Religious literacy-A A +A
Thursday, October 31, 2013
WHEN a 7.2 magnitude earthquake shook Bohol and Cebu on Oct. 15, 2013 hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people trembled in fear.
Some thirty minutes later, news about the crumbled belfry of the Basilica del Santo Niño spread like wildfire.
The earthquake has resurfaced forgotten prophecies. It has also created new ones.
Speculations about God’s wrath emerged and prophets increased in number in less than a day. Later, it was revealed that more churches in Bohol had crumbled.
Speculations grew wilder and the mystery of the quake’s origin became more enigmatic.
Within the same day, people started to say once again “Pinangga ni Santo Niño ang Cebu!” and “Maayo gani kampanaryo ra ang natumpag” (good that only the belfry crumbled).
These lines are not new among Cebuanos. In fact it has become a standard expression when calamities spare Cebu from death and destruction.
When typhoon Ondoy struck Luzon and left many families homeless, the same theme of thanksgiving was uttered by some devotees of the Holy Child.
And when another typhoon, Sendong, hit Cagayan de Oro, again a number of devotees thought and said the same.
Yet surprisingly, these are comments you would hear even from educated persons. These are not just the views of the unschooled.
It is, for me, a rather sad reality.
Crumbled churches and they are centuries-old structures? What could this mean? What divine message has been sent from above?
As has always been the case, people associate calamities with their beliefs. While this attitude may simply mean for many as an evidence of deep faith in God it, nevertheless, may also contribute to more divisions in our society.
There is nothing wrong with thinking that “safety” and “well-being” are gifts from God; but there is everything that is wrong in believing that such are exclusive privileges of a certain group of people (a province or a region for that matter).
God’s grace is not and should not be subjected to regionalism.
Those who believe in a god who favors one group of persons over another actually create a god in their image and likeness. Their god is a reflection of their own wishes.
A selective god is an image created by a people who are self-righteous, image conscious and whose view of the common good and divine justice is distorted.
It would not be surprising if Filipinos still interpret most, if not all, events of the world in the light of God’s action in history.
This is the product of 333 years of Spanish colonialism that westernized local animism. But time and advances in science and education should purify our mentality.
The way we deal with persons affected by devastations, famines and even death would speak a lot about our religiosity.
The pure in heart are known not just by the things they give but also by the way they wish and pray for the well-being of others.
When our belief makes us think that we are special and pure, then it is high time to check ourselves.
Finally, that fateful day tells us one more thing: there is a lot yet to be done to improve “religious literacy and sensitivity” in this country.
This means teaching people that the holiday of another religion has nothing to do with an earthquake. Neither was the veneration of saints. And that God does not play favorites.
We need to be educated further that some things in this world must be handled by us humans. Our inability to prepare can contribute to our own greater destruction.
The fact that we share this world should make us realize that, indeed, we are each others keeper.--Rhoderick John S. Abellanosa (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cebu City Councilor Margot Osmeña has reportedly said that the city council, which is dominated by her party, is willing to help Mayor Michael Rama to build a new Cebu City Medical Center.
Nindot paminawon. But history shows that majority councilors always find ways to muddle issues like this. They look for reasons aron ang mayor ang maapiki.
An example is the distribution of aid to senior citizens. They made it appear that they are for the distribution but they insisted on a monthly distribution nga dili kaya sa city.--Arcadio Arcangel of Banilad, Cebu City
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 31, 2013.