Thursday, February 5, 2015

Duality of Consciousness

I have many facets to my identity. Here are just a few: Blerd, Afrogeek, Blatheist, or if you prefer, Black Nerd, Black Geek, Black Atheist. I am a non-conforming individual fighting against the religious status quo. At least that's what I would like to think. The reality has much more complexity than it would seem.

I love comic books and the ideas about secret identities and alter egos. I especially like the X-Men. With it's thinly veiled allegory about being "the other" and the challenges that come with it, allow me to insert my experiences into the stories. The "other", referred to in the X-Men by the term mutants, have abilities, powers, and skills that set them apart from everyone else. These folks were born with their powers.

Some mutants look very different from normal humans and have a difficult time with acceptance due to their appearance. Other mutants look like normal humans and can fit in as long as no one discovers that they have powers. Some of the major themes of this comic book are hatred, conformity and discrimination. The mutants are feared and hated by normal humans. The mutants are also discriminated against because normal humans do not see them as equal to them. They view the mutants as rejects or human mistakes.

Any group that doesn't fit into society's accepted boxes can relate to these particular comic book characters and their struggles. I am similar to both kinds of mutants referred to in the previous paragraph. I cannot hide the fact that I am a Black man. People see that and have their preconceived notions about me based on my skin color. However no one would know that I am atheist unless I told them. In that regard, I get to hide my beliefs and suffer no ill consequences as long as I am quiet. I have to wear an intellectual mask around my friends and family to protect myself from the stigma that comes from going against the grain of Christianity. A large majority of my social circle still consists of Evangelical Christians.

As I have written before, the social consequences of going against Christianity in the Black community can be severe. In most major urban areas, Black Evangelical Christians hold key positions of power and authority within the public and private sectors. They are in positions where they have influence over who gets promotions or gets opportunities.

Coming out loud and proud as an atheist could cost me familial relationships, political clout, and a platform to secure an income. I applaud those who are privileged to come out as atheist without many social consequences. Others like myself have to maintain a duality of consciousness as well as an air of secrecy. I have to walk a fine line between upholding my personal integrity and playing the "don't ask, don't tell" game.

It would be nice if I could be judged based on the content of my character and not on the context of my faithlessness. Trying to walk an enlightened path is tough when you want to take the high road, and foolishness from others attempts to bring you down. I realize that Christianity does not play by the rules they so desperately want others to play by when it comes to them.

Hopefully in the near future, I will be able to say that I am a non conformist fighting against the religious status quo. Please understand that I am proud to be an atheist. However until the day comes where I can feel safe being who I am without any masks on, I will continue to hide in plain sight.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Things the Christian God Doesn't Know

Christians are taught that God is omniscient or all knowing.

Here are verses to support that view:

Psalm 147:5
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit. 
1 John 3:19-20
By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.
Matthew 10:30
But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
Psalm 139:4
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. 

But did you know there are things that God doesn't know?

Here are a few that I thought of:

1.  If the Christian God knows everything, does he know what it feels like to masturbate to a porno while eating Doritos?

2. If the Christian God knows everything, does he know what it feels like to call in sick to work, when he really isn't?

3. If the Christian God knows everything, does he know what chemotherapy feels like?

4. If the Christian God knows everything, does he know what it feels like to be afraid when a gun is pointed at his head?

5. If the Christian God knows everything, does he know what the sensation of an orgasm feels like?

6. If the Christian God knows everything, does he know how it feels to be addicted to drugs?

7. If the Christian God knows everything, does he know what it feels like to laugh while drinking milk & it comes out the nose?

8. If the Christian God knows everything, does he know what it feels like to wrestle with the choice of ending a pregnancy?

9.  If the Christian God knows everything, does he know what it feels like to hide his sexuality from his family out of fear?

10. If the Christian God knows everything, does he know what great sex feels like with a complete stranger?

11.  If the Christian God knows everything, does he know how it feels to lose a job, with only a few dollars in the bank?

12. If the Christian God knows everything, does he know what it feels like to puke after a long night of drinking?

Thanks to DarkMatter2525 for the inspiration for this... you can see his YouTube video below:

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Shaming the Successful

In the Black American community, our culture has a definitive Christian undertone to it, due to 400 years of indoctrination and a violent separation from our indigenous African roots. This insidious aspect plays out when it comes to the role of the church in the community. Many in the Black community feel like they could not have made it without God. The narrative of historical oppression spoke of by family members coupled with the reality of racism that shows up in every day life, gives this particular view a life of its own. Songs with these refrains speak to this viewpoint:

"If it had not been for the Lord on my side, where would I be?"
"Never would have made it, never would have made it without You..."

This philosophy, reinforced through Sunday sermons and church Bible classes over generations, uses guilt theology to keep congregants believing this untruth. Ergo, any time a person reaches a particular milestone or accomplishment, they must preface their achievement by thanking God for giving them the ability to succeed. People commonly hear this refrain on award shows and after major sporting events where a Black celebrity achieves something great. Fellow community members become quite critical when a person does not acknowledge God for their success. They rebuke and shame the insolent Black folk who forgot or refuse to give props to God with these common phrases:

"You are getting beside yourself!"
"Don't you forget who you belong to, You belong to God!"

As a result of this, Black Christian people give God the majority of the credit for their success and sprinkle the rest to others who contributed to their endeavor. They take introspective looks at their lives and ascertain that only God made it possible for them to make it out.

This ideology also shows how Black folk identify with the Jewish protagonists in the Old Testament writings. They see themselves as a real life parallel to the oppressed people in the Exodus story. They hear their authentic cries of justice connecting with the cries of the Children of Israel in the Bible stories. The paltry few verses in the Bible that speak to equality and freedom joined with the secular idea of "all men being created equal" became the impetus for a struggle that continues this day.

As a freethinker, I recognize how my cultural heritage got intermingled with Christianity. I am thankful for the realization that I did not get here by myself. I stand on the shoulders of giants. Many people contributed to my success and I am grateful for them all. I now understand that God had absolutely nothing to do with it.