Tuesday, July 11, 2006

My Imaginary Friends Are All Right, Yours Aren't.

Yeah, a second post within a few minutes of the last one. I just figured having the two separate was more appropriate.

Some Christians in Calgary are upset because Ghanaian village chieftans invoked ancestral spirits at Sunday's Calgary Stampede Grandstand Show. Minister Gord Smith is worried they may have brought the "wrath of God" upon the city by this happening, and wants folks to pray for Calgary. Mark Sorell, a local missionary who works in Africa, claims his mission groups see "demonic invasions into people's lives" from such invocations in Africa.

It amuses me when people take the religious beliefs of others so seriously. Instead of taking the sensible position that weird behaviour is the result of mental illness, substance abuse, or other factors these guys think that the spirits are every bit as real as the Ghanaians do, except they think they're evil instead of good.

I wonder what the response would be if it had been one of the local tribes making such an invocation? Probably not much different. These guys are just as likely to see aboriginal beliefs as products of evil as they are African ones. In fact there are apparently tensions in some of our First Nations communities between those interested in their traditional beliefs, and their counterparts who have adopted certain forms of Christianity that see other religious beliefs as possibly being the products of Satan.

As for Sorell's claims I bet you wouldn't see him trying to make such claims about say Shinto rituals held in Japan, which like the African tradition in question often deal with the spirits of one's ancestors. After all unlike most of the parts of Africa Sorell and his people work in Japan is a modern industrialised country where people who act irrationally will likely receive treatment from competent mental health care professionals.

No comments: