They named a Kink & D/s sim for my Real Life religion – offensive?

RastaSim.png

Location of this pic:

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Rasta/116/99/22

Consider this analogy:

Says it is D/s inspired. If I got a sim and named it ‘Jew’ and made it a place for Southern Biker gang RP, would that be offensive? Yes. But would it be offensive enough to get pulled? Think on that.

I use that analogy because ‘Southern Biker Gang RP’ is not offensive by itself. D/s and Kink people are perfectly legitimate roleplays in Second Life. I don’t get them or agree with them, but I accept them and accept that people should have a space to self explore themes of importance to them as long as it is not hateful to others.

It is the mix I am trying to get across in that analogy… If you took a theme that is way out of step with a real world faith community, and named it after that community… isn’t that crossing a line?

Let alone that if you names a sim ‘Jew’ or ‘Muslim’ or ‘Catholic’ it would and should get heightened scrutiny…

How should I act over this. I know how I feel over it.

This is not what Rasta is about. In fact its pretty much in opposition to what Rasta is.

Now for contrast look at this sim:

RastasSim_001
Not only do I not mind this one, I kind of want to get a Linden Home here. Except it turns out this is just a park sim and the homes in the background there are all just across the sim border.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Rastas/96/38/41

Why the difference? This second place is neutral in tone. No reference to any theme in the sim itself. And as a park sim, a place that is named for a real world religious community cannot get ‘messed with’ by people with bad intent or lack of knowledge.

I could actually feel a sense of comfort if I won the Linden Home lottery and got a spot bordering there.

 

And yes I know that as I am a sometimes SL Nudist people will wonder why I am objecting to a sim with the above mixed themes. But again I’m not objecting to the themes – I’m objecting to them being placed within the specific context of a sim named for my religion.

PS: Comments from random bigots pointing out how they could ‘find anything to get offended about’ will be deleted for the bigoted spam that they are…

Changes over the years… Journeying through myself.

How has your look changed over the years? What does this mean for you, and what has driven the choices you’ve made in expressing yourself in Second Life?

For me this has all been about a journey through sensuality, spirituality, and self-identity.

I went looking, and found some of the first images I took of my avatar in Second Life. I’ve put one here next to an image I took over the weekend of my avatar on a new spot of land I’ve got:
2009to2016
I am actually still wearing one item in common in both of these… fangs. I’m probably the only neko that wears fangs, and one of the few that uses whiskers. And as far as I know… it is still the same pair of them after all these years. Just about everything else has changed though.

Originally I wanted dark skin for my avatar, like I now have. But in 2009 the shade you see on the left was the darkest tone I could find, as a newbie.

Self identity changes over time, and I find it very interesting to look back at the journey of self exploration.

I’m a very introspective person – I self analyze a lot. For me that is a big part of being alive. But its also something I’ve been tossed into by the nature of my existence as a multi-racial person born before that was common or acceptable in the USA. My parents where married the same year as the Loving v. Virginia case and my eldest sibling was born right after the decision in that case came down. There actually was a judicial action to prevent my parents from being together on the grounds of miscegenation (race mixing), and I very much owe my existence to the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr‘s civil right’s movement – which had changed the minds of the right people, including those who helped my parents overcome the challenge that was actually brought by my grandparents…

So thinking on who and what I am has been critical to my sense of self from the beginning.

As is known, I am not ‘African American’, yet my avatar is African. But there is a funny footnote to this because I recently found through DNA that I am in fact part African. Yet I grew up under the perception that I was an Asian / Amazon Indian / Caucasian / Cherokee mix. In place of Cherokee, I instead have a number of things from West and North Africa, and the Caucasian turned out to be different parts of Europe than family history had said. So one side of my family has a complete falsehood for every aspect of its ancestry.

Genealogical exploration is a pretty common thing for Americans to get into. We often find surprises. So that’s not the real trigger for me in being introspective. Rather being what Americans consider mixed-race has been the trigger.

I belong to no ethnic group.

When you don’t belong to any of them, all of their various members are very keen to point this out to you on many occasions in your life. It one thing to be the ‘other’ from that other tribe… but when you are the racial equivalent of a ‘stateless‘ person – you have no place to ‘escape back to’. There is no tribe standing around waiting to help me form an identity… I had to carve it out myself through some very rough experiences – some as recent as experiences I have had in some Second Life forum communities. No matter what I state as my ethnicity, I can be called out as a Rachel Dolezal – and I’ve been getting that accusation since I was 5 years old and my mother was trying to put me in Kindergarten… Every action, every thought, every preference gets judged by hostile mono-ethnic people seeking to hold on to their territory.

