Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Is the end near?

I write this on 19th December 2012 a mere 2 days before before 21st December 2012 a date that has been flying around for a while now as the end of the world according to the Mayans. Some believe the end of the Mayan calendar on that day signals the end of the world, I Personally do not subscribe to the. However a friend online once told me he couldn't trust the Mayans- a civilization that died due to lack of food! For more details on the Mayan apocalypse theory a good place to start is the Wikipedia article here .

I remember being asked in 1999 to write a composition on whether 1999 signaled the end of the world. Back then it was a strong candidate being at the turn of the millennium as well as the infamous Y2K millennium bug that had got people all scared about planes falling from the sky among other calamities which thankfully never happened. There went another candidate for the end of the world and I know that on the morning of 23rd December there will be another collective yawn as there was last year after Harold Camping's predictions came to naught.

This whole "End of the World" story has been a popular topic over the centuries among people not only religious but non religious too with the religions all having their own versions of the ultimate destiny of planet Earth. The study of this topic has been put under the topic which Theologians like to call Eschatology which has been a very popular one particularly in the Christian church. It is very common when you turn on your TV or radio to find somebody on the myriad Christian stations talking about "the end times." The bookstores also have lots of books on that subject. However it is interesting to note that the interpretations and opinions regarding what the bible has to say about the second coming of Christ and the end of the world are as numerous as the books. This may come as a surprise to many who think that what they hear from their pastor is all that there is to be said about it. I was once in this category until about 10 years ago when I started reading the bible for myself and started to see things differently. So for now I'll branch into specifically looking at Christian Eschatology based on the bible.

Like I said this is a hot topic in Christian circles so much so that it has become cliche to say " we are living in the end times". The chief reason given being the amount of wickedness in the world today and supposed prophecies being fulfilled today. What is interesting is that the bible which we Christians believe to be the word of God has a lot of information to do with this in writing but a lot of it has  been obscured by ideas which people have come up with over the centuries. For instance a phrase like "the end of time" appears nowhere in the bible but the actual words are "the time of the end" which the prophet Daniel spoke of in Daniel 12:4. There are other assumptions made too and teachings have been popularized in fictional books such as the Left Behind series and movies too. Eventually many of us are led to believe the popular teachings of the day as opposed to checking out what was actually written in the bible about what Christ said about his coming and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. Here I note that my studies may not be exhaustive but I've pretty much gone through the basics and come to the personal conclusion that popular as the common interpretations are there are off the mark in many ways and in future posts I'll share some of my findings.

What's the big deal? you may ask and what difference does it make anyway? Well the whole idea of a world becoming worse and worse is pessimistic and the belief that Jesus Christ is coming to make people disappear is escapist in my opinion. Also there is so much work to be done to better the lives of people on planet earth and to change peoples hearts that just waiting for an event to take us all out of it distracts us from the tasks at hand. Also each one of us has a purpose on this planet and people are the ones who effect change more so those who have had their lives changed by the teachings of Christ. So my purpose is not to take away hope but to point to the Christ within who enables us to do the good work in this world as it continues. Also another thing is that Christ was not out to scare people but to remind them of the victory of good and evil. Another thing is as much as this is a fringe topic to many it has given me a renewed appreciation of the bible and has enabled me to study it with more gusto willing to learn more.

So let me start from where I began. Was used to the usual story. I knew we were living in the end times of the physical world and one day Jesus Christ would return in the clouds and Christians worldwide would disappear "in the twinkle of an eye" and the unsaved would be "left behind" to endure "the tribulation" under "the Antichrist" or "The beast" who would force all to take a 666 mark and then after  three and a half or is it seven years Jesus would come again with his saints and angels to fight the devil and his armies at the "battle of Armageddon". After that Christ will rule for 1000 years on the earth then a final judgement of all at the end of it then a new heaven a new earth. That was what I was taught in a nutshell and I believed to be the absolute truth. That whole teaching package being a mix of passages from the Old and new testaments particularly Daniel and Relation as well as some passages from the gospels and Paul's letters. Little did I know that this was one of the many interpretations which I came to learn was commonly referred to as dispensational premillennialism by theologians. Now I do not want to bore you with long theological names just yet, will cover that later but I thought a good starting point would be an introduction to the most prevalent ideas which are defended vehemently by American Fundamentalist Christians who are the most common on our TV screen or radio.

