Saturday, 25 August 2007

Religion Hits the Island

Today, we went over to Guyam Island, for Tex's despedida party - he's back home to South Oz again next Friday.

Right next to our picnic party was a gathering from the 'The 2nd Golden Ladies Women Fellowship'. I'm really not quite sure what separates Ladies and Women or quite how they can form a Fellowship, but that's by the way.

They did conduct a number of very earnest preachings, and sang very tunefully to the guitar played by a nice old lady.

After I met them, I thought, for a bit of mischief, I'd get some of them to re-enact the painting 'Ta Matete' that I did my best to extract the Michael from at:

Alas, my snapshotting, as you can see, was not up to Paul Gauguin's Great Artistic Genius.

I'm not much into missionaries. We've had a bunch here called 'Surfers for Christ', for G**'s sake!

I greatly admired one of the first I met here, on Samar Island,because he was actually helping the villagers build themselves a new community centre, and getting down to a bit of carpentering and hammering himself. He gave me a lift back to town in his pick-up, and on the way, started to talk about the local islanders' beliefs in devils and spirits. There, they hang a Venus Comb shell above their doorways to keep out the local wandering demons.

He was very informed about them, and quite fascinating, but then suddenly, he got all uptight, and a little red in the face, as he came out with a bit of the Biblical:

But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

...which to tell the truth, flummoxed me a bit. Almost as much as the other 'Christian' missionary who got all the families in a little Cebu Island seaside town to turn out all their heathen (ie Roman Catholic) idols, and take them down to the beach. There, he burned all their Santo Ninos and portraits of the BVM, and instantly enrolled them as 'real' Christians.

Every Visayan (from the middle part of the Philippines) household has a Santo Nino, an idol of the Christ Child.

When I applied to become godfather to a friend's newly-baptised infant, I was grilled for some time by the local clergy about my religious beliefs. I have none at all, so I was obliged to dodge a bit, and say:

"Well, I'm certainly not a Protestant! I am, in fact an Catholic"

What worries me most about missionaries is that many of them are actually trying to convert members of their own religion (as the Surfers for Christ, and others) are doing, in a country which has been very solidly Roman Catholic for some centuries.

I'll return to this subject in later weblogs.

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