The Enlightenment Age

“Let knowledge grow from more to more and thus be human life enriched” . All men assert that man is capable of knowing. And no one can deny this fact. Humans strive to know by relinquishing unfounded beliefs. This knowledge, when attained, is used to better their lot. In every sphere of human endeavor, there emerges a thought or way of life which preoccupies the mind of the people of that particular period. In this preoccupation, philosophical problems arise, and men also ask question themselves, of their surroundings etc. which though very diverse, have certain characteristics in common. This, in a way, is a narration of what happened in human history in the period between the 1600s’ and the 1800s’. According to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, the motto of the age should be “Dare to know.” During this period, people got themselves heavily in pure reasoning. This histo-cultural period is what we refer to as the Enlightenment or the Age of Reason, as it may be called. In this presentation, I am going to describe my understanding of this period of time in the history of man.

The Age of Reason or Enlightenment as it is chiefly referred to, is a designation for a historical period in the Western world. This period saw to the advancement in human thought as regards characteristic ideas and attitudes of Rationalism. It reached a time when a reliable method of discovery was needed because; every genuine question had many false answers and an only true one. In this vein, the Age of Reason was an “attempt to transform the present welter of ignorance and idle conjecture into a clear and coherent system of logically interrelated elements. The philosophers of this age realized that in order to reach understanding of the multiplicity of things in nature and the human being, “a clear coherent system of logically interrelated elements alone was a guarantee for man’s happiness, rationality and freedom”. And so, the dominant conviction of the enlightenment was that right reasoning could find true knowledge and could lead mankind to felicity. Of the basic assumptions and beliefs common to both philosophers and intellectuals of this period, the most important belief, perhaps, was an abiding faith in the power of human reason.
To this end, the period of enlightenment saw to it that every human investigation began with empirical observation and which will eventually lead to truth. During this Age of Reason also surfaced some propagandists- called “philosophes” from the French for the term philosopher. Among the proponents were Voltaire, Diderot, Condorcet, Holbach, and Beccaria.

However, these men were not recognized as systematic philosophers. As they held that every human investigation was to begin with empirical observation, the philosophes shunned metaphysics completely and took boldly on the steps of philosophers like John Locke. Science was for them, however, living growing evidence that human beings, and that using their natural reasoning powers in a fairly obvious and teachable way, could not only understand the way things really were in the universe. Nonetheless, they could understand what human beings are really like, by combining this knowledge of nature and human nature, learn how to live better and happier lives. This is the period when mathematical studies were heightened in formal education. Advancement in reason led to the notion that, crime and insanity, no longer, were given theological explanations, and were dealt with as mundane difficulties of empirical solutions. This way of thought led to specific changes in attitudes of people and consequent changes in institutions.

Enlightenment, like any other school of thought, had clusters of ideas which formed the model for their worldview and basis on which they built and expounded their thought. The models for the enlightenment were Reason, Nature and Progress. “Just as grace was available to the Christian, so also was reason available to the truly enlightened.” For the philosophes, reason was a kind of common sense sharpened and made subtler by training in logic and the natural philosophy- which they called Science. This notion of science made the philosophers construct their faith in Reason and this influenced negatively the Christian thought of their age. Locke, for instance, completely dismissed the theory of innate ideas and held the mind to be a tabula rasa-a blank tablet on which experience only inscribed content. This threatened the Christian doctrine of Revelation. They saw the church-especially the Roman Catholic Church-as the principal force that had enslaved the human mind in the past, because they held people in ignorance.

