Monday, October 22, 2007

Religion Cocktail Continued

Another favorite book of mine is Kaffir Boy. I had to read it for the first time in my 10th grade English class, and I've read it twice more since. It is an autobiography of the life of Mark Mathabane. Johannes Mathabane lived in South Africa during the reign of Apartheid. He later changed his first name to Mark when he came to the United States. The book is full of great lessons and stories about politics, sports, and religion. There is one in particular that plays into my last blog, and is the subject of this one.

Johannes' mother was a very hard working woman who managed to raise over five children on almost nothing. She was very open minded, with the idea that she would try anything that could help her and her children's situations. When Christian missionaries came to The Johannesberg ghetto, she converter herself and her children. However, she still held onto her tribal beliefs and traditions. She would pray when things were going badly, but when things were not (at least by her standards) she felt no need to pray. Once, when Johannes came down with some sort of eye infection that made him blind for some time, his mother believed it was bad voodoo set upon him by jealous neighbors. She believed this even though she had converted to Christianity. Along with taking Johannes to a witch doctor, she took him to the clinic as well.

I don't want to say that Johannes' mother was ignorant, for she was a very wise woman and she just wanted the best for her family. But it seems that religion is just a fall-to for so many people. It's a typical and popular stories, and many people have experienced at least some of what Johannes' mother went through. When things are going well, we don't give God the credit, but when things are going bad, we pray for his help. We don't want to blame ourselves for our misfortunes, but we want credit for our own success.

There was a speaker at my bachloriette ceremony who spoke of this very thing. He said that God is just as much a part of our success as he is of our misfortunes. On another but similar hand, we will thank God when something good happens to us, but what do we do when something bad happens? We pray for help, or for forgiveness, and sometimes, if the strain is too much, we look for some other means of comfort. This speaker said that we need to thank God for the bad things that happen to us as well. He makes bad things happen to us so that we learn, and because he loves us. Johannes' mother prayed for help during bad times, and thanked him for some good things, but did she ever thank Him for making her life miserable? I know, this seems like a completely rediculous thing to do, and it sounded that way when I heard it from this speaker. The book made Johannes' mother out to be a saint, so why should anything bad happen to her. It falls into the question yet again of why bad things happen to good people, but I don't want to dig into that again just now. I only want to ask how we as a people should take in religion? I don't believe that it should be used solely to comfort us in times of need. It shouldn't be a leaning post or a way of putting off the wrong-doing onto something else. But should we thank God for everything that goes wrong? Is He always responsible, or do we need to take more responsibility for our actions? Jonas finally thanked God for making the whale eat him. Jonas acknowledged that he was in the wrong, that God was just, and once that was done, God set him free. Just as important, should we thank God just as much or more for the good things in life, or do we need to give ourselves more credit?

Wow, I always sit here to write about something and give my opinion, but all I ever come up with are questions. I suppose the questions will eventually end and the more knowledgable opinions will some day begin, but until then, I don't think my blogs are making for very good learning experiences.

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