By Isaac N. Obasi
Your incisive piece on Reflections inside a London Church (Saturday Sun, August 27, 2016) raised some nerve-wracking issues that I wish to further reflect on given their aptness in the contemporary Nigerian Christian society.
I start by confirming that you were right in your observation that ‘those timeless hymns…driven by the harmony of the pipe organs…bring back tears in the eyes of man…Nothing can beat the joy of entering a cathedral and hearing the melodious voices of the cathedral choir singing a hymn accompanied by the organ’.
Though a Catholic, I attended a church wedding in an Anglican Church in Maitama, Abuja earlier this year, and before I knew it, tears were rolling down my cheeks as we sang with this type of organ. In fact, I sort of prematurely felt like staying in the house of God forever from there. This raises the issue of how far Nigerians are truly worshipping God in truth and in spirit, never mind the proliferation of churches, a good number of which unabashedly spend disproportionate time hoodwinking worshippers on prosperity issues.
This leads me to the more fundamental issue of football being the main religion of people of England and other parts of Europe which you raised. I agree that the god many of them worship is football but I doubt if the god we worship in Nigeria is not worse than football. In Nigeria, people worship many false gods—god of money, lies, dishonesty, corruption, kidnapping, cultism, tribalism, etc. The worst is what happens in many of the so-called house of ‘God’. The manner in which money is raised is astonishingly embarrassing to sane minds not to talk of the Almighty God.
Turning God’s house into soccer bazaar
Just a day after your article, I attended a Sunday worship in a Catholic Church in Abuja, and in the name of youth and children’s harvest funding-raising, one of the organizers right before the Blessed Sacrament (signifying God’s presence in His house) brought some young boys representing four Premier League clubs (Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal) with baskets for collecting money. She then appealed to the congregation to support their preferred clubs generously.
I was scandalised. I was wondering when would Nigerians learn to serve God in truth and spirit rather than through this scandalous wordily way. This is accepted by many as ‘normal’ and morally right in some churches these days.
The last of the issues I want to further comment on, is your observation that ‘just as we pray, so do our problems keep mounting like Mount Everest’. My take is that hypocrisy is for many a way of life. Godliness is far from the hearts of many, as what they profess with their mouth is a million kilometres away from their hearts, otherwise how come the evils in our society have kept on increasing at an alarming rate?
Economic hardship many would argue is a major reason which I agree to some extent. But how come that between two persons facing the same economic hardship, one is corrupt for example, and the other is not? Many, I think, are using religion as instrument of economic survival, as many so-called churches are no more than religious business centres.
The worst is that on campus, some of us are getting frustrated seeing student leaders already practising Nigerian brand of corrupt politics at various levels such as departmental/faculty associations, hall governments, campus-wide student unions, and at national platform (NANS). Nigeria needs ‘surgical operations’ at both the political and spiritual levels.
*Prof. Obasi (a former columnist in the Daily Trust newspaper, Abuja, and Daily Champion, Lagos, 2003-2008) teaches Public Administration at the University of Abuja. (Email: [email protected]).
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