When it comes to God and his only-begotten son, Jesus Christ, it’s fair to say that I’ve paid my dues. My early development was seeped in various forms of initiation that aimed to gently and scarily bring me to my knees with the vision of the cross as compass.
I never resisted the compulsory duty of accepting the Lord as my savior, even when boarding school subjected us to horror films that depicted the horrific ramifications for either proving your unyielding devotion to Christ or failing to do so.
In the months leading to my departure from my hometown of Lagos, Nigeria to the United States, the land of my birth, there was almost a renaissance in the pentecostal realm, as revivals began to take hold. My siblings and I were sent forth to embrace the climate of fellowship that consisted of living rooms being converted into a reception for the holy spirit.
No, I never dared to engage in the language of the spirit, but I did take a break from my cup of tea and biscuits to watch what happens when speaking in tongues becomes “a thing.” Watching the thrashing around, and utterance of what sounded like combative aliens — convinced me that I was enduring what I would never understand.
My young adulthood exposed me to more evidence of my displacement, as I weathered the unexpectedly riveting world of a religious cult in New York City. It happened in non-dramatic fashion, which I suppose is the point of recruitment. There can’t be the eerie forcefulness of born again Christians, but rather a friendly nudge towards the basin of members who receive with practiced sincerity.
My stint with the clan under the tutelage of the anointed hero, who was adamant about surrounding himself with beautiful things both living and material was quite short — but the experience was enough to assure me of the fact that God does indeed work in mysterious ways.
Since then, I’ve questioned my faith multiple times and at one point exiled myself into the mindset of astute adherence to the word of God. It was like a form of meditation that tasked me with visualizing what I wanted and believing that it was mine with blessing of the most high.
I never quite perfected the part where you “leave it all to God” because when it comes to the way things work out, I like to be heavily involved. But I was willing to believe that whatever I wanted, matched what the creator had in store for me.
However, there was a catch.
I got the job at the revered New York institution that gleamed with opportunities that held a future of fulfillment and possible notoriety, but that blessing turned out to be a curse that I barely escaped from with my sanity intact. And there are plenty other instances in my life when I asked God to do it for me, and it seemed to work, but then, shit would hit the fan and I would go from offering my humble gratitude to questioning why He callously tricked me.
Eventually, my fragile relationship with the Holy Trinity buckled under the strain of my growing resentment, as I began to wonder if maybe heaven and hell served as the inner conflict of our lives, that stem from being fed the bullshit that keeps the powerful and very powerful in business.
I mean what the fuck is a “mega-church?”
The idea that such a thing exists is revolting, and devils in sheeps clothing, like Joel Osteen who’ve mastered the art of manipulating the basics of public relations by convincing lowly folk to finance their opulent existence, are righteously flourishing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
There’s also the mind-fuck that accompanies the fraudulence of leadership, that is almost never devoid of disturbing controversy. Consider how the late Eddie Long was able to still keep his church intact, even after it was revealed that he seduced the young men he was mentoring with flashy things and whacky bathroom selfies, showcasing him in top to bottom spandex.
And how can we forget the hellish dominion of the Catholic Church, and how the seats of power manifest the nightmares that would make the gates of hell seem like a walk in the park, that resemble the images on the scrambled pamphlets only Jehovah Witnesses can transcribe.
And as always, it’s the vulnerable that succumb to the disease of negligence, that’s hidden in the layered cushion of robes — shamelessly relying on biblical authority for the audacity of downplaying the continued assault, plaguing countless souls — brutally stripped of their innocence while the angelic bells toll.
The question of why God permits blasphemous acts within his household, including what occurred in mine, is answered with how He ultimately “knows best.”
Somehow God’s appetite for vomit-inducing events knows no bounds, and that long running narrative splits into the popular method of consolation, that celebrates how this torn and battered world prepares us for the joy of heaven.
All we have to do is live well enough to earn an invite. And for those who committed atrocities outside church’s haven, well, hell fire awaits for eternity.
My once debilitating fear of death gave me the incentive to hang on to God’s threats of the eternal flame, that singes the fleshiness of being human until we’re cast out of the ring of perfection and into the den of repeat offenders.
But then as you age, the prospect of crossing over to the other side no longer stifles your progress, in fact it pushes you to keep falling on your face until you produce something tangible to outlive your pursuits.
The moment I realized I wasn’t afraid to stop breathing, was when the chains of discontent were released.
I seized my newfound freedom as the tool of discovery, and began to explore options that could potentially fill the hole that prayers aren’t able to dutifully occupy without leaving that space of doubt and disappointment — encased in fear and loathing.
My time in Los Angeles introduced me to the principles of Buddhism, and the course has been an enlightening one, although at the moment, the only thing that greets me in the morning is the lighted screen of my Twitter page, and the notifications that highlight the progress of my various posts.
I’m all over the place in my head, which means there’s no time for silence without the rumblings of a schedule that has no semblance of spirituality or the massaging of elements that are meant to give the start of the day the kick it needs for sustainment.
If I were to worship anything at all, it would be my ability to survive my life despite the the randomness of existing amidst the rubble of yesteryears that make the present and future dicey at best.
I’m not satisfied with the morning protocol of holding an over-priced device for the purpose of scanning my worth through retweets and likes, and while I sort that out, I’m at least quite certain of the one thing that has haunted me all my life — until now.
I’m not a Christian. And even when I thought I was, I was far from it.
It didn’t take extensive research to figure out that I’m an agnostic because while I suspected my status, I was afraid to own it — out loud.
It’s a filthy disposition, for a Nigerian who was raised by ultra-religious Igbo parents, even in your quiet moments, you fight off the virus of independence that challenges you with the assignment to reject what doesn’t belong.
Old habits die hard, and the adults in your life know exactly what they’re doing when they instruct you to memorize the Lord’s Prayer or when social night in boarding school, turns into the freak show about the rapture and the number of the beast, and why God can threaten into a submission— even if you’re not in love.
I’m not that far gone to declare that we only got here from the fusion of sperm and eggs, but there’s also the sweet surrender of admitting that I’m not able to confirm that the bible is the book of knowledge for those who need guidance.
Religion has been religiously weaponized, and the time has come to stop lying in favor of living in the truth of just not knowing shit — until lights out.
My endearing cynicism is the one thing that has never failed me, and now I’m rewarding it with relieved enthusiasm, as I begin the journey of gifting the second half of my life with the openness that leaves more than enough room for debate and a healthier outlook.
I’m fiercely protective of my freedom to be a wanderer, in the realm of the unknown, based on the stuff I’ve assessed on my own. And there are times when weakness creeps in, like when someone close to me dies, and the fear of mortality grips the senses — and God comes knocking.
When I open the door, all I see is emptiness and another reminder that no matter how we’ve lived, we’re all going to end up in the same place because that’s just common sense. There’s no heavenly pearled gate waiting to receive the “holier than thou” — and there’s no burning hell, fired up for the rejects who broke commandments that the Catholic Church profitably shits on without judgment.
What really matters is who and what you chose to be, when you were able to make that decision as a human being with the brain that’s all yours to utilize or not.
I choose to be the passionate skeptic, who knows there’s more than what meets the eye, and is willing to spend the rest of her life examining the mysteries that will never be solved.
And if I’m wrong, I look forward to God’s disciplined hand on the reckoning of my soul, although I doubt he will bother will little ole’ me.
He has mega problems with churches that are fucking up his name. I’m just one of the lucky ones who got away.