Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Review: Chanting Down Babylon - The Rastafari Reader (Spencer, ed.)

This is the book on Rastafari for everyone who is misinformed about the movement. Especially Christians who have thus far only read Christian "exposé's" on Rastafari will benefit significantly from the information in Chanting Down Babylon.

William David Spencer is one of the few Christian writers I know with an objective view on Rastafari. His book "Dread Jesus" has become a must read for all those who are interested in Rastafari and Christianity. Simply because of the valuable interviews and analyses it contains.

Chanting Down Babylon is arguably even more relevant.

Where Spencer wrote his book Dread Jesus all by himself, in this one he is editor and contributor. Several writers from different backgrounds all contributed to what can surely be called a standard work on Rastafari.

For example: it contains original Rastafarian books. They have never been made available for a large audience before, in spite of their absolute essentiality. Chanting Down Babylon will introduce the reader to these writings, such as "The Promised Key". And with that, of course, provides the reader with some of the meditations that gave birth to this movement.

But it goes beyond that.

As said, there are several contributors to this work. The variety of their perspectives guarantees an objective picture for the reader, who is introduced to a dynamic culture.

The book explains why, in the words of Rasta group Culture, "Babylon can't study the Rastaman". Indeed, Babylon will never be able to overstand. But there is simply too much sense in Chanting Down Babylon for all others to be ignored.

So forget about all these so called "Christian Studies" about Rastafari. Forget about the anthropological and psychological "analyses". None of them truly describe Rastafari. They only make the Rastaman sing that Culture song once again.

Chanting down Babylon gives a true perspective on the movement. Because all the words in this 467 page book are written by people who know the movement inside out and some have even been there when it all started.

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