Monday 20 February 2012

The Churches of Strange - A short story

There they stood
“What is all this?” He said in amazement almost bordering in stunned amusement to his mother as he made to leave her room. It was one of those bizarre events that would almost read as too good to be true, it had to be the figment of an imagination in overdrive looking for the incredulous to offer as fact.
Somehow, there seems to have been a disconnect between mother and child, for all the tradition and culture she knew that she hoped to instil the greatest fear and dread in her son, one can only say she had cried wolf one too many times already.
The church of the bizarre
The boy had his problems, many could not be attributed to the usual adolescent issues, they were much more troublesome and she had resorted to remedies in African-initiated churches to deal with possibly mental, maybe psychological and generally termed spiritual problems.
The raison d'etre of these churches were of an almost macabre ritualistic creed that bore very few similarities to the established church which Africans generally never felt tackled the vague dread of the supernatural and superstition that held mind and reason hostage to agents of demonic and devilish persuasion personified in some close blood relation who was either envious or jealous of a person’s circumstances.
It allows for every misfortune to be blamed on some unnamed enemy or some hapless powerless victim that cannot fight back against accusations of sorcery or witchcraft.
The hold and the sway
Much as the bible appears to be their source inspiration, the powers of the churches derive from seers or prophets if you like and people convulsively possessed of influences that portend to prognosticate or exhibit telepathic or clairvoyant tendencies. This provides a great draw that one might well find of the terror of shamanism.
In the process, people who have bought into this religious chicanery are literally fleeced by these “false” prophets whose church establishments have all the trappings of some outward show of holiness and purity but are bastions of the occult gaining some Christian legitimacy by excitable references to God and Jesus along with even more violent exertions in battling Satan as the prophets operate like modern-day Levites and the laity recite the Psalms repetitively with Christian numerological symbolism of threes, sevens, twenty-ones or forties.
Many religions of Christ and others
You can imagine the confusion of “Christianities” the boy had, as his mother took him to strange prayer meetings before he was 5 where the family friends were bedecked in flowing white robes and red sashes, candles taking a prominent place in the homilies, those were seemingly secret liaisons.
Publicly, the family was Anglican though his dad had dabbled in bizarre animist rituals for protection and other life needs. However, every religion was tapped from medicine men through witch doctors to Islamic mystics. In the case of the Islamic mystic she used an episode in the boy’s life of terror and fear to warn him off telling anyone they had been seeking help there.
It was a nasty thing to do but with hindsight the boy felt mother hens will do anything to protect their chicks and this was just a personification of that justification.
The boy deciding
By the time the boy left home, he joined up with what was at that time termed an extreme Christian fringe which brought quite a bit of friction with his parents because they were at variance with other Christian practices.
Meanwhile, in that boy’s life, he had been cut many times, incisions made on the scalp, on the check, on the face with all sorts of potions rubbed in, he had bathed in forests, drank the most dastardly concoctions, seen the indescribable, experienced a lifetime of Steven King kind of horror and to culminate all, had eaten and swallowed razor blades; all in the name of protection, safety and help.
Then came this day as he returned from his church, she called him into her room and after much railing and agitation she cursed her child telling him, if he returned to that church again, he will not find his way back home again.
What is right?
It could have been literal but elements of the child’s upbringing meant that this act will hold less significance as it might have held for someone else steeped in their culture. The rationality of doing this unclothed never dawned on the child for his Christian persuasion at that time put him on a trajectory that gave him a sense of safety from that episode.
The child is then left with many questions on what really is Christianity from the established versions through the African-initiated ritualistic establishments to the ones steeped in dread of evil and a brand of ultra-evangelical exuberance whilst at the same time, he is yet to find his way back home – all because the conflicts in doctrine that govern all these congregations sometimes persuade people to do the most unlovely and inhuman things.
That is the story of a boy and the many “Christianities” that vie for his soul and claim to offer him protection.

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