I am an eternal fake, and because of this I have to get very real.

Most people take for granted the vast bulk of their identity, cultural, belief system, even appearance. I have no such luxury. A person gets very introspective very fast in this situation.

So Second Life has been a blessing for me as a place where I can literally put on a skin, and explore an identity. Through that I learn so much about myself. I find where I stand on issues, how I can shape my sense of sense, and I can stake out an identity that people cannot take away from me and tell me I don’t have a right to because I’m not enough of their kind or another kind of blood for their liking.

And it has been a long and well worthwhile ride.

I didn’t come to Second Life to explore myself. I actually came here to get some goodies for the Poser 7 Launch event, and found out to my disappointment that the goodies were just goodies for a Second Life avatar. That is why my first attempt at Second Life only lasted 2 days in 2006.

One day in 2009 I was bored, and I was browsing or reading something that mentioned Second Life. So I wondered if it would load on my then computer. I looked through my files and found my old avatar’s name, guessed the password (or the forget password stuff, I don’t remember) and logged in. I spent a few days wandering around.

About_Day_3_in_SL.png

Close to day 3 of my return to SL. I got by, barely. I think its funny that I had a newbie prop on down below… Even back then I was keenly aware of how lacking the SL Avatar is.

The 2009 image above is actually my 2006 avatar and not Pussycat. Pussycat was born about 10 days later, because I very strongly didn’t like the avatar name I had.

On coming back in, I had randomly clicked something and found myself wearing a Neko avatar. It was a very crude free one – but it clicked right away.

I had found myself. Now I needed to name myself. I tried a dozen variations on neko, cat, pussy (erm…), kitty, catnip, calico, even koyangi (Korean for cat) and gato (yeah, gato made it into my mind but not as far as they keyboard because that is just way too manly), kittylicious (yeah… /fail) and yes, pussycat.

Somehow even though Pussycat was taken with a few other last names, it was not taken yet with ‘Catnap’… So off I went. I’m glad I ended up with this name… its very fitting for how my personality in SL wavers in different directions. Saying just parts of my name, or where you put the emphasis, can lead to very different meanings. Some people like to just call me ‘PC’ or ‘Cat’ because typing it all out makes them a little nervous I guess. Actually its a handy name for seeing how someone else is seeing you…

So I began in 2009 in SL looking for the sensual side of things. The image I used to start this blog was not the first one I took, the first one was a bit more… intense and unclothed. The 2016 image I used is unclothed, but is a normal pose.

Dancing_SexyNudeBeach

You can see the beginnings of some of my current style. There are my teeth, my eye color, and a lighter shade of red hair. And the face is actually not far off from the dials I use now. I used to love that little video game remote, and kept it on every outfit for a good year.

I spent a few months exploring that scene. I think a lot of people who come to SL have to go through that and they either stay with it or move on. I more or less moved on. But in the journey I also realized that I really like the idea of being clothes free, minus the weird politics of naturists.

I even tried exploring the adult erotic side of Second Life. But I quickly learned this was not me. In part due to encounters with S/m people. It took me some time to be able to relate to people from the S/m community because I am very militant about Equal Rights and even a roleplayed expression of submission or dominance bothers me. That has not changed, and will not change. What changed for me over time was learning that these people truly feel their relations are equal, so I accept them for themselves while recognizing that I am on a very different path.

However a major break for me on the erotic side of Second Life was just realizing I found these little cartoons engaged in ‘the act’ to be comedy, while others were trying to truly express themselves or have an experience in those moments. I felt it would be rude of me to be laughing while the others were feeling something more.

After a time I started to try and expand my perspective. I think finding the shop Bare Rose was key here – it was and is a Cosplay place, so there were all kinds of outfits in radically different styles, and they were cheap. At the time usually 150-250L for a full outfit. So each time I bought one, I could put it on, run around, and see if it felt like I’d found a new me. After I went premium most of my weekly money went to this shop throughout much of 2009.

Proportionstesting

Here you can see that even by July 15, 2009 I was already obsessed with fixing the bad proportions of the SL avatar.

I went premium about a month and a half back into SL. That really changes things. Premium is a commitment. Its not just renting a spot somewhere, once you’re premium you can see the bank statement, you’ve “subscribed” to this “free to play MMO” and there’s some land out there somewhere that you now have the privilege to buy, and once you… you’ve got to make sure you got your money’s worth out of it. So once you have your own land you end up spending a lot of time on it, and that time is often alone.

