An Open Letter to The Religious Leaders of Nigeria/Africa
Dear Religious Leader,
This letter is written with due respect and seriousness after a careful consideration of the implications and the probable aftermath. I presume, the letter might likely draw out vigorous refutation and hostility from those that may feel terribly disturbed and offended with the contents.
The letter is not written with a careless disposition but with due reverence to and an in-depth understanding of the issue at stake — the souls of families and friends. The need for this letter was dictated by the observable woeful state of the political, economic, social and spiritual affairs of fellow mankind in Nigeria, in Africa and in the world generally.
The question that kick-started the idea of the letter was a recurrent theme running through my mind. It says, In times like this, What should the ladies and gentlemen, who are blessed with strong religious persuasion, be doing about the deplorable state of the spiritual and physical affairs of humanity?
This question must have arisen because I am aware that the professional priestcraft in the different religious institutions have often claimed to have special concerns for the social, psychological and spiritual states of their members and their communities. Hence, with the social and spiritual state of Nigeria/Africa at its lowest ebb of degeneration, what should be the overriding attitudes and immediate actions of the religious leaders to the overwhelming and depressing human problems?
Would it be to encourage and to call for more fasting and more prayers?
Would it be to ask the faithful followers to contribute more cash offerings, tithes and zakats?
Would it be to persuade followers to attend more daily, weekly and monthly assemblies in order to hear more of the old stories over and over again?
And tugging at my heartstring was the important question directed at myself, How would I handle the spiritual state of Nigeria if I am a religious leader – A Priest, Bishop, Archbishop, Deacon, General Overseer, Pastor/Founder of a religious body, Imam, Ulema, Mallam, Dibia, Babalawo, Marabout, Marxist, etc.?
II. A Friend In Need Is A Friend In Deed
This writer would like to be seen as a friend of the religious leaders. The intention of this letter is not to ridicule the efforts and the careers of those who are professionally engaged in religious activities. My ultimate desire is to motivate the members of the religious groups to do well in their chosen careers. And to perform better in leading mankind into a more righteous good life and into a higher qualitative state of wellbeing.
However, I am aware that even though some of you are sincere in your callings to the noble profession, there could be the small possibility that you may be sincerely wrong in your conceptual frameworks that are underpinning the strategic methods you have adopted for the organisation and for the delivery of your cardinal objectives.
I have been trying to find out the probable reasons why the impact of your work in the society is not being felt positively; why the religious believers and followers are merely exhibiting superficial understanding of your teachings; and why the holy and sanctified messages have failed to revive the spiritually dying people or to resuscitate the dying souls of Nigerians back to life.
In a nutshell, Why is there no true spiritual rebirth of souls among the believers, followers and professional practitioners of religion?
Tentatively and as part of my personal search for answers to the observed contradictions, I am tempted to speculate as follows:
I am very eager to draw your attention to the observable short falls in the wholesome and righteous spiritual character that are expected of those who are claiming the status of the “Born Again” Christians; of those who are claiming to be ‘True Muslims’; and of various practitioners of other religions who are making similar claims that they have a higher moral and ethical excellence than the rest of us.
There is a massive gap of contradictions in these holier-than-thou claims vis-a-vis the high rate of unprecedented spiritual decadence and the well known immoral, unethical and corrupt practices seen in all the nations and societies of Nigeria/Africa.
- Could the foundation stones of ideas on which the religious institutions in Nigeria built their understanding of the knowledge of God, be based more on fictional and mythological illusions rather than on the true historical reality of events?
- Could it be that the concept of God and the meanings ascribed to the manifestation of the powers of God have been derived from myth, fantasy, legends or fables and not from the observable and experiential reality of life common to every human being?
- Could the kinds of beliefs and faith in God that the religious leaders are championing and canvassing to the followers be counterproductive to logic and commonsense to the point where they can only enslave the minds rather than set the souls of mankind free?
- Could the psychological strategies that you have designed for proselytising the beliefs and faith meant only for the purpose of enslaving the minds of the people rather than of liberating their spirit into the divine state of freedom?
- Could the hierarchical arrangements of the religious organisations be contradictory to the spirit of equality of all mankind before God as revealed and taught by the ancient sages, prophets and teachers?
- And more importantly, Could the hidden motives for choosing this noble and sacred career be actually to serve the god of Mammon, under a false cover that pretends to serve the Creator of Heaven and Earth in order to deceive the innocents and the gullible masses of humanity?
Also, it is my wish to draw the attention of your eminences to the lack of visible linkage between the holier-than-thou claims, made by the believers/followers of religion in relation to the expected socioeconomic development and political harmony that should normally have accrued to a country with such loud claims of affiliation with religious beliefs and faith, as we see all over Nigeria/Africa
Religion and Spiritual Awakening
In this letter, we do not plan to discuss the philosophy of religion but to offer practical advice on how the institutions of religion can be used to make valuable and much needed contributions to the spiritual awakening of Africans and to the promotion of the socioeconomic and political emancipation of the people, societies and communities of Nigeria/Africa.
