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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historically fundamental for his time
This is a fundamental document about the religion that is behind Rastafarians and later on Reggae, the Ethiopian religion. It is also essential ro understand the context of Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). This religion is a religion of the 20th century that finds its origin among the blacks in Jamaica, then an important development field in...
Published 7 months ago by Jacques COULARDEAU

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars ???
I don't get this book, is this just made up nonsense? read your scripture and don't waste your time here i say.
Published 6 months ago by olly


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historically fundamental for his time, 1 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Holy Piby The Blackman's Bible (Paperback)
This is a fundamental document about the religion that is behind Rastafarians and later on Reggae, the Ethiopian religion. It is also essential ro understand the context of Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). This religion is a religion of the 20th century that finds its origin among the blacks in Jamaica, then an important development field in the USA, and of course later on in Ethiopia with the crowing of Haile Selassie I. It is important to see the model from which it comes and then the originalities developed in this new version of what is mainly the Old Testament.

It is founded on Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, more precisely on Ham and his sons. Ham did something disrespectful to Noah, his father, and Noah cursed Ham's youngest son for his father's fault.

Genesis 9.18 And the sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth; and Ham is the father of Canaan. 19 These are the three sons of Noah, and from them was the whole earth overspread. 20 And Noah began to be a husbandman, and he planted a vineyard. 21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brethren outside. 23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, and they saw not their father's nakedness. 24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. 25 And he said, "Cursed be Canaan! A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren." [Genesis 10: 6 And the sons of Ham: Cush and Mizraim, and Put and Canaan.] 26 And he said, "Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. 27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant."

This curse is taken as the invention of slavery and the curse is at once translated here in the color of the skin of Canaan's descendants and this element is in no way corroborated by the Bible itself. Apart from this Old Testament reference, the Bible is quite absent from this religion, except that Adam and Eve are stated as the father and mother of all humanity and to solve the racial problem, they are declared to be of "mixed complexion." God is a nice farseeing god who created his first man and his first woman as having a mixed complexion, but where are the models of the first complexion and of the second complexion? You cannot mix two things that do not pre-exist the mixing.

Then there is a couple of mentions of Jesus but he is clearly defined as follows:

Q8. Do the Athlyians believe in Jesus Christ?
A. As a true servant sent by God to seek and to save the lost house of Israel.

And we come to the second characteristic of this document: God is defined here as the God of the Ethiopians, of the descendants of Ham, of the blacks all over the world, of Africans. This religion is racially defined. Then the various important characters are the Shepherd, Athlyi, who has to be one of the three apostles of the twentieth century (in fact Robert Athlyi Rogers who seems to be operating in Newark, New Jersey and Springfield, Massachusetts, and is the recorded author of this document) along with the other two: Marcus Garvey from New York, New York and Robert Lincoln Postor from Detroit, Michigan. There is one more character, the noble woman Henrietta Vinton Davis, who cannot be an apostle since she is a woman. In this religion, it is quite clear women are either absent or just ancillary in their procreative capacity, even if declared noble.

When you have said that much, you have the logic of the document. It is a set of commandments and rules that are only directed at the blacks, Africans, the children of Ethiopia, and that tries to differentiate itself from the Christian Bible whose basic architecture it is copying. The Shepherd is there to lead the faithful to salvation. This salvation, has to come by the spreading of the blood of this shepherd, Athlyi, that separates the Athlyians or Athlicans from all others: the two other races (there are only three on earth and only blacks can be members of this religion), the whites and the yellows on one hand, and the blacks who are lost to their race by refusing to accept the true religion of the Shepherd Athlyi and the three apostles. The reference to Ham and Noah's curse is there to mean the blacks can only hope to get some kind of a salvation if they stick together and accept the rules of the new religion. In other words it is a totally fundamentalist religion, and since it is based on racial differences, it is racist in essence, though it sets the black "race" on top. It is clear that for me there is no human race or races. Man is a species and the variations within that species are purely secondary and do not determine races in any case. We may consider a Saint Bernard and a Great Dane are different, and they sure look different, but they are of the same species, which means they are genetically compatible and can procreate some kind of "mixed blood" of "mixed complexion" individual.

