Monday, 30 May 2011

Sunday Best

A few weeks ago, I thought Sunday was a day to sleep in and eat grilled cheese sandwiches. You know the feeling; it’s the last day of the weekend, where depending on what time of year it is, you either do nothing, or try to stop procrastinating and finish the report that is due the next day. But in Ghana, it is a totally different story.

Religion is the purpose of living here. Everyone has faith, and everyone is faithful. There are no “C and E Christians” (people who only go to Church at Christmas and Easter), only-Kosher-on-the-High Holidays, or even atheists for that matter. In fact, everything orbits around religion, and it is never more obvious than on Sundays. I woke up yesterday morning, and there was a buzz in the air. And I don’t mean figuratively. Literally, the air was full of sounds; hymns being sung, prayers being spoken. I stood outside, looking into the distance that sunny morning, just taking it all in. I would soon be going to my first Witness meeting with Lois. I was a tad apprehensive, as I am not a Jehovah’s Witness, but I was down for an experience.

My view from outside my room
The meeting was in Twi, so I knew going in, not only would I not know the process, but I wouldn’t understand a thing. It turned out to be a pretty good reflection time. Lois had lent me an English bible, so I could read along. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t fully paying attention… it was a really good opportunity to allow my mind wander and be relaxed. And when it was finished, I’m pretty sure I shook hands with almost everyone that was there, plus I got to help sweep the meeting place!

I’ve been trying to figure out why North America and pretty well all Western nations have become so secular. Why is it that Churches and Temples are more relevant to tourism than religion? Why are stores open every day of the week now? Maybe we don’t think it is necessary anymore. Religion, I mean. Maybe, our lives are good enough that we feel we don’t need to believe in anything greater than ourselves. Or maybe, that is just the price of capitalism.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not devout. I fall into the secular category as much as the next Canadian. I’m just thinking out loud here. I think what I am trying to get it is, suffering breeds faith.

This may be a bit of a heavy topic, and a controversial one at that. I think it is something interesting to think about. I am not bashing secularism; I am just making a generalization, and an intense comparison.

I’m going to leave it at that.

Later days,


  1. Very cool thoughts! Interesting to hear how huge of a role religion is in Ghana. Is Christianity the only one practiced? Is there much evidence of people's faith on other days of the week? I'd be interested to know..

  2. Hey Naomi!

    Thanks for the comment! There is also Islam, but it is more concentrated in northern Ghana. Oh, and there is evidence of people's faith EVERYWHERE! Shops are called ACCEPT THE LORD, LOVE THE LORD, and stuff like that. Even common phrases involve religion, like if you ask how someone is they will answer, "By God's grace I am fine".

  3. Religion is huge in Ghana, I remember when talking to someone, the very first thing they asked me was if I was Christian or Muslim. When I said neither, he said, oh, I see, you are Hindu then, and then I had to explain to the person that I didn't belong to any religion, and it was tough. I think, coming to your generalization, that there is truth in it, but that it can also be said the other way around, that faith breeds hope. We in the west don't need hope because we can see everything in front of us, where our lives are going, and many of the pitfalls that we expect in them, but in a place like rural Ghana, those challenges aren't very obvious or clear-cut, shocks to their daily routines (droughts, sickness, and poor harvests, along with many others I can't think of right now). Its pretty much what you're saying, but I think it can be looked at in a cycle. The difference is due to the contextual differences.

    I like your objectivity when it comes to such a controversial topic, and not shying away from those tough questions, or moving away from problems/situations that are difficult to grapple.