Today would have been John Coltrane’s 79th birthday.

I got the above icon when I attended services at St. John’s African Orthodox Church in San Francisco about ten years ago. What this guy writes about it is absolutely right:

Sometimes I think I'm the only one who understands what true religion is. It's that cozy state of mind where nothing is more apparent than the unassailable fact that each of us belongs here on Earth, and is deeply loved by an enduring spirit. If you've got that kind of religion, you want to share it. If you've really got that kind of religion nobody will mistake you for a used god salesman. That's your litmus test, my proselytizing friend, turn one person off and it's back to the pew for you. True religion is the light bulb that just has to be flicked on to attract a flock of worshipping moths. Amen. That light bulb doesn't have to convince the moths that it's burning bright (those moths can tell and they come a' runnin').

On Divisadero Street there is a pretty bright light bulb that first appeared over the head of Franzo King in 1971 when he had the idea to organize the "One Mind Temple Evolutionary Transitional Body of Christ," which would soon evolve into Saint John's African Orthodox Church. Only a small portion of the population can see that light and recognize its truth.

Those that do, flock to it. They experience their religion through music hearing it, playing it, filling the pool on Sundays and Wednesdays diving in and swimming in it.

I have to admit, I went in with some skepticism (though I did dress up, just out of respect). A church that holds John Coltrane as a saint? And they play his music as part of the liturgy? Could they possibly be serious? I quickly realized that it didn’t matter. The music was real. The spirit was real. The energy was real. What I or they or anyone thought about it was completely and totally beside the point. Which was nice.

In Ken Burns otherwise loathsome "Jazz" film, Wynton Marsalis describes Coltrane’s music as being "like the most earnest person you ever met", which is so right. It’s just not possible to approach Coltrane ironically. Which is itself very powerful. The music knocks down your defenses, throws away its own, and embraces you. The world could use more of that, for sure.

IN OTHER NEWS

Adisa Banjoko brings it to Casual in Hip-Hop’s first-ever Chess Beef. That’s all well and good, but I’ll whip anybody ass at some Chutes and Ladders. I’m like "ladder-ladder-ladder", son!

EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS...

...is a terrible name for a great show. Hopefully they’ll soon change it like they did with "The Seinfeld Chronicles". Being exactly Chris Rock’s age, the nostalgia aspect works especially well on me. I fully support everything that others have written about it, but (as usual) would like to call attention to something no one else seems to be talking about: It takes hella chutzpah (that’s early-nineties Seattle Jewish Hip-Hop slang; as the sole member of that community I had a lot of linguistic freedom) to use the so-called "n-word" in the first episode of a sitcom. The first episode! This is no "very-special-episode-for-more-information-about-racism-visit-your-local-library" deal. That’s some straight-up "fuck-you-I’m-Chris-Rock-and-this-is-my-show-and-if-you-think-I-forgot-that-Redd-Foxx-hired-Richard-Pryor-and-Paul-Mooney-to-write-the-first-season-of-Sanford-and-Son-you-motherfuckers-are-sadly-mistaken" type shit.