterious ways. We pray to get the girl. We pray to win the game. We pray for a safe landing. We pray that our credit card works just one more time. We pray for a loved one’s health. Sometimes the prayers are answered Sometimes they aren’t. Who knows with god. One day he responds, the next day we’re left to our own devices.
But the truth of the matter is that god does little to interfere in our happenings. The mysterious ways that we were taught to believe in are little more than the happenstance of events allowed to carry on to their natural logical conclusion.
We may pray for god to save all the little children. But truth be told, if god wanted to, he could keep every child safe from now to eternity. But why would god be so moved to do so? God knows about people dying everyday and he allows it to happen. Why? As a people we already have everything we need to keep our children, our family, our community, and our world safe. As a collective, we simply choose not to. It’s always somebody else’s problem. Rich people could share their wealth with the people in need, but that would be welfare and no good for anybody because it was tried before and failed. But people forget, the very people who work hard to keep racism alive are the very same people who were in charge of the welfare program; the white mindset. God cannot be prayed into wanting to help us more than we want to help ourselves.
People use god’s name to manipulate other people. God isn’t in the business of granting wishes in the form of prayers simply because the one who prays is sincere. He’s not a genie. He’s a busy spiritual entity who has already given us all we need to do what our collective will dictates.
God hasn’t charged anyone to stop abortion. God has never charged anyone with the duty to invade another country and kill thousands upon thousands of people while friends coincidentally get rich robbing the national coffer. God didn’t abandon the people in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. People who were in the position to help but didn’t abandoned the people in New Orleans. God doesn’t have to save every child on the planet. We need to change our collective spirit so that we can develop a global community that truly wants to leave no child behind instead of using it as a catchy slogan to obtain a political office.
God has already answered our prayers. We have everything we need. We simply choose to squander it in a system wrought with favoritism and privilege for the few and indifference and struggle for the masses. This isn’t god’s plan, it is our plan. We’re either going to stick to it and let civilization rot or change it for the better. Quite frankly I don’t see things changing anytime soon. Our very existence may now be in jeopardy with global warming and we are too shell shocked from our day-to-day life to do anything to stop it. But as soon as the point is reached where it appears that divine intervention is the only thing that will save us we’ll pray for god to save us and wonder why he doesn’t and say it’s the lord’s will when in all actuality it is our will that doomed us.
God is all powerful and god is omniscient. If god wanted to, he’ll know exactly when, where, and how the sparrow dies. He’s just a little busy on more important things.