FirstSLHome_July21

I didn’t know at the time that it was my own trees there that caused this home to be super laggy at ground level. This was taken on July 21, 2009. Probably a few days into owning the place. I remember being so proud of my build, and that I had managed to find a rare roadside spot. Back then not much land was abandoned… The unpaved road is actually the bottom right corner of the top image – diagonally butting up against where I put plants.

Wandering through various Second Life clubs led me down the path of a spiritual awakening. Reading a random notecard left outside a Reggae Club got me curious. It was a card about Rastafarians, but it wasn’t very thorough. When you’re introspective the simple answers never work for you – so I went off to read more, and came back realizing I was always Rasta. Now Rasta is very much a leftist movement, not a liberal one. There is a marked difference that many people don’t understand. But it is also militantly non-violent, unlike your usual leftist movement – and that can lead many to mistake it for a liberal movement.

But I’m not exactly on the same page as the Rastafari in every aspect. I’m more fond of the sensual, and I take the Equal Rights and Justice angle to mean such for everyone. So as Apple Gabriel says, Give them Love.

Rasta is not a unified doctrine, unlike many organized religions. Each of us finds our path within that core concept of Equal Rights and Justice and the recognition of Yeshua Christ, Ras Tafari (Haile Selassie), and the holy land of Ethiopia – home of the oldest branch of Christianity, that predates the Catholics.

ExploringFurry

I didn’t start with cats for Furry. No, I made an alt just to get a furry look, and started with this.

After a journey through ‘am a furry’, I moved away from nudity. This was some time after finding Rasta, but before I was openly talking Rasta everywhere I went in Second Life.

Furry is interesting to me, in that I see the spiritual nature of an anthropomorphic self. A sort of ‘totem animal spirit’ if you will. In that regard I enjoy furry avatars a lot. But I’m not a part of furry culture at all. It baffles me, and I humor it. No opinions either negative or positive though.

Furries are very often gender ambiguous though (hermaphrodite avatars), and that is something I don’t relate well to at all. It is a common theme in Second Life, and I am accustomed to accepting it, but I don’t relate to it. I’m a leftist, but I’m not exactly a liberal.

PussycatCatnap_Egyptian

Now there’s a riot of themes.

I tried using Second Life to explore Rasta. I made a club, I wandered through events and other clubs, I made groups, and so on. Nothing really ever clicked here. There are a lot of people wandering around in SL with Rasta themes lightly in their look or venue – but they’re closer to what Rasta calls a Rentafari. A Rentafari is a male prostitute with dreadlocks who services white tourist women…

So yeah, that is an insult. What I found in SL was a bunch of people who equated Rasta with a black version of Cheech and Chong, for white people. Go to Reggae clubs, and they are usually run by white women, or Rentafari men.
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So I kinda pulled back a bit from Second Life as my journey through Rasta kicked off.

Some might see me as appropriating by having a black avatar, or even in that my religion is Rastafari. But you should look to a person’s intentions, words, and deeds before going down that path. Snoop Lion is a black man who has been rightfully called out as appropriating Black Culture, while Jah Sun is a white man who is very real in where he stands.

When I go down a path, I go deep. As an introspective person I can’t just grab the surface of something. The Rentafari experience will not do for me because I see it as fake and that spoils it. I may love running around as a naked avatar, but I also have a very deep sense of the spiritual – and using religion to sell sex rubs me wrong. Even if I at the same time embrace the sensual in the spiritual.

Its a bit like the difference between Leftist and Liberal (think Malcolm X vs. Martin Luther King Jr). You might not see it, but its there, and pretty concrete. The sensual and spiritual go together naturally, but to use one to sell the other is a perversion of both.

So when I came back around to being active with Second Life, I started toning myself down a bit. That’s more or less where my break with nudity first occurred. In part also driven by the virulent racism I encountered on the SLU forums. I decided to stop engaging in some circles, and to alter my image a bit.

MeditationBuild

That’s about when I started calling my supposed shop in SL ‘Zion Kitty’, as a way to announce that I was looking at things spiritually now.

Rastafari Building in SeconfLife
Not too long after I even put up a Rasta ‘Church’ build based on a temple in Ethiopia. Churches as a building / location is not a Rasta thing, and that is why I eventually took that place down. People should gather anywhere to be spiritual, and without leaders. Pastors, Rabbis, Imams, and Priests are all mankind’s method of stealing spirituality from one in order to give political power to another.
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That is something I’ve always known, and had to remind myself of.

