How can a module Christian keep their faith intact while living in conformity with the modernity to which the world has transformed?
By Alex Taremwa
Is modernity a threat to religion? If yes, how therefore should the Church respond to the growing threat from the forces of modernity and post modernity? Should Church give in and embrace the new tradition or should it run for dear life? This essay will argue that the first option of “embracing” modernity would be extremely dangerous whereas the second option of “running” away from it and hiding is not necessarily the best idea. Christians according to Pastor Gerald Rovis Masinde; a Lecturer with the Mass Communication Department in one of his teachings are called to be the “lights” in the world and this world is increasingly becoming postmodern which sets different challenges to Christians.
Modernity however is not the worst threat facing religion but some of the trend it sets could be part of what helps save Christianity or bring it down. Some of the accompaniments of modernity that threaten sovereignty of Christianity are;
SOCIAL MEDIA: Globally, social networking includes platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to mention but a few that are used majorly for social and business reasons but lately, social networks have been used as a political lubricant to change governments in many democracies or dictatorships so to speak. Considering the power and influence that these sites possess as a new media, are they really a threat to moral and ethical fabric of Christianity as a religion?
Early 2012, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI launched twitter account (@Pontiffex) that he said was to be used to spread the Gospel. The account was deactivated shortly after his resignation as a Pope but resumed later at the inauguration day of the Pope elect Francis I. Like Roman Catholic Church, other religious leaders have now taken summons, scriptures and testimonials online and the results are considerably not bad. However, from another point of view, social networks have largely aided vices that erode the values of religion.
Facebook for example is continuously being used to tempt young people into homosexuality under the influence of money, liberalism and secular literature. Not to end there, the sites have become incentives to dating, spreading pornography, cyber thefts and a lubricant of premature sex which the Church in Uganda and the world over holds a strong position against.
FASHION: I would like to kick start this episode by commending civilization for enlightening the world through providing different garment fashions that not only splash our glamor and formality but also add value to the outlook of world. But as a critique, Christians especially the young have taken this aspect to yet another level which Governments have come up to regulate. In Uganda for example, a bill (Anti- Pornography Bill) has been tabled to Parliament for debate by the Ethics and Integrity Minister Rev. Fr. Lokodo. But ever since its introduction, youth have positioned themselves as the first obstacles to the passing of the same bill because of a clause that threatens outlaw of mini-skirts that are much more famous with civilized and educated females around the world. Not to dwell on that issue though, modern fashion has played another vital role in striping Africa naked in-terms of Identity; previously one would distinguish a Congolese from a Kenyan or similarly a Ugandan from a Kilimanjaro but with modernity, you never know who dons what. Not only identity has been stolen by Fashion but also initiative; if a local industry started at UCU today producing formal wear like fitting shirts, trousers, skits and dresses, it wouldn’t command market and would eventually collapse. For a textile industry to prosper and compete favorably with foreign manufacturers, it will have to produce damaged jeans, hot pants, kundi-shows, bras and stocking free shoes.
Does one wonder why the UCU dressing code is a flop? It is simply because the clothes that we all have don’t conform to the standards and even if they do, why do the gents have to balance their trousers(refer to picture above), move with button less shirts or those miniskirts/tight trousers; we both know they bring out the best of our beauty. But I too share a thought that they should not leave our rooms; we shouldn’t wear miniskirts in people’s offices for people are trying to work, in Churches because believers have come to worship or even in class because fellows have come to study. Those little things are destructive hence leaving Church with food for thought.
MUSIC AND MOVIES: Do you appreciate music? This is most effective and brain relaxing form of literature ever made available to human kind. It is the easiest way through which people can be influenced from the time of Apartheid on the streets of Soweto , South Africa to shrugs of Kamwokya, Uganda. Like Music, I could say the same about movies, documentaries, music videos. Through praise songs and hymns, Church reaches the souls of believers, transform and change their lives but on the same note, music can as well be the best incentive that can be used to drive flock from Church. Hip Hop lyrics have been criticized over time for attracting the youth to some other form of belief and the same can be said about the Rastafarian Reggae and even Popular (Pop) and like any other youth, If one scrolled through my iPhone playlist lately, the above plus a few other genres like country, Rock and Jazz make up the music you will find. How therefore can we reconcile the two to make a whole? How do we bring about God’s message to the flock yet using the easiest means to reach our souls? Listen to music that changes lives, transforms livelihoods and it doesn’t necessarily have to be Hill songs or Don Moen but rather music that doesn’t for any reason draw an escarpment between you and your God.
