The Quest For A Religion To Replace Imported Semitic Religions, And Other Matters
Date: January 7, 2017
To: Marvin A BRYANT
From: Ozodi Osuji
Subject: Human beings need religion; the real question is what type of religion
You have made your point. Now, listen to me and listen carefully. I am not a Christian or Muslim; both religions are Semitic; both religions originated in the Middle East. I have no business having a religion given to me by other people.
A person's religion must come from his psyche and world for it to speak to his soul. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism are not African religions so they do not speak to my African soul.
Having said so, I am old enough to know that Africans need religion and in the absence of an authentic African religion that derives from their world would flock to makeshift religions.
The black world does not at the moment have an authentic black religion so black folk's flock to foreign religions, such as Christianity and Islam.
Some black folks who understand the need for religion to speak to a people's soul attempt to provide black folks with what they believe are an African religion.
When I lived at Long Beach, California I attended weekly meetings run by a black man (at the time that I went to his meetings he was a principal of a high school). The man, Dr. Viltz, taught what he called authentic African spirituality. His teaching was predicated on his understanding of Egyptian religion, Kemet.
I am from West Africa and the last time that I checked all American blacks came from West Africa, from between Senegal and Namibia. This makes us what is classified as members of the Negro race. Kemet religion is not the religion of the Negro race of West Africa.
I have studied the religion of folks in West Africa (and written on them). Indeed, I am from what is traditionally a priestly family.
In Igbo land, my neck of the woods, priesthood is a family affair. Certain families produce the priests of their people, and this has been so for thousands of years.
Igbos have a God called Amadioha. My kindred, called Umuamadioha, the children of Amadioha, produce the high priest of Amadioha. When the extant high priest dies another person from the kindred is selected to become one.
Yours truly was born in the urban area (Lagos) and had urban experience yet the people decided that I am the current high priest of Amadioha. That required me to go to the village and for two years understudy what the then high priest, my uncle, Akakporo, was doing.
I would say that I know a thing or two about African religions and spirituality. I do so from family traditions and from my personal study of African religions.
I made the excursion to talking about Amadioha just to tell you that my people's religion is not Egyptian religion; our religion is not Judaism or Christianity, or Arab Islam, or Hinduism or Buddhism.
As an aside, let me point out that in Hinduism, a religion that I studied for many years, only so-called Aryans can become priests. Three thousand years or so ago, Aryans from Persia, now called Iran crossed the river Cyndi and came to what is today called India; they met black people, Dravidians, already living there (Dravidians look like Somali people). The white Aryans apparently appropriated the Dravidian religion and bastardized it to say that only they, now called Brahmins, can become its priests.
Hindu society divided people into four classes: Brahmin (priests), Kastryas (warriors, rulers) Sudra, (Dravidians, workers) and untouchables (servants). Only the Brahmins can be the swamis, priests of Hinduism. Hindus outsmarted Machiavelli in devising a religion with which they controlled black persons.
My ancestral religion is Igbo religion. But Igbo is a mere ethnic group in Nigeria and its religion is by no means a religion for all Africans.
Each African tribe has its own religion (Yorubas have their Shango based religion...Shango is equivalent to Amadioha).
Because each African group has its own religion all Africans do not have a unifying religion. We need religion to unify a disparate people; for example, Christianity unified Europeans; Islam unified Arabs etc.
In the absence of a universalistic and unifying African religion most contemporary Africans gravitate to either Christianity or Islam; both alien religions.
Like most extant Africans, I was a part of one of these two alien religions. My parents are Catholic Christians; I attended Anglican schools and for all intents and purposes I am an Anglican (in American terms, an Episcopalian).
As a teenager I recognized that the Bible is a documentation of imaginary Jewish history and approaches to God; it is not a document of Africans history and approaches to God. Thus, I rejected my Christian background and considered myself agnostic.
However, if I have to make a choice between Christianity and Islam I would prefer Christianity to Islam.
I do not know if you have read the Koran (I have studied it, along with the Hadith and Sharia). In the Koran alone are 89 passages in which believers are told to go kill non-believers (called kafirs, infidels).
To me, a religion that urges its members to go kill people is a violent religion. Islam is not a religion of peace as its members deceptively tell us; it is a religion of war. If in doubt please know that Mohammed himself carried out the first Jihad; the man used the sword to kill people; indeed, he boasted that he personally killed several people.
