Ah, food again! Just think: after habitually proclaiming daily miracles, what else would make someone concede that they were among the Covid-19 vulnerable?
Well, these are really hunger days. According to one of our prominent ‘apostles’, the President allowed some religious leaders to appeal for, and distribute food (apparently outside the Prime Minister’s taskforce). Following this development, the apostle made a quick telephone survey to hear how different pastors were doing.
A third party worked the phone. The apostle reasoned that distressed pastors might feel too embarrassed to admit to him directly that they were desperate.
Eavesdropping on their conversations, the apostle was shocked by the condition of the pastors. So he has decided that food donations that land in his net will be sent first to needy pastors in Kampala and Wakiso.
Not to the disabled, the very old, or his poorest followers, many of whom the Ruhakana Rugunda taskforce has reportedly not reached; but to other pastors.
The usually rivalling pastors must be praying that President Museveni does not interpret this twist in the food dance as “cheap pastoral politics” and decree new ‘guidelines’ to the men of God.
In desperate times, such true stories have the power of parables, revealing intriguing falsehoods.
God, who supposedly talks to these men every day, is in this case conspicuously silent. Covid-19 dictates that the most self-righteous among God’s priests must beg for the kindness of an earthly ruler before begging for food from mortals who toil and sweat.
Only a few days before the apostle made the appeal from his media studios, one comrade-at-the-pulpit, a pastor who (spitefully?) retained his Arabic name, had been in the same studios. To his characteristic garbage about demons, and the inevitable demand for money, he had added a voice as big as thunder, commanding the coronavirus to flee from the face of the earth!
Madness usually descends upon us in small instalments. In the 21 Century, God opens one eye a little, and very briefly, as if only to warn believers, that whoever issues such commands should be shifted from the watch list and start appearing at the roll call of confirmed lunatics.
When preaching the Word of God became a lucrative business for those with the right performance skills, thousands entered the field. But like any other business or artistic enterprise, not all attain wealth or celebrity. So the strugglers are competing in a field where the big earners, who are master manipulators and cunning beggars, draw in most of the money.
The biggies have also designed intensive seven-day programmes that not only keep their already brainwashed followers dependent, but which encourage desertions from other churches.
To counter these hostile recruitments, and to appear also top breed, the strugglers make seven-day pretences that earn them very little, but that leave them with no focus and no time to do any useful work in the world outside their churches.
Covid-19 dictates that regardless of the miracles they proclaim, being without the fall-back support of a strong religious organisation, the strugglers must learn that food does not grow on magic trees. They have to learn to do some useful work in today’s world if they do not want to blink like failed con-men in tomorrow’s uncertainty. Even the ancient God instructed believers to devote (exclusively) only one day in a week to worship Him.
And now that believers have various platforms at their disposal, Covid-19 has shown them the option of taking (or following) God into exciting new temples, including virtual churches, where they have more control over the levels of sanitation – and sanity.
For a Jackson, a Joseph, a Jeremiah or a Jamada, sharing a ‘J’ with Jesus should mean reflection about his earthly humility instead of bellowing in neighbourhood-shattering loudspeakers that they are the custodians of his heavenly power.
Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.