Either for good or for bad measure, religion and the institutions cultivated around the philosophies/dogmas of religion in our societies are the facts of life. We have all been born under them, grown up to seeing them around for so long and we are now at the point where some of us have actually taken religion for granted. Some of us are ready to swear with our lives that religion is a natural phenomenon or simply an ‘Act of God’. And we have got to the point, where we no longer see religion as the creation of the imaginative minds and the moulding hands of ‘inspired’ men/women.
This letter does not intend to go into the history of the formation of religion but it will mainly focus on the reality of its existence here and now. It is my considered view that everyone on earth should be more concerned at this peculiar moment, in the history of mankind, on how we can make use of religion as a veritable instrument to change the circumstances of Africans and the societies to secure improved and better outcomes for the race and humanity.
I am aware that the issues that pertain to faith and to beliefs are too complex for most laymen to unravel or to wrap their minds around with sufficient clarity. Notwithstanding, the awakened ones are aware that the various tangential issues surrounding religion are all hovering around psychology and its current usage and application for the manipulation of the human minds for both good and bad causes.
The Imperative of Common Sense to Spiritual Awakening
In spite of the grey areas on issues around religion, this writer, is a strong believer in the infallibility of common sense and will not cease to encourage others to use the common senses that nature generously bestowed on us. I am of the opinion that it is only when our sense organs have been cultivated through proper usage that the senses can become extraordinarily alert to all the environmental stimuli swarming around us.
A well-primed sense organ is like a camera or microphone that can readily pick up sensory stimuli of sight or sound respectively without any extra effort. The frequency of use of the senses aids the depth of its performance and the unimaginable dimension of its efficiency.
The central coordinating centre of the sense organs does not need any help from mankind to perform its jobs. Just as the stomach does not need any extra assistance to perform the digestive function of reducing solid food intakes into liquefied forms. The brain was similarly designed to combine and to manipulate different stimuli as it manufactures the thought processes.
Thinking comes naturally as long as the senses are allowed to do their jobs of seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling and tasting. All that the brain requires is to allow the instinctive sense of curiosity to prevail and the natural desire to know to be dominant.
Unfortunately, this natural phenomenon of the senses is not seen as very necessary in the matter of belief and faith. When the senses are used at all, they are narrowly focused on the selected history and approved myth and legends of faith. Other historical materials are not permitted to interfere with the canonically accepted versions of the authorised religious knowledge.
The dogmatic denial of freedom to the practitioners of various religions is what has cleverly disallowed the senses of the faithful followers to taste freely other foods of faith; to smell freely other aromatic religious perfumes; to hear freely about other forms of religious thoughts; to feel freely other bodies of religious truth; and to experience freely other religious practices. These various educative experiences, which are denied to the followers, are the foundation on which intelligent opinions could have been formed. This form of restrictions is the root of the culture that breeds hate, bigotry, intolerance and other kind of human prejudices.
Hence, we can safely deduce that it is the overbearing and the unnecessary protection of the faithful followers from perceiving other sensory stimuli of thoughts that breeds intolerance and bigotry in the lives of members of religious organisations.
It is not the intention of this letter to prove whether one religion is true or false. However, it is a common notion that every religion – either indigenous or foreign – is trying to address the following philosophical questions about life:
• When and how did life on earth/universe begin?
• Who or what is the author/creator of life?
• What is or what should be the relationship between the creator and the created living beings?
• How should the created entities live in such a way as to enhance and maximise their common welfare, wealth and happiness?
• What happens after the physical bodies of the created beings die?
• Is the life span of the created beings immortal or mortal at the time of death of the physical body?
These are the issues that every religious philosophical principle and interpretation, from time immemorial, have been trying to find intelligent answers.
The books supposedly written by the founder of any religion; the alleged reports of the witnesses to the founder’s life and daily activities; the edited reports of the scribes commissioned by the founder or latter-day followers to write the holy books; the acclaimed inspired interpreters’ versions of the books/reports; and the second or third-hand reports from Hear-say Witnesses, are all directed towards finding answers to the fundamental questions of life as logically and as humanly intelligible as possible.
However, the inspired dogmas, the revealed rituals and the ordained religious institutions that grew out of this very important human quest for answers to the meaning of life and the truth of existence, have sadly become clogs in the wheel of humanity. And they are now, unfortunately, preventing the achievement of real freedom and authentic spiritual awakening.
After the long introduction, I think we are ready to offer some answers to the questions about, What time is it? What time is it for humanity in the mystery journey of life? Is the destination in sight? Shall we ever get to the place of rest? Is humanity stranded on planet earth forever? Is there any hope of redemption/escape from the wheel of life?
