The End of God-Talk, An African American Humanist Theology – Anthony B. Pinn
Paraphrasing from one of the storybooks (19) Pinn referred to, and correcting for gender bias: “God is love and they who abide in love abides in God and God in them”. (1 John 4:8,16 ) We human beings are at our magnificent best when we are in love. That state is shared, and from within it, we are connected to other beings through time and space.
As I read Pinn a question began to creep in from the margins: “Where is love in this man's universe?” The word appears five times in the text: twice in relation to King’s “Beloved Community”(46), once quoting Thurman (78) and two times quoting others in the notes and bibliography. Pinn does not write about love from his perspective! No wonder why I needed to take a 7 hour break doing music after reading the first two chapters of “The End”. I was sucked dry by African American nontheistic humanist theology and its “embodied self and the nature and meaning of its occupation of space and time.” (62) The anthropological emphasis on the uncertain ups and downs of life having significance had me screaming for (63) William Jones’ heartfelt warmth, who’s rejection of the little god still held a place for something bigger.[A] His struggle with god is much more satisfying than Pinn’s more poisonous indifference.
By Chapter 6, Pinn goes some way to redeem his bleakness with the notion of celebration and ritualization to achieve “complex subjectivity”. I resonated with his approval of the UUA as a good p(l)ace for humanist leaning people of color like me. I do not feel that I need to “surrender” my embodied self in the UUA. (141) In fact, I wish to assist other people of color to jump into the UUA pool. The water can be warmed.
I offer another perspective rather than Pinn’s discussion of humanist writers. Instead of asking questions about what constitutes sacred space and the structuring of “religious thought and engagement” (with “... and”), I believe the more important question is “What do we humans love?”
Yo-Yo Ma played the Bach Unaccompanied Suites for thousands of people at the Mexico/United States border the day before fire broke the back of the Notre Dam cathedral in Paris. Ma managed to unite millions of people over a very human issue with music written by a composer who died 269 years ago and who wrote “Soli Deo Gloria” at the bottom of all of his manuscripts.
Ma was in love while he was playing the cello for people at the border (he always is). We cellists like to say that God plays the cello through Ma. As a professional cellist and composer I am “embodied” in the forms and shapes of music. Like a physicist seeking elementary particles only to find traces of God smiling back, composers dance in the same stream that is propelled by love. The composer in me can tell with certainty what Debussy had for breakfast the morning he composed a piece of music because I am connected in time to him through the choices he made using the same rules that govern the twelve notes he had to work with. Community created through orchestras, and the composers who write music for them, is one of the most powerful expressions of the “magnificence” I write about.
The community of musicians is vast over space and time. It is driven by the love of encapsulating moments that can be communicated through human bodies in motion. I compose music for the people who will voyage to the stars. I like to think they will be listening to my music 300 years from now. They will know that I am in love with them, and that some version of God is encoded into our shared experience... Pinn notwithstanding.
[A] Is God a White Racist: A Preamble to Black Theology - William Jones
What part of “Climate change is a rapidly worsening existential threat to humanity. Global temperature could reach an irreversible tipping point in just 12 years that will ensure our planet is uninhabitable.” causes people to NOT immediately sacrifice EVERYTHING for their children (borders, economies, inefficient houses, carbon-based economies, eating cows, etc.)? Is it the word “rapidly”, “worsening”, “existential” (look it up), “threat”, “irreversible”, “tipping”, “ensure”, “uninhabitable”... just what is the problem? What is more important than ensuring our planet can sustain us?
My latest work for Chamber Orchestra will be premiered by the Ukiah Symphony Orchestra on March 24, 2019 from 2:00-4:00 pm at the First Presbyterian Church of Ukiah, 514 W. Church Street, Ukiah CA 95482.
This 20-minute piece, entitled "Rose's Paintings", is a four movement work inspired by the paintings of Rose Xylona Ayala. You can go to my youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAc4H-TDlUq2u7o606T6KnQ?view_as=subscriber to listen to the pieces. Just look for videos titled "Comets" "Stairway to Heaven", "Room With a Door", and "Rose".
Please make plans to attend this fundraiser for the symphony. Other local composers to be featured are Jeff Ives, Joseph Nemeth, and Bill Taylor.
DONATION - $30
SENIORS - $25
Click the poster below for details
This represents a critical point in the story of humanity... a morality play writ large. When faced with the mother of existential crises, human nature reveals itself. Some instinctively avert their eyes and drive full speed backwards off a cliff. Others see the threat clearly, take its measure, and true to the nobility inherent in humanity, rise to the challenge with bold, creative resolve. The Green New Deal is not a new initiative. It has needed new faces and new energy to propel it beyond the old, corrupt guard that would stand in its way.
