Home Empowerment Where Do Black Men and Spirituality Meet?

Where Do Black Men and Spirituality Meet?



My mentor sent me this book the other day and asked me to read it. I knew why he wanted me to read it, or I thought I knew. I imagined that the book was an attempt to get me to grow closer to God. That’s what I thought. When I received the book, I put it at the top of my reading list and began reading right away. The book drew me in so fast; the story amazed me. I wanted to confirm what my hypothesis about why my mentor had chosen this book for me to read.

Before I go any further it is important that I let you know that if you ever come across a book called, The Shack, I would recommend you read it. I read a lot of books but this one took me to the depths of which many will never reach. It made me explore those parts of my soul, spirituality and identity in ways that only the hand of God has done before. This isn’t a book for Christians or believers, it’s a book for all walks of life.

I won’t spoil the plot of the story or the book for any of you. I would rather tell you a story. It’s a story about how I became the way I became and how I relate to this universe in my spirituality.

I grew up in the church. I had all the pieces that are needed to raise a child; I was deeply rooted in the church, I had a praying mother and I had a praying grandmother. I accepted the Lord into my life at a young age. I sat in Sunday School at the age of six learning about God, Jesus and the love that he had for me. It was after a lesson and I felt compelled. I’ve always been a very cerebral and logical person and even at a young age, I was intrigued by God. One day, the intrigue went away and I heard the voice of God saying, “This is real, this is me, I’m here.” I knew God was with me and he was with all those around me. I knew that without him nothing around me made sense. How could I be so loved when everything around me was not in order? My Sunday School teacher returned to the classroom to find me sitting in my seat saying that I wanted to know more about God and what his plan was for me. I just understood that not only was there a God, but that he loved us so much that he sent his Son to die for our sins on the cross.

I was baptized a few weeks later and became a faithful disciple of the word. As a child I would read everything I could get my hands on, literally everything. I found the stories to be powerful and insightful. I couldn’t get enough. I read scripture, I led prayer, I sang in the choir, I gave God my talents on the piano and let him guide me. Everything was going as planned until my freshman year of college. (I should say now that I should apologize to my mentor that he’ll likely read this and may have never heard this part of the story.) My freshman year of college, I lived on the multicultural living and learning community floor in my dorm. I met people from all walks of life, backgrounds and faiths. I always thought that by engaging in conversations with believers, whether Christian or other, it would help me build a better connection with God. Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way. While I was able to be a soldier for Jesus, I found myself questioning why I was learning all of this now. I was troubled and it affected my faith. Each Sunday I would attend church on campus, but I felt that somehow I had been done a disservice. I had been taught that anything that wasn’t through Christ to God would result in hell. I phoned my mother at this time and began to tell her what was going on with me and urged her to not tell a soul in my family.

Of course she didn’t. My grandmother began calling, my aunts began calling and I even received a letter from my Pastor. When I returned home, I met with my Pastor and I asked him why I hadn’t been taught about all the other religions of the world. He had few answers but to say that the Holy Spirit had touched me and wouldn’t touch everyone. He told me that through prayer, if it was in God’s plan for those who were non-believers to know, they would see the Light.

Despite all of that, I still didn’t feel right.

Continue reading on the next page.


Let’s pause for a moment because it’s key that we understand that most Black men at this point in time will stop. They will stop looking for answers, they will resolve that their relationship with God doesn’t make sense and they feel a disconnect. Growing up like many Black men, I observed that older Black men didn’t go to church. They believed in God but it wasn’t until they were late in age that they returned to the church. I put them in that category that Bill Cosby talks about when he said, “That’s an old person trying to get into heaven.” That wasn’t for me, it wouldn’t be adequate. The small child who climbed into his grandmother’s bed and asked, “Gruma, what you reading?” needed answers.

I only knew one thing and that was prayer. I prayed and I asked God a question that I didn’t think believers should ever ask. I asked God, “Why?”

In prayer, I found a deeper relationship building. I always thought that God was a close friend of mine. That we could talk about anything and I could truly be myself; so I asked all my questions.

What if someone was in a part of the world where there were no information about You or Your great love for us? Why is it us against them? How could a God who claims to love us all not be known by all? How can I be in love with a God who believes heaven and hell? Hell always bothered me because I didn’t believe in the concept that everlasting love could ever do that to a believer.

In prayer, I found answers. God showed me that I needed to know that most of religion was created by man, it wasn’t him. God showed me that he was truly in love with all. God showed me that he is a god of love and understanding. After many days of prayer, I didn’t tell anyone but I had grown so much and I knew what I believed.

I had visited my Shack. I had my moment when everything made sense for me.

I watched a commercial on the USA network and in it an Indian woman said, “I believe in all paths to God.” I don’t know why that commercial that I may have seen ten years ago has stayed with me so long, but it has. That’s exactly what I believe! That’s what resonates in me. I can’t believe in a God that doesn’t love Muslims, Jews or Buddhists. I could only believe in a God that examined the hearts of all and if they had love in their heart, they would be granted the gifts that God had for me. I loved the story of Jesus and I felt (much like a character in The Shack) that if someone didn’t know God and his love, I would rather them to go to Heaven before me. Surely if a person was a good person then they deserve to feel that love and I would sacrifice myself for them.

I decided that for me, meditation and deep thought worked better for my relationship with God. I would read my Bible, but I also felt drawn to read the texts of other faiths. I became a disciple of my spirituality, instead of a disciple of just one faith.

Every now and then, I return to those moments that would be best described as my Shack. Honestly I’ll admit I may not do it weekly, but I try.

What’s most important to note is that many Black men decide to stunt or stop their faith and spirituality, but I didn’t. My questions and my insecurity led me closer to God and my spirituality. I tell my friends and those I do not know that I don’t think it’s important that you affiliate with a particular denomination as long as you believe in selfless love. That you believe in the betterment of the Earth and this universe. Even if you don’t believe in a being such as God that you believe that while on Earth you must be a loving member to humanity.