III. What Time Is It In Nigeria/Africa?
Now, let us focus our sense organs on the Nigeria/Africa’s sociopolitical and economic environment — the premise of our concerns and curiosity. Can we make any sense of the sensory stimuli we are collecting in our daily lives? How do we interpret the common everyday information of the spiritual, economic, political and social state of affairs in the countries/continent of Africa?
There is no way we can deny that this is not a time of great tribulations in Nigeria and in Africa. The multidimensional nature of the human aches, the suffering and the deprivations of all kinds afflicting the people of these regions of the world are beyond comprehension or description.
In the recent past, this writer was a keen follower of daily news and the current affairs on the television and other broadcasting Mass Media. But of recent, the subliminally programmed stories and the gruesome pictures from these sources, camouflaged as news, have become too unbearable to behold; too distasteful to consume; and too uncomfortable for my listening pleasure. It is now obvious to me that the propagation of the so-called news is a cover for mass political control, mind manipulation, and other forms of secret and nefarious agenda.
Many times since this writer came into spiritual consciousness of life, I have asked from those around me to explain, How is it possible for any sane person to find pleasure in the following so-called 24/7 News items:
- The News of the senseless carnage inflicted on other mankind outside of self or ethnic/racial groups and the callous mutilation of the bodies of fellow human beings in meaningless wars without any noble goal;
- The pictures of hungry and malnourished fly-covered babies, children, women and the aged from every corner of Africa and other developing world;
- The stories of inhuman barbaric, and gluttonous robbers – armed robbers, political and bureaucratic pen-robbers, business and government contract-robbers of every kind, and
- The glamorised sordid activities of multinational trading robbers in different forms and guises as they continue to perform their ignoble acts of bringing ruin and death to everyone all over Africa.
Similarly, neither can the following so-called News Clips bring peace to the mind:
- The News of the ravaging menace of HIV/AIDS viruses and other experimentally developed biological viruses maiming and killing people en masse in different parts of the continent;
- The News of the bondage of debt that binds Nigeria and most of Africa in an unwholesome deadly yoke to the international financial and banking industries that specialise in usury and blackmail;
- The News of the global injustices that hide under hideous international laws and under the rights of nations to pursue unethical national interests;
- The News of the clever egging and hedging of the people of the poor world under the small prints of the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank’s agreements that were covertly designed to keep Nigeria and other poor countries in the lower pile as fodder in the furnace of the Global Economic Order; and
- The News of the activities of local and international arm dealers, business moguls, international fraudsters, intelligence secret agents of the United States of America’s CIA, the British MI6, the Russian KGB (now defunct), the French DGSE and others like the new kid on the block – the Chinese MSS, that are keener than ever to divide Africa among themselves as they covertly sponsored political instabilities and as they ensure there is never a united front or any common purpose and actions among and within African nations.
Nor can the following News bring freedom, relief and hope to the continent:
- The News of the role of the self-centred elites of Nigeria and Africa that knowingly collaborate with all those who have vowed to keep Africans as slaves on lower than minimum global wage, on lowly social and economic conditions, on exploitative trade relationships and on lopsided economic arrangements that disadvantaged Nigeria and Africa;
- The News of the obvious cultural enslavement that prey on the attitudes, beliefs, superstitions and fears of the known and unknown that are regularly stoked up and promoted by religious institutions on behalf of Western and Middle Eastern powers; and
- The News of the ongoing spiritual bondage being weaved on the souls of Nigerians through the kind of religious practices that disallow believers from reflecting more critically about the negative effects of the global and national institutional structures that are contributing to the economic wretchedness, social deprivation and political miseries of fellow Nigerians/Africans?
It is indeed, a very difficult time for Nigeria and for Africa as a whole. And it is even more so because of the convergence of the conventional global economic wisdom on the illusion of the efficacy of the present Global Economic Order to mitigate favourably on behalf of the poor countries and the downtrodden people of the world.
This sad situation is again made harder by the willingness of the Religious Orders/Institutions to ply their professional trades of mind-bondage and brainwashing within the parameters delineated by those behind the secretly designed and sponsored Global Economic Order.
Moreover, there is a need to review the overbearing focus of Africans to the religious institutions that champion the glory of the Hereafter to the unfortunate neglect of the ‘Here-now’. As a result of the focus on preeminence of the Hereafter, the ‘Here-now’ is fast crumbling away and it is dragging Africans into a fatal and eventual racial extinction.
There is a need to reconcile these two irreconcilable objectives of the Hereafter and the ‘Herenow’. Obviously, the Hereafter has become the sole contributing factor to the hardening of the immoral philosophy which supports the unethical institutional arrangements that have been put in place for the practices of a heinous and ruinous global political economy.
The powerful philosophy of the Hereafter, as the most important goal of life, has so far befuddled, bamboozled, confused and locked up the minds of the mass of Africans. It has got to the point where the will and the determination to find answers to all the man-made problems in the ‘Herenow’-societies have since been lost, slanted or heavily suppressed.