And to that effect, most Enlightenment thinkers though did not renounce religion altogether, they rather opted for a form of Deism, which accepted the existence of God and of a hereafter, but rejected the intricacies of Christian theology. The dependence on reason brought about a conviction that the formation of the mind, the character-all counted on man. In the light of this, a sturdy faith in cultural engineering which asserted the “possibility of changing all human beings for the good by changing their environment, in particular their education, from infancy on…” And so like any other physiological function, reason was held to work always and in substantially the same in all human beings as Nature designed them. And because the philosophers became very much convinced that all men have potentially, roughly equal powers of understanding (human beings and nature), reason was realized as a basic tool in comprehending the reasonable world

The second model for the enlightenment is Nature. This was closely meshed with reason. The philosophers of the enlightenment posited that reason was an indispensable tool; that which “enable human beings to discover and rediscover Nature beneath the concealing corruption of Religion, social structure, convention, and indeed the misleading impressions of sense experience” . This was a radical way which relegated Religion, with all its complexities to the menial. And regard for conventions was held in no esteem. The enlightened only admitted that nature was hypostatized conception of the beautiful and the good. And though, there were notions of the supernatural, the enlightened simply dismissed them as figments of imagination, non-existent which were indeed designed to keep men ignorant of the ways of reason and nature.

For them, nature is “good”. This way of thought was heavily influenced by a touch of Hellenism. During this period, there were strain of social consciousness as a result of looseness in morality, cynicism and corruption. It was not surprising that the enlightened were hardly self-indulgent sensualists. This was self-evident in the touch of Puritanism in the enlightened. Some held that there was once a state of nature on earth in which all men lived free from evil. This they indicated in the semi-classical past.

The third model was summed up in the word “Progress”. The idea of progress was so much enshrined in the enlightenment to the fact that “as social dissatisfaction mounted the idea of an intellectual progress became transformed into a belief in the general progress of mankind” – in all spheres of human endeavor. People came to assume that through a judicious use of reason, an unending progress would be possible—progress in knowledge, in technical achievement, and even in moral values. The notion of progress was seen as an evident and wholesome truth in the doctrine of development. They dismissed the thought that development could not attain by the gradual improvement of man’s lot on earth. The promise of a second coming of a Christ, in which man’s lot will be perfected, was shunned completely. For the enlightened, perfection was possible when reason was sufficiently used and nature properly controlled will lead to progress.

They thus admitted that the agent of progress was the increasingly, rapid and effective application of reason to control the physical and cultural environment. Education was however implored as an intrinsic tool in boosting the ways in which reason was to manifest its reform. This saw to the beginnings of serious experimentation in the field and a series of important writings on educational theory also revealed. The enlightened were convinced that because man could reason, he could have unique advantage over all other creatures; hence human beings could progress from that line. This culminated in the beginnings of extraordinary technological advancements in the Western world and greater widespread in economic growth. This cluster of Progress, in no doubt, concretized the material advancement of the Western world.

The modifications of the models was a way to amended the worldly belief which posited that the power of human beings when raised rationally from infancy on as natural things meant to be, can achieve steady and unlimited growth both materially and spiritually which would eventually lead to secure happiness for all people. The denial of transcendence of an external world of personal immortality was highly incompatible with the Judeo-Christian line of thought. Christians however did not remain silent and passive at the touch of these trends. This saw the emergence of great protestant movements like Methodism in Britain, and the Allied Pietism in Germany. Though, not in consonance with the enlightenment, and sternly distrustful of reason, the movements were evangelical, political and social. This really went down with the working class which had virtually no complete glimpse of enlightenment. Another qualification was made on those who on the whole conformed in the principle to the model of the enlightenment. Questions were asked on how fast reason was to get to amend the present welter of evil in the environment and pave way to the natural good environment which the proper use of reason could enhance. To this end, the enlightened presented a united front.

Some believed in despotism and they held that the only hope of reform of the environment was from. Other, on the other hand, also held what can be termed philosophical anarchism, the doctrine that men needed no authority themselves as long as they obeyed their natural inner light. Among other things included the qualification made to time and place which created variations. This took into account the places from where the enlightened stay and worked. Again, they considered the period within which they lived and worked. It becomes obvious that another qualification also identified with the models was the touch of romanticism. People tried to disentangle from the works of enlightenment, the works of writers and artists. They acknowledged some writings as classic which had a touch of rationalism. On the other hand, the others were seen as romantic with a sentimental and transcendental touch. These two trends were seen as the use of the head and the heart. However, both head and heart condemned the nature of things as they were.

To conclude with the tradition of the enlightenment or the epoch of the enlightened thought this was understood as an opposition and counterforce to unfounded beliefs and myths. The enlightenment was an attempt to promote the judicious use of reason which will subsequently lead to an ordered control of the environment or nature. And this left a lasting heritage for the 19th and 20th centuries which facilitated the growth of modern secularism. It also served as the model for political and economic liberalism and for humanitarian reform throughout the 19th-century Western world. However, this period marked a key stage in the decline of the church. Believing in the proper use of reason as an indispensable tool for progress and felicity, the enlightened accused the church as the entity which prevented the people from using the best of their reason to develop their lot. Nonetheless, no one can say that the enlightenment has had little influence in the life of the modern world. In essence, it has contributed in no mean way to the day’s sophisticated scientific discoveries and the technological advancements. And it has also become a solid foundation for modern science. It has really urged man to think in a more logical, coherent, and systematic way other than basing their convictions on unfounded, unjustified and unsubstantiated beliefs. And this has made man more critical than ever in the history of humanity, because every thought is now subjected to critical, cognitive analysis, and then is tested to see how best it could used to better the lives of people. To sum it all, the enlightenment has in no doubt helped man come of age to progress.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 Isaiah Belin, The Age of Enlightenment, Mentor Books, New American Library, New York, 1956
 Encarta Encyclopedia Standard Version 2005
 Encyclopedia Britannica
 Neil McInnes, Enlightenment in Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The Influence of religion on gender issues

There are many countless influences that come in the interplay of life. These influences depending on how they are utilized either come to enhance life, thereby making it meaningful or come to destroy it and making life thus meaningless. One such major influence faced by all epochs is that of religion. Religion plays an essential role in human life; it comes with its intricacies and blessings and we cannot deny the essence of religion in social life. In this exposition, the writer seeks to attempt analyzing religion relating it to its influences on gender issues. As a matter of objectivity, the work will tackle particularly among others, the issue of the female gender in critically assessing how objective or subjective religion has been in relation to the female gender and the influences which have accrued therefrom.
Religion from its earliest considerations has been considered by many sociologists as a group phenomenon and that inherently presupposes the composition of women since every known human society has been found to comprise women. Women have and continue to play active role in most of the world’s major religions. Come to think of Judaism, Christianity, Islam to mention but a few. However, despite the contributions the female gender in diverse ways to the growth of religions, it appears, and that causes the writer a heart-wreck that the female gender has often been relegated to the menial when it comes to issues affecting their well-being.
The reality which cannot be dismissed is the fact that human society for a good part of history has been androcentric [male-dominated/ centered]. That is to say that religion in making its rules has often been bias; it makes decisions in the interest of the male gender. What a great pity, that the gender that contains more human beings is forgotten when it comes to issues affecting their well-being. Most religions have been male-dominated in their entirety. In this way, [most] religions have been insensitive to the female gender. For example, in Christianity, one Person of the Trinity, the Son, is believed to have become incarnate as a human male. Even though Christians believe that the other two Persons in the Trinity, the Father and the Holy Spirit, have never been incarnated; they ascribe to them the masculine gender. The situation is even worse these days. Most religions restrict leadership to men and men exclusively. The Catholic Church for example has been one of those religions that have been very vehement against the ordination of woman. They contend that ordinations and for that matter leadership has traditionally been restricted to men because of cultural or theological prohibitions.
One way in which religion has shown its biasness towards the female gender is that almost all the key theological figures of all major religions have been men. And in Abrahamic religions, Abraham himself, Moses, David and Elijah are among the most significant leaders documented according to the traditions of the Hebrew Bible. John the Baptist, Jesus and his apostles, and Saul of Tarsus again give the New Testament an impression of the founders and key figures of Christianity being male dominated. They were followed by a millennium of theologians known as the Church Fathers. Islam also was founded by Muhammad, and his successor, Abu Bakr, was also a man. However, nearly all these religions and many smaller ones, have included notable female figures from time to time. The Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus of Nazareth, even though well acknowledged, is not associated with leadership or teaching role. From the foregoing account shows that religion has most often favored the male gender.
To continue from the above picture, there is also the issue of segregation. Many religions have traditionally practiced sex segregation in favor of the men. In traditional Jewish synagogues, the women’s section is separated from the men’s’ section by a wall or curtain called a mechitza. Men are not permitted to pray in the presence of women, to prevent distraction . Here, the female gender is seen as source of distraction for their male-counterparts. In Islam, the segregation includes restrictions on interaction between men and women and women having to worship separately in mosques.
With regard to marriages, religion seems to give the decision and choice of selecting a partner to the male gender. It devotes to women almost the entire house chore and calls on them to assume servile roles. The watchword religion tries to give women is to exhibit submissiveness to their husbands. The Christian Bible seemed to have tolerated male-adultery, with no consideration for the cases of women. It is worth recalling here the situation in the New Testament where a women was about to be stoned for fornication. One may ask here that where the man with whom she had committed adultery was.
Several theologians have considered women as morally inferior to men, and many have considered women and the female gender for that matter the source of temptations, especially sexual temptations, for men . In traditions where God is considered male, there is sometimes a view that men are more like God than women. For example, in 1 Corinthians 11:7, Paul asserts that man “is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man”. This is leading to a view of male superiority and female inferiority.
The reasons given above seem to portray religion as being in opposition to the female gender. But it is not so in all cases, religion has indeed contributed enormously to the liberation and promotion of the female gender. Schools have come up by the intervention of religious institutions and have blessed both genders with the gift of formal education. Though, it has taken a long time to come to terms with the issue of equality between male and female genders the situation has greatly improved knowing that modification of traditions to suit modern trends do not occur easily.
Today, most religious movements consider women leadership as central to growth. As Scripture puts it, they were created in the image and likeness of God, male and female, he created them. There are ongoing sensitization bringing to the fore issues affecting the female gender and their well-being. In Ghana for example, the Aglow movement which has a kind of a religious character has most lady-intellectuals in the country as their members. Through the message of Christ which is liberation, deliverance and salvation, they are creating awareness on the need for the involvement of the female gender in decision making and issues of governance. Religion [especially Christianity] has been one of the forerunners in this sensitization. The issue of marriage today is not about the discretion of the male gender, it has become one of mutual agreement.
The seemingly superiority of the male gender is gradually coming to mutual respect for the female gender. All these changes have been championed by religions or at least religious leaders. Except for few countries as Muslim countries which are still rigid on issues relating to gender and religion, most countries have been able to make a coherent synthesis of religion and gender related issues. One thing is clear; religion today is not seen as oppressive, it is seen as life-enhancing activity with the ultimate goal of helping in the total development of the human being, male and female gender alike. Religion thus is an important phenomenon in bringing to light the equality both genders have always longed for.

Mission as mediating Salvation

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
0.1 Introduction
The notion of Salvation
.1. Scriptures
.2. Traditional Interpretations
.3. Modern paradigm
.4. Toward comprehensive salvation
.5. As ultimate end of salvation
Its difficulties
Agents of salvation
Conclusion

0.1 Introduction
The church has a clarion call to go to all the earth and proclaim the message of Christ Jesus. In so doing she sends missionaries to mission territories to undertake such work. However, mission would have been a nuisance if it is not geared toward an intended goal. This work is to briefly present to us how mission mediates salvation, starting with the notions of the terms and succinctly present the matter in straightforward manner. This work is purely based on David Bosch’s ‘Transforming Mission” my major reverence together with few others which offered something substantial on the matter in scope. All such reverence will appear in the bibliography.
1.0 The notion of Salvation
Salvation is also called “redemption in religion, the deliverance of mankind from such fundamentally negative or disabling conditions as suffering, evil, finitude, and death. In some religious beliefs it also entails the restoration or rising up of the natural world to a higher realm or state. The idea of salvation is a characteristic religious notion related to an issue of profound human concern” . Christianity has been described as the salvation religion par excellence. Its primary premise is that the incarnation and sacrificial death of its founder, Jesus Christ formed the climax of a divine plan for mankind’s salvation. This plan was conceived by God consequent on the Fall of Adam, the progenitor of the human race, and it would be completed at the Last Judgment, when the Second Coming of Christ would mark the catastrophic end of the world .
1.1 Mission in the Scriptures
The idea of mission in religious terms is not completely foreign. But in biblical revelation, the idea of mission has different dimensions. It is completely a positive call of God to manifest his goodness to others. Mission therefore consists in a ‘sender’ and the ‘sent’. The case of the prophets is not different from that of our own today [Jer. 7: 25; Ex 3:10; Is 6:8 etc]. In the Old Testament, God called people and gave them specific task to carry out. A clear example will be that of Moses into Egypt to redeem the Israelites from slavery. Here already tells us that one of the aims of mission is to save from the oppression. In all these missions, there is a kind of commitment which is shown in the side of God ending up in the eventual giving of the Ten Commandments. In the New Testament, too, there are traces of mission. Different interpretations are found in the gospel each of them presenting in a coherent way God’s salvific act. In the NT, it evolves from the trinity and the great commissioning is an invitation of all to mission. In the mission, one thing is worthy of mention, that He will be with us until the end of time and He commands us to observe all that he has taught us.
1.2 Traditional Interpretations
Salvation indeed is a fundamental concern of every religion. It could be argued reasonably that the primary purpose of all religions is to provide salvation for their adherents, and the existence of many different religions indicates that there is a great variety of opinion about what constitutes salvation and the means of achieving it. That the term salvation can be meaningfully used in connection with so many religions, however, shows that it distinguishes a notion common to men and women of a wide range of cultural traditions. Christians believe that God has wrought for all in and through Jesus as the very centre of their life for them Jesus means redeemer or savior following this conviction is the fact that Christian missionary movement have being heavily influence in their entirety throughout the history of people by the intrinsic desire to mediate salvation for all people. This because the deepest and most fundamental question of humanity is salvation, that is total salvation for all. That explains why Christian’s churches have for their theme as salvation.
However salvation has had many varied interpretation it borders on all aspect of the human person and so the old analogy of the early missionary to save poor souls has now been overcome. In respect of wider spectrum of human circumstances St Luke uses salvation to mean “the termination of poverty, discrimination, illness, demon possession sin and so for” so to say that salvation takes into account the economic, social, political, physical, psychological and spiritual exigencies of the human person. Thus in Luke’s gospel salvation is seen as life for today [see in particular Jesus’ sayings recorded in 4:21; 19:9; and 23:43]. Salvation now is a present salvation thus it begins in this life and ushers into the next.
However Paul seems to have a different picture salvation. For him salvation is a process- one initiated by encounter with the living Christ and that complete salvation is yet to be achieved . He attributes to complete salvation the triumphant coming of Jesus and so for him salvation is eschatological. These are found in his saying “… we shall be saved by his life” [Rom 5:10]. And so Paul awaits the coming of Jesus as savior. [Phil 3:20]. But that does not diminish the reality of radical renewal both personal and social which the believer may experience here and now.
In the Greek patristic period salvation took of form a gradual uplift of a believer to a divine status. This was seen as one becoming like Christ in all aspect. Salvation has also been considered “pedagogical progressing in the Byzantine church, the West and stress the devastation of sin as well the restoration of the fallen individual by means of crisis experience mediated by the church” .
In Anselm salvation was seen as the redemption of individual soul in the hereafter which will subsequently take place at the occasion of a miniature apocalypse of the death of the individual believer . God’s salvific activities were outline from his providence in respect of the well being of individual and society and thus return us to the first exposure of salvation as encompassing all aspect of human life.
This is shown in churches missionary history- and this has seen to the remarkable service which are rendered in respect of the care of the sick, the poor, the orphans and other victims of society as well as in respect of education, agricultural instructions etc. Here a strong emphasis must be place on the fact that the missionary in promoting salvation should not act as NGO worker. In this way the attenuation of salvation is and form part and parcel of the life of the human being, because without physical well being the spirