A lot of my peeps, including my mum, relations, friends and even acquaintances, have been asking and wondering what really happened to my religious beliefs? At times, some of my post and utterances sound irreverent, sometimes discordant with the typical Christian beliefs. “Ah ah is this not the Chisom – the once very religious guy. The altar boy, legion presido etc, the guy who at one time his mum advocated him to be a priest due to his deep spirituality and religious zeal!”. Yeah, it’s still same old me, save that some months back I started metamorphosing (although that ability was inherent since, but it was now that destiny deemed it fit to begin). And, it is as a result of this that I thought of sharing, in a succinct way, the much I could of why “I am what I am now”.
As a great philosopher aptly put it “only 10% of humanity thinks, 20% think that they think, the rest of the 70% are afraid to think and don’t think”. I feel this is very trite, especially, when we talk of religion (all religion – including Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, traditional beliefs, occult, etc ).
I have always been a staunch catholic (and till date I am still a catholic, although I won’t describe myself as the conventional catholic anymore). During these period and despite the rich spirituality and morality available which I witnessed in Catholicism (equally available in other denominations as well) I noticed also the deep rot, materialism, hypocrisy, priest craft or in the case of pastors pastolatory, politics, and other vices abundant in the same church (and also overflowing in other denominations too). I equally began to ponder why I was made to understand that I cannot question the ills I see (or I risk the wrath of GOD by speaking against his anointed) or I will be guilty of heresy or blasphemy, and then be condemned to hell and unimaginable pains for all eternity by a GOD of justice simply because I questioned religious beliefs and sought to understand GOD the way HE is based on my conception of him rather than based on the conception laid out to me by some fellow men who feels they are (GOD’s direct children anointed to teach and think for us while we are GOD’s grand children or even adopted children designated to follow and accept whatever is given to us as the truth about God).
I began to question the facts and veracity of some things stated in our holy books and I discovered some of them to be fallacies. (That will be a subject for another day because it is too long and controversial to be incorporated here). I saw contradictions, schisms all prevalent in our holy books and our ways of worship (yet we all profess same GOD of either Christianity or Islam as the case may be).
I equally started observing our dogmas, and I noticed that most of us are just confused subservient followers who have been indoctrinated at best (by/between religion and culture). What actually spurred me to this truth was the fact of reincarnation. A phenomenon widely accepted and known for ages (common to us Africans, Asians, Jews, South Americans, and even Indians). Yet it is denied by Christianity (by virtue of St. Paul’s write up to the Galatians). The passage of the bible where Christ affirmed its reality (by the story of the man born blind from birth and the apostles asked whose sin made him blind, is it that of his parents? Or him? And Christ said it is not his nor his parents but he was born blind for God’s name to be glorified…) is down-played. The question I ask: can a baby be guilty of sin? Assuming we say it was original sin (sin of Adam and Eve that made him blind) why are we all not blind? Since we all are supposedly guilty of that? Why didn’t Christ rebuff the apostles belief of reincarnation and karma, but simply merely told them it is not that, rather it was for God’s name to be glorified? Equally the story of Christ telling the apostles’ that John the Baptist was the reincarnation of Elijah will equally be down-played and re-interpreted by our “knowledgeable sages” who knew it better than Christ who said it verbatim. And so on and so forth. It is in the course of all these my researches, agitations and quest that I met Fr. Arazu CSSP and one Fr. Udembe CSSP. These great men actually corroborated what I earlier knew i.e, that religion is not the answer, but LOVE. (And funny enough, the only commandment given to us by Christ was “LOVE ONE ANOTHER JUST AS I HAVE LOVED YOU”. In fact, Love was the central theme of Christ’s message(s), and not all these set of rules, rituals , threats, obligations and policies bedeviling us today that we term dogmas. To cut a very long story short, I started appreciating God the better, after this understanding. I more or less started seeing religion the way it is (a grasp of the truth and not really the whole truth about God because God is very much bigger than religion, bible , Koran, etc, and as such, cannot be subject to what those books think HE is or what we think HE is). Imagine the creator of the cosmos and imagine little us (a speck in the multitude of things He created) calling the shots and thinking we have known him based on HIS shadows cast on us. It is more akin to an ant seeing the footprints of a giant and using that as a specimen to evaluate and describe all a giant is!
Having said that, it made me more at peace with GOD and my fellow humans: I no longer see God as a tribalist, a vindictive being, a prejudicial God, etc, as some religious books will want to paint/portray HIM (favouring a particular tribe over all others. Being partial in his judgement, and flinging other humans into hell (that is if it even exists!), simply because they did not believe in one of his sons or messengers (i.e. JESUS Christ or Mohammed or Hare Krishna etc) or inflicting them with pains for all eternity because they failed to observe some rituals, or rules deigned by him through some men who in their megalomaniac tendencies feels they are the 1st sons of God. Or punish them for eternity due to faults committed in time and due to the concupiscence of the flesh. I began to see GOD for what/who I think he is (a mysterious, loving Being and a master planner who we cannot fathom his ways.). In all, it made me tolerant of other people’s beliefs and more loving because I discovered that that was what really mattered, not religion or plenty “churching”.
Well, in conclusion, my odyssey might not make much difference to many after all we have more than 2 billion religionists in this world and religion will always play a vital role to humanity whether we like it or not but that’s the irony in many being called but few being chosen.
Chisom Nwajagu Esq., is a Barrister, Solicitor, Human Rights Activist and Writer, based in Awka, Nigeria.