What if Christians were one?

17 04 2021

There is a saying that fiction has to be believable but real life may not. Hence, I was barely was able to get through watching the movie “What if (2010)” endorsed by Pureflix as good Christian film, because of the myriads of unbelievable elements it contains. The story is about a business man, Ben Walker (Kevin Sorbo) who, at the peak of his career gets whacked by an Angel into a “future” life he would miss if fails to be faithful to God’s call to become a preacher. The problem is that this life, the life of penny pushing pastor of a small town parish is nothing to compare with the power job he presently has but in the end he ditches it for preacher’s life and left me wondering if this isn’t a mockery Christianity.

Are the makers of this movie really saying that you can’t be a successful business man as well as a good Christian? Are the two really incompatible?  If that is so, then no should be surprised when Christianity is scorned in intellectual and artistic circles. But even more seriously, it would negate the very words of Jesus, “Go you therefore and make disciples of all (Mathew 28: 19), which would be impossible if only pastors could be good Christians. How about when Jesus talked about trading with the talents God gave us when he told the story of the man who about to engage in travel called his servants and entrusted them with talents with the expectation that they would trade and make profit (Luke 19:13) It would be impossible if all the talent that needs trading was that of a pastor. Furthermore, it would also negate the life of the early Christians many of whom where business people like Priscilla and Aquila(Acts 18:2-3), or Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43)  and  many high ranking members of the Roman society who later converted to Christianity.  

Consequently, I would argue that the producers of this film misunderstand the basic tenets of biblical Christianity and that their misunderstanding has its roots in the crises of Christian division and disunity that became definitive in the 15th century with the protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther who broke with the Catholic Church (the only church exiting in the world since the time of Apostles) and founded the Lutheran church with separate doctrines and teachings. As a consequence, today, there is probablly perhaps up to 50 thousand different Christian sects all with conflicting interpretation of scriptures a great obstacle to understanding what Christians really believe. And this incoherence introduces a profound dysfunction such that Christians end up producing movies that are contradictory to scriptural teachings.

In the movie, for instance, an angel who happens to be a mechanic and who delights in whacking people over the head to get them do what he wants kidnaps Walker and forces him to become a pastor, with wife and kids he does not want all in the name of a God who is love? How in the world would atheists watching this film ever take God or Christian faith seriously. How I long for Christian films like Hollywood’s greats like the “Ten Commandment (1956)” by Cecil Be De Mills with masterful dialogue and great stories. In contrast, “What if”, though styled like “It’s a wonderful life (1946)”, is simply artistic dwarf.

 As the movie progressed, Walker easily ditches his successful life and accepts his new life as a pastor and his pastor’s wife (Kristy Swanson) all smiles she wakes up to find him reading the bible, a transformed man. The problem is that real life does not work that way, it takes much more than that to get someone to change his life. Usually, such transformation is a slow and painful process. Besides it can be argued that there is really no reason for Walker change. His life as a successful business man was fascinating, even altruistic and progressive, and there was no real mission or great commission he had in abandoning it to become a pastor, and besides according to St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, every noble human work can be a path to holiness

In the final scene, Pastor Walker goes to the hospital to save the soul of a dying man, telling him to repent. Usually this is the ultimate price, or golden globe of spiritual life for every pastor, but the moment was marred when the dying man looks up and seeing a man with a bible and thinking him to be a catholic priest says to him, “I did not ask for priest.” Walker replies “I am not a priest— same league different teams”. Walker meant that as a protestant pastor he was playing the same leagues as a catholic priest but in a different team. Pastor and the priest both profess the same Christianity yet have opposing views, different doctrine and different teachings.

When the dying man, a little embarrassed, says to Walker, “How are we going to do this”: what if I repent, how are you going to forgive me if you are not a priest? Only the Catholic church claims the power to forgive sins in the name of Jesus based on the power that Christ handed down to his apostle in John 20:23, ” Who so ever sins you forgive they are forgiven and who sin you retain they are retained”. The Catholic Church teaches that this power is transferred down through apostolic succession to the Pope and bishops in communion with him and the bishops delegate this power to the priests.

Walker says to him “I believe that God knows your heart and he can forgive you.”  I think this is a pitiful assurance to give to dying man in place of powerful sacrament of reconciliation as instituted by Jesus Christ and contained in the deposit of faith uncontaminated and unchanged for 2000 years in the Catholic church . Christian disunity is the reason that Christian teams are consistently losing out to the worldly teams in the all the game of life, politics, movies, science and arts, as Jesus predicted and leaves one wondering:  What if Christians were one?





Transformative Power of Work by Ikechukwu Onuoma

28 09 2018

 

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UNIV NIGERIA 2019: Getting down to business

Did you ever think about the fact that only humans have hands? It may seem obvious, but it’s not. In the world of nature, we humans are uniquely vulnerable: wings, paws or flippers get you around a lot faster and farther; furs and feathers provide protection from the elements; refined senses, instincts, and defense mechanisms automatically kick in to ward off dangers and detect opportunities for growth.

But our vulnerability is at the same time our strength.

With our hands, we can build wings to fly.

With our hands, we can design our own habitat and weave our own clothe.

With our hands, we can provide care, establish relations, and protect ourselves and others.

Our hands are instruments open to infinite possibilities.

With our hands, we humanize the world through arts and Medicine, Gastronomy, Architecture, Fashion, Communication, Education, Domestic Work and Design.

Our interdependence creates employment opportunities in Commerce, Health Care, Politics, Law, Economy, Business and International Affair.

Our openness to infinite possibilities drives work forward creating Technology that entertainment us and innovations in research.

With our hands, we work. But have we always worked in the same way? Today the world of work is undergoing arguably the most drastic transformation since the Industrial Revolution in the 19th Century. Information technology, shifting social demographics and globalization are some of the factors that are shaping the ambiguous future of work, in which one-track careers are being replaced by multi-faceted professional trajectories, and personal capacities and aptitudes such as critical thinking, resilience, problem-solving and decision-making are increasingly valued over technical know-how.

The world of work in the 21st century is full of challenges: vast geographic and social inequalities, corruption, inefficient structures, forced labor, unrecognized and uncompensated work, human trafficking, unregulated activity in emerging sectors and high levels of youth unemployment.

So let’s get down to business. The 21st century professional is serious, dedicated, diligent, creative, focused and capable of persevering in an integrated cognitive and physical effort. What kind of personal development does a professional in today’s workforce need in order to convert needs into opportunities and vulnerabilities into strengths? How does one´s profession become an authentic service to society and the individuals who surround us? What can your hands do that a robotic arm cannot? What can you contribute beyond the scope of artificial intelligence? The challenges are many, but our hands are open to infinite possibilities.

 

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Ikechukwu Onuoma is a lawyer and the national coordinator of
Univ Nigeria





African Girls Vocational School Initiative

29 01 2014

African Girls Vocational School Initiative

Iroto School of Catering, Ogun State, Nigeria: [youtube.com/watch?v=AOfkSbpegrs]

Orisun School of Catering, Ibadan, Nigeria: [youtube.com/watch?v=fiEPk5t8SjE]

Lantana College of Hospitality, Enugu,Nigeria: [youtube.com/watch?v=w86cu4i7aig]








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