#SummerReadingChallenge Book 1: The Immortal Birth

 

By Mr. Westbrooks

Immortal Birth2I had no prior knowledge of The Immortal Birth by Allah Jihad. I’ve never heard anyone mention it or suggest reading it during a lecture. I was just happening to be perusing the shelves of the Source of Knowledge bookstore in Newark, NJ when the book cover caught my eye. The Universal Flag of the Nation of Gods and Earths (NGE) was prominently situated in the center surrounded by symbols for the square and compass of Freemasonry, the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Shriners), the Christian cross, the Masonic grip, the Moorish Science Temple flag, the Moorish Science Temple Circle Seven, the Nation of Islam, and the Ansar Pure Sufi. Mdu ntr better known as Egyptian hieroglyphs filled up the backdrop. I deemed the placement of the hieroglyphs to be deliberate as I recognized that all of the groups and organizations represented on the cover are fragments of ancient Egyptian culture.

Mesmerized by the cover design, I picked up The Immortal Birth and flipped through the table of contents. I had no idea if this book would be worth reading, but the subject matter was of particular interest of mine, and I was sold on the positive reviews printed on the back cover. I took a chance and went against my philosophy of not judging a book by its cover and made the purchase. I’m glad I did.

In The Immortal Birth, author and NGE representative Allah Jihad takes his readers through five schools of thought related to Islam in Black America. Each chapter is dedicated to one group or organization. He starts off with Freemasonry by first delineating the differences between the speculative craft and the operative craft of Masonry. Along with historical points about its origins, Jihad ties everything together with an analysis of how Freemasonry relates to Black conscious organizations, which he further reveals in the proceeding chapters.

Again avoiding anticipated confusion, Jihad breaks down the differences between the ancient Moors and Noble Drew Ali’s Moorish Science Temple of America (MST). He offers a biography of the organization’s founder and a  history of the MST in chapter two and does the same for  Master Fard Muhammad and the Hon. Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam (NOI) in chapter three. These chapters become even more interesting as Jihad details his experiences as a member of both the MST and NOI chapters in Chicago. He reveals his disappointment with the lack of high science in the MST, even after gaining access to the esoteric knowledge contained within the Adept Chambers. This and the corruption and hypocrisy he witnessed within the NOI would ultimately lead to his departure from the two respective organizations. Although Jihad expresses an overall negative analysis of these groups, he makes it a point to remain respectful to the MST, NOI, its leadership, and members. And, at no point does he advise readers to join or not join any organizations, but he merely advises readers to do the knowledge before moving forward.

Although Jihad’s primary focus is on Islam, he provides a wholistic outlook on all of the groups, and he writes critically at length of Dr. Malachi Z. York and the Nuwabian Nation of Moors. Following the same pattern, he attempts to deliver an accurate biography of York (in the midst of speculations and disagreements over York’s birthplace) and the history of his movement through each of its name changes starting with the Ansaar Allah community and ending with Nuwabian Nation. He addresses the economics of the movement, the conditions of its members, the contradictions in York’s teachings, and York’s sex abuse allegations and pending court case. Jihad cites media reports, books written about York, and he conducts his own investigation by interviewing former members of the Ansaar Allah community including one of the mothers of Dr. York’s children.

Lastly, Jihad thoroughly builds on the NGE, describing the history of the Gods in New York and telling the story of its founder, Father Allah. Although Jihad is critical of NGE, he clearly sheds the Nation in a more positive light than the other organizations, which is understandable considering this is the way of life and path that chose him. He shares his experience, corrects misconceptions, and furthers his analysis and history of NGE by including the insights of other members via essays, newspaper articles, and interviews.

The final chapter dedicated to the NGE is also a 101 course of the Nation’s teachings from their core values to the meaning of the Supreme Mathematics and Supreme Alphabets. Despite my unfamiliarity with The Immortal Birth, the book seems to be widely read, especially amongst NGE members as denoted by the numerous feedback messages from its readers at the end of the book. But, make no mistake about it. Anyone who has the desire to heighten their consciousness levels will appreciate what Allah Jihad has to offer in TIB. 

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‘Joyful Noise,’ ‘Dark Horse,’ and the Truth About Paganism

by Nick Westbrooks

Christian rappers Flame and Lecrae in their video for "Joyful Noise"

Christian rappers Flame and Lecrae in their video for “Joyful Noise”

Katy Perry

Pop singer Katy Perry in her music video for “Dark Horse”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a lawsuit against Katy Perry’s song and music video “Dark Horse,” Christian rappers Flame and Lecrae claim that Perry used their song “Joyful Noise” without permission and has contaminated its message with pagan imagery, but as Christians do they know where their religious doctrines and practices come from? 

