Black Churches: The Good, The Bad and The Unrighteous
Sometimes while at my computer I’ll pop in a CD from a praise and worship group that I recorded with in my early teens and relive the good times, way before I knew about pulpit politics, parking lot prophets, holy hypocrisy and the gospel of gossip.
Growing up I was forced to go to church, so I made the best of it by indulging in the music, which is a passion of mine. Eventually my skills made room for me and not only did I play the drums for the place of worship where I attended, I also turned it into an economic opportunity, playing at nearly four churches a week.
Some of the churches I played for were big and ornate with members who held public office and some were growing congregations with members of the working poor. A few of the churches were Baptist with a median age of 65, while others were non-denomination and aimed to engage a much younger audience.
But despite the differences in beliefs, bank statements and interpretations of the bible, all the black churches I encountered during my tenure as a resident musician were either severely disconnected from the political systems that surrounded it, traditionalist to the point of oppressive, devaluing women in the way their leadership structure was organized, obsessed with demonizing and degrading homosexuality or just way to deep and prophetic, speaking more words in tongues than English.
All of the above coupled with how each church, in their own super-religious way, just seemed to throw the whole “judge not yet ye be judged” thing out of the stained glass window, I decided my flip my sticks and drum roll right out the faith.
I don’t regret my choice… I much prefer a life of free-thinking than one where I feel like I’m told how to think and act. I enjoy meeting and engaging new people from various backgrounds, not clustering myself with those who only share my beliefs and values and denounces everyone else’s.
Do I hate the black church? No, I hate a particular type of black church. I hate the kind of black church where women are silent because they’re perceived as not worthy to speak from the pulpit, gays are evil, rap is crap, dance is of the devil and it’s either holiness or hell – which I believe promotes an unrealistic expectation of human existence.
I do, however, have a great deal of respect for many black faith leaders, some whom I’ve marched and talked with in Philadelphia. Though at this point in my life I’m too cynical to join a church, I love the type of black Christians who prefer to walk to the street instead of shouting in the pews. I admire the faith leaders who instead of always speaking in tongues from the sidelines, actually join the people in protest and speak truth to power. I reverence those places of worship in the black community who embrace people, all people, even those who aren’t black, and make them feel like they are loved, accepted and are contributing to the growth of something special.
I’m not impressed with fancy robes, big church hats, titles, large congregations, prophecies or shakes and quivers that’s triggered by the strike of the organ keys. What DOES impress me is when the love of Christ is exhibited by people who understand that the greatest commandment of all is love and the best way to be like Jesus Christ is to simply treat others the way you want to be treated and whenever given the opportunity to do good, do great.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™