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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

When Love Grows Sour in Marriage.(Part 1)



"Forever and always," "In health and in sorrow," "for better, for worse," "till death do us part," are words we hear always at wedding ceremonies that send ripples down our spines/veins causing us to think: "see how they love each other" or ask: "do they actually mean that?" They are words we always hear when love overcomes us and is translated to marriage. Many believe that love should be the basic underpinning of every marriage. This love is given many other definitions by many others, however, such as: understanding, appreciation, complementarity, etc. All the same, what we read from all these is that what should characterize every marriage union is mutuality of affections, feelings, sharing, - love.

It is always encouraging and desirable when we see coupes hell over heels in love with each other in marriage. Their relations are always a magnet, spectacular and envious. In such a situation, life flourishes, is so pleasant and nice, and looks as if it would last forever (often it does however).

But often we come across situations where this explosive love only lasts a few years into the marriage. For one reason or the other, the couple begin to replace their love for one another with other things, such as their children, ambition, career, friends, money, etc. Gradually, love begins to grow cold. We hear appalling stories of couples who so desire to destroy themselves barely few years (two or three even) into their marriage.

Love titivates the world. Loving and being loved is what every individual human person desire. No man is an island. Man is a social being, a relational being. That is why we find ourselves giving ourselves completely over to others in love - a love that overwhelms us completely that we opt to spend all our lives in intimacy with such an 'other'. Francis Bacon once wrote, "It is impossible to love and be wise." Every loving relation demands some blind trust. This is the dose that makes the lover want to float adrift the others world and be borne by the securities which this 'other' provides for both of them. It is like a leap into the unknown, the lover learns to lean on his/her love and to be leaned on.

But some people find the ones they have loved hurting them so much by not actually loving back appropriately, as expected, by not remembering to do so or failing to do so deliberately. Rather this love is given to some other person, thing, event or concern. As such the feeling of betrayal sets in leading to a heart break. Consequently and gradually the partners begin to drift apart, despair and detest ever haven given themselves completely to one another in love and trust. This can gradually deteriorate to hatred for self and every other person around, a refusal to love, to trust and be open to another person again for fear of a repeat of such an experience. At this stage life becomes a living hell for such a person/people and everybody around him/her/them.

What if this happens in the most honoured institution called marriage, where the couple are expected to remain together "till death do them part", "for better for worse", i.e. when love grows sour in marriage, and the couple in marriage are heart broken, and utterly bitter at each other?

Such a dismal situation is always unbearable for both couples who are forced to have mixed feelings for each other always, i.e., feelings of hatred and responsibility, repulsions and union, aversion and need, etc. There is the responsibility they owe each other because of their offspring, the union that has become inevitable because of the many subtle experiences they have shared together (sex, love, watching their children grow together, etc); and their need for each other because of the family they have built. Amidst these, there still exist deep seated feelings of hatred, repulsion, aversion, betrayal, revenge, punishment, etc. which continue to surface from time to time.

In such a situation, many a couple separate, many get divorced, many still, seek annulment of the union, a few however take to drastic measures such as homicide, suicide, murder, conjugicide, etc., just to be freed of a living hell. Nevertheless, in more traditional/conservative societies, the couples unwillingly remain together and live a living hell for the rest of their lives, believing the society and their religion expect such from them, or that it is for the best of their children who deserve the love, affection and presence of both parents for proper human development. In such a situation, such couples end up silently and indirectly killing each other, enduring each other, secretly desiring evil for each other, nagging persistently or even fighting always. The whole relationship is a cold war that is inevitable. Gradually the couples destroy their persons/personalities. They begin to lead anti-social, separate lifestyles to the utter amazement of friends and relations. As a way out, many often take to alcoholism, drug abuse, flirtation or staying away from the home. Once, a man had to walk away from the wife and the family never to return again. What a disaster! In such a situation, every one in such a family suffers. Even the children, for whom the couples claimed to be remaining together, and who also want the parents together, suffer most. Many are of the view that children living in such families suffer more than children of divorced/broken homes or of single parents. At least children of single parents still get the love, affection and concern of whatever parent they live with instead of constantly suffering the nagging and open battery of a love-grown-sour marriage/home.

There are a number of woes associated with such families with respect to the children of such homes, the worst being a low sense of self-esteem. A child who constantly sees both parents fighting, nagging and battering each other never wades through life positively. His/her face is always downcast as shame becomes his food everyday. He may even be a victim of such ill situations as when the fighting, nagging and battering are directed at him/her. Think of a man saying to his wife: "I do not think this child is mine. Are you sure he is not the product of your sexual escapades?" What a word, a rejection!!! Such words remain forever in the mind of a child who overhears such a comment said about him/her.

Many teenagers have run away from their homes because they cannot withstand the amount of assault and hatred between their parents. Children of such homes wade through life confused. They either get bad influences from their parents that characterize their personalities all through life or they relapse into proximate comfort zones that are anti-social thereby making them societal misfits. As such they live their lives always regretting their upbringing, that they grew up where and the way they did, and not being able to face and address properly the exigencies of life. Some, for example, may find it difficult entering, maintaining or keeping any meaningful relationship with any sex. The situations of self-hate, hatred for any/the opposite sex, etc may be blamed on such relationships.

Most people are very cold to love and to be loved. They find it difficult to love others, to express love or to accept love from others. Every of such is held in high suspicion. A child who grew in such a family where love and affection, trust and friendship are never expressed, but where there is constant battering, nagging, hatred, repulsion, may never be able to know what is right again, no matter the amount of influence coming from the outside - from peers, friends, school, etc.

Nothing good comes from evil. Sympathy should be expressed towards people living in such homes, especially for the couples. Everything has actually fallen apart. Our mistakes catch up with us, condemning us to live in hell even here on earth. Our societal, traditional and religious faith/believes have destroyed some of us who have failed to see them in their proper light! Most of us are confused, not actually knowing what to do. What would have been a fulfilling life, has become, more or less, a nightmare, an impoverishment, regret, a failure. Most couples are alone/lonely, even in the midst of a crowded family, even though secretly loving their spouse.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Enrst Bloch's "The Principle of Hope."

The Principle of Hope: Ernst Bloch.

Ernst Bloch was born on July 8, 1885 in Ludwigshafen, Germany and died on August 4, 1977 in Stuttgart. He was a German Marxist philosopher whose Philosophie der Hoffnung (Philosophy of Hope) was intended to complete what he considered Marxism's partial outlook on reality. His major work, to this regard was his three volume work Das Prinzip Hoffnung (The Principle of Hope [1954–59]). Hope played an essential role in the moral and political writings of Ernst Bloch. Bloch regarded hope as concerned with a longing for utopia. In Bloch, the Christian connection between hope, on the one hand, and faith and love, on the other, remained. Although he did not oppose these categories to reason, he sought to ‘subsume’ them under it. In “The Principle of Hope,” he made the human emotion of expectation, which he called “hope”, the object of profound philosophical investigation, to chart a memoranda for understanding the movement forward into the future.

As morality became separated from theology during the Enlightenment hope became less important in ethics. There are, however, three notable exceptions to this general trend: Immanuel Kant, Ernst Bloch, and Gabriel Marcel. In each of these writers the connection between hope, on the one hand, and morality, religion and faith, on the other, is as tight as it was for Augustine. However Bloch interpreted religion and faith neither as revealed nor as metaphysically proven, but as reasoned, and contrasts both hope and faith to human desiring and calculating, i.e., to instrumental rationality.