That’s where The Shack took me. That’s what it reminded me to do. To take time to remind myself that I’m not idle in my faith, but my faith is growing. I’m reminded that it’s not up to me to judge, but to have an undying love for all. For me to give myself as a tool for inspiration and motivation, but as an active member of God’s plan. I often ask many Christians, “If there was no promise of eternal life, would you still believe in God?” It’s interesting to hear the responses. I know for myself that I wouldn’t change a thing, not one thing. Walking this path isn’t about the path of eternal life – it’s about understanding your connection with the universe. It’s about understanding that your soul is rooted in spirituality and not in religion. I believe that’s where many go wrong and I’ve chosen not to go wrong.


  1. This is a really beautiful post, and as someone who did not grow up Christian I find it very refreshing that your questioning led to a deeper relationship to your spirit and the interconnectedness in us all. Thank you for writing it.

  2. I read The Shack after a family tragedy and it helped mend my relationship with God. I cant really say i found the answer to "if God is so good- why is there so much evil?", but God gave me a sense of peace. His love is relentless and amazing. He healed me, put my broken life together and saves me everyday. Its really interesting to read about your faith, as a black man in our generation. God bless!

  3. I love this. I'm actually in the process of having the same exact experience. I applaud you for being brave enough to take that approach to Christianity because I'd expect the same reaction your mother, grandmother, and pastor gave you from my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather who are all ministers and pastors. It's also very refreshing to hear a Black man speak on spirituality.
    Great read!

  4. *adds The Shack to reading list* Whoa. The introspection and transparency you relate is challenging, yet comforting. I’ve found myself on the same journey from time to time, but mine always ends up back at the God of the Judeo-Christian faith. In the larger context, all the findings and revelations you acquired during your journey are how we’re to treat each other. Jesus himself said the greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” That is essentially the realization you’ve come to.

    God will continue to reveal things to you as long as you stay on the journey to finding Him. Just make sure you stay prepared for the trip.

  5. I'll have to check it out. I'm finally getting around to reading GK Chesterton's Orthodoxy, so I'll add The Shack to the reading list.

    My introspection and study always leads me back to Jesus Christ. Maybe it's because I'm an engineer and take a somewhat scientific modeling approach to religion, but to me Christianity as an explanatory and testable model explains the world better than any other religion or philosophy that I've encountered.

    Jesus not only said seek and you will find, but also said He is the Truth. While some churches want people to ignore other religions, I strongly encourage people to study alternate faiths. If He is the Truth, He'll lead you back, and with your faith being tested, you can actually have genuine faith, versus just saying you have it. But as Darrk Gable said, you have to "stay on the journey to finding Him."

  6. Dr. J: "I prayed and I asked God a question that I didn’t think believers should ever ask. I asked God, 'Why?'"

    A lot of churches teach this, but I never bought into it. If you can't ask an omniscient God why, who is a better person to ask? The Bible says if you don't know, ask God.

    Honestly, I think that is not only bad teaching, it's pernicious and has driven numerous people away from the church. People are struggling and have really tough questions, and often the church strays away from answering those questions. People ask about personal suffering, the church ducks and dodges the tough questions, then people (especially teens through 25 years old) are swayed by lazy reasoning on Family Guy and Youtube videos, and lose their faith.

  7. "It’s about understanding that your soul is rooted in spirituality and not in religion. I believe that’s where many go wrong and I’ve chosen not to go wrong." This is the smartest line I've read on this site since I've been following (i think). I applaud you for expressing this as more Black men could benefit from reading this kind of introspection written by another Black man.

    I grew up in a Nigerian house so Christianity was practiced but there were certainly other native beliefs that painted my christian experience growing up. Then, I took a class on European Imperialism and Colonization and became disgusted with the idea of Christianity for some time. But I grew out of the frustration after I experienced certain things and those things brought me to the same conclusion: Religion is one thing, faith and spirituality is another. I had allowed my anger to distance me from that which I've always known to be true: God is in me and my existence, my purpose is tied to a power that is greater than history and the mechanics of religion.

    great post, sir.

    1. I believe black men and spirituality meet depends on the struggle. Me personally have had times where I was mad at GOD because of the evil people that have came into my life where it pushed me so far away that I had hate in my heart. But luckily for me I've had a GODLY mother who helped humble my steps back to becoming a better person because I know everyone in this world isn't evil or have bad intentions its just circumstances that I had to learn from. So my view maybe completely different from someone who haven't had it as hard or someone who had it worse just depends.

  8. Sounds like a good book, I'll definitely have to read it. I'm actually taking a class right now that has been forcing me to explore these types of questions for myself. I'm at a Christian university where it is required to take classes on religion and Biblical literature. I scoffed at the idea at first but so far this is one of my favorite classes because it allows you to ask questions and explore ideas that you wouldn't get to in church. Good post Doc!

  9. Wow! This was on time….God is always on time. Last night while getting my weekly dose of "Ratchet Reporting" AKA Love & Hip Hop, I was intrigued by and enamored with Consequence's ongoing battle with his S.O. about everything religious. You've got to give it up for a disciplined black man that let his woman know where he stood from jump. His convictions are strong about not celebrating Christian holidays and he makes his point very well: “Rudolph don’t run my crib.” “My thing is about God, it’s not about Toys R Us having a sale until midnight.” I don't think I've ever met a man that was so focused on his religion and living a spiritual life, and I was proud of Cons. This article made me proud too! The Shack will be next on the reading list…right after I finish Manology (Rev Run & Tyrese) and The Power of Myth (Joseph Campbell & Bill Moyers). LOL


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