Extract from Year One: First Date

While they were waiting for their food to arrive, Suzanne took the opportunity to pose the question she had been waiting to ask him face to face:

“So tell me Charles, why don’t you go to church?”

“Well…”  Charles paused to think before responding;

“I was brought up in a strong African-centred home; my father was my greatest influence.  He made sure I learnt about all the black hero’s who had dedicated their lives to liberating black people from oppression, like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Kwame Nkruma, Olaudah Equiano and Nelson Mandela.  Having a strong black male figure in our home meant I didn’t have to look to a white man as my savior.”

“I don’t look to a white man as my savior either!” Suzanne butted in.

“Are you sure?  When you think of Jesus, what color is he?”

“I don’t see any color,” she responded flippantly.

Charles asked Suzanne to close her eyes, before saying the name ‘Jesus’.

“Now tell me, what do you see?”

Suzanne opened her eyes and stared at him blankly.

“Hey, I’m not saying I don’t believe in Jesus” Charles assured her; “It’s just that I have a problem with the white image they portray.”

“Does it really matter what color he was?” she asked.

“Of course it does, especially when you’re promoting a white savior to black people.”

“Why, what difference does it make if he was black or white?”

“Think about it; if all the people you’re supposed to admire and worship are white, you’ll eventually see all white people that way.  It’s not healthy for black people to look to a white man as our savior.  You have no idea of the damage this white Jesus image has done to us psychologically”

“How so?” Suzanne pressed the issue.

“Let me give you an example; if a white dude was to grow a beard, grow his hair shoulder length and say he’s the Messiah, black people would flock to him in the thousands.  But if a black man grew a beard and locks and said he was the Messiah, his own people would despise him and call him an imposter!”

“Yes but he obviously would be an imposter!”

“See what I mean?” Charles exasperated.

He looked for a way to bring an end to this topic;

“Suzanne, I believe God lives inside of me, that’s why I don’t feel I need to go to church to find him.  I serve God every day by serving my fellow human beings.  I see God in everything, every person I come into contact with, every animal, every plant, just being in nature brings me into communion with God.  I see God in you.

Suzanne blushed, but he didn’t notice.

“Really?”

“Of course…I used to go to church, but I grew out of it.  I hope that answers your question.”

“It does…to a point, but what about when you die?  Aren’t you afraid of going to hell?”

Charles laughed.

“See that’s the problem with religion; it’s fear-based.  Would you still be a Christian if you weren’t afraid of going to hell?”

Suzanne paused to think;

“Yes, I would. I’m a Christian because God loves me, and I love God.”

Charles put his hand over hers on the table and looking her straight in the eyes said “Well I love God too, so we both have something in common.”

Just then, the waitress returned with their food.  As she served, they sat smiling at each other from across the table.

When she left, Suzanne continued probing:

“Okay you don’t go to church, so how do you know you’re life is right with God?”

“Well, I do my best to live by the Laws God set out when He created the heavens and the earth; Universal Laws.  I reckon if everybody lived by these Laws, the world would be in peace and harmony.”

“What are ‘Universal Laws’?” she asked inquisitively. She’d never even heard of them before.

“Universal Laws are spiritual laws which apply to everybody – not just Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists or any one set of people.  When God created the universe, certain Laws were put in place to keep everything in order.  The universe isn’t ‘out there’ somewhere; we are in the universe, and therefore subject to its Laws.  Gravity is one of the ones most people understand.  They’re also called ‘Laws of Nature’.  When you know these Laws and live by them, you’ll be able to live the life you were put here to live; an abundant life.  If you look around at nature, abundance is everywhere.  The only time you see lack, is where man has interfered with what nature does naturally.”

“Hmmm…That’s really interesting; can you name some more of these Laws?” Suzanne’s thirst for knowledge grew.

“‘You Reap What You Sow’ is another one,” he replied;

“Scientifically they call it ‘Cause and Effect’; that means for every action you make, there must be a reaction.  Everything you do produces an outcome, or a harvest.  So if you do good deeds (or sow good seeds) you’ll reap a good harvest.  If you sow bad seeds, you’ll reap the results of your actions.”

Suzanne thought deeply about what he had just said before responding; “Wow, no wonder Jesus said to ‘love your neighbor as your Self’.  If everybody treated others as they would like to be treated, this world would be a better place!  Now I can see how these Laws would work if everybody was to put them into practice!”

She could also now see why Charles always seemed to be calculating his movements.

“Where can I learn more about these Laws?” she asked him.

“Just go online and do a search for ‘Universal Laws’ or something” he responded; “ – but don’t take everything you read as gospel, make sure you have at least two or three of the same answer before you take it as fact.”

Again, this reminded her of a scripture in the bible, where it said something like ‘in the mouth of two or three witnesses a matter would be established’.  She felt as if God was speaking to her through Charles; his words nourished her soul.

“I can lend you some books as well”, he added “You’re welcome to come over to my place sometime and pick a few if you like”

“I might just take you up on that!” she replied with a big smile.

Charles went on to explain that his father, who was Ghanaian, had made sure he was connected to his African ancestry.  His mother, who was from Barbados, brought him up to believe that he could achieve anything as long as he worked hard and got a good education.  She had often taken him and his two sisters to church with her, but religion had not played a key role in their household.  Charles shared an African proverb that his father used to say:

“THEY had the bible and WE had the land,

Now WE have the bible and THEY have the land!”