Bloch was a Marxist theoretician who preferred to concentrate on the possibilities in the world and to link the power of hope to the role of the future in our thinking (especially of the not yet). Bloch had a perspective on hope that is naturalistic. He built a philosophy that is centered on hope, taking his inspiration from Marx. For Bloch, therefore, hope is the human emotion of expectation directed against fear and anxiety, the “pioneering existence which we humans lead on the foremost frontier of the world process.” It is creative expectation. To hope “belongs the knowledge that in the outside world life is as unfinished as in the Ego that works in that outside world”

According to Bloch man is called to “plunge beyond the horizon into that very difficult sphere of reality, the sphere of the novum. And this is not the reality which is being present (Vorhanden-Sein), nor of the reality in Process (im Prozess-Sein), but the reality of not yet (noch nicht Sein). This is the sphere of the novum, the place where deeds are measured, the realm of fear as well as hope.” Man is called to realize himself in the future. This is because man is an incomplete being, something which still must be found. The ideal of the human essence has not yet come to be in reality. This is why man has an inner drive towards the future, towards a fulfillment in the future, a drive which he must take hold of and direct with courage and in risk. Philosophy and other works of art are therefore aids to man in attaining this task.

Consequently, Ernst Bloch took a Hegelian approach to religion. He conceived God not as radically opposed to the human subject, as the absolutely Other, in the way Kierkegaard does, but as a human ideal. For him there is thus no God, the world is sufficient for itself. He sees faith in God is a hypostatized longing for a utopian form of existence. God or the Dialectical Reality, for him, is characterized by hunger, a tendency towards the future, towards the new. Once this hypostatization is recognized for what it is, the concept of “God becomes the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of God no longer contains a God.” In the subject man, this hunger can become hope. God embodies the hope for an ideal but thoroughly human kingdom. The world is not yet completely determined. There are conditions yet unknown to us, or that do not yet exist. We live surrounded by possibility. Reality is not static, simple or solid. It has no definitive dimension. Hence contingency is also part of Reality. Man must therefore always create utopias, for “utopia is the place where the not-yet-conscious makes its appearance.”

Hoping, therefore, means viewing the “world as a task or as a model” which is not at hand. In order for this endeavour to succeed, man needs a hope that is based on a speculative, metaphysical science that brings to man’s consciousness the fact that the present/Reality is constantly surrounded by possibility, a possibility that is dynamically teleological. For Bloch, the “Not-Yet-Being” activates a hunger in man, which consequently allows hope to burst forth the more clearly allowing the future, this “Not-Yet-Being”, to enter into the fluid present with enough consistency to give a whole new thrust to life, characterized by liberty. Hope at this stage initiates a creative process, it taps the resources already present and at work in the real, the Dialectical Reality. At this stage too, utopias, a process of transformation ensue that would initiate the fatherland, wherein man would be one with nature and nature humanized. This is the real eschatology. However, man is needed for all these to come into being, he must make the decision about and for the unknown, which is a “determination which posits no hereafter, no above, but, instead, a possible before us”. Nonetheless, he needs courage too to accept the challenge of hope and the inevitable risk involved in building the future.

Bloch’s anthropological interpretation of religion owes a great deal to Feuerbach. He was, however, deeply critical of Feuerbach for eliminating all traces of the transcendent from religion. The human perfection which Feuerbach saw man as projecting onto God is not “reappropriated” in Bloch. He recognizes a projection in the form of the promise of human perfection. This promise of perfection is the transcendent element which remains in religion, even after its “anthropologization.” For him, “religion is hope, and hope is grounded in the ontic difference between what exists and what does not exist … both in man and in the cosmos. Man is an entity whose being is not yet fully fashioned in himself, a task to be worked at …and a great container of the future …. Part of hope is the knowledge that life outside is just as unfinished a thing as the ego that is helping to fashion it. Thus religion, inasmuch as it offers hope, is grounded in the process character of man and the world.” God is the homo absconditus of the future, as yet unfounded and unachieved. God is reduced to the unfounded future of man that lies ahead, God is the utopian hypostasized ideal of the unknown man.

“Bloch’s main critics included orthodox Marxists such as Manfred Buhr (1970), who were deeply suspicious of religious utopias. They see religion as tranquillizing, and socially stabilizing, as the ‘opium of the people’. Bloch acknowledged this conservative tendency within religion, but also interpreted the revolutionary tendency of religious hope as the most extreme manifestation of dissatisfaction with, and rebellion against, the present. For Bloch, religious utopias, especially the Christian utopia of the kingdom of God, express revolutionary hope for an utterly different and better form of existence. They are not merely tranquillizing, but in principle transforming.” This goal of a better form of existence for man, the regnum humanum, elicited in hope, for him, is not illusory. In fact he claimed that traces of it can be found in the Soviet revolutions.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Marks of The Church

The Marks of The Church

1.0. Introduction.
The Church is a continuation of the incarnation of Christ and also shares in the characteristics of the incarnation. That is to say it has a human and a divine element, a visible and an invisible element. It is so closely associated with Christ that it can truly be called the bride of Christ, and his mystical body, animated by the Holy Spirit with the divine life of grace. This spiritual Church of Christ is not independent of the visible and exterior structures of the Church as a society made up of men. It was Christ’s will and making that the church carry on his work as a visible organized society, like a city set on a mountain, since it was to be a necessary means for salvation for all men. For this reason, he gave it a visible supreme head and hierarchical government (in the person of St. Peter and the apostles, and their successors: the Roman Pontiff and the bishops throughout the world) (Clarkson, J. F., S.J. et al (eds), The Church Teaches: Documents of the Church in English Translation, Illinois: Tan Books and Publishers, 1973). Moreover Christ promised these rulers his efficacious and perpetual assistance in carrying out his work of teaching the revealed truth unerringly, of ruling wisely, and of sanctifying effectively. (Mk. 16: 13).

Such is the Church of Christ which endures through all the ages one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic. It is always unchanged in its essence; yet it always accommodates itself to the variety of times and conditions in which it lives, so that it can effectively be what it truly is, the unique and necessary ark of salvation for all. It is itself a great and perpetual motive of credibility and an irrefutable proof of its own divine mission.

2.0. The Church – A definitive Attempt
Attempts to define the Church has always been incomplete. What many have always ended doing has been to give the descriptions of the Church through its models, attributes or marks. The word “church”, in its equivalents in the Latin “ecclesia” and the Greek “Ek kaleo”, means “to call out of”, “to assemble”, “an assembly”. Without concerning ourselves with its technical signification due to the nature of this seminar, we prefer to consider the “Church” as used in the Christian sense as the assembly of the people of God, the assembly of God, “ekklesia tou theou” (Komonchak, J., et al, The New Dictionary of Theology, Bangalore: Theological Publications in India, 2003). In short, the church is that visible organization through which Christ its founder communicates truth and grace to all men. At the Second Vatican Council the doctrine of the Church received much attention, particularly in Lumen Gentium. In this constitution, the Council affirmed that the Church is in the first place that assembly of people, united in Christ, and that is called into existence by God Himself (Flannery, A., (ed), Vatican Council II; The Conciliar and Post conciliar Documents, Lumen Gentium (LG), Mumbai: St. Paul’s Publication, 2007, n. 2). An image of the Church much favored by the Council was that of “People of God,” evoking a dynamic and communitarian understanding of the Church.

3.0. The Marks of the Church.
What is the essence of any consideration on the marks of the Church? By marks of the church, we refer to characteristics or qualities of the Church which identify her as the true Church, belonging entirely to Christ, and serving as His instrument of salvation in the world. There are four marks, or signs, of the Church: She is “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.” The First Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381) used this phrase in formalizing the Nicene Creed. These four marks authenticate the Church (“Marks of the Church” in Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia, rev. ed., Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1998). Theologians have proffered reasons on the need for signs to mark off the true Church. Prominent among these is Hans Kung for whom

In view of the many false developments, of fanaticism and heresy, even the possibility of a pseudo-Church, the question [about the marks of the Church] cannot be dismissed out of hand as improper. It is one that constantly confronts us and demands an answer …. The true Church is a believed Church and for believers; it can only be recognized for what it is through faith (Küng, H., The Church, London: Search Press, 1968, 293 – 264).
Hence the marks become something to distinguish the ideal Church from false representations. While the Catholic Church alone enjoys the marks of the true Church, the teachings of the Second Vatican Council call Catholics to respond with respect and affection to those who belong to other Christian communities, who possess some or all of these marks in varying degrees. In fact, it is Christ who through the Holy Spirit grants his Church these marks, inviting her to realize each of them as lasting qualities. The marks of the Church have been identified by the Church in the four elements as stated above: she is one, holy catholic and apostolic. The Church professes these marks solemnly in her creed, especially in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, which was composed at the ecumenical Council of Nicaea (325) and amplified at the Councils of Constantinople (381) and Chalcedon (451); and which is recited every Sunday throughout the Christian world. This creed provides a normative standard by which to measure the orthodoxy of teaching of the Church on this specific but fundamental element of her Faith. It reads: “I believe in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church….” These marks are inalienable characters of the church that mark the Church apart from other so-called-churches. They are different from what Avery Dulles calls his models of the Church. Since they represent the characterization of the church, whereas, by models, Dulles give us the various significations which the church can take as a mystery, a sacrament of salvation in Christ Jesus.

