Archive for God

Free in DC For MOW 50: What Happened To God?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2013 by Free Smith

MLK Cross

 

 

Malcolm Mecca

The impact of the spiritual community on the Civil Rights Movement cannot be overstated. Many of its leaders were religious leaders, and the love and peacefulness that helped define the Movement are deeply rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Author of King’s Vision of Justice: Rooted in the Bible, David J. Lull wrote, “Dr. King often pointed out that it was Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that inspired the ‘dignified social action’ of the civil rights movement. His notion of “creative suffering” – borne by civil rights activists who endured persecution and police brutality – came from his Christian faith in the redemptive suffering of Jesus.”

Usage of scriptural innuendoes was favored rhetorical practice for King, especially hopes for “God’s children” he pled for in the “I Have A Dream” speech. Even his ominous, final speech was closed with the biblical allusion of being at the “mountaintop” and seeing the “Promised Land” referencing Moses who, as a punishment from God, could only see the Hebrews’ “Promised Land” from Mount Nebo where he died. Use of this passage evidenced that King sensed his impending death, which was the next day.

Furthermore, Dr. King saw the Church as a microcosm of racism in America. According to Aldon Morris, sociologist at Northwestern University and writer of The Origins of the Civil Right Movement: Black Communities Organizing for Change, cited King’s labeling of Sunday church services as “the most segregated hour in America.” “He felt the church hadn’t stood up enough and supported the movement.  They were needing allies from many different groups, and with the movement rooted in moral and religious precepts it made a great deal of sense to reach out to various religious groups.”

In his book, Gospel of Freedom, author John Rieder examined King’s moving “Letter From A Birmingham Jail,” expressed that King’s letter (also strewn with biblical references) helped to highlight the contradiction of Jim Crow to religious values held by institutions and spurred them to action, creating a “confluence of a major part of the black movement with the larger ferment in American Christianity and Judaism.”

Other some of  King’s more radical counterparts also used spirituality as a foundation to their fight. Muslim doctrine and his post as head voice of Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam heavily influenced Malcolm X’s noble campaign. In his quest to liberate Blacks in America, founder of the UNIA, counterpart to W.E.B. DuBois and the NAACP, Marcus Garvey, put his separatist mission in a religious context, “As the Jew is held together by his religion… so likewise the Negro must be united in one grand racial hierarchy…Like the great Church of Rome, Negroes the world over must practice one faith, that of Confidence in themselves, with One God! One Aim! One Destiny! Let no religious scruples, no political machination divide us, but let us hold together under all climes and in every country, making among ourselves a Racial Empire upon which ’the sun shall never set.’”

Seeing how spirituality and faith were so influential in the Civil Rights Movement, one might wonder, what happened? Today, the leaders of thought in the Black community are predominately entertainers, replacing the ministers who led during times of oppression. According to Yeadon’s Rev. Dr. Harold Dean Trulear (“Uncle Dean” to me), reputable director of Healing Communities Prison Ministry and Reentry Initiative and professor at Howard University, “Media has taken center stage and it’s so powerful that it creates more of a sense of being a spectator and being more passive. The action is up front on the screen. The spiritual people on television are giving more of a message of individual prosperity and individual solutions to social problems than they are looking at the collective.” This focus on the self has been said to be a somewhat destructive imposition of feudalistic, European ideals foreign and incompatible to Black/African culture (stemming from a lesson I learned from Howard University’s Dr. Gregory Carr in his “Black Aesthetics” course). Trulear partially jested, “If Rosa Parks came to church to today and said she’d been discriminated against on the bus, somebody would’ve told her to ask God for a car.” He continued, “That’s an individual solution to social problem, that people overcome individually rather than transform society itself.”

Trulear calls this plight, “uncritical integration,” which he attributes to the Black community’s replication of “rampant individualism”, imperialistic mindsets and discrimination against subsets. “If the society was sick, then you don’t want to integrate into a sick society. You want to transform it. There’s plenty of stuff that we just took a from a very sick society,” he surmised. He deems that Black people have “uncritically adopted” a “flawed” American Dream. “There are number of things we do as Americans that is not the medicine. Rather than challenging the status quo about everything, we just got our piece of the pie.”

Since Blacks got their “piece of the pie, Trulear says revolutionary attitudes in the church have been tamed referencing H. Richard Niebuhr’s 1929 text, The Social Sources of Denominations, “I do think that Black churches have done what all churches have done which is the more affluent the congregation becomes, the less likely it is that they be involved in activism. They become more integrated in the mainstream society.”

