For my faithful readers, you all know that I’ve been on my anti-religion kick lately. Or rather, my “let’s reshape religion as we know it” kick. I went out with Soul Jonz for lunch today, me and him talked about some of the challenges of the Black Blogosphere. One of the main challenges he quipped to me was that there doesn’t seem to be a large community of black bloggers who engage in serious intellectual debates particularly as they intersect with religion. By in large it seems as though many of the “mainstream” black blogs place religion on some back burner and feel as though it has no place in public discourse.
Four on my blogroll that seem to do a good job of bridging the two are Renita Weems, Negro Intellectual, Jonathan Walton and The Kitchen Table. However, I think it’s about the state of black thought, or at least black thought that is related to that of those who go online: their comments are few in number. I’m quite clear, at least now at least, that I’m blogging more for my own sake than for that of my readers, however, the more readers, the more comments, the more discussion the better. Be that as it may, as me an Soul Jonz ate lunch at one of our favorite Monday afternoon haunts, we discovered that it seems in order to be popular in the black blogosphere one must talk about the broad topics politics and race first. Religion remains a distant second still.
Granted President-Elect Barack Obama’s candidacy and primary season saw a burgeoning number of black blogs that popped up, a few even on my blogroll that were started for the sole purpose of talking about Obama, I wonder just how many of them will do in the following months, or even years. This is not to say that those who write only about race and politics are doing a disservice, but by in large, I feel that we are fooling ourselves by calling mediocrity intelligence. So as not to call out any blogs, I do NOT want to do that, I’ll use the bastion of mediocrity and sub-par thought that is Warren Ballentine. Soul Jonz told me today that he said he didn’t understand “why the government gave out money on Sundays when the banks were closed.” And that “we [the godd—] as Truthfighters need to ask these questions.”
Well, I’ve more than once swerved listening to Warren Ballentine down here on Grown Folks Radio just waiting for Al Sharpton to come on, but Soul Jonz explained that the reason for the dispersal of money on the weekends is so that when the markets open, the confidence has already been established. Furthermore it made it seem as though Ballentine was talking about the local banks like Wachovia and Bank of America on Lee Street!
Wow, and this is what we place our trust in.
I would be much more pleased if I saw blacks in the blogosphere engage religion in their discourse, especially because most of us profess some sort of belief system.
So concerning religion, I received an email concerning the takeover of the religious Right. By in large, as this debate on gay marriage still is at the forefront of the news, many people are still singularly defining Christianity and failing to realize that those who profess to follow Christ run the entire gamut. Particularly in the Black Church, we are politically liberal and theologically conservative. Most black pastors don’t preach on universal salvation; they may preach sermons that fall in the category of Democratic Socialism as a political objective, but never would the two cross boundaries.
As many have arugued that blacks helped carry the vote in California to ban Proposition 8, well, hell, I guess blacks carried that vote no more than Latinos, whites and Asians. That’s neither here nor there, but fact of the matter is blacks do tend to vote monolithically particularly when issues of religion are involved. Let the record show that George W. Bush in 2004 garnered the most black votes in recent history, with 12% of the black voting bloc, mostly because of his push for a marriage amendment and his abortion viewpoints.
Upon reading the following, which I hope isn’t the case in the near future, I’m worried about just how many self-professed liberals might fall in lock-step behind this idea of Dominionism.
…Obama’s first priority must be the economic well being of both the United States and the world. If we were to be faced with decline and poverty, the door would open to dark, nationalist forces that would undoubtedly take a religious form. And what would that form be? The conference in New York in spring 2005 examined a phenomenon known as Dominionism — the belief that godly Christians are now mandated by the Lord to take political power to purify America, return it to its Christian origins, and create a biblical society with biblical laws for biblical crimes. The End Times would be upon us, the Book of Revelation would provide the geopolitical road map, and the spiritual war with secularists, Muslims and others would be conducted ruthlessly.