3.1. The Church is One
“I believe in the one…Church” reads the Nicene Creed. Challenged by many problems of division, the Fathers of the Church declared their faith in a one Church which is the Church of Christ. St. Clement of Alexandria beautifully presents this unity of the Church in these words:

what an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the universe, one logos of the universe, one Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin become mother, and I should like to call her “Church” (St. Clement of Alexandria, “Paedagogus” 6, 42, in The Catechism of the Catholic Church(CCC), Nairobi: Paulines Publilcation, 1994, p. 221).


This marks of the Church draws our attention to the fact that the Catholic Church is the one Church in which the Church of Christ subsists in. As such it contains the fullness of the means of salvation. This is a unity we believe the church will “never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time” (Vatican II Council, Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio(UR), ibid). The Church thus, is the one and only Church. This designates that unity which Christ desired for and bestowed on his Church from the beginning.

Christ desired absolute unity for His Church, a unity which should exclude all divisions, whether of government, doctrine, or worship, for he likens it to the perfect unity of the Father and the Son. Hence he prays: “May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me” (Jn. 17:21).

Consequently, Christ compared his Church to a “sheepfold”, a “kingdom”, one in mind and Spirit under one shepherd. The Apostle, Paul also stressed the unity of the Church when he, in a remarkable way, likened it to a living body. For him,

For as with the human body which is a unity although it has many paths-all the parts of the body, though many still making up one single body-so it is with Christ. We were baptized into one body in a single Spirit. Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as free men, and we were give the same spirit to drink (I Cor. 12: 12 – 13).

Though of different cultures, orientations, tribes, gifts, etc, we all, in the Church, constitute one body, Christ’s body. Consequently, the Church is said to be “one” because of her source - the Holy Trinity, which is a Trinity of Persons: God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit, constituting a unity (UR.2 § 5). She is also one because of her founder, Jesus Christ, who “reconciled all men to God by the cross…restoring the unity of all in one people and one body” (GS. 78 § 3). She is one because of her soul, the Holy Spirit, dwelling in all believers and so persuading and ruling over the entire Church, [bringing] about that wonderful communion of the faithful and [joining] them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church’s unity (UR.2 § 2). That is to say the Spirit enlivens, builds and unites the Church by its graces and gifts.

The Church is also one in faith for “…in his wisdom He ordained in his Church unity of faith…” (Gorman, E.O., Papal Teachings the Church, Boston: Daughters of St. Paul, 1962, p.308). The Church above all is united in the Eucharist, where united in the Spirit all its members partake of one Body, one Blood, i.e. Christ himself that unites them in himself. Finally, the local Churches are united by its hierarchy. United under one head, Peter and his successors, the Popes, in obedience, the Church becomes a visible sign of unity, brotherhood and communion. Based on this, Pope Pius IX in his Encyclical Letter addressed to the Armenians in the context of a schism among them writes:

if, therefore, the sovereign Pontiff is called a stranger by any one of the Churches, that Church will be, in consequence, a stranger to the Apostolic See, that is, to the Catholic Church which is one (Neuner, J., and Dupuis (eds.) The Christian Faith, Bangalore: Theological Pub., 1996, p.280).


The fact that the Church as described as one, does not cancel out the possibility of diversities/divisions, according to recent theology. From the dawn of Christianity, this one Church has been marked by great diversities or divisions. This diversity is evident in the many gifts of God given Christians for the edification of the Church; the many particular/local autonomous Churches that form part of the one Church; and the many separated brothers who have one/two things in common with the Church of Christ. The Fathers of the Vatican Council II presents this situation thus:

in this one and only Church of God, from its very beginnings, there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared, and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church- for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame (UR. 3 § 1).

This not withstands St. Paul’s injunction on Christians to strive to “maintain the unity of the Spirit on the bond of peace” (cf. Eph. 4:3) is binding. But what are these bonds of peace? The bonds of peace/unity include the following elements/values: charity/love, which binds all things in perfect harmony (cf. Col.3:14); the profession of the Apostolic faith; common celebration of divine worship and the sacraments; Apostolic succession through ordination, etc (CCC.815). Above all, the Church and all Christians have a special task always to pray and work to maintain, reinforce and perfect the unity of the Church (CCC. 826).

In summary, that the Church is one means that she “acknowledges one Lord, confesses one faith, is born of one Baptism, forms only one Body, is given life by the one Spirit, for the sake of one hope (Eph. 4: 3-5), at whose fulfillment all divisions will be overcome (CCC. 866).

3.2. The Church is Holy.
“I believe in the … holy … church.”
The church is held to be holy. This for Catholic Theology is an object of faith that stems from the intrinsic relation between Christ and the church, the bride of Christ. The Fathers of Vatican Council II argued forcefully to this effect when they said:

The Church is held, as a matter of faith to be unfailingly holy. This is because Christ, the son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as ‘alone holy’, loved the church as his Bride, giving himself up for his body and endowed her with the gift of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God (L.G. 39).

This is because of that intrinsic union with Christ by which Christ sanctifies her and through her sanctifies all it’s members/the world at large. The Church is therefore characterized as a sacrament of Christ – who is all–holy – on earth to continue Christ’s singular role of sanctifying men and glorifying God. This is the sense the author of the Epistle to the Ephesians sought to proffer when he said:

Christ loved the church and sacrificed himself for her, to make her holy by washing her in cleansing water with a form of words, so that when he took the Church to himself she would be glorious, with no speck or wrinkle or any like that but holy and faultless. (cf. Eph. 5: 25 – 27)

What all these imply is that the Most Holy God is her author and as such she is the “holy People of God”, and so her members are truly to be called saints. Hence it is in the Church “that the fullness of the means of salvation” (UR. 35). subsist and in her that “by the grace of God we acquire holiness.”( LG. 48).

It is worth noting that when we say that the Church is holy and her members saints, we do not ascribe perfection to her or her members. The mysterious paradox is that the Church is holy and perfect, even though she is made of imperfect sinners. She is the sinless one made up of sinners. Her holiness, however, shines in the saints, and in Mary she is already all-holy. Perfect holiness is something to be acquired in the members of the church, but is believed already to be in the Church in Christ Jesus. In line with this, Pope Paul VI avers:

The Church is therefore holy, though having sinners in her midst, because she herself has no other life but the life of grace. If they live her life, her members are sanctified; if they move away from her life, they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for those offences, of which she has the power to free her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Paul VI, “Solemn Profession of Faith: Credo of the People of God” § 19, in CCC p. 225).

Holiness, therefore, is an inalienable attribute of the church that so much relates her to her founder, Jesus Christ and also gives her the impetus to continue Christ’s mission on earth and the source of her apostolic/missionary activities. This holiness is mostly enkindled by the spirit of charity/love in her members. Hence the Vatican Council II fathers will claim that charity “governs, shapes and perfects all the means of sanctification.” (LG. 42).

3.3. The Church is Catholic
Catholicity refers to “the quality of being universal, complete or all-embracing.” (Joseph Komonchark, et al; (eds), The New Dictionary of Theology, Bangalore: Theological Publications, 2006, p.172). The term is not a biblical one, but the idea is firmly rooted in the New Testament that speaks of Church as “the fullness of him (Christ) who fills all in all. (Eph. 1:23).

