There has been a huge debate by others more lettered than yours truly on what constitutes African philosophy and going far as to ask whether such a description is even necessary, arguing for example, that there is no African math or chemistry or physics. You get the drift. I am not going to concern myself with that question here. Anyone interested in the discussions around it can look for works by Wiredi, Masolo, Odera Oruka, Oriare Nyarwath, Alexis Kagame, Lucius Outlaw and many others.
In his book, Sage Philosophy, Odera Oruka interviewed people he considered sages and transcribed their views on many subjects. In this post, I concern myself only with their views on death and god(s).
One saw death as a good because through natural attrition, space is created for others and thus avoiding overpopulation (I wish he read population data- there are more births than deaths p.a, at least in Kenya). He also believed that we are all part of one universal soul that is called god. Further, he says god is one except each people have their own name for god. This sage also said we all speak different languages because if we had one tongue, we would see ourselves superior to god- tower of Babel anyone?
There is, I think, Christian influence in the ideas of this next sage. For example he says about death being good because it is the work of god and further he believes in an afterlife arguing that to die is to be called by god.
Death is the end of man, says our next sage. And it is an evil. He goes so far as to say had we the power to evade death, we would. We try to put off our death through use of medicine and all. God exists as thought and does not have forms (Christians, Judaists and Muslims you have your work set out for you to explain how we are made in the image of god). There is a contradiction however because the same sage argues that god created the sun.
God belongs to the whole world and should not be worshiped everyday or every Friday/Saturday or Sunday as Muslims, Jews and Christians do but should be worshiped occasionally and for special reasons.
God exists because people talk about it. God is one and belongs to all people otherwise we would see discrimination in the distribution of such natural gifts as rain and sunshine (and earthquakes and tsunamis). This mzee’s idea of death is what I loved the most. I will quote
Many people argue that life is good and the better of the two. It is in living that mankind multiplies itself. And as we said earlier on, it is in life that man realizes himself as man. But I think that death is of greater gain. Death is eternal and everlasting in its nature. While life is a short-term process with an inevitable deadline and doomsday, death is a permanent state. In death, there is a completeness of being.
God is one for all people but should be worshiped occasionally when there is need. Peris adds that we each experience and interpret god in our own ways.
Simiyu Chaungo argued that death is neither good not bad. You have no choice on the matter, whether you want it or not, you die. He believed in the existence of a god and further that god could be the sun given that the sun shines its light everywhere. On religions, he said there is just some little truth in them but not much.
Mzee Oruka Rang’inya argued it is quite wrong to personalize god. It is an idea, a useful idea. To him, god represents the idea of goodness itself and to this end, it is useful as a concept. He believed that secularists were not right thinking people for religion had practical utility. Death is like how a farmer thins his maize farm. It gives the younger generation more scope and opportunity to develop themselves. The idea of heaven is fictitious. Upon death, life of man ceases.
To Mzee Kithanje believed there is one god for everyone and that the idea of many religions doesn’t make sense. God is like warmth and cold that brings life. He believed that the sperm of a man was hot and the ovum cold and the fusion of the two brings forth life, so is god.
Ker Mbuya Akoko said the Luo regarded Nyasaye as omnipresent and it is the white people who brought fragmentation into religion by bringing different denominations. He further says the Luo were wrong in thinking their Nyasaye was different from the god of the white people. He argues that their is one god because if there were many gods, there would be chaos resulting from each god pulling in different directions (I think he was not acquainted with Greek mythology).
And lastly Chaungo Barasa on the other hand argued that without man, there would be no god. He sees god as a filler for our ignorance. He says, and I quote
We do not have a particular entity, an external being called god. God then is a substitute for what is beyond mind (ignorance if you like. My emphasis). That is, if man were to pursue and realize the state of intellectual perfection, the mystery of god would be revealed.
I don’t know about you, but I did find the ideas of these men and women quite interesting to say the least. That some of them seem to question the existence of god as a physical being or entirely makes the argument put forth by the Late Canon Mbiti in African Religions and Philosophy that the African is deeply religious and where he is there is religion not entirely true. It would be of great intellectual interest if such interviews were conducted in the rest of Africa though I think we are time barred.
Happy Saturday everyone, free of the gods and fear of death,
After marriage may not be good after all. This post has made my morning, thoroughly so. It is impossible that of all the things god is concerned with, how humans use their genitalia is top of the list.
These rites and beliefs on the part of the masses seem to me to call not for someone to criticize them, but for some Heraclitus or Democritus: the one to ridicule their daftness, the other to bewail their dumbness.
When I wrote this post many moons ago, I argued contra the author that life is worth living without the gods.
So today when I commented on this post by Jim and asked whether life without end would be worth living, a clever person asked why I am asking that silly question.
However, the clever person is not too bright. Have you imagined what it would be like to have no end in sight? That your favourite cake doesn’t end, that you don’t need to love deeply because it doesn’t end. That you don’t have to work hard at anything because there is always time? What type of life would that be?
