Posted on March 21st, 2013 | Filed under Challenges, Community, Congregation, Interfaith, Intra-Faith, Leadership, Learning, News, Philosophy, Popular Culture, Social Issues, Theology, War
Tagged with Christianity, Death, fame, Fortune, genesis, Hate, Judah, Lion, love, Nemesis, Palin, Reincarnation, Snoop, Zion
Have you heard about Snoop Dogg becoming Snoop Lion?
Last year, Snoop Dogg announced his new persona starting with his own Reincarnation. He was no longer going to be the rabble-rousing gangster rapper, but a Rastafarian with a new message. Snoop Lion is here to spread the message of Love over Hate.
Yeah, it seems funny, doesn't it? What in the world is going on here? Snoop Dogg becoming a Rastafarian and totally changing his image? It's strange at first glance.
But if you want to understand, watch this video. It is the trailer to the film released in New York last week and coming out this week in a few more places. It explains his motivations. And I have to say... I'm with him.
I grew up with Snoop Doggy Dogg. He and I have been acquainted for a long time. Like the rest of you, I was introduced to Snoop through The Chronic. This was, and still is, one of my favorite albums ever made. But rightfully so, it's criticized for glorifying the gangster culture. It glorifies drugs, violence, and death--perhaps in ways that are unbecoming.
My younger self didn't care. I thought it was great. I still do! And so do a lot of others. It's a classic and Snoop Dogg is undoubtedly one of the most influential rappers of all time. So why the change?
Like he says, he needed a new path.
Sure, some are going to criticize him saying this is for attention or to reinvigorate a dying career. Maybe they're right. But what of it? Snoop Dogg is becoming Snoop Lion, with or without your approval.
His first single "LaLa" wasn't much I was in to. Earlier this year, though, he released "Here Comes the King". I found this song significantly better, and also extremely telling. If you listen to the lyrics you will hear some very interesting things. Here is the chorus:
We're at War with an Army of Haters
And When We Kill Them We Just Smoke Them Like Papers
Somebody Get Me My Crown, Cuz I'm Feeling it Now
You Might be a Lord... but Here Comes the King.
The bigger theme of the song is a call to Unity. Beyond all distinction of religion and faith, Snoop calls out to those listening, "so if you hear me come and join the Revolution."
Before we go on, let's dwell a little bit longer on Snoop's transformation. He said last year he is the reincarnation of Bob Marley. Interestingly, Marley died ten years after Snoop was born. How exactly can that work? Obviously it can't. Not in the way we think about reincarnation anyway.
The way Snoop is using the word "reincarnated" is to be born-again. It is a time in a person's life when they shed a shell of an old self and make way for a new self. Though Snoop is sure to acknowledge the fact he is still Snoop Dogg, he is also now Snoop Lion, the new reincarnated self.
This is a very interesting concept because it is basic to many of the world's religions. It is not that you literally die and come back to life in a new body, but that your being can become. It is granting change in process. Allotting a sense of novelty to what already exists. By no means appealing to cheap-tricks and gimmicks, this reincarnation is something of an awakening to the New in you. A power perhaps unknown but surely present within you.
Palingenesia (or Palingenesis) is the Greek term we use for this in Christianity. This concept is one which classifies a spiritual rebirth. The word itself is comprised of two more basic ideas you may already be familiar with. Palin, meaning "again", and Genesia, meaning "birth" or "beginning".
In ancient Athens there was a festival to celebrate the concept of genesia through the Cult of Nemesia (Nemesis). This festival was to 'avert the nemesis of the dead' in order that they could steer away the suffering or punishment of the living. The Cult of Nemesia was later associated with Fortuna in Imperial Rome. The all-powerful Nemesia-Fortuna was worshiped by the Freemen of Hadrian and was considered to have a dual-nature about her.
The goddess Nemesia, very basically, is the Spirit of Retribution against one's own arrogance before the gods. Because she had this dual-nature, being both fortune and retribution, the Cults would celebrate in her honor to make sure they did not face her fury and could indeed have the gifts of fortune bestowed upon them. In many cases, she was worshiped by generals and gladiators who would pray for strength in combat. But surely this was not all.
This dual-nature in Nemesia is something which seems to me symbolic of our human nature. We have this spirit of fortune but also this spirit of retribution within us. At least I do.
Another movie is opening more widely this weekend which has a similar theme: Spring Breakers. Have you heard about it? It's getting a lot of attention. It came out in NYC last weekend and I saw it last Friday. I'll be perfectly honest, it's my favorite movie of the year so far. Why? It looks like "trash for humpers," right?! Wrong.
I don't want to spoil it for you, but if any movie powerfully analyzes the so-called culture of death, it's this one. It stars four young girls (such as Disney Princesses Selena Gomez and Venessa Hudgens), alongside James Franco and Gucci Mane, in a fateful series of events leading them to question their identity, fidelity, and potential for good or evil. I highly suggest you see it without letting the advertising sway you one way or another. In my estimation, it's a lot more like Requiem for a Dream than it is like American Pie.