Catholicity is also said to be a mark of the Church because Christ commissioned his disciples to “make disciples of all nations” and baptize them, and even destined the Church to last for all times: “Go, therefore,” He said “make disciples of all nations, baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit… And look, I am with you always, yes, to the end of time.” (Mt.28:19-20). From the foregoing commission, it is evident that Christ assigned to his apostles the whole world as the theatre of their labour, and the entire human race without regard to language, colour, or nationality, as the audience to whom they were to preach. Hence, James Cardinal Gibbons writes:

The word Catholic, or universal, signifies that the true church is not circumscribed in its extent, like human empires, nor confined to one race of people, like the Jewish church, but that she is diffused over every nation of the globe, counts her children among all tribes and peoples and tongues of the earth (James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, New York: P.J Kennedy and Sons, 1977, p.24).

It is against this back drop that kekong Bisong outlines the following as what makes the Church Catholic when he writes: 1.Place: the church is catholic because it diffuses throughout the whole world. 2. Time: the church is catholic in time because it has always existed and will continue to exist till the end of time. 3. Peoples: the church is catholic because, it is for everybody irrespective of ethnicity, nationality, language, age, etc. 4. Condition: the church is also catholic in the condition of people. In the Catholic Church there are no distinctions between people based on sex, ethnicity, age, etc. 5. Wholeness: the church is catholic in the missionary mandate of Jesus Christ, in believing in all the commandments, administering the truth as contained in scripture and sacred tradition (Kekong Bisong, Why I am A Catholic, Enugu: Snaap Press, 2003, p.9-10).

Furthermore, St. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote extensively on the catholic as mark of the Church when he says,

The church is called catholic because she is diffused throughout the whole world from one end of the earth to the other, and because she teaches universally and without curtailment all the truths of faith which ought to be known to men whether they concern visible or invisible things, heavenly things or the things of earth; further because she brings under the yoke of God’s true service all races of men, the mighty and the lowly, the learned and the simple; and finally because she tends and heals every kind of sin committed by body and soul and because there is no form of virtue, whether in word or deed or spiritual gifts of any kind whatever, which she does not possess as her own (Ibid, p.23).

However, John O’Brien maintains that the Catholic Church is catholic or universal because, it is destined to last for all time; it never fails to fulfill the Divine commandment to teach all nations all the truths revealed by God (John O’ Brien, Understanding the Catholic Faith, Notre Dome: Ave Maria Press, 1955, p.118). Consequently, catholicity or universality is exclusively the mark of the Roman Catholic Church. It is not to be found in any or in all the combined communions separated from the Roman Catholic Church that claim to be catholic.

3.4. The Church is Apostolic
The use of the term “apostolic” is not found in the bible. It has however been traced ecclesiologically back to Ignatius of Antioch. At this time, it signified “a relation of origin and similarity of the Church to the twelve and Paul” (F. Klosterman, “Apostolic” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. I, San Francisco: Grollier Press, 1966, p 689). It became a household term in the Patristic era, especially with the search for authenticity and canonicity. Then, it had to do with having a direct link with the apostles of Christ; (Küng H., ibid, p.443) or a relation to the Bishops. From the middle ages, religious, priests, missionaries and the lay people were called “men of the Apostles.” (F. Klostermann, op.cit).

But what really do we mean when we say that the church is apostolic? According to the catechism of the Catholic Church, the Church is apostolic because she is founded on the apostles. The Catechism thus presents us three ways we make reference to this apostolic foundation:

Firstly, “she was and remains built on “the foundation of the apostles,” (Eph. 2: 20; Rev. 21:14) the witness chosen and sent on mission by Christ himself (Mt. 28: 16-20; Acts 1:8).
[Secondly], “with the help of the spirit dwelling in her, the Church keeps and hands on the teaching, the “good deposit”, the salutary word she has heard from the apostles” [and thirdly] “she continues to be taught, sanctified and guided by the apostles until Christ’s return, through their successors in pastoral office: the college of bishops, “assisted by priests, in union with the successor of Peter, the Church’s supreme pastor” (Vatican II Council, Ad Gentes, ibid, no.5).

Consequently, the Church is referred to as “Ecclesia Apostolica”. According to the scriptures, in order to carry out his mission on earth effectively and see to its continuity, after having been sent as the Father’s emissary to men, Christ called to himself many disciples and chose among these, a special twelve to be his companion and who would continue his mission while he had gone. Thus He mandated them to continue his mission (Mt. 28: 10-20). In order that this mission entrusted them might be continued after their death respecting their master’s demand, they also consigned to their immediate collaborators the duty of continuing and consolidating the work they had begun; of leading the whole flock of God in the Spirit and of further selecting other proven men to take over their ministry on their death.

This charge of transmitting their office to successors is a permanent one that should perdure with the world in order that their office and the Church might endure. These bishops happen to be the uninterrupted continuation of this apostolic succession through ordination. Hence the church teaches that:

The bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the church, in such wise that whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ (LG. 20§ 2).

This confirms the words of Henry Blichk that “the whole activity of the church is based on the Chris and extends through the apostles who are in the right position to explain Christ’s words.” (Blizkh, H., On Mission in the World, India: Sabon Publication 1987, p.201). St. Anselm presents this idea in such words as: “ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia,” “where Peter is, there is the Church.” The Church, thus, is apostolic since she remains, through the successors of St. Peter and the other apostles, in communion of faith and life with her origin and continues the mission/apostolate of the apostles and her founder- to spread the kingdom of God.

In sum, the church is built on a lasting foundation – “the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:14). She is indestructible (Mt.16:18). She is upheld infallibly in the truth: Christ [himself] governs her through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in their successors, the Pope and the College of bishops.” (CCC.867).

4.0. Conclusion
In this work we have tried as much we can, to present the various marks of the true Church of Christ that subsists in the Catholic Church: one, holy, catholic and apostolic. None of these marks can characterize the church singly. They all form a network of signification that is the Church of Christ. The church of Christ, therefore, is a unity that is at the same time Catholic, apostolic, and holy. It is Catholic in perspective, apostolic in origin and holy in essence. These marks of the Church remain with her and can never be extricated from her in any way. It is the mission of the church to draw all men to this one, catholic, holy and apostolic Church. Ecumenism draws attention to the diversity of churches in the world today. Even though the Roman Catholic Church claims to possess the fullness of this Church of Christ, it still recognizes in these other “sect” as they are properly designated some of the marks in varying degrees. Hence the term “extra ecclesia nula sallus” today now takes an entirely different meaning. Who is saved and who is not saved is up to God to decide and no prerogative of the Roman Catholic Church.
That the church is “one” means that its members are united in faith, believe the same things, receive the same sacraments and are united under one authority, the Pope. That the Church is “holy” means that she is God-centered. Her teachings and worship are all of Christ and animated by the Holy Spirit. She also invites her members to holiness of life through life of the sacraments. That the Church is “catholic” means she is for all peoples of every time and place, and teaches to all people the entire doctrine of Jesus Christ. That she is “apostolic” means she represents the true, unchangeable doctrine of Jesus, as taught in the apostolic era and handed down through the Apostles’ successors, the bishops.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
SOURCES
A. HOLY SCRIPTURE
The New Jerusalem Bible, Study edition, London: Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, 1985.

B. CHURCH DOCUMENTS
Flannery, A., (ed), Vatican Council II; The Conciliar and Post conciliar Documents, Lumen Gentium (LG), Mumbai: St. Paul’s Publication, 2007, n. 2.

____________, Unitatis Redintegratio.

____________, Ad Gentes.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nairobi: Paulines Publication, 1994, p. 221.

C. BOOKS
Blizkh, H., On Mission in the World, India: Sabon Publication 1987, p.201.
Clarkson, J. F., S.J. et al (eds),

The Church Teaches: Documents of the Church in English Translation, Illinois: Tan
Books and Publishers, 1973.

Gorman, E.O., Papal Teachings the Church, Boston: Daughters of St. Paul, 1962, p.308.

James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, New York: P.J Kennedy and Sons, 1977, p.24.

John O’ Brien, Understanding the Catholic Faith, Notre Dome: Ave Maria Press, 1955, p.118.