Now the next task will be to analyse what you've most likely been taught above with the words recorded in the Gospels coming from Jesus. A famous passage is detailed in the book of Matthew Chapter 24 which is part of other teachings in the surrounding chapters 23 and 25. It would be a good starting point to see what Jesus himself had to say about it, after all he was the one to come. Those passages are commonly referred to as the Olivet discourse having been delivered on the Mount of Olives. I'd encourage any Christian to look at those words keeping in mind who was being spoken to at the time and about what. I will go into detail about it in later posts.

Going into detail right here will take a lot of space and I will save it for now. However I should say here that the world will continue as usual on 22nd December and a long while after and unlike what I believed before no mass disappearance of people followed by the events will happen. I will discuss why I think so in due time. Meanwhile the business of life and making the world a better place continues...

After whetting your appetite I'll share here a nice introduction to these matters posted by a friend of mine on Facebook. That should get my Christian friends started. As always I remind you of the Bereans in Acts 17:11 search the scriptures to find out if it's true. Enjoy and see you soon!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Lest we Forget

As I write this the next general elections in Kenya are less than 4 months away. Naturally our print and electronic media are awash with political  news particularly about who's forming alliances with whom. The alliance in essence being just alignment of tribes.

We're getting into the election mood to determine who will be in charge of the national and the new county governments. Slowly by slowly as the day approaches the stakes are being raised. Something that worries me is the violence we are seeing, could it be that the fuse is short? for instance a man got gunned down in Ngong by police men and 6 hours of riots broke out. Similar story in Mombasa when a Sheikh was killed, Kisumu too. Not a good sign in my book

Our last election was disastrous to say the least and immediately after the country descended into chaos before temperatures cooled down. However even before the elections tensions were high and suspicion of manipulation was rife. The stage was set so to speak because how did people organise so fast. Right now there are people who are accused of organising the chaos and in the opinion of the ICC bear the greatest responsibility. Two of them want to run for the presidency and this has become a hot topic of discussion- should they be allowed to run? One of them William Ruto has gone so far as to suggest that he can administer the country from the Hague which to me is a lot of misplaced bravado.

In the midst of all the political noise we could forget what exactly the crimes were and the affected displaced persons who are still living in camps to this very day. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and so I will let the pictures speak for themselves. Photographer Boniface Mwangi of the "Vulture Revolution" chronicled the violence through his Camera lens and came up with a photo book- "The price of Tribal Politics". As you look at it contrast all the mayhem with the final photo of the people in whose names all that stuff was done.

here's a link to the PDF copy of the book   . WARNING : the pictures are very disturbing

May it not happen again!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

A Tale of Two Prayers

Luke 18:9-14 the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector
“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else,Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fasttwice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The Pharisee’s prayer is full of self commendation and aggrandisement. He sees himself to be perfect, doing the right thing, an exemplary person all based on his works. He even goes so far as to assert the inferiority of the tax collector who is right there next to him. He prays with many words and probably very loudly so that everybody can hear exactly how good he is. He has got it together and this is not really a prayer but a boast before God with him presenting a list of his achievements.

The tax collector is brief and to the point and with just a few words acknowledges his true state- he is a sinner in need of mercy. No doubt he was a man in conflict with himself collecting money from hardworking people to support a tyrannical government and in other places in the gospel the tax collectors were seen as the worst kind of people. When accusing Jesus Christ he was referred to as a friend of tax collectors and sinners Luke 7:34. They were the poster boys for sin and enemies of God. However something is different about him as he comes to God with a broken and contrite spirit- that which God can not despise Psalm 51:17

During the sermon on the mount the first beatitude is “ blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of God” Matt 5:3. Poor in spirit not poor in material things. One who is poor lacks and is very aware of that lack and does what is necessary to make ends meet and stay alive. In the spirit it means that one also realises that they lack something and need to reach out to God. If you think you are okay spiritually you will be oblivious of a need for God and will continue as normal. This is very much what the Pharisee was doing, he thought that since he was doing and saying all the right stuff he was okay but nothing could be further from the truth and Jesus brings that out in the parable in verse 14 that the tax collector is the one who went home justified. He went on to add that who ever exalts himself shall be abased but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.

