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  • Walt Shakes

    Walt Shakes

    Walter Ude (@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter. He blogs at mymindsnaps.wordpress.com.

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THE PRIEST I KNOW

others 62Welcome Reverend Father.

I am honoured to have you come. Though I thought you’d be here with your family: your brothers. Your father, the bishop – or is he an archbishop now? Your sister, the nun – and how’s your cousin, the pastor? I’m glad they are all okay, and I trust you’ll take back a lobe of the kola I present you as our custom demands, to show you were indeed here. Therein they can chew and taste the message for which I requested your presence.

And indeed it is not too much of a reason that compelled me to make you come all the way. So bear with me if, when I’m done, you feel like the toad that ran a course during the day for no reason.

I have summoned you here for a very simple inquiry: What is wrong with you?

Please pardon that tone of voice which my blithering tongue has found adequate to use on a whole anointed you, but trust that it is a better tone than those used in discussing you in other places. Maybe you should enter the market incognito and hear for yourself. I’ll make sure to have an ambulance close by should what you hear cause you a heart attack.

So I ask again, what is wrong with you? In case you have not noticed, there are many changes with you and your befrocked kinsmen up there at the sanctuary, changes as recent to us as androids, and those of us outside the altar have grown so concerned.

Back in the days, the good old days before this current wind of change happened on us, and Nigeria became Naija, and a skin-flashing lady became no longer a repulsive sight, we lived in awe of you. I remember waking up those early hours when the spirits of night were just giving way for day, just so I could get a front seat at Mass from where I’d watch you perform those transcendental solemnities. It was hard to believe you were like us in any other way save your corporealness, but that also was almost always decked in sacred vestments. Man of God!. . .you were.

Thus enchanted, you can imagine my youthful rage when I woke up one morning and our moviemakers had made the movie, “The Pope Must Hear This.” I thought it was sacrilegious and blatant. How could they? As I watched the movie, I imagined you living the kind of double life portrayed therein and when I was done with it, I summed it up as fiction well-made.

But then I grew up and the scales of befuddlement fell off my eyes like the Bartimaeus I have heard you preach of on many occasions.

While the wind of change blew through the course of the years – girls throwing virginity away and hanging on poles, boys wearing their pants down below the cheeks of their buttocks and killing themselves for corrupt politicians – we did not expect it to blow on to your highly exalted echelon. Sadly it did and now we have seen that father wears trousers too.

We did not really think it was the incipient sign of that wind when we heard the rumours about you and some choir girls, nor did we when one morning we arrived in church and were told there would be a second collection.

It could not possibly be that something as secular as avarice has seeped into the House of God, but then we did not know what to make of it when it became a tradition and offerings were made according to the European football clubs congregants’ support.

Our eyeballs popped when rich men’s funeral Masses turned into money campaign events; these are burials which are almost always officiated by your father, the bishop, but he would send a representative to the burial of a poor, long-serving choirmaster.

We also did not see the altering power of the wind when, not too long ago, we began seeing you in one posh car after another. We understood that the missionary-days dated Volkswagen and Peugeot 504 had to give way to some modernity. But is a customised plate number used by one of your brothers who served at a Catholic parish somewhere in Ogba, Ikeja in Lagos State modernity too? Your cousin, the pastor even started acquiring private jets, possessions we thought were for the likes of Dangote and his Hollywood counterparts.

It dawned on us how long a thing we were in for.

Business empires now grow out of churches and thrive, what with the world-class academic institutions you and your cousin own with tuitions that scream ‘NOT FOR THE POOR!’ And that’s a lot more than we can say for the God/soul empire.

Just recently, one of your fathers, aptly dubbed The Bishop of Bling, was in the news for using a staggering N26million to renovate his residence and for flying first-class to visit the poor.

You allow our churches to be used as campaign grounds for decadent politicians who ensure we have soap in our eyes even when we are in a stream, because after the show a huge something goes into father’s boot.

