We're back to the Middle Ages, thanks to thieving leaders, conniving clergy
12 months ago, 2 Jan 18:56
Human beings need spiritual fulfilment. But when religion becomes a substitute for strategic action to solve our problems, then our society is in danger of regressing to a situation akin to that of the Middle Ages. Then, the church exercised a powerful influence on politics, the economy, education and social life. The church preached that the order in which kings and aristocrats lived in filthy opulence, while the rest of the population lived like slaves, was God-ordained. The church berated the serfs to forsake all earthly wealth and wait to be rewarded in heaven while it amassed great fortune, and saw nothing wrong with the opulent debauchery of the ruling class. In education, the church kept a punitive vigilance against ideas that questioned the world as explained by its teachings. Thus, for instance, Galileo was forced to recant his heliocentric theory. The church feared that challenging its doctrine that the earth was the centre of the universe could lead to the questioning of other “truths” it preached, including that the hierarchy that put kings, aristocrats and clergy at the top and others at the bottom, was according to God’s desire. The history of the age of reason and enlightenment is really the story of these serfs, helped by the intellectual class, beginning to oppose this exploitative and oppressive hierarchy, and arguing that reason should be the foundation of human society. Rene Descartes’ declaration, I think, therefore I am, captured this monumental paradigm shift. The industrial revolution and the growth of democracy, both of which would forever transform Europe, are attributable to the idea that humans can apply reason to solve their development problems, and to reorder a more equitable and democratic society. Age of Reason During the Kanu rule in Kenya, most clergy taught that leadership and wealth were ordained by God, and castigated as evil those agitating for democracy and equity. But the church — until the late 1980s — kept quiet about the oppressive, exploitative and corrupt regime. And just like the Europe of the Middle Ages, the Kanu state devised elaborate means — including torture chambers — to ensure that no one deviated from the official viewpoint. I repeat this history and draw parallels with medieval Europe because it seems that after what can be termed as our version of the Age of Reason, beginning in the late 1980s and spilling into the first years of the Mwai Kibaki regime — when there was a rediscovery of the idea that, through reason we can solve our societal and developmental problems — we have regressed to our “medieval age” of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Over the past five years, the church, through both mainstream and new-age evangelical preachers, has exercised a retrogressive influence on our politics and society. Consider, as proof of this, the following developments. First, there has been an epidemic of preachers laying hands on politicians from both the opposition and government, and declaring them God’s chosen, while castigating others as agents of the devil ...
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