The Black Americas - An Institutional and Cultural Survey: opinion paper #2 - Essay Example

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A French clergyman, who is now famous for his political theories today, when asked what he had done during the French Revolution, calmly replied: “I survived”. For the most part of humanity, self-preservation seems to be an a priori principle for our existence in this world…
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A French clergyman, who is now famous for his political theories today, when asked what he had done during the French Revolution, calmly replied: “I survived”. For the most part of humanity, self-preservation seems to be an a priori principle for our existence in this world. Yet self-survival should not be limited to the biological dimension of man but to the very grain of his consciousness- his ideals, beliefs and values. For this reason, black slaves voluntarily converted to Christianity and transformed it into a distinctly African American faith that served their own spiritual interests.
The marks of the Christian Church are a good place to find the apparent realizations that the African American population desired. The first adjective that belongs to these marks is one. Unity is a primary value fostered in any community; in fact one of the most important things that people need in order to survive is each other. African natives surely recognized this driving force to become cohesive is but natural to their own kind and it is further amplified in times of oppression and hardship. The very view of ethnicity revolves around the concentration of unique norms and attitudes which bind people together and much later, unity through ethnicity will provide the political and social power that will force the American society to bring freedom to this specific minority.
The second mark of the Church is holy. The Church is established by Christ and since Christ is Holy, then so is the Church. The word ‘holy’ means to be set apart for a special purpose by and for God and the Church was founded to continue His redemptive work in this world. Perhaps the most obvious reason of African slaves’ inclination towards Christianity is their discontent with their plight as a community in bondage. Once slaves are initiated as part of the Church, the African will to live develops much more than mere subsistence through toil and work. Furthermore, this teaching distinguishes salvation from suffering in light of God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice for all men.
Closely related to the saving plan of Christ is the third mark of the Church which is catholic. Being catholic means being universal and open to all classes, genders and nationalities, nor is salvation restricted to a specific time, place, race and culture. This raises a lot of grounds for the notion of equality and builds the foundation for social and political integration through morality and justice. This encompassing affirmation of universality is vital in making Christianity flexible and not as hostile between the people and their deities. Lastly, this characteristic of the Church is crucial in explaining why Christianity is a very attractive religion to begin with.
What then is the relationship of self-preservation and the survival of ideals, beliefs and values? This is precisely why Gomez puts emphasis on the links between the African people to its African American progeny: The African way of self-preservation does not merely lay in saving themselves from bodily harm but rather a more long-term legacy for the African people in general, the survival of their race and culture. What they truly desired was the welfare of the generations that will come after them which can only be achieved in fighting for liberation and freedom today. Because of this, there also came about a true synthesis between religious and political views of the natives. One of the best examples is embodied by the central figure of slave Christianity, Moses the liberator and not Abraham the patriarchal slaveholder. Thus it was under the banner of liberation that Christianity propagated among the people. Nevertheless and in conclusion, if slaves Africanized existing religions and engaged in reinterpretation, it is because they had the best intentions for future generations in mind. Read More
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