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Reply to "MY Way or Hell!"

Originally posted by kresge:
As always an intriguing and thoughtful post. It has got me thinking again about the substance of African American religiosity as different/distinct from African traditional religion.

You very eloquently state that for you "the bible for me is the story of the hebrew water god and as such has nothing to do with me as I am a Nago man from the OYO (yoruba) people of Ile Ife, Nigeria." But as Brother Jim is so found of recounting, those of us in the Diaspora often have no way of particularizing our ancestry to such an extent, we are of undetermined African ancestry.

Indeed, in the work of noted African American historian of religion, Charles Long, African Americans have experienced a "second creation." We are in some respects the incarnation of Africa, indigenous America, as well as the Europe. If as one author suggests that a persons God(s) should as the sweat that oozes from their pores, how do African Americans find (their)God.

It seems to me that there are several options, each frought with difficulty:
1. They, as you suggest, adopt the religious practices and beliefs of someone else. This could be one of any number of African, European, Asian, or Indigenous.

Were I really involved in this discussion this would be my pick for my prejudice (I am Nago) and my heart (my wife is AA as are my children and grandchildren)wants to see this choice.

2. They create their own religion. There are those who say that this is exactly what enslaved Africans have done and continue to do and that one of the manifestations of this is the Black Church, which although it bares resemblance to Western Christianity, is just as indebted to the West African traditions, and quite possibly indigenous communities. Thus, it cannot, or should not be assumed that master and slave are praying to the same God or share the same faith.

This one I have a problem with. The master and the slave are indeed praying to the same god, the same christ using the same scripture and until recently embracing the same images for the diety, a white man. The black church IMHO no longer serves as an progressive place for AA's or native born Africans, neither for that matter does the Mosque. These institutions have been co-opted by the political forces who are our oppressors everywhere we exist. they all preach a gospel of "git mo".

3. Finally, there are those such as my advisor who feels that African Americans should strive to reject theism in all its forms and embrace what he refers to as African American humanism which involves the search for complex subjectivity. In other words, all we have is us, and it is up to us to define ourselves and to make a place for ourselves in the world without appeals to some transcendent reality.

Thoughts - Comments?

The trancendent is reality. It needs no appeal. What we all attempt is to have as real a connection with it as we can. For me that is Ifa. As you have read from me before, African Americans must choose for themselves what they will be and to hell with what I or anyone else thinks. I just have a vested interest in the outcome and I feel that african spiriuality is an area that has not been accurately or fully explored here. I also feel that African Spirituality has as much theological depth as any other culture, if not more, on the face of the earth. I just would like to see my family (AA's) check it out! If it's not for you OK. But I'm so tired of hearing about how I decended from ham I could burst asunder. hope I answered if not hit me back!