It is gratifying to know that a spiritual leader of Reverend (Dr.) Emmanuel Asante’s caliber appears to have almost similar, genuine concerns as mine that more Ghanaians have become “overly spiritual” at the expense of critical thinking and pragmatism. Non-critical thinkers?
Here is the reverend minister’s brilliant observation: “As soon as something terrible happens, instead of us [Ghanaians] investigating—finding out what might have been the cause and therefore trying to find a solution—we go for the cheap way, spiritual, and that mitigates any attempt to do serious investigations to try to find what is the actual cause of an event” (ref: Myjoyonline.com, Wednesday, 20, 2016).
What makes the foregoing viewpoint most interestingly significant is where it comes from. Besides his recent retirement from the prestigious position as the presiding bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana, Dr. Emmanuel Asante has been serving as a professor of religion and as such spiritual philosophies over the past decades.
We hardly need emphasis asserting that Most Rev. Asante is one of the preeminent authorities in classical and contemporary spiritual concepts in Ghana and Africa as a whole.
For those of us who know him, Rev. (Dr.) Asante is an epitome of religious role model who abhors stretching the spiritual truth in a dusky attempt to exploit the vulnerabilities of his followers and non-followers alike. He is peerlessly committed to the purity of human spirituality via Christian teachings.
By the same token, he strongly believes that God expects humans to apply reason to come to grips with the wonders of creations and our environments. This explains why his blunt critique to the effect that Ghana is oversaturated with “spiritualization” at the expense of creative thinking has unquestioned bona fides.
Certainly, the Methodist leader’s impartial admission means individuals who share similar misgivings that Ghana is “over spiritualized” can now freely express them because they have the backing of a legitimate spiritual powerhouse.
Perhaps if anyone else has expressed this touchy but truthful reality as openly as the Rt. Rev. Asante did, most likely the unscrupulous and parasitic “prosperity-preaching and fear-mongering” religious leaders who are taking advantage of the gullible Ghanaians will come out to condemn the pronouncement as blasphemous. But in this case their condemnation options may be very limited, because Dr. Emmanuel Asante has selfless spiritual gravitas.
For one thing, it seems a lot of brothers and sisters in Ghana dislike engaging in discourse based on critical thinking or just don’t like hearing the uncut truth, which probably underscores the rush to use metaphysical factors to make sense of every misfortune. And another thing, many people frivolously claim Ghanaians in Diasporas are “too-knowing,” and have lost touch with the ongoing cultural sensibilities in Ghana.
As a result, many of the troubling national issues we raise are often dismissed without dispassionate scrutiny by those non-critical thinking decision makers ruining the nation. One wonders if where a person currently resides is relevant to the intrinsic value of his or her contributions to the discussions of the progress of a country.
It is why anyone truly cares for the advancement of Ghana must not sit on the fence but help discuss some of our societal ills such as over spiritualization of Ghanaian culture and the negative impact it has had on the nation’s socioeconomic progress.
The Most Reverend (Dr.) Emmanuel Asante is more than right in the assessment that majority of Ghanaians today, including the policymakers, are clueless and lack basic critical thinking skills. Hence millions of Ghanaians approach almost every unfamiliar occurrence in the context of superstition or spirituality.
Sadly and comically, too, sickness or death is no longer natural process of human condition in Ghana as we speak. Better yet, no one gets sick or dies naturally without the unseen machinations of evil spirit, juju, or some preternatural forces hiding somewhere. So those people yearning to understand the rationale behind the mushrooming of fake and self-ordained prophets and preachers in almost every corner of Ghanaian society today need not look beyond the culture of “over spiritualization.”
Another typical example: many of the roads network system in Ghana are deplorable or mediocre, at best. A sizable number of passenger-carrying and cargo vehicles may not be roadworthy, yet they are allowed to operate on the country’s highways every day in the full glare of the bribe-prone law enforcement officers.
Usually, the results are avoidable auto accidents but end up claiming countless lives tragically, which in turn put undue pressure on the nation’s poorly-run and meager healthcare delivery system. What about the poor drainage system in capital city that results in severe flooding during heavy rainfall with its attendant destruction of lives and properties?
How do Ghanaian policymakers are handling these perennial problems? Well, as Rev. Dr. Asante rightly explains, in many cases “we go for the cheap way, spiritual, and that mitigates any attempt to do serious investigations.” We attribute mishaps to some external forces or a spirit of some river in the middle of the road that is uncompromisingly demanding some “spiritual sacrifice” of blood. This unfettered Ghanaian spiritual psychology woefully undermines the 21st century sense of human modernity and critical thinking ways of problem solving. The phenomenon also echoes some of the prevailing beliefs of the 18th century period predating the Age of Enlightenment in Western Europe.
Surely, culture is inseparable part of every society’s development; but, culture has no genetic. It is learned, and it can be unlearned. In this technological century, there are some aspects of Ghanaian culture that need to be unlearned because it hinders innovative ideas. One of these primeval cultural attitudes is “over spiritualization” or the rush to assign every calamity to superstition.
In the U.S., drowning, car accidents, tornadoes, or lightning bolts strike and kill people every day, but they don’t blame them on spiritual forces. Not because Americans are not religious or unspiritual. Rather, they use the law of physics and critical thinking approach to devise ways to minimize or explain these happenings. That is one of the reasons America is far head of “over spiritual” and non-critical thinking Ghana.