Let it die

December 7, 2008

I read everything when I was a child – from atlases, the dictionary, encyclopedia, manuals on general surgery, the bible cover to cover at least twice, the farmer’s almanac which I loved, and no small number of True Confessions, Mills & Boon, and Harlequin books.   But I also read a lot of evangelical tracts on the rapture which told me what a wicked harlot sinner I was destined to become if I did not “become born again.”

One stalwart in the crusade for my soul was “Caribbean Challenge.” I would get it from church, and put it at the bottom of the center table underneath the telephone directory. And somehow by midweek, it would make its way from the living room onto my bed, where I would find it laying when I came home from school; my grandmother would leave it there – no’h fi yuh dis? she would ask. No answer.  And after reading yet another book a third or so time, I would leaf through the Challenge, and then want to throw it away, but felt so damn guilty about what it said about me that I would do such a thing, that the most I could do was stuff it under my mattress (I discovered many of them there browned and aged when my grandmother died a few years ago and we were cleaning out the house and giving away some of the furniture). I did a lot of things on that bed that probably would have made the magazines burst into flames, but somehow they didn’t. I don’t remember any horrible nightmares either. And as far as I know, I’m not going to hell; I’m there already.

While I want to say that it is good to have more things for people to read – we just don’t read enough – I really think that we also need more variety, substance and balance in terms of what is made publicly available, even in the religious publications. I mean, where is our version of Tikkun, Sojourners, etc.? (to see the difference between what gets called Christianity here and the variety that can and does exist in other places, check out this site).

The irony of course, is that if we were such a Christian country, then how come this magazine, which is practically an institution – 52 years to date – would come to this bitter end? I guess we think we know everything already, and don’t need to read? Whatever the reason, I say good riddance. Now we just need to step into that space left by the Challenge and do something that will leave all of us better off. We sure as hell don’t need another vehicle for right-wing evangelical proselytism to terrorize those of us who have not claimed the “righteous” path yet or at all. This is an excellent moment for well-thinking Christian Jamaicans to create something new and different, and which nourishes people’s spiritual selves rather than turning them into blood-thirsty cannibals.

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6 Responses to “Let it die”

  1. ESTEBAN AGOSTO REID Says:

    Yes Longbench,the Christian site and its school of religion is definitely an interesting one,in contrast to what is called Christianity in Jamaica.I have heard of the Pacific School of Religion in the past,but I have never really checked out what they were,or are about,as a school and their program of offerings and classes.But now that you have introduced me to their site,it is definitely worth visiting more often.With respect to Caribbean Challenge,I can count the few issues on one hand, that/which I may have perused or thumbed through,and I guess the reason for that,is, that the type of evangelism it promoted was not personally appealing subjectively.Specifically, within the scocial, political, cultural, psychological and economic context of Jamaica. Nonetheless,it is quite unfortunate to see the demise of this magazine.Also,I concur,that we do need more variety in religious reading ,to eschew the group think, that is currently taking place in certain quarters of the Jamaican religious community.By the way, I am trying to connect the dots about bed and magazines bursting in flames.LOL.Nuff respect!!

  2. kadene Says:

    “Churchman speak with pitchforked tongue”.
    The biggest scandal today (which the churchmen haven’t even noticed), is that The One they claim to follow called his disciples to become “fishers of men”, yet these nowadays impostors are champing at the bit to perform hangings, even tightening the noose themselves. Perhaps they excuse themselves by calling it “righteous indignation”.

  3. owen Says:

    newspapers are dieing all over the world, Christian publication are not immune to the internet. I suspect that it just couldn’t keep up

  4. Long Bench Says:

    I am reminded everyday that it is past time that we start to talk straight instead of crooked. One lovely man gave me the most obnoxious bible tract today; in exchange, I gave him a box of condoms. I think I did the better deed.

  5. Javed Jaghai Says:

    Long Bench yu no iizi ino! ki ki ki, giim di baks a kandom yes. Dis mek mi laaf so til!

    It’s a shame that we don’t have a progressivist online publication, with ideas counter to the puritanical, evangelical, anachronistic mumbo jumbo that defines the Jamaican world view. (…Well I guess we have your blog- 😀 )

    • longbench Says:

      Javed – If my blog can help keep one more person from going insane from endless moralizing drivel and bandwagonist bullshit, then I have done a good thing. I would love to see a progressive publication, no matter how small, develop so everyone, not just onliners, can have access to more ideas and viewpoints.


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