Friday, May 20, 2011

The Redeemed Harvest of Names

“He said if an ifa priest could become an ‘archbishop’, why can’t he become a pope?”

I know oko mi Adio like my palm. What else do you expect, anyway? We’ve been married for years. We eat together. We pray together. We play together. We even sleep together. Are you surprised? We do virtually everything together. And this very much I know about him: he is a very religious person. He wakes up reading the Bible. At midday, you will see him with the great book memorising its verses. At night he is also at it, fondling the robust Holy Book like a newly wedded wife. But of recent, oko mi Adio says he wants to take his romance with the Book to the next level. He has quit his well-paying job, ostensibly to engage in evangelism. But nobody can convince me that he is not up to something. I confronted him with my suspicion and I could not fault his reasoning.

What did he say?

He said all his contemporaries have become pastors and have prospered. He, too, wants to join the multitude to worship the god of prosperity. I was alarmed! How could anybody dare say that? He flared up, calling me names. I tried to dissuade him but it was obvious his hunter’s dog was destined to get lost in the wilderness of wishful thinking. He insisted he must become a pastor by all means. He said he is no longer interested in the god of poverty. I cried foul! He said if I liked, I could cry turkey or eagle, he would not care a hoot. He said if an Ifa priest could become an ‘archbishop’, why can’t he become a pope? His logic baffled me a bit. He even went further to lay a premise for his unprofessional calling. He said many “men of God” in Niagara today did not go to any major seminary or study theology in any divinity college. He gave instances of spouses of pastors taking over ministries after the demise of the breadwinners, and sons becoming deputy pastors and assistant bishops with “executive fiat”. I concurred and he thanked me for agreeing with his inordinate intention to set up his own ministry. The problem now is what name to give his proposed ministry.

Why should that be a problem? Why not just “OKO MI ADIO EVANGELICAL MISSION OF IGBOTAKO AND IGBOBINI?

Never! Oko mi Adio does not want a name like that. He wants a name that will draw crowds and dollars. And this is where he ran into a problem. To overcome this, he went out in search of specimen names and he became more confused than ever as to what name to adopt or adapt. The first day he went out, he said he almost ran back home because all he was seeing was fire, fire, fire everywhere!

Was the town burning?

No! He said virtually all the names of churches he saw bore ‘fire’ and he started wondering if he had not willingly entered hell in his quest for his daily bread. I told him he should not worry. The fire brigade is always there to rescue him even from hell. The first signboard was truly frightening: FIRE FOR FIRE MINISTRY! What could this be? Oko mi Adio said this must be a church for armed robbers and the police who are always slugging it out in their regular fire fights. He said he would never name his church like that. He can’t be ducking from bullets in the church. He had hardly moved forward when he saw another one, ANGELS ON FIRE, CHAPEL OF PEACE. He just hissed. He said how could he set up a church where angels will burn when he is not the Hitler who built the gas chambers for the extermination of Jews. No way, he said. But he had not seen anything yet. As he walked along some other streets, he saw a row of “fire ministries”. My friend, oko mi Adio had never been so alarmed.

What did he see?


Enough of fire! But how did he react to the line-up?

You can trust oko mi Adio. He just dismissed the names as those created by ignoramuses who have chosen to play with fire, despite the warning of Osibissa, in a country where the fire service is always short of water. He said he would prefer to stay far from the madding crowd. But he had not walked very far again when he saw another church name HOLY GHOST ON FIRE MINISTRY. Initially he liked the name saying instead of the congregation running helter skelter for water all the pastor needs to do is preach to them to dole out naira notes to buy “anointing water” with which to quench the fire. On a second thought he felt today’s pastors truly need FIRE MINISTRIES for practical lessons on what most of them may end up experiencing in hell. That seemed to have given him a new attitude to the “anointing business” and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

Please, I don’t understand. It’s confusing to me. Can you come again?

I mean that oko mi Adio started to read meanings into the names instead of just throwing them away paint, brush and signboard. So when he saw the HIGH TENSION MINISTRY, oko mi Adio suggested that it could be a church for NEPA men and their megawatts expectations. Then he brought in his diabolical interpretation. He said it could be a church where the electrocution of evils takes place. But is oko mi Adio ready to name his own church after that? No, he said. Why? Hear him: “Many prospective worshippers may be scared away with their tithes and weekly offerings”. Can you beat that? However, this must be stated. If not because my husband was determined to make hay while the opium (that’s what he calls religion), lasts, he would have been frightened out of the business project with the kind of names he encountered at the beginning, names that have to do with the elements, fear, disaster and violence: HURRICANE MIRACLE MINISTRY, HEALING TSUNAMI MINISTRY, STATAN IN TROUBLE MINISTRY and so on. Oko mi Adio was flustered. He said after what hurricanes/Andrew and Katharina did in the United States, he can never name his ministry ‘hurricane’. Neither would he joke with tsunami. He said a tsunami will definitely wipe all tithes, weekly and harvest offerings away, leaving his wallet wet and empty. You need to see how oko mi Adio was looking while narrating his story. He looked frustrated. I said he should not worry. He could stay at home while I go out to help him sort out more names and promised to come back with what I thought was best for him.

For the concluding part, see 'The Redeemed Harvest of Names 2' in the book, Opilogue: Not a Laffing Matter.

No comments:

Post a Comment