Kekong Bisong, Why I am A Catholic, Enugu: Snaap Press, 2003, p.9-10

Küng, H., The Church, London: Search Press, 1968, 293 – 264.

Neuner, J., and Dupuis, (eds), The Christian Faith, Bangalore: Theological Publications, 1996.


D. DICTIONARIES AND ENCYCLOPEDIAS
Komonchak, J., et al, The New Dictionary of Theology, Bangalore: Theological Publications in India, 2003

New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. I, San Francisco: Grolier Press, 1966, p 689).

E. SOFTWARES
“Marks of the Church” in Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia, rev. ed., Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1998

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Meaninglessness of Salvation From God in the Thought of Karl Marx.

The Meaninglessness of Salvation From God in the Thought of Karl Marx.
Marx sees reality as a dialectical process. Marx’s Dialectics, however, is peculiar to his philosophy. He uses the term against the Hegelian background, where historical dialectics has an a priori triadic structure of thesis, antithesis (both of which are opposites) and synthesis (which is their connection between). His sense of dialectic is prompted in a special sense by Feuerbach, even though he criticizes him. For Marx, dialectics is “a scientific hypothesis which does not seek to be dogmatic, but needs examining. It is a dialectic based on observation and analysis, in which the movement of the spirit is a reflection of the movement of reality, which for Marx is always the historical process of becoming.” (Schillebeeckx, E., Christ, The Experience of Jesus as Lord, trans by Bowden, J., N.Y.: The Seabury Press, 1980, p. 706.). Rather than the triadic character of thesis, antithesis and synthesis found in Hegel, Marx’s dialectics is more natural in context, it is essentially: mutual – interdependence – dependence of real phenomena. That is to say that reality always consists of a process of human history that is more of mutual dependence which extends to all aspects of reality. It is on the basis of this interdependence that history is dialectical. (Ibid).

Furthermore, Marx argues that the dialectical is the historical process of growth of the matter that is dependent on the interdependent transformations of reality. This means that, reality, which for him is material, by a law of inexorable necessity and through a perpetual conflict of forces moves towards a final synthesis (a classless society). Marx therefore sees the process of growth in history as a universal dialectic in the sense that “one phenomenon (e.g. Capitalism) irresistibly (and not freely) calls forth a counter-movement (e.g. communism) …. [This] is an inevitable and inexorable rational logic in history. The new elements which emerge in it are at the same time rationally necessary.” (Ibid., p. 707). That is to say that in dialectics is a struggle, a conflict - one that is also inherent in history too. (Marx, k., “The Poverty of Philosophy,” in McLellan, D., (ed.), Karl Marx, Selected Writings, Oxford: Oxford Univ. press, 1977.) For example, there is the class struggle between owners and the working class. These two refer to thesis and antithesis. The synthesis, which is a mediation is a transposition to a higher level, that is entirely new and that takes place suddenly, often, by a leap. According to Marx “… the contraries balance, neutralize, paralyse each other. The fusion of these two contradictory thoughts constitutes a new thought, which is the synthesis of them.” (Ibid., p. 201).

Humanity is constantly confronted with the task of overcoming or transcending its original prehistory. A period of private interests is transcended by that of class interests, and in the future, as Marx outlined on the basis of a scientific analysis, the reification of man (promoted by the illusory freedom of action of individuals and group conflicts) will be transcended by the purposeful control of human actions, and this also, subsequently, by international unity/solidarity. This future that is achievable is often by criticism and revolution and can also be a matter of objective scientific analysis. (Marx, K., “The Communist Manifesto”, in McLellan, D., (ed.), ibid.).

It is on these presuppositions that Marx builds his economic theory. He started by attempting to analyze the problem of human suffering to discover its causes. He discovered that the causes of human suffering lay in objective forms of society in which we live, specifically in capitalism. He approached the problem of human suffering from the perspective of his economic theory. For him, the problem of human suffering can be equated to the final total of an economic system which is founded on the profit motive and competition. The suffering of many men is the calculable result of the conditions of production, which imply an inner logic, namely a development from barter to money and from money to capital, based on the wages of those who by definition are not the possessors of capital. This inner logic results in the alienation of the workers, from their work and themselves. In this economic system suffering can be formulated in an equation: Suffering = ration of the surplus value: s/v=(surplus labour)/(necessary labour)
The rate of surplus value is the figure that produces the mass of human suffering, it is the “exact expression for the degree of exploitation of labour power by capital, or of the labourer by the capitalist.” (Marx, K., “Capital,” in McLellan, D., ibid, p. 474.)

For Marx, though many have done a lot to support the suffering man and to help him, they have left the causes untouched. Various religions, while attempting to overcome suffering have not taken sufficient account of its social and economic causes. Hence he sought to introduce a fundamental change in economic conditions themselves, a change that would urge in a utopian future, which, for him, is achievable only with real effort and that will eradicate all suffering. For him much suffering would disappear when this new social and economic order emerges, and this is attainable only through revolution that is carried on and propagated by the working class, who have to surrender their own interests as they have nothing to lose but their chains. This revolution is essential, even though it will also cause much suffering, because social change cannot happen without struggle, specifically class struggle. This change for him, therefore, is a social political movement, but of a revolutionary kind that is intended to be a last resort.

This Marxist ideal remained unattainable. The power of the proletariat which is the provisional antithesis, i.e. the interim, became a permanent state as its thesis (capitalism) remained stronger. Hence the dialectic could not be resolved in a synthesis. Marxism, thus became a dictatorship perpetuating more inhumanity, as products of the revolution, than was before. This interim was delayed. It is at this point that a confrontation between Marxism and the religious traditions of man is supremely necessary.

Marxism does not imply atheism as such. It was only in its latter developments in Lenin and consequently in Bolshevism that Marx’s scientific hypothesis became, strictly, a metaphysical system. It called into reality a movement that also undergoes a hermeneutical and actualizing process in itself. Ordinarily, it was an economic theory and so cannot be viewed under the lens of religion. Marx saw religion as a system which conceals social injustice. For him, all religions had a correct intuition, i.e. the protest against human suffering, but they only derailed for having sought a false solution to this problem in a fictitious world above, in a beyond (i.e. heaven for Christians). Hence he claimed that when the social revolution is achieved, religion of itself would die a natural death since its origin – human suffering – has vanished.

By this, Marx has reduced all human suffering to social and economic factors. He forgets that this is not the whole man such that the causes of human suffering cannot be reduced barely to social and economic factors, neither is it is chief cause, and suffering cannot be the origin of religion.

All religions concern themselves with the human subject while relating him to the Other (the absolute). It also addresses what affects this human subject and how this relates to his belief in the absolute that captures his attention. One of these concerns is human suffering. “Marx did the same thing, except that he also saw causes where others had not seen them.” (Schillebeeckx, E., ibid, p.712.). It is noteworthy that Marx, in terms of religion, was a Feuerbachian. Feuerbach was of the opinion that the absolute nature attributed to God is only a “reflection of ‘the nature of man.’ God is the objective nature of the genre man. The consciousness of God is the self-consciousness of man. Religion is the solemn unveiling of man’s hidden treasures …. By education and a change of heart man can arrive at the insight that he is simply projecting his own deepest nature on to man.” (Schillebeeckx, E., ibid, p. 712 - 713.). But while unlike Feuerbach, he rejects Feuerbach’s naïve replacement of religion with education and his transcendental philosophy of the objectification of the self which is not put in question. For him, the conditions why man objectifies the self is in man himself. Man is the total of social (and economic) relationships. Religion therefore is the “self-consciousness and self-awareness of man who has either not yet attained to himself or has already lost himself again.” (Marx, K., “Towards a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Introduction,’ in McLellan, D., (ed.), Karl Marx, Selected Writings, Oxford: Oxford Univ. press, 1977, p.63)

“Religion is merely the ‘appearance of sanctity’ or the spiritual aroma of the human vale of tears, an expression of and at the same time a protest against real misery, a protest which, however, has not been sufficiently understood. Religion is in ignorance about its own nature and therefore in ignorance about the misery to which it owes its own existence. Therefore it is the opium of the people. Religion is a passive reflection of the economic conflicts in society.” (Schillebeeckx, E., Ibid, p. 713.). Marx’s idea was not altogether a radical break with human history, with the past (thought of the past, historical project of the past.). Marx, thus, expects the automatic abolition of religions. For him, they are merely an epiphenomenon or a subsidiary manifestation of real economic alienation. “But since the existence of religion is the existence of defect, the source of this defect can only be sought in the nature of the state itself. Religion for us no longer has the force of a basis for secular deficiencies, but only that that of a phenomenon. Therefore, we explain the religious prejudices of free citizens by their secular prejudice, we do not insist that they must abolish their religious limitations in order to abolish secular limitations. We insist that they abolish their religious limitations as soon as they abolish their secular limitations.” Religion, thus, stands outside Marx’s Marxism. Real Marxism does not imply atheism per se. But Marxism also affirms that when the socialist society is attained, there will be no more need for religion. Religion is defined as the reflex of non reflected, alienated conditions of life. With the illumination (scientific analysis) which prompts revolutionary action, religion automatically disappears as a logically consistent consequence.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Thank You Lord!



