(CNN) - Rapper Snoop Dogg announced Monday that he's burying his name and old career, all because of a religious experience with Rastafari, an Afrocentric religion with origins in Jamaica. Snoop Dogg wants to be called Snoop Lion and instead of rapping on his latest album now he'll be singing reggae.
"I want to bury Snoop Dogg and become Snoop Lion," he said at a Monday press conference. "I didn't know that until I went to the temple, where the high priest asked me what my name was, and I said, 'Snoop Dogg.' And he looked me in my eyes and said, 'No more. You are the light; you are the lion.'
"From that moment on," Snoop said, "it's like I had started to understand why I was there."
Snoop Lion has a new single, "La la la," and a documentary "Reincarnated," which follows his recent trip to Jamaica and chronicles his conversion experience. It debuts at the Toronto Film Festival next month.
So what exactly is Rastafari? Here are some basic questions and answers:
1. How old is Rastafarianism?
The Rastafari movement began in Jamaica in 1930 and quickly spread.
"It's an Afrocentric faith that... focuses on the return to Africa of its members," says Richard Salter, a religious studies scholar from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York who studies the movement. "Sometimes that return is a return in body, actually going back to Ethiopia, and sometimes it's more of a spiritual return."
Nathaniel Murrell, a religion professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, said the movement Rastafari grows out of the Judeo-Christian tradition and out of the colonial experience. He says Jamaicans oppressed by colonial overlords saw the new faith as a means of liberation.
A key belief for Rastas is the notion of death to all white and black oppressors; the religion embodies a theological push for equality on all levels.
Salter points to Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," as a key to understanding that point.
"The line, 'emancipate yourself from mental slavery,' - if someone can convince you that you are inferior, then they have really oppressed you," Salter said. "So you can emancipate yourself from that and recognize the divine within you, your real value."
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2. So what do Rastafaris believe?
Rastas believe in God and use the term Jah, shorthand for Jehovah, a name for God that is common in the Jewish scriptures. Many Rastas see Halie Selassie I - the longest serving emperor of Ethiopia, who died in the 1970s - as a Christ-like figure.
Experts point to a wide diversity in the faith but say there are six key groups of Rastas, called mansions, that would be similar to denominations in other faiths.
Rastas hate "isms" and "ians" because of the value they place on all individuals. As a result, Rastas prefer the term Rastafari as opposed to Rastafarian or Rastafarianism to describe the movement.
Noel Leo Erskine, a professor of theology and ethics at Emory University in Atlanta, says it's nearly impossible to gauge how many people call themselves Rastas because there are no formal churches or membership structures and no hierarchy.
Erskine said that based on Jamaican migration and the prevalence of Rastas globally - he notes the presence of groups in Israel and Tokyo - his best guess is that there are around 1 million self-professing Rastas around the world.
3. How do Rastas practice their faith?
The most common outward expressions of Rastafari are Rastas' dreadlocks, penchant for smoking marijuana and vegetarian diets.
Rastas read the Bible and several other religious texts, though because the movement is so diverse there is no single canon.
Lifestyle choices are important for Rastas. Allowing one's hair to grow into long, matted dreadlocks serves as a reminder to practitioners that they have made a covenant to live naturally, Salter said.
Marijuana smoking is seen as sacramental to Rastas, who believe it brings clarity and strength (more on that below).
Another central practice is something called "reasoning." Rastas get together and smoke and have a "reasoning" session in which they hash out important spiritual ideas.
The practice of vegetarianism comes from Rastas "ital lifestyle" short, for vital, and according to Salter is intended to promote life in all its forms.
4. What's the Bob Marley connection?
Marley brought Rastafari to the American masses in the late 1970s and early 1980s through reggae music. It was massively popular and brought a watered-down version of the movement to the popular consciousnesses.
Snoop said this week that he had no plans on recording a reggae album in Jamaica but that, "When the spirit called me and basically told me to find something that is connected toward the Bob Marley spirit, because I've always said I was Bob Marley reincarnated."
Marley, the world's most famous reggae singer and practitioner of Rasta, died in 1981.
Emory's Erskine said that as Snoop moves forward with his music, he should look to the reggae star.
"Within Rasta there are guidelines, guidelines of dignity and songs of empowerment," he said. "I think Bob Marley provides a good guide for him in terms of the way forward and way not to belittle women and belittle others."
5. Is it a religion?
"[Rastas] are insistent that they don't see Rastafari as a religion because religion exposes itself to manipulation by people in power, so they see it as a lifestyle, as a way of life practiced by Rastas," Erskine said.
