an ode to silence: the church’s abdication of its role in society

This article appeared in a local internet publication, the elephant.

It is my contention that the thesis on which the article is founded is faulty. First, however, I agree with Francis that corruption presents a problem to the survival of the nation. I think naming it corruption instead of theft was a clever trick. When you say so and so is a thief, there is some social stigma associated with theft but not so for corruption. I think naming sleaze of public purse corruption was a way to make it acceptable and here the neo-liberals won a big victory. But I digress.

Francis says the law is very clear. I have come to distrust the clarity of the law. The law is as clear as the lawyers and judges interpreting it and to what power wants. And as the elephant has in its byline, speaking truth to power, I expect, at least, an acknowledgement from them that the law is never so clear and power manipulates the law to meets its ends.

Francis writes

the Kenyan Church is abdicating its unique and vital role in society.

but does not qualify what this role is. For those students of history, we know the organised church has almost always been on the side of the oppressing class. It supported the colonialists or made people pliable and when they (colonialists) left, the church as a body was in bed with the state. However, people within different churches did stand to speak.

Referring to Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, he says the role of the church in the political sphere is to educate. He continues to note

“The Church must awaken man’s receptivity to the truth, to God, and thus to the power of conscience. It must give men and women the courage to live according to their conscience and so keep open the narrow pass between anarchy and tyranny, which is none other than the narrow way of peace.”

which leaves me asking what truth? To what god? Does the church encourage its congregation to question the nature, existence of god? If this is taken for granted, the first and greatest deceit, what truth is man to be made receptive of?

It is curious, though, that the first corruption the church is involved in is not paying taxes. They are thus able to influence public policy, laws, lobby legislators while not paying any taxes. Maybe churches, before they can lecture others on corruption should start with this anomaly.

While it is public knowledge that the following

On the frontline of Kenya’s individual Church activism during the Moi era were the Anglican Church’s Bishop Henry Okullu of Maseno South Diocese, Bishop Alexander Muge of the Diocese of Eldoret, Bishop David Gitari, the Anglican prelate of Mt. Kenya East diocese, and Rev. Timothy Njoya, a moderator in the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA). These clerics triggered the much-needed change in the country through their political engagements.

risked limb to protest the Moi government and Muge paid by his life, though, this only after whitewashing Moi. And I am allowed to ask why Njoya who is still around lost his voice? Was the struggle won? I don’t know.

And while

“Sacrilege is defined as taking something that belongs to God and using it profanely. But the worst kind of sacrilege is taking something and giving it to God when it means absolutely nothing to you.”

sounds like a serious indictment, it tells us nothing really. The christian believes god is the maker of everything, that everything is god’s will. It is a contradiction to even say that somethings don’t belong to god.

So when Francis writes

How do I answer my friend Joe Kobuthi’s query: “What does it mean when the Church goes quiet or turns a blind eye to corruption to the extent that a politician like Ruto can claim his contributions to churches to be ‘investing in heaven’”?

he could tell the friend to choose the way of schism as Martin Luther did. I see no difference between the indulgence the catholic church was collecting for forgiveness of sins and Ruto’s claim of investing in heaven. It’s the same thing. Indulgences were sold depending on ones’ ability to purchase. And many people left endowments to the church as a way for buying insurance for heaven. It’s been the church’s business t sell heaven to any bidder.

While I must say, I like the sound of Francis’ closing remarks that

It is not freedom from corruption, but rather the freedom to take a stand against it, that we must all pursue. If the Church is to retain its credibility and relevance, I believe it needs to utilise its eminent position to influence public opinion on matters affecting the nation. I would like to believe that, sooner or later, it will recover its earlier prophetic fervour for the sake of the public good and provide the moral leadership we so desperately need today in the epic fight against corruption.

One must ask if religion has any influence on morality. The last census places the religious in the country at over 90%. It is these numbers that make the church. They occupy positions in government agencies, private sector and everywhere. They are in the police service, army and everywhere else you can imagine. Why have they not come out as a group and said no. It cannot continue.