I want to join my voice in thnking the good Lord for what he dd for my biig brother, Emeka Chukwu. It's a baby girl. Now Ihave a new nephew, and am most grateful. Our prayers have been heard. God be praised. Alleluia.

Thank you Lord. You are alive and ever living. What man could compare with you in wisdom and might. You have shown us your mercy and have heard our prayers. We bless nand glorify you always. Alleluia.

Please Father, turn not your face from us at any time, since we put our trust in you alone. Bless our families, bless our parents, bless us in all we do, and bless us also on the way and in the house. Thank you Father. Today, I will offer you a bouquet of flowers. Let my joys be roses, let my smiles be their perfume, and let my communions keep them fresh ever. Thank you Lord. Alleluia.

Amen!

Emeka, am happy for you. Am proud of you. Liliya, my sister, God bless and keep you always.

(The pix above - from left to right - Ifeoma, my big sis, Ngozi, my sis, Tony's wife, Emeka, Michael, me, Chiamaka, my little sis.)

THIS SEXUALLY CHARGED SOCIETY, ANY FUTURE.

THIS SEXUALLY CHARGED SOCIETY, ANY FUTURE.

INTRODUCTION
I once visited a town in the South- Eastern part of Nigeria where almost all the young girls at one time or the other had gotten pregnant and aborted it or born babies. As such, these girls have either one, two or three babies born to their parents at home. Thus, the number of illegitimate children in this village seemed to outnumber the legitimate ones by a wide margin. It was a really appalling situation which the people of that town had come to live with. The various challenges against this decadent status quo, threatening their future as a people could only lead to a relative restiveness that saw the girls taking up to lesbianism as an alternative.

Man is a sexual being, for God created them male and female. Human sexuality defines almost 80% of man’s daily routine activities. The attraction and love of these sexes finds it’s most intimate expression in the act of sexual love, a love, far beyond genital expression. The sexual instinct in man and woman is the brainchild behind the continuing existence of the human race. The pleasure attached to its satisfaction is providential even though it is not its sole purpose/aim. (cf. Peschke, K. Christian Ethics in the Light of Vatican II, Bangalore: Theological Publications, 2004).

SEXUAL REVOLUTION
The society today has become so sexually charged. The modern period has lost sight of the complementarity of the two dimensions of human sexuality: pleasure and procreation. As such it tends to overemphasize an individualistic definition of sex that exalts personal gratification and interpersonal fulfillment at the detriment of the procreative aspect with its many social corollaries. (cf. Peschke, K. ibid). Hence the deformed outlook on life, the family and morality we find in our societies today. (cf. Pontifical Council for Social Communication, Pornography and Violence in the Communications Media: A Pastoral Response, 8 May 1989, Vatican Polyglot Press).

Nowadays people become sexually active at a very early stage in life and even give many reasons that readily vex the mind why they should do so. For them this is but the most explicit representation of “civilization”. It even appears that the moral principles that used to bind and guide humanity have so much been made nothing of that it no longer appeals to this generation. Such time-proven assertions that premarital sex could lead to frustration, regrets, etc, no longer make sense, nor do they have deterrent values any more with the modern inventiveness characteristic of sex and its corollary apparatus (e.g. condom, contraceptives, pills, etc.) that give a false assurance of safety against our ancient fears (pregnancy, S.T.D). Mutual agreement between persons prior to any engagement in illicit sexual act has become the norm of morality today. This has rendered archaic and otiose the traditional thinking that premarital sex is a form of theft on the part of either sexes involved in it. Nobody would be cheating on the other or stealing from the other. Such an agreement would not even be seen as binding one person to any particular person. It is a free world, wherein everybody gets the “best” satisfaction as pleases him or her without caring to have anybody’s guts for garters. It seems that most people have accepted this appalling status quo since nowadays the prize on virginity has so dwindled that it no longer counts for marriage as far as the physical and gymnastic (know how) go-with of the sexual act are not wanting.
The history of this sexual revolution has been traced by many to the unfortunate degeneration of the sense of shame (a protective instinct which prevents a too rapid diffusion of the libidinous agitations) that should surround our sexuality into prudishness – a state wherein people became ashamed even to deal with their own bodies in a natural way - in the Victorian age. (cf. Peschke, K., ibid) In reacting against this backdrop, the contemporary man tended towards a radical rejection of shame in every form as a way of giving himself a false sense of safety, liberation from the suffocations of the penultimate status quo. This false liberation – Sexual Revolution - has been given expression in various forms: the feminist revolution of the mid 19th century, which sought to equate the women folk to the male at all levels even to the wanton, unruly extent of women wooing men; the many upheavals in biomedical science such as surrogacy, in-vitro, etc.; and the blatant portrayal of nudity, pornography, etc, in our streets and communication media.

THE FUTURE IN VIEW.
The story in our introduction gives us a glimpse of what a sexually charged society like ours will gradually turn to. It is a bleak future. Marriage and family life is growing cold, and undergoing a serious threat. If shattered, the society itself may follow suit since the family is a microcosm of the society. “When the families are good the society automatically is good as well.” (Okike B., “The Common Good of the Family”, in: Oche Amamihe: Wisdom Journal of Theology and Philosophy, Vol. 1 No. 4, 2007, Enugu: Snaap Press Ltd., pp. 1 – 26).

We are responsible for the world and the future generation. The present generation should not live at the expense of people of future generations. We cannot continue to bring children into the world to suffer. It is our task to establish good foundations for our children before ever they are born, as responsible people. What future would a child born out of illicit sexual act have? No father, no family, the pangs of being orphaned, bleak future, etc. For sure, this is trouble. Even though they appear to be accepted, they are still considered illegitimate by the more traditionally minded ones among us, who often denying them any heritage. The career of many women today as mothers has been destroyed. They can no longer get pregnant nor give birth, because of the lives they lived as adolescents, youths. No matter how they pretend it doesn’t affect them or concern them, it really does hunt them.

Furthermore our life expectancy today is becoming low, because we exert too much energy on periphery, instant pleasure at the expense of monumental values and time. As such mental acuity is crucified on the altar of the ephemeral. More still, AIDS and STDs are growingly becoming the bane of our societies. Day in, day out, we loose the lives of our vibrant young men to them in an alarming rate. Others refuse to learn from these and so plunge headlong to the same fate. AIDS has become a full-blown developmental crisis. Its social and economic consequences are felt widely not only in health but in education, industry, agriculture, transport, human resources and the economy in general. Warnings about falling life expectancy, increase in adult and child mortality rates, increasing numbers of orphans and the destruction of family and community structures are not new. In 2005, for example, 2.6 million Nigerians were estimated to be infected with HIV and 170,000 Nigerians died of AIDS. (cf. Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2008. © 1993-2007 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.)

