Thursday, May 24, 2007

Review: Beyond Religion, toward Religion by Marvin X

Beyond Religion toward Spirituality, Essays on Consciousness.
Marvin X/El Muhajir
Black Bird Press, Paradise Ca, 2007, 281 pages, $19.95
Review by Ayodele Nzinga

In his introduction to, Beyond Religion Toward Spirituality, the X man says: “How you begin is how you will end.” He goes on to describe a new relationship with himself and joy. Full circle, the boy from Fresno is a man of the world, master of the small story, in possession of his joy and a child like wisdom, simple, honest, and fresh.

The world according to Marvin X is in beautiful place to visit but it is also in serious need of a more spiritually imbued story of itself.

El Muhajir has been teaching us through the medium of poetry, drama, lecture, and essay for four decades; this offering signals his attention to his continuing personal evolution. One of his greatest strengths as a storyteller is he is never afraid to share what he has learned. In the pages of Beyond Religion Toward Spirituality Marvin celebrates the spiritual nature of man and the world in a series of moving non-fiction essays.
He speaks in an authoritative voice in what he calls the fourth quarter of a remarkable run. X is clear, concise, and straight razor sharp. His lyrical use of North American African vernacular remains as clear and as musical as his poetry and his undiminished power of observation touches all the nooks and crannies of his life and our own.

As usual Marvin’s view is a wide one that takes in his subject from a variety of vantage points. This volume is simple, yet thorough in its scope. Flowing from a seemingly endless well, Marvin’s eye moves like water from the intricacies of love, to the nurturing of youth, into the spiritual aspects of music, as his pen makes the leap from the personal to the universal.
In Beyond Religion Toward Spirituality Marvin has compiled an “All you ever need to know” compendium for anyone with a mind, heart and soul living on earth. These are the musings of a well-seasoned life traveler with stories that instruct and inspire. In the tradition of “I wish I could tell you the Truth”, essays, 2005, and “Something Proper,” autobiography, 1998, Marvin blesses us with the gift of his scholarship embodied in our lived reality. Here philosophy is given flesh we understand, for here is a philosopher of and from us, bold enough to tell us the truth, continually serving us something proper, and ready to move us beyond religion to an enlivened spirituality.

“Let it be said that we tried to expand our consciousness, to get high with the Most High (Ali). And if we only touched the hem of His garment, it is better than not having touched Him at all.” Marvin X/ El Muhajir, Beyond Religion Toward Spirituality, Essays on Consciousness.

This collection of “small stories” is another well-written chapter in the ongoing grand narrative of Marvin X, available from Black Bird Press, POB 1317, Paradise CA 95967 , $19.95.

Poet/actress Ayodele Nzinga is doing her PhD thesis on Marvin X and the Black Arts Movement. His archives were recently acquired by the University of California , Bancroft Library

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