There's an interesting scene in the movie when Alien (James Franco) is talking about his self-perception growing up. He reflected on how some kids wanted to be doctors, or the President, or do this or that... but he didn't want any of those things. He reveled in being bad, and he says point-blank, "some people would say they want to do the right thing," and with a big smile finishes, "well... I wanted to do the wrong thing."
This struck a powerful chord in me. Like Nemesia-Fortuna, I have always felt this dual split in my own identity. Sometimes I do the right thing, but oftentimes I do the wrong thing. To be perfectly honest, I don't really feel bad about doing the "wrong" thing. In fact, I frequently think about how much I loved doing the wrong thing. Who is the judge of what's right and wrong, anyway? As far as I am concerned, they were just haters.
To most people I talk to, good and evil is black and white. They are really very sure what's right and what's wrong. Things like murder and theft are evil under all circumstances. But I've always had a hard time following this line of thought. I'm almost always occupying the Grey space. I can't help but see the good and evil in all things. And surely, this is not to say I'm right about this, just to say this is how I see it.
But when I heard about Snoop Dogg's reincarnation I couldn't help but feel it was quite similar to the way I think about my own life all of the time. Though I personally see an underlying consistency to my narrative, I'm frequently told by people who know this or that version of "me" how much I've changed over the years. Not always in a good or bad way, just that I'm frequently different than they remember me being. Does this happen to you? I bet for some of you it does. Though surely for some of you it doesn't.
My Mother and Sister made me a photo album when I turned 18 called "The Many Heads of Ted" to highlight the vast difference in appearance I had throughout my life until that point. It's now become something of a metaphor in my thinking of myself. About the many times I have reincarnated over the years. Being this and becoming that.
In 2003 I created two pseudonyms for myself. One I called a Cyborg, the other was a King. This was for various uses online--which are unimportant for this discussion--but this dichotomy is very relevant when I think about Nemesia-Fortuna. One was a created being, never born, never alive... literally, dead. The other was a champion of the good life and well-being. Neither was raised above the other, they were two characters of the same big idea. And I've always felt at various times in my life I am either one or the other, but ultimately I am always both.
Snoop's palingenesia is something you should be mindful of if you are unhappy on your path. You can always reinvent yourself. His latest single is called "No Guns Allowed". He says this is the most powerful song he has because it speaks to right now. He believes his message is to make guns uncool and to hopefully save one or two "crazy" people from doing something stupid. This, as you're probably realizing, is a far cry from the Snoop Dogg of the 90's who was in fact arrested for Murder.
I think, whether you agree or not, this is a noble pursuit. He is letting everyone know that no matter who you are, where you're from, or even what you did, as long as you Love over Hate. Perhaps you cannot relate because all your life you've been one thing and never the other. But if you can relate to Snoop and have been one thing only to become another, then his message should resonate. You should join us.
We live in a World where men like Anders Breivik, Jaimie Holmes, Adam Lanza, and whoever is coming next will murder, on mass, because they feel that's who they are and that's the path they are on. Their message is strong and it is violent. Perhaps you dismiss them as "crazy" (which I don't think Snoop meant) because you personally can't relate. You maybe can't understand that mindset because there's nothing in your life driving your narrative in that way. Surely, you can call them evil and then say we should regulate guns, but it really is not that simple. If you do not know what the darkness feels like, it would be best for you not to Lord it over others.
Regulating evil doesn't change the fact it is present. It's deeply rooted not only in these individuals, but it's present in the wider culture and the spirit of our time--really, in all time. Hate is something you can't just dismiss as something to be avoided. It can't be avoided. It's everywhere, all around us. Just like Love.
Snoop's song says it well, "We're at War with an Army of Haters." Do you understand what he means? He doesn't mean just sit back and hope for the best, he means spread that message of Peace and Love as far and wide as you possibly can. If you can even stop one person from reincarnating as Hate and turn them towards the path of Love you are doing your job. As simple as it may seem, Miley Cyrus' banner answers the call: "An Army of Lovers Cannot Lose".
Ultimately, I really appreciate what Snoop is doing. Being Snoop Dogg and becoming Snoop Lion, his reincarnation or palingenesia is paying mind to both the dead and the living. This isn't asking you to throw away your dark side, it's asking you to own it. To master it. He is playing both sides of the coin and in the end asking us to take up arms against Hate. But to do this, he asks we follow one simple rule: No Guns Allowed. We can win the fight by Love alone and it seems he believes that's true. I know I do. You have to look inside yourself. You have to take the higher path. Become the King or Queen that you are.
I know most of you are fighting the good fight. But in the off-chance you aren't, I hope you will appreciate what's going on here. It can't be stopped. "So if you hear me, come and join the R[evol]ution."