Tag Archives: atheism

W.E.B. Du Bois: American Prophet

I received a free copy of this book but I am not required to do a review for it. But I am anyway.

W.E.B. Dubois: American Prophet by Edward J. Blum

WHAT I ENJOYED ABOUT THIS BOOK:

What can I say? I started this text as a cynic in all honesty. I had read and been transformed by DuBois’ biographies done by David Levering Lewis (which are gigantic volumes by the way). Lewis had ingrained in me the idea that DuBois was an atheist, he was a Communist. But there wasn’t really citation, it was just a well known fact. DuBois was portrayed as a bitter revolution who left this country for the shores of Africa. DuBois’ depiction was one of a quitter. Well, using facts like actual prayers and church attendance records kept by the government on DuBois, Blum breaks down the “secular orthodoxy” of Lewis’ books. I am now persuaded that DuBois was probably more of a theist who was committed to social justice. I don’t want to give any spoilers away because I highly recommend this book, but why did it not ever occur to historians to track down speeches DuBois gave at Christian colleges and universities? Or to look over his written prayers? Or to read his novels as narrative theology like we do with C.S. Lewis? Does race has something to do with it? Does it have to do with religion? Perhaps both! I will let you decide for yourself (no actually I haven’t!). 😉

WHAT I DID NOT ENJOY: It was WAYY TOO SHORT! I wanted more, more more. I am greedy, I know! I am already re-reading this book again. I hope that Blum follows up on this with a look at DuBois’ literary contributions.

Christian privilege, the white evangelical persecution complex, & the Ground Zero Cross: a guest post

This post was originally submitted at the Political Jesus Tumblr, here’s a link if you would like to submit a post or a topic suggestion: PoliSyFyJesus Suggestion Box on Tumblr

“Harry Samuels is a student at UNC Asheville majoring in Environmental Management & Policy. He’s also very much obsessed with this Jesus guy – his politics, religious sensibilities, and the implications his teachings have for existential reality. Having been born in sunny Charleston , SC and raised in verdant Richmond, VA, he has spent his life in the American South- where many less-than-flattering portrayals and ideas of Jesus seem to prevail. Still, though, he has managed to “hold on to what is good” and seeks to explore , find, and maximize the intersection that lies between following Christ, sustainability of this gem of a planet, and environmental ethics.”

why the Ground Zero cross fiasco has nothing to do with “defending” the cross

defendcross

Recently, as I was idly scrolling along my newsfeed on Facebook, I happen to come across an image that, initially, struck me as prudent and ought to warrant a genuine concern from anyone who is a true follower of Christ. However, after the initial shock and some more thought, I realized that this graphic annoyed me more than anything precisely because it was shared by a friend of mine that I’m sure felt that she was being particularly prudent or watchful in posting it – like she was “warning her brothers and sisters in Christ” of the threat imminent to Christians in America. I am also sure that she and many others shared this image with the same rationale. What is this image you ask? –

As the title of this post might suggest, I am annoyed and frustrated by this image for a number of reasons.

I. This image and the rhetoric employed in the text seems to be one that further perpetuates what has come to be known as the white evangelical persecution complex. Being a white Christian (male…especially if you’re deemed attractive) is perhaps the most ideal set of non-monetary descriptors a citizen of the U.S. can enjoy. This is not to say that all in this category have an easy life or are not disadvantaged in some way, but I will say that very little of the difficulty one with such characteristics in American society would face would be because of these descriptors. Christians( of all races) enjoy the privilege of having their sacred holidays be national holidays in addition to being able to re-locate to virtually anywhere in the country and have the luxury of being able to find a place of worship. As Mr. Fred Clark of the Slacktivist blog brilliantly states in his post on the very same issue,”this is delusional, and the delusion is doubly cruel. It is cruel, foremost, to the people who are actually marginalized and disenfranchised — who are being denied full and equal participation in society because they do not conform to the majority beliefs.” In fact, this brilliant post is far more in-depth on this issue than I intend be and for this reason, I’ll place the link to the post here along with a recommendation that you read it: Do white evangelicals have a delusional persecution complex?: Barna says yes and provides quantifiable proof at Slacktivist

II. Not only is the idea behind this “crusade for the cross” delusional, politically, but it’s theologically problematic. To defend the Ground Zero Cross under the moniker of being a “follower of Christ” , one is presented with the quintessential questions of “ …So what exactly would taking this cross down do to my faith? What would this do to my ability to follow Christ, the one true, risen Son of God who came to redeem the world with His love? What does the Ground Zero Cross have to do with God’s mission in the world?” I would beg to argue that the answer to all of three of these questions is a resounding ZILCH/NADA/NOTHING! For one thing, I can’t help but think about how majority of the time , these “warriors for Christ” aren’t even thinking about the Ground Zero Cross – which , in itself, shows how little this really means to their faith, despite the almost awkward sense of urgency this image conveys. Secondly, when you’re fighting harder for a crafted, symbolic , traditional representation of Christianity harder then you’re fighting for the lowly, the forgotten, the marginalized…ya know, those who are ACTUALLY being persecuted by the systematic and institutionalized injustices of laws and philosophies of the majority and those in power, that registers to me as a bit more as idol worship. This image perpetuates a mentality that has been used against the Christian faith by many (and rightfully so) – the notion that Christianity is an “us against them” sort of faith. With love being the greatest commandment of Christ, I find it a better “defense of the cross” to sympathize with the fact many of the lives lost in the 9/11 tragedy may have been atheists or relatives, friends, or loved-ones of atheists. Perhaps instead of seeing this cross as some sort of representation of Christ on earth that’s actually accommodating the brokenness, these atheists see it as recognizing the timeless tradition of Christianity in America as somehow being the most accurate portrayal of the hurt that they feel/felt that tragic day. Maybe if more of these “Christians” spent time trying to represent the Christ alive in them and that lives among the body of Christians, they’d realize the futility and absurdity in their vain effort to defend this idol of religious traditionalism. Therefore, in my estimation, to defend the atheists and share their burdens would be the best “defense of the cross”.

