Monday, 22 June 2020

On the Adiyogi-The source of Yoga

' When a Being beyond Time and Space touches you, you also become beyond Time and Space-the privilege of knowing "The Only Solution Is Dissolution".'
These are the words of Sadhguru, a living yogi who tells us about the very first yogi-Shiva as the tale is woven about how we must essentially embrace nothingness to become who we really are.

First Sadhguru School In Africa Opened In Uganda
source: https://www.newvision.co.ug/news/1427264/sadhguru-school-africa-uganda/


Tradition and beyond
Shiva is old Hindu lore and in this work, it appears that Sadhguru goes beyond the enigmatic, mystical(though that remains in it), to present a figure that can also be intellectually and almost scientifically engaged with. To be fair I haven't read a lot of the Shaivite literature and remain less than a novice so this take is rooted mostly in the bare minimum of my familiarity with the subject.

One of the stories of Shiva goes like

“Shiva once returned from a long absence. He came to Parvati’s cottage and found the door closed with a child guarding it. The child had been asked to guard the cottage and he would not allow Shiva inside. Shiva killed the child.”

This is shocking to our sensibilities. How can God kill a child following instructions? I recoil in this but in my own spiritual journey, having been a Christian-I realized that there are things the God of Israel did that should rightly make me recoil-sending two she-bears to murder 72 children for laughing that the bald head of one of his prophets.

Tradition holds that we are not justified in questioning these things. That our love must prompt us to trust that the heavenly know better than we of earth. I don't subscribe to this view. To me, to be granted with reason and the faculty for questioning and for us to abandon it, to suspend it, is the greatest sin.

Over time, people who've wrestled with these ideas of wondering why praiseworthy beings should indeed be worthy o praise has led to deep exercises in meditation, prayer, philosophy and so on.  In effect trying to love God with not just our hearts but our heads too. In this book,  you see an attempt to make sense of a tradition that could so easily just move on under the weight of its own inertia. One that becomes inscrutable to anyone outside of it being opened up.

As an example, the story of the Shiva above can be represented like this

Shiva once returned from a long absence. He came to Parvati’s cottage and found the door closed with a child guarding it. The child had been asked to guard the cottage and he would not allow Shiva inside. As the altercation began Shiva looked deep into this child’s existence and realised it is only a puppet made of mud. Its true form would be back in the mud. So he destroyed it.”
Perhaps not any rosier, but it does paint a better picture of the mind of Shiva. Of the first Adiyogi. Of being in time and space and yet seeing through time and space to the essential nature of what's happening.
The book is part the saga of Shiva, the ethereal and fantastical; in part that of the 'religious' the journey towards enlightenment and the sentiments therein represented by Sadghuru and in part the very human story of a sceptical mind coming to accept the way of Yoga. Miss Subramaniam, the co-author serves as a modern cosmopolitan mind that we can identify making a nice triumvirate.

Emptiness and Being



Shiva' is emptiness, it ... | Quotes & Writings by Rishabh ...



A big part of the work is the dual meaning of  Adiyogi as 'that which is not' and of Shiva, a personification almost of this reality. After all, when we say nothing is beyond space and time, well that is Shiva in some sense. Interestingly the work leaps between the fantastic and the poignant. Telling us that miracles may be the last thing we think them to be. For example

Over fifteen thousand years ago, in the upper reaches of the Himalayas, where the snows are perennial and the skies terrestrial, a being appeared. He was a being, unlike anyone, had ever seen – nine feet tall, ash-smeared, with flowing matted hair. Sometimes he sat absolutely still. At other times, he danced. His dancing was indescribable. Wild and ecstatic, it seemed to breathe exuberance into an entire universe...

Contrast this passage with the one following it in which we expect wonder ..but the real wonder is in inaction. In stillness in a world in perpetual motion.

People gathered in huge numbers around him because his presence was quite extraordinary. It was clear that while he was on this planet, he was not of it. They waited, hoping for a miracle. Nothing happened.

Much of the time, he just sat still, completely oblivious to what was going on around him. except for a few tears of rapture that fell from his eyes, he showed no signs of life at all. A tremendous miracle was happening before everyone’s eyes, but they missed it completely. They could not see that his sitting still for days and months on end was the real miracle. They were expecting firecrackers. That did not happen. Everyone left.


The leap
I began this by quoting from Sadhguru about a being beyond space and time. Now while that sounds poetic, in reality, this makes no sense. Space and time are not just aspects of reality, they are the bedrock of mind, of thinking and conception. Perhaps the discussion is about a being unaffected by the ravages of time and capable of moving in space in ways we do not comprehend.

