Other Vehicular Pathways of Prayer

By Bayo Akomolafe, a re-post from social media (August 9, 2021)

Growing up in an evangelical Christian community meant I was coached to think of prayer as a direct line to heaven – a telephone call I could make anytime I wanted. The problem was: God didn’t always pick up.

How does one make sense of that?

Competing theologies of prayer had different ways of making sense of divine rejection. God said no when we had not atoned for unconfessed sins, intoned one theory. Another theory presumed the pre-eminence of God’s Will, an intelligently composed plan so far-reaching in its consequences, so cosmic in its details, so wise in its objectives, that the only way an omniscient, omnibenevolent deity could ensure its completion was to lovingly reject our counter-proposals scripted in mortal and flawed ignorance. The clergy class therefore exhorted us to “pray in God’s will”: that is, to learn the details of this vast fabric of Being, and thread our petitions through the embroidery of this predetermined material. If the answer we sought wasn’t coming, we were to keep praying anyway (“delay is not denial”). The rumour that God worked in mysterious ways kept things fresh and exciting.

Continue reading “Other Vehicular Pathways of Prayer”

On Faith

From Bayo Akomolafe. Re-posted from social media (12/5/2020).

Yesterday, during an interview I quite enjoyed, the host asked me if I considered myself a man of faith. “Of course, I am a man of faith!” I responded. And then I proceeded to offer a reframed and embodied notion of faith that wasn’t necessarily tethered to bearded divinities and religious monocultures. What might faith look like if humans weren’t the unit of analysis? If it didn’t terminate at belief systems or cognitive leaps? A posthumanist faith?

Faith is the fidelity of entanglements. Faith exceeds the doctrines and the human-centric ways we – forced by the imperatives of institutions – have come to see them. It is how bodies come to meet other bodies, how bodies use or borrow other bodies and senses to respond to the creative challenges of a multidimensional reality that is never still – or how those bodies in excess of each other create new edges and experiment with new questions.

Continue reading “On Faith”

Other Fields to Open Up

By Bayo Akomolafe, re-posted from social media (October 10, 2020)

I come from the largest black nation on earth, Nigeria. You would suppose that having almost uniformly black skins means we live in a de-racialized territory of mutual wellbeing and abundance – like the fantastical world of Wakanda. You might think that such a country wouldn’t have problems with their police force, for instance. But racialization transcends our phenotypic fixations with, say, skin colour. Even within our corporeal homogeneity lies troubling cuts, lingering imperial legacies, haunted bodies, toxic institutions, and incarcerated imaginations. We are frozen in a colonial moment. We are not free.

Continue reading “Other Fields to Open Up”

One of the Active Ingredients in a Meal Served by Many Hands

BayoA timely message from our comrade Bayo Akomolafe.

I am very excited to share that my course, We Will Dance with Mountains: Let us Make Sanctuary, is now open for registration…

You can learn almost everything about the course by heading over to the course website now. Before you do, I thought I’d sit again with the nagging question (as I did when this year of shocking upheavals and seismic shifts began): “Why do a course now?” What is it for? What do you stand to gain?

In yet another curious instance of receiving answers long before their questions have been articulated, I heard the call to do this course when I spoke with an African American man late last year. He had written to me, wanting to speak. He felt he needed to share something with me. I honoured his invitation and got on a Zoom conference call with him. Continue reading “One of the Active Ingredients in a Meal Served by Many Hands”

Don’t Be So Careful

BayoBy Bayo Akomolafe (originally posted to social media on June 28, 2020)

Don’t be so careful. Don’t be so calculating about where you place your feet. Don’t be so logical. The beckoning horizons do not dip into a merciless abyss, from which nothing can be salvaged. You will not fall if you reach the abominable edges – where the ground stops abruptly; you will fly. Yes. There’s much more room than our fondest ideologies and contrived evidences could possibly apprehend. So, dance with the sensuous decadence that comes with knowing that you are larger than your containing spaces, that your most outrageous obsessions and drunken fantasies are just as inconsequential as the most popular fads and the most accurate heavens. And in the heat of your glorious performance, toss away those interrupting preoccupations with outcomes, with how you appear in the eyes of public scrutiny, or with how well you are doing – for you are not a crease in the fabric of things, you are the fabric of things…exploring the intense and forlorn beauty of a crease. Life is a dance, and dancing wasn’t invented for destinations.

Thoughts and Prayers

BayoFrom spiritual practitioner Bayo Akomolafe (Facebook, August 4, 2019). 

The phrase “thoughts and prayers” needs a new cosmology. The one it now operates in presumes ‘God’ is absolutely transcendent, heavenly, irretrievably cast away at an unbridgeable remove from our earthly goings-on. Brought down to our material earth, thoughts and prayers take on a new urgency. Thoughts become public things, the shared fabric through which my life becomes yours and yours mine; prayers become matters of accountability and justice. Thoughts and prayers should be ecological matters that enable us to meet ourselves, to share our tears and ask hard questions about our complicity in the suffering of others. Not Twitter templates that deepen our indifference and bypass our complacency, masking as piety.

The Ghosts America Has Kept At Bay

BayoAnother pressing social media post from Bayo Akomolafe (April 30, 2019).

An older gentleman in Iowa asked me:

As a non-American, what do you think is our greatest problem in America today?

I replied, “I’m not sure about it being the ‘greatest’, but I would say immigration.”

He nodded his head as if in agreement, so I drove the real point home: Continue reading “The Ghosts America Has Kept At Bay”

Sitting Together in the Darkness

BayoFrom Bayo Akomolafe of The Emergence Network:

This time, which some call the Anthropocene, disturbs the idea that we can summarily understand everything that is going on, or that such a venture is even desirable. We can study patterns and notice dynamics, but we can also exercise care and be humble about the reach of language and rhetoric – knowing that (as the Yoruba say) “wisdom is like a baobab tree; one cannot fully embrace it.” Continue reading “Sitting Together in the Darkness”

This is Why I Speak of “Postactivism”

BayoFrom Bayo Akomolafe, originally posted to social media on February 26, 2019:

A sticky myth of modern activism is that we are human observers looking out upon a world of troubling events from a distance that allows us to think up solutions to, or ask poignant questions about, those critical occurrences. Our popular equations of social change seemingly take for granted the constancy of human subjectivity and agency. We are pillars in the sandy storm: the world outside our skins may roar and thrash and turn, but we are the calm interruptions in the wind – and it is our impenetrable inner world and free-willed consciousness that will bring order to the chaos around us – if only we get our act together. What we do not see, however, is how fluid, incoherent and unstable we really are. For instance, with the problem of environmental degradation, we do not usually notice how we are co-produced in the leaching of dangerous toxins from aquatic bodies in plastic oceans, how these secretions not only penetrate our own bodies but modify them, and how these modifications imply that we are not pure referees of the situation. We are “in deep”, and we must account for the fact that how we even see the problem is part of the problem. Continue reading “This is Why I Speak of “Postactivism””