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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #47 of 52: New Age Religions of America | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #49 of 52: Can There Be an African Political Philosophy? »

April 04, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #48 of 52: Syncretism of African and European Religions

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- Right under our very noses a new religion is emerging in the world and we don’t even know it. I am talking about the mixture of African religious practices and imported Europeanized Christianity.

Conquerors usually denigrate conquered folks religions and impose theirs on the conquered people. Generally, the religion of conquerors is seen as superior to the religion of the conquered folks.

But an interesting thing always happens. The religions of conquered people invariably mix up with the religions of their conquerors and both synthesize to form different religions. This phenomenon happens all the time.

It happened in Europe and Asia. Buddhism was founded in India and spread to other parts of Asia. Wherever it went it took on the traditions of the people, so that Zen is now more Japanese than Indian Raja yoga that is Buddhism.

What we now call Christianity is certainly not the original religion allegedly founded by a Jewish rabbi called Jesus Ben Emmanuel. The religion of Jesus was not that much different from the religion of his Semitic people, the Jews and Arabs. Indeed, he preached his religion in Jewish temples (synagogues). He merely gave radical interpretation to familiar Jewish beliefs. Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian. (All his personal followers were Jews; indeed, he refused or hesitated working with non Jews; see his degrading talk to the Sarophenician woman…the children of the table, Jews, must first eat, and the dogs, gentile, pick up the crumbs of bread that fall from their table.)

Paul took a sect of the Jewish religion of Judaism to Europe. Paul insisted that his views are superior to other peoples. In time his views of the mission of Jesus prevailed in Europe.

But an interesting thing happened. Paulian Christianity later incorporated the various European religious practices to become what we now call Christianity.

Go watch a Roman Catholic Mass. What you are seeing is certainly not what Jews did in their synagogues but the ceremonial processions of Roman nobles.

In fact, such Christian terms as Easter are incorporated from European religious practices. Let us not beat around the bush, what folks now call Christianity’s a mixture of Jewish and European religious traditions.

That tradition has come to Africa. Initially it told Africans that their religions are primitive. It imposed European cum Jewish religious traditions on Africans. Our grandparents were browbeaten to accept this silliness as religion.

As these things always turn out, Africans began to transform the religions of their master. They began injecting their own religious traditions into their imported religions.

I grew up at Lagos and before my very eyes, my fellow Catholics began to abandon that largely Irish religion and flock to Aladura, Cherubim and Seraphim and similar Christian churches that mix African and European religious practices. Religious syncretism is taking place in our own Africa.

These syncretism religions are still evolving. What they would look like in maturity, I do not know. What I do know is that in a few centuries from today African Christianity would be different from the European Christianity given to Africans by their European masters. This process is inevitable and there is nothing any of us can do to stop it.

In the meantime, it is for each of us to find a type of religion or no religion that makes sense to him. It is every man for him self.

I find solace in psychology, philosophy and science. How about you?

Ozodi@africainstituteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at April 4, 2006 01:46 AM

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