From the Editor

Jesse Jackson ought not call himself Reverend

By Charles Michael Byrd
C. Byrd
(Photo by Lynn Goldsmith)

Scriptural injunctions dating back to antiquity teach that for one to be truly serious about achieving spiritual enlightenment, to be truly serious about becoming a God-conscious initiate, one needs to avoid the following four sinful activities:

  • 1-) Eating meat, fish or eggs:
    The mahatmas or great souls maintain that these foods are saturated with the modes of passion and ignorance and therefore cannot be offered to God. (Material nature consists of the three modes -- goodness, passion and ignorance. When the living entity comes in contact with nature, he becomes conditioned by these modes.) A person who eats these foods participates in a conspiracy of violence against helpless animals and thus stops his spiritual progress dead in its tracks.

  • 2-) Gambling:
    Gambling invariably puts one into anxiety and fuels greed, envy and anger.

  • 3-) The use of intoxicants:
    Drugs, alcohol and tobacco, as well as drinks or foods containing caffeine, cloud the mind, overstimulate the senses, and make it impossible to understand or follow the principles of devotional service to God.

  • 4-) Illicit sex:
    This is sex outside marriage or sex in marriage for any purpose other than procreation. Sex for pleasure compels one to identify with the body and takes one far from God-consciousness. The scriptures teach that sex is the most powerful force binding us to the material world. Anyone serious about advancing in God-consciousness should minimize sex or eliminate it entirely.

J.JacksonRight about now you're probably saying to yourself, "Damn, man, have you renounced all this good stuff -- especially sex?" The answer is no. Contrariwise, I am not someone publicly offering himself as an ordained minister, an initiated unalloyed devotee of God committed to showing others the path to righteousness. Jesse Jackson is.

With the accusation of yet another sexual affair penetrating the public consciousness, someone needs to just come out and say it: Jesse Jackson ought not call himself Reverend.

Regarding Prohibition #1, I know not whether Jackson has gone the vegetarian route, and this is surely a tough one to lick for anyone in a society of voracious meat eaters. Interestingly, many early Christians and chroniclers of Christian tradition supported vegetarianism. Like Jesus and the Biblical prophets, they taught, by their words and deeds, that mercy and compassion should extend to all creatures -- a definition far broader than that held by most Christians today.

Regarding Prohibition #2, I know not whether Jackson spends time at Atlantic City's crap tables or at Aqueduct's paramutual window, but he passionately promotes "wealth-building strategies for 'blacks' searching for financial freedom." Read: gambling with risky stock-market investments. Even the title of the book he and his congressman son co-wrote, "It's About the Money!: The Fourth Movement of the Freedom Symphony: How to Build Wealth, Get Access to Capital, and Achieve Your Financial Dreams," suggests that Jackson's real calling in life is that of financial not spiritual guru.

Regarding Prohibition #3, I know not whether Jackson liquors up regularly, irregularly or not at all, and, frankly, it's none of my business. It's public knowledge, however, that since 1998 his family has held exclusive rights to distribute Anheuser-Busch Inc. products in part of Chicago's North Side. I'm not sure that aiding and abetting the flow of alcohol into any community -- "black" or otherwise -- constitutes a priestly act in the mode of goodness.

Regarding Prohibition #4, we all know of Jackson's illicit romance with Karin Stanford and their baby daughter born out of wedlock.

Consider also that Jackson was never particularly interested in taking the three courses he lacked -- pastoral care, international relations and preaching -- to earn his degree at the Chicago Theological Seminary, after he left in 1966. He still hasn't taken the courses but recently received his master of divinity degree after faculty members merely examined his writings and gave him an oral examination on the theological underpinnings of the death penalty.

Conventional wisdom holds that Jackson feels immune from criticism due to his viewing himself as "President of Black America." Interestingly, the notion of a separate-but-equal "black" nation within the boundaries of the U.S. of A. hearkens back to the thoroughly Marxist "Black Nation Thesis," but that's subject matter for a future editorial.

Jesse Jackson has every right to continue being exactly what he is -- a shrewd and wealthy political operative for the civil rights industry and the Democratic Party. Jesse Jackson ought not, however, call himself Reverend.



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