FR. AYODELE AYENI CsSP
September 24, 2012
A man was taking a walk around a mall, one sunny afternoon, when he came upon an article on sale tagged "truth." This article so riveted him that he went over to buy it.
"Good day ma'am," he said to the sales lady. "May I purchase truth, please?" "It is very expensive," she answered. "I am ready to buy it at any price, just name it," he said. In reply, she said, "It will cost you your life."
The assassination of the only Christian minister in the Pakistan government, Clement Shahbaz Bhatti, on March 2, 2011, defines one set of challenges against the truth – the quarrel of legitimacy between right and wrong has shifted base. The question now seems to be: Is there anything like truth, rather than truths?
Religious violence or wars, though alien to traditional Africa, now pit Allah against God – perhaps they are different beings – on every continent. African gods never fought among themselves, but their successors do. Is the problem gods or human beings?
The Opium War of the 1830s led to the fragmentation of southern China – the creation of Hong Kong. The people who once were brothers and sisters became strangers and enemies now in search of unity and integration.
The democratic dividends accruing from colonial experience, including freedom of religion – Christianity – is now a hurdle in the re-absorption of Hong Kong into mainland China. Economic progress is incompatible with freedom, especially religious freedom, says China.
The incarceration of Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin, the auxiliary bishop of Shanghai, presents another set of challenges against the truth – the Asian challenge.
The five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to the American Constitution – speech, press, religion, petition and assembly – like every experiment, now need focus and direction. The pews are emptying out, voter turnout is dwindling, and libertinism is on the increase.
Canada seems to have got it right – "reasonable accommodation" is the answer, even if what is to be accommodated is in contention.
Perhaps Socrates was right: "The unexamined life is not worth living." What is life without the human person? What is the human person without reason? What is reason without a human being capable of faith?
The junction of faith and reason establishes the human person. A human person is not only a thinking being, but also a believing being. To be human is to be a spiritualized body – being as living.
The cessation of quarrels between Allah and God, on the one hand, and politics and religion, on the other, is to answer the question of human identity.
Our discoveries, in science and technology, precede our belief in them. Likewise, the question of human identity and destiny should trump the eagerness with which theories are defended and lies promoted. Ultimate questions, such as human destiny and meaning, should not be treated with levity because answers to them are not dependent on human whims but on the author of life.
If the Large Hadron Collider led to the discovery of the "goddam" particle – which shows that there is still a lot to be discovered about our theories – why are we so sure of an ever-evolving scientific knowledge? Yes, we need to look into the spiritual composition of the human being, not only into atomic compositions, so as to come into contact with the Creator of the human person.
In fact, what we need is a "large divino-human connector" realigning human beings to their source and origin – the God of love, who dies for, rather than kills on behalf of, God and man. The vigour with which we research nature, in the name of science, should motivate us to the research God.
To destroy any human being is to short-circuit our research because one potential research agent is lost. To obliterate religion is to abandon our laboratory for accessing the truth. To fail to seek God is to settle for disaster, for like begets like. Truth is God himself, and we cannot find truth apart from God.
When human beings kill other human beings in the name of God, and human beings kill each other in the name of politics, communism or capitalism, who will rise to the defence of the human person in the face of economic and divine genocide?
The idea of a God in Jesus Christ dying for human beings, and crusading for peace and happiness is a viable option to be embraced more than the bloodthirsty human marauders crusading in the name of God and state.
Spiritan Father Ayodele Ayeni is a sessional lecturer at Newman Theological College and pastor of Mary Help of Christians (Chinese) Parish in Edmonton.