Expensive faith by Olatunji Ololade

Last year, bitterness was dressed up as a garland of flowers and handed to Goodluck Jonathan, piecemeal, calculatedly; till he got utterly swamped by its scent. Some dandy ‘priests’ sold him triumphant tale of success at the March 28, 2015 presidential election. Their prophecies were convincing. They leapt from forked tongues with extraordinary spunk and fire, seducing the former president and ensnaring him to bogus plots that reality shut out at birth. The prophets lied. Jonathan lost the presidency to Muhammadu Buhari.

Faith destroyed Goodluck Jonathan. Faith in spurious prophets to be precise. His hankering for unearned ‘grace’ and ‘glory’ ensnared him in a futile, mischievous plot, invented to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Goaded by flawed belief, the former president committed series of flawed actions that eventually showed him up as a pitiful hostage to lust and emissaries of mammon.

At his defeat, Jonathan awakened to a rude shock: “The prophets lied.” While rumours of a ‘N7-billion-booty-for-heavenly-grace’ rent the air, Jonathan grudgingly accepted that he had been fleeced in an elaborate con reminiscent of Christian Andersen’s timeless plot of the fabled emperor’s invisible garment. Having discovered Jonathan’s lust for power to be irrational and naked, the swindlers sold him a curious talisman for victory, the Most High’s ‘grace.’ But Edumare’s ‘grace’ is never for sale. Hence Jonathan, like the fabled emperor, walked naked in the political square; stripped of glory, passion, integrity and belief in the false ‘prophets.’ The invisible ‘grace’ they sold to him was never of Edumare’s infinite mercies. Eventually, Jonathan did what a man and good sport should do, he accepted defeat and made that ‘epic’ phone call to Muhammadu Buhari.

In Jonathan’s tragedy subsists timeless lessons for the intuitive. Will Nigeria’s youth emancipate themselves from the shackles of their spiritual daddies and mommies before they suffer worse fate than Jonathan? This applies to both Christian and Muslim youth that are persistently swamped by vapid mysticism, brainwashed and domesticated like dogs on a leash via a curious doctrine that preaches a conflicting canon of Puritanism for faith and profit.

This dogma is advanced principally by the nation’s Pentecostal pastors and even rogue Muslim clerics. The latter, having witnessed the stupendous wealth enjoyed by their Christian peer, have resorted to equally desperate means to attain heavenly ‘grace’ and bounties.

By their gospel, worldly success has become the major indicator of spirituality and “God’s grace” hence their subjugation of the divine spirit of the soul to the pursuit of riches. Thereby, they succeed in brainwashing daily, their oft submissive and unassuming “fishes” and flock, mostly youths, turning them into hapless preys in their pursuit of material wealth and paralysis of asceticism.

In the mix, it becomes very easy for politicians to co-opt the help of these false prophets to brainwash and mislead the youth in the pursuit and attainment of their selfish political ends. It is undoubtedly easy for so-called General Overseers (G.O) to instruct his ‘fishes’ and ‘flock’ to lean towards a particular power bloc and cast their votes for a particular politician irrespective of the recipient’s qualification for such benefits.

Strange thing, faith. It has wiggled its way to befuddle and rob too many Nigerians clear of substance and reality, till they become not much expression in sight. In pursuit of salvation and “His Grace,” the faithful “believe” quite laxly and live less humanely, even as their passion pales as their faith increase, by their pastors’ “holiness and grace.”

It doesn’t matter that the truths the preachers preach, as their deeds, reveal an insufferable perspiration towards ridiculous and yet shared goals: a mansion, a choice car, a huge bank balance and an intimidating fortune with limitless possibilities to exploit.

But if no one could read in between the lines, at least everybody gets to see truths they incessantly bandy in dazzling and yet ugly manifestations. By their lifestyles, their truths are at once disputed no sooner than they speak it: expensive suits; huge, bullet-proof black jeeps with sirens to announce their presence; well appointed mansions; trigger-happy armed escorts and a wanton lust for the fleeting epitomize their righteousness and grace.

In essence, their messages revolve around wealth. To the poor, they offer deliverance and the banishment of poverty. To the rich, they offer salvation and the perpetuation of wealth undiminished. It doesn’t matter how the latter come by such wealth. It doesn’t matter if in acquiring such wealth, they keep the Commandments of God. What matters is for both the poor and the rich to “sow seeds” in the name and temple of God.

Everybody affects the transcendence of faith but nobody wishes to fulfill the demands of faith. The pastors lied; true devotion demands total abhorrence of the worldly and steadfastness in faith. But what is faith? What manner is everyone’s faith? Kind of a trick question, isn’t it?

Nobody wishes to observe the rigorous dedication and humaneness characteristic of faith. Everybody wishes to eat their cake and have it. That is why some desperate bank chiefs could indefatigably steal from poor, struggling publics to indulge their wantonness and yet scurry to their pastors to purchase absolution and a first class cabin to Paradise at offering time.

And that is why our equally errant and desperate pastors always manage to “intercede” on their behalf in the presence of God that he may for their sake, disable his Commandments and forgive his “children.”

Ill-gotten wealth acquires superfluities of “His grace” only. Money is never required to hinder retribution and acquire salvation. Why scurry downward to our dullest perception always and praise it as “wisdom?”

The gospels being appreciated rob too many of intellect and thought. That is why they are inclined to categorise men who are one-and-a-half-witted as geniuses despite their disabilities because they have been brainwashed to appreciate only a third-part of their wit.

The gospel of prosperity-at-all-costs wholly negates the doctrine of control by conscience which requires rigorous honesty and fastidiousness. In simple terms, the Nigerian cleric vehemently contradicts and rejects the ascetic view that covetousness and lust for material wealth should be shunned as preached by the valid and true scriptures.

Equally duplicitous and yet vulnerable to deceit, these loyal congregants pander to their gospel of prosperity thus substituting simplicity and honesty with a new brand of spirituality that invests materialism and covetousness with high moral significance.

Both clerics and adherents rampantly engage in capitalistic pursuits not only for the expediency of making a living but in the expectation that such activity would amass for them a fortune. In this regard, they recklessly pray and intone: “It is my right to be rich! Heavenly father, you have promised me so! I bless you father because I am rich!”

A major effect of this belief is that the modern faithful seeks to accumulate wealth with an earnestness of purpose that ridicules the very foundations and admonitions of faith as illustrated by the case of few notable bank chiefs who were recently sacked and prosecuted for gross acts of financial fraud and abuse of office by the EFCC.

Such an approach to monetary gain is strikingly encouraged by their uniformly fraudulent, greedy and indulgent pastors whose gospel of materialism constitutes a moral habitus that burdens the seeker and possessor of money with a bandit’s obligation towards his loot.

Thus today, we have celebrity pastors ogling wealth like a filthy fantasy. Today, we have such pastors buying up every available hectare to build ostentatious worship houses and schools far out of reach of the commoner.

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