Upon reading about Christian Hip-Hop artists Flame and Lecrae suing pop star Katy Perry over a song they believed Perry “partly” stole from them, I thought I would respond to the situation for different reasons and from a different perspective from what most people would expect. Besides the fact that I haven’t written anything in a long time, I found this situation as a whole and the public’s response to it to be relevant to subjects I’ve been studying independently over the past year.

I watched the videos for both songs, Flame and Lecrae’s “Joyful Noise,” released in 2008 and Perry’s “Dark Horse,” released in September 2013, almost a year ago. The public has been asking, “Why are Flame and Lecrae filing this lawsuit so late?” “Why are Christian rappers suing anyone?” and “Do the songs actually sound alike?” I won’t be answering any of the aforementioned questions, and they’re of no concern to me. You can visit the comments section of YouTube and other websites and join the conversations there.

As a person of African descent, my primary concern lies not in the claim that Perry used the song without permission, but the claims by the Christian emcees that their song “has been irreparably tarnished by its association with witchcraft, paganism, black magic and Illuminati imagery evoked by the same music in ‘Dark Horse.'” (NY Times) My other concern has to deal with why Perry deemed it acceptable to incorporate ancient Kemetic (Egyptian) culture and symbols into her music video.

To address the claims made by the rappers, I’ll consult a book that I read around this time last year, written by one of the world’s leading scholars of ancient and contemporary history. In 1970, Dr. Yosef ben-Jochannan, simply and widely known as Dr. Ben, published his seminal and thought-provoking work African Origins of the Major “Western Religions.”  Dr. Ben uses the history, beliefs, and myths to argue that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam originated from ancient African spiritual systems and philosophies.

Namely, he focuses on the Voodooism of West Africa and the Mystery System and principles of the Nile Valley with African spirituality and influence reaching its zenith in Egypt. These spiritual structures among the many others were designed to “find the answer to the unknown factor responsible for life itself,” but have been relegated to paganism, voodooism, witchcraft, and black magic. As stated in the thesis of the book, Dr. Ben argues that the three major Western religions inherited many of the classical African spiritual rites and principles — from the laws, lessons and stories written in the religious texts, to the rituals performed during religious services. (For brevity, I’ll have to omit specific examples of the rituals and principles, but Dr. Ben discusses these in detail. The book is still available in print, or you can listen to Dr. Ben’s lectures on YouTube.) Ironically, many Jews, Christians, and Muslims criticize any spiritual or religious system outside of their religions as pagan. Certainly, the majority of the world is probably unaware of this research and analysis, and unfortunately most would most likely be close-minded and apprehensive towards considering and discussing Dr. Ben’s findings.

In a way, I can understand and agree with where Flame, Lecrae, and the producers included on the lawsuit are coming from. Yes, the dominant culture or the “powers that be,” which control mainstream media and supposedly the entire world have hijacked ancient Egyptian culture and have perverted it to the public as something negative and sinister. Scholars and conspiracy theorists writing and speaking on Freemasonry and the Illuminati have long postulated these views in articles, books, and videos. In this sense, the imagery in the “Dark Horse” video can be considered questionable. However, let’s be clear: Ancient Egypt in its original and purest context isn’t evil in and of itself. It’s reputation has been tainted by a certain group of people for the purpose of turning the public away from historical truths and reserving the facts of the benefit of an elite few. Don’t get me wrong, all societies, civilizations, and empires have their negative aspects, and in our teaching of history, we must tell the good, the bad and the ugly. Nevertheless, the Nile Valley’s contributions and ways of living outweigh the less desirable factors.

As a sidebar, people refer to the Illuminati as the secret society, the bloodline that allegedly controls the world, but the definition of Illuminati simply means “enlightened ones” according to Professor Griff who is accepted as an authority on this particular subject by the “conscious community.” Essentially, the ancient Egyptians who were masters of science, math, law, philosophy, architecture, astrology, etc. were the original Illuminati or Enlightened Ones, but not in the context of the “evil, devil-whorsippers” we know now. Prodigy  of Mobb Deep raps about this in the chorus of his song Skull and Bones.” 

Back to our regularly scheduled programming: If Flame and Lecrae want to go after Katy Perry for copyright infringement, then by all means go for it. If the rappers are to criticize Perry’s message and imagery in the “Dark Horse” video, they should demand that Perry leave the culture of their African ancestors alone and push Perry to stop her participation in the continued demonization of the culture. Lastly, they can tell her to end her contribution to the ongoing whitewashing of ancient Egyptian history as we see in the upcoming film The Gods of Egypt. 

Aside from entertainment news and conspiracy theories, the main point is that the moment when Christian artists or Christian anyone refers to Egyptian principles and culture as pagan is the moment when they characterize a considerable chunk of their own religion as pagan.

 

Back in February, several online outlets reported that 65,000 Muslims worldwide signed a petition against the “Dark Horse” video slamming it as “blasphemous.” The video depicted a pendant bearing the name “Allah” turning into sand. That’s another topic for another day, but I have to ask, where was the uproar from the “conscious community” about Katy Perry making a mockery of ancient Egypt and portraying herself as present-day Elizabeth Taylor?

 

Author Compares Jesus’ Crucifixion to Black Lynchings During Book Signing and Discussion at Howard University

By Nick Westbrooks

Panelists from Howard University sat down with Dr. James Cone on Nov. 11 at the Andrew Rankin Chapel to discuss and critique the author’s latest book The Cross and the Lynching Tree.

The panelists included Howard University professors Dr. Greg Carr of the Afro American Studies department, Dr. Ronald Hopson from the School of Divinity and Dr. Dana Williams of the English department as well as student Krystal Leaphart, the president of Howard’s NAACP chapter.

Cone discussed the premise of the book, which compares the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to the historical lynchings of African Americans in the United States and the ironic relationship between the two. For certain Whites, religion justified the lynchings of Blacks, and in the midst of the terrorism, Black people used their faith and the symbolism of the cross to endure those distressing times, Cone asserted.

“Whites used Christianity to lynch Blacks, and Blacks used it to survive,” Cone said.

Cone, a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, describes the odd relationship as “the great paradox,” and he said it is the source of his passion and inspiration for writing The Cross and the Lynching Tree. The author grew up in Arkansas, a southern state where lynchings were prevalent during the early and middle twentieth century. Although he was aware of the terrorist acts, further study peaked Cone’s curiosity.

“After examining history, I asked myself how Blacks survived and remained sane despite the terror,” Cone said. “Paradoxically, it was the cross.”

Cone further connected the crucifixion and lynchings to the present by likening Jesus to African Americans, the Roman government to the United States government and identifying the “Prison Industrial Complex” as a form of lynching. Dr. Carr identified the death penalty as the method of execution saying, “The lynching tree is today’s electric chair.”

Characterizing the cross as a symbol of judgment rather than affirmation for the oppressed, Dr. Hopson argued that Blacks should worship Christ instead of the object of His crucifixion, and he told Black Christians to “imagine a noose or electric chair at the front of the church instead of a cross.”

“My concern is that we have transformed the veneration of the victim to the veneration of the means of execution,” Hopson said. “It is really time for us to loosen our grip on the veneration of the cross.”

Leaphart spoke from a student’s perspective addressing the need to close the “intergenerational communication” gap between older African Americans and the youth. Although the Howard senior said she’s well read, she admitted a lack of knowledge concerning the Black experience as it relates to theology.

“I think the intergenerational gap was caused by us [youth] and our parents, because they didn’t tell us the stories, and we didn’t ask them to tell us, so we aren’t sure of how to move forward,” she said.

Dr. Williams praised Cone for making people aware of “the great paradox” and providing readers and scholars a space to discuss and critique his thoughts and findings. She also credited the author with positing the Black experience as a legitimate viewing of God and challenging the Black church to recognize its own Black experience.

The book signing and discussion was a part of the Black Presbyterians United and the Howard University School of Divinity’s “A Liberation Theology Weekend.” The programs included a discussion on “The Future of Black Theology” and a class on “The God of the Hip Hop Generation.”

The Holy Spirit is the Treasure Within You

By Nick Westbrooks

Interpreted by Rev. Dr. Earl D. Trent Jr.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us, we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. –2 Corinthians 4:7-10

It was an amazing testimony of the human spirit when Manteo Mitchell broke his left fibula while running his final 200 meters of the preliminary 4×400 meter relay. Most runners would have stopped once they felt the pop and limped off of the track. But determined by his teammates’ dependence, he fought through the pain and finished his leg, allowing Team USA to make the finals. They would eventually earn a silver medal in the event.

Mitchell’s human spirit was the force that helped him finish the race. As followers of Christ, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. It is the force that keeps us going day after ordinary day.

Take the apostle Paul, the author of the first and second books of Corinthians. Before changing his name and undergoing a life-changing experience, Paul was a Pharisee named Saul who used to persecute the same people he advocated for when he was writing to the church of Corinth.

After his life-changing experience, Paul became a missionary, building churches and spreading the word of Jesus Christ. Throughout his transformation and ministry, Paul faced challenges that he had to overcome through only the power of God inside of him.

Paul lets the church know that it was not him that overcame his obstacles. He puts this idea into perspective by comparing the physical body to frail and easily-broken jars of clay filled with a valuable treasure—the spirit and power of God (v7).

Paul’s analogy is a reminder for us today as we endure struggles and challenges daily. It is not us that gets us through tough times, but it is God’s power within us that is the driving force. We are mere frail, vulnerable and easily-broken jars of clay. But in our brokeness, the Holy Spirit inside of us provides the power to finish our race.