Sunday 1 September 2013

Opinion: Religious Soakaways of Talent Needed Elsewhere

Lurch from church to church
As I made for church this morning, I could not help but notice that hardly beyond my temporary abode, I could count 5 churches within the space of 50 yards.
This was no church district like some industrial or a Business Park, but a non-descript residential area with a few corner shops and a prominent fast food restaurant, to allow a liberty of description I rarely give to those places and a busy street running into a junction.
Whilst, each church had some highfalutin spiritual name, with a few of the usual suspects headed by some Nigerian folk, I could not but wonder about the variance in doctrine, dogma, diktat and culture that precipitated the deluge of mushroom churches all around London in grand buildings, converted garages, school halls or strange shelters that we so need that many.
Why this many?
Now, the revelations of Scripture might vary as one might see the dispersion of light through a prism depending on the angle of observation, but is the perspective so different that each person who seems to have the hunch must have their own church and following?
More so, I am concerned about the brain drain that this spate of churches has brought on society, I am of the opinion that many who eventually decide to enter some religious ministry is of probably some other more useful talent and ability, a professional with a different first vocation that probably has had a lot more to contribute to their field of expertise before they withdrew their services for this venture for souls.
I make bold to say that leaders of these outfits do have innate abilities of study, research, standards, articulation and communication that the wider society can so benefit from that we are now missing.
Talent at the pulpit
Academics with knowledge and perspective able to mentor impressionable young minds to excellence and genius, sometimes they could also be the level heads in dispute resolution, all withdrawn from our sadly moribund institutions that education is failing graduands at all levels.
Medical practitioners with skills that our hospitals need, considering how someone opined recently though without reference that a church in Nigeria had produced more pastors than Nigeria had produced doctors since independence.
I cannot corroborate that assertion, but when we read of health statistics and outcomes in our medical establishments that look like a published account of the road to a hellish existence, you wonder why good doctors are not in hospitals but in churches.
Skill to the versed
Engineers that we need for projects for growth and development such that me might not need foreign expertise to man the simplest activities; the engineers with their sense of precision, attention to detail and particularity have left our buildings, bridges, roads and infrastructure in the hands of others either overburdened or ignorant of what to do, some of our best engineers are building spiritual bridges to heaven.
Accountants with an eye on the figures, the costs, the budgets, gatekeepers on the judicious use of capital by reason of checks and audits, besides the ethical and principled perspective these career migrants could bring now totting up the accounts on God’s bank account in the church.
This is not to say that professions are not well manned, but we cannot ignore what has become the religious soakaway of talent where people who have a calling and gift for the society and the communities they exist in have deserted this great calling and crowded into the religious business.
Fishing for gold
This should also be bothersome because many of these crossover professionals to religion do not have formal seminary training apart from adapting the fundamentals of their profession to religious ends.
It is understandable that many professions do not offer great financial reward as it does seem that churches with the crowds that can attract depending of the charisma and the spectacular draw of the leader can become a banking breaking venture with returns that make the eyes water.
Peddling promises like croupiers in the casino of God, the followers are inspired by good talk to gamble on the assurance of better returns than any monetary system can offer, the spectre of hope dangled in sight but just a bit out of reach to keep the lure engaging enough with it being attainable.
Absent accountability
The mushroom churches also appear to have leaders that belong to no formal or established religious hierarchy, they have absented themselves from oversight of independent authority or have extricated themselves by schism from their mother congregations that they are no more accountable to any church organisation, authority or the flock that they oversee, they metamorphose from men of God to gods of men and with that comes error and more opprobrium upon the whole institution of Christianity because there is no order.
We need to get some talcum powder and antihistamine for our itching ears, our desire to seek out those who make us too comfortable to check ourselves or our leadership on the core principles of the faiths we have espoused that we become lobotomised flock conferring infallibility on our leadership excusing every indefensible thing out of dread, shame or embarrassment.
Shut these places down
It goes without need for much reason that these churches or religious establishments will first become lightning rods for public criticism and before long politicians might get interested and it would be a great pleasure to see these mushroom churches exterminated like vermin for they have become a pestilence giving haven to duplicitous leadership that act with impunity without consequence.
Let us reason about what this means for us as individuals, the way we congregate and the people we allow to hold sway in leadership over us with question or curiosity – it is an unhealthy state of affairs and repugnant beyond words.

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