By: Cosmas Uzodinma
Make no mistakes about it, I enjoy good ecclesiastical architecture. I love the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Maitama Abuja. I am enamoured to its neo-classical architecture, especially its gilded columns, splendid interiors and evocative stained glass windows. Whenever I go to any city, I don’t fail to attend church in the best of cathedrals. In Lagos – Our Lady of Perpetual Help. In Owerri, I enjoy the Assumpta Cathedral, with its vaulting domes, adorned with baroque frescos. I am taken-in by its Romanesque colonnades and expansive ambience. I love the swirl of good church music and the fragrance of the burning incense. I combine ambience, music and message.
Visiting the modest rounded concrete hut in Washington DC which houses the Jefferson Memorial, one would observe, at the backdrop of the shrine, the bold inscription, “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.
In lock-step with Thomas Jefferson, were it left to me to decide whether we should have the cathedrals without the media, or the media without the cathedrals, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. For all the shimmer of its gold and ornaments, take the cathedrals and give me the media. Consider how the media has kept the church together, even when the cathedrals were under lock and key, because of the Corona Virus lockdown. This has revealed to us how we could leverage the media to advance the message of Christ where there are no bricks and mortar.
The Bible declared saying, “Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves, be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matt 10:16. But we have thrown this counsel to the wind. It had looked into the future when it warned us to not underestimate the power of Information and Communication Technology, for it can do incalculable damage to our cherished values. Inter alia, “Be not deceived, evil communications corrupt good manners” (values). 1 Cor. 15:33. Today, the media is the new serpent and we are breaking the hedge thus suffering the incidence of snake-bites in the fabric of Christian values.
It this declaration, the Bible foreshadowed, our age. Yes. With the media, I could exercise command and control on what you watch in your parlours. Our Children need television contents that compete or outpace liberal themed Disney World’s “Boomerang” and “Cartoon Network” which are laced with the poison of LGBTQ. Our teenagers, in this their most impressionable age, need contents that could positively impact their morals. The deserve alternative models that could rival the Tiwa Savages, Beyoncé Knowles, Rihannas, and the Kardashians of this world. Thank God for celebrities like Justine Bieber and Kanye West. These are born-again Christians and today have contributed in the efforts at stemming the exodus of youths into the Kingdom of Darkness. Curiously, many Christians join liberal chorus against them.
Look around, the Bible tells, us – “the harvest is ripe, but the labourers are few”. The harvest indeed, is truly ripe, but we are blinded by greed to see the huge harvest of talents in our churches. Don Meon, Ron Kenoly, Bebe and Cece Winnans did much for our generation. But as these stars are winding down, there seems to be no replacements.
In the movie world, the Sherwood Pictures attempted to revolutionize Christian movie theatre by their series on Courageous, Facing the Giants, Fireproof etc. There is also Tyler Perry’s Temptation. It was a spot on. The Exodus and Ten Commandments with its deep Christian theme has remained top on the chart of movie all-time bests. Cecil B. DeMile has remained iconic because of his works on the two films. Funnily, the Oscar board classified these works as part of the world of entertainment – not ministry. How shameful.
These movies beat so many secular movies despite the huge marketing blitz preceding the release of secular movies in the box office. Yet we have no Christian Awards – Grammys, Academys and Oscars. For as long as we wait for worldly judgments to validate our talents to that extent we would be always caught on the back-foot of global trends.
Imagine what “Twelve Years a Slave” did to Lupita Nyongo. After winning the Academy, Lupita became “the mighty Goddess of Africa” the Great Artemis, to whose altar we must fawn. But God has given us better looking lads and bundle of talents but we have kept them bound in our cathedrals because we are afraid of them outshining us.
My hero today is Pastor Chris. He discovered and provided ground for Sinach and Frank Edwards to flourish. The story of Frank Edwards is the stuff that legends are made. I weep when I see believers mock him for the slightest mistake. Today, Sinach and Frank Edwards have a reputation that loom as large as Pastor Chris’s, but this should not matter. The Kingdom benefits for as much as they create compelling Christian presence in the media space, and work to de-concentrate the toxicity of Naira Marley, Davido and others.
There are so many other budding talents that the church has a responsibility to groom, mentor, and allow to flourish. Family Worship Centre Abuja, for instance, has a great bunch of talents in drama and acting. I wonder why, it has not ventured into the production of compelling movies and documentaries, even in miniseries. The Cathedrals today are the graveyard of talents. The Founders/ Presidents hold down our talents in a very tight leash and it wouldn’t take long and these stars would dim. For the Catholic Church, it is a matter for another day.
In football we have scouts. They scour throughout football events, discover young talents, groom them and before you know it, they are on the global stage. We have so many stories like this. They include; Nwankwo Kanu, Ahmed Musa, Babayaro – the Ibo boy that bore the name of his Kaduna-born football mentor. Indeed, “…the children of this world, are in their generation, wiser than the children of light. Luke 16:8
Our television shows are unilinear run of preaching, preaching and preaching to the point of ad naseum. Who told Christians that they cannot have their own reality TV shows? These could present alternative breaths of fresh air into the media space. Any show could arrest attention, if backed by the right mix of endowed actors, appropriate research, messaging craftsmanship and quality studio work. We rather clutch jealously to our huge millions of dollars and Naira and use them to feather our private nests while the Kingdom suffers lack of the needed finances to prosecute creative, and innovative Kingdom projects.
According to Rev. William Okoye of All Christians Fellowship Mission, Abuja, “While the message of the Gospel would never change the machinery for its propagation would always change”. This is what the scriptures referred to when it commended “…the children of Issachar…that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do…” 1 Chr. 12.32. This hints at the need for creativity and innovations that are consistent with our times.
In our lack of clue, the secular media has stolen the wind. We desecrate the altars with secular comedians and dirty jokes in disobedience to the word of God that “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient” be once named among you as becometh saints. Eph. 5:4.
If we care to look we would observe that the youths have blocked us out. They now browse during our boring talkative sessions as secular contents steal their attention.
Celebrities redefine morality. They teach the young girls the pride of being side-chicks and baby mamas rather than wives and mothers. They eulogise Davido and Chioma and show them that true freedom is like being a “Marlian”. What you promote in your social space is what your young ones would always follow.
A reputation war is being executed on the image of Christian leaders. They are tar-brushed as irredeemable sinners and dangers to the society. Even believers are being goaded into the same ship in the pull them down cruise. From one reality show after another, secular contents producers keep us strutting from one programme to another. Like the Big brother Africa whose new auditioning is already on, and our youths are drooling for another rump. Recall the Billions that the last one grossed. Worse still we pay secular and liberal content producers huge money and all we get are toxic influences.
Meanwhile the message of the Bible is clear, “Behold I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves, be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Matt 10:16. In Psalm 101:3I David being mindful of the corrupting impact of evil communication, declared, “I would set nothing wicked before my eyes. I hate the work of those who fall away. It shall not cling to me”.
How can we impact the content creation industry to return the attention of the young back to out cherished values. What are you watching now? What are you posting now? Would it advance the kingdom? Whatever we sow, is what we shall reap. Let us fight the good fight of faith. It is time to be alert, least, while we sleep, the enemy comes and sows tares among the wheat. Matt. 13:25. It is time to adopt the wisdom of the serpent.
To be continued on Monday.
Have a blessed Sunday.