Hassaun Jones-Bey

Hassaun Jones-Bey
is a ClimateCultures Author

A retired engineer, science journalist and founder of Peace Jungle, which began as a musical storytelling project when online discourse associated 'apocalypse' with the impending twenty-first century.

I am a retired engineer, science journalist, musical storyteller, and grandfather. 

I am the founder and entire staff of Peace Jungle Music, Poetry, and Stories in Oakland, CA. The Peace Jungle began as the Ibn Musa Artistic Ministry in 1996 with the writing, illustration, and publishing of Better Than A Thousand Months: An American Muslim Family Celebration. It became the Imagine Peace musical storytelling project in 1998, when a lot of online public discourse seemed to associate "apocalypse" with the arrival of the twenty-first century. The name was changed to Peace Jungle in 2007. The focus throughout has been on what the current essay ("A Blues Gospel of Anthropocene?") describes as "human community ecology" that embodies the life-giving ego of the Creator (or perhaps the consciousness of that ego via various religious "technologies") in human nature -- in the same way that cycles of environmental ecology (in a river, for instance) might be thought of as embodying such a sacred, life-giving consciousness in non-human nature.

Better Than A Thousand Months used photographic imagery from sunset to dawn to illustrate a fictionalized family story that likened the night of perfect measure during the month of Ramadan to the night of Christmas Eve. The Imagine Peace Project was centered around songs and stories about "Mama Earth" and "Daddy Sky." Those efforts attempted to articulate a vision that was at the time (a quarter of a century ago) much more intuitive and imaginative than cognitive.

While creative, well-intended, and based on personal experience, these projects lacked the firm grounding in actual cultural heritage needed to move beyond interesting ideas and ultimately make meaningful statements. My current project "A Blues Gospel of Anthropocene? is informed by graduate studies in Black Church and Africana Religion and in Black Sacred Music and Social Change—completed during the last decade and a half—that began to connect my creative efforts with solid and embodied cultural roots.

C. Eric Lincoln's concept of "Black Religion" plays a big role in this because of its focus on religious experience that effectively flows across doctrinal and denomination boundaries. It ultimately has to do with enslaved Africans and their descendants in the Americas seeing themselves as images of the Creator from within a society that has traditionally seen and used them as disposable commodities. So, in my case, it includes the Black Church in which I was born, the Catholicism to I was introduced in my teens, the Islam I embraced as an adult, and the Ifa that began to replace imaginative characterizations such as "Mama Earth" and "Daddy Sky" with the embodied ecology of actual tradition.

Musical expression still provides the connective tissue in all of this, but now it is also informed by a contextualizing heritage that both grounds my previous efforts and connects my current efforts more solidly and creatively with the work of others. In my current work, this context also provides a vehicle for appreciating and expressing my own shared ecology of religious experience, as distinct from and also in conversation with the various competing religious and non-religious egos of modern Western empire.

Hassaun's ClimateCultures posts

Resisting a Human Anthropocene: Diasporic African Religious Experiences in Nature

Resisting a Human Anthropocene: Diasporic African Religious Experiences in Nature

Writer Hassaun Jones-Bey introduces a human Anthropocene as corollary for our planet's new geological era. The commodification of enslaved Africans and their descendants in the US shows human nature resisting the same commodification that's visited upon non-human nature. Read More