What can we learn from this? First when coming before God it is not a show to tell how great we are. It may look like that the Pharisee was being outrageous but we do it in our own ways. We imagine that if we tell God how good we are and focus on the good works we've done he’ll hear us. It may look all nice and holy but it is actually about us not Him. Even worse when we compare ourselves to “sinners” who are so wicked and we are so much better than yet nobody can do anything to forgive their own sin but it is  by the grace of God. I also have fallen into that trap sometimes and looking at it critically it is just an exercise in making myself feel good. As much as we don’t have tax collectors as the “bad people” nowadays we have similar groups of moral punching bags. I think if this parable was written today the “sinner” would probably be the homosexuals that we have become so good at bashing. We've seen how not to do it from the Pharisee so what about the other side?

The tax collector was simple, stood afar off and knew his state well and what he needed. He was honest with himself and knew that it is not about what he did but God’s great mercy that he was even able to stand before God. He asked and he received unlike the other who did not bother to ask and went away with nothing. It reminds me of what the church in was told in Revelation 3: 17 you think you are rich but you are poor wretched blind and naked. If there is anything that we should learn from the tax collector is to be humble, like I mentioned earlier it is not about our works but God’s grace.

So are you here and like the Pharisee you have been going around thumping our chest and looking down on others who you deem better than yourself? It is time to humble yourself and come back to the realisation that the righteousness comes from God’s grace. Are you like the tax collector and have realised your need for forgiveness? God is always willing and gracious to forgive.

Friday, 9 November 2012

A moment with Peter Kenneth

He most definitely the man of the moment in the Kenyan political scene. After his snazzy presidential bid launch at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre this Sunday there has been a lot of attention going his way on social and mainstream media. Sometimes more of that attention is focused not on him but on his offspring particularly his son who was a hit with the ladies on social media leading to all kinds of jokes and puns. Inevitably memes started appearing too as the hype continued. He presents a fresh face to the race, young, internet savvy, good looking and apparently squeaky clean. a different kind of politician is the image he is trying to portray with some going as far as likening him to Barrack Obama. So behind all the 'eye candy' and the hype machine, what is the substance of his candidacy and his plan for Kenya?

This past Wednesday morning I got an opportunity to visit his office with a group of young Kenyans who'd organised a meeting with him to discuss his candidature and ask the tough questions. So we congregated then checked in to The Treasury at 11 o'clock for the meeting which ended up being delayed to about half past 12. After his apologies for the delay due to an interview he was having with the BBC the session go underway.

After brief introductions he took a few minutes to outline his proprieties for the next 5 years as they are on his site first off was food security, we need to invest in irrigation to ensure this. along with that Unemployment has to be addressed with the rate officially at 40% percent it could even be higher in practice. He noted that if the poor are hungry and jobless they could end up being treated as rich. Infrastructure was another point , he noted that most settlements are dotted along the major roads, more infrastructure needed into the interior and every county needs an allocation. Tourism was noted as an important driver for growth and to get that up security and infrastructure are key. Healthcare was also a major part of the plan and he decried the increasing problem of lifestyle diseases like Cancer and Diabetes which could be controlled if detected early. He mentioned that he buries way too many in his constituency who could have survived with proper care. Tackling impunity is also another area he touched on and discipline is needed in government and that will only work if there is swift punishment to deter culprits as opposed to the case now whereby the process takes very long.

After his introduction we went into specific questions some of which I'll highlight here from what I can remember

What drives him? what is his passion?
He said he has his children in mind and wants to ensure a brighter future for them and also other young people.

Why did you choose the presidency why not Governor?
He said that he chose Kenya first as opposed to the much easier job of becoming governor of his home county  which he could have won easily as Murang'a he has a wider vision for the country.