For my part, let the organized church remain quiet. Let religion remain a private affair. Let us a people mobilize, organize and start by sending the corrupt officials home. Let us call it theft. Shame all of them. And not just politicians. But everyone stealing from the public purse.

We must also begin to demand changes to our education system. We must decolonize our spaces. Educational, social, political.


Further reading

(Colonial) Christianity has made Africa(ns) stupid

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It was Phocion, the good

who Plutarch writes,

And when once he gave his opinion to the people, and was met with the general approbation and applause of the assembly, turning to some of his friends, he asked them, “Have I inadvertently said something foolish?

and while I haven’t said something foolish, I find myself in agreement with the populist Philipine president, Duterte, following remarks he made about god as reported in this piece.

They report he said, regarding Adam’s sin

“You were not involved but now you’re stained with an original sins … What kind of a religion is that? That’s what I can’t accept, very stupid proposition,”

and for all those freewillers, he asked

God created Adam and Eve only to allow them to succumb to temptation that destroyed their purity.

How do you rationalize such a god?

 

On rights, human or otherwise

I am reading an interesting book, the right to have rights, which is a critique of that statement made by Hannah Arendt in a book and an a journal.

The authors of the present book critique the human rights regime as it exists now especially its inadequacy in guaranteeing the rights as declared in the many instruments that address human rights for example the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration of Independence among others.

The question I find interesting is whether there exists a human nature as such that is subject to rights? And it is in response to this question that I find this quote by Arendt quite telling. She wrote

We are not born equal; we become equal as members of a group on the strength of our decision to guarantee ourselves mutual equal rights.

Seen in this light, therefore, human rights are not a given but are negotiated and makes sense when you look at the varied attempts to by different minority groups everywhere to assert their humanity and rights to be treated as members of the human community.

And in the same light, this quote, below, then is very telling

Perhaps that is what i must learn t accept. to start at ground level. With nothing. Not with nothing but. With nothing. No cards, no weapons, no property, no rights, no dignity. Like a dog. Yes, like a dog.

J.M Coetzee

 

PSA

No, there is no announcement I am making.

I find it hard, almost 90% of the time, when I blog to choose the appropriate title for a blog post. There are times I have deleted posts because I couldn’t think of an appropriate title and I don’t want to use click bait. I still don’t know where this post is going but hopefully it turns out to be something.

Most of the time when people stay away from blogging, Shelldigger i am looking at you, on return they give a number of excuses I mean reasons for the haitus. These have varied from illness to ‘life’. Now, life is an interesting reason to give. I see this blog not just as an expression of my growth and change in opinions and beliefs since I began writing it 6 years ago but also as an opportunity to be not so anonymous. And here there is a contradiction; this blog is public. There is much on it about myself and on the other hand, I am trying to be as anonymous as I possibly can.

So it is not life that has come between me and visiting your blogs which is a major part of blogging but I have been quite busy with other things that has made it impossible to find the right amount of time to blog.

I don’t think socialist would best describe my view of economics. What I know is I anti-capitalist. If I could with ease be assured of a place to sleep, healthcare, education, I would blog and read daily. Don’t get me wrong: I love architecture. I don’t think it is a bullshit job if you think of the positive spaces we mould. But because architects also build spaces of exclusion like prisons and of brainwashing like churches, I am almoat certain, we would not be missed.

That said, I am convinced the world would be a better place if we abolished prisons and police forces because then we would have to address inequalities that make such institutions necessary. We would rethink our justice systems. We would at least behave as rational and reasonable beings. And while at it, maybe stop the manufacture and sale of arms. And destroy all nuclear arsenal.

As Mark Greif writes in his book Against Everything, I am persuaded we should guarantee each citizen a minimum wage and set an upper limit to what anyone individual can take home. Extreme poverty and super wealth, he argues, and I agree are both antithetical to democracy.

So what was this post about? Nothing really except as information that I will be visiting your blogs soon once I can clear my desk.

Cheers everyone.

what if we replaced politicians with randomly selected people

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