Saying Farewell to George Floyd
During the funeral for George Floyd in Houston, the Reverend Al Sharpton quoted from Ephesians Chapter 6, or the "Letter to the Ephesians" written (supposedly) by the Apostle Paul. He read: "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes," and "Struggles are... against the powers of darkness, and against spiritual forces of wickedness."
Of course, Sharpton was referring to the powers of darkness and wickedness within American police departments and the criminal justice system. But Ephesians 6:5 also contains the quote used by American slaveholders before the Civil War: "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ."
The Reverend Al Sharpton
I have nothing against Al Sharpton. He called me in for an impromptu interview for his nationally broadcast radio show at the Congressional Black Caucus Convention in Washington, D.C. At that time I was promoting the documentary film on my father, Matthew Kennedy: One Man's Journey. But when he chose to quote from the Letter to the Ephesians, I had to respond. Ephesus was the home of the Temple of the Goddess in Asia Minor, or Turkey. The Ephesians imprisoned Paul for blaspheming The Goddess in his frenzied efforts to elevate his male god over Her. In Merlin Stone's book When God Was a Woman, she details how military leaders preferred to pray to a male god who condoned invasion, conquering, domination, and violence, and actively rebelled against Her and dismantled peaceful matriarchal cultures. The Ephesians were peaceful people, not the "powers of darkness" or the "spiritual forces of wickedness." The Roman emperors who invaded Ephesus were a very different force as compared to the local people who peacefully worshiped the Goddess Artemis, or Cybele, "the mother goddess of eastern lands." She was the guardian of young children and patron of women in childbirth. She was the protector of women in labor, and a divinity of healing.
From Ephesus History: "Being associated with chastity, Artemis at an early age asked her father Zeus to grant her eternal virginity. Also, all her companions were virgins. Artemis was very protective of her purity, and gave grave punishment to any man who attempted to dishonor her in any form. Actaeon, while out hunting, accidentally came upon Artemis and her nymphs, who bathing naked in a secluded pool. Seeing them in all their naked beauty, the stunned Actaeon stopped and gazed at them, but when Artemis saw him ogling them, she transformed him into a stag. Then, incensed with disgust, she set his own hounds upon him."
The Romans turned the city of Ephesus into a fortress that served their own purpose. The Romans also murdered Jesus for their own purpose. Of course the Romans embraced the concept of a male god that condoned invasion, conquering, domination, and violence. And Rome eventually became the seat of power of the religion for worship of the man they murdered. They are the definition of the word "opportunist."
Statue of Artemis at Ephesus
Reverend Al should choose his Bible quotes more carefully. There are misogynist Christians who would prefer to call Jesus the "Son of Man" rather than the Son of a Woman, in spite of the fact that he is supposed to be the Son of God. George Floyd's cry for his mother reveals his sub-conscious recognition that She was the source of life. I hope that he will rest peacefully next to Her knowing that his death sparked a movement.
Kennedy at the stone carving of the goddess Nike at Ephesus