Saturday, March 23, 2013

Dante's Inferno Placed me in Purgatory

As if I needed something more to affirm how boring my life is right now...

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to Purgatory!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repending Believers)High
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Moderate
Level 2 (Lustful)Low
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Very Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Moderate
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8 - The Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Christianity as an African Spiritual Tradition

My thoughts keep returning to the subject of Christianity's origins. In the beginning, Christianity was an African religion that formed from other African spiritual traditions. No one ever explained this to me in all of my years of church attendance as a child and young adult. When we talked about the cities mentioned in the Bible no one ever mentioned where these cities were located. Since many names changed over time, we had no way to identify them on modern maps. I wonder how different those stories would have seemed to me if those verses that contained city names also noted where those places were located.

When it spoke about Babylon how hard would it have been for someone to at least include a footnote mentioning that it was located in what is now Iraq? Nobody at our church ever told me that Bethlehem and Nazareth were in Palestine. All I can do is imagine how I might have connected with Jesus as a Palestinian. What if most Americans grew up being taught in their churches that Jesus was Palestinian? I'm convinced that we'd see the occupation by the apartheid state of Israel in a very different light.

A woman at my church was visiting her daughter and she overheard a conversation I was having with a white church member whose patron saint is African (St. Moses the Ethiopian). She came over and told me that she wanted to send me a book that she thought I might like. A few weeks later, I received "An Unbroken Circle" and a lot of it resonated with me. It wasn't that the book contained a lot of new information. Instead, it helped me to think about Christianity apart from whiteness.

Joining the Orthodox church has been a reclamation of Christianity as an Eastern religion, as an African spiritual tradition. This African tradition is over 2,000 years old and throughout that period, Africans have been writing about it and analyzing it and molding it. I don't need the European weaponized and warped version of Christianity that attempted to separate the religion from its roots and then scrub away any connection to Africa and its people. To be honest, I'm not required to care what any white person has to say about Christianity. I could restrict my studies to just the sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers and other Africans and get a complete understanding of Christianity. So I just don't see any reason to accept the genocidal, non-contextual, and culturally appropriated usage of Christianity as representative of the entire religion. Christianity is a part of my inheritance as a woman of African heritage. That's something that I try to keep in mind when I see all of the damage that has been wrought by Europeans who try to claim our religion as their own and then force it on others who have their own spiritual inheritance.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Quvenzhané and the Wild Beast of White Privilege

I truly appreciate all of the people of color who've spoken out against the disgusting, racist, sexualizing of Quvenzhané Wallis. Tonight I watched "Beasts of the Wild". I was so proud to see this gorgeous brown/bronze black girl radiating a soul so bright that no one could deny her brilliance. This little gem who shares my hometown and culture(s) lifted my spirits. The other characters also reminded me of my roots...the accents, the names, the blend of Indigenous American, African, and French heritage expressed by their DNA. Even the poverty it depicted filled me with a sense of pride. That might sound bizarre, but it's OUR particular meld of decay and neglect and it can't be found anywhere else. So, it's also precious to me. All of it feels like "home".

Seeing Quvenzhané in the movie made these insults sting even more. I'm so furious that the forces and defenders of white privilege won't even let this one brilliant little black child experience a sense of dignity and strength without making sure she knows she will always be available to any white man who wants her, in any way that he wants her. It makes me feel really embarrassed and impotent, because I'm a woman who was once a little girl from New Orleans who grew up with white men who made sure I understood the same thing but I couldn't prevent it or shield her from it any more than I was able to shield my own child from it.

I realized that these "jokes" weren't just meant for Quvenzhané. They were meant to send a message to all people of color. They mean to degrade us by inducing feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. They behave as if we don't even have a right to our anger. Even the (mostly self-appointed) white allies push/demand this "benefit of the doubt" that we are supposed to extend to any white man who they are unwilling to confront or defy. It's not even a surprise anymore to see them grow indignant at the very idea that they should want to disassociate and withdraw support for their treasured institutions (e.g. hipster satirical "news" sources, Hollywood).

This shit repeats itself so often that people of color barely have time to recover from one disgusting episode to the next. I feel as if there's a certain amount of spiritual fatigue that we also have to manage like some chronic syndrome left over from the other diseases they've used to cull us into a more manageable state. When I feel as if I don't have enough words or energy to express my revulsion about a particular episode, it helps to see someone else giving it the warranted attention. When that person faces exhaustion from beating back the scourge of white privilege, my hope is that I can replace them on the front line.