But the racial principle explains why the text is strongly opposed to any kind of sexual intermixing, though we do not know how Adam and Eve could be of mixed complexion if there was not any kind of mixing before. But God's reasons are profound and at times undecipherable. This principle of racial purity was very trendy in those days (the first third of the twentieth century) with one extreme fundamentalist in that line: H.G. Wells who advocated the elimination of all colored races, except the Jews (sic, sic, sic) because they accept to inter-marry. Hitler did not invent anything. Eugenics was part of the law in all Scandinavian countries from the beginning of the twentieth centuries and racially oriented forced sterilization was practiced In California up to 2004 or 2005. When I discovered that a week or two ago, I was "surprised" since I was under the impression that such forced sterilization were practiced by North Carolina up to the mid 1970s and that was the last instance of this breach of basic human rights - of women mind you, and let's be clear about that. To come back to this new religion, they endorsed the most radical eugenic vision at the time, though they did not want to eliminate the other two races, those who were not black, though they did not specify what they wanted to do with them. I am sure that the highly procreative policy they advocated for Ethiopians, meaning black, women is clearly a way to fill up the planet with the children of Ethiopia, the descendants of Ham.

A small difference with the Bible is that this document carries twelve commandments instead of ten. In fact the number is a trinket. What is more important is that nine of them are positive, they are do's, and only three are negative, they are don't's. But that does not change much except that this religion asserts positive rules whereas the Biblical Mosaic commandments mostly assert negative rules, in fact ten negative rules and at the most two positive ones (which makes twelve by the way).

Exodus 20. 3 "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
4 "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them; for I, the LORD thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me,
6 and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments.
7 "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.
8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work;
10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God. In it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
12 "Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
13 "Thou shalt not kill.
14 "Thou shalt not commit adultery.
15 "Thou shalt not steal.
16 "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
17 "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's."

But negative and positives rules imply positive and negative rules behind. You do not need to be a Jesuit, or a Rastafarian bishop to understand that "Love ye one another" implies "You shall not hate your neighbor" or "Thou shalt love your neighbor as thyself" implies "Love your neighbor like yourself." It is true it is more pleasant to have positive rules than negative rules. But the rule in Auschwitz "Thou shalt not kill or incinerate an Aryan" is in no way better than "You can kill and incinerate any non-Aryan, especially Jewish Semites." I say there should be a real research on such rules in the line of what Claude Levi-Strauss and other anthropologists say: a negative rule proves what it forbids does exist, a positive rule proves what it allows does exist, but the absence of any rule proves nothing as for the existence or the non-existence of what it may have forbidden or allowed if it had existed in a way or another. To have positive rules or to have negative rules reveals a lot about the psyche of the people and about the ethics of a society. In this case it is a religion that is positive but only for those who are concerned, knowing that two out of three of what they state as "races" are excluded, including in that exclusion the members of the happy race, the black race, who do not want to follow this religion. Positive rules in a context of strict and vast exclusion do not sound that positive to me.

What's more interesting, and that will lead very far, is the various values they support and the kind of people they reject.

The values they support are clearly stated several times. They are six in number: love, righteousness, faith, patience, cleanness and constructiveness. Even if some like righteousness and constructiveness can be understood as fundamentalist in the religion itself (the church known as Gaathly is also called the Afro-Athlican Constructive Church), these qualities are specified in context and they are then clear: the religion supports the work and efforts of every individual to construct a future for himself and his race by being industrious and creative. These values and their context clearly state that heaven is not for after death but it is on this earth, in this life, just like hell by the way. And this is the most interesting characteristic of this religion. Heaven can be built by every one of us in everyday life for oneself and the people around us, just like hell can be constructed by every one of us for oneself and the people around us. That is the main characteristic of this new religion, and that is a fundamental characteristic of the descendants of black slaves in the USA. They look for a religion that gives them the comfort of a heaven-like life if they just behave in a certain way.

And Athlyi spake saying, "Life without pleasure within capacity is displeasing to God, but, in your amusements dance ye mild else ye offend the Master."
"The clean should not accept the invitations of the unclean to gossip with them for the Lord abideth in the clean in spirit."

How could there be pleasure within capacity under slavery? We have here a vision of social life after the end of slavery. This means that the blacks are supposed to practice pleasure and contentment within their surrounding conditions and that is heaven on earth. At the same time these amusements must remain mild and that clearly rejects the extreme forms of African religious heritage: Vodun/Voodoo or Obeah that mix Christian iconography to some white or black witchcraft and the targeting of some trance state where dancing can go beyond normalcy and reach out into the supernatural. This here religion condemns any kind of commerce with the dead, their ghosts and those in-between death and life, the famous zombies of Haitian tradition. And after these two positive commandments, you have a negative one that rejects commerce with the unclean. But who are the unclean?