He told Suzanne that European missionaries arrived in Africa with thousands of bibles (and guns), and used religion to pacify the natives so that they would willingly hand over the wealth-creating resources of their land.  As a Christian, you’re not supposed to covet material things.  You’re supposed to live a meek, humble life on earth, and wait until you get to heaven to receive ‘riches untold’.  By tricking Africans into believing this, they were able to walk away laughing with their gold, diamonds, oil, and other natural resources.

He explained how the economies of the Dutch, Portugese, French, British and the United States of America were all built on the backs of enslaved Africans.  During the Transatlantic slave trade, Christianity was literally whipped into the slaves who didn’t accept it willingly.  Many died rather than give up their own spirituality.

He informed her that all West-Indians were in fact displaced Africans.  They had been stripped of their African names and given their slave master’s names (which many still have today).  They were stripped of their language, heritage, spirituality, culture, their very identity.  They weren’t people to the slave traders, they were ‘stock’ to be bought and sold, and were treated worse than animals.  Suzanne told Charles that she had seen the film ‘Roots’ but hadn’t identified with any of those people as being her ancestors.   Her mother had never talked about coming from Africa; she was a proud ‘West Indian’.  When she explained this to Charles, he asked her where exactly is ‘West India’?

They continued to discuss the concept of ‘God’, what it means to ‘have faith’, the bible, and why there were so many different religions.  Suzanne had a tendency to get on the defensive, especially as she had been indoctrinated to think a certain way, and anything outside of this belief created inner conflict for her.  But Charles had a way of diffusing her argumentative attitude whenever it arose.

Even though they were talking about church and God, they were both aware of the underlying current; they were inches away from each other across the table and the heat they both seemed to be generating was beginning to set sparks flying.

Charles was very wise and knowledgeable, and had standards, Suzanne thought.  He was a one-in-a-million kinda guy; good-looking, well-mannered, well-spoken, loving, spiritual, respectful, intelligent, financially stable, and…Black!   What more could she ask for?

“HE MUST BE BORN AGAIN!”

She could already hear the voice of her Pastor booming from the pulpit.

If the brother hadn’t accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of his life, she would be ‘unequally yoked to an unbeliever’. But Charles was perfect, she argued within herself; she was sure they had met by some kind of Divine Order – he was everything she had hoped and prayed for, God’s best promise; Faith, Hope and Love all rolled into one.  There was only one problem…he wasn’t a Christian.  Did it matter?  Her conscience wouldn’t allow her to say ‘no’. ‘If we’re going to carry on this relationship’ she thought, ‘he has to get saved, and we’re going to have to get married.

After their meal, Charles took her for a drive; they ended up on the Embankment where he showed her an original Sphinx which had been brought over from Egypt. It had been given to the British by the Head of State of ‘Egypt’ in the 1800’s.  He informed her that the original name for the Sphinx was Haram’Aket, and the correct name for Egypt was ‘Ancient Kemet’ which meant ‘Land of the Blacks’.   Suzanne was intrigued, and asked Charles if he knew what the significance was of the animal body and human head? Charles explained that it symbolized the ability to rise above the lower animal nature. They took photos of each other with the silhouetted Haram’Aket in the background.

As they crossed the bridge, he put a protective arm around her shoulder and asked “Will you go out with me?”

“We are out!” Suzanne joked with him.

“You know what I mean”

“We’ll see…”

Suzanne would have loved to have said “Yes!” but she was still thinking about being ‘unequally yoked to an unbeliever’.

The evening went even better than they had both anticipated; they were comfortable in each other’s company, and felt as if they could talk to each other about anything.  Because they had spent the past two weeks building up their relationship over the phone, they already felt like they knew each other intimately.  They both had a good feeling about this.

It was getting late, and cold.  Charles offered to drop her home, although neither of them wanted the evening to end.  They had waited nearly two weeks to see each other again, and weren’t in a hurry to part company again.

Although Suzanne was a practicing Christian, her weakness was strong Black men.  It had been nearly two years since she’d had sex, but she knew she didn’t want to sleep with Charles, especially not on the first date.

As they pulled up outside her house, she invited him in for a cup of tea.

They spent the next few hours talking, drinking herbal tea and listening to music in the living room.  As they sat on the sofa, Suzanne was still trying to think of a way to get him to go to church with her.

“Don’t you think going to church and having a belief in something is good?” she asked him.

“If you’re a spiritual baby, then yes, you might need to go to church for guidance.  But there comes a time when you must grow up and stand on your own two feet, you can’t always be drinking milk.

I think religion in its purest form was good.  The ancient manuscripts that the bible was compiled from did show you how to get the best out of your life. But when these people got their hands on it, they saw it as an opportunity to enslave the minds of the masses.  So they decided what information the masses should know, and what they would keep to themselves.  Anything that would really empower us seems to have been omitted.  I still read my bible though, I find the stories fascinating – I just don’t take everything I read as gospel because I know it’s been tampered with”

“By who?”

“Have you never heard of the Council of Nicea?”

“The Council of Who?”

“Oh, don’t worry I’ll email you some information from my own research.”

With that, he pulled her close to him in a warm embrace, changing the subject.  He didn’t want to fall out with her over religion.  They continued to talk as they sat huddled on the sofa.

By 1.30am it became apparent than he didn’t want to leave, and she didn’t want him to go either.  But she was determined not to fall into temptation.  Still, he managed to convince her that they could just lie on the bed together and cuddle; they didn’t have to take their clothes off, they could just lie on the top of the bed – after all, they both had will-power, didn’t they?  So they moved to her bedroom.  Lying on top of the bed, they talked and talked into the early hours of the morning, until finally falling asleep in each other’s arms, fully clothed.

*******************

BUT WHAT HAPPENED THE FOLLOWING MORNING??

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