Letters from TZ

What dreams may come

I had a dream. A dream so real it seemed as if I had somehow found a fantasy life. An alternate reality. I awoke with the weight of that virtual world on my shoulders and for the rest of the day, was bombarded with shadowy images that mimicked real life but had no form or substance. They followed me around like ghosts trying to send a message, but speaking in signs and symbols that I couldn’t understand.

By the end of it, I was tired, confused and convinced that something ominous was about to happen, but unsure of what form the tragedy would take. I prayed fervently for clarification but instead I had another dream, complete with strange imagery and ill-omened symbolism. Both episodes were distinctly otherworldly, as if I had travelled through a portal that had led me directly into a supernatural kingdom. A kingdom that seemed to be governed by a superior intelligence that was dark and evil.

Now some might conclude that a malevolent spirit swept me down into a dreamer’s dungeon and filled my head with refuse from the spiritual realm. That my subconscious had been taken over by the lords of the underworld. That I had become fodder for a demonic mill. I’m certain that if I had consulted a man or woman of God, or a self-styled modern day prophet, my conscious mind would then have been filled with predictions of doom and gloom.

No doubt, I would have been instructed to bring a cash sacrifice before the servant of the Lord, which presumably, he or she would then set down at the feet of the Master, asking Him to rescue my soul from perdition. With matters of prayer and sacrifice concluded, I would be assured of victory over the powers of darkness. And yet my heart would still be filled with fear. Every suspicious occurrence from then on would likely be attributed to the devil and his minions.

And who knows, maybe that’s the way it is. Even so, is it any way to live your life? Are we really supposed to be caught in a vicious cycle between the forces of good and evil? And if so, is money the only way out of it? Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned prayer between believers and their God? When did spiritual shadow boxing take the place of honest-to-goodness communication with the Deity?

Just the other day, a pastor was preaching about what he called “the evil eye”. He warned the congregation not to eat in the homes of people they were not familiar with. “Don’t just eat at people’s houses ‘ovyo ovyo’ (recklessly). If you go to someone’s house and they just sit there watching you eat without eating themselves, stop eating that food. That person has the evil eye,” he cautioned. “And it’s not just that, when you cook for your husband, don’t do it with ‘hasira’ (anger), because you will transfer that anger to him and his retaliation will be twice as bad.”

The fear-mongering went on and on, as he warned his flock to be weary of wolves in sheep skin, wolves that were lurking in the shadows, waiting for the opportunity to pounce. It was only when he came to the end of his ‘hell-is-here-on-earth’ sermon that the purveyor of doom decided to offer the congregation any kind of hope. “But you know, the Bible says that if you pray for food you can eat anything you want and it won’t harm you.” Makes you wonder why he spent so much time harping on about “evil eyes”, if indeed the solution was as easy as saying grace.

Sometimes, you can feel like a pawn in the epic battle between good and evil. Like you are at the mercy of whichever power has the upper hand on any particular day. And some unscrupulous men and women who claim to be “of God” have taken full advantage of that uncertainty, creating a labyrinth of smoke and shadow, which they alone are able to navigate. They have created a spiritual dependency that is fuelled by fear, wherein believers find themselves leaning more on the human arm of the pastor, than the divine arm of God. In essence, they have become gods. What used to be simple truths have become complicated. What used to be a straight path has become crooked.

I didn’t make it to the end of that sermon (it was televised). If ever there was a reason to switch off the TV and do something more productive, that pastor was it. It may be safer for all of us to heed the scripture and work out our own salvation.