Second Life has been a very useful tool for me in exploring identities, and in finding my spiritual self. It has also re-affirmed for me the notion that the spiritual is not in conflict with the sensual unless one is used to sell the other.
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And that is a bit of why I have returned to being openly nude in Second Life. I see nothing wrong with this and my spiritual side. And whereas I have a lifetime of people challenging me for my mere existence in my real life, in my SL I can stand up and say that and hold to it. It is me, it is how I genuinely intuit my reality.

Reggae_SpiritualandSensual

As I recently noted in my post about Nudity in Second Life:

For me, nudity, even public nudity, is a spiritual thing. I suspect that confuses a lot of people. We are born nude, we are created nude, we return to a natural state when this life ends.
. . .
For me, the nude form is a spiritual form. Yes it is also a sensual, in fact erotic form. And these are all by intent, by design. By Jah will. We are made to love each other, to strive for community, caring, and an appreciation of the beauty of life and the beauty within each other and ourselves.

And while that is not necessarily something I learned in Second Life, it is something I hold firm to. And it is something that Second Life is perfectly suited for letting me express.

Fake non-person with no ‘branded identity’ who belongs to none of your ethnicities that I am, I come here to get real.

This is a part of my journey.


So where are you headed?

 

 

 

About Rastafari – a notecard now available in SL

EDIT: The build mentioned below is long gone. But the card is now here:
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Bay%20City%20-%20Morton/33/115/26


I put together a notecard in Second Life on Rastafari, and have placed it into all of the many Rasta and Haile Selassie Posters I have there. It is available at this church here:
Rastafari church in second life
Ethiopian Rastafarian Church in Second Life
In the Lion of Judah sign above the entrance, and on a Selassie painting inside the door. Just click on either of them to get it. Or read below:


ORIGINS:

The Rastafari movement, or Rasta, is a spiritual movement that arose in the 1930s in Jamaica, out of the teachings and prophesy of Marcus Garvey.

Rastafari adherents revere Haile Selassie I, 225th in the line of King Solomon, King of Kings and Lion of Judah, Emperor of Ethiopia (ruled 1930–1974), as Yeshua incarnate, the Second Advent, or the reincarnation of Yeshua Christ.

Members of the Rastafari movement are known as Rastas, or Rastafari. The movement is sometimes referred to as “Rastafarianism”, but this term is considered derogatory and offensive by some Rastas, who, being highly critical of “isms” (which they see as a typical part of “Babylon culture”), dislike being labelled as an “ism” themselves.

The name Rastafari is taken from Ras Tafari, the pre-regnal title of Haile Selassie I, composed of Amharic Ras (literally “Head”, an Ethiopian title equivalent to Duke), and Haile Selassie’s pre-regnal given name, Tafari. Rastafari are generally distinguished for asserting the doctrine that Haile Selassie I, the former and final Emperor of Ethiopia, is another incarnation of the Christian God, called Jah. Most see Haile Selassie I as Jah or Jah Rastafari, who is the second coming of Yeshua Christ onto the earth, but to others he is simply Jah’s chosen king on earth.

Many elements of Rastafari reflect its origins in Jamaica, a country with a predominantly Christian culture where 98% of the people were the black African descendants of slaves.

TENETS:

In line with the teachings of the Kebra Negast, telling the story of the removal of the Ark of the covenant from Jerusalem to Ethiopia (where it still resides today) by the Ethiopian King Menelik I, son of King Solomon and Makeda (The Queen of Sheba); Rastas sometimes refer to themselves and Ethiopians as the true Israelites.

Rastafari rejects western society, called Babylon (from the metaphorical Babylon of the Christian New Testament), for its false prophets and materialistic deception, preferring to look back to the Bible to find the true teachings of Yeshua Christ.

Rastafari proclaims Africa (also “Zion”) as the original birthplace of mankind, and from the beginning of the movement the call to repatriation to Africa for the descendants of those slaves forced into exile in the West by the Atlantic slave trade has been a central theme. Rasta also embraces various Afrocentric and Pan-African social and political aspirations, such as the sociopolitical views and teachings of Jamaican publicist, organizer, and black nationalist Marcus Garvey (also often regarded as a prophet).

However Per Haile Selassie’s consistent lifelong message, Rastas are firm adherents to the proposition that in the eyes of Jah, all men and women deserve equal and just rights, treatment and respect. With both King Alpha and his Queen Omega as shining examples, Rasta bredren and sistren (collectively idren) seek to emulate kings and queens according mutual respect and dignity. It is this belief in equality among Rastas that allows race to be overlooked. Simply because one is white does not mean it can not be a Rasta. All people are equal, regardless of race, because all people are children of Jah. In upholding this, Rastas often refer to themselves as African royalty, using honorifics such as Prince or King, Princess or Empress, in order to give royalty to their names.

