Diary of a Ghetto Priest: Jamaica, a country of contradictions?
No doubt in my mind, Jamaica is one of the most beautiful countries in the world; the mountains, the hills adjoining one another, the rivers and rivulets, the trees and the beards hang in down touching the waters, the parrots, john crows and the tiny doctor birds.
Then there are the people full of laughter and play, the mighty spirit and generous hearts that astonish us, and, defies the spirit of the negativity so often cast upon our nation.
There is a heroic spirit in our people, and there is a relentless gentleness despite all the terrible things, especially crime. Children are taken in by grandmothers, room is made in shacks for dogs, to lie down, and prayers are poured over a young man who just murdered his father on the south side.
If it were not for the Christian faith, I know that this island would be in ruins. If we did not have a strong conviction of God, our people would have been defeated and be living in despair and apathy.
But because we believe in Christ, we have this undying hope that "better must come" and "better will come".
We keep on going, and in the midst of the greatest horrors, we will wipe away our tears, smile, and keep on going, with a firm spirit.
I fear the loss of God in our country. I tremble at secular materialism, and as we attempt to move forward economically we must not throw out the pearl of great price, Christ, the hope of the world, the light of the world, and the Alpha and Omega of our lives, must not be ignored or neglected.
That dynamic power in every Jamaican comes from no one else but the Lord. We fall, we rise, we fall, we rise, we get up we dust ourselves off, and we start all over again. Our art, our music, reggae, Revival, ska, all derive from Christian rhythms and songs which rejoice in the Lord.
HOPE KEEPS US GOING
There is the hope that keeps us going. The cynical atheist who says that religion is the opium of the people do not understand. But I know it was Christianity that drove Marcus Garvey on, that inspired Martin Luther King, that calls the Missionaries of the Poor and all other serious Christians to defy the death principle.
We are not feel-good Christians, we are men and women who carry the cross daily, who live in ascetical life, who find great joy daily serving the sick and dying, the least of our brothers and sisters.
Jamaica is a country of contradictions. There is death and murder everyday. There are thieves and brigands, but there are also good people who never say no when charity is required. Good Christians are not naive, they see the wickedness and heartlessness of some people but never cease to offer kindness, which astounds me everyday. Rather than say that our island is an island of contradictions, I say that our island is one in which there is a great spiritual struggle. By the power of the cross, we never cease to carry the cross in joyful expectation of the resurrection. Also Jamaica is a tough people, but also merciful; it is filled with bloodshed and tears, yet we never stop being hopeful and full of laughter.
One of the great philosophical principles of Christian faith is belief in the soul destined for Heaven. Most pagan religions and atheists believe only in the body and material world. The inner power and dynamism of Jamaican soul is what makes us a spirited people relentlessly defying death against all odds brought on by our carnal materialistic world. And it is Christ, the soul of our nation, planted deep in our nation for centuries, which causes us to be a never-say-die nation.
There is much pressure and fascination internationally as to what is the spirit of those Jamaican people. They do not know that it comes from Christ. They would tell us to forget prayers in schools, to reject the Bible as myth, the expectation of eternal life with Christ, to stop living as though there is Heaven, God's home prepared for us.
I believe that the death or elimination of the Christian God from so many progressive nations has made them boring and dull. They are not a
childlike nor spirited people. They live without a soul.
And the only religion I know that brings joy and happiness on Earth, even while there is great suffering and disappointment. You know what I am talking about!