WHAT DO WE DO?
There has been so much moralizing on these issues, all to little avail. I think, therefore, it is high time we faced this challenge from a totally different front. If the present status quo be left unchallenged, I wonder what the future holds for us. Posterity would never appreciate this age, since it has left it no legacies but problems to crack. Already humanity is gradually launching itself into a state of confusion, not knowing what way to go, which morality to adopt since a vast array of moral principles abound in our world today presenting divergent moral principles. Such a relative morality can in no way present mankind any truth or a way forward.

A basic stance on man is that man is a moral being. Take morality away from our day to day live, then we would be reduced to a brutal state of the survival of the fittest. Therefore, it is high time we began to redefine most issues that affect us. This is because, the meaning or value we place on things/issues, determine the way they affect our existence. Often we try to misdirect our blames on issues affecting us. Blaming women on the way they dress may not even be the solution to our problems.
There may not be much difference from the way the contemporary African woman dresses from the way our pre-modern fore-fathers did. Before the Western civilization and all it came with, most human races walked round the earth nude, denuding the breast, etc. But these people lived comfortably with this situation. I have always asked myself why/how such could have been possible following the scenario that is always created when somebody appears with one form of fashion or the other that is quite uncommon. A very important role is played by customs and the social environment in the specific articulation of this quest. “Nudity or a certain fashion that are customary in a region will ordinarily not provoke sexual desire. On the other hand uncustomary denudation of the body attracts attention and arouses the sexual passions. … Hence the rules of modesty must always carefully take into consideration the particular conditions of time and place” (Peschke, K. ibid., p. 440). Therefore, in the moral judgment on the decency of any fashion, no mathematical rules are possible concerning its slight or serious immodesty. However, “the rule holds that the latest, unusual fashion readily have an improper and exciting effect, whereas those of long standing appear less enticing or not at all, even though the fashion or custom may be a rather free and liberal one.” ( ibid., p. 441).

Socrates would say, ‘man know thyself, a life worth examining is worth living.” We have to redefine our motives on sex and sexuality, placing them in the right order. Our over individualistic definitions on sexuality that has so debased it must be changed with wholesome ones. This, however, should begin individually among us all gradually, till it becomes a general rule.

It is not just immodest dressing that leads men to sexual agitations. I think it is more of something of the mind, the psyche; the way they think about women. When I talk of redirecting our blames, I think it is high time we began to blame ourselves the more instead of others - the reality out there that only appears to us, without presenting to us what it really is - for our shortfalls. Men should know what they are made of. Women are neither mere objects of sex, nor must every of our hunger be satisfied. Let us therefore begin to work on ourselves, our personality. A personality that is well founded should affect the way we look at things, should make us see the right things and not the wrong ones and guide us against being highly gullible and impressionable persons. Our personality should go beyond our perception of reality. It should affect our responses to reality, i.e. the actions and behaviours that flow from that reality outside us, and not vice versa. Our choices, daily decisions, etc, express our personality. This concerns the women folk as much as it affects their male counterparts. It is a universal task needing urgent attention. The personal examination of one’s motives and a responsible investigation of the possible implications of ones actions, especially in sexual matters, are paramount.

Placing the right values before us is relevant if we must attain any meaningful development. Acting the hedonist role where pleasure becomes the sole goal cannot lead us anywhere. The right sense of shame and its rightful application is vital if people should act responsibly in sexual matters. The barriers of shame restrain the bodily desires. This is what the society needs today to live modestly.

The media can also be an avenue for the right outlook on life, the family and morality instead of the reverse. This is with particular reference to impressionable persons, especially the young who, naïve, regard the media as guide for social conduct. There is also need for sex education, by parents, school teachers and religious leaders. This will be geared towards feeding such impressionable persons with the right concepts, bearing in mind that foundation once destroyed, what can the just man do? Let us thus not model our behaviour on the contemporary world, but let the renewing of our minds transform us, so that we may discern for ourselves what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and mature. (cf. Rom. 12: 2)

BLESSED BEYOND BOUNDS II: NIGERIA’S TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

