AS MANY OF THE PEOPLE WHO READ this Catholic Independent Newspaper MAY know, there is a whole world of difference between spirituality or metaphysics on the one hand, and religion on the other! This is so at least for the lay, ordinary and normal person; as may be contrasted with the very outwardly religious, sophisticated, so-called expert and often so-called "holy men and women of God" - especially within the Nigerian settings!

As many of us may also know or have observed in the normal society and in the normal running of our universal human affairs, it is rather quite easy to agree with one another when our discussions (but not arguments!) are limited to the level of (our individual) spirituality, metaphysics, human reasoning, common sense, the natural law or the common good! However, once and whenever we carry this over to religion and their usual argumentations as to what is the best religious ways about anything, then all the troubles and inability to agree that we will ever know in the world, begin to arise! This is why religion is most assuredly, the commonest origin of the worst enmities, hatreds and all the insoluble wars of the human societies. Yet, apparently, this should not be the case; but the very exact opposite! However, this is also the very reason that religion (even though the group expression of a commonly held personal spiritualities) should still never be the basis of any general community organization or governance, group/public discussion or universally required human conducts; but something to be always left to the realms of personal life and silent (personal and group) examples! Their discussion (as proclamations, catechesis or total life transformations of any persons) should only be held in the closed sessions of such common believers and faiths.

Talking further in relation with spirituality and religion, it is important to realize that God made every human person in His very own image and likeness, by which reason and fact we all can, and somehow do, know Him; no matter how vaguely only, and not so fully ever! He also requires of us to fellowship, discuss, hold each other up, and together grow in this His mutual understanding, love and service. Yet these must neither be forced nor made compulsory for anybody; or ever required to be exactly the same for everybody, neither in depth nor even in composition and diversity! This is why God Himself allows spirituality (and therefore any group manifestation or religion that should grow out of it) to vary from one part of the world to the other - even as He in Himself, created all this world's weather diversities - hills, mountains and valleys; temperate and hot climates; windy, wet, dry, cloudy, sunshine, rain and snow, thunder, lightning, blizzards; etc; in the different parts of the world - all in their own very natures and forms, praising Him all of the times in their different manifestations! This universal access to and basis for the knowledge of God by one and all, is the reason that "only a fool can truly say to himself (in his heart!) and/or to any other(s) that there is no God"; or that he does not know Him at all! This is also the reason that Peter the Apostle was to say in chapter 10 of the Acts of the Apostles, that one truth that he had come to know about God, is that He has no favourites; but that any body, of any nation and culture who tries genuinely to find Him, to know Him and to serve Him, no matter how imperfectly, is acceptable to Him!

As for the religions themselves, God knows about every one of them, no matter how imperfect any of these may be; and if He did not desire any of them to last, they will be finished up with, no sooner than they were developed or started! So, for any religions whatsoever to continue to exist, God surely knows all about it, and is doing something good with it, whether we understand or know this or not! This is also the reason that nobody should be unnecessarily worried about any religions whatsoever, whatever human beings are doing or not doing with any of those! So, as for me and my household, we will respect all religions and try to find out what God is doing with many of those, even if not all! However, none of these dispositions says that all religions are equal or as right as the other. It is however by their fruits that you will know them! However, in all the going, i speak only as a lay person in relation to all or any religion; no more, no less!

Anybody living in Nigeria in the last 20 years would, of course, have been seeing how various things that call themselves religions or new forms of the older religions are sprouting, multiplying and "sowing their seeds" all over this country within this very short time. Many of these faiths, cults, religions or self-acclaimed denominations thereof, have also developed their very special forms of worship of God that sometimes are so bizarre and peculiar to themselves. Some of these have also developed all forms of noise-making as their well-recognized, even cherished, forms of worship of this our very own universal God. It would even appear that for some of these "faithfuls" of these religions or denominations, the more of that noise they make, and especially the more of a nuisance it constitutes for their neighbours of other faiths or religions that these are, then the batter they would think that they are worshipping God and pleasing Him! While it is true that this has been more with Islam as a religion, and the different denominations thereof, the same patterns are developing of the new age forms of Christianity. In the past, only Muslims will block public roads when they think they are worshipping God, especially, on Fridays; but on Sunday the 15th of July 2018 when I last was at Abuja, I saw some of these new age "Christian churches" doing exactly the same things - even of some major, dual carriage, roads within the principal areas of mainland Abuja - Wuse,  Garki, Maitama and Main District areas!

Surely, these are not good and peace loving activities. Hopefully soon, we will be able to discuss what we must do, as true lovers of God and fellowmen, to help reduce these trouble-seeking behaviours. For any self-styled Christianity to start doing so as retaliation that Islam has been doing this and nobody is regulating or restraining them is not enough reason to do so. Two wrongs do not make a right but only a double wrong. Other ways, with their contrasting better personal and corporate behaviours, together with those pro-active corrective ways, even laws, must be used to correct those original errors in a secular society. May God Himself help us as we approach the time that we will be able to do this; hopefully, soon enough! Amen.

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