What truth is that, which these mountains bound, and is a lie beyond them?
I was in JSS2 or so then, and I guess I had been a little slack in the Christian way. Then a couple of my classmates came to me, to preach. A wind appeared to have blown and it hadn’t inflicted a chill on them, a chill that would not take leave of them unless they spread the gospel. It wasn’t that I was bad or anything, but when I was only a boy, people called me “pastor”, and for very good reason too. I shan’t go into those here. After I had been preached to, I was seized by an evangelistic fervor and off I went with my bible – and I think a co-evangelist – to the SS1 class. You wouldn’t believe it now, but preach I did.
Age makes wiser. To be wiser at times might indeed mean to grow more foolish, if you ask some. To be wiser means you may start to ask taboo questions, and in the eyes of the world, it’s a no-go area and you are foolish to have asked them. Whatever the case, I’ll gladly accept my foolish tag and move on, but I’ll ask my questions still. However, while this piece may muse about religion, it wouldn’t want to dwell on the God question as such.
I’m a Christian, none of that “no God” nonsense for me. I’ve been a beneficiary of extraordinary turns of events and I know to whom I attribute them. I’m not nearly the best Christian in the world, but I am a Christian. I’ve mentioned this because it is possible that there those who have doubts as to my leaning. There.
Being a Christian makes one familiar with “charges” such as the Great Commission at the Ascension. And for generations since, Christians all over the world have tried and tried to push the boundaries of Christendom. Fair enough. But being the “thinking” man that I am, I can’t but help it to think that the whole idea of preaching one’s own gospel goes against certain grains of human existence.
For me, tolerance means “to live and let live”. However, I’ve scouted for impressive sounding dictionaries to assure myself that I am not blowing smoke up my own ass. The New Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language, International edition is about impressive as they get. This monster dictionary defines tolerance as “readiness to allow others to believe or act as they judge best”. It goes on to define the word as a biologist might or as an engineer might or as a needle-wielding doctor might. You would agree with me that my “live and let live” matches the definition of that hallowed dictionary.
You may have begun to see my point but if you haven’t, here it is: I, Kayode Faniyi, cannot reconcile tolerance and the need to tell everyone that doesn’t agree with your religion that yours is the one true religion. There you have it. If religions were races, there would have been shouts of racism. The fact that anyone thinks their religion is the superior religion has caused lots of trouble for the world as we know it. Think the Crusades. Think Salahadin. Think Ancient Rome. Think the Roman Catholic Church and the atrocities it committed in the name of religion. Think Nigeria.
It is not limited to Christianity. The Islamists tag any person who doesn’t exactly dig what Mohammed has to say as an infidel – an unbeliever, an insofar worthless being who could only redeem any worth by converting to Islam. While in the university, I have been in class once as an “Alfa” climbed the platform in front of class and started pissing on the very basis of Christianity. That isn’t what tolerance does. For me, as long as you don’t engage in sinister acts (for example, human sacrifice), please “carry go” with how best you think you can serve God. And if you choose to disbelieve in any God or god at all, by all means carry on. For me, the flock – whatever side of the divide you may be on – needs watering more than it needs to get bigger. It baffles me how people get converted after being preached to. Preaching can only reinforce my already held beliefs, not change them radically. When I take a standpoint that has been well arrived at, it’d take an awful lot to shift me. But that’s me.
Away from religion, non-adherence to tolerance and the need to impose practices on other groups of people have arguably done some good, but it has also been responsible for a lot of evil. Wars arising from the belief that one ideology is greater than the other and must be the currency of the world begat Hitler’s war to annex the world. The Cold War was a battle of ideologies that spread its tentacles far beyond the belligerents. Examples abound, be it crisis stemming from ethnic intolerance or crisis stemming from religious intolerance.
What if the black race had been dominant in the world and had colonized other parts? What practices would be acceptable worldwide now? These are some of the things that make their way through my head some times.
Make no mistake about it, to preach to someone to switch beliefs is to attempt to impose your belief on that person. There can be no mistake about that, regardless of how you go about it. You are telling that person their current belief is inferior to the new one you are now advocating. I’ll serve my God the best way I can, you serve yours and at the end of days, we’ll find out who was right or if religion (with its check and balance system) is the greatest hoax foisted upon humanity.
If it is your life or mine, I am to prefer my own; but otherwise, I am not to attack you.