Jesus has always been box-office.

You can tell by how the church, and in extension, religious organisations have been serving popcorn
entertainment by falling over themselves, angling to frolic in the corridors of power—from mashinani to
majuu. For a cleric, the hottest ticket in town, presently, is to get invited to State House.
Speaking of, I just moved houses and the landlord forgot the small matter of a Legio Maria church
mushrooming right under my balcony. And you know what they say? Shout your joyful praises to the
Lord. Ah, the Lord. Part of why the love of the Lord is sacrilegiously intoxicating stems from it being an
experience of great intensity—you simply cannot love the Lord half-heartedly, he is a jealous God after

Now, I don’t know if the Lord knows this, but I have been a captive audience, getting the brunt of the
hallelujahs and the hosannas and the hail Jesuses—in much higher decibels than what reach him. And if
there are people who are brazen? It’s church elders. They will address you with a sneer, this is their
place, and you an imposter. What I like to call Kwani utadoism.

I long ceased being a fanatic of religion, but I am no atheist either. Philosopher John Gray, in his book
“Seven Types of Atheism” defines atheists as “anyone with no use for a divine mind that has fashioned
the world.” In the manner of all religions, an atheist is a terrible situation for the devout. Even God is
scared of him; what is a God who can’t convince you of Himself? Neither am I a misotheist—that who
hates God. Contrary. I like God—or the idea of God. But why do His people have to be so loud? Sure,
maybe the stones and rocks will stand up and start singing, but that’s only if we stop. Have we?

And why is it always the hoods that have the loud churches? And ironically, still grapple with the highest
crime reports—up to 60% as is the case in Bondeni, Nakuru? On a square mile of Kawangware, Congo
and Amboseli, can-cheat-can-die, you will find no less than twenty-something churches, lapping up
every ear in the vicinity. If the protestants don’t get you, the Adventists will. Contrast that with posh
areas where the hum of pearly gates opening is what ushers you in, where the clatter of the city is
shielded by terrestrial walls and signs of “Controlled Development” silencing even the most fervent of
evangelists. Gentrification makes noise silently.

Perhaps this is why I find the religious experience underwhelming, akin to attending the world’s most
lavish church when you are ambivalent about God. Services that would take, at best, two hours, are
extended to accommodate politicians who promise “sitaleta siasa kanisani.” And they go on and on,
castigating their opponents, blowing their achievements. The cngragation meanwhile is cast under their
spell, ululating and dancing and stamping their feet. It is not the devil tehy are casting out, it’s the 100K,
200K or whatever amount the politician has “donated.” The church has chosen Caesar over God, and out
on a scale, been found wanting.

I know how I lost my faith. When the church and the politicians started speaking through one mouth.
Politics and preachers make for awkward bedfellows, but when Christianity is politicised, churches
transfigure to repositories not of grace but of grievances. The combination of religion and politics is an
alchemy of pure evil, all in the name of God, an exemplar of taking the Lord’s name in a vain self-serving

From my observation, people only adore Jesus when he is a populist, doing—pro bono—social justice-
pleasing things. However, when Jesus becomes the adult in the room and says “Unless you repent, you

will all likewise perish,” suddenly, we turn the other ear. The church doesn’t call out leaders, not in the
way Jesus did. It merely suggests, barely instructs. Look, I’m not asking for much, not even to throw
anyone into the Sea of Galilee, the kind of things Jesus would do if He was here.
The politician has since replaced the Almighrrryy Gaaawwdd (as my twenty-something choir leader says
it) as the pinnacle of Sunday nit bits. God used to be the sterro, the otero, the Makmende of the Holy
Book, even if my Sunday School teacher could never have enough of saying, “The Bible is not a
storybook. It is a book full of stories.”

Stories, like the Sermon on the Mount or the Parable of the Rich Fool or the Tale of the Lost Sheep
illustrate this. Jesus, a buddy-leader, shooting breeze with the scum of the earth, the prostitutes and the
tax collectors, those on the crowded path on the wrong side of the narrow path? Christianity today is an
us-versus-them, the children of light against the children of darkness. Jesus hates the sin but loves the

The parable of my generation—those whose guide is no longer the Holy Word but Hollywood—is that
we long gave up the ghost. The spirit that posses us instead is bottled in 250ml, 350ml and mzinga
bottles. And it’s not an invasive spirit, it leaves on Sunday mornings or afternoons, depending on your

The church below my balcony has an unmistakable scent of hope. Visitors, I see, troop in for a taste.
Some come out of curiosity; many come in desperation, prayer items in tow: healing, deliverance,
blessings. Politicians come not to win Jesus’ heart, but the electorate’s vote. I stopped going to church
after campus, circa 2018, but Covid was the final Pontius Pilate moment for me. My friends are worse—
they don’t remember when they were last in God’s temple—I occasionally throw a prayer or two for
them. What’s that the white man says? In the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is king?
The times I remembered being in church is ecstatic. The preacher, part voodoo evangelism, part
dramatic mastery. Self-indulgence par excellence, calling himself the mighty man of God rather than the
man of the mighty God. Maybe that’s what keeps the congregation in their seats and the coins in the
offering basket. In a sense, it’s no different than the spirit in bottles—one numbs the body, the other
numbs the soul.

The church means different things to different people. To some a refuge. To others, hope. To me? A
noisy insensitive building, nestled in an estate and forcing teachings down one’s throat. It’s very hard to
separate the signal from the noise. To figure out what is wishful thinking—can David really beat Goliath?
Jesus used to be box office. People obey Him, or they say they do. You know; Jesus is Lord. But ever
since politicians climbed the mountain, saw churches in the promised land, and prepared to harvest, I
silently mourn. Lord, I pray: please protect me from your followers.

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