Moreover, Mohammed had thirteen wives, some of whom were under age ten when he married them (Aisha, for example) and that makes him a pedophile. My religious leader cannot be a polygamous pedophile.
Please compare and contrast Mohammed with Jesus Christ; Jesus did not urge his followers to go kill any one and did not even have one wife; he preached love and forgiveness for those who wronged us. Please read his Sermon on the Mount. (I am aware that his later followers, Europeans, did not always practice what he taught them; they used his religion of peace to enslave African peoples.)
For our present purpose, I rejected all foreign religions. However, I do not find any African religion useful in our age.
African religions evolved in agricultural societies. We now live in an industrial, urban and scientific society. A religion that is going to be useful to the people must take into cognizance the people's current living condition.
We live in the age of science and technology; in my judgement, only a reason and science based religion is going to be useful to people.
None of the extant religions is reason and science based hence they are all useless. Nevertheless, I am old enough to realize that the people need some kind of religion.
You may believe whatever you like; the fact is that may be five percent of the people are capable of living without belief in some kind of God. Atheism is for few persons and there have always been atheists, folks who reject God.
Richard Dawkins in his book, God Delusion, and Christopher Hitchens in his book, God is not so great made the atheists argument; in my judgment both gentlemen are idle academics, they are really less than twelve years old in psychological development for they have no clue the function of religion for the people. In his seminal book, The Prince, Machiavelli said that if the people do not have a religion that the prince, leader, must invent one for them; it is mostly religion that makes people obey the laws of society; without religion what we would have is chaos and anarchy.
As an aside, let me ask you: how many people do you know who obey the law and are moral from purely reasoned out stand on the need to do so? Not all people are philosophers and members of the French enlightenment (Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot) who using pure reason realized that out of pure self-interest we ought to do to others as we want them to do to us, behave to them morally for we want other people to be moral towards us.
In my perception of people, they are mostly cowards and amoral and if the law is not there to coral them they would behave as they believe is in their self-interests at the expense of other people. The result would be what Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan) called war of all against all; hence life would be nasty, brutish and short.
Hobbes recommended a strong government that punishes anti-social persons to make sure that people did not kill each other.
In my judgement, no society can exist without religion, and, of course, secular laws. This is an assertion; prove me wrong by removing the police and religion from your city and see if most people would not loot the stores!
I have a pragmatic approach to religion: we need it.
The majority of mankind does not reject God. If you like, you can say that the majority of mankind needs what Karl Marx calls the opium of the masses; they need to be given something to pacify and sedate their existential anxiety and primordial fears of finitude.
People have fear as to where they will go to when they die; they have fear of the unknown. They would like to survive death and not have death be the end of their existence. The fear of finitude and oblivion is very powerful in people. It is this fear that disposes folks to seek religion, belief in God and life after death.
There are people who have had what we might call other worldly experiences. I am one such person. I will not try to tell you about my religious experiences for unless you have had them you would not believe them (and if you are tempted to apply childish psychiatry and give it a mental disorder category be advised that I have worked with psychiatrists and supervised many of them); let us just say that such experiences run in my family and that that was why our people, for thousands of years, saw us as their priests (in Jewish terms, we are the Levites of the people...come to think of it, Igbos see themselves as Jews...perhaps, we are indeed the Levites?).
The relevant point is that some people have experiences that convince them that there is life after death. Such persons build on their experience to give to the masses information on life after death. Over time, the information given to the masses by folks who have had spiritual experience congeal into religions.
(See William James, Varieties of Religious Experience; also see Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism, and Richard Burke, Cosmic Consciousness...what those folks called mystical experiences are experiences I had beginning in childhood, experiences that led our people to deem me their latest high priest...I will not talk about such experiences for if you are a typical human being you do not have the capacity to understand such things; this is not arrogant condescension towards you but factual; only few human beings are capable of having spiritual understanding).
Here is the deal, make of it what you like. The masses want religion. Some people's biological constitution makes them able to experience other worldly existences, such persons are called mystics.
Mystics give the masses religions. But the masses have not had the mystical experiences that underlie the religions they are given so they do not know what it is they are doing.
Perhaps, in every hundred years there is one human being that has really had mystical experience; in every thousand or so years one such person establishes a religion (as Jesus and Mohammed did).