BLESSED BEYOND BOUNDS II: NIGERIA’S TOURIST ATTRACTIONS.
Nigeria is a land blessed with many natural and human resources. Nature has endowed Nigeria with a good design that is so attractive that Nigeria makes one of the most naturally picturesque nations in the world. Nigeria is the most populated black nation in African, with its population totalling more than one-seventh of the entire population of this continent and with a good mix of ethnic groups, tribes and peoples that is very fascinating. A tour through the cities of Nigeria immediately demonstrates this fact as one is readily greeted by the beautiful colouration of the different peoples, ethnic groups, tribes, dialects, etc with their different cultures and modus viviendi evident in architect, clothing, language, gestures, etc. Nigeria is an adventure, simply put. From north to south, from east to west, Nigeria is beautiful and colourful. The high plains of Hausa land, the steep rises of Jos Plateau, the low lands of Sokoto, the rugged terrain of the Yoruba highland, the low-lying swampy terrain of the Niger delta, and the low sedimentary plains of the south-eastern Nigeria are exhilaratingly attractive. Nigeria’s tropical climate with its sharp regional variances is amazing. Touring in Nigeria, therefore, is, in the words of Michelle Cliff, “whorism”. This article is aimed at exposing the various tourist attractions in Nigeria.
Tourist attractions abound in Nigeria, ranging from natural attractions like hills, waterfalls, springs, lakes, mountains, rocks, beaches, etc; Man made attractions like resorts, parks, game reserves, ranches, etc; and Cultural attractions such as Festivals, carnivals, etc. The tourist attractions in Nigeria are spread out in the different states that make up the federation. Tourists come to Nigeria to enjoy its picturesque cites, some of which are natural wonders, its artistic treasures, beautiful beaches, resorts, parks, festivals and food. Tourism in Nigeria is one of the countries bourgeoning service activities, with the government and individuals doing much to improve and expand the country’s tourist facilities. Let us make a theoretical tour through these.
Anambra State is renowned for the Ogbunike Cave, a cave with a fascinating history dating back to the pre-colonial times and believed to have been inhabited by gods and goddesses; and with the Rojeny Tourist Village at Oba, beautifully adorned with recreational facilities such as a swimming pool, joy rides, a zoo, a shrine and a soccer stadium. Imo state is famous for the Oguta Lake Resort, which is a beautiful vacation place situated around the wide expanse of the Oguta lake. Interesting attractions in this resort are a Golf Course with 18 standard international holes; a mini bunker, constructed by the defunct Biafran Navy during the civil war, that houses war relics; the natural confluence of Oguta Lake and Urashi River, with its many mythic representations; fishes and fishing; cruise boat services and boat regattas; a mini-children recreation park; etc, and lodging facilities. There is also the Mbari Cultural Centre, which is a home of Igbo sculptural aesthetics, wherein are found sculptural or paint representations of most Igbo deities and their mythical messengers like the Ala, Amadioha, Ogwugwu, etc. Cross River State is blessed and naturally titivated with the Obudu Cattle Ranch, a wonder of a place with a temperate weather condition that ensures its evergreen vegetation round the year, and adorned with attractions such as bird watching, horse riding, biking, etc, with hotels and lodging facilities; Tinapa, the first integrated business and leisure resort in Nigeria, with world Class facilities for business, leisure and entertainment, located in Calabar; the Agbokin and Kwa Falls; a Game Reserve at Okwangwo in Obudu local government and Oban Forest Reserves both of which were combined to create the Calabar National Park.; the Boshi Game Reserve; the Mary Slessor Cottage; and a National Museum. In Akwa Ibom, there is the Oron Museum famous for its collection of fine African carvings; the Ibeno Beach, and the Opobo Boatyard with its natural sand beaches at Ikot Abasi. Abia State is renowned for its Ojukwu Bunker baptised National War Museum wherein relics and inventions of the Nigeria civil war are displayed. There are also the Blue River Tourist Village and the Uwanna Beach, famous for its weaving industry, both in Akwete. A visit to the Arochukwu Shrine and a sight of its famous long juju situated in a cave, immediately throws light unto ancient Nigerian juju. There is also the famous Azumiri Blue River Rose, with its crystal clear blue river that constantly gives you a pleasant thrill as you take a canoe ride around the river or picnic in its sandy beaches. Enugu is known for Nike lake; the Iva Valley Coal Mines; the Silicon Hill, very close to the Nkpologu campus of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), famous for its scenic beauty; and the Ezeagu Tourist Complex, wonderfully adorned by nature with the long Obinofia cave (5km long), a lake, a waterfall (of spring water), a unique weather condition and an exotic vegetation.
Lagos State, the former national capital is proud of her many tourist centres/attraction. These include the long stretch of beaches from Lekki Beach to Alpha Beach; Tarkwa Bay Beach; Badagry Coconut Beach; Eleko Beach; Kuramou Beach widely noted for night beaching; Maiyegun Beach; the French Village; the National Theatre Iganmu; the Genesis Deluxe Cinema; Silverbird Cinema and Galleria; the Murtala Mohammed Memorial Botanical Garden; The Slave Port used by slave merchants in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries; the First storey building in Nigeria where the Holy Bible was translated to Yoruba; the Ijede Warm Spring, etc. There is also the National Museum that houses sundry African and cultural artifacts dating as far back as 500BC-200AD. Ogun State is naturally prettified with the Olumo Rock, a massive outcrop of granite rocks of primitive formation, the highest point of which is about 137m above sea level and the Birikisu Sungbo Shrine in Ijebu-Ode among others. Nature’s gift of the Ikogosu Warm Spring located in Ondo State is attractively adorned by nature with an attractive surrounding landscape and vegetation. The warm water from the rock meets with cold water stream 100m below. It has lodging facilities. Nigeria is also proud of the Erin-Ijesha Water Falls in Osun State. Nature’s monument is at its peak here. The falls have five to seven mountain layers where the fresh water that flows among rocks splashes down to form stream pools at the base. This site is ideal for mountain exercises, picnics, etc. In Oyo State, there are the Ibadan University Zoo, Agodi Zoological Garden, Upper Ogun Games Reserve, an Mbari Arts Centre, etc. Edo also has a National Museum with motley artworks like the terracotta, bronze and cast iron artifacts with intrinsic historical significances.
The Jos Plateau is a tropical highland near the centre of Nigeria and with a temperature of about 4 Celsius degrees cooler than that on the coast. Over the years, the city of Jos has developed into a resort town attracting tourists to its cool climate. It is a city known for its waterfalls, several of which have been harnessed to provide power for the region’s mining industries, like the Assop and Kura falls. Other attractions in this city like the Ray Field resorts, Jos Zoo, Naraguta Falls, Liberty dam, etc are a wonder. The Yankari Game reserve or the Yankari National Park (the most developed Wildlife park in Nigeria with a lot of attractions for visitors) and the Wikki Lame Burra Game reserve (with warm springs available night and day for tourists who cherish swimming), in Bauchi State, house a large number and range of African animals (like baboons, waterbucks, elephants, crocodiles, bushbucks, warthogs, duikers, hippopotamus, etc). In Edo State, there are the Benin Museum; the Benin Moat; the Somorika Hills; Udo Tourist Centre, the Ogba Zoo and the Okomu Wildlife Sanctuary wherein is found rare species of African animals like the white-throat-ed monkey, the mona, the putty nosed guenon, chimpanzees, elephants, bush-baby, the potto buffalo, red river hog, duikers, horn bills, porcupines, etc. The three undulating sister hills of Adamawa State standing side by side each other is a beautiful tourist attraction. Do you want to see hills of nice tourist appeal that will send thrills through your spine, then go to Benue State. There are the Ikyogen Hills with its evergreen vegetation that provide constant grazing for animals; the Ushogbo Hills whose ever clement weather is ever welcoming for adventurers; and the Bassa Hills; and Swern Hills, noted for their historical ties. Do you want to visit Lake Chad, and then have a memorable boating and fishing experience, then travel to Bornu State. The Nok Village of the historical Nok Culture of the Nok people in the beautiful city of Kaduna, with its captivating display of excavations, terracotta heads of man, animals and weapons of war, is enticing. There is also a National Museum in the state, famous for its collections of woodcarvings, masks and other works including the famous Benin Bronze Heads. Niger State, home of the Kainji Dam that generates electricity for all the major cities in Nigeria, is famous for the Kainji Lake and National Park (with a variety of wildlife, boat cruising, game, etc). Katsina State is an epic. This is because of the over 900 years old wall, with seven different gates, surrounding the city. Its ancient apparels also include the Emir’s palace, and the Kusugu well in Daura. Kano State is popular for its traditional arts and crafts, leather work, weaving, pottery and wood carving. Among the tourist attractions replete in the ancient city are the Emir’s palace, the Gidan Makaman Museum, the Kofar Dyeing pits (famed to be Africa’s oldest), the famous Tiga dam (with a Lake Hotel), the Folgore Games Reserve, the Baturiya Birds Estuary, the Kano Zoological Garden at Gankum Albab, etc. Finally, Abuja, the beautiful and well-planned National Capital is a must-visit for all tourists for while the Zuma Rock greets you welcome, the large Aso Rock hills tells you; the government is here. Sites like the Central Mosque, the International Christian Centre, the motley of parks distributed throughout the city, etc, are really perplexing. There are still many other tourist attractions scattered throughout the federation, but because of the nature of this article, we shall make do with these.
Many of Nigeria’s cultural festivals also have tourist appeal. We cannot forget the buzz and excitement that goes with the Argungu Fishing Festival (Kebbi State), established in the 1930s and that is held between February and March annually and that attracts over 5,000 fishermen into the Argungu village to compete to catch the biggest Nile perch. The festival which is a fishing and cultural festival is a major week-long international event including art and craft exhibits; cultural dances and music; local drama; traditional boxing and wrestling; archery competition; racing events like bicycle races, donkey races, boat races; and the Kabanci displays, featuring series of water events, including canoe races, swimming, long deep diving competitions, bare hand fishing, wild-duck hunting, etc. The famous Arondizuogu (Imo State) Ikeji festival celebrated during the month of April is a celebration of African masquerades and juju. The Obom Añara, popularly known as Añara day (Imo State), celebrated on the 26th of December, is also a masquerade festival of relish. A must visit is the colourful and titillating Calabar Christmas festival/Carnival, the most leisurely tourist entertainment programme in Africa. The Osun festival is another major tourist attraction for lovers of African traditional festivals. It is a yearly festival kept every August by worshipers of the Osun goddess. The Osun groove with its peaceful neighbourhood and statues of the Yoruba pantheon are really a wonder. Delta State prides her Itsekiri Juju Festival, Okere Juju Festival and Agbasa Juju Festival. Lagos is known for her Eyo Masquerade, held to mark memorable events of persons at their death. In Ogun state, there are the Egungun festival, the Oro festival, Agemo festival, Obinrin Ojowo festival , and the Igunnuko Masquerades. Oyo State’s Ibadan delights in the Ode-Ibadan festival
Even though tourist services in the nation, at the moment, is not at its peak, the industry is still flourishing with more than 1,000,000 tourists coming into the nation annually from neighbouring African countries and the continent over. Tourists visiting the country have got nothing to fear for their security. They could attach themselves to any of the many tourism or travel agencies or companies in the nation or they could attach themselves to any good spirited Nigerian/family. Nigerians are a good and hospitable people, not minding the much negative propaganda about the nation. Nigerian Hotels are a delight and most offer tour/travels services. The likes of the Nicon Noga Hilton Hotel Abuja, Sheraton Hotels, Newcastle Hotels Lagos/Imo state, etc to mention but a few. If you travel with credit cards or ATM debit cards, you will have no fears visiting Nigeria with the spread of ATM machines all over the nation, some of which even pay in foreign currencies. And you will always find an attractive exchange rate in local markets. You can get Nigerian maps in any Nigeria five star hotel wherein you don’t also have to be afraid of your comfort and feeding in Nigeria. Travel broadens the mind and Tourism is life and men who travel should leave their prejudices at home as Frederick Douglass averred. This is the secret to enjoying your tourist experience of Nigeria. Visit Nigeria today and be rapt by its beauty. You are welcome!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

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