Rastafari is not a highly organized religion; it is a movement and an ideology. Many Rastas say that it is not a “religion” at all, but a “Way of Life”. Many Rastas do not claim any sect or denomination, and thus encourage one another to find faith and inspiration within themselves.

This view is more in line with first century Christianity and the Apostolic teachings – which strove against central leadership, had no priesthood nor pastors, and found the church as a body of equal people, all of whom had equal status to speak in gatherings, rather than a building or temple. In this way, Rastafari comes closer to original Christianity.

But some do identify strongly with one of the “mansions of Rastafari” — the three most prominent of these being the Nyahbinghi, the Bobo Ashanti and the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

Today, awareness of the Rastafari movement has spread throughout much of the world, largely through interest generated by reggae music, especially the major international success of Jamaican singer/songwriter Bob Marley (1945–1981). By 1997, there were, according to one estimate, around one million Rastafari faithful worldwide. In the 2001 Jamaican census, 24,020 individuals (less than 1 percent of the population) identified themselves as Rastafarians. Other sources have estimated that in the 2000s they formed “about 5 percent of the population” of Jamaica, or have conjectured that “there are perhaps as many as 100,000 Rastafarians in Jamaica”.

SYMBOLISM:

Rastas assert that their original African languages were stolen from them when they were taken into captivity as part of the slave trade, and that English is an imposed colonial language. Their remedy has been the creation of a modified vocabulary and dialect known as “Iyaric”, reflecting their desire to take language forward and to confront the society they call Babylon. To this effect, Rastas revere Patwas, the indigenous dialect of Jamaica, and have incorporated into it a number of terms of a spiritual and or protest nature.

The wearing of dreadlocks is very closely associated with the movement, though not universal among, nor exclusive to, its adherents. Rastas maintain that locks are supported by Leviticus 21:5 (“They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in the flesh.”) and the Nazirite vow in Numbers 6:5 (“All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.”).

The Rastafarian colors of green, gold and red (sometimes also including black) are very commonly sported on Rastafarian flag, badges, posters etc. The green, gold and red are the colors of the Ethiopian flag and show the loyalty Rastafari feel towards the Ethiopian state in the reign of King Selassie. The red, black and green were the colors used to represent Africa by the Marcus Garvey movement. Red is said to signify the blood of martyrs, green the vegetation and beauty of Ethiopia, and gold the wealth of Africa.

The Lion of Judah is an important symbol to Rastas, for several reasons. The lion appears on the Imperial Ethiopian flag, used in Haile Selassie I’s Ethiopia. In addition, the Ge’ez title Mo’a Anbesa Ze’imnegede Yihuda (“Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah”) has been applied to Ethiopian Emperors since time immemorial, traditionally beginning with Menelik I, said to be the son of king Solomon (c. 980 BC). The Lion of Judah is also mentioned in the Book of Revelation 5:5, in reference to the returned Messiah.

Rastafari make regular use of the colors, the Lion of Judah, and representations of Haile Selassie in their art and identifying imagery. The colors as well as images of hemp have often been appropriated by outside elements for commercial representations of reggae.

DIET:

Many Rastas eat limited types of meat in accordance with the dietary Laws of the Old Testament; they do not eat shellfish or pork. Others abstain from all meat and flesh whatsoever, asserting that to touch meat is to touch death, and is therefore a violation of the Nazirite vow. Many Rastafari maintain a vegan or vegetarian diet all of the time. Food approved for Rastafari is called ital.

Usage of drugs and alcohol is also highly condemned as unhealthy to the Rastafari way of life, partly because it is seen as a tool of Babylon to confuse people, and partly because placing something that is pickled and fermented within oneself is felt to be much like turning the body (the Temple) into a “cemetery”.

The Rastafari movement encompasses the spiritual use of cannabis (Revelation 22:2, Genesis 1:29, Psalms 104:14, Proverbs 15:17), the first plant to grow on King Solomon’s grave.

For Rastas, smoking cannabis, usually known as herb, weed, sinsemilla (Spanish for ‘without seeds’), or ganja (from the Sanskrit word ganjika, used in ancient India), is a spiritual act, often accompanied by Bible study; they consider it a sacrament that cleans the body and mind, heals the soul, exalts the consciousness, facilitates peacefulness, brings pleasure, and brings them closer to Jah. They often burn the herb when in need of insight from Jah.

According to many Rastas, the illegality of cannabis in many nations is evidence that persecution of Rastafari is a reality. They are not surprised that it is illegal, seeing it as a powerful substance that opens people’s minds to the truth — something the Babylon system, they reason, clearly does not want. They contrast it to alcohol and other drugs, which they feel destroy the mind. This said, it is not necessary to smoke the herb to be Rasta, though it is unusual not to. This blog’s author, Pussycat Catnap, does not use the herb for personal familial reasons.

MUSIC:

Music has long played an integral role in Rastafari, and the connection between the movement and various kinds of music has become well known, due to the international fame of reggae musicians such as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.

Nyabinghi chants are played at worship ceremonies called grounations, that include drumming, chanting and dancing, along with prayer and ritual smoking of cannabis. The name Nyabinghi comes from an East African movement from the 1850s to the 1950s that was led by people who militarily opposed European imperialism. This form of Nyabinghi was centered around Muhumusa, a healing woman from Uganda who organized resistance against German colonialists. In Jamaica, the concepts of Nyabinghi were appropriated for similar anti-colonial efforts, and it is often danced to invoke the power of Jah against an oppressor.

African music survived slavery because many slaveowners encouraged it as a method of keeping morale high. Afro-Caribbean music arose with the influx of influences from the native peoples of Jamaica, as well as the European slaveowners.

Another style of Rastafari music is called burru drumming, first played in the Parish of Clarendon, Jamaica, and then in West Kingston. Burru was later introduced to the burgeoning Rasta community in Kingston by a Jamaican musician named Count Ossie. He mentored many influential Jamaican ska, rock steady, and reggae musicians. Through his tutelage, they began combining New Orleans R&B, folk mento, jonkanoo, kumina, and revival zion into a unique sound. The burru style, which centers on three drums — the bass, the alto fundeh, and the repeater — would later be copied by hip hop DJs.

Reggae was born amidst poor blacks in Trenchtown, the main ghetto of Kingston, Jamaica, who listened to radio stations from the United States. Jamaican musicians, many of them Rastas, soon blended traditional Jamaican folk music and drumming with American R&B, and jazz into ska, that later developed into reggae under the influence of soul.

Reggae began to enter international consciousness in the early 1970s, and Rastafari mushroomed in popularity internationally, largely due to the fame of Bob Marley, who actively and devoutly preached Rastafari, incorporating Nyabinghi and Rastafarian chanting into his music, lyrics and album covers. Songs like “Rastaman Chant” led to the movement and reggae music being seen as closely intertwined in the consciousness of audiences across the world. Other famous reggae musicians with strong Rastafarian elements in their music include Peter Tosh, Freddie McGregor, Toots & the Maytals, Burning Spear, Black Uhuru, Prince Lincoln Thompson, Bunny Wailer, Prince Far I, Israel Vibration, The Congos, Adrian Nones, Cornell Campbell, Dennis Brown, Snoop Lion and hundreds more.

In the 21st century, Rastafari sentiments are spread through roots reggae and dancehall, subgroups of reggae music, with many of their most important proponents promoting the Rastafari religion, such as Capleton, Sizzla, Anthony B, Barrington Levy, Jah Mason, Pressure, Midnite, Natural Black, Luciano, Cocoa Tea, Jah Cure and Richie Spice. Several of these acts have gained mainstream success and frequently appear on the popular music charts. Most recently artists such as Damian Marley (son of Bob Marley), Alborosie and Million Stylez have blended hip-hop with reggae to re-energize classic Rastafari issues such as social injustice, revolution and the honor and responsibility of parenthood using contemporary musical style.

More reading:
Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey
Selected Speeches of Haile Selassie
The Rastafarians
The Abridged Kebra Negast, with stories of Jamaica added.
The Kebra Negast in full, translated into English
The Autobiography of Hailie Selassie, volume 1. or online

Rastafarian.net – the questions and answers on the first page are great

Why Jah? (why that word)

Today’s post is -NOT- about Second Life, but about how Rastafarians refer to the most high; Jah.

This is no scholarly article, just my insights. In fact this is pretty far from scholarly. :p

You will often see Western Christians make judgmental statements such as “there is only one God and his name is God, there is only one Christ and his name is Jesus.”

– As if English was the language of the Bible.

It wasn’t. “Jesus” didn’t grow up in Jersey, he came from Galilee.

Both of these words are translations. One of them is even a pagan word.

Yet I have lost count of the many times that I have heard people accuse Rastafarians and Jehovah’s Witnesses of not being followers of the faith because we (the both of us), use the words ‘Jah’ and ‘Yeshua’ rather than the modern western-Christian English words.

Look up the etymology of the word god. It refers to pagan germanic dieties. Think about that when you use that word.

