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Ethiopian & Rastafari
by Aster Sellassie, Millennium Ed.
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Rasta Transpersonal Philosophy
The above texts are still not online, you can read drafts/notes to the chapters for the manuscript SELF: I-I, see SelfIntro and SelfGuide. This book project is to explore the Christian and philosophical background of the Rastafarian concept.
The paradox of creating your own identity and transsending it could be found in Oriental Thought as well (Buddhism, Taoism). Most producting postmodern writers (Deleuze, Foucault, Virilio) develop new self-understanding in the same direction.
There are two related books-in-progress might be of interest -- Post-American and Theology of Technology (see directory).
A SKETCH OF RASTAFARI HISTORY -- Norman Hugh Redington, Editor, The St. Pachomius Orthodox Library: The spread of Orthodox Christianity in the New World has occurred mainly as a result of immigration from Eastern Europe. There are two regions, however, where this is not the case: Alaska and the Caribbean. The story of the conversion of the Aleut, Tlingit, and Yupik nations in Alaska has often been told; by contrast, that of the yet more improbable emergence of Ethiopian churches in Jamaica is little known. My hope is that this little tract will inspire someone with greater knowledge to study the subject properly; if it also leads to a deeper respect and understanding between mainstream Christians and the often-maligned brethren in Jamaica, may the Lord be praised. N.Redington, 1995


{COMMENT FOR NON-ORTHODOX READERS: Orthodox theology distinguishes : several levels of divinity. Only the Uncreated is "God-in-essence"; humans : can become "divine by participation"; ikons are visible channels through : which divine energy enters the world. The question which divides the : "canonical" brethren from non-Orthodox groups is which of these : levels of divinity applies to Emperor Haile Selassie. The Orthodox : say he is divine by participation and ikonicity, and thus merits "douleia" : ("veneration"); the Tribes say he is divine in essence and merits "latreia" : or absolute worship.}


Shakespeare wrote that each of us goes through seven stages, but the story of this man is a history of his country. Maybe there were more, but those seven stages of one and his country were marked by the history. The man was the mind of this country, he was the emperor. First Life was before 1917, when Ras Tafari became a regent, the actual ruler of Ethiopia. The Second Life was ended with Tafari getting a new name -- Emperor Haile Sellassie. The Third was short, it ended with the Italian invasion in 1935 and he lost his empire, country and home. There were another short five years of exile, which seemed a long and endless. His Fourth Life was over in 1941 when he came back to Addis Ababa to govern and rule. The next, Fifth Life, was the longest, twenty years of peace for the country and a chance for H.I.M. to change the face of Ethiopia. In history books the coup of 1960 is just an episode, a few days of revolt in the middle of his long ruling. Nevertheless, many noticed the changed attitude which characterized his later years on the throne. He was waiting for the final act of history and his personal story and it came in 1974. The Six Life, which Haile Sellassie invested in Africa, came to its total end -- he became a prisoner. Yes, there was another life to live, one last year before he was murdered. The days of the Seventh Live is dark and unknown. He returned to a stage similar to his childhood where he began his journey to his destiny. Did he know that the travel is not over? Do we know that we have to live with the living after our death?

His After-Death-Life has many different profiles. For some he is a historical figure in the tales of the last century, to others he is lost past of Ethiopia, to many he is God. He is not a living man anymore, he is free from the dictate of daily living. Now he has all the time to reflect on his wrong and right. He welcomes your thoughts, that's why I wrote the book. His spirit is still wondering without peace. His country has no peace, Africa never rose as an equal in world family, there are too many lost souls in universe who do not know where to turn their eyes. There is two thousand years old story which comes to mind.

There was another man, whose real life began after his death. At the end, even after all the success he had, there were nobody next to him. He died alone and only his guard saw his last moment on earth. The story is well known for me talk much about it, I simple reconstruct the final hours of man called Jesus. In 1974 not Haile Sellassie died, but man Tafari. Maybe, Ras Tafari and Haile Sellassie didn't die at all. You see, when you have many lives, you have to be born many times -- and you die not once. After so many deaths, one more doesn't mean much. ...

Perhaps, you don't believe in Life After Death; well, it's matter of personal choice, we have this freedom of mind, but you are not in control of my mind. Your presence in somebody's heart is not your choice. You don't have to believe in existence after death in order to exist after you are gone. There is another reason for a triumph of materialism, not only its scientific success. To accept the notion of immortal soul complicates our living. We have enough problems to worry about. To think about my life beyond my mortal existence requires not only time but rearranging my daily schedule. We have been there before, the slow pace of pre-modern history looks like a price to pay for thoughts about the Beyond. There is another missing point in our speculations on our atheism -- we are obsessed with recording everything, if as we want to remember and be remembered forever. Why do we need faster processors and hard drives with more memory? Why do we have comcorders in every home -- was a Polaroid camera wasn't enough? Why do you want to leave a memory of yourself and spend hours and days building your Website? We think that it's all about vanity and visibility we need for success. Perhaps, the vanity could serve the needs of your soul in craving for eternity.

When I travel back in time, I admire the radicalism of the Christian idea. I return to my time and I don't understand why we can't have the same free spirit. What a sad picture -- any church. Why do they want to separate God from me? How different is Jesus from you or me? Oh, you never perform the miracles! I do not care for miracles. In fact, I'm tired of them. I have too many of them around, the ordinary science performs in plenitude. Maybe nobody recognize your as messiah, maybe you don't have the words to speak -- listen, my friend, was Jesus the same man before he met John the Baptist? What about his thirty three years of silence and obscurity? Don't look over your shoulder at the world full of monsters in human forms, not the animal in us, but the betrayed divine is responsible for our evils. What do you think happened to the best of angels? They are the devils.

