December 1, 2012

Counterfeit Religions XIII: Rastafarianism

First came the colonization of the Caribbean by white Europeans and then came the consequent enslavement of Africans which eventually (long-term) led to the religion of Rastafarianism. This religion focuses upon the yearning to restore an African homeland, in particular Ethiopia. They are what’s considered Afrocentric. Rastafarianism draws upon a few influences including Christianity and Judaism. It is believed Africa is the true Zion.

In the 1930s the Universal Negro Improvement Association was started by a Jamaican named Marcus Garvey. He wanted to return all people of African descent to their places of origin. Garvey believed the fact that Haile Selassie (meaning: Power of the Trinity) becoming the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie was the beginning of prophecy. Garvey considered him to be a messiah. The word "Rastafarianism" is based a spin-off of Selassie's title and name before he was emperor which was Ras Tafari. As one can imagine race is a significant issue in Rastafarianism. Of the six major doctrinal beliefs from Leonard Howell, two were vehemently antagonistic to the white culture which had provoked African slavery. It was believe God would now avenge them. Howell went as far as to promote the idea black supremacy.

Howell is eventually jailed by the Jamaican government due to a charge of sedition due to his devotion to Selassie. The Rastafarian movement was then without a head until Haile Selassie visited Jamaica in 1966. This to the Rastafarians was the equivalent of Moses coming to Egypt to liberate the Hebrew Slaves. It was thought he would take them back to the promised land Ethiopia.

Rastafarians believe in one god called Jah, who is within all people. Through meditation and experience, Jah will give personal revelations on those who are faithful. Rastas believe Africans descended from the Israelites and were sent into exile because of the color of their skin. It is Rastafarian legend or tradition that Ethiopia is connected to Israel through the son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. This is also why Ethiopia is considered the Promised Land. Rastafarians also believe Babylon is the physical representation of hell. They also believe that Haile Selassie was Jah in human form, who proclaimed that death would only affect the unrighteous. What is even stranger and drifting further afield of Christianity or Judaism is that Rastas believe in reincarnation. Clearly not a Christian nor Jewish belief.

An important and misogynistic ritual in Rastafarianism is the "reasoning session." Spiritual matters are almost exclusively male. Women in general are relegated to home life and women are condescendingly referred to as daughters and most recently Queens. Obviously with this moniker a Queen’s most important duty is to care for and keep her King happy who is head of the household. Rastafarians usually meet weekly, either in a believer's home or in a community center. These meetings are the Reasoning sessions. They provide a time for chants, prayers and singing, and for communal issues to be discussed. Marijuana is usually smoked to produce heightened spiritual states. It is believed that it will open people’s minds to reveal truth. Although its use is not mandatory it ends up being almost universal used. It is here we really see the divergence again from practical Christian orthodoxy. Drugs or pharmakeia/φαρμακεια are not the path to God our any righteous spirituality, just the opposite. They are two-way gateways to and from the demonic. Leonard Barrett states in The Rastafarians: The Dreadlocks of Jamaica (p.129) that Marijuana was used in a kickback to the treatment of blacks in society. The irony is that in this supposed “freedom” and “release” from physical slavery that they got from the “wisdom weed”, they ended up becoming slaves in bondage to a medicinal substance. The drug is virtually inseparable from their religion.

It should also be noted that a huge surge in this religion and its number of adherents can be attributed to a single reggae musician. Bob Marley. Rastafarianism and its lifestyle have been heavily propagated in the piggyback of Jamaican Reggae music, in particular Marley’s.

The worship music used at these “reasoning sessions” is known as Nyabingi (Nya meaning “black” and Binghi meaning victory: Black Victory). Meetings may also include large feasts. One last thing of note about Rastafarianism is their affinity for dreadlocks. This hairstyle is supposed to be imitations of Old Testament warriors (similar to Samson) and Rastas believe it was strength from Jah - the Lion of Judah, which helped the warriors survive. The dreads being like the lions mane. Dreadlocks are also a symbol of political protest. When slaves were abducted from Africa to the Caribbean slave owners shaved the African’s heads. Therefore wearing dreadlocks is seen as an outward visible rebellion of this subjugation.

In this way Rastafarianism is similar to the Liberation Theology of Central America and that of Churches in the United States like Jeremiah Wright’s. It is a religion of social works and that of political activism by its adherents in an attempt bring in the Kingdom of God more quickly through human actions. Regardless of how misguided this religion and other socially active ones like it, is it has not been immune to using violence to meet these ends.

In the end what we see is another massive fail in terms of a religion that falls way short of being salvational. It is just another in a long line of counterfeit religions that relies on the works of men to reach heaven or salvation or it worships or idolizes mere men as gods. I suggest they stop smoking so much pot and actually let their brains air out for a while so they can think straight for more than a few hours at a time. It doesn’t take much mental effort to realize this is not even remotely Christian nor can it be taken seriously as a religion. It is more of a commune of habitual (or should I say ritual) drug abusers.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...