DAY 26: On Religion.
His height was barely higher than the pulpit. Everything about him was medium; complexion, weight and even his vocabularies. After reading a verse from the Bible, he removed his reading glasses before descending from the alter, pious poise accompanying his every step. When he spoke, his voice was calm and commanding. His every word seemed measured. On the very last pew where I sat, his voice softly boomed on the overhead speakers.
“There once was a hermit who lived in a quiet remote village located on a hill side.” He began his story. A picture of an isolated medium size house surrounded with lash green grass and trees flashed in my mind. I heard the river flowing and birds chirping. I lifted my gaze into the horizon and saw large farms that were well attended to. The air was fresh, and the moisture from the fertile soil floating in the gentle breeze.
After a long dramatic pause, he continued, “One day a traveler came by his house and inquired what he would do if tomorrow was to be his last day. After a moment of thinking, the hermit replied, ‘I would attend to my farm in the morning, fetch water and clean my house. I would then rest, and in the evening probably visit my friend. Then come back for a prayer and wait for the final hour.’ Puzzled the traveler further inquired, ‘Isn’t that what you do every day?’ To which the hermit replied, ‘Yes.’”
In that very moment, my anxious heart calmed. I took a deep breathe and the hustle I had endured in the Nairobi’s Friday evening bustling jam faded away. This was my first time in a church, after what I can only describe as forever. In that instance of my life I was still grappling with questions on religion. About a year before, I had come to the decision that I had to know God for myself, and not the one from my upbringing.
My view then, and even now, is that most religions put much emphasis on faith; ‘It is by faith that we believe.’ When everything is going wrong, “it is God’s plan.”. This much emphasis on faith results to indoctrination, believing without a strong logical sense to base our faith on. If I go to church and remain obedient to the faith of my up bringing, because it is what the society expects, because while growing up I was branded a ‘good kid’ when I did so. How different would I be from a domesticated animal?
I have, at several instance held discourse with friends who say that we worship God because of his marvelous works in our lives. Caution ought to be involved in this line of thought, for it portrays the purpose to worship as stemming from indebtedness, and not gratefulness. I invite you, if you please, to imagine with me; Your acquaintance Joe is about to be discontinued from the university due to financial constraint. You have extra cash, and decide to bail Joe out. Now, Joe is treating you nicely on the basis of your good action to him.
To respect personal differences, I cannot guarantee that you will be repulsed by Joe’s indebtedness to you. Although in line with the appropriate norms in such a case, Joe should simply be grateful. And if there was an arrangement to pay back, then he should make such efforts to do so within the frame of the agreement. Since we attribute to God our best qualities, it follows then that it is likely that God is disgusted when we praise him out of indebtedness, thinking that we owe Him.
To say that religion and going to church is unnecessary is very far from my intention. I present the observation that most religious doctrines have failed to appeal to the human reasoning. Their focus is majorly on emotions. How different is this method from manipulation? And that most people fall in the trap of believing without a logical sense of what they believe in. Thus, their soul and mind are constantly engaged in a tag of war.
I am of the opinion that it is okay to question religion. It is okay to question the doctrines. It is okay to question the existence of God. For in the process of questioning and seeking answers, you will be able to build your faith on the concrete foundation of reason. With such faith, you will find peace, you will withstand the tempests. For the absence of peace in our hearts is brought about by indulging in activities that lie outside the boundaries of our faith. And we are prone to fall into the temptation of such indulges when we don’t know the foundations of our faith.
Leading a righteous life is important. A life that is not motivated by the idea of heaven. A life in which when told that tomorrow will be our final day, there is no rush to finalize anything. There is no rush to repent anything. A life in which being good is not means to the end, it is the end. This life ensures happiness and peace of mind. This life is anchored on faith, faith based on the concrete logical sense of what you believe in.
Disclaimer: These thoughts expressed herein are solely of the writer, and is not aimed at persuading, demeaning or condemning persons, religions or religious doctrines.