Writing the book about H.I.M. helped me to think about the life which I will live after my death. That's why I wrote the book. I tried to find the words to perform my own simple miracle of resurrection. I want you to read it, regardless am I alive or not. What do you think takes place when you open the book? The miracle. The dead rise and enter the world of living, their souls come alive, their mind is open for you to see and their hearts have a beat as yours. Do you want more miracles?

"I believe that the Rastafarians have been greatly underestimated by the outside world, including, to some extent, many elements in the Orthodox community. The classical Rastas were sophisticated theological and philosophical thinkers, not cargo-cultists worshiping newspaper photos of an African despot. They had discovered many sophisticated theological concepts for themselves, and had retraced many of the Christological and other debates of the early Church. They brought a truly rich cultural and artistic legacy, including some of the twentieth century's most moving hymnography.

While Abuna Yesehaq, at least, certainly seems to recognize this, in practise Rastas often seem to be told by the church that they must become Ethiopians in order to become Orthodox. Many are willing to do this, so great is their thirst for Truth and so acute their sense of having lost their true African culture. More, however, are not--and in a way rightly so. The Church is the poorer to the extent it does not incorporate what is good about the Rasta experience and instead tiresomely emphasizes the "heresy of emperor-worship" and "herbal sorcery". What is forgotten is that the existence of the Rastafari movement is a miracle: a forgotten people and a lost culture bringing itself by "reasonings" to the very edge of Orthodoxy. Surely this is a supernatural event, and so the Orthodox Rastas see it. An anonymous nyabingi chant goes:

Michael going to bring them, bring them to the Orthodox Church.

No matter what they do, no matter what they say.

Gabriel going to bring them, bring them to the Orthodox Church.

Raphael going to bring them, Uriel going to bring them,

Sorial going to bring them, Raguel going to bring them,

Fanuel going to bring them, bring them to the Orthodox Church.
I will conclude with a song by Berhane Selassie (Bob Marley), written around the time he was converting to Orthodoxy from the Twelve Tribes and summing up the whole Orthodox Rasta "seen":

Old pirates, yes, they rob I

Sold I to the merchant ships,

Minutes after they took I

From the bottomless pit.

But my hand was made strong

By the hand of the Almighty.

We followed in this generation, triumphantly.

Won't you help to sing these songs of freedom?

Cause all I ever have: redemption songs,

These songs of freedom.
This was the last song on the last album Marley released before his death."
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More Chapters from the draft of "H.I.M." (His Imperial Majesty) will be posted later. Also, several articles on Rastafarian Movement and Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Subscribe to Sellassie List and stay informed.
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Ethiopianism: Origins, Past & Present of the Ethiopian Idea
Part One: Ethiopian Christian Tradition & Rastafarianism
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NEW: The House of Sellassie Statements : Third Millennium Bible, African Diaspora, Speeches and Addresses by HIM Haile Sellassie.

Sellassie WWW Family @1998-2005 The Imperial House of Sellassie HIM Cyber University webmaster Lion Ethiop Village
Bob Marley: Lyrical Genius Renowned poet Kwame Dawes analyzes in detail what Marley's lyrics and verses mean when matched against the climate of the time. Bob Marley shows us what it meant to be a black man in a world still struggling with integration. Order Books: Poll POD, vote!

Catch a Fire: The Life of Bob Marley

The definitive biography of Bob Marley, newly revised and expanded, with a comprehensive discography and bibliography. Over the past fifteen years Catch a Fire has sold hundreds of thousands of copies and has indisputedly established itself as the best book ever written about Bob Marley.
For this new revision, Timothy White presents new material on the powerful ongoing influence of reggae in Jamaican society. He reveals previously restricted documents about the C.I.A.'s monitoring of Marley's activities and recounts the ongoing legal battles around Marley's estate and legacy. There's up-to-date information about the music being made by the next generation of Marleys and a new comprehensive discography and bibliography. Legend - The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers (1984) If you are expecting just the videos for the tracks on Bob Marley's extremely successful greatest hits CD, you are going to be pleasantly surprised with this DVD. Legend is much more than a simple, video anthology. It is a historical telling of the music of Bob Marley presented in 23 videos, most of which are performances, and a 90-minute documentary. The documentary is a collage of images and video clips put to a running dialogue by Marley. Unless you are very familiar with the Jamaican dialect, it is recommended to watch this with the subtitles turned on. Interesting, but there are better documentaries out there (e.g., The Bob Marley Story: Caribbean Nights). It is the live performances, however, that make this DVD worth its weight in gold. Every person remotely interested in his music owes it to himself to witness Bob Marley perform on stage. Musically, Marley is as close to perfection as any artist can hope to achieve. But as a performer, he transcends beyond the secular pop star status to the mythic leader of a movement. Notable performances include eight tracks from the famous Live at the Rainbow recording (June 1977) and the early Wailer footage from The Old Grey Whistle Test recorded for the BBC in 1973 ("Stir It Up" and "Concrete Jungle"). They are simply hypnotic. The sound on the DVD, for the most part, is clear, crisp, and flawless ("Could You Be Loved" could have been touched up a little bit). A nice feature is the "playlist," allowing the viewer to play the videos in any order desired. All in all, a great package for a true legend. --Rob Bracco
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