That said, there are many who practice the way of life with the same devotion found in other faiths. Religious scholars classify Rastafari as a religion.
Rastafari has provided sanctimonious cover for loads of college students more interested in the sacrament of ganja then the tenants of the faith. Remember that kid who lived on your dorm floor, grew dreadlocks, hung a lion flag, and smoked a lot of weed?
"That's been something the movement has had to struggle with," Salter said. "They have to define who a Rasta is. Is it a 21-year-old sitting in a drum circle out in the woods in some Northeastern liberal college taking bong hits, or does it require something else?"
5. So do they really smoke a lot of weed?
Yes. A lot.
Sometimes called the wisdom weed, Rastas believe the marijuana plant first grew from the grave of King Solomon, who the Bible calls one of the wisest men ever to walk the planet.
Salter notes Rastas believe smoking the herb is biblically sanctioned, though he points out they believe "it is not for recreation, but a food that feeds their spirit.”
“I bet Snoop Dogg, excuse me Snoop Lion, is particularly interested in that,” he added, noting the musician's advocacy for supporting the legalization of marijuana and his frequent use of it in music videos.
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6. So is the Snoop thing a gimmick to sell records?
It's too early to tell whether Snoop will stick with his awakening as a Rasta. Rastas don't convert; rather, they "awaken" to the faith they see as always having been there.
"An American Airlines flight carrying 154 people skidded across a Jamaican runway in heavy rain, bouncing across the tarmac and injuring more than 40 people before it stopped just short of the Caribbean Sea (Dec. 23) "
"One hundred and forty-five passengers aboard American Airlines flight
331 from Miami narrowly missed death as the aircraft overran the Norman Manley International Airport runway in Kingston, ending inches away from the sea along the Port Royal main road last night.
More than 40 passengers aboard the Boeing 738 aircraft were taken to hospital, The Gleaner has learnt....
Andrew and Wendy Palau and Children Safe After Plane Crash in Kingston, Jamaica
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries Wednesday, December 23, 2009 " KINGSTON, JAMAICA (ANS) -- Andrew Palau, the 43-year-old son of evangelist Luis Palau, his wife Wendy, and their three children Christopher, Jonathan and Sadie, are all safe after the American Airlines flight 331 skidded off the runway and crashed in Kingston, Jamaica on Tuesday night, December 22, 2009.
The Palau’s were traveling to Jamaica for the Christmas holidays to visit Wendy’s Jamaican family.
The Palau’s were among the 148 passengers and six crew members that miraculously survived the crash escaping with minor injuries. The plane skidded across the runway in a blinding rainstorm before breaking apart into three sections just a few feet from the Caribbean Sea. ...
“The family sought medical care for Palau, who required stitches and has two black eyes. The rest of the family had scrapes and bruises but were mostly all right, he said.”
The family, who plan to return to their home in Portland in three weeks time, had to leave behind their passports, wallets and cell phones. Wendy lost one shoe and Jonathan was barefoot. But the family, which is staying with Wendy’s family in Kingston, is counting its blessings.
We're just fortunate to be safe and we realize God doesn’t promise tomorrow," Andrew said. "Truly life is fragile and you’ve got to make the most of each day... We really feel at peace and thankful."
"..From my diary:
This morning Jack and I climbed up a steep mountain road south of Montego Bay going toward the south of the island. Our wives had gone ahead in the 'Praise' van to wait for us. When we arrived where they were parked we noticed several ladies talking to them. Truck and bus drivers were honking their horns and waving to them. Then I noticed a sign "Topsi" Club and knew what kind of place it was. The ladies were so interested in Jesus but the honking horns were disruptive. They invited us to come in the closed club. Jack and I took the cross into the building onto the dance floor. Girls and a couple of men awoke and came sleepily out. In that place we explained about the love of Jesus, and how He cares and wants to cleanse and lift people up toward heaven, that He did not come to condemn but to save and make holy. With the cross there, it was easy to show how Jesus died for us, then rose again and will now hear our prayers.
We knelt on the floor and prayed, several were weeping and opened their lives to Jesus. We gave them gospel material and told them where a good church was and later gave their names to a pastor to follow up. Two of the people from the club followed us to the van and wanted to give their lives Jesus. Glory.
We also carried the cross deep into the interior where, for hundreds of years, a break away group of former slaves have claimed independence from Jamaica. They are known as the Maroons. We met and prayed with the colonel who says he is 'head of state.' Most of the people gathered for prayer and Bibles.
