Religious systems die extremely slowly. But they die. For Christians who regard involvement with organised religion a necessity of human existence, the announcement that Christianity is dying must sound truly absurd. They see big crowds flocking to our charismatic churches.
There is a paradox. When a religious enterprise runs out of ideas, it often turns to fanaticism. This heightened activity gives a false impression that the enterprise is growing stronger rather than desperate.
Clearly, a just global civilisation cannot be only Judaic, or Christian, or Muslim. It must include the whole rack of other religious traditions. We include all; or we exclude all.
Why; because they are all rooted in ancient cultural fictions.
Fiction is not necessarily a bad thing. Fiction can illuminate difficult truths without becoming factual. Mythology, theatre, and other art forms are often vehicles of such truths.
Missionaries and other imperial agents had an obvious colonial interest in insisting that their myths, or the myths they had adopted and made their own, were the only legitimate myths.
Ironically, in the Christian frame, that colonial lie is now most fervently preserved by the descendants of former slaves and former colonial subjects.
When I follow the fingers of our Pentecostal preachers tracing their favourite biblical passages with the excitement of discoverers, as if without these specific passages there would be no wisdom at all in our world; when I hear their congregations clapping and screaming wildly at every prosperity fantasy dangled before them; when I listen to the incoherence of thought signified by their ‘tongues’, I recognise that these may be marks of a doomed Christianity.
Africa is not only the last damping ground for Chinese fake goods, but also for Western old clothes and fake divine magic.
A few Sundays ago, the Ndeeba Victory Church ‘apostle’, Joseph Serwadda, complained that, on the instructions of God, he had started the practice of believers writing on cards their special requests and presenting them (naturally, with money enclosed) on December 31 at Namboole Sports Stadium, but other pastors were imitating him without completing the instructions.
While his church prayed for the Namboole cards for a full six months, the (fake?) pastors prayed for only two months, or even less, after they removed the money.
Now, I beg you, don’t laugh. Without any mischief, I infer that God is a very systematic operator. He needs exactly six months (not less, not more) to read, consider and decide a response to such cards.
A genuine pastor must pray for six months. Short of that, you are a fake pastor. Next year, quietly remove your money, and (according to Serwadda) take the cards to his Victory Church in Ndeeba, where they will get the full prayer dose before they are destroyed!
Last Sunday, June 30, the Namboole cards were burned at Ndeeba after so much hype and fanfare, including vuvuzelas. Noise from the horns was to drive demons out of their nooks.
God will spend the next six months delivering what the cards request. Then, on December 31, the cycle will be repeated.
The people who claim to be opposed to rituals have invented a laughable ritual. God, who instantly captures every nuance of every mind, would not need a written card to understand a believer’s prayer and deliver a miracle. The card is a gimmick for catching the money.
The Europeans were there before. As Africa’s Christians become more enlightened, they will also see through such devices, scream less wildly and think more deeply about their universe.
Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.