"The fool slights the things in life and seeketh heaven after death.
"Verily, Verily I say unto you, he shall not find it. But the spirit of him that establishes a heaven on earth shall dwell in heaven everlasting.
"Unto him that is empty in love, faith, righteousness and industry there is no heaven."
"Heaven is a splendor. A source of peace and happiness where the spirit of God is visible in its appearance."
"He that passeth from this heaven is exalted into heaven eternal. Beyond strife and death, where pain and sorrows are unknown."
"Hell is a dark and shabby place; a den of thieves, murderers, gamblers, drunkards, liars, blasphemers, hypocrites, underminers, vooders, fortune tellers, begrudgers, raggedmen, yellers, backsliders, lazymen, deceivers, loafers, jormandizers, leppydoes, hoers, hoerlets, poverty, lice and diseases."
"Consequently the victims of the devil eat the fruit of the tree they have sown and therefore live in disgrace among men."

This passage is quite clear. Heaven cannot be found after death but is here on earth. Heaven is here on earth for those who possess love, faith, righteousness and industry and that gives those people peace and happiness, while heaven eternal is only reachable as a continuation of this heaven on earth. In the same way hell is on earth first of all for the long list of people who are making life hellish for themselves by being what they are: "thieves, murderers, gamblers, drunkards, liars, blasphemers, hypocrites, underminers, vooders, fortune tellers, begrudgers, raggedmen, yellers, backsliders, lazymen, deceivers, loafers, jormandizers, leppydoes, hoers, hoerlets, poverty, lice and diseases."

Some words are mysterious in meaning and some are misspelled, like "jormandizers" that should be "gormandizers." But the point is that hell is in the life these people have here on earth because they are eating the fruit they stole under the influence of the devil and that gives them a life of disgrace. The fruit from the tree of knowledge or of life is turned into a really poisonous fruit and more than the act of stealing it the danger is in what it contains and what it turns the eater into.

We can now conclude. This religion represents the post-slavery period when the blacks have recuperated some autonomy and freedom that enables them to control at least part of their lives, especially after the big exodus from the south during WWI when southern blacks massively moved to the north and north-east to work in the war industry factories while the white workers were fighting in Europe. This religion provides them with solace, hence some kind of happiness, by cultivating a certain behavior. This solace is amplified by the fact this religion is exclusively for black people and it states that in due time the other races, and first of all the whites will be expelled from their world and reduced to some kind of inferior position. This belief of a possible inversion of fate is what sustained the blacks for many decades during segregation and then still after that when all the basic civil and human rights had to be implemented one after the other by constant effort and pressure.

What the authors of this religion don't see is that the descendants of the slaves suffered, and for some of them still suffer, from a long-lasting disease that could not be overcome by a simple behavioral compensational solace from some religious belief in a black god who is going to straighten up the world. That's the context of Marcus Garvey's action who was speaking of action and struggle but within that religious and ideological context. The same way the class-against-class conception of "class struggle" is doomed to fail because the world cannot be reduced to the two mentally constructed bourgeoisie and working class, the race-against-race conception of "racial struggle" is doomed to fail because there is a deeper level of alienation that has to be alleviated first before individual people on each side of the mental divide between the mentally constructed races can realize the future is beyond that divide and that opposition, beyond the concept of race. The same way as the concept of "class struggle" in its old communist or anarchist definition is becoming obsolete when social hierarchies are all constructed today on levels of knowledge, knowhow and the power and control these give each socialized individual who is powerless anyway alone.

But this is an interesting document all the same to understand what happened in the USA in the 1920s and 1930s and how what was seen as a race-against-race fateful struggle became a cultural phenomenon called reggae and crossing all racial lines between anyone and all their neighbors. Racial purity is certainly not an objective in today's world when such a conception would lead to the accusation of racism. We must understand that in the 1920s and 1930s any one dealing with eugenics was basically racist and no one would ever have said anything against it. It was "natural" even though we do need two legs to walk, but in those days the two legs had to be of the same color and same gender. Still a long way to go in order to meet with modern times that aim at remembering, reconciling and recommitting ourselves to basic human values.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars ???, 6 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Holy Piby The Blackman's Bible (Paperback)
I don't get this book, is this just made up nonsense? read your scripture and don't waste your time here i say.
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The Holy Piby The Blackman's Bible
The Holy Piby The Blackman's Bible by Robert Athlyi Rogers (Paperback - 5 Sep 2010)
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