7. Mercenaries of God
Our ancestors never needed the dogmas of Vatican or the Fatwahs of Mecca to tell them what is good and what the obverse is. Today, our noveaux religieux are simply satellites of the Vatican and Mecca, or other such power centres that dictate on doctrine and dogma. Time was when Vatican told the world “Extram Ecclessiam, Nulla Salus est”- Salvation could not be had outside the Church. I wonder which salvation that meant. That was conceptual imperialism at its finest. Centuries of Christians believed that papal nonsense.
The renaissance in spite of the impeding conservatism of the Church happened. It gradually eroded the basis of ecclesial authority. The church sought to hold itself in balance. It fought losing battles with the new epistemic authority availed humanity by science. It was not until an aggiornamento happened that the church really considered some of the impious nonsense it peddled in the past. John XXIII was compelled by modern circumstances to ventilate the stuffy entrails of the church. He opened the window. He let in some fresh air. It was at this time that the Christian church searched for voices within her ranks, which would have been condemned to slow bonfire by the Inquisition, were they born a century earlier, did she try to salvage a little credibility.
To offset the faux pas of the Extram Ecclesiam assertion without losing face, the Church borrowed heavily from one of her sons. Karl Rahner was a brilliant Austrian theology professor, who believed in the church and her salvific mission. It was he who reworked that assertion with all its theological implications. He believed the assertion that salvation could not be had outside the church. But took it a step further to account for the fate of all those who found themselves outside the Catholic Church and millions of other who would never come into that faith. He then extended the definition of the Church. He extended it to include everybody, whether baptised or not. The only ticket now for admittance, unlike in the past definition, is that this person must do good according to the dictates of his conscience, even if he had never heard the name of Christ. He comprehensively baptised everyone a Christian, even those who were born before Christ came. He called them “anonymous Christians”. (Lumen Gentium 14-16) That signified the church’s readiness to moderate that stand. The Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, gave an apostolic blessing to that modification.
The former stand is akin to the baloney sold by Muslims that only Muslims will be in paradise. In this purview, which is a licence for conversion or murder, one is allowed either to become a Muslim, risk a second class status or face the sword of the believer.
The Christian Church has been a great conceptual and cultural imperialist, thanks to the amorphous nature of its message. This message has the ability of utilizing the vehicles of other cultures to propagate its own. This is what has ensured its survival across time and across various cultures.
Time was when the church needed to go against opposition of learned men, who were busy deploying the intellectual resources and patrimonies of the ancient world in their apologetics against faith. The “heretics” quoted Aristotle and Plato to back up their assertions. Instead of yielding ground to these voices of discontent, the Church rose up to baptise those strains of Aristotle and Plato that conduced to her message and mission, thereby cutting the ground off the feet of the dissenters. Thomas Aquinas took Aristotle to the baptismal font, while Augustine dragged Plato there.
That has been the methodology of the Christian Church since that day in Athens in AD 51, when St. Paul; the very intelligent, epileptic lawyer from Tarsus, and one of the greatest Christian proselytizers; stood in the Acropolis of Athens, rode roughshod on the Athenian concept of the unknown God, to sell them his own version of it. At that encounter at the acropolis, they argued about arguments, but Paul exercised his most delicate craft masterfully. Unfortunately, the Bible did not give us an unbiased account from the side of the Athenians.
Islam does not fare better in this regard. A glance into history would apprise you of this.
To make most of these illogical theologies persuasive to logical minds, who would normally resist these cocktails of myths and borrowed tales, these religions created militant mercenaries out of their adherents, who would be ready at a moment’s notice, to lay down their lives to fight for what the priestcraft of their various persuasions tells them God’s will is, at any given point in time. The Christian church even went a step farther to make jingoistic militancy and the ability to inflict unrestrained violence on adversaries in Jesus’ name a sacrament. They called it confirmation. When confirmation couldn’t raise enough soldiers to crusade for that choice piece of real estate in Palestine called the Holy Land, the Holy See resorted to selling indulgences and other heavenly real estates, to raise cash to finance the war for the Holy Land. That would not be the end of selling for sordid money, heavenly graces and other mythical appurtenances that confers hope on the people in this vale of tears, while the priestcraft indulged all their appetites here on earth. Islam took it equally a notch higher. It decriminalised murder, in as much as it was committed against an infidel. A crime was cooked to religious palatability. Those who killed for their faith became virtuous. And those who died for it gained an unimpeded access to paradise.
Suffice it to note that religion has effected some of the greatest whitewashings of crime in history. From temple prostitution to the anathematization of sex-one of the most beautiful acts of our natures, religion has most times been at the forefront of delegitimizing every natural delight that makes human life pleasurable. In religion’s name, violence has been baptised and canonized; roguery and plunder whitewashed. In fact, impious neurosis of various shades and forms have been given religious blessings, and forced upon large swathes of ignorant humanity, as absolute truths at which they must bend their knees, in absolute obeisance.