You may cavalierly dismiss matters spiritual but some of us know that there is life beyond this three dimensional universe we live in. I also know that what passes as extant religions are rubbish; and I know that the people need religion yet most people do not experience what religion is teaching them and can only accept such teaching on faith; what is based on faith is not good enough.
I understand that because of the racial oppression you experienced in the USA you have a knee jerk opposition to everything associated with your oppressors, including their so-called Christian religion. This is mostly because you falsely believe that whites own Christianity and since whites oppressed blacks therefore their religion is false.
Christianity is a Jewish religion; Jesus and his apostles were Jews. Beginning in 325 AD when the Emperor of the Roman Empire, Constantine, embraced and imposed Christianity on Europe, white Europeans were, if you like, mentally colonized by Jewish Christianity.
In a manner of speaking, white folks are as sorrowful as Africans who embrace Christianity for both groups were given a Jewish religion.
In truth, Jews are the ones who have mentally colonized all of us! We ought to extricate ourselves from Jewish rule and return to (Greek...were the original Greeks Dorians, Germans or Africans?) rational rule of our minds.
I am keenly aware of white abuse of black folks. (By the way, google my writings; I have written book reviews of seminal black writings, from Eldridge Cleaver's Soul On Ice, to Stokely Carmichael's Black Power, Godson's the miseducation of the Negro, Chancellor Williams's the Destruction of Black Civilization, Chiak Anta Diop's claims that Egypt was an African civilization. I used to teach classes on black psychology and therefore am on top of writings on black psychology: Franklyn Frazier (Negro Middle Class), Gunnar Myrdal (American Dilemma), Kardinia and Oversay (The Mark of Oppression), Frantz Fanon (The Wretched of the Earth, Black Skin, White mask), Bertram Karon (Negro Personality), Thomas Pettigrew (A Profile of the Negro American). Listen, you name a writer in the black world and I have read him and probably written on him.
Confronting oppression by white folks, some black folks are motivated to separate from white folks and accentuate their own belief systems and culture (see the writings of such Black separatists as the Panthers' Hughie Newton, Bobby Seal etc.).
I can think of my fellow UCLA alumni (both of us have PhD from UCLA, in fact, from the same department), Molefe Ashanti. Dr. Ashanti, a professor at Temple University, propagates what he calls Afrocentrism.
I have carefully studied the man's writings and must beg to differ. I do not believe that we need to crawl back to old African cultures that so malfunctioned that they did not withstand the onslaught of European and Arab aggression on them.
Arabs and Europeans easily enslaved us. If our cultures were that good how come we were easily exploited and enslaved? Therefore, returning to cultures that made us easy prey for Caucasian exploitation is not the answer.
In my opinion, the answer lies in embracing the universalistic parameters of science. We need to establish a new humanoid culture, one based on science.
(You are an attorney; all things been equal, you understand the meaning of science and the scientific method; science is a methodological approach to phenomena that says that we should only accept what we observe as there, what is verifiable, what is, hopefully, replicable in an experimental situation, and, as Karl Popper added, what is falsifiable). I accept only scientific culture.
I do not accept multiculturalism (Ashanti's message); multiculturalism extols all cultures as good (based on the idea of cultural relativism and moral relativism). I believe that most cultures have some good in them but also have many bad in them.
What we need to do is take what is good in all cultures and conjoin them together into a universalistic culture, not a particularistic culture based on a particular part of the world. This is the basis of my philosophy of scientific culture; scientific culture is the anti-dote to the divisive and society fragmenting philosophy of multiculturalism.
Since we currently do not know what the truth is and sociology teaches that what we currently call the truth is socially constructed, people teach multiculturalism because they want to have access to the truth constructed by different cultures. They forget that most cultures contain bad ideas. Several bad ideas aggregated from different cultures do not make a good idea; there is simply a discoverable good idea; that is the mission of science.
Regarding race I am not capable of excluding any human being from my world. I recognize only one human race, Homo sapiens. I do not give a damn about people's color. This is my nature; beginning in childhood I have never seen people from so-called other races as different from me.
I see blacks, whites, Asians, all human beings as part of me, as my siblings. This is not an emotional approach to phenomena but a realistic one, for biologically speaking we are all one.
All human beings evolved in Africa. About sixty thousand years ago, some of Africans left to go live in other continents. Apparently, those who settled in Europe had the environment select for albinos (those born without melanin). White folks are black folks without melanin. Apparently, the temperate world selected for white color.