I would say, approximately one time per day, someone ask the question here in Ghana,
"Do you go to Church?"
Ghana, I am in one the most focused on being Religious countries on the planet, and it could be argued, the last place that needs Missionaries.
This is interesting, I just realized, my answer is confusing for Ghanaian people, they seldom have heard of the Lutheran Denomination, and we are tempted to enter into an argument. Maybe more correctly, I become argumentative, last night I raised my voice and said,
"Martin Luther posted a list of protests on the door of the Catholic Church; this protest started the PROTESTANT religions. I am sure your Church is one of the Protestant Churches in a list of hundreds that continually spins out of control."
My Religious Failure
Up until two minutes ago, I thought I was doing a rather good job of being a good boy when dealing with these never-ending questions by locals about God, Churches and what I believe or do not believe.
However, I now realize I have consistently failed in Ghana and the other West African countries to obey my own belief that God allows the existence of temptations which leads humans to argue as a test. The Ghana people ask me where I go to Church, and instead of being soft and guiding, I am hostile because of what I consider religious ignorance, and I said last night.’
"Do you Africans know Jack Shit about religion?"
(I wonder where I learned to say Jack Shit?)
This was a failure on my part, not theirs, truly is the job of the above to be patient with people downstream, even though that is a belief of mine, maybe a leap of faith.
Yep, I was tempted to argue with these people, and I do, rats, what a failure to obey my owns personal beliefs. I am going to feel guilty for a second, ask for forgiveness and keep on truck in. Then again, I also believe that sitting around feeling shame and guilt is a religious failure, so I am not going to worry about this much; I am going to modify my response to these questions and move on with my life, a better person in a very small way.
I am very lucky, I do not associate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the Lutheran Religion or this would been some dandy fuel to verbally beat up Africans with, I could have said,
"I have a Dream --- you have a clue where the name Martin Luther maybe came from?"
Hmm, there I go again, I did some research, Martin Luther Jr. was a Baptist, and has this name Martin Luther, put the Dr. in front of it, and the King after, and I could rant for hours about the pure confusion, and pretentious associations.
Ho, Ghana West Africa --- Saturday, February 5, 2011
Martin Luther Protests
Darn, time to Stop
I have to stop, or I will again violate my own personal belief systems and lead readers into confusion. I believe that God allows confusion to exist so that man has the opportunity to argue. When a person walks away from confusion, arguments, and refuses to be sucked into them, the person has succeeded in being a good person. Allowing ourselves to be sucked into an argument and become angry is not the Kingdom on Earth; it is trip to beyond the bottom of the well.
Pretty much in a nutshell, a good person should do their best to stay out of arguments over God or the good Gods, and for sure, we should not start arguments, because the starting of arguments is the work of Satan, and we should not be missionaries for Satan by starting arguments for him, or maybe her. (Is Satan a man or women?)
I have had some extremely religious nuts want to start truly provocative debates in the comments of this Blog, and my job is to stop or bring harmony, not to allow this confusion to grow. Provocations are meant to make people think, they are not meant to make two people argue, to allow to people to argue is injurious to their spirits. While to provoke two people to enter new realms of understanding can be a good thing.
There is no comment possible about a religion that does not have two sides and the temptation to argue and cause confusion to grow is always there. Stop Andy, time to Stop, I will be gentle when the Ghana people ask these argumentative questions, I will commit to not failing again.
If you want to be provocative, I have realize, just write what you truly believe, there is nothing more provocative than you real opinion unedited, nothing teaches more, nothing can cause more arguments than honesty.
In many so called 'developing' countries, Christians are either Roman Catholic or Anglican, due to the 'colonial heritage' or Evangelicals or 'Born Again Christians' from American, Canadian and Australian Missionary activity. Here in El Salvador now, almost 40 are 'creyentes' (believers), Evangelicos (Born again Christian), there are a few mainline Protestant churches, but the average Salvadoran living in the countryside does even know what a 'Protestante' is, no sense talking to the wall, just tell people you are .'Christian', if you are, none of my business, and follow the 10 commandments, etc.
Many Protestant and Evangelical church groups travel to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras for a week or two, provide free medical care, build an orphange, 'do good', go home and write it up in the local newspaper, I read dozens of the articles on the El Salvador News Feed.In Africa it is the entrenched NGOs, for most church groups from the States Africa is too big and too far away, Central America is far smaller than. Africa and only a few hours by plane from States and Canada.
When I was a kid growing up in 1950s Virginia, a non observant Jew attending Catholic private day school and Episcopal Youth Group on Sundays, really attractive and intelligent girls, I occasionally used to go and stand in back of the African American churches on Sunday to listen to the Gospel singing, Then the Protestant churches 'downtown' were all white, more social centers than anything else, my Sister is 8 years younger than I and grew up totally in small town Southern culture, her daughter, my niece became a Pentecostal and then converted my Sister. my Sister never told my Mother while she was still alive.
Since I learned to read some Biblical (Ancient) Hebrew and am from the 'Pueblo Elegido' or 'Chosen People' I will galdly discuss semantics with local Born Again Christians, actually the only people that have ever tried to 'convert' me have been fanatics with a few screws loose or a couple of 'mad' young American missionaries.
Those that have a spiritual, not 'religious' or 'groupthink' path I can tell, they walk their walk..
To those who have never been to El Salvador, many of the city and inter urban buses, as well as many small businesses, are owned by Evangelicals, "Friends of Israel", the Mogen David - Star of David and Menorah are painted on many buses as well as on many small stores and businesses, some visitors have aske me if the "Jews" own the buses. LOL. Most of the city and inter urban buses here are 20+ year old 'Blue Bird' made school buses .
One native best friend of mine is Catholic, conservative, another is far left, a scientist and Atheist,We New Yorkers seem to have no problem with plurality. Oh, many visitors arrive in El Salvador (Guatemala as well) expecting to see only dire poverty, enclaves for the rich and few vehicles, El Salvador now has several large malls, the sreets are glutted with traffic from early am to late evening, many new vehicles, the largest commercial class (as well in Honduras) are Palestinian-Salvadorans, mainly Catholic, a few are Muslims, there is a Mosque in the city center, the mayor of Bethelem in West Bank, Plestine is half Salvadoran and savors the Salvadoran Pupusa, many new midle class' Salvadorans receive Remittances from relatives working in USA and other countries. Latinos are natural entrepreneurs, a lot are not waiting for Governments and NGOs to 'provide', 500 a day, estimated, still leave this country daily illegally to go to the USA, despite the dangers involved.
People, Place and Things, those who can travel and adapt are fortunate, when you are rowing down the river, always go with the current, and remember there are certain things about YOUR culture, beliefs and experience to people who have never had the opportunity to leave their own country, region or even small town, finally once here in El Salvador a friend who knew I was Jewish, presented me with the anti semetic book "Protocol of the Elders of Zion', wanted me to teach him to think like a "Jew" so he could make, even more money, there was no real anti semitism involved. Others believe I can walk them into the US Embassy and expdite a visa for them,some others believe I can aquire a full time 'job' locally for them. These people I merely tell I am not a magician and come back when you get some common sense.