What about the priestcraft of religion?
History has not been kind on the institution of priestcraft of religion. The priestcraft of various religions have been summaries of debauchery. Some priests have been experts in the darkest villainies known to history. Honesty and probity has been foreign to many of them. Total impiety constituted the religion of many of them. Many of them preached virtue on pulpits, while all vices fought for supremacy within them. Many worshipped avarice, ambition and debauchery, using every instrument of treachery, perfidy, flattery, ass-kissing, and so on. In spite of great host of good and holy men and women of various religions, there are many men and women of God, who preached moralities on pulpits and religiously violated every single one of them immediately the light is turned off. Several priests were prominent patrons of irreverent circles. Many of them lie with infernal ease; spent monies skimmed off impoverished people on impious pleasures; affect scandalous piety as respite from adultery; and have Bacchus as the only true god they worship.
Till date, in spite of contemporary catholic attempts at sublimating its violent past and propensities; a departure engendered by the aggiornamento of the Second Vatican Council, which reached its apogees in John Paul II apologising to the whole world in 2000 for all catholic atrocities in history; imported theologies have always spawned mercenaries for God since that day at the portals of the garden at Gethsemane, when Simon Peter drew his sword to harvest an ear in defence of his master.
all imported religious are guilty here. They have their soldiers of Christ; soldiers of the cross; God’s army, Hezbollah-Army of Allah, and so on. Military divisions or armies are never created to serve ice-creams. They are killing machines. Throw religion into the mix, and the most incomprehensible motivation for murder arises. With such armies massed on both sides of religious disagreements and conflicts in Nigeria, blood will continue to flow on such frontlines of war between Christians and Muslims like Jos, Nigeria. Such conflicts will always have hideous results. ‘Holy thieves’ is not only oxymoronic or a conceptual monstrosity, thieves that pretend to holiness are in actual fact the most dangerous of crooks. This would tell you what happens when murderers in the most proximate potency, are offered religious reason to practice their trade.
8. At the Mercy of Alien Doctrines: The Example of ‘Hardship’ Allowance
Stealing is an ignoble vocation. But it is a very hard one. I am all for a guy who does the dirtiest job, getting seriously remunerated for his troubles. I mean: he is entitled to hardship allowance. But that job must not be criminal. It must be a legitimate, noble, productive and edifying occupation. A thief will never qualify for hardship allowance in my consideration.
No ethical tradition or responsible disposition would ever justify that.
Paying a thief some special allowance to compensate him for his troubles of robbing us, empties productivity of meaning, and plunges society into the paths of retrogression. No society has ever advanced, when its citizens are empowered and remunerated to prowl on the lives and property of their compatriots. No society subsists or survives on robbery. Remunerating robbery compromises social progress. And we would never subscribe to that.
Thievery is a base occupation. I can only consider some allowance for a thief; who reserves no other means to survive, outside petty stealing to forestall gastronomic emergency. This allowance would be to wean him off his disreputable occupation, and stabilize him enough to get back to positive employment. Apart from this, I wonder how any sane mind would countenance “hardship allowance” from the community treasury, for a monumental thief, who solemnly steals way beyond the limits of his greedy elasticity. I wonder how the people could keep quiet in timid acquiescence, as thieves stake claims to hardship allowance from the commonweal, for the most ‘difficult job’ of robbing us with their pens.
If you cannot fathom this, you are in great company. I am also in the company of many normal thinking people, who cannot fathom the Nigerian politician.
The introduction to this piece made it very clear. A country that imports everything including its ideologies is a country enslaved to the capricious whims of the sources of its imports. A country that produces nothing save recycling expired ideologies; regurgitating failed policies; and canonizing her geriatric crooks has nothing of substance to contribute to the march of human civilization. That country deserves to lose its name; be swept into forgetfulness by the ebbs of history, or allowed to disintegrate into its component parts, to see if any productive renaissance could sprout out of such decay.
Nigeria is a case in point here!
We imported Western style democracy. Instead of edifying us and leading us to the fertile shores of development, it has denuded us of our humanity and nourished our greed and avarice. The western style democracy we imported protects neither our lives nor our property. Our ancient African ways kept our society whole, helped us preserve our environment and guaranteed the ecological integrity necessary for integral existence. But the one we imported was the robber-baron version, which canonizes only capital and decapitates men.
To that end, even till today, the crudest version of dysfunctional politics that characterized the medieval courts of Europe, and the corresponding sycophancy that it spawned as it ravaged and pushed Europe into the dark ages, are unfortunately the two most lucrative cottage industries in Nigeria of contemporary times.