Oversaturation of Africa with Religious Institutions Promoting Superstitions
Nigeria/Africa is currently under the grip of religion and all the countries, communities, cities/towns are over saturated with religious organisations and religion-driven corporate establishments. These religious institutions have, over the years, succeeded in dominating and in controlling the values and culture of African societies. The religious leaders are now in possession of tremendous but subtle power of control and an overwhelming power of suggestibility over every detail of the daily lives of their followers.
As a result of the clever marketing strategies that propagate various mind-bending religious wares, such as, the unverifiable promises of crowns of glory and other mundane but salacious goodies that are awaiting the male believers in heaven, a good number of the leaders of religious institutions have been able to scam their members out of great fortunes.
Now, and all over Nigeria/Africa these religious institutions are swimming in fabulous liquid cash; and some have acquired colossal assets in land and other valuable worldly properties. As all the worldly goodies were being acquired by the religious leaders, the focus of the hapless followers and the wretchedly poor members were kept on the coming glorious Hereafter World.
Through this process, the religious leaders in Nigeria/Africa have acquired enormous political and economic power over the flocks. They are now able to effortlessly dictate and control the private affairs of the followers. It is not uncommon to hear that the managing director of a big company or even the Presidents of countries listen more to the ‘spiritual advices’ from the religious leaders rather than those of the appointed educated professional advisers.
It is only providence that knows the number of official engagements or planned travels that have been aborted at the last-minute; the number of projects of government or company that have been unilaterally cancelled; and how many days and weeks of going without food called fasting and prayer. All and many more of such ‘spiritual’ advices or dictates have been done and are still being done at the whims and caprices of religious leaders.
These few anecdotal examples are mentioned to demonstrate the kind of raw, physical, political and psychological powers that the religious leaders are holding over the people and the nations of Africa.
Unfortunately, it is noticed that some leaders of religious organisations in Nigeria are in the control of such power over men, women and properties. With such power, methinks there ought to be accountability.
The Lack of Accountability
At the moment there is no accountability. The religious leaders are claiming to be accountable only to God and not to men. The mere utterances of the phrase: “Thus says the Lord” or “the holy books said so” or “I’ll put a curse of death or misfortune on you”, is enough to silence and to cower into fearful submission any would-be dissenter or agitator among the flock.
Any member that has the uncommon effrontery to demand for openness in the affairs of the religious organisation is quickly anathematised, banned, suspended or surgically cut off. There is no doubt that the religious institutions in Nigeria/Africa are in the control of direct economic power, direct social power and indirect political power over nations as well.
As an example, the rumour mill in Nigeria was rife with stories of the spectacular activities of some religious leaders in the times and reigns of Military Dictator-Presidents Ibrahim Babangida and that of Sani Abacha, as they assisted, in a so-called spiritual way, to support those seasons (1985-1999) of political infamy in Nigeria.
One may posit that, if only those particular religious leaders who were caught conferencing and doing religious businesses with the ‘President and Head of State’ of Nigeria were truly in the business of truth and in the business of seeking spiritual health of the nation, through the access and the one-to-one relationship they enjoyed with these two demagogues, they had the opportunities to make suggestion that could have influenced the course of sociopolitical and economic events in Nigeria during the demonic era.
But of course, the personal mission of these religious leaders, both in the past and as at now, have never been spiritual but economic. The access they had to the political leaders was used merely to feather their personal economic nests as they amassed wealth and properties and lived in the fashion of theocratic monarchs.
IV. Dear Mr and Madam Religious Leaders
Just in the case you haven’t noticed, this is a very difficult time indeed for the innocent and the pure at heart under the compassionless religious corporations you have built all over Africa.
It is a time when the poor can no longer put their trust on those with gorgeous and exclusive ‘holy’ apparels who are claiming to be in the business of the affairs of the gods.
It is a time when those who are shouting the loudest about their claims to having a direct access to the throne of heaven are found to be lying shamelessly through their teeth.
It is a time when the poor in spirit, the dispossessed and the materially wretched on earth, have no succour whatsoever even in the houses designated for the worshipping of the Creator of heaven and earth.
Dear Religious Leaders, indeed, these are difficult times for most of the members of your congregation.
This writer is of the opinion that religious leaders and the laypeople of religion can no longer close their eyes, their minds and their other senses to the physical, moral and ethical decay in our societies while eulogising on the fairytales about the rewards and pleasures awaiting believers in heaven.
This writer sincerely believes that the inability of all religious people to focus the necessary attention on the physical problems around them is simply a failure to honour their sacred responsibilities and a refusal to use their intellectual faculties that nature bestows on every mankind for our spiritual and physical welfare, development, progress and prosperity.
The Need to Review the Objectives and to Remodel the Institutions of Religion
The time has come when religious organisations needed to review the objectives of what they are claiming to believe and to remodel the goals of the profitable institutions under their management to remain relevant for the physical and spiritual needs of their communities.
