HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsImbibing a gospel of dramatics

Imbibing a gospel of dramatics

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So tonight is the night, according to prophet Makandiwa. If you are an enemy of one of his flock, best you beware; you may well not see tomorrow morning!

Chrisitians and Christianity are fascinating in the multiplicity of their viewpoints and the controversy of their beliefs, even while claiming to follow one true God and Saviour. I know this is not unique to Christians as diversity of practice is also found among Moslems, Jews and no doubt other faiths of the world. But Christians seem oddly preoccupied with the devil in a way I have not noticed among believers of other faiths.

They say that religion is man’s search for meaning, but Christianity is God’s search for man and that, therefore, Christianity is not a religion, but a faith. A beautiful expression indeed, but does being found by God really put an end to your search for meaning? Theoretically perhaps, but in practice many of the followers of Christ are still searching, if not for meaning then perhaps for . . . what? Validation? Expression? Drama?

On Wednesday this week NewsDay led with the story of Makandiwa’s prophecy of doom for Zimbabwe and the paper enjoyed phenomenal sales. What does this tell us? In isolation perhaps it doesn’t say much, but follow the thread of conversation on the online version of the paper and you will begin to make some interesting observations .

In case you are wondering, I am a follower of Christ myself; a flawed and faltering one at best, but a follower just the same. I write, therefore, not as an outside observer, but as an internal witness. I aspire to the simple goal of running my life with clean hands and a pure heart, and the older I get the more I realise that this is not at all simple to achieve.

Simplicity is in fact not something which characterises the modern-day church, particularly the Pentecostal movement. Attend a service in which a strong message is preached, but nothing untoward happens and you will get tepid reviews from most of the church-goers. But let there be something theatrical which happens in the service, somebody falls down, some demon is supposedly unleashed (or should that be expelled/exorcised?) and a “manifestation” is experienced and you will hear congregants enthuse about how “ powerful, my brother” the service was.

Does power really only operate where there is drama?

I wonder how different this approach really is from visiting the so-called witchdoctor where any sickness, death, joblessness etc can be invariably attributed to the occultist shenanigans of one’s relative (s) or neighbour(s). There is a disturbing similarity between the bone-throwing, the grunting and headshaking and the final proclamation you will get there and the dramatics you see in many modern churches on a Sunday morning.

What is it with our need for drama, theatrics, enigma and confusion that seems to satisfy something deep within us? I suppose it is our attraction to ritual. I spoke to a pastor about this last week and we agreed that mystery seems to be an important part of any belief system. I guess it is part of our search for meaning.

When we hear of a healer, a mupostori or an intercessor we get very excited. We begin to look to them for answers yet the responsibility for our fate lies with us. We wait for God to “kill the devil” when we could simply make the choices that help us eliminate the devil from our lives. But that would be too difficult, wouldn’t it? It would require us to be too responsible, too accountable, too adult. It’s so much easier to just get the devil to do all our dirty work, and, of course, to lean on the “men of God” for their prophetic gifts and “words of knowledge”.

But how long will we go on this way? A wise man once told me that God will not do for you what he has given you the capacity to do for yourself.
Beyond tonight (Judgment Night, don’t forget) we will still have problems. We will still be required to solve our social economic and political problems. We will still have to make tough choices and take calculated risks. There is no prophet, pastor, healer or diviner who is going to make this go away. There is no amount of drama, theatre or pageantry that will mask the real show that must take place.

No one is going to fix this for us, but we ourselves.

Thembe Sachikonye writes in her personal capacity. Readers’ comments can be sent to localdrummer@newsday.co.zw. Follow Thembe on www.twitter/localdrummer

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