Saturday, March 8, 2008

Bigger than religion?

Erykah Badu has said a lot of crazy shit over the years but on her "New Amerykah" album (which, by Badu standards is a C+. I submit "Mama's Gun" remains her masterpiece. Note to E: Don't string a bunch of overlong interludes together and call it an "album") there's a nice cut called "The Healer" in which Erykah proclaims "hip-hop is bigger than religion."

Now, as someone with tons of hip-hop and no religion, you might expect me to agree with this statement except that it makes no fucking sense. To illustrate, I have come up with three reasons why hip hop is NOT bigger than religion.

3. We will elect a president who doesn't have any hip-hop affiliation (in fact some might insist). We will NOT elect a president who doesn't have a religious affiliation.

2. Israel and Palestine would not be engaged in the holy clusterfuck they are in now if the dispute were over the birthplace of hip-hop. (Unless Shug Knight ran either country and then, yeah, there would be war -- and lots of people wearing red leather jumpsuits).

1. Nobody gets in trouble for taking the Lords of the Underground's name in vain. (Youngsters look 'em up. "#1 Chief Rocka" was the SHIT!)

I understand that Erykah's bigger point is that music, quite arguably OLDER than any organized religion, holds sway over EVERYONE and definitely has an affect. And that's not to say hip hop hasn't had an effect. I mean, without hip hop do you think Maury Povich would know the brother handshake/hug so well -- check him out when he greets the next potential "baby's father." He's got that shit down pat! Without hip hop, do you think it would be acceptable for journalists on CNN to talk about giving each other "props" (and not in an ironic "isn't this funny cause I'm white?" kind of way either)?

But in terms of sheer power to mold the social landscape of human history I submit that nothing competes with that old time religion and the fear of hell.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

HEATHENS!! They're . . . EVERYWHERE; sorta

Apparently, I'm not alone.

In all my travels, I have yet to meet someone else like me -- A Black American raised without any specific religious faith or practice. However, according to a new Pew report, 16% of Americans consider themselves "unaffiliated" with any faith. Were the Right Wing nuts actually right? Is the progressive secular "movement" really taking over this great, faith-based world of ours?

More importantly, how can my blog sustain any of its niche cool if there are 48,568,033 fellow heathens fucking up my property value?

And while getting company should bring me comfort, it oddly does not. Don't get me wrong, I do like company (even if my wife is a little "company shy"), but if there are 50 million people like me what does that say about "me?" What does that say about my specific outlook on life as a person raised with no faith?

Unwilling to let my individuality go without a fight, I did what very few people do -- I actually READ a Pew report.

What I found was very reaffirming.

So what does "unaffiliated" mean? Pew says "secular unaffiliated" is described as "those who say that religion is not important in their lives." Hmm, OK. The report goes on to, uh, report another subsect called the "religious unaffiliated," or "those who say that religion is either somewhat important or very important in their lives."

Huh? So unaffiliated is based upon how important religion is to you? I eat food everyday but if you were to ask me how important carbs are to me, I might be an unaffiliated eater. This Pew guy seems less than accurate.

Out of the 16% unaffiliated only 1.6% are TRULY unaffiliated a.k.a atheists. 2.4% are agnostic. So . . . .yeah, no big news here, at least not for me.

The media, even the usually level-headed Bill Maher, saw this report as ground-breaking but it only confirms what I know to be true. Even as people pick up, try on and put down various spiritual hats, they still feel compelled to wear them. Mostly due to the fact that they've been wearing hats since they were children. But what about those without any baby hat-wearing experience (OK, this analogy is getting out of hand)?

The MOST interesting, though least shocking stat, was that "black Americans are the most likely to report a formal religious affiliation. Even among those blacks who are unaffiliated, three-in-four belong to the 'religious unaffiliated' category."

As I said before, when it comes to Black America, I am a dying breed. And if my reluctance to pop my eldest daughter's "God" bubble persists, I may really be the last dragon after all. But as Yoda says, "there is another" -- my 3-year old who has yet to ask about death or draw pictures of her dear old dad taking a dirt nap.

Bless her heart.