1 Corinthians 6:19 – “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own”

Atheists And Christians Promoting Empire; What A Novel Concept!

“I observe that tribal belief is no more peaceable than ours; and that it suppresses individuality. People think collectively; first in terms of the community, extended family and tribe.This rural-traditional mindset feeds into the “big man” and gangster politics of the African city: the exaggerated respect for a swaggering leader, and the (literal) inability to understand the whole idea of loyal opposition.”- Matthew Parris, Atheist

“Anxiety – fear of evil spirits, of ancestors, of nature and the wild, of a tribal hierarchy, of quite everyday things – strikes deep into the whole structure of rural African thought”- Matthew Parris, Atheist

“Those who want Africa to walk tall amid 21st-century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted.- Matthew Parris, Atheist

2 disclaimers before I get saddled by some orthodox Gatekeeper:

1st, Yes I am a Christian and I believe the Good News of Jesus Christ raised again should be shared with everyone,

2nd, I am a postcolonial because of Jesus and his life, his ministry, and the Old Testament prophetic tradition. If you haven’t read this blog before, now you know.

This is my response to The Gospel Coalition’s latest post on Africa which is basically affirming an Atheist who is promoting empire. If there is one thing that Western Christians and atheists have in common it is a shared legacy of colonizing bodies of color. In the above quotes, I cited atheist Matthew Parris’ GODLY (according to the Gospel Coalition) article, As An atheist, I truly believe Africa Needs God, I just wanted to point to the problematic approach that Parris is taking. It’s not the good news of Jesus rising from the dead he wants Christian missionaries to share. Missionaries are Parris’ preferred vehicles for Western values, capitalism, and rugged individualism. Notice that his conclusion is all about the material possessions that Africans could have if they only accept white Jesus as dey lawd and saviah, ahem!

Matthew Parris’ article is a prime example in the long line of racist secularists who teamed up with racist “Christians” to promote empire. For every Jonathan Edwards, there’s a David Hume. For every John Piper, there’s a Deepak Chopra. Imperialist Christians and so-called humanists alike look at Africa through Colonizing Gazes, as AFRICA is always the childish, immature backwoods, rustic country always in need of depending on the good-hearted Western nation-states.

Facts do not matter when it comes to racist myths, always remember this. Africa has a great number of Christians. Any simple research on African Christianity will lead you to see that African Christianity is not about Eurocentric religions or theology. I have also talked about the obvious long history of Christianity in Africa, but more importantly, there is no such thing as a united Africa, first and foremost. The reason why Africa is organized the way it is now, struggling nation-states (code: imitating European colonizers) was because of the British, German, Italian, Dutch, and American empires imposing themselves through violence on Africans. Yes, Matthew Parris stepped into Africa (but did he tour the entire country, ooops I MEANT CONTINENT!!!!), but he brought his racist, essentialist, imperialist gaze with him. Africans are not people to him, they are objects to receive the West’s goodness (grace?).

Now, in the TGC article,*

“He [Parris] effectively illustrates how a Christian worldview may be the only thing weighty enough to crush traditional pagan worldviews that stifle and stunt.”

Later in a conversation on Twitter, a member of the TGC defended the comments:

tgc pagan

Paganism, if it is just “the rustic way of life in the country side,” Jesus needs to save country folks and what? Deliver them into the city? No, that’s not how pagan is being used here. It’s about African Traditional Religions, with their beliefs in the spirits and ancestors. Do you know what a pagan looks like? Here is a picture of a pagan:

Adam Smith was a pagan. The Gospel Coalition keeps defending Adam Smith, therefore, they are pagan. Why is Adam Smith pagan? Because he based his economic system off of Greek philosophy and polytheism, that’s where the idea of the Invisible Hand comes from. It took a good free-will believing Christian named John Wesley to confront Adam Smith’s paganism. And Africa needs to be saved from witchCraft? What about the Warlocks of Deception at the TGC and their stance on race: singing the praises of holy hip hop one day, but praising neo-confederate Douglas Wilson the next. In the Bible (remember King Saul), witches called upon dead souls who were resting in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I don’t see any difference between that Witchcraft and the TGC Calling upon dead white guys to promote an oppressive theology!

In undergrad, I had a Ghanian who told me about his experience in the school system there, how Christian holidays are recognized by everyone, and even non-Christians have to recognize them (it’s a holiday, yo!), and I remember how this story just really bothered me and made me question the way I saw Africa, not as the eternal essential oriental other I was taught, but as unique, with cultures as equally valid and made in the Imago Dei as all others. Parris is promoting the exact opposite, Africa’s cultural inequality (something the Gossip Kkkoalition’s homeboy, Douglas Wilson also affirms). NeoColonialism/Empire, regardless of the defender’s creed (atheist or calvinist), is an equal opportunity racist.

*Editor’s note: This post has been corrected to reflect the articles linked.

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