The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, May 06, 2005

Spirit-- and Will Smith

Wow.  I love Will Smith's new album "Lost and Found."  Not only does it feature some great dance jams, but for the first time he seems to be taking a page from Eminem's book and actually dealing with the circumstances of his life, his real feelings, the only true source of art.  Not that I'm saying its art, but it  strikes me as a quantum jump ahead of what I've heard from this remarkable man in the past.
One of the tracks hits me especially hard, considering that we're wrapping up the chakras, dealing with issues of spirit.  That track, dealing with "an old friend" of his (who I strongly suspect was his ex-wife) who has become "a holy roller."  This lady, according to Smith, spent a lifetime screwing up and around, and now has found Jesus and screetches at the top of her lungs that anyone who doesn't act and believe as she does will attract the wrath of God.  The hook goes:

"Miss Holy Roller new Angel
Got your Bible out shoutin' and you're ringin' a bell
Mid-life Reborn!  Can't wait to tell
How if I don't believe what you believe, I'm goin' to hell."

The song is so dancable, so well done in a playfully-angry sense that it would be possible to miss the deadly serious intent, despite the fact that at one point Will drops the rhyme and speaks directly to his "friend" about her bigoted, fearful fundamentalism.  It's blistering, and I can't hear it often enough.  I hope it makes "Holy Roller" makes it to the radio, but I doubt it.
Because spirituality is so intensely personal, our individual ways of making peace with the inevitability of our mortality must be treated with kid gloves, respected.  This is one of the things about America I love--it's intent to preserve religious freedom.  That is something worth dying for.  I've often said that I would rather live in a country run by the Mafia than the Church.  At least the Godfather won't torture you to death and tell you its for your own good.  I strongly suggest that meditation and prayer are avenues to vast reservoirs of inner strength.  I also suggest that if you have genuinely made that journey, you will see God everywhere, and aspects of God in all religions, and develop a vastly deeper ability to understand the myriad ways human beings have attempted to approach this ultimate question.  Some of the most spiritual people I've known were atheists, strange as that may sound to some of you.  Me personally, I describe myself as a Zen Christian--in other words, any of the principles of Christ I can verify in the interactions of animals and natural forces, I believe.  The rest, for me, is just politics.  Spirituality is like a beautiful tree bearing delicious, nourishing fruit.  The creators of all of these spiritual systems saw the Divine and planted trees...but as soon as they died, their followers, not blessed with the same vision, cut the trees down and built lovely buildings.  Those buildings are shelters, certainly.  But they're not alive, and they don't bear fruit.  The individual buildings must be animated by the spirit of the ministers, Shaykhs, Rabbis, priests, priestesses, whatever.  You must be a discriminating consumer, especially in this most vital arena of your life.  And genuinely spiritual people are rarer than rappers who don't curse. 

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