When I started this blog, I did so with so with some trepidation.
I've worked with Black folks pretty much every day since graduating from college (a Black university no less) and what I've learned is that we take religion pretty seriously. Not that we're all theologists. In fact, when it comes to belief in a higher being (and let's be real, we're talking about Jesus here), its more fear than purely intellectual pursuit. Fear of pissing Jesus off and fear of people who aren't afraid of pissing Jesus off.
I like to think I'm a smart guy and therefore keep company with smart people (not that I don't entertain dummies, in fact, its pretty easy if you have a paper clip and can whistle) and I've seen people with graduate degrees step away from me for fear that my casual atheism might bring down lightning -- cause, you know, Jesus shoots lightning from the bolts in his hands (I'm willing to bet there are some folks backing away from their computer screens after reading that).
Anyway, I say all that to say, Black people are scared of God in the same way I used to be afraid of my pet rabbit. Yes, it was cute and cuddly and I felt great that I had it in my life, but it also had really sharp teeth and had its own ideas as what to constituted "randomly biting the shit out of my finger."
Where am I going with this?
Still confused? You should be.
So, it was roughly 10 years ago and I was working at start up .com company. We were all young, working for shit money and high on the lure of becoming instant millionaires in the ever expanding universe we understood as the digital revolution.
There was this one guy I worked with, Stu (not his real name, like you give a shit) who was some sort of pseudo born-again Christian. I say pseudo because he was also responsible for hiring our first stripper intern. And that's not because he was acting all Jesus-like and mingling with the poor and shunned, it was because he was acting all Diddy-like and hanging out in strip clubs and recruiting "talent." QUICK ASIDE: The intern, who had an ass like a tomato and made the simple act of sitting in a chair obscene, claimed that she was NOT a stripper but a waitress at the strip club. Plausible, yes. But as one good friend said. If Arnold Schwarzenegger told you he worked at the gym but was only a cashier, would you believe him? Me neither.
Anywho, the high and mighty Stu observes me eating lunch one day and remarks -- no shit -- "you know real Christians don't eat grapes."
Now, first of all -- what the fuck!?! Gay marriage, sure. But grapes?
Honestly, I don't think I responded in words just a blank stare of incredulity.
"Yeah, the bible says Christians shouldn't eat grapes. I haven't eaten grapes for years now."
Normally, I would question such a dubious claim. I mean if someone says "You know Latinos fart gold dust," you'd think the very least you'd do is ask for a source. But I knew Stu was crazier than a shit-house rat, so I responded with my own piece of shocking information.
"Well," I quipped as I popped another juicy grape in my mouth, "it's a good thing I'm not a Christian."
BOO-YAH -- My first public admission of what, at the time, didn't really feel like a secret. More like a well-played "fuck you" card. Stu, like the others I've told, was shocked. In his head, there was no space for non-Christianized Black folks.
What I loved about the moment was not the admission, because honestly, it didn't feel like an admission, just a statement of fact. I loved that I pulled all the wind out of Stu's sails. He was looking to set me up, to prey upon my assumed Christian guilt and make me feel one step closer to hell -- which feels like a dick move, no? I mean, what if I was a Christian? What was his goal? Is this how Christians talk to each other?
Ironically, it was after this moment of clear PWN-attitude that I retreated into my heathen cave, like a scared turtle.
PS: Stu was not just talking shit. Right there in the bible, Numbers 6:2-3 it says: 'If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of separation to the LORD as a Nazirite, he must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not . . drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins.'"