Stephen Finley discussing African American Religion as American Gnosticism:
Stephen argues that Gnosticism ties to AA Religion, first because of its existentialism as slaves were brought to this alien land. He then brings the ideas of Harold Bloom and his American Religion theory (all American religion is indebted to Gnosticism, especially Mormonism).
Bloom doesn’t give a definition of Gnosticism, but does say American religion is about experience over faith, about god/self knowledge, and syncretism. Bloom does point out black religions for that. In fact, AA religion influences all facets of all American religion. AA religion is not a copy cat but a foundation for USA religion.
Baptist charismatic religion seeks experience with God, and Bloom argues that it’s directly influenced by African spirituality. It’s Gnostic because of its emotional immediacy with a higher power.
One can know God through ecstatic energy that floods the entire body.
Stephen quotes Dubois who relates his experience of Gnosis in the woods, once running into a “Southern negro revival.” He experienced a shamanistic Christian group that possessed him with spirit energy. He saw people handling not real snakes but kundalini snakes.
Dubois knew that although trapped in Christian clothing, what he witnessed surely originated from African spirituality.
Harold Bloom wrote many other examples.
In the 19th century American religion, with the rise of evangelicals, was all about a religious experience (Gnosis) and it was heavily influenced by AA Religion.
You can find this Gnosticism in such AA movements as the Nation of Islam. According to some of their tenets, God lived among humans and transmitted secret message.
Stephen contends that Gnosis is not just special knowledge, but the caretaking of the community at large. For AA, Gnosis is about to better the descendants of those who were thrown into an alien world. Also, the world focus on the black body, and AA need to transcend this viewpoint.
He recounts how Lewis Farrakah spoke about UFO, hinting the religion might be a UFO. But it’s symbolical, as blacks are aliens placed in a foreign planet. This symbolism can be powerful in understanding the nature of humanity.