What are his plans on healthcare?
He has a 3 year plan. He said 1 billion will be invested in each county in the first year to build referral and the next year the next year will be about getting the much needed equipment. The medical fraternity are not only agitating for improved terms but for better equipment to serve the people. With required equipment he believes even Kenyan medics in the diaspora can be convinced to come back home. The third year was not clear. As for where he would get the funds he mentioned attacking the budget system so that the allocations go where they are needed most. Having been in the planning ministry he knows a lot about it. He even went so far as to say he could save 180 billion shillings in recurrent expenditure.

What about the slogan Tunawesmake?
He said that his team had brainstormed about it for over 6 months and finally came up with it as it incorporates English and Kiswahili and is easily understood. He noted that it has got people talking. He admits he got hammered about it but it is a clarion call that it can be done.

Why should he be trusted?
His track record in Gatanga constituency and elsewhere in public life.

What will be done about security?
In his plans for security he mentioned implementing a Sheriff system to get others into the police system especially the youth.

Where do you get your Money?
From friends and well wishers. Donations go to as small as 50 shillings. He also added that he is ready to declare his wealth.

What do you do in your free time? what are you currently reading?
He says he's a lot of a home person and is currently reading Greg Mills on African Leadership

What is his priority in the first 100 days?
He said that the first person he wants to meet is the Chief justice so as to streamline the judicial process for swift and firm justice which will go a long way in dealing with corruption and other crimes that hold us back.

What is he doing at the grass roots? as currently he is more on social media and the urban youth.
He detailed how he has engaged first with people form marginalized areas and places where there is no presidential candidate. Has held forums with the local people to hear their needs particularly with the youth and so has done a lot of ground work.

Do you have anything to hide?
I have nothing to hide.

What about the ICC?
He voted for the local process when that question was in parliament. He also went on to note that there are still the IDPs and other affected persons who need to be addressed as well. He doesn't mind the ICC suspects running and will engage with them on issues.

Are you seeking alliances?
He is ready to work with those who share his values and has met other presidential candidates in the past.

What about Sally Kosgei?
He says that they were in a firm together and if the only story they have about him is one woman then he must be a very good guy.

What about allegation that your Insurance company is linked to Harun Mwau?
He did say he has an interest in a company that insures 20% of Nakumatt but ht e Majority is insured by Kenindia.

What about his tenure at KFF?
He insisted that his record there was clean

Are you married?
He said he is but I did not see a ring though.

That's pretty much what I can remember from the meeting and more can be found from my Twitter stream here.

Now I will give a brief summary. Peter Kenneth presents something fresh and new to the race for Kenya's presidency. He does not dwell a lot on tribe and alliances but instead takes time to articulate his vision for the country backed by facts and figures. He also has a good track record as Member of parliament for Gatanga constituency since 2003 and has been acknowledged as the best at accounting for Constituency development fund. He is also known to have done good work in uplifting the condition of his constituents  He also has a relatively clean image. However the big question remains as to how well he can engage with the larger population of the country in the rural areas who are out of the scope of his social media campaign. The challenge is to get the numbers behind him and to have an image that resonates with the people. it would be good to have a leader of integrity but he seems to be a lone ranger. Where is the team to implement his grand plan?

His team has got the buzz right now but they have to sustain and strengthen the momentum and get the message out to the wider population. It is a breath of fresh air and all the best to him.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Preying on The Flock

A few weeks ago a certain circus was played out on our screens and the name Mwende was flying around all over and we even got a new emoticon :-V now that the dust has settled, let's take another look at that story.

This is the story a supposed “man of God” goes to indulge in carnal pleasures on the streets and suggest to the service provider another business opportunity. Instead of struggling out there in the cold street she could earn a tidy sum working for him, all she has to do is come to his church. Now in the church she uses her repertoire of acting skills to feign a 'curse' that makes her mouth turn to one side and it takes the “anointed” words of the pastor to break this curse. This curse was said to be because of slandering the “man of God” how convenient. Naturally the mouth straightens out after the “prayer” and she begin to “praise the Lord” for the “miracle”. The pastor did not know all this was being recorded to be broadcast on prime time news. After the story was run the reporters visited the church the next Sunday only to be chased out like criminals by a cheering congregation who later treated to more parlour tricks of applying oil on a wooden cross on the building. Sadly instead of being investigated the church leadership actually defended his actions. Stupid I know!

