What’s up family?
Today I want to talk a little bit about the spiritual erosion that I see in the Black Community. The spirit and the soul seem to have been neglected and we are slowly evolving into a people that I don’t even recognize from my youth.
For instance, even if a family didn’t go to church every Sunday, there was still some reverence of God…especially exhibited by the older generation. How many of you remember a grandparent or great-grandparent saying, “Don’t play during a thunderstorm; God is doing his work?” I remember watching a movie, The Fighting Temptations, and one of the characters was making fun of a lady that told him not to let water run during a thunderstorm…the person he was “joking with” quickly corrected him, “Don’t play with God!” But in all seriousness, there was a fear of God ingrained in the minds of young people and a respect for His Church and I just don’t see it today…so let’s discuss the Black Apostasy.
From the arrival of Blacks in America, there has been an inextricable link binding the church to the Black experience. Certainly it can be argued that as Blacks arrived in America as slaves, they were stripped of their history, genealogy, language, culture, and religions that were native to Mother Africa. It can also be argued that the White oppressors indoctrinated our ancestors with their religion by way of eisegesis, or the misinterpretation of scripture. They perverted the Word of God to fulfill their wicked agenda with slavery. While each of these arguments has validity, I am reminded of another that was sold into slavery, by his own brothers, in the book of Genesis. In Genesis 50:20 (NLT), Joseph confronted his brothers and said: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” While slavery was intended to oppress the mind, and the Bible to suppress the spirit, slaves came to know God in their own special and personal way. They did so in a manner that they were able to reach into the inner resources of their souls to keep one another encouraged that brighter days rested before them.
Church wasn’t simply a “weekly dose,” per se, but spirituality reached into all aspects of their lives. In the fields, the melodies of spirituals would fill the air speaking of the glories of heaven, while encoding a message of freedom here on earth. In the churches, most notably the AME church, abolition conventions and meetings would convene. Churches served as “stations” on the Underground Railroad helping slaves escape to freedom in the North. Churches also served as the initial schools for Blacks when no formal institutions of learning would admit people of the Negro race. Even during the Civil Rights Movement… The church was a place where community meetings took place to organize boycotts and execute endeavors to help the downtrodden. The leaders of churches were the leaders of the community. These clergymen were actively engaged in the political process of the community in which they served. Ultimately, the church was a citadel in the community and there was an unfeigned fear of God and a sincere respect for the place where He was to be worshiped During this era of spirituality, there were direct correlations between faith and communal progress and advancement. Graduation rates were higher. The respect for elders, history, and tradition was higher. Rates of employment were higher. Community violence was lower. Incarceration rates were lower. Domestic violence was lower. Incidence of premarital pregnancies was lower. Abortion rates were lower.
But as time continues to widen the gap between those times, and the times in which we currently live, the fear and respect for God and His church, in the Black community, is dwindling. We are in the age of the Black Apostasy, or the Blacks’ abandonment of the spirituality and devotion that ushered our forefathers from the chains and fetters of slavery. Church, in many aspects of the community, isn’t even a chore, as much as it is simply a non-existent facet of life until a rite of life needs to be performed (wedding, baptism, baby dedication, funeral, etc.) or some kind of tragedy or crisis and help is needed. The boundaries of decency and dignity have been eroded to the place that anything is acceptable and permissible; there is no room for correction and reproof. And sadly many churches have diluted their fervor by preaching a toothless Gospel message, lowering their standards instead bringing people up, and capturing attention with smoke, screens, mirrors, lights, music, and give-a-ways. And what is the result? We have certain church leaders taking advantage of memberships to satisfy greed driven appetites, thus turning people away from the faith. Neighborhoods are being ravaged by drugs and violence, but many churches aren’t supported enough by the community to support the community.
For instance…there is a rising phenomena, especially in the urban neighborhoods…”hoods” of just fighting for the sake of fighting. But it’s not enough just to fight, it has to be recorded and uploaded. I was actually driving down the street the other day and saw this with my own eyes. A couple a high school kids were fighting in an apartment complex parking lot, and they were surrounded by people just looking on with cell phones recording video. Much like this… Well on second thought, I won’t post a video. But just know there are websites dedicated to just showing off fights. One is YouTube, but there is this site called: Explosive Fight Videos: Schools. Click at your own risk.
The lack of engagement in church by the community has led to our exclusion to the political process. But most importantly, we have a new generation of Blacks that are being passed an extinguished torch; young folk are being raised without the slightest fear of God and reverence for the church. From birth, a generation of Black faces is setting out on the journey of life with their moral compasses magnetically calibrated to darkness. Their impressionable minds are stimulated by images and personalities diametrically opposed to every fiber with which their historical tapestry was woven. Slowly, the Black community is losing grasp on who God is. They are forgetting, historically, what the church should be in the community. And consequently, as a community, we are redefining, in a degenerating way, who we are. There is a lack of knowledge in who we were, a lack of appreciation for how we came to be, and a lack of promise for what we can become.
As hungry as the Black community is for progress and advancement, we must come to the understanding that it will start with the church. The church must recapture a sense of what it is to be in the community. It’s not enough to dress up week in and week out, sit on a pew, and have a religious experience. As the church, we need to increase our knowledge of God’s Word so we have a better understanding of who He is and what He has called us to be. We also need to inform ourselves of our history so we can better appreciate the opportunities that were birthed by struggle. And the church must become actively involved in the community; not only meeting the material needs. The church must have a vocational, civic, and political presence in the community to better the prospects of the community. Most importantly, we must rekindle the flame by transferring the tradition and heritage of the Black experience, as we once knew it, to our young people. They must know who they are, in Whom they believe, and all that they can achieve. The community at-large needs to reclaim the faith of our fathers; but this will only happen if the church fulfills its purpose: building and equipping the family. That is why we must reclaim our spiritual roots…it was and will continue to be the anchor of the family. And it takes the family to make a successful community. I want my brothers and sisters to go back to church.
As a small caveat, I would hope that churches would preach the Word of God and not what they think people want to hear…but that’s another post for another day.
It’s Women’s History Month…you know I have to chime in before the month closes… Look for a post really soon. Until the next time…
TWJ the HNIC