When at my relatives’ house in the Caribbean I often listen to ‘Gospel Programs’ on medium wave radio. They’re on all day on several rival stations – I heard a brilliant sermon by a woman minister on Job one day – but it’s mostly predictable evangelical stuff. A lot of ‘The End is Nigh’ and ‘Repent while there is still time’. Yawn. But don’t dismiss them out of hand they are a sociological phenomenon of considerable significance as they show you how people think. These stations are apparently big business. The preachers’ names are known in every household, their faces appear on billboards beside the highway, and some even get an international reputation. The great and the good want to rub shoulders with them. Their sermons and prophecies give them an entrée to powerful circles, both business and political, in the Caribbean. I see them as purveying a commodity. They are in the profitable ‘business’ of moulding the minds of the gullible and providing spiritual crutches to people who would be better off trying to stand on their own two feet. They deliver up to the politicians and advertisers a docile unthinking populace with a puritanical morality and a strong belief in the afterlife. What’s more these ‘businesses’ are passed on from father to son!
Well that’s just background, to get to the point….On a phone-in programme one morning a simple country guy who sounded like he had never used a phone before said something like
“I decided to call you this morning because after I said my prayers when I got up, you know what happen’? God spoke to me.”
I immediately thought “Uh-oh, tricky! God’s not supposed to speak to people like that. It could be that hearing voices like that is a symptom of schizophrenia. Does the caller need psychiatric help? What will the compere say?”
What the compere said made me burst out laughing. He was probably supposed to have switched his mic off as what he said next was definitely not meant to be heard by either the poor caller or by the listeners either. He said, or rather muttered under his breath, “OH GOD, NOT ANOTHER ONE!”
You either laugh or you cry – me, I laugh. But it is sad though. And what DID God say to this old guy? Dunno, can’t remember!