I won't even go into the spiritual issues at play here but just from plain observation this is not a miracle worker but a plain and simple con job done in cahoots with prostitutes. In fact the story came to light when they were not paid their dues by the pastor. The amazing bit is that there are still people still being fed lies and not only do they gladly receive them but actually defend and support the rogue pastor. Why is this is so? Somebody once told me that such charlatans are just replacing the previous ones we used to call witchdoctors, which is true. The people are superstitious and clever men are preying on their superstitions and fear to manipulate them into believing that they can work magic. In the case of witchdoctors it is in the form of trinkets but the modern day conman uses “God' as a front for his schemes due to ignorance of the multitude. Same script different cast.

All the modern day conman has to do is memorize some religious cliches and thrown in a few bible verses here and there to appear genuine and voila he has a captive audience. What is bad is that such rogues give the decent workers in the church out there a bad name. When Jesus Christ walked the earth he went around doing good and doing miracles like healing the sick among others and had a huge following because the people had needs which were being met. These needs still exist and we all search for something greater than ourselves for help in times of trouble and disillusionment and that need is exploited by some. Jesus Christ warned his followers of false prophets and wolves in sheep's clothing who would come to exploit them and this has been the case time and time again over the centuries. So how does one escape?

In my opinion the greatest weakness that is exploited is ignorance. In this modern day the bible which is the basis for all Christian belief and practice is widely available for all to read and anybody can do it for themselves. However many do not do so and allow others to prepackage the message for them and don't take time to investigate the truth or lack thereof that prevails. Over the years I have come to see this to be true. For example a concept that is oft repeated particularly on our screen is this idea of “planting a seed” usually accompanied with a number to send donations to “sow a seed in the ministry” . The term is used in the bible for sure but not in such a context in Paul's writings to the Corinthian church it was in the context of sending help to fellow believers who were suffering in Palestine due to famine (2 Corinthians 8-9) Not for his own ministry. Another instance is when the Ephesians are admonished not to sow in their fleshly desires in Ephesians 6. There could be others that I may have missed but you get my point- I discovered that by reading for myself. In any case after Jesus taught 5000 people he actually fed them using food contributed by a boy in that crowd- no Mpesa TM numbers given! I could go on and on about that one but I hope my point has been made. Ignorance is no excuse and as long as it persists so will oppression and exploitation of the masses. The same principle can be applied on the political scene in Kenya too- fleecing the flock in this case the citizenry at large who are oblivious of their rights.

So in closing as much as I detest the rogues out there giving decent hard-working men of God a bad name I remind all to be vigilant and take time to know. Ignorance does not benefit anybody and gives others an opportunity to exploit you. Also remember that one who benefits from your ignorance will not want you to know. Know for yourself!  

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Things that go bump in the night

In this post I relay a scary experience I had recently. I am thankful to God that I got out of it unscratched. So it is also a thanksgiving and a testimony of God’s protection.  It happenedon the night of 19th September.

Earlier that evening I’d been warned to be more vigilant as there had been evidence of an attempted break-in when one of the windows had been broken the previous night as well as the increased barking from the dogs in the neighbourhood. With That in mind I went on with my usual night routine but this time sleep was not coming so as I waited for it to some I resorted to my usual companion during the bouts of insomnia- Twitter.
As I continued late into the night after 1 a.m. I started hearing a lot of noise coming from the other side of the house which kept getting louder. I thought it was my dad who in his vigilance was going around the house to find out what was going on. It kept persisting and I thought it would be a good idea to look around to see what was happening and give him a call. Now just about the time those thoughts were crossing my mind the siren went off and just as swiftly went silent and this was strange. Then I remembered my door was unlocked and opened it ever so quietly and went into the next room to see what was going on. I tried looking through gaps in the curtains but didn’t see much though I heard voices and could see light from torches as well as continuous banging. I quietly slipped back into my room and locked the door.

At that point it became obvious that there were intruders within the compound and my first instinct was to try and call neighbours as well as the worker who stayed outside the house. My calls were not answered, which was not surprising considering the hour. When I got to the worker’s number a strange voice answered and I knew right then that the intruders must have got to him. I had to think fast because at that point I thought I was the only one who could contact anybody on the outside! I went back to calling neighbours and this time it was picked and I heaved a sigh of relief. In order to be discreet I tried whispering but he couldn’t make out what I was saying but I eventually raised my voice a notch to be more clear and said the all important words ”I think there are thieves in the compound, round up some help!” after he answered me I quickly hung up and tried a few other numbers which like the previous ones went unanswered. Then I thought it would be wise to avoid making more sounds that would draw attention in my direction so I did the only thing I could do- wait.

To say that the wait was anxious would have been a great understatement as at that point all kinds of scenarios were playing in my head and naturally I went into prayer about all the situation asking for safety through it all. At this time I was seated on my bedroom floor trying to keep a low profile as possible as I kept hearing more commotion outside. At some point windows were being broken and when I saw a shadow on the curtains I really tensed up more so when he started calling me “kijana! Kijana” I kept mum hoping that they’ll assume that the room is empty and after a while he gave up and moved on. In addition to being quiet I also thought it would be wise to turn my phone off as the light might alert them so I did and continued waiting.

As I sat there in my room had one of those experiences where you feel like your life is flashing before you because of the uncertainty. Questions like” are they armed?”, “what if they decided to open fire on me?”, “How about if they find out about my hiding and decide to take it out on me?” Even went so far as saying “final prayers” Naturally those minutes looked like forever and I was wondering when help would arrive so I turned the phone on and sent a quick message saying “hurry up” looking at the time that was about twenty minutes after my initial call. Then I got back to the long wait.

Once again there was noise outside the window and the tension came back. However this time he tried to open it and as he was making noise out there I slipped under the bed to avoid being seen. As I lied there the noise became more and then he started calling for me again. At that moment I asked myself “what if he finally breaks in and finds me down there? What then?” I decided to surrender and stood up. When he saw me he started threatening to shoot me if I didn’t open the door as he shone a flashlight into my eyes. In the confusion I hurried to the door as I tried to get some shoes on and he lept on with the threats. I opened the bedroom door and proceeded to open the main door into the garage- which is not usually locked (fortunately they hadn’t discovered this as I would have been in much more problems as they were already in the other side of the house) As I went into the garage I noticed that there was nobody outside the garage door but soon somebody appeared and I got the keys and struggled to open it as another member of the gang appeared with the same threats of shooting me. At this point it is important to note as all this was going on I wasn’t panicking but had this strange calm in spite of the threats.

Once I opened the gate the next question was where my parents were and under the conditions I had no choice but to go there. I told them to open up for me and once I did was forced into a room with my mum and as we went in I took the chance to whisper about my call for help and that help was on the way. As we were in the room they tried roughing my dad up asking for money and other stuff. The shooting threats continued though I couldn’t see a gun but my mum told me she did, i till thought they were bluffing. After a while they came into the room and ordered me to squeeze into a tiny corner of the room and soon after my dad joined me.  As we were there were asked about money and laptops and I also whispered into my dad’s ear about the plan I had made. After a while I was asked if I had any money and I told them that it was in my room and they pulled me out and led me there. On my way I counted at least seven of them around me and when I got there I tried to show them the money in my trousers but they just grabbed them. Right about that point there was a brief moment of commotion and then all of a sudden they ran out of the house so fast that when I tried to follow a few second later not a single one could be seen. I figured the help must have finally arrived and I ran back to where my parents were and decided to lie low as I didn’t know what the situation was out there.

Shortly after they ran off there was a gunshot and soon after a few others. Decided the best idea was to stick in the room until it quietened down as going out would mean risking being shot by the police if they mistook me for a gangster. After a number of anxious minutes we heard the voice of the worker outside and that was a signal that the coast was clear and I went out and he told me of how he’d been tied up and the maid helped him after the thugs had left. Soon after the cops appeared and wnt in the direction of the thugs and managed to pick up a few things that they’d dropped in their escape. Here I note that one of the items was a music system which had survived another robbery some years previously. A laptop was recovered too.
As we continued to recover I took a walk round and saw how they’d broken in through the windows bending the burglar proofing and made holes in the fence. Ad we recovered from that harrowing experience we kept thanking God that even if they had taken stuff they did not harm us and we were still in one piece- the most important thing and knowing that they had a gun and didn’t use it.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Open Minded Bias

Are you open minded? I am :) and I'm pretty much certain most of you reading this would say the same. I mean it is a mark of intellectual maturity to have the patience to entertain differing views from your own and not have any innate biases. However that is not necessarily the case as to some degree there is usually some close-mindedness within us particularly with our pet ideologies.

The other day somebody made an interesting statement on an online forum I'm in to do with biblical matters. He mentioned how somebody he knew would run her thoughts through different people people to hear "what they thought." And he said to myself, "What a noble and mature way of processing, formulating, developing, and refining one’s own philosophies!" But then, after he observed this woman's supposedly-admirable social exercise for a while, it became  clear that what she was (actually) doing was not trying to obtain new, progressive, or differing viewpoints on the subject, but rather – simply going through the numbers of people until she located someone... anyone who would validate her philosophical position on things. Made me think of the number of times I've been guilty of that!

I realised that is the folly of being in a mental comfort zone and looking for opinions that reinforce your own bias in the guise of being "open minded". That brings me to another example much closer to home in Kenya and one that has to do with a subject that is very much in our national consciousness- that of tribe!

A few weeks back I'd attended the graduation ceremony at USIU and one thing I noticed is that bunches of similar Surnames were repeated often with the graduands making a chorus. The names in particular were of Kikuyu origin and quite a number they were so later on we jokingly made a reference with some friends about that pattern in the ethnicity because the university has a lot of business courses. However inaccurate our assessment may have been we were perpetuating a stereotype of Kikuyus being more business savvy and loving money.  We even went on to remark that there was a lack of students from other communities and we should report them for tribal imbalance- jokingly of course. Then the discussion went on to how members of the Luo community were few because they are not as interested in business- another common stereotype even with 'examples'.

However in the midst of that discussion a different voice came up. One of us said that we were talking like that because we were all from the central region and there's nobody to question those assertions. Looking around the table that was true. She went on to say how she would talk like that among her friends because they were alike but once she was called out by a friend from elsewhere about how unfair those remarks are. Made me think about how we urban youth think we are so enlightened and open minded but deep down we still harbour those old ideas implanted in our heads by our family and communities. She had a very good point about how insensitive we can be as Kenyans with our jokes which could be in very bad taste particularly at this time when we are trying to build national unity.

As I thought about that experience I realised that it is an important warning at this time when we are edging closer to the elections and we are already experiencing cases of violence that are all too common during such seasons. So as we prepare for campaigns and electioneering it's easy to retreat into our ethnic groups and start trash talking about other communities but that's counterproductive as we so well know. This time the stakes are much higher we know the cost of words of disunity.

Time to think not just in terms of our tribes but as brothers and sisters in a greater nation. Let's all remember to be really open minded and understand that at the end of the day the country must go on.

Friday, 2 March 2012

5 years on

Missed it by a day but here I am. Yesterday was my 5 year blog-versary!
I first appeared on the blogosphere on Thursday 1st March 2007 with a simple hello world post and haven't looked back since then. I can remember being drawn into the blogging world by my bro and my other bro from another mother. Back then blogging was the main thing in so called 'social media' before Facebook and Twitter came along to distract us. I remember those bloggers hang-outs on Fridays at Debonairs with old school guys like M a.k.a Thinker, EGM, Bantu, Mountainous, Unyc, 3TOC, Kafai, Doaz, Gichungwa, Archer, Farmgal etc. Looking through the blogs many have had cobwebs over the last few years - nudge nudge. I'm sure much blame would go to the twitter micro-blogging revolution. Back in the day people went from blogs to twitter and now it's vice-versa. Good to see lots of Kenyans taking to writing I wonder whether the good old Kenya Unlimited can handle the amount of traffic there is today.

Looking back over the 5 years and 108 posts it's been a fun an interesting journey from hello world to rants about traffic, book reviews, sermons, general musings, movie reviews and even a play review somewhere in there. The beauty of the internet is that now everybody has an avenue to share their thoughts to the whole wide world- how great is that. Also glad of late to have used to it to share some of the things that I'm learning from God and life in general. So I'll keep at it and look forward to writing even more for your reading pleasure. Thank you all for dropping by, reading and leaving comments.

Cheers and God bless. See you at 10 years God Willing!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Do you hate religion?

When I first saw this video in January it was at about 300 views but as of today had over 19 million views and has kicked up a storm of debate from both Christian and secular circles. It is a message you wouldn't expect to hear from a Christian and some argue that it is contradictory to say you hate religion but practise Christianity. The point may be valid but I'm not here to argue semantics but to take a look at the substance of this spoken word piece.

Let us start with the dictionary definition of religion from
a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
That's the wide definition and probably the church would fit that description. However in the context of the video I suspect he's probably targeting instutionalised Christianity which has a lot to do with man made structures and rules than the teachings of Jesus Christ. Personally I think many have been wrong to think of this as an attack on the church, rather we should use it as food for thought and ask ourselves whether what is there today is the church that Jesus built or it has been diluted by man's intervention over the ages. To understand how the church got to where it is to day you'll have to look at it's about 2000 history. Every movement and denomination in existence today can be traced to some event or person and after that a system was formed around it. For instance the Lutheran church traces its roots to Martin Luther, Methodists to John Wesley, Anglicans to to King James etc. However it is interesting to note that these people were not necessarily out to form a denomination. For instance John Wesley is believed to have said that he died an Anglican though his followers ended up founding the Methodist church. I'm not out to discuss ecumenical unity and church history but just wanted to shed a little light on how we got here.

He starts off by saying that Jesus came to abolish religion which is debatable as he did not actually utter those words in fact He said that He did not come to abolish the law( The Jewish system) but to fulfill it. Matthew 5:17. However immediately after that in verse 20 "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven"

In his time on Earth Jesus Christ had many run ins with the Pharisees and scribes and confronted them frequently on their hypocrisy. They were called whited sepulchres, a brood of vipers, the blind leading the blind among other things. Most significantly they were accused of "straining a gnat to swallow a camel" That they dwell on certain aspects of the law and "neglected  the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith" - Matthew 23:23. In other words they were a bunch of self righteous hypocrites whot thought they were so great but were so far from being what God wanted them to be.

The time of Christ is quite different from other times in the history of the nation of Israel. The first commandment given to Moses was "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Exodus 20:3. This was a law that was broken over and over again throughout the history with dire consequences for them. They ended up receiving numerous punishments for this disobedience and every time God told them if they repent, they'll be forgiven. So they were not exactly model children as they kept being led astray by the false religion of their neighbours and bowed down to their idols. Contrast this with the time of Christ when there isn't mention of idolatry, the Jews are under Roman occupation but it looks like they have left their rebellious ways behind. Everything looks great but another form of false religion has crept in exemplified by the Pharisees and scribes. One based on man made rules and pride as opposed to God's perfect laws, one where they were more interested in doing things for show and forgetting what matters most is the people of God. They were blind and making their followers "twice the sons of hell"

That right there is the folly of man made religious practices without basis in the word of God. a place where we even me included easily fall. Focus on being holier than thou as opposed to being holy as the Lord our God is holy 1 Peter 1:16. Sometimes I think people speak ill of Christianity because of us and how we frequently fall short. Christ's message was a simple one unlike the Torah which covered the fist 5 books of the old testament he rolled it all into one statement - Matthew 22:37-38 " Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." It pretty much starts from there though we as humans being creatures of habit tend to add extra layers on top of what Christ has already done for us perhaps so that we can feel better- I don't know. Like the guy in the video says religion says do yet Jesus says done.

We have a long way to go but the most important thing to remember is to look to Christ the author and finisher of or faith. It's not all about buildings and elaborate robes as it was in the olden days bu the kingdom of God is in us Luke 17:21. As much as there is so much evil in the world the love of God abounds and his arms are always open wide to forgive