For example, in order to think -there's a progression from one state to another. Otherwise to be beyond time is to be changeless; and no ideas no possible interaction with something in flux. To be beyond space is to not be matter-matter occupies space. To be ' touched' by such a thing is to find a way for the immaterial to impact the material. For all ways that matter, this something that occupies not space(there) or time(then)...has all the characteristics as something not existing.

It's too easy to dismiss then from that standpoint. But I fear this is to be short sighted-metaphysics has never been about the cosmos but about what's within us. It talks about the supernatural as a means of understanding the human.

As Kant and Kierkegaard argued, there's a domain that reason will tirelessly fail to the reach-the transcendental-the thing in itself beyond the perception that is the realm of faith.

And as such a leap must be made. I personally might not leap across the chasm but I will look across and try to understand why others do. And this book serves as a testimony of the results of that leap.

Take a look, it's definitely worth your time whether you end up agreeing or not.
 

 


Saturday, 20 June 2020

25 Digestable Philosophical Books : For your Consideration



This is by no means an exhaustive list. It doesn't have nearly enough of all the world has had to offer and still offers. The works are mostly older and from the Western canon which was my own starting point with philosophical tradition. It also eschews the more dense, expansive difficult works of great minds such as Immanuel Kant , Hegel, Quine, Derrida etc. These are simply works one could pick up without much familiarity with philosophical inquiry and begin their journey with dealing with the thoughts that shaped the world we live in now. Some works are sociological , others political and economic but selected for throwing back to their roots; the roots in fact of the love of knowledge.

Many of these works are wrong headed, will certainly trigger and shake sensibilities,  but that is what free-thought does; Challenge our ideas of what we ought and ought not to speak of.

Enjoy


1. Mating in captivity - Esther Perel

Perel is a therapist but really a relationship anthropologist. She describes the weight placed on relationships in a modern age yet our sexuality developed in the wild . Especially enjoyed it because she doesn't bend relationships towards women - but asks both parties to understand each other better in a world that demands a lot more than anyone can give.

Quote:

Today, we turn to one person to provide what an entire village once did: a sense of grounding, meaning, and continuity. At the same time, we expect our committed relationships to be romantic as well as emotionally and sexually fulfilling. Is it any wonder that so many relationships crumble under the weight of it all?”

Amazon.com: Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the ...

2. Suicide - Emile Durkheim

Probably the first sociological work, Emile uses observations on the rising tide of suicides at a time of great modernity. It leads to startling implications about the pressures of modern life, the differences in the Catholic and Protestant world view and oddly , sunlight.

Quote:

“One cannot long remain so absorbed in contemplation of emptiness without being increasingly attracted to it. In vain one bestows on it the name of infinity; this does not change its nature. When one feels such pleasure in non-existence, one’s inclination can be completely satisfied only by completely ceasing to exist.”



Suicide: A Study in Sociology by Émile Durkheim

3. The denial of Death- Ernest Becker

Becker ties the human condition to our awareness of death and our repression of the same in trying to somehow live forever through our work, our children, our religion. Being on the verge of death when he wrote this, it's both bleak and bold.

Quote:

“What does it mean to be a self-conscious animal? The idea is ludicrous, if it is not monstrous. It means to know that one is food for worms. This is the terror: to have emerged from nothing, to have a name, consciousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating inner yearning for life and self-expression and with all this yet to die. It seems like a hoax, which is why one type of cultural man rebels openly against the idea of God. What kind of deity would crate such a complex and fancy worm food?”


The Denial of Death: Amazon.co.uk: Ernest Becker: 9780285638976: Books

4. The genealogy of morals - Nietzsche

Nietzsche is famously unsystematic, almost poetic in his writing. This, however, is more linear and his argument on how we have the morals we possess today. He boldly asserts things such as the difference between slave and master morality, the nihilism of believing in an afterlife and how the weak created the idea of evil to constrain the strong. Tell us how you really feel, Friedrich.

Quote:

“Human history would be nothing but a record of stupidity save for the cunning contributions of the weak”


The Genealogy of Morals (Dover Thrift Editions) - Kindle edition ...

5. Confessions - Augustine

This is an autobiographical tale by the Saint himself not being saintly. Better than those testimonies in church as Augustine shares his sexual appetite, greed and ambition and why he later converted. Not bad for the man that basically formed the logical arguments of Christianity to show why he first fled to the cross. It also has one of the most sophisticated musings on the nature of time you'll ever read.