These days we rarely see any of your sisters walking in the line of one of their forebears, the compassionate Mother Theresa, who won the Nobel for peace because she walked the streets of India feeding the hungry and nursing the sick irrespective of race and faith.

Yes we have understood that you’re like us in more ways than we thought, having a third leg with blood running in your veins, not holy water, but were we disillusioned to think there would be even a strand of difference?

Understand that all these have resulted in a decline of our reverence for you and your family, and my outrage comes from the knowledge that you let it. I expected that now the cataclysmic wind has gathered even more momentum, you would stand unaffected and guide us on how best to navigate through it without being blinded. It is sad that you have your eyes filled with sand as well.

Once I knew a priest, one we revered and looked up to and got inspiration from. Now I look at you and a stranger stares back at me. So, if you could just answer my question: What is wrong with you?

Written by Martin Chinagorom

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28 Comments

  1. I Love this piece….. On point

    Reply
  2. *deep sigh*

    I take consolation in the fact that there are some priests/pastors who have not been carried away by this disturbing tide.

    Reply
    • Emmanuel Dan

       /  February 27, 2014

      Please can u list only 5, just to name a few, among the named-recognized pastors (or bishops/General Overseers) in Nigeria “who have not been carried away by this disturbing tide?” I’ll like to know them. @ enajyte

      Reply
      • Hehehehee!!! Emmanuel, you don dey find trouble.

      • Emmanuel Dan

         /  February 27, 2014

        Shakes, I no find trouble ooo. I just want to increase my knowledge abeg.

      • Who cares about the ‘recognized’? I don’t. I care about men working directly with the people of God, not insulated from them by layers of bureaucracy. If we were to place the work done by all the ‘unrecognized’ priests/pastors side by side with the ‘recognized’ we would realise where the bulk of the work is being done.

        Like I said, I don’t care about the name-recognized. I care that people are being saved and their needs met. (plus no one made me judge)

      • Emmanuel Dan

         /  February 28, 2014

        The name-recognized ones are those whose over actions and extremes come to light. We don’t know, see or hear much about those one-hut, street-corner church pastors even though a lot of them do engage in no less reprehensible acts, at their own level. And by the way, this time-classic complaints by christians of judging and being judged, when all thats done is simply pointing out what’s not right is becoming tiring. Pray, doesn’t the bible require us to teach, REBUKE and correct? If telling a so-called christian to stop doing a wrong thing is misconstrued as ‘judging’, when and how should I rebuke and/or correct?

  3. ifeanyi samuel

     /  February 27, 2014

    well done!

    Reply
  4. nik

     /  February 27, 2014

    Hmmm, a whole lot has changed but God will give us the grace to get thru this tide.

    Reply
  5. abikoye

     /  February 27, 2014

    Really, what is wrong?

    Reminds me of a piece I read here weeks ago portraying end time.

    Good question for us to answer even in our own day to day activities

    Reply
  6. chukarudy

     /  February 27, 2014

    Welldone chinagrom…wonderful write-up!

    Reply
  7. jenny

     /  February 27, 2014

    Beautiful piece.God bless u for this biko

    Reply
  8. Yemie

     /  February 27, 2014

    A heartrending and heartwrenching piece. Beautifully written and rings oh so true. The cold and sad reality we can’t but accept and learn to take in our strides. Great thinking, Martin; kudos!

    Once upon a time, I put spiritual authorities on a pedestal, but that didn’t pan out for so long when I realized they were mere men and women, cracked pots, glorified dust, imperfect in every sense of the word and prone to errors, just like me. In light of this, I just ‘jejely’ leave them to their devices, so as not to incur God’s wrath in line with His commands, ‘Touch not my anointed and do my Prophets no harm’. Na between dem and God, no lele! Moreover, the Lord says judgment will start from His house, so let those concerned continue, and knock themselves out while they’re at it. Issokay!

    Reply
  9. anyibaba

     /  February 27, 2014

    But what has been said has been happening. We just got older and started noticing them. I remember when i was younger, my father spoke of priests with kids. If the writer is noticing all these now then the writer is all grown up.

    Reply
  10. Emmanuel Dan

     /  February 27, 2014

    What a pertinent question! And what a sour taste it leaves in the spirit to know that God’s people are fast deviating and derailing from the kingdom connection route. For me, it’s called spiritual decadence. I remember responding to a write-up that a good friend of mine posted on fb concerning this issue, in which she postulated, among other carnally acceptable but spiritually and biblically intolerable view, that there was nothing wrong with a ‘man of God owning and flying about in a private jet, if he could afford one,
    because, in her opinion, it would facilitate the
    spread of the gospel. I took serious beating,
    so to speak, from nearly every other
    contributor to that post because I dared to
    differ from the post author’s views, when
    virtually everyone was hailing, commending
    and congratulating her for a view well
    espoused. My position simply centered on the fact that if Apostle Paul, inarguably, and besides Jesus Christ, the greatest soul-winner (through God’s enablement, he would preach and over thousands of people repented all at
    once), most strategic church planter and most
    effective follow-up specialist – if he, Apostle
    Paul, didn’t need a private jet and an
    armoured, bullet-proof limousine (considering
    the steep opposition to the Way, the Word and
    his messages) to cruise around town in the
    guise of doing God’s work, then all these acts
    of so-called ‘men of God’ are nothing but
    self-centered, ego-boosting, attention-seeking,
    carnally-minded pursuits of earthly power,
    wealth and fame that have nothing to do with
    advancing Jesus Christ’ s sole enterprise of
    soul-winning! So that question, “what is wrong with you” is very necessary to be asked of all
    these wolves in sheep’s clothings masquerading as ‘men-of-God’.

    Reply
    • Damn! Emmanuel you’re on fire!

      Reply
    • Emmanuel Dan

       /  February 27, 2014

      Shakes, I’m trying to remain calmed!

      Reply
      • martin

         /  February 27, 2014

        Lol…my man, I dey feel you. I however, feel your anger is misplaced. It should be directed at the sheep and not the shepherd. unnatural I know but think about it. the ‘blind’ church followers let themselves be used and feed the rotten men of the cloth fat. what we need to do is wake up to the fact that salvation is a personal race. you wont go to heaven because you answered pastor’s every call or because you donated half ur salary faithfully. Time for some home truths I say

  11. Consyspark

     /  February 27, 2014

    in as much as we are seeing this and condemning it. it is not enough to be bitter we should pray for them as it is their flesh ruling against their spirit… do not condemn them but pray earnestly for them…..

    Reply
    • Emmanuel Dan

       /  February 27, 2014

      They’ve had enough prayers. We need to teach, rebuke and correct them (2Tim.3:16) with great patience and careful instructions (2Tim.4:2), which is what we’re doing!

      Reply
  12. This is a lovely write up…
    As for the issues raised, I would rather keep mum…

    Reply
  13. Wooow…interesting piece,completely drilled the nail into the head…I take solace in the fact that not all “Men of God” have allowed the said wind of change blow them away .

    Reply
  14. williams

     /  February 28, 2014

    I so so so sosoliso enjoyed this piece. Not only because of the fact that the writer has told the bitter truth, but also because he did so well with a skillful use of language. Kudos! I would love to be as creative as this writer. Shakes thanks for this!

    Reply
  15. Abraham oloche.

     /  February 28, 2014

    Sometimes I wish religion is banned, but my fear is, that thing that might replace it. The sentences “touch not My anionted, and do My prophet no harm” seems to have empower religious ‘rulers’ greatly. Many a time, they threaten their follows with the knowledge of hell, and how one can easily fall short of making it to heaven.
    How I wish humans could apply more reason to what their ‘rulers’ preach to them. May be when we start questioning what they tell us , and do our own resaerch, the better for us all.

    Reply
    • Its like the age of the Pharisees and Saduccees all over again. Them rich wealth-fattened men who led the Jews blindly. We’re simply replaying the times before Jesus came.

      Reply

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