Hetepu (Peace) Family,
How was your New Year? Hope all is well with you and wishing you many blessings on the success of your resolutions.
Ok, here recently I was talking to a good friend of mine and we were talking about this whole thing with Christianity and the negative effects it is having on many people in regards to self-hatred. This subject we both agreed was not new. As I wrote in Maa Aankh
, I remember my grandfather and uncles saying the same thing, how they were not going to get into “the white man’s religion” when I was younger, and before long they finally conceded and joined the church.
Yeah, both of my grandfathers and many of my uncles joined the church after fighting against it. And, I am pretty sure many of your family members did as well. So, let’s look at it what the Church has to offer and why even the staunchest amongst us finally end up joining. Then, we will look at why it is so hard to break from it.
What the Church offers?
For starters, the Church has been (and will be for at least a few generations) the glue that binds our community together. It was the institution that our ancestors fled to for emotional, psychological and economical support. Many of our families (mine included) live by the 3 rule model: God first, family second and everything else is third. These three rules have kept many families together especially during the hard times. Family members found not abiding by these three rules in this exact order have been met with a number of accidents and tragedies, which has convinced them (you got it), that they need to get back into the Church.
Now, besides the basic human needs such as fellowship, camaraderie and emotional support, some churches within our community also offer a number of services i.e. credit unions, small businesses, senior citizens complexes and services, drug rehab support, marriage counseling, family planning and some even offer hospice care and are partners with others to support hospitals. It doesn’t stop there. A number of churches have daycares and private schools or sponsor charter schools, not to mention their outreach programs in other countries, particularly in Africa.
So part of the reason you can’t get rid of the church is because every major movement that has swept through our community has come and gone, but the Church is the one institution that has continued to stand.
On to the psychological reasons you can seem to shake it.
It is a proven fact that whatever religion you are born into will always have its hooks on you subconsciously in the end. Just to give you an example, I knew this guy who went to church when he was a little kid but, his mother became conscious and they stopped going. This was way before he was a teenager. His mother had joined an ATR, so he had been in this ATR for at least 15 years. When he was 19 years old, he had an accident and was in a fire. In excruciating pain he called upon anyone and everyone that would help him, even Jesus. The reason is because Christianity was his birth religion. There are many people that have converted to other religions from Christianity that still have this in their blood and can’t shake it.
So, why is the Church in our community so strong?
There are a few reasons, which I have discovered based upon my own research. Besides the ones mentioned above:
1. Again as I wrote in the Maa Aankh
series. Contrary to popular belief, the Black Church did not begin during slavery. Many of the descendants from the Kongo-Angolan region willingly converted to Christianity prior to being enslaved and brought this religious syncretism to the Americas.
2. Many of our ancestors contributed to the development of the Church mentally, physically, spiritually and even economically. A number of our elders when they passed donate their monies to the Church.
3. Many of our ancestors were able to practice their tradition under the radar because of the Church as well. More about this later, because it is relevant on how to break from it.
What this means from a psycho – spiritual perspective is that not only are you hooked subconsciously to follow your birth religion, but from a cultural perspective, you are hooked because it ties you to your history. It can’t be divorced. Every time someone tries to divorce it, they are brought back into the fold because of circumstances outside of their control. Do you see the issue?
Think of this way. Imagine a gigantic bank that provides mental, emotional, cultural and economic funds sitting smack dab in our community; and the only way to make a withdraw is to be approved by an officer within that attends one of the local churches.
Ok? As you can see, breaking from the Church is a lot more complex then it seems. Most people aren’t going to find mental, emotional, cultural and economic support from any other institution in our community besides the Church. Note, I didn’t say none exist. I said most people are going to find it.
What’s wrong with the Church Anyway?
Alright, some of you may be asking, “What’s wrong with the Church anyway?”
Well, everyone has their own problem. For some people, they find opposition with the Church because they portray Jesus as being a Caucasian. This is not my issue, because the church I attended when I was a child didn’t have any images of Jesus. They taught that Jesus could be any color (yeah pre-multiculturalism). In fact, the only time I saw an image portraying Jesus as a white man was in my parent’s home. It did sort of play tricks on my developing mind, but it was countered by a picture one of my uncles gave my grandmother during the 70s Cultural Movement, that portrayed Jesus as a black man with a fro. So, that wasn’t my hang up.
My beef with the Church is with the dogma. I understand that the purpose of dogma is to prevent people from treating religion like Burger King. You know, you can have it made your way, so that you don’t have to do better. The problem with the dogma is that it creates division amongst people, as well as promotes docility and blind faith due to lack of proper spiritual training, resulting in one’s demise.
I remember the last time I went back home to Detroit. I went to visit my god-sister. Within a two-mile radius, I counted 20 churches. That’s right 20 churches and the area around her was so dilapidated it was ridiculous. You would think with all of those churches things would be different. The same goes for a number of major cities where there’s a lot of churches. There are at least two churches on one city block, yet teen pregnancy, crime, etc. are steadily on the rise. I mean everyone was called to the pulpit? Come on? So one of the reasons I have an issue with the Church is because some people want to be preachers because they want to make money, plain and simple.
The other reason is because if you talk to a preacher about the current social issues, most will tell you that it is a sign of the times. This was the same response that preachers gave when the crack cocaine epidemic hit back in the 1980’s. I mean kids are just dying in the streets and their response is “It’s a sign that the end is near” or they tell you, “Just pray.” Whenever I hear a preacher say this, to me it is like saying, “You’re screwed. Deal with it” as if God is playing dice with your life to see if you live or not.
In all fairness, we have to remember that the people running the Church are human beings. I hate to use that excuse but the fact is that these people aren’t perfect, so there are a lot of gross errors on their part. My time however is too precious for me to be waiting to see when someone comes into knowing. That’s why I wanted to know how to break from this tradition without causing major rifts to your psyche.
So the question is how do you break?
Well, as I mentioned. You really can’t. You are who you are in part because of the Church. It is part of your makeup. Even the part that doesn’t like certain aspects of the Church, so you need to either deal with it or it will deal with you. As I said in the beginning, your birth religion will always have its hooks on you. Fight it if you want, but your subconscious is too strong and in the end it will win. It is a simple truth, that if you focus on what you don’t want, it only magnifies it. Trust me I know.
What you can do.
What my friend and I were discussing that a lot of people forget is that most of the revolts were biblically inspired. Go back and read the history of Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vessey, Nat Turner, etc. In fact you will find that everywhere Africans were taken and the slave masters were Protestants, the revolts were biblically inspired. People can say whatever they want about Martin L. King but the Civil Rights Movement was a success because it was biblically inspired. It (the Civil Rights) just wasn’t properly planned to deal with the post-Civil Rights era. Most of the revolts weren’t successful because of self-hatred issues, which we will deal with shortly.
The question that comes to mind is how were our ancestors able to use the bible (the same bible that other people used) as a weapon against racism, injustice and the fight for freedom, whereas we can’t today?
It should be noted that the current issues that are facing our community existed back in the day. The difference is that people knew how to deal with them, whereas today people aren’t equipped to do so. In fact, we can trace a lot of our problems back to the post-Civil Rights era and the Second Women’s Liberation movement. There’s your hint for those who really want to know where our contemporary problems began.
As to how did our ancestors use the same bible that other people used as a tool for their liberation? It was by tapping into their ancestry and conjuring it. You see, our ancestors developed a double consciousness ever since they learned the hypocrisy of white America. Many of them accepted Christianity during the First and Second Awakening because they thought it was going to free them from slavery. When they learned that Christianity wasn’t going to free them, they continued to practice their traditions on the side. This combined with segregation and poor healthcare made them rely upon their tradition more than anything else.
Like everything else that went downhill as soon as our people received civil liberties, our people abandoned the traditions or our bread and butter because they didn’t want to have anything to do with slavery. If it had not been for Alex Haley’s Roots, many probably would have forgotten that they were the descendants of slaves because many African Americans wanted to forget that this occurred. So everything that was associated with it was abandoned as well. As a result, a sort of voluntary soul loss occurred and those who practiced our tradition were viewed as being uneducated, backwards and simply not hip to the changing times watch To Sleep with Anger starring Danny Glover. Instead of following our own traditions, people during the Cultural Movement encouraged and embraced traditional African religion based upon the belief that they were more “authentic”, not understanding that their own tradition had properly prepared them to deal with the social ills they were currently facing in America.
The issue you see is that back in the day, our folks didn’t buy into the American Dream, whereas today many do. Back in the day, most black people were very suspicious of white Americans and knew that the American Dream meant compromising your ethics, morals and principles, through self-hate in order to prosper. Whereas today, it seems that many simply don’t care.
This brings us to today. Most of the young adults from the Cultural Movement have gone in three directions spiritually: back to the Church, an ATR, Islam or nothing at all. Self-hatred is on the rise, which many agree is the major cause of most of the social ills affecting our community. This means mental slavery is in full effect.
So, how do we use the bible as a tool for our liberation the way our ancestors did?
We have to move beyond stating historical facts and began using them or conjuring them like our ancestors did, because history doesn’t save souls. History just provides a temporary cultural pride. To save souls, all I can tell you is what I have done and what has worked for me. Feel free to share your own, but what I have found to be successful is complete religious syncretism.
What do you mean Rau Khu?
I mean, knowing that most of the biblical concepts were adapted, adopted and borrowed from the Kamitic spiritual traditions is good. Yes, the concept of forgiveness is based upon the Maa principles and epitomized in Maat. This is all great and it gives me a nice fuzzy feeling inside but, that is all that it does. However, syncretizing Djahuti (Tahuti, Tehuti, Thoth in Greek) with Moses based upon the idea that both dealt with snakes (Djahuti’s or Hermes caduceus and Moses staff), both dealt with interpreting the law, both helped solved their peoples’ problems (Djahuti repaired Hru’s eye, Oset’s crown and mummified Osar, Moses provided for his peoples’ needs), both were wise and knowledgeable of esoteric teachings, and there are other similarities; provides a bridge in my mind for me to go to Djahuti to help me to solve any problem.
Understanding that early Christian writers in their haste set up the God in the Old Testament and Jesus to be identified with our Higher Self provides a bridge for me to identify my Higher Self with Osar. When it comes to Christian rituals like Communion, which are a direct rip off from Kamit, they can easily be recovered by seeing the unleavened bread as the 14 pieces of Osar and the wine as his blood.
Therefore, Communion for Osar (Asar, Ausar, Osiris in Greek) is done so that one does not sin against his or her Osar (Higher Self). I am not saying you have to do it, I am just offering a suggestion.
The whole point of this post is to get you to see that through religious syncretism, we can recover a lot and recreate our own way without damaging our psyche.
Hope this helps.
If you have more suggestions please share. :)