Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Bahamas in the future: A look at the Church!

So many times we have people complaining about the now, while often times dismissing the future with regard to the cause and effect years later. What typically happens is that many times fantasizing about the future based on our current behaviour is unforgivably taken for granted, and we seldom take the opportunity to allow things to reduce themselves to their core essence of what may be likely events taking place somewhere down the line.

I for one can assure you that no one can accurately predict the future, even though on many times I have been right more often than not. Rest assured from my own humble testimony that it's 95% of the time I'm right. So, far be it from me to stand in the way of telling you or anyone the great seer that is I, basking in my glorious rightness and prophetic wisdom, only to be outshone by my radiant halo of knowledge and infinite enlightenment.

Surely of course I jest, seriously. However, ruminating over the factors that can shape, and are in fact shaping our country, is what many people, particularly in politics, both active participants and their operatives, whether from the base community level or to the pulpit, try to convey to us on a daily basis.

Thinking about the future and how it would look like in The Bahamas, twenty, thirty, and even fifty years down the line, has to be broken down in several concepts and ideas that all weave into the landscape one may envision. Too lengthy to give justice to one concept, let alone several. Thusly, we will stick with one concept or social construct: The Christian Church.

One of the most fundamental pillars of our society is the Church. Or as we have been seeing it increasingly being referred to as persons of the faith.

The Church in The Bahamas has gone through, and is currently going through, several challenging periods, grappling with modernity and coming to grips with the notion that the State, the citizenry and how it all interacts while all are increasingly becoming divergent in their opinions on what is right, fair and just.

In fact, one only has to look at the phenomenon of smaller, non-denominational churches springing up out of, and in the face of, established faith-based organizations like The Catholic Church, The Anglican Church, which is the State recognized Church of The Bahamas, The Baptist Church and so on and so forth.

Moreover, members of the "faith" have sought refuge in the solace of smaller, non-denominational sects and what can be titled in a politically correct form as "worship centres", with persons looking for a slightly more intimacy with God their creator as well as sharing in the congregation of other members already dissatisfied and disaffected with the traditional and established organizations.

This should come as no surprise, because the early Roman Catholic Church had many dissidents and persons having difficulty in appreciating the management and tenor of their overbearing theocratic behaviour.

For example, Lutheranism broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, as did Calvinism, while both sharing different ideas on faith and worship and remained distinctively different during a period of the late 15th century into the early to middle 16th century and beyond.

To go even further, the Church of England, also known as the Anglican Church, broke away from the Roman Catholic Church during this period and accepted the teachings of Lutheranism into the English society.

All of this to say that having understood that the spread of Christian based "worship centres" and enclaves in The Bahamas that allow for separate thought and understanding on Christian principles is nothing new that never happened anywhere else in the world. In fact, it was what the spread of Christianity relied upon.

No doubt this trend will continue on well into the future, with persons opting for what many would brand as cults, wayward sects and apostate ministries, thankfully without anyone having a care in the world because the culture of the Christian movement within itself has historically been about such evolution and reformation in thought, practice and pattern.

Where does that leave established Churches in The Bahamas? Well, this continual shift will not leave established church and their organizations any more or less off. Established Churches have not served their usefulness, in fact they are well organized gatherings of persons that need that outward appearances and displays of Christian sanctimony and piety.

What has been trending is that the "Church", as it is also designed for from it's core, is a collection of people that share similar beliefs and understandings. This too goes both ways. Both ways in the rationalizing of their particular brand of beliefs with regard to faith, but their understandings of the world around them, from their professional life and interactions in politics and government.

We have to remember that the Church is not primarily a place where persons that share in their beliefs and understanding of faith-based principles, but for persons that gravitate towards others of similar cultural and economic backgrounds, as well as with persons wanting to meet and greet persons of that ilk, calibre and culture in an attempt to reach a different plateau of the social strata that the established Church organizations lend themselves to and represent themselves as.

Of course the established Church based organizations will not be outdone by smaller, more nimble and spiritually responsive Churches. Of course not!

They have, in turn, approached this Bahamian-centric Reformation the way they have learned to do it over the years being the only games in town: Controlling thought on what is acceptable doctrine of the Church, albeit from the same established faith-based frames of references that is causing the schism to begin with. Entrenching themselves in their principles, marketing that as their beacon to accept Christ as your Lord and Saviour.

These opulent displays on Christendom and "who is" faith-based and principled are clever and to some extent effective marketing strategies for their target audience. In fact, you see it every Sunday morning: The who's who, decked in their finest, taking photo-op's with the other "who's who" in a glorious display of the righteous gathering in Christ. How fine indeed.

Of course, this is not to be tongue in cheek, or gratuitously dismissive of organized religion of the established and conservative mode and model. I too am a fairly recent member of the Anglican Church, having being fully confirmed after years of just attending the worship ceremonies.

My thoughts rather should not be taken in the context of abject mockery, condemnation or the showmanship of either/or particular branch or sect of the Christian Church. It just simply is what I would term as testament to what I see happening now, and how that may change within the next few years as more and more of these separate organisms, both great and small, play out in the "Church" and by extension the wider population.

What is important through this all is that one cannot extrapolate any of the characteristics of any of the methods of worship because it is what was meant to happen based on the historical concept of what the Christian Church means, how it developed over the years and how it initially started.

This is also not to say one cannot find Christ or salvation in any or either over the other, whether it is a small non-denominational, medium sized, offshoot affiliate Churches, satellite Churches or one of the larger organized groupings, what we cannot mistake is the interaction that those opportunities offer and what they represent for us now and for the future. Just that, yet again, this is what it is and will continue during this period of Bahamian-centric Reformation.

This changing of attitudes and beliefs of Christian thinking also is ushering in differences of fundamental opinions on social behaviour and interaction as much as it is being influenced by it.

This symbiotic relationship is evidenced in the varying differences in opinion on politics, social living, professional habits, child rearing, parenthood, health and wellness and the like. The divergences is startling and also telling.

Based on what we see, it would not be difficult to presume that the Church will continue to diverge and separate from one another, both internally and externally.

These separations will continue to shape average, every day thought on a wide array of areas. Thoughts that would have once be deemed heretic even 30 years ago, but thoughts that are happening and quite clearly challenging the notions of what The Bahamas is and what it may look like, and quite frankly, what it needs to be and look like.

Needless to smaller enclaves will continue to develop. While in the short term they will not outstrip the larger, more organized Church agencies, they too will have their place. Filled with heretics, dissidents and persons not feeling the rigour of what established Church represents.

While the larger, more established and organized Churches continue their marketing strategies to attract those looking for the outward displays of Christendom, their too will be a consolidation of classes that will be influenced and look to influence what thoughts shape our nation.

Confusions will continually abound as all sides will try to consolidate "what's right" in their eyes. Blames will be cast, and aspersions will be enough to share for everyone. But, I must caution you, these blames this will not happen via Church vs. Church, small vs. large, within itself. However, the individual memberships will take what they now know to their places away from their Church, then come back with what they have heard or experienced outside of their Church, only to be then re-affirmed with their "right" of knowledge, or alternatively find difficulties with what they see going on.

We will continue to see this play out, year after year, decade after decade, until the idea of Christendom, and being faith based, is so totally far and set apart from what we once knew it to be, even here in our own country, but from what it means and represents world-wide.

This is not to cast doom and gloom, or put one on the edge of one's seat with titillating notions of the glory days that are head of Christendom here in The Bahamas, just to let us know what is to be expected is what is meant to take place. How we take it for the good or the bad is based on how we perceive the stimulus and how it affects our ethos.
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