Trulear also pointed out that, at the time, fellow Morehouse alum, Dr. King was not a pastor of a church. For six years, he was a senior pastor Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, but his responsibilities hindered his leadership of the SCLC. “He couldn’t do it. There wasn’t enough time, so when he goes back to Atlanta as co-pastor (of Ebenezer Baptist Church) he has very different duties that allow him to spend time on a movement that he could have had he been confined to one church,” explained Trulear. He credited the work of the organizations’ full-time staffs with helping King and other leaders by “doing the organizing work on the ground.“

Trulear gave his blueprint to attaining “The Dream,” heavily influenced by  Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”): “One thing you can do is refuse to allow society to define you by the fact that you’re homeless or have a criminal record and then you can work with other people who have accepted that and help turn their lives around. That includes accepting the designation of subhuman because you’re Black or gay and because you’re an ex-convict or sitting in a homeless shelter. The situation doesn’t define me, I’m defined by Christ and because I’m defined by Christ, I can handle all situations.”

Job-ish

Posted in Holy Moly with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2012 by Free Smith

I have an alright life. I mean, I’m living and breathing and others are underground or cremated, but it hasn’t been a crystal stare for me. I’ve suffered some although not the way that others are suffering. But I feel like Job at times. If you aren’t familiar, Job was the most righteous man on Earth during his time. Satan saw this and went to God to ask if he could fuck with him to prove that he would curse God to His face. So, Satan, after a few trips to God to ask permission took away Job’s children, his vast material possessions (land, livestock, etc) and even put boils all over his body. Job was dismayed, but would never curse God. I mean, he cursed the day of his birth, but never God’s name. In the end, Job passed Satan’s nonsense and God restored everything.

I feel like Satan’s tested me the same way. I don’t know if I’m comparable to Job in righteousness, but Satan sure has tested me. First (no order) my mother was taken from me. She was my best friend. The one I could tell anything to and we did a lot together. She was taken by pancreatic cancer a few years ago. God helped doctors discover gastric bypass surgery and I got it done (my mother never saw me through the end of it, but when I saw her in the hospital, she told me she could just look at me all day). But now, I keep having problems and can’t even enjoy food the way I want to. I hurl a lot and just can’t eat like I want to anymore. It’s a tad torturous. In 2004, while at Howard University, I had my first bout with mania with the onset of bipolar disorder. It’s hard for me to fathom that my mind which I think is powerful will just take itself over whenever it wants to and land me in the hospital where I can’t leave until the doctors say it’s alright. Not to mention, I’ve been depressed clinically since about middle school. I’ve been committed to the mental hospital 4 times now.

Back to the point, I say that I’m like Job because I feel Satan has had a hand in doing all of these things to me. I don’t think I’ve ever cursed God though. I’ve questioned Him, which may be too far, but I’ve never said, “Fuck you, God,” or anything like it. Hopefully, one day, my happiness will return. I don’t think I’ve been happy since elementary school. In fact, I don’t even remember what true happiness feels like. To just be content just isn’t in me. I hope to one day get to that point. To just be happy and content.

MY VIEWS ON THE CASH

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2012 by Free Smith

ImageFirst and foremost, I want to say, I respect money. We need it to live, it gets us what we want and all that jazz, but at the same time, FUCK MONEY. LOL. It takes our focus off of everything that we SHOULD be doing. People like to throw around the “Money is the root of all evil” quote around just because it makes people do things that may be underhanded/shady/dishonest or what have you, but I think it’s deeper than that. I curse whomever it was that decided to trade a good or service for a piece of paper or metal in the first place. In my opinion, the whole point of business is to make your product/service omnipotent or God-like. Make it the main focus of the buyer. The way I feel about money is the same way I feel about crack. It takes people’s souls. Back to the point, the money is now too God-like for our own good. Shit, even churches NEED it to function. Look at money. It is a shape-shifter (cash or coin). It’s the universal language that can be translated from place to place (i.e. dollars, pounds, yen, etc.). They’ve even made a way for it to be invisible through cards (I guess the credit card would be the priest in this scenario.), but we always have faith that it’s there and will do what it’s “promised” to do.

I believe that we’re all here to use God’s creation to bring people closer to Him, but people did the wrong thing with the money. I always say that it’s Satan’s goal to do all in his power to take the focus off of God with his antics and money has done just that. As I said before, even the churches HAVE TO have it to run, so in a way, the money takes precedence over God at the end of the day. I used to think the Internet was the best that man has done to imitate God. It too is everywhere and you go to it to find out what you want to know (the computers would be the priests in THIS scenario. LOL). But all in all, fuck the money. Use it because you have to in this society, but don’t let it own you. Yes, it is the ROOT of all evil, because, let’s be real, evil is Satan and vice versa and in a roundabout  way, the money is accomplishing Satan’s goal, to divert your attention from God. We spend our entire week working to make money and set aside an hour or so a week to God on Sundays. So, I guess what I’m asking is for you to keep the money in perspective. Like Big Meech said, you gotta blow it because when it’s over, you can’t take it with you.

However, when it’s over, I’m a firm believer that there is God that you will have to answer to and that’s what we should be focusing on while we live these lives we were given.