The funny news is this: this Sunday morning in Lagos, President Jonathan genuinely baffled us with the statement that, without the backup activity of prayer warriors, Nigeria’s security status would have been even more screwed up than it currently is. Now, we know that you, our readers, are prayer-addicts and good luck—no pun—with that! But when a democratically elected President makes such a statement on public safety, you have to—as they say in England—shine your eyes well-well. Although, on the bright side: at least you know the President has a security plan in place.
Now, reliance on prayer is not so shabby a security blueprint, (although we consider it totally ass-fucked), considering that it seems to work well enough for the Vatican. The problem is, while the Vatican has Angel Michael on speed dial, someone in the Ministry of Defense forgot to obtain VIP pass for final approval from God—or whatever witchery you have to perform to get your prayers working—for, no sooner had the President finished his statement than Boko Haram flipped him a finger and pulled another dick move—in what has to be the most astonishing case of conflicting reliance on divine instructions.
Now, of course, Boko Haram isn’t a new issue in the country. In fact, every well bred Nigerian—unlike us—knows that a situation stops being a “pressing issue” after three days of non-resolution by the government. And, after two weeks it stops being an issue altogether. And accordingly, the most successful public policy of Nigerian governments has been: “Hang on guys, let’s allow this one to blow off by itself.” And if the particular public official ranks high on the asshole scale—they may even pass it off as an unsolvable spiritual problem.
Common sense says Boko Haram isn’t going to blow off by itself, and an offering-load of prayers will not resurrect one dead victim. But this is Nigeria, and we love to screw around with vital situations, and that’s why the government is committed to investing prayer into public issues—and that’s why religious leaders have tried to re-brand the president as some Old Testament king.
And as long as the Nigerian government continue to muddle personal spiritual issues with public policy issues they will continue to screw the job they are given. But, naturally, the government has always responded to social criticism by mistaking unhappiness with discontent: but Nigerians are not merely discontent with the half-assed attitude a government that relies on magic—miracles, if you wish—they are truly unhappy about it.
But GEJ is a sly dog. Instead of facing his critics on the continued Boko Haram insurgency, it is plain easier for him to file the problem away as a “God vs Satan” affair, and leave Oritsejafor and his book club members to sort it out. Afterall, no “sane” Nigerian really expects Goodluck Jonathan, Mortal, to do all the work when it comes to waging war against the damn Devil.
And when the majority of Nigerians are wired to think this way, then the government wins the lottery. And here’s the lesson for today: the Nigerian government counts on your approval to a spiritual argument. Even more, it counts on your inability to detect when your brain is being messed with. You see, GEJ isn’t just appreciative of your prayers, he’s also appreciative of your tendency to forget the underlying issues by the time you are done reading this line.
You know we are asking for trouble on Idlemindset when we reference God in what is clearly an irreligious blog. Now that its virtually becoming Nigerian law not to take God’s name in vain, we really can’t predict the response of you, our dear, religiously sentimental, readers. Nigeria is a religious country and no one screws around with their God or Gods or gods. No one, that is, except us. Of course, when we use the word “God” on this blog, we expect you to fill in the relevant, itty-bitty details by yourself: e.g. gender, looks, musical preference, number of angels and tolerance level for bullshit. In fact, for our own purpose, and because we love women, we will consider God as a kindly ageless woman with plenty angels (three of whom will die shortly), listens to Afro hip-hop and has an unlimited tolerance for the bullshit we do everyday.
But today’s post is not geared towards a psychoanalysis of the nature of God, nor is it about defending the independence of God—She is perfectly capable of doing that Herself, otherwise She would have resigned the title “God” long ago. Instead, we’ll focus our precious time on examining that alarming, and almost specifically Nigerian, culture of invoking God in every half-assed achievement scenario, however irrelevant. And the latest of these infatuation with spiritual controllers is the relegation of God to the role of a favoritism prone, country partisan, asshole of a football official who lets one team win and double-crosses the other team.
