Healthy Spirituality and Sick Religiosity: Understanding the Two Faces of Religion

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER ONE: Introduction
CHAPTER TWO: The Inference of World-view on Healthy Spirituality and Sick Religiosity
CHAPTER THREE: Proliferation of Churches and Its Effects on Healthy Spirituality and sick Religiosity
CHAPTER FOUR: The Social Challenges of Witchcraft in Annang Christian Experience Vis-a-Vis Interpretation of Exodus 22:18
CHAPTER FIVE: Healthy Spirituality and Sick Religiosity in the Context Of Female Reproductive Health in Annangland
CHAPTER SIX: Conclusion: Indicators for Healthy Spirituality and Sick Religiosity
Bibliography

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FOREWORD

Religion is a very sensitive issue which covers every facet of human life. It is not unusual to hear people invoking the name of God or gods they worship to intervene in their circumstances since human beings have always worried, fretted and lived in mortal fear of the unknown. This realization of human finitude and limitation both in power and knowledge made the Africans, including the Annang people to lean on something they consider greater than themselves and who is capable of addressing the perceived ontological imbalance that they are confronted with.
This may sound naive but it is true that the typical African no matter the level of education or sophistication believes that apart from the purely organic causes of illness (which are recognized and accepted) there are some metaphysical explanations attached to them such as punishment by offended ancestors, the result of witchcraft and sorcery, fore-ordained destiny or the consequences of anti-social behaviour by the sufferer. Hence in matters pertaining to the restoration and preservation of health, both the organic and the spiritual aspects of the ailment are taken into serious consideration. This is why the Annang people consult the nkukut experts and other religious leaders who claim or have the gift of an inner sight in times of crises such as pestilence, barrenness or infertility, witchcraft attacks or when death occurs in order to identify and address the real causes of the stresses affecting or confronting them.

With the advent of Christianity, the New Religious Movements and some modern new wave preachers realizing the psychological makeup of the Africans applied the same idea of spiritualizing issues thereby ignoring medical or orthodox medicine while emphasizing faith healing. Thus, religion and the variety of ways we have adopted to practise it, shows its centrality both in our world view and in the determination of our life’s existence. Notable thinkers through the ages tried to locate the relevance of religion in man’s existence. One good example is the view of the socialist theorist, Karl Marx who defined religion as “the Opium of the Masses”. While we may not fully agree with some aspects of this social philosophy, there is no denying the fact that religion can really influence human behaviour in many intriguing ways for good or for bad and it can be used to achieve both healthy spirituality and sick religiosity. Unfortunately, people who have problems erroneously and solemnly believe that the leaders of these new churches and modern new wave preachers are capable of solving their problems by virtue of their being ‘religious leaders’. Indeed any misfit offering to lead them to God is embraced with open hands and hearts. The pity and tragedy of it all is that the people they turn to are cheats and charlatans who excavate the traditional culture and worldviews to plunder the people and enrich themselves using the name of God. This sad situation is what the author, Prof. Anthonia Essien is addressing in this well-written and down to earth book. She calls on the authentic Christian churches to rise up to the challenge of disseminating information and knowledge that will help people know where to source for health information. Since the decision on whether or not to seek faith healing or medical healing is a moral issue, it is necessary for the church to ensure that the sick and their relations are well informed on how to resolve the confusion in the context of morality. Finally, the faith healing churches should reconsider their position about neglecting hospital prescribed medication given the need to preserve life and not to destroy it.

I sincerely recommend this book to students in tertiary institutions, religious leaders and their members, medical doctors and indeed to the general public especially those who genuinely desire to know and experience the difference between healthy spirituality and sick religiosity. This very timely book deserves a place in every home.

Ven. Prof. P.E.C. Onwurah
Department of Religious and Cultural Studies
Faculty of Arts,
University of Uyo
Akwa Ibom State

Prof. Anthonia Essien

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Anthonia M. Essien, HHCJ, is a sociologist of religion and Professor at the University of Uyo, Uyo, Nigeria. She obtained her first degree from the University of Cross River State, and an MA (1992) and a PhD (1997) from the University of lbadan, Nigeria. She has published articles in learned journals in Nigeria and abroad. Her interest in female empowerment led her to the founding of a Non-Government Organisation, Human Empowerment and Development Project (HEMADEP). She is in collaboration, with some international organisations for the promotion of female empowerment in Nigeria. She is widely travelled for academic research and conferences to such countries as United Kingdom, the United States of America, Uganda,: Ethiopia, Belgium, Ghana, South Africa, Republic of Benin, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire and Switzerland. She is from Osurua, lkot Ekpene LGA, Nigeria.
Visit her personal knowledgebase vis www.anthoniaessien.com.ng to get to know more about her and have open access to majority of her works.

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