On the movies, it could be worse that we know. It is these movies that inform our informal dressing codes, the change of life style, the tattoos, the hair styles, the make-up, the walking styles and the worst of movies which I call the climax is drug abuse and pornography. But worse enough is to know that we can do very little or possibly nothing with the increasing technology and internet prevalence where people are free to view same content on their computers, phones, smart phones, tablets and on DVD. Not to worry though, we also need to support Governmental measures to curb the same and choosing to watch good and informative movies that educate and reform such as documentaries.
HANGING OUT: “Our bodies are temples of God.” I kick start this on a sad note that people have chosen to intentionally abuse their bodies even with knowledge of the quotation above. Side stepping the music and the movies, let us explore why a Christian would choose to hold themselves captive in sin. I’m not against leisure, I actually exercise it only that how I exercise it differs in a sense that I choose not to drink myself silly. Selectively, we should choose where to hang out and have a good time and also maintain our spiritual positions as we pray to God for it’s clear in the Lord’s Prayer that when you are this close to sinning, recite the short line “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil “Amen. It helps, it triggers God to assign you a Guardian Angel in form of your Consciousness that keeps telling you when you are about to do it that that isn’t right and life goes on.
DATING: it’s surprising how God does his magic that however weird it is to find your soul mate in the least places you expect to get any; a case in point, hang out Spots. Love is relative so I don’t want to be unfair to those that have met perfect spouses from such places but I also think dating online is a bad idea.
If we hold unto that argument, does the word marriage ring a bell especially to those per suing the dating career? Of course not often but for once do we ever find ourselves locked in thoughts of carrying our relationships to the next level? It is the ultimate fruit of being in a relationship therefore being in a relationship without future considerations is a self-defeat to either parties; I’ll leave the issues of generals to the generals.
What they think: Interviews and Vox Populi:
Rev. Kimera Amos, The Assistant Chaplain believes that indeed modernity is a serious threat not only to Christianity but even to values that define Africa. The coming of TV’s and other new media have antagonized Africa communal setting promoting individualism to the extent that people have adopted watching live Sunday services than actually going to church, he said.
Rev. Amos expressed his dissatisfaction with how the Churches are handling issues accompanying modernity adding that even if the flock has tended to drift away from Church, it is the objective of the Church to reach out and help them by using the same channels of community that are compatible with the needs of the people. “Very few Churches have Facebook accounts, twitter accounts; they associate them with evil which is wrong.” He said. As the UCU Chaplaincy, we have a Facebook Account are we reach out to quite many people from different walks of life, share scriptures and it’s working for us; he added.
John Vianney Ahumuza, a lecturer from the Foundation Department shares the same views with Rev. Amos though he doesn’t view modernity as a threat but rather an opportunity for spreading the Word of God even further. “It’s the same as Faith Meets Science,” a tag-line that was printed unto his immaculately white shirt. Science is not a threat to faith and what the Church should learn is that the youth tend to move with the times because they see value in it. “For church therefore to carry out its mission, it needs to embrace the forums of technology to interact, provide counseling and attach value to modernity in order to win more hearts,” he said.
From the students’ point of view, Ben Kilama a procurement student in his final year at Uganda Christian University believes modernity has played a significant role in popularizing pornography hence being the sole reason as to why people continue to abuse their bodies inform of drug abuse and dressing indecent. To reconcile the two, Benbella believes that Church should step up and put an emphasis on the good from the bad.
I don’t see any threat in modernity responds Faithful Gloria BAMC 3 because Christianity is older than modernity here in Africa but modernity has an upper hand of influence to the youth who take up a greater percentage compared to others. More so media boosts modernity more than Christianity now.
When asked how modernity and Christianity can prevail concurrently, Rev. Amos agrees but on if the Church avoids condemnation of social media, take the Church to the people. He added that people need to educate on how to dress in Churches. “In America, you find a pastor with dreadlocks, earrings dancing praise songs like they are dancing to the disco.” He expressed discontent.
By relating nature to God, Science to God then Christianity shouldn’t have a problem with the world becoming flatter. Rev. Amos asked me to end this article by asking readers to open their bibles, read (2 Timothy 2: 20-26).