The time is long over due when the generation of humanity in existence now should be the principal focus of worship and not the boring retelling of historical tales of the activities and lifestyles of the bygone ancestors in the ancient ages.
This is the time when mankind needs to reconstruct the mode of religious worship to mean both the satisfaction of the basic human needs as the principal aim and the promotion of the spiritual development of humanity as the fundamental undertakings of religious organisations.
This writer was moved to wonder afield as he ruminates over the observed negative impacts of the institutions of religion that have become a restraining impediment instead of being a positive contribution to the liberation of the individual human spirit and of humanity in general.
The silent reveries of the mind led my spirit into asking from deep down within me, that What should I be doing if I am in the business of religious priestcraft?
- Shouldn’t I be asking, What am I doing wrong?
- Shouldn’t I be asking, Why are the faithful followers in my assembly failing to produce and reproduce the flowers and the fruits of righteousness?
And if I am not doing anything wrong and if I have diligently followed the dictates and injunctions of the holy books and the traditions of the ancient holy men, I should be asking,
- Why is there no evidence of blessedness to all men and women in my community?
- Why is peace in the world in short supply more than ever before in the history of mankind?
- Could it be that something is wrong about the ‘truth’ of the propagated religious philosophies?
- Isn’t there a need for me and everyone else to look once again at the ancient philosophical claims on which the supposedly ‘modern’ religious institutions and practices are built?
In the light of the revelations in science, history, philosophy and the contemporary technological environment,
- Isn’t there an urgent need to review the ancient premises of religious faith and beliefs?
- Could the fabulous claims made by the apologists on the inerrancy of holy books and the true purpose of the books have been misunderstood, or misinterpreted, or even could they have been outright misinformation?
I am very sorry to say that this writer is yet to find answers to the above listed conundrums. The writer believes sooner than later some keener observers, who are as worried as I am about the observable contradictions of the claims of religion vis-a-vis the observable spiritual decadence on the ground, would have no other option than to raise these issues as an intellectual and spiritual concerns. They will be motivated by intellectual honesty to either confirm or refute the age long claims of religion that say, a particular way or another is the only path to the knowledge of the truth of life.
The spiritual, social, political and economic degradations that are daily shocking the senses into disbelief all over Nigeria/Africa are strong enough discomfort to give some food for thought to anyone whose common sense is still functioning.
The disgustingly nauseating human decadence seen all over the continent of Africa is too shocking not to warrant the raising of unthinkable questions. This writer shall urge the religious leaders, and the laymen and laywomen too, not to shirk away from reflecting deeply on these matters. They ought to allow the individual common sense to do the natural job that nature assigned to it – observing critically and thinking deeply.
Please do not, by the contents of your teaching, directly or indirectly shut down or close up the senses of your followers. Unless the senses are left wide open to alternative ideas and proposition on the issues of faith and beliefs, Nigeria and Africa shall remain downtrodden and in bondage forever.
Also, common sense dictates that the time for some fundamental changes in our perceptions and practices of religion is long over due. If our nations and the African race in its entirety are not destined for premature extinction, we must cultivate a new way of perceiving and interpreting the world.
V. Need For Holistic Changes in Faith and Beliefs
There is no doubt that if Nigeria as a political arrangement was ever going to fulfil its avowed duties of protecting the social security, promoting the economic welfare and assuring full happiness based on justice to the citizens, the religious institutions in the country must definitely have a crucial role to play.
The overwhelming power in the hands of the leaders of the religious institutions should not be allowed to go to waste or continue to be used for frivolous and nefarious activities, as it is currently the practice.
In order to make the institutions of religion relevant to the aspiration of the present generation of Africans, there is definitely a need to link the inherited ancient concept of God with the vast array of knowledge garnered by mankind in the last 500 years of human history on earth.
Religion, as the holder of a body of knowledge, which is offering the world an array of philosophical propositions on the issue of creation and of the creator of heaven and earth, it can no longer close its eyes to the tomes of revelation in sciences that have revolutionised the thinking of the world to its present intellectual level and civilisation.
The various laws of nature (God) that physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy and mathematics have bequeathed to mankind can no longer be denied. We need to begin to acknowledge these scientific revelations as the truthful and verifiable testimonies of the immense wisdom of God or Heaven or Nature.
Serious scientists like Isaac Newton, Renê Descartes and Albert Einstein have duly acknowledged the unfathomable power of the Heavens in their discoveries and inventions. It was Albert Einstein who says, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind”.
We have no reason to diminish the prophetic status of the modern seers in science. Just because the modem prophets do not speak in the gloom-laden tone and doom-anticipated manner of the Middle Eastern prophets, is not a sufficient reason to disqualify the modern sages from being heard.
There are still many laws of creation yet to be discovered. Because mankind is still an evolving essence, let us be humble to accept the new discoveries whenever they come. We can tentatively assume that, maybe, it is another ways and means that the Heavens have chosen to speak to our Age.
Reviewing the Proposition of Rewards and Punishments as the Basis of Beliefs and Worship
The current psychological obsessions with the creed/dogma of the religious communities that make the followers to associate hell with punishment and heaven with rewards need some review in the light of our collective experiences as human beings particularly in the last 100 years.
For example, the First and the Second World Wars of the twentieth century ought to have convinced mankind that heaven and hell is within the reach of mankind to create. These two wars have unmistakably showed that mankind possessed the ability and the capability to create hell on earth, if we so decide.
Adolf Hitler’s alleged “holocaust furnace” which, shocked the sane world should have helped mankind to understand that the creator of heaven and earth, adjudged as just, benevolent and merciful by all religions, could not be associated with the basest kind of cold and calculating thinking of a psychopathic person, like Adolf Hitler.
If what we are told and what was written down about the dastardly deeds of Adolf Hitler were abhorrent to the sensibilities of every mankind, then for goodness sake, Can the Creator of Heaven and Earth be associated with the business of creating a more terrible human roasting furnace than that of Adolf Hitler?
There is a need to give this particular issue, of punishment and reward, a good food for thought. We need to set our minds free from the kind of fear of hell that some religious leaders have continuously stoked up and sustained as a means of keeping their followers from straying away from the ‘flock’.
The time has come to promote the idea that it is possible to create heaven on earth just as it was possible to create hell on earth. The simple teacher of Galilee that shook the then Judea to its core actually gave mankind a constitutional assignment of designing and of actually building a Kingdom of God on Earth.
VI. The Paradise on Earth (aka Kingdom of God)
The spiritually awakened thinkers from different parts of the world have given this assignment, of building Paradise on Earth, some quality time. And wonderful ideas have emerged and have been suggested to guide our generation in the actual establishment of the kingdom of God. This is the time for mankind to encourage ourselves on the need to search for these suggested ideas wherever they are hidden or stored on planet earth.
The religious institutions must get involved in the search for these hidden ideas on which the world shall build the prophetic kingdom of God on planet earth. Let the overriding concerns of humanity, from now, be on how to bring paradise to Earth/Nigeria; on how to construct the foundation of this kingdom of bliss; and on how to share the role and responsibilities among Nigerians for the realisation of Paradise in Nigeria.
Some Changes Are Needed
However, in order to bring this project into actual fruition, the following changes are suggested:
- The inherited archaic methods designed for the organisation of religious worship shall need some special attention and modernisation.
- The idea of eloquent preaching, theatrical sermonising, weekly assemblies, night vigil prayer meetings, Bible or Koran school and other religious cultures that seem to be totally against the freedom of expression for the individual and of restraining the freedom of equality of persons among believers and non-believers would need to be looked into.
- The cultural packages of religion that seem to be against the development and the emancipation of every living individual to its true potentials as an independent human being with freewill and not as a flock of zombified sheep cannot be of any use in the project of creating the Kingdom of God on earth.
- The present religious systems that seem to be, in all intents and purposes, designed to make worshippers more subservient and more beholding to the psychological manipulation of the acclaimed religious leaders will definitely require some serious tinkering.
As it is now, the present system does not seem to accept that worshippers have a free will and if worshippers do have, the system does not accept that they can be trusted to use it rationally.
Hence, the great efforts that are being undertaken by every religious leader of every religious institution to quarantine the worshippers of one religion or even sect of a religion from the influence of other religions/sects can be easily understood.
Also, the expected changes in the religious institutions that can make a far-reaching contribution to the establishment of the proposed Kingdom God in Nigeria shall entail, a paradigm shift in perception.
- Changing from the habit of encouraging worshippers to repeat endlessly the ancient unverifiable mythologies, fables and legends to the habit and discipline of reading and studying the modern recorded factual history of mankind;
- Changing from the practices that tried to silence and to dissuade all the curious inquirers in the fold that are desirous to seek further enlightenment about the nature of God with mystery and secret to the new practices that promote intelligent debates and rigorous researches on the science of creation and on the nature of God;
- Changing from the use of unintelligible fables, fairy tales and myths to explain serious issues that pertain to the deep meaning of life to the use of intelligence, philosophy, science, scientific experiments and human experiences as important tools for the unravelling of every gamut of issue which pertains to the meaning of life in all its entirety; and
- Changing from overemphasising the use of a self-serving narrow history/fable of people of the Middle East as the absolute manifestation of the truth of God to the liberal approach of bringing into use for better explanations and understanding a broader history of the Peoples of the world as diverse possibilities and as verifiable materials on the manifestation of the majesty of an all-embracing and a non-discriminating God/Nature.
The above suggestions are some of the changes, if they are found sensible and are accepted by Nigerians/Africans, might have the potential power to lead Nigerians/Africans out of the woods of the present mental and spiritual confusion.
We must always remember that the present type of popular religious beliefs, faiths and even the modes of worship were actually designed, created and sponsored by the colonial imperial powers from both the West and the Middle East. They are the psychological and political strategies surreptitiously put in place for the cultural, political, economic and mental domination and spiritual bondage of the African race.
VII. A New Dawn for Nigeria/Africa
This writer has diligently considered the possibility of the ancient prophecies that a New Dawn of life is coming to earth; that a new exciting period might be fast approaching which will usher mankind into the world of a New Heaven and a New Earth.
It is a fact acknowledged by keen observers of the signs-of-the-time that every religious organisation, in one form or the other, has been earnestly praying and eagerly looking forward to the birth of the glorious New Dawn.
Although the conception or the understanding of the shape and form of the New Dawn or the processes that shall be fulfilled before its realisation have varied according to the richness of the mind or the depth of the imagination of the illustrator.
Yet, at the back of the mind of every religious believer is the hope that one day he or she shall surely see, either here on earth or thereafter in heaven, the birth of the New Dawn.
The conditionalities to be fulfilled that will qualify a believer for admission into the new heaven or earth under preparation have also varied as are the number of religious organisations in circulation at a particular time.
Each founder of a religious organisation has his or her own peculiar and particular interpretation or understanding of what believers should do or not do if they truly desire to be accepted into the kingdom of the new earth and new heaven.
Which is the Pathway?
At this moment in time, there is a need to reconcile the different interpretations of this prophecy. It is apparent that every religion makes a strident claim to be the only way or the safest way to the new dawn. How can this writer or anyone prove that everyone is right or wrong in this sacred affair? It is possible, but it is not necessary, to prove anything of this nature.
The claims made by the religious leaders on peace, on blessings, on love, on joy, etc. as the right of every believing humanity on earth, are conspicuously missing. Instead of these goodies, humanity is faced with the contradictory reality of wars, of curses, of hate, of sorrows, etc.
Intelligent people all over the world are therefore forced or “led into temptation” to ask, Does it mean that a lot of the religious institutions currently in our neighbourhoods, that are reaping fabulous riches and wealth, and enjoying the patronage of the gullible masses, are the corrupted versions of some truth that heaven, through some blessedly gifted and endowed mankind, gave to humanity in the past?
The Litmus Test : Their Fruits
The only process open to mankind to verify the truth of any religious institution is to look at the recorded history of the world and compare the claims of the religious institutions with the fruits they are bearing now and the fruits they have borne in the past. To do this effectively we can use the litmus test given to the world by the Teacher of Ancient Galilee that says, “by their fruits ye shall know them”.
This writer, having looked at the past general history of mankind and having reviewed the particular history of some religious organisations, is inclined to submit that any religious institution, in its historical past, that engaged in or got entangled with the shedding of blood of fellow mankind, under any circumstances, has surely fallen away from the path of the truth of love and from the truth of peace.
If the pursuit of love and peace among mankind is the foundation on which most religions was built, then, we can safely suggest that any organisation that got itself enmeshed in any kind of war either in the past or at the present time has definitely veered away from the revelation of love and peace.
Bearing this proposition in mind, this writer will suggest that the kind of religious environment that supports the culture of hate, war, fear, ignorance, intolerance and the culture of mediocrity among followers shall need a complete revamping. That is, if humanity seriously desires to achieve the goal of the birth of the New Dawn on earth.
The School of Serious Seekers of Truth
In this direction and if indeed we are serious about seeking knowledge, truth and freedom, let the religious leaders start by turning their assemblies into schools of serious seekers of knowledge.
The churches, mosques and other religious shrines have the resources both financial and human for the organisation of literacy programmes in the interest of the illiterate members. Churches, mosques, shrines, etc. can invest their bulging financial resources and other assets in the building and equipping of modern libraries where the faithful followers can be encouraged to worship in knowledge and truth.
Let us reorganise the Sunday Church services, the Friday Jumat worship and other religious assemblies around broad learning programmes using seminars, symposia, workshops, classroom teaching, etc. to introduce worshippers to every subject under the sun.
The current teaching method of eloquent but shallow preaching that uses the skill of sophistry based largely on the narrow history of a particular region of the world rather than logic that borrows heavily from the knowledge of a broader history of mankind in the exposition of the truth of life should be allowed to wither away.
A new age is breaking forth and it should be expected that the archaic methods designed for the Dark Ages shall be allowed to die a natural death.
In every religious assembly:
• Let religious leaders begin to prepare for the task of grooming teachers of a broad general knowledge of life rather than priests that specialise on a narrow religious knowledge of life.
• Let the religious leaders encourage a climate that supports intuitive and scientific approaches to learning and research rather than a climate that encourages pedantic regurgitation of unprovable mythological history of the bygone ages.
• Let the religious leaders encourage dreamers and idealists in their assemblies rather than the current fixation on the conservation of ill-fitting traditions that seem not to be helpful in the liberation of the minds of members into a true life of the reborn and the awakened.