Quote:

“How can the past and future be, when the past no longer is, and the future is not yet? As for the present, if it were always present and never moved on to become the past, it would not be time, but eternity.”
Confessions by Saint Augustine - Christian Liberty

6. On liberty - John Stuart Mill & Harriet Taylor

Mill and his wife, Harriet Taylor weren't the first to espouse utilitarianism, the philosophy that our moral imperative is to maximize happiness for the most people and minimize suffering and all our actions be measured by that rather than by intent as Kant argued; but they certainly made it popular. It is a cogent calibration of the relationship between authority and autonomy; the masses and the individual and what it means to be free , yet dependent of each other. This work is one of the pillars for modern ideals of free speech cemented by representative government.

Quote:


If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”



On Liberty by John Stuart Mill

7. Wretched of the earth-Franz Fanon
Fanon wrote so passionately about the dehumanizing affects of subjugation and colonization on the colonized but on the colonizer as well; He examines the African experience in violent confrontation with the western tradition had done to them. It's a painful poignant portrait.

quote:

“For a colonized people the most essential value, because the most concrete, is first and foremost the land: the land which will bring them bread and, above all, dignity.”


The Wretched Of The Earth - By Frantz Fanon (Paperback) : Target

8. The art of always being right - Arthur Schopenhauer
The Father of pessimism, Schopenhauer is second only to Nietzsche in having a great understanding of human nature and a wit to poke fun at our absurdities. He is grumpy, acerbic and hilarious all at once. This book is a light satire on 38 ways one can win an argument if one does not give a toss about the truth or actually reaching agreement.

Quote:

“there are very few who can think, but every man wants to have an opinion; and what remains but to take it ready-made from others, instead of forming opinions for himself?”


The Art of Always Being Right : Arthur Schopenhauer : 9781903933619


9. The Republic- Plato
It's been said that all of philosophy is but a footnote to Plato. His broad shoulders carried a mind that was both poetic and political; using beautiful allegories and dialogues to prove his points. In the Republic, Plato talks about justice and what a just society would look like(quite nightmarish actually) , but on the way his storytelling is strong and vision clear that the world needs the just to be strong-surprisingly we see the beginnings of communism, of society needed all people and, feminism-
“If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.” . I had to cheat and give hi two quotations.

Quote:

“The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.”


PewDiePie & Socrates — YIFAT GAT

10. Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achibe

The trials of Obi Okwonko, a hardworking yet fearful man trying to navigate life , is a masterpiece that starts off in the culture and ways of the Igbo people of Nigeria through the Okonkwo family , to the coming of the British colonialists and the adjustments made to fit into the new world. It is funny, sad and avoids simplicity. Be sure to follow it up with No longer at ease by Achibe as well.

Quote

“A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving. They all have food in their own homes. When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.”

Things Fall Apart: Amazon.ca: Achebe, Chinua: Books

11. Being and nothingness- Jean-Paul Sartre

Sartre was an intellectual rock star . In the bleakness of the world wars, questions of existence were rife and he was there to pick up where Heideggar, Nietzche and Kierkagaard left off. In this essay, he deals with self deception, free will, what being means and most importantly-nothingness. This is existentialism at it's most self aware.

Quote :


“Time gnaws and wears away; it separates; it flies. And by virtue of separation--by separating man from his pain or from the object of his pain--time cures.”


Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre · OverDrive: eBooks ...

12. Sexual Personae -Camille Paglia

Camille is a machine gun. Not just for the rapid fire delivery of her thoughts but because she doesn't hold back. Like Nieztche, she uses the Apollonian and Dionysian schools( order and rationality, and passion and chaos) that the Greeks had to study decadence and eroticism throughout literature. She shows the power of women throughout the ages in non pc ways and runs counter to many feminist ideas of the 90's when it was published. A polemic, maybe. But a powerful one.


Quote :

Men's delusional certitude that objectivity is possible is based on the visibility of their genitals. Second, this certitude is a defensive swerve from the anxiety-inducing invisibility of the womb. Women tend to be more realistic and less obsessional because of their toleration for ambiguity which they learn from their inability to learn about their own bodies. Women accept limited knowledge as their natural condition, a great human truth that a man may take a lifetime to reach.


Sexual Personae by Camille Paglia: 9780679735793 ...

13. Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance

Zen is now such a pop culture icon that it risks ridicule. In this semi autobiographical tale of a cross state motorcycle trip, one rider relies on others to fix his bike while the author relies upon himself to fix the bike-allegory much!? This is more romanticism and stoicism than say Zen Buddhism but it only goes to show the cross pollination of ideas of many Mediterranean, Indus valley and eventually American ideologies.The dialogue is deep without being caricatured and it's paced well enough to keep you thinking through similar conversations you might have had on a long road trip.
IT is the best selling philosophy book of all time. Find out why.

Quote:

“You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it's going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values ...

14. Tao Te Ching- Lao

As far as digestible Eastern philosophy gets, Taoism is great starting point. The text is aphoristic and purports to expound on the Dao or the way-in which we are encouraged not to strive to change nature -ziran which means naturalness, or ourselves, but to rest in knowledge of the way and allow it to move us through wuwei(non-action). This work opens the way(pun intended) to Confucianism , and Buddhism if you are so inclined .

Quote:

“A leader is best
When people barely know he exists
Of a good leader, who talks little,
When his work is done, his aim fulfilled,
They will say, “We did this ourselves.”

Tao Te Ching (The Way) by Lao-Tzu: Special Collector's Edition ...

15. 48 laws of power- Robert Greene

Much derided for its overwhelming success( somehow popularity now means in-authenticity) , Robert Greene's masterpiece sat on my self for years because the kind of people that spoke about it weren't the kind of people I wanted to emulate. To paraphrase Lord Russell, don't believe a dull persons report of a wise man's statements. Greene masterfully crafts an intriguing vast work of observations of how people behave, and yes, how they react and reach for power. Rather than seeking to create narcissists , it cautions on how to spot them and to spot your own envies, failings, weaknesses and responses to the power in others and within yourself. Like Machiavelli before him, Greene provides a toolkit, but it's up to you to be a danger to yourself and others in using it or mastering it for good. Plus, its' got great biographies on historical figures.

Quote:

LAW 25
Re-Create Yourself

Do not accept the roles that society foists on you. Re-create yourself by forging a new identity, one that commands attention and never bores the audience. Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define if for you. Incorporate dramatic devices into your public gestures and actions – your power will be enhanced and your character will seem larger than life.”


The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene: 9780140280197 ...

16. SteppenWolf- Herman Hesse


The latest book I'm digesting . An exploration of solitude and a man's struggle to reconcile his human nature and his "wolf nature". The protagonist aims to kill himself because life holds no more for him but ..well, he comes across a magic theater and a pamphlet that has his name on it and describes his life . Then the novel begins.

Quote:


“How absurd these words are, such as beast and beast of prey. One should not speak of animals in that way. They may be terrible sometimes, but they're much more right than men...They're never in any embarrassment. They always know what to do and how to behave themselves. They don't flatter and they don't intrude. They don't pretend. They are as they are, like stones or flowers or stars in the sky.”


Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse

17. Wealth of Nations - Adam Smith
Capitalism is quickly becoming a bad word, though still a bulwark against the red scare for others. This work is the original treatise that moral philosopher Adam Smith put forward in the 1700's that helped underpin a movement of private property and freedom to trade not out of virtue but out of self interest being the pathway to a more prosperous nation. Smith's insights on human activity are alive with realism and push back against ideas of utopia many seem to place on it. This is a fundamental work on classical economics and a key reflection on the revolution of the world that moved us from feudal to modern economies.

Quote:


It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our necessities but of their advantages.

The Wealth of Nations (Illustrated) (English Edition) eBook: Smith ...

18. Communist Manifesto - Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
Marx has become the spectre he spoke about that haunted Europe. The man who stood Hegel on his head applies his great mind and process of material dialectic(history progresses due to the relation of different classes to the factors of production in meeting economic needs) to stoke the fires of the communist revolution in Europe. This Marx at his most provocative and most persuasive critiques of Capital. Whether you agree or not, it's important to know what one of the pillars of communism and socialism ACTUALLY believed.

Quote :

“The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his 'natural superiors,' and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, callous 'cash payment.' It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.
 


The Communist Manifesto - By Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels ...

19. Man's search for meaning - Viktor Frankl

And now for something light!! Frankl recounts his experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps and how the application of his method of psychotherapy allowed him to not just live through it but find a meaning and purpose in a condition that was as dehumanizing as it gets. Powerful testimony to the power of the human spirit.

Quote:

“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”

Man's Search For Meaning: The classic tribute to hope from the ...