These industries promise the greatest return of profits on investments. Godfathers invest their money to buy office in a primeval version of political simony. Influences are traded, sold, and purchased with thuggery, assassinations, threats, inflammation of ethnic allegiances, treachery and an overabundance of backstabbing and perfidy. These two industries employ many otherwise intelligent minds and convert them into citadels of corruption; purchasable consciences only there to attend to the needs of their avarice.
To get to office, they are ready to sell their souls to the infernal powers. Here political simony is the surest route to power. They kick, kill, bite and bribe to get into office. Once in office, instead of taking care of the business of the people, whose supposed mandate they enjoy, they spend their office, principally stuffing and satiating their greed with resources cornered and skimmed off the commonweal. Their second vocation is then settling all the capricious matrices that bought or smoothened their ways to power. Little time and consideration is dedicated to the people’s business. They people are never an important consideration in such a scheme. They people are used as cosmetic slogans to hide the rotten metaphysic, which inspired and nourishes their concept and grasp of power. Power is for service, only if the god that desires their genuflection or service is their avarice, and every other minor deity that panders to that.
To this end, the Nigerian politics has become an essential arena where greed marries audacious impunity. We have virtually no opposition party in parliament. This is because the ruling party equally rules the electoral umpire. To win an election anywhere in the country, one must sell his soul to the ruling party. Many of the politicians have no convictions or ideologies of the kind of politics they want to play or represent. All they want is power for its own sake. And they march into the ruling party in droves. They are content in getting into office. They are not content or concerned with achieving anything of substance, while in office. They are clever in their rogueries. Nigerians have been out-dribbled into keeping their eyes shut, while the ruling party runs the affairs of the electoral umpire. And the electoral umpire allows only those who are marked with the signs of the ruling beast. I wonder how the beast would ever allow credible elections, since even kids are suffused with nightmares since they got acquainted with the face of the Nigerian beast. The beast must then rule with the sceptre of iron, and give us scorpions and stones, whenever we ask for bread.
You need not go farther than looking at the quality of debates in all levels of our legislature in Nigeria; from the local councils; through the state houses of assembly to the National assembly. The only debates in these houses that attract strident and vociferous debate, sometimes conducted with fisticuffs is when it comes to the salaries and perks of office of the members of parliament, their budgetary allocation; or the impeachment of a chief executive that refused to bribe them. Other than that, no legislation of substance that has the people as it centre has ever emanated from our senate or house of Reps. But these men and women are paid allowances in excess of what we as a country budget for the education of our children and posterity. It towers over what we budget to eradicate the artificial poverty that our politics and its international supporters have plunged the majority of our people into. It transcends what we budget for agriculture and feeding of our population; it dwarfs what we budget for infrastructure development or in restoring the ecological integrity of the Niger Delta, which has
remained a placard of our collective callousness.
These representatives collect sitting allowance for every sitting, even when they are not present. It is a cool investment. You can stay in your house and sleep all day and your sitting allowance keeps on flowing into your account. I wonder how an employee, who plays truancy at work without adequate explanation, could keep his job although his employer is well aware of his antics. It is either that the employer is stupid, irresponsible or compromised. If not, the employee should have been thrown out long ago. If you watch sittings of the Nigerian senate on TV, one is something repulsed by the lackadaisical approach of the Senators to what should be a very serious business. Empty seats stare you in the face. You cannot but ask yourself, where the guy who is supposed to represent your interests seats to do that. He may be representing you by servicing his phallic needs on top of one of his mistresses in a hotel room in Abuja; or he may be busy junketing from one South American capital to the other, since this has become their choice destination for money laundering since Europe and America started trying to set an example with Ibori and Atiku.
The greatest insult to the Nigerian suffering masses, is that these guys who are deluged with unmerited pleasures and perks of office, are in addition to that, skimming serious money off the Nigerian treasury as “HARDSHIP ALLOWANCE” for doing simply NOTHING! Quote me: They do nothing!!!
They collect hardship allowance for riding air-conditioned cars, and a kilometre long retinue of security, hangers on, and assistants, when Nigerians have no roads to drive their cars, or an efficient transportation system to cater to their needs.
Many of these guys are conscienceless jobbers. Added to that is their lack of integrity and shamelessness. Many of the Senators have never introduced any bill in the senate since they got in there, in spite of the extreme wastage of resources in maintaining offices that many of them have never sat down in. Many of them have never been to their constituencies except during election campaigns, to get to talk to the people whom they represent about their needs and problems. Yet, many go home with chunky funds for constituency projects, and accounts to no one about that, even though we have never seen many projects across these constituencies to justify these funds; and no one is asking questions about these monies.
Yet we have the scandal called Hardship allowance!
It is simply remunerating robbery. We are paying our politicians for robbing us. That is Nigeria! And this explains why the country is not developing.
* Igbo for Palmwine.
** Chi is Igbo the god guarding the portals of destiny
*** Agbala is Igbo goddess of the caves, which guards our community; a powerful spirit that does great things.