But more to the point, does anyone who wants another life elsewhere live this one we have fully? Do they love totally and completely? Do they take risks? Do they do stupid things? Like laugh in the rain, cry in the rain because no one will know you are crying, have sex in the car because tomorrow is not guaranteed or just do silly stuff.
Life with immortality is a cruel thing. This is just me. Maybe some of you are not content with one life time of whatever years and want to live forever, all the power to you.
May the force be with you.
No, that’s click-bait. Local man is unable to can so we will all make do with this post, for now.
But it is a response to why I don’t support same sex marriage, as if one cares for your opinion.
Dear reader, you have heard the claim
since God is love, he must surely approve of any kind of human love, including SSM.?
Did you know that
This argument fails on two accounts.?
I am sure you did not know. We are told
Firstly, nobody approves of “all kinds” of love. If I’m married to woman A, I’m not allowed to also marry woman B; and if woman B is already married, I can’t marry her even if I’m single myself. And if she is actually an under-age girl, any attempt to woo her will rightly land me in prison!
which is a fallacious argument. We don’t marry all those we love. I love my father, but I am not about to marry him. And there are people who have gotten married without love. So it is possible to approve “all kinds” of love, without marrying the people loved.
In the second argument we are told
Secondly, when we talk about God’s love, we’re not talking about romantic love. It’s quite a serious category mistake to equate God’s holy, self-sacrificial love, driven by a desire to set us free from sin and death and bring us back into his Kingdom, with our fickle human love which depends so much on feelings and selfish desires!
This preceding argument is wrought with many problems. First among them, we don’t know which god is being referred to here. There is Cupid/Eros gods of love and desire. And as far as I can tell, it is desire for romantic love not some abstract love. The second problem with this argument is many theologians have told us we cannot know the mind nor the nature of god and therefore we are not in a position to comment on what god loves or does not. We have no idea of any other love other than that which we express in human language.
The pastor writes
it’s never OK to disagree with the Word of God. We may sometimes find we have misunderstood the Bible, and therefore have to change our belief based on this improved understanding – but we’re never at liberty to simply disregard what God has said!
which means, it is not the bible that is wrong for example in commanding that you shall not suffer a witch to live or that you can beat up your slave as long as they don’t die the same day, but that it is us who have misunderstood the word of god. If you are not stoning your wives for wearing mixed garments, you are disregarding the word of god and hell awaits you.
Now, to the ridiculous
It seems fairly obvious that before Adam sinned, slavery wasn’t a thing; and in eternity, slavery will no longer be a thing. So it’s perfectly logical for the church to oppose slavery: the Bible is clearly pointing that way itself.
which is saying nothing really. For fucks sake, how many days were there between Adam being created an idiot and him eating the apple? How many people were there to be enslaved? The bible was used by those pro and anti slavery to bolster their positions. There is no clear command in the bible that says, fuckers, thou shall keep no slaves.
The pastor continues
The same goes for gender discrimination. Even though it’s always been an aspect of sinful human society, and Paul gives guidelines for how that should play out in the Christian community, it’s fairly clear that originally, the only difference was biological.
and ffs, how is this any less problematic? In fact, the way women are disregarded in the bible is not just seen in Paul’s writing but throughout. Most women have no names. I’ll wait for who will tell me the name of Lot’s wife or Potiphar’s wife. I am waiting.
We are told, for those who may have been unaware, that while the bible makes allowances for patriarchy and slavery and while moving towards abolishing them, the same cannot be said for homosexuality. He says
The Bible makes cultural allowances for divorce and polygamy (again: allowing, not approving!), but the movement is clearly back towards the starting point: life-long monogamous heterosexual marriage.
If Paul is to be believed, the movement is towards celibacy, which must have been the original idea in the first creation stories where Adam was created alone. Or maybe he was to be intimate with goats and lions because shortly later, we find warnings to not sleep with goats.
If the pastor wants to have this
I think we can justifiably assume that when Jesus condemns “immoralities” in Mark 7:21 (the Greek word is plural), this would have included everything OT Law considered immoral, including homosexuality.
the question is, why stop at homosexuality or same sex marriage? Are there greater or lesser sins? And how are they weighted? I know the only sin the authors of the NT thought weighed many kilograms was sin against the spirit (Mark 3:28–29, Matthew 12:31–32, and Luke 12:10). In fact, if the pastor is treating homosexuality as a sin, then it is forgivable.
The pastor concludes with love the sinner, but condemn the sin. In his words
obviously homosexuals can be followers of Jesus. Rejecting SSM must never mean that we reject those who experience same-sex attraction. Everyone is welcome in the Kingdom of God, regardless of their flaws and weaknesses; after all, we’re all weak and sinful and in need of the forgiveness and restoration only Jesus provides.
which always leaves me asking why would women still be in church? And why would any gay person remain a member of a church who sees them as living in sin?
Well, anyone who wants to marry, by all means, marry. Anyone who doesn’t want to, should not. And anyone who is not sure, maybe should get married and if they don’t like it, leave it.