Monday, July 17, 2017

from the archives--of monks and ministers by marvin x

Of Monks and Ministers

The recent march of protesting monks through the streets of Myanmar (Burma) has demonstrated once again the spiritual power of activist clergy. We suggest that ministers in America take to the streets in a show of spiritual power to attack political and social problems such as the war in Iraq and war in the hoods of our inner cities. Perhaps long lines of preachers leading their flocks to the promise land of social justice will have a healing effect on this wretched nation that somehow thinks it can bring democracy to Iraq at gunpoint and not have gun play at home. Yes, we need to see our religious leaders in the streets tending to dissocialized youth and delusional politicians who believe in unprovoked wars for oil and white supremacy.

But sadly, America is not Myanmar and ministers don’t have the courage of monks these days, rather they sermonize about prosperity rather than corruption in high places, lest they offend pharaoh and suffer the fate of the Myanmar monks who have been shot, beaten and had their monasteries surrounded with troops and barbwire. 

No, except for a few, our ministers are content to build crystal cathedrals and  travel down safe roads to prosperity, meanwhile the monks show us that spirituality is not devoid of radical political consciousness and action to liberate the oppressed rather than advocate their followers drown themselves in filthy  materialism on their way to heaven.

Having had a personal relationship with ministers as diverse as the Nation of Islam’s Farrakhan and Rev. Cecil Williams of San Francisco’s Glide Church, we know social activism can be a reality with determined and principled spiritual leaders. But perhaps it is romantic to think the majority of American clergy will step out of their comfort zone, certainly not to the degree of a Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson, although these gentlemen often seem to be ambulance chasers, showing up at every accident for media performances.

Spirituality is an awesome power when utilized for the common good, but there are communities where the religious leaders are silent and seem to collaborate with sins such as gambling, prostitution and drug dealing, even murder, for as someone noted, often if the preachers didn’t condone such vices they would have no congregation since the children of church members provide their parents with money from criminal life that is given to churches in the form of tithes, thus many ministers are silent about drug dealing and the resultant violence and mayhem in their communities. They would not dare march in monk fashion to community dope spots to pray for wayward youth, or offer to save them by providing alternative economic solutions such as micro credit that is raising millions of people out of poverty around the world.

As my daughter in Houston, Texas, boarded the bus to march in Jena, Louisiana, she noted the organization skills and discipline of activist Muslims, but when she called around to Houston’s mega churches, she said they had no knowledge of buses leaving for Jena. And we recall that when a minister named Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., attended a national Baptist convention, he was called a hoodlum and thug. And pronouncements to the contrary, we sense he would be called a hoodlum and thug by many ministers today, yes, even while they profess to love Jesus, another hoodlum and thug of his day.

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