END OF AUGUST 2020
Please pray for my parents who are in the UK. My father has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and is undergoing regular radiotherapy. Meanwhile, my mother has had tests done, which seem to indicate the presence of breast cancer. She expects to see the specialist on 28th August to be told what treatment routine is recommended.
In the course of life and work here amongst the Luo (and other African) tribes, challenges of trying to come to terms, if only in my own mind, with what is going on around me, are constantly very prominent. I often think to myself – that were I to take all that I was taught in my youth never to get involved in very seriously, I would struggle to fellowship with churches around here.
The above dilemma is clearly illustrated by attention constantly given by many people to what we might in English term ‘ghosts’. Dead people’s ongoing impacts on the living often seem to be the main theme underlying much that goes on in church services. How exactly to respond to them varies. Sometimes formal church activities ignore them, so they are dealt with informally elsewhere. Some churches specialize in driving out ghosts. Other churches specialize in listening to ghosts so as to get guidance and inspiration for people’s lives.
Many Westerners having an aversion to such orientation to ghosts results in a variety of indigenous reactions. One, definitely, is to conceal what goes on. Hence formally what happens is one thing, actually what happens is another. In many ways I do not blame my fellow Westerners for taking this kind of stand vis-a-vis ghosts. The problem with it is, because they are also the donors, it can prevent very extant and dominant issues from being dealt with. Many Westerners engaging with Africa think they are meeting what is indigenous reality, when often actually they are interacting with expression by local people that is designed to please Westerners!
Perhaps to add; I don’t think that African people’s reactions with their dead has much, if anything, to do with ‘the supernatural’. This is where the West seems to grossly misunderstand the nature of and activities of ghosts. I am not talking about ‘irrational belief in supernatural agents’, as some might imagine! Belief in ghosts is a means of dealing with all kinds of inter-human issues, including every-day problems, and occasional crises.
Pray for me as I engage the above concerns, both locally and globally. Locally, amongst other things, I am writing a children’s novel in the Luo language, that seeks to present a Christian message, and to provide perspective on fear of ghosts. Globally, as days go by, I become more and more amazed at how grossly much of what is going on in Africa is being misunderstood. Very often though; ‘global-thinkers-wear-blinkers,’ they are determined not to hear the truth, either about God, or about ghosts, or about Africa!
I sent an article I had written to a Journal about Africa entitled: ‘To not Engage African People with Respect to their Faith in God(s) should not be understood as a Choice but as an Error’. The response was that it is a good article, but should go to a journal about religion. Another article I wrote was also rejected this week. The journal editors responded: This “journal … does not publish articles that promote Christianity.” It is becoming increasingly clear, that the only way today’s academics know how to respond to the Gospel and to the Bible, is to refuse to listen. What kind of scholarship is that?