Along the road one day, a young man came up to Paula and said something dirty. He had on a tee shirt with a filthy expression. She in her loving, a compassionate heart did not reject him but proceeded to share how his greatest need could be met. He prayed and committed his life to Jesus, then took off his tee shirt and gave it to Paula to throw away. She gave him a Jesus shirt from the van!
One of the most unusual things that has ever happened on the road with the cross happened in Jamaica one day. Denise and Paula where up the road waiting in the van. Jack and I came up carrying the cross and leaned it against a post beside the highway. There were no people around. We sat in the van with our wives and had something to drink and eat. After only a few minutes a man knocked on the door of the van. We opened the door and he asked if we had a wrench. I said, “Yes,' and went back to my small traveling tool kit. I gave him the wrench and asked him to return it. I sat back down in the van and we looked out the window and saw him starting to unbolt the wheel from my cross! I leaped out and ran across the road and asked, “What are you doing to my cross?' He replied that he wanted the wheel. I told him about the cross walk and that I needed the wheel to keep the wood from wearing away as I dragged it along the road. He wanted the wheel but I firmly took back my wrench. He cursed and protested saying anything left along the roadside was available for whoever wants it! Ha
A glorious time in Jamaica!
A pilgrim follower of Jesus,
*see GoodnewsEverybody.com Movies: The Passion, Crucification, Easter, Resurrection, etc..
A tribute to the legendary Bob Marley exploring his life, music, and philosophy. Includes unseen photographs, essays, sound, video, and merchandise." Bob Marley
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia "..Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley, OM (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981) was a Jamaican singer-songwriter and musician. He was the rhythm guitarist and lead singer for the ska, rocksteady and reggae bands The Wailers (1964–1974) and Bob Marley & The Wailers (1974–1981). Marley remains the most widely known and revered performer of reggae music, and is credited with helping spread both Jamaican music and the Rastafari movement to a worldwide audience.
Early life and career
Bob Marley was born in the village of Nine Mile in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica as Nesta Robert Marley. A Jamaican passport official would later swap his first and middle names. His father, Norval Sinclair Marley, was a white Jamaican of English descent whose family came from Essex, England. Norval was a captain in the Royal Marines, as well as a plantation overseer, when he married Cedella Booker, an Afro-Jamaican then 18 years old. Norval provided financial support for his wife and child, but seldom saw them, as he was often away on trips. In 1955, when Marley was 10 years old, his father died of a heart attack at age 60. Marley faced questions about his own racial identity throughout his life. He once reflected:
I don't have prejudice against meself. My father was a white and my mother was black. Them call me half-caste or whatever. Me don't dip on nobody's side. Me don't dip on the black man's side nor the white man's side. Me dip on God's side, the one who create me and cause me to come from black and white.
Bob Marley was a member of the Rastafari movement, whose culture was a key element in the development of reggae. Bob Marley became an ardent proponent of Rastafari, taking their music out of the socially deprived areas of Jamaica and onto the international music scene. He once gave the following response, which was typical, to a question put to him during a recorded interview:
* Interviewer: "Can you tell the people what it means being a Rastafarian?"
* Bob: "I would say to the people, Be still, and know that His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia is the Almighty. Now, the Bible seh so, Babylon newspaper seh so, and I and I the children seh so. Yunno? So I don't see how much more reveal our people want. Wha' dem want? a white God, well God come black. True true."
"Bob Marley Quote # 10: ;Don't worry about a thing, every little thing is gonna be alright ;
Bob Marley Quote # 11: ;Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind.. ;
Bob Marley - Redemption Song
*see GoodnewsEverybody.com LA: Psychology-Psychiatrist, Behavior, Counseling, Mentally, Mind-Control, etc..etc... "Bob Marley Quote # 33: ;I pledged to work for righteousness. God's given me inspiration. God's the boss, he tell me what to do ;
Bob Marley Quote # 39: ;I'm a man of God and me come to do God's work ;
Bob Marley Quote # 46: ;Just can't live that negative way... make way for the positive day! ;
Bob Marley Quote # 47: ;Life and Jah are one in the same. Jah is the gift of existence. I am in some way eternal, I will never be duplicated. The sigularity of every man and woman is Jah's gift. What we struggle to make of it is our sole gift to Jah. The process of what that struggle becomes, in time, the Truth ;
Bob Marley Quote # 49: ;Man can't do without God. Just like you're thirsty, you have to drink water. You just can't go without God ;
Bob Marley Quote # 65: ;Overcome the devils with a thing named love ;
Bob Marley Quote # 67: ;Politics no interest me. Dem devil business.... Dem a play with peoples minds. Never play with peoples minds ;
Bob Marley Quote # 72: ;'Tell the children the truth' ;