Well educated people and progressives do themselves a disservice if they dismiss this worldview as simply idiotic, unthinkable, and confined to a lunatic fringe. Sarah Palin’s rise shows there is still an appetite in America for charismatic leadership devoid of political substance; for a pretty face, a down home manner, and a torrent of ugly, distorted political attacks delivered with a sexy vibe – the heels on and the gloves off.
Serious political thinkers need to be alert to the real dangers here. Obama in all his wisdom, vision and huge emotional intelligence has vast potential to bring America the leadership it so desperately needs. But he faces global challenges unseen since 1932. If he falters, an abyss might yawn. From it might emerge combined political and religious forces convinced of their spiritual rectitude and their opponents’ evil, and intent on establishing a militaristic theocracy that elevates America and Jesus combined to godlike status.
It’s time to educate ourselves more about The New Apostolic Reformation and the spiritual warfare to which Palin’s Assemblies of God Church appears to subscribe. When the prayer warriors of this movement delight in the burning of a Transcendental Meditation Center and the persecution of African ‘witches’ as perceived results of their spiritual efforts, we should all be concerned. We can learn more from web sites like talk2action.org that are engaged in thorough investigations of the disturbing belief systems prevalent in Dominionist churches. Journalists need to ask Sarah Palin directly about her religious beliefs regarding spiritual warfare, the End Times, even the appearance of the Anti-Christ.
It’s well known that certain fundamentalist circles suspect that Obama is ‘The One,’ a forerunner of the Beast foretold in the Book of Revelation. Check out the views of Hal Lindsey, author of the fundamentalist classic, The Late, Great Planet Earth. Could that suspicion lie behind their unwavering attempts to ‘expose’ his links to terrorists, his sympathy for Islam, his phenomenal charisma that, they feel, can only be explained by diabolical forces that stand behind him? No doubt Sarah Palin thinks of herself as a good mom, a nice person, a follower of Jesus, and a devoted public servant. But death threats against Obama immediately spiked when her inflammatory, lipsticked rhetoric began to work its influence on the minds of unthinking people.
We can’t assume this kind of thing is now over. It seems to me that despite the current ascendancy of progressive politics we must educate ourselves about the beliefs of the religious far right, be alert to their strategies, and insist that the media penetrate into the core worldview of any major political candidate. Cathleen Falsani’s interview with Obama at Beliefnet on the nature of his spirituality offers a fine model of how to approach this crucial subject. And, above all, we must hope that the world turns away from Depression and moves firmly toward prosperous, sustained, green renewal.
I left off some of the opening points which clearly make Sarah Palin (who has now been demoted to not being worthy of bold status like George W.) as a starting point for this new surge of the religious right. So, click the link here to HuffPo to read the article in it’s entirety. I’m not convinced that Mike Huckabee would usher in such a new era, but he’s Southern Baptist and I most certainly wouldn’t put it past them.
I seriously think that we as black people are doing ourselves a disservice by not putting religion in the public space for discussion. White folk will ask the questions and not think twice about some things, but as blacks were trained (like some whites as well) to not even ask those questions from a young age. Most kids put two and two together about the Adam and Eve story and usually ask “Who did Cain marry and have kids with?” and I’ve heard from more than one person that at the age of six they get shot down by the Sunday School teacher and sometimes have trauma attached to the memory. So, when my 24 year old cousin called me yesterday, and me him do NOT talk like that (nothing more than a text here or there, a fb message here or there or on Yahoo Instant Messenger) having all of these deep religious questions prompted by a run in with a Jehovah’s Witness, all going back to his fear of asking such questions out loud for fear of scorn by his priest or by his parents, I realised that we have work to do.
What are your thoughts about religion in the public square? Does it have a place or should it remain private in our homes or should such thoughts be pushed out of our minds because they are tools of the Devil? Do you really think that this Era of Dominionism is possible in this day and age–if so, what would it look like for this Uppity Negro and his liberal theologies?
Who actually read the whole article? :-)
Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL