16.1.09

Charismatic and dynamic Christianity juxtaposed by Africaans Calvanism




'Around the World in Eighty Faiths' is fascinating tonight. I liked the African charismatic church. They really celebrated the power of the Holy Spirit and were unabashed about letting go. Interesting how living in constant danger, they are full of optimism. The Calvanists, of opposing temperament, but united in beliefs on the whole, predicted the end of the world is coming in 2020. They live in prosperous circumstances and yet are pessimistic.

The Restafarians believe that we are living in the second coming now and God's judgment is being poured out all around us.

Ethiopia has been a Christian country since the 4th century. Peter Owen Jones worships in a church which has been hewn out of a rock. He dresses as a priest and is taught by a young deacon to chant. He is awed by the way that they have kept their faith through such testing times of drought and hunger. There is a rationed but beer-fueled agape feast of sorts and then they pray all night. They have prayed for 18 hours. Here he catches a glimpse of man's earliest connections with the divine. For these people their faith breathes light into their existence. They feed on Christ's holy Spirit and have not the same need for food. It's a wrench for Jones to leave, touched by these Christians' generosity and kindness - he's moved to tears. He reflects on the Golden Rule and how he's really experienced it here - 'it's so important...for people to share what little food they have with you is a humbling experience.'

30 faiths through and he reflects on the tolerance of 'the other' that he has experienced. Next week, a different geography will highlight faith and conflict.

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