Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Provocative Take on Organized Religion

The chances are good that when someone moves back to Jamaica, they are coming to a country that is extremely religious, and also extremely violent.

It's no accident that most of the religions practiced claim to be correct, denounce others that they see as incorrect and speak in a way that induces fear in the minds of those who aren't "members" in order to get them to convert.

Unfortunately, this is not only a matter of atheists vs. "the rest of us believers", but it also includes:
  • my religion vs. the other religions
  • my denomination vs. the others
  • my church vs. the others in the denomination
  • the time of my service vs. the others in my church
  • people in the church who share my beliefs vs. the rest
I know people who will argue that baptism is not enough, but that it must also involve the right amount of water, at the right age, with the right words and in the right direction (backwards, forwards, etc.)

In other words, a returnee to Jamaica is likely to notice that here in Jamaica there are a lot of people being right about a lot of things, and spending a lot of energy making other people wrong. (Of course, this extends to politics as well.)

Against that back-drop, I read a post by Steve Pavlina this morning that is not for the faint of heart, or anyone who is not willing to think or is prone to react based on emotions only. His post is entitled "Ten Reasons You Should Never Have a Religion" and it reminded me of the dilemma I had when I left Jamaica at 18 only to discover that the kind of Baptist I happened to be, did not exist in the U.S.

In other words, a "Jamaica Baptist Union" kind of Baptist was not white, black, mixed, Southern or anything like the churches I found in the U.S. It was what it was, and its beliefs were just... local and specific to one sect in Jamaica.

I liked to think at one point that all Jamaican Christians were the same, only to realize that there were many who had already condemned me to hell because I wasn't baptized the right way, for example. I was amazed when a Christian friend of mine advised me of my peril, as a way to get me to come over to his church.

As I said, his post is provocative as it's MUCH easier to see where other religious people are making the errors in judgment he describes.

MUCH easier.

We however, are lucky, because we happen to be right, and we know that we are right. Right?

Being right and making others wrong does have a certain violent quality to it, even when its done "for their benefit."

Here is the link to the post.

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At 6/08/2008 10:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting post Francis!Yes,indeed,that is definitely Jamaica.Constant divisiveness with everyone fighting and arguing over the what,the who,the why,the when,and the how of rightness and rightfullness.Interestingly,this is not limited to religion, but manifests itself in just about all spheres of life.We are an extremely opinionated,dogmatic,doctrinarie,self-assertive and uncompromising people.Hopefully,at some point in the medium term with respect to the society becoming more educated, we will become more broadminded,tolerant,reasonable,dispassionate, objective,impartial and unprejudiced.RESPECT!!

At 6/08/2008 12:12 PM, Anonymous ESTEBAN AGOSTO REID said...

I concur totally with anonymous!!

At 6/10/2008 8:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

excellent link.
Of course, the problem is, most persons who could benefit from at least being open this alternative perspective are those who's relgion tells them that this same openness is demon possession.

At 6/20/2008 1:59 PM, Blogger niki said...

Hello - naturally, being a Jamaican :) the word "provocative" in the title of this blog post made me stop and read...

I think it's true that the types of religions and denominations most prevalent in Jamaica are on the extreme end of the spectrum when it comes to being 'organized' in the negative sense of the word that the provocative term 'organized religion' implies. Now, Anonymous hopes that by being more educated, Jamaicans will become more broadminded (etc) but the kind of education we are giving our kids is imho not conducive to that.... remember we are coming from a place where many schools were started by churches... I think the church still has a great impact in education in Jamaica. Overall, I think it is fair to say that a narrow mode of thinking is still the norm in the Jamaican classroom.

(I am doing a study on Teaching Science & Religion at the Secondary Level - anyone interested in participating please contact me, so I can help to confirm or deny this thought!)

I just wanted to say that there are minority groups who are quietly infusing a less opinionated viewpoint into Jamaican society. The 'official' InterFaith Movement was quiet (as in too quiet) for many years, but since Sir Howard Cooke retired as GG the group has recently started to do more work, from a base in Nannyville (Mtn View). There are other less official groups talking to each other, and on the 'organized' side - and I dare say not too organized ;) - there's the Baha'i Faith, which for some 30 years now has been broadcasting weekly on RJR.

The thing is, that trying to reason with organized religion is a non-starter. A lot of time and energy could be (and is) wasted on that. I'd suggest for anyone wanting to move on with their spiritual life not to throw the best of religion out because of its faults - continue to pray, and see if you can't start networking with some less organized (but not completely free-wheeling) believers like the ones at 208 Mtn View Ave.

Peace, Niki


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