20. Civilization and its discontents- Sigmund Freud

Freud is oft called a fraud-I don't agree though most of his work has been debunked as hard science-he seemed to genuinely believe in it and he possessed a great insight and a gift for analogy for human thinking. Expanding his internal relational model for the human mind of the conscious and unconscious mind to society, he describes the tensions felt by the individual in being true to themselves and being a good citizen of society; Freud as it were said our coping mechanisms for the urges we deem uncivilized can be channeled often into high cultural achievements that belie their low origin , for example instead of aggression and violence, we enjoy a good competitive sport instead and feel better about ourselves.


Quote:

Life, as we find it, is too hard for us; it brings us too many pains, disappointments and impossible tasks. In order to bear it we cannot dispense with palliative measures... There are perhaps three such measures: powerful deflections, which cause us to make light of our misery; substitutive satisfactions, which diminish it; and intoxicating substances, which make us insensible to it.



Civilization and Its Discontents (Penguin Modern Classics): Freud ...

Saturday, 18 January 2020

What Must Caesar Think



What Must Caesar Think
As he rides into Rome
Cheered by the crowds
Welcomed as the prince of the home
Hail Caesar! they yell
A man  who fought for the people
A better tale no one could tell

What Must Caesar Think
When he is praised as the dawning of a new age
When the might of his army instead of terror
Is used to to bring peace in the land
Oh what a sage.
A man of a new era

What Must Caesar Think
When his term is coming to an end
When he-the man with the vision
Will soon have to make way for some bell end!
Do they not see?
Can they not think?
He just needs a little more time
To bring the people into true prosperity

What Must Caesar Think
The people want Change
Argh these people
Ungrateful , shortsighted
Limited in range
They forget the terror of old
The poverty, the wanton destruction
Who are they to give him instruction?

What Must Caesar Think
As people now get sick from being over fed
Yet cry out that others are hungry,
They see the world, laugh and make merry
Make anthems about party after party
Then turnaround and say we want multiparty?
We want Change?

What Must Caesar Think
Who knew struggles as a child
And as a man fought for all he had
Forced to retreat into the wild
Battle after Battle he waged
For the people he would soon come to enrage
How bitter it must taste to see himself be disgraced


What Must Caesar Think
When even his generals start to breakaway
Must he destroy them like fire does hay?
Must he put up with incompetence in the ranks?
Must he always save the day?
They are all blind-The donors, the musicians, the elite
Vulgar women saying vulgar things
He'll have them rotting in chains


What Must Caesar Think
As the empires around him fall
When other liberators leave as villains
Shall he share the same fate?
No he must think
I am the master of my fate
I'm different

What Must Caesar Think
she is stabbed in the back
By those he rode into the city with
By those he saved
"Et Tu Brute" he cries to his friend
You are killing the state
What Must Caesar think
Waking in a cold sweat
Perhaps this will be his fate

Friday, 8 November 2019

Every Refuge has its price: My visit to the Prophet Mbonye- led Fellowship of Remnants







I'm not really the kind of guy that's spontaneous. Many a companion has tried to get me to do things spur of the moment and had their enthusiasm slowly drained as I whipped out my calendar to see if I could spare the time for their aside. Want to go to the bar? -Better give me a day's notice. Want to have lunch today? - Better shoot me a text before 8am. Want to come over to my place? Send an owl with a handwritten letter in triplicate at least 4 business days ahead!

I'm just the type of person who generally knows what I'll be doing days in advance.

It was therefore rather out of the ordinary for me to suddenly think one Monday afternoon - "Hey why don't I just go see what is going on at the Mbonye thing? " I texted my friend and asked her if she'd want to go with me but true to adult life-arranging a time that worked for us both was a little difficult. But this played right into my wheelhouse. We finally set a date and I was excited.

In the days that followed, I tried to query my sudden urge to go see what was going on at the Zoe grounds where the remnants meet every Tuesday for fellowship.

Part of me thought I just wanted to have a laugh because of all the wacky things I'd heard about the fellowship and the prophecies of this sudden gospel superstar-some of which include his Oscar predictions. But that's not really something that would take me away from my hard-earned time alone at home on a school night. No.

It's the fact that so many people I know or have worked with or have seen around are enamored with the man and the fellowship. Having been a Christian before, I know what the fervor can be but this had a special ting to it.

The event itself





Hosted at the KCAA grounds, called Zoe grounds. It felt like I was headed to blankets and wine event. Instead of high hemlines and polo shirts, were, well, high hemlines and polo shirts but their wearers carrying bibles instead of four cousins wine. The choir and band were in full swing playing a mix of old worship standards with emphasis on choruses and refrains that can't help but get you feeling some type of way.

On each of the seats was a pledge card and envelope to place it in. The smell of the roasted meat on sale wafting in the open air and the sound of kids running around playing lent a nice vibe to the whole event.






The Testimonies
In the midst of the music, are televised pre-taped testimonies as slickly done and produced as anything on NTV. This time around, the testimonies followed from the point of contact fellowship that had happened a week or so prior. People brought items of clothing, cheques or other items that were meant to be a point of contact between them, or the people they had come with a request for, and the Prophet

One young man had an issue of keloids, but after being prophesied over by the Prophet, he was completely healed he said. He was also blessed with a new job and according to the prophecy, his name would be famous around the world. Soon after a prophecy was uttered over his life- he got a job making a South Korean documentary and his name was listed! Amazing!

Another testimony was about a young lady who had lost her job and was to quote her, "Looking to the God of my father Prophet Elvis Mbonye for a supernatural breakthrough to have rent for the next 6 months". According to her testimony, not 24 hours after point of contact, her landlord called and asked her to be the custodian over his ouses as he would be heading back to the USA. She was offered a house rent-free for 3 years as part of the benefits of the job! The people went absolutely wild. A few people were in tears even.

The biggest testimony wasn't from a person but from the media team in a prepared video that spoke to a prophecy made by the Prophet concerning the firing of Gen Tumukunde and Gen Kale Kaiyhura , men who were at loggerheads as security minister and inspector general of police back till their dismissal back in 2018, when the Prophet said that people of the same house would be against each other. Apparently, this was clearly about this specific breakdown and not say, the millions of conflicts around the world.

As far as prophecies go, it's quite telling that it took a near 10 min video to explain something that was "clear".

Then offertory time. I could not in good conscience give something but there was no declaration of the amount collected as I'm accustomed to from my All Saints days. Perhaps at the next meeting?



Image result for elvis mbonye
image courtesy of sqoop.co.ug

Enter the man of the hour

After the testimonies, the choir and band kick it back into high gear and play some great tunes and create an atmosphere of expectation. And on the screen, we see the gates opening up that lead to the ground and a white rover comes through with "Elvis 1" plates. It looks like the Elvis 2 Range Rover was left at home this particular day.

Prophet Elvis comes on stage in a tailored suit and flashy watch looking every bit the man on whom the favor of the Lord sits. He leads worship for a while in a key only the Lord can catch.

Stopping to walk into the crowd for a bit. Seeming to be searching from among the sea of faces a few people whom he could talk to and have their lives changed. Many churches do that actually, using music and building anticipation for something huge about to happen. And the people know their part in this is to be hyped.

To be ready.

To expect a miracle

And Mbonye's charisma was through the roof. Weaving through scripture all the while hitting on three main points

1. Give up the earthly mindset of poverty and relying on earthly things, and expect supernatural favor

2. Supernatural favor comes through miracles, in health but mostly in wealth

3. The world will call you crazy and mock you for following a man, but you are the remnant of GOD.



Image result for elvis mbonye




The last hour or so was some type of cold reading in which the Prophet would say he hears a name starting with the letter a and whose birthday is in February and people would run to the front to receive their word and blessing.

My friend and I ended up leaving at this point because as things went on, we begun talking about how, as much as this seemed like the most cynical set up of a man with slick promoting taking advantage of people's faith and desperation, we wondered, well...don't we have our own places of refuge? Our own irrational beliefs that have been cosigned by the larger society?

Were we being paternalistic and condescending to say what people ought to be doing and that they were being gullible and taken advantage of by a man and a ministry selling an invisible product in the sky and promising material returns? Not just glories in heaven?



Image result for elvis mbonye

Aerial shot courtesy of Prophet Mbonye Facebook page


Hmph.

I took a few days to think about it and I am quite skeptical and angry about just the blatant tricks that are as old as time being employed to get people to pay up for these promises, I do see that this is a symptom of a bigger issue in our land. The not so quiet desperation of people who feel they have no choice but to lean on the supernatural for assistance. Witha government that seems to forget them and an economy that offers most people very little, and for even, the so-called middle class- the illusion of security doesn't hold.

It's easy to be dismissive but I think we ought to think carefully about the state of a nation in which people will rely on the supernatural because all else has failed them. So if anything, I'll encourage you to go see this place for yourselves, speak to the people you care about who go-trust me shaming and name-calling only make the resolve and feeling of being set apart stronger- and listen.

Listen to what their needs are and how they feel this place. This man they call father fulfills it.

Then hope to God you can show them that every refuge has its price and some are clearly overpriced.