• Let the religious leaders acknowledge the role of change as a fundamental principle to the goal of the New Dawn. We must accept the truth that change is the foundation on which life revolves and that without the changes of renewal, of rebirth, and of regeneration, life on earth shall definitely come to a catastrophic end.
• Let the religious leaders begin a new exploration of the truth of existence regardless of where you think you are in the journey of life. There is an urgent need to review all the popular concepts of God in vogue. The truth of what we mean by God is out somewhere there even in the misty clouds of legend, myth, fable, exaggeration, colourful overstatement, and brilliant allegory. The only cardinal condition is the willingness to be humble if we desire to search for the truth of life. We must endeavour through the search for the truth of life to allow the spirit of truth to purge us clean of all forms of false fabrication that have become the fundamental truth of some religious faith today.
• Let us study the history of our faith from the perspectives of the critics, the atheists and the believers as well. We need to recognise that any form of truth that cannot be challenged by exploring its many other dimensions because it has been accepted by followers as absolute is dangerous to the goal of the New Dawn.
The New Dawn is expected to usher into the planet earth, the kingdom of God. This kingdom shall be one that supports the freedom of thought and expression. It shall be a kingdom of kings and queens that will have no covert or overt provision for slaves or masters. In other words it shall be a kingdom of the equals and of mutual partners.
In this kingdom it shall not be sacrilegious to review the revelation of God in the light of human understanding in a particular generation. It should be mentioned that a revelation of God that is pronounced in words and sentences is definitely bound to be fraught with errors. The words and sentences the visionary chooses to express a divine matter will instantly corrupt the full essence of the spiritual or intellectual revelation.
Human Experience: A Pathway to the Divine
Mankind is yet to discover the perfect words that can fully express divine feelings accurately and without any ambiguity. As men and women in the business of divinity, we need to acknowledge the basic truth that it is extremely difficult to put the revelations of divine experiences into words that can convey the real meaning of what the visionary saw in the spirit and truth.
From the works of prophets recorded in several holy books, revelations seem to come to mankind like a silent motion film. The observer of this divine film can only understand the film by recourse to the knowledge of things already known. If the intellectual level and knowledge of the visionary is low then the selection of words and sentences to convey the observations shall be equally low on the scale of cerebral intelligence.
And bearing in mind that the human nature from time memorial has not changed. The way mankind sees, hears, feels, tastes, and smells have remained same since the time of creation. The ancient sages and prophets are therefore not particularly different from the modern men. Except, they had more time for meditation on the divine matters since there were less social and technological distractions in those days compared to what we have today.
Let us for instance use our experiences as a nation to understand the world of the ancient people whose revelations some of us are fanatically convinced cannot brook any reflection apart from those that were handed down to us over the generations. This premise of knowledge is definitely outside the law of uniqueness that dictates that each of us is not expected to perceive sensory stimuli in the same way.
Let us look at the coverage of news and events in Nigeria today through the eyes of the newspapers. We shall notice that the same social or political event often attracts diverse coverage, as per the number of editors involved.
We shall discover that each editor or reporter often slant the story of the event in line with the objectives the editorial board set out to achieve or according to the personal prejudice or bias of the editor.
The angles of the story that are highlighted are those that are relevant to the editor’s circumstances or cultural or religious or social background. There is nothing wrong in this behaviour whatsoever. It is in line with the laws that fashion us as human beings.
However, it is immoral when the editor or reporter deliberately and knowingly routed the story in blatant untruthfulness to promote some hidden motives or some nefarious agenda.
Let us recognise these human differences as part of the beauty of creation. History has confirmed that each race, each generation and each epoch of life has bred its own prophet.
Let us leave out self-pride even in our zealot claims to the knowledge of and the one-to-one relationship we enjoy with God.
Let us desist from downplaying and ridiculing other beliefs and faiths on earth.
Let us encourage mutual respects for each other’s claims with respect to issues which pertain to the evolving philosophies and concepts of heaven and God.
Let us learn to share our common and uncommon experiences in the journey of life as we accept the limit of our human capacity to capture the full essence of the power, force, energy and love of that which is called Allah, God, Abassi, Chukwu, Ogene, Olorun, etc.
It is only by acknowledging the above stated truth that Nigerians can begin the real task of building a New Nigeria of kings and queens that will eventually usher into our world the Kingdom of God on earth.
May the spirit of truth open our spiritual eyes to see the breaking of a New Dawn on earth and in Nigeria.
May the spirit of truth give each of us the gift of humility to enable us, without letting our ego to be an obstruction, engage our intellect afresh in seeking the truth of life and in understanding better even the knowledge of those things on which we are fanatically claiming religious expertise.
May we be rich in the wisdom that heaven bestows on every sincere seeker of the truth of life.
And may we also have the grace to serve this generation with our souls as we devote our skill, intelligence, passion and love to the true task of the mental emancipation and spiritual awakening as well as the social, economic and political freedom of Nigerians, Africans and Humanity.
In The Spirit of Truth
SAM ABBD ISRAEL