Welcome to the State of the Union. Welcome to the new world. I know it is shocking to witness a Congress that intends to both lead and legislate. I know those shiny new, not all white faces, that now populate the House are a fundamental threat to the powerful elite represented by the Senate. I understand that their ideas about fairness, equality, compassion, eliminating poverty, caring for people with medical needs, engaging the rest of the world in an effort to avert our extinction, and education for all is more important to them than purchasing a few more new aircraft carriers or squadrons of half billion dollar airplanes. If you have a problem with this approach to government, then get over it or get used to it.
Here's the greatest shock of all, if you can bear to read it: this world belongs to the youth, who will inhabit it among the filth and chaos we older people have left it in. They will do what they can to fix our world, and they will die trying. They will call for radical change in every sector of our human activity because radical change is what is necessary for their survival. That means a world government will be formed, the needs of our planet will supersede all other considerations, what we now think of as individualistic rights to consume and plunder will be eliminated, spirituality will be expressed differently, religion will be radically altered, the immorality of the super rich owning more than they need will be corrected, wealth will be redistributed, and the quality of life will not be measured in GDP.
It you have a problem with this view of the world to come, then you will suffer in the future. Your SUV will be crushed, along with your ego. If you are okay with this future, vote it into existence. Encourage the rebirth of true democracy in America. Call it whatever you like... socialism, globalism, elimination of racism, elimination of capitalism... even the destruction of "isms". However you feel, it's on the way. There is not a damned thing you can do to stop it. Embrace the change or step off the planet.
Click on the picture to link to the Huffington Post article or click here.
This is a little something I apparently posted on Facebook on September 14, 2012. I completely forgot about it until this morning, when it showed up on a "Memories" posting. It is interesting.
I had a dream about an organization called the Anti-Antichrist World League (AAWL). Fifteen years ago a retired senior level CIA administrator named John Strawn wrote a paper called “Asymmetrical Leveraging: The Fall of Empires”. In the paper he advanced the theory that world governments are now simply hosts for powerful groups that advance their geopolitical aims by using religious extremists and ultra right conservatives as puppets. Strawn’s first axiom was simple: “money equals power”. The Master Groups realized long ago that money is the only real power in this globally connected world, and that they could control world governments by influencing the actions of their puppets. Because governments are not responsible for the puppets (and many times don’t know they exist) they are powerless to stop them. Strawn’s second axiom was: “To find out who gains... follow the money”.
“Push the hot buttons of religious intolerance on one side and nationalism on the other (preferably at the same time), mix in a little indignation and voilà!, you’ve got the makings of an international crisis.”, Strawn wrote. He argued that crisis of the kind that destabilize a government is the goal of Master Groups. “When the dust settles, it is the Master Groups, with their ability to mobilize vast logistical and monetary resources, that swoop down to feast on the bones of the wrecked state.”, he wrote. Master Groups do not need to collect taxes, provide for public services, govern, or concern themselves with alleviating the human suffering they cause. They do not need to pay for large armies or fixed bases of operation. Their host countries must provide for all that. The Master Groups have learned to constantly enrich themselves by manufacturing cycles of violence, then servicing the needs of afflicted host countries.
The use of relatively few resources to effect changes in much larger geopolitical systems is the “asymmetrical” part. The “leveraging” occurs when factions inside a host nation (or region) are manipulated to attack other puppets outside the borders of their host country. Strawn argued that was an important component of successful asymmetrical leveraging. Attacking outside the host country borders forces two or more host countries into participation because they are forced to protect what they perceive as their national interests. Such threatened interests may be ideals, physical assets, or groups of people valued by the host countries.
Many intelligence operatives around the world seriously read John Strawn’s paper. Mid-level Intelligence administrators began to communicate with each other across agency divides. While no spy agency could penetrate the Master Groups by themselves, they could, by working together, begin to see the Master Groups general contours. They discovered that most of the Master Groups were inspired by an apocalyptic worldview. Both fundamentalist Islamic and Christian theologies are cynically exploited into an Antichrist, apocalyptic scenario that serves both; Moslem looking for Jihad against infidels and Christians earnestly wishing to hasten the return of Jesus Christ. While Master Groups do not possess religious beliefs, they nonetheless use religion the way starships in science fiction use antimatter. So, the AAWL is so named as a rejoinder to what it perceives as its greatest common foe.
The Master Groups are difficult to identify because they are often loose associations of powerful individuals operating in business and government. Sometimes they are corporations or entire industries. The AAWL is, thus limited in what it can do to combat the power of the Master Groups or their puppets. It mostly operates as an extra-channel resource for hapless governments. Even though many spy agencies worldwide can operate with some level of impunity, the Master Groups have no legal, ethical, moral, or financial restrictions.
I read the “Asymmetrical Leveraging: The Fall of Empires” paper and spent time carefully examining how Master Groups operate. Stay tuned!
About this blog.
This blog is a place where many of the confluences of my life can be shared. I am, at the core, a creative person. I approach everything from that basis... whether composing symphonies, playing the cello, being a serial entrepreneur, writing sermons and essays, flying airplanes, or creating software apps. I am deeply passionate about creativity, issues of social justice, and spiritual enrichment. These are fundamental to everything I do. Welcome to my journey!