So why Jah? Why do Rastafarians (and often Jehovah’s Witnesses as well) use the word Jah?

In short, its the Hebrew word – somewhat. The etymology entry is rather brief. Wikipedia will give you a bit more information.

The spelling started with a ‘Y’ instead of ‘J’ – with the Hebrew Bible using ‘J’ some 50 times. The Hebrew letter for ‘J’ being only about 500 years old. But that doesn’t mean that, lacking a letter for ‘J’, we can just toss in any old word…

‘J’ or ‘Y’, there is importance to this word. Its tradition, its in there in that book, and it pops up over and over again for a reason. We don’t call the Lord ‘Thor’ or ‘Zeus’, or ‘Mars’ for a -reason-. We probably shouldn’t be using the title of those guys either.


As to the other comment, ‘Jesus’ – this is an improper translation. It should be Yeshua. This is not as bad as the above example. The goal here was to say ‘Yeshua’, and in old enough versions of English, you would pronounce ‘Jesus’ somewhat closer to the ‘Yeh-Shu-Ah’ that it is supposed to sound like.

Wikipedia’s entry on Yeshua is not very illuminating.
– Just has a tiny note at the top and a link to a page that only refers to him by the English name save for in footnotes.

This is more insightful:
http://jesusisajew.org/YESHUA.php
(if that URL offends you because you don’t think he was actually from Israel but from Liverpool or Brooklyn or something… just read the article anyway please…)
Various Wikipedia articles on Jesus cover the name transliteration history. But they quickly then go back to the English word.

The name Jesus is a transliteration of the Greek transliteration, that over time has lost its proper pronunciation as the English language went through significant changes in the last 2000 years at the hands of illiterate people, who, on finding Bibles and learning to reading – had to guess based on the language they spoke at what their forebears had written.

Yeshua though, is a very specific word with a very particular meaning in Hebrew:
Salvation from the Lord.

While it was not a unique name, despite that meaning… perhaps its important that we pay some respect to Christ having been given that name rather than say “Frank” or “Bubba”.

Someone might have been trying to get a bit of a message across in using that name…

What do I know about Ethiopia (A curious IM)

Got an IM last night while offline, and I’ve decided to keep my response, with this blog seeming like the best place to do so:

[07:29] [*** ******]: (Saved Mon Jul 18 23:21:45 2011)i was going to ask you what you knew about ethopia.. but then i saw the christianity bit.. .. so.. ,, ummm.. nm
[07:29] [*** ******]: (Saved Mon Jul 18 23:23:45 2011)a friend was telling me about how every other house there either has a cross or a cresent

[07:31] Pussycat Catnap: The Ethiopian Orthodox church is the oldest Christian faith alive. Directly founded by one of Jesus’ apostles (Mark – who founded the church in Egypt?). It was ‘re-established’ in roughly 300AD when the Council of Nicea happened and ironed out what eventually became the Catholic doctrine. The Ethiopians were a part of that, but never joined with the romans.
[07:33] Pussycat Catnap: Ethiopia is also the only African country to not fall to Europe during the age of European Imperialism. Falling only for a few short years during WWII – it thus had an unbroken monarchy dating from King Solomon (referenced in the Bible) down to Haile Selassie (Ras Tafari – for whom the Rastafarians are named as they hold him as a holy figure.)
[07:39] Pussycat Catnap: The famine we all in the west heard about in the 1980s was actually triggered when a Soviet backed communist coup known as the DERG removed Emoperor Selassi from power. They of course mismanaged the country with a series of camps and harsh worker reforms, as well as war with Eritrea – resulting in the famine. Which was actually due to taking farmers off of their lands and putting them in camps.
[07:40] Pussycat Catnap: So that’s what I know about Ethiopia. That and… I buy my coffee beans raw from Ethiopia and roast them myself. 🙂

Now that I’ve got that, I’m going to fact check it over time and improve this. Yeah, it doesn’t directly touch on Second Life, but its relevant for me.

This was asked of me by someone who I think was visiting my Ethiopian / Rastafarian church in Blumfield (part of Shermerville). I suspect people either wonder about Ethiopia, or wonder who I am to have something related to it.

I’ve been ‘accused’ by southern-whites a few times in my life of ‘obviously being a communist’ because I was a social and economic liberal with part Chinese ancestry. And once in the Second Life community of being a ‘socialist’ because I liked Reggae by a very famous (but known to be mentally unstable) resident. It always gets me riled up – fools who don’t realize my family was driven out of China by the Communists. And we can add to that that a person I consider a holy inspiration having been taken out and had his country ruined by Communists.

Don’t ever accuse me of communism or socialism, unless you want to get me really sore at you.

No I’ve never been To Ethiopia myself. The church design was based on a photograph. I’ve read a lot about the place, and am currently reading three books on the subject. But I’ve not -yet- been to Africa. For me, it’d have to be part of a journey to the Holy Land. Someday I would like to visit both the parts of Israel/Palestine where Jesus lived, and whatever holy shrines in Ethiopia they would let a foreigner into.

Zion Kitty – starting a fashion label in SL

Lion of Judah shorts from Zion Kitty
This is really about two week old news, but here we go.

‘Catbox Curios’ as a brand for me is gone. I did this at about the same time as closing up Toadstool. But its not really a closure. I’ve shifted the name over to ‘Zion Kitty’ and re-purposed my core focus.

Locations:
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Charlesville/135/24/35 (A-rated land)
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Bay%20City%20-%20Truro/161/40/25 (G-rated land)
https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/40894 (Second Life Marketplace)

Well let be honest here, I’ve never had a core focus. Now I am starting to. I’m going to be making products that have a Roots, or Rastafarian and Christian theme to them. Yes, putting up an Ethiopian stylized church was not just a random whim for me. Its part of a new focus in Second Life. I want to amp up the spiritual side of things for me, and I want to start meeting a demand for the kinds of goods I myself have been trying to find.
Peace Reggae Shorts from Zion Kitty
This shift began almost a year ago when searching the Grid from some Reggae clothing. I came up short on anything I’d want.

Lots of references to drugs – some of it even anti-Rastafarian references labeled as ‘Rasta’ by people who have no idea what that means or stands for… People use the term to try and draw in the Reggae crowd, but use it for things forbidden to Rastas, like drugs, alcohol, slackness (foul language and conduct) and exploitative sexuality (Rastas are also vegetarian, but I’ve yet to find that mislabeled in SL).

Yes many if not most Rastas (self not included) use a certain ‘herb’ in reference to the words of God regarding Sinsemilla – but this is one thing, and is backed by a very strong disapproval of any other drug. Some devout Rastas will not even use caffeine or aspirin.

Other Reggae clothes referred to specific events – concert posters on t-shirts. Not so general.

So… I mulled over this for a year. Wanting Reggae clothing and not finding many suitable items. In that time I learned more and more about Rastafari and found it was very close to my own theology… morphing my search from Reggae to Rasta…

I knew the solution would only be to do it myself, but I dreaded certain aspects of making clothes in Second Life…
V-Strap blouse from Zion Kitty
Until now. I’ve decided to jump forward. The initial line is small, and not the most complex clothing in SL. But it suits my tastes, and I’m hoping a few others will enjoy it as well. Some of it has already begun to get some attention on Marketplace. Just enough to let me know I’m beginning down the right path.

I’ve also added some Rastafarian and Christian art to my inworld shop locations, which I plan to put on Marketplace in time.

Hope to get up to some 20 outfits soon, and then let it grow naturally from there as ideas hit me.

And yes, from time to time I will do some rather risque outfits, but I will avoid what I see as negative (dis-empowering) forms of sexuality.
Pasties Pack from Zion Kitty

Toadstool club taken down – Rasta / Christian Church built instead.

Yeah another club in SL that didn’t make it. But not for the usual reasons (or maybe this is the usual reason).

I liked having the place, and I love making builds in Second Life – but I’m not, at least at present, the sort to run events and host parties.

So when it was time to adjust my tier and move from my home sim, I put the lot Toadstool was on up for sale as well. I just don’t have it in me to be a hostess. The place got a decent number of visits for a place not being run by anyone – enough to convince me that there is demand in Second Life for the kind of reggae location I am interested in. Or maybe they were all ‘Dancehall’ fans and not roots fans who just teleported in and realized I was the wrong kind of music before leaving… 🙂

Nonetheless, its gone. I’ve instead recently put up a Rastafarian / Ethiopian Christian church:

And if you go there you can hear the same stream I was running at Toadstool.

For the last month I was wavering between taking the club down, or investing in an auto-DJ service to stream my own reggae collection of some 22 (according to my iPod) different Roots artists.

But Auto-DJs gets pricey once you go above 500mb’s of music, and I wanted to upload 8gbs…

A partial version of the build now sits above the road in Campion, and a good 4000m above that is a second copy – while I ponder what to do with it.

Maybe it will come back someday, maybe not. Right now I’m enjoying no longer feeling guilty exploring SL instead of hosting my club… 😉

Inside of the church mentioned above:

The Church is in Shermerville, in the sim of Blumfield

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