The Second Coming
April 11, 2011 § 1 Comment
When you think of the world’s oldest profession, you’d hear hunter-gathering, or prostitution. I usually settle on farming. Hunter-gathering isn’t sustainable as you’re relying on a limited resource, competition, and a very limited success rate. You need to convince that partner you can provide for her before she’d choose you. Selling yourself on the other hand doesn’t guarantee sustenance or security, either, which weakens the argument for it. But with farming, or whatever crude version you have of it, there’s always opportunity to grow to feed enough mouths over a long period.
But I’ve decided my long-held assumption is wrong. Religion is the world’s oldest profession. You don’t need to produce anything. You don’t need to give yourself to someone in exchange for food and shelter. All you need to do is convince any one person that the god you’re selling is the reason they exist. We seem to have this need to justify our existence and even more importantly, give that life meaning for now and life after death. There’s not much of a reason to life if you believe you’re just going to become fossil fuels 500 million years from now. So emerged the wisest of conmen: priests, shaman, soothsayers, oracles, fetish priests, etc. They came selling rocks, bones, comets, mediums to ancestors, spirits, and the one no one has yet to see before: god. If you buy what they’re selling, which is always free, then they’ve got the perfect addict. Who else is going to tell you how to make it to the next life? That part, however, ain’t for free. There’s collection, tithes, money for this cure from evil spirits, money for that much needed answer from the god that never comes. Who needs spears or shovels when you can sell this right there in your corner of the cave. It’s a goldmine and practically recession proof business and we have tons in Ghana.
Take a short walk around my neighborhood and you’d think Jesus’ second coming will be to Ghana. Church is big here. It almost seems like everyone has one. I walked by a small ranch and spotted a hut, and had I not seen the sign next to it, I would’ve thought it was rest spot for sheppards. This place had to be no more than 20’*10’. Turn on the tele and almost every channel has some church service going on. Some of these services are practically everyday, and almost always full. Instead of going to work, or going out to look for work, you find people on work hours attending church, offering money and praying to god for among many things, work- talk about ironies. I saw this reverend on tv the other day. This guy was in a 3-piece, had this blinding time piece and shiny rings on each hand. He was on a program hawking his new book. It’s the same type that’s been written by thousands before, so I didn’t pay much mind to it. What bothered me was how he talked about being blessed by god with his lovely mansion in a gated community, the cars, and numerous trips abroad where his faith has allowed him to open new branches to spread his ministry. From the way he said all this, you would’ve thought he was talking about how highly successful his business had become that he’d opened new factories and sales stores elsewhere to meet demand. The unfortunate thing is, there are lots like him, lots more grooming themselves to get to his level, and multiples more gearing to start their own businesses- ahem… I meant “fellowships.”
My uncle became a pastor after working his way up the church leadership rungs. From hearing about his new position in church, you would’ve thought he had made it out of law school and was now entering the legal profession. Since when did becoming a preacher turn into a full-time, income-generating profession unto itself become the norm? When I was growing up, all these church positions were held by people who had full-time professions elsewhere. It was something they chose to do out of devotion. Now, I don’t believe in any organized religion, or have any respect for any of them, but I respect the choice others exercise to practice whatever they choose to practice. I also respected and admired those church leaders from my childhood for what they were doing. In a lot of ways, it was a thankless job for them when you knew all the hours they put into the church. Those men don’t exist anymore. Where does all that tithe money go? What happens to all those large sums churches raise for funds? Do people care at all, or are people so fearful of going against some cultural norm by holding churches accountable for everything they do? Do you ever bother to ask yourself why that person telling you to give him your last cedi is so successful, especially when his only job is “pastor?” Or are we so blinded in faith that we should buy that “it’s a blessing from god” speech, and that in time, ours will trickle down from above, too? I’ll bet that in Accra alone, there are 10 times more churches than there are schools, clinics, hospitals, police stations, fire stations, job training centres, and pharmacies combined! Want to bet that I’m wrong? I’m thinking about starting The Holy Church of Saint Michael. Any takers? I have a very solid background in near eastern philosophies. We can begin service next Sunday. I could use the extra money.