Here’s an example of how prevalent that mentality is: at a barbershop yesterday, during the match against Ivory Coast, a Nigerian watching the play had a near heart attack when someone playfully suggested that some juju must have been involved in the seemingly improved performance of the Super Eagles. This cardiac-prone gentleman, like a desperate defense attorney, seriously began to rebuke his fellow fan for ascribing to Ifa what was clearly the handiwork of the Christian God. “This match belongs to Jehovah” he said with profound insight, and three angels collapsed and died on the spot (we warned you).
You see, playfully ascribing a football match to juju is one thing, seriously ascribing it to God, instead of hard work, practice and random factors, is another. The uncomfortable truth is this: God is freaking indifferent to the African Cup of Nations. And the Barclay’s Premier League, and the World Cup. But apparently, Mr. Keshi clearly thinks God is a Nigerian, because during the press conference after the victorious match, he confidently proclaimed that “God is wonderful, the boys showed character.” In fact, he started the conference with the verbal equivalent of tossing the ancestors a libation before commencing a social drink: “First of all, I want to thank God….”
Now here’s the crux of today’s post. Its okay to thank God in everything. But superstitious belief should not be confused with a personal thanksgiving. In a country where religion precedes common sense and folks are convinced that supernatural forces, and not human factors, decide what happens, we should not hesitate to fight against that mentality wherever it pops up. We will achieve a great deal more if we thank God less and work harder, than if we thank God more and work less—and it doesn’t matter what your religious leaders tell you. In any case they will be the first to abscond if this country crashes from the weight of their superstitious influences.
And God doesn’t mind your focusing less on superstitions, really. That’s why She gave you that pound of meat contained inside your skull—so get the fuck out and use it. And just like a fish doesn’t wait for God before using its fins, or a bird before using its wings, you shouldn’t sit on your sorry ass, praying, waiting for meat. Unless, of course, you live a zoo. Otherwise, you just have to work for your own goals. God is awesomely indifferent to your football matches, your fixtures, your players or your coach. And the same applies to a lot of everyday life and activity. The supernatural realm is very, very indifferent to a lot of things you consider very, very important.
And so what’s the use of religion and spirituality? Religion is an internal influence, not an external one. Your religion is a personal spiritual business, its not a physical force that will change things for you. Your religious beliefs will not change the laws of nature, logic and human psychology. Whatever your religion, either primitive ancestral worship or the more advanced Christianity, Islam and their several counterparts, if you jump from a skyscraper and fall on a rock below, you will break something. If you work studiously towards a goal, you will get it. Religion could give you knowledge, but it won’t give you resources. Religion could give you enlightenment, but it won’t give you progress. Religion could give you inspiration but it won’t give you success. You just have to do that freaking work yourself. And with that said, get off this blog and go do something useful.
P.S. Remember to order my short play “Death in the Dawn” here. It will not change your life, but it will entertain you some. 😀 😀 😀
Today, as tempting as that discourse is, we will say nothing referencing Goodluck Jonathan’s “media chat” yesterday. No, we will not go down that road. We will say nothing about the “subsidy” removal, or the Boko Haram “dialogue”, or the inter-state expressway contracts. We will, however, briefly mention our agreement with Mr. Jonathan when he said: “It is dangerous for this country if PDP should win all the states.” That aside, I am sure the saner readers of this blog have brutally murdered all the fucks they had for Mr Jonathan and his media chats. In any case, we all have more important things to do this morning.
That’s why, instead, we will take time of to commiserate with our ill-used Christian brothers and sisters who manage to endure crazy Sundays in Lagos—and certainly in other parts of Nigeria too. And by “crazy”, I mean the sight of tired, almost bedraggled, Christians, lining the bus-stops from Epe to Sango to Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, slowly baking under the sun, while their so-called shepherds, the “pastors”, drive past in nice air-conditioned cars. And sometimes, in a convoy of nice air-conditioned cars.
You would think by now, over 30 years after Fela sang about religious leaders boolsheeting their way to a life of luxury on earth, Christians, especially the Pentecostal ones, would have cottoned on to the mind-fuck of a religious scam. But noo! They had to go ahead and donate money for a private jet while most families paraded in motorised rickshaws and motorcycles. Fela would gladly stick the pointy end of his sax up their collective butts if that would let them get his point. Almost all Pentecostal churches in the country follow this pattern of neglecting the poor and donating to already wealthy pastors. If that’s not a confusing mind-fuck, then nothing else is.
Well, again, these materialistic pastors are not only to blame, their materialistic, divine intervention prone, miracle seeking, prophecy motivated congregation can be faulted too. Only greedy people are victims of a scam. And when you believe that your faith in God should be measured in Naira and Kobo, then you will only end up making your pastor incredibly wealthy.
Fela may be a moral scumbag, but he understands the Sermon on the Mount more than most Christians. It is the duty of the shepherd to feed the flock—and not just with spiritual boolsheet. Jesus fed the Five Thousand with some hardcore bread and fish. A modern pastor would have carried the original basket home to feed himself instead. On the fair side, though, Jesus was an ass-kicking Son of God, or maybe even the first incarnation of Superman; while these pastor folks are hungry humans also looking for a life of ease and a sizable pension. In fact, pastors and bankers have come a long way from the days when Jesus whipped the money-changers out of the temple.
Let’s cut to the chase here. If you were idle enough to check out the links above, you’d have seen from good ol’ Wikipedia that the word “pastor” is derived from the Latin for “shepherd”. And that’s the lesson for today: there is no moral justification for any pastor to be well fed while any single member of his congregation is hungry. There is no moral position for a pastor to transport in comfort while any single member of the congregation treks. As long as any single member of the congregation is unclothed, no pastor has a right to wear the best clothes—and the same goes for shelter, and other basics. Any single member. Its a high standard, but that’s why pastoring is not meant for just any imaginative Tom, Dick and Harry with a good command of English and a scrappy knowledge of the gospels. Pastoring is for people willing to suffer, and suffer hard, for the sake of others.
Well, as Mr. Jonathan could have told you in his media chat yesterday, if you’d bothered to watch: it is easier for a pastor to purchase a private jet than for a common man to travel on the Benin-Ore Road.
P.S. Sorry, I told you it was tempting.
A friend of mine captured some ironic Nigerian scenarios in his blog here, while another touched on it here (with a funny story of a would-be-marriage counselor), and others also dwelt on the pervasive irony of Nigerians here and here. Irony is a way of life in Nigeria, it is hardly noticed. And if you didn’t spot the irony in that statement you’re a Nigerian. You can barely walk a few metres out of your house without spotting it hanging around. Even street traders have gotten into the irony game.
I don’t know if this ironic lifestyle has always been the case historically; but in modern times, I gladly lay some of the blame at the door of the Nigerian religion. Just take a look at the abundant religious irony: well-fed pastors and their hungry congregations; church mansions where the homeless are not allowed to sleep; church members that profess the Beatitudes yet some come to church in the latest vehicles while others walk; deacons in Italian suits and hawkers in local wrappers; pastors who teach God’s protection but walk around with bodyguards; bishops who gladly denounce the sins of the masses but keep silent about the crimes of the leaders; Sunday-school teachers who tell the story of Ananias and Sapphira–but have never shared out their own salaries; divorce prone pastors who preach marital sacredness; “God-fearing” religious leaders who anoint corrupt political leaders; political leaders who call on God at every disaster…
But even more to blame are the people who accept this ironic lifestyle as a way of life, especially the Christians who claim to go to church “because of God and not because of the pastor“. Such people will be damned as well in the lakes of fire (if any such fabulous place exists) for they are worse than the perpetrators. These are the people who, in places of worship and out of it, through their submissive silence and acceptance of the “order of things”, allow injustice and oppression to continue. They claim to be in church for Christ, but Christ didn’t tolerate irony.
Modern religious leaders are known for the brigands, cowards, hypocrites, spiritually snobs, looters and Italian-suited dishonest businessmen that they are, but even worse are their devoted followers, who turn a blind eye to the inconsistencies of their faith.
The end result is a system where irony reigns supreme, from local markets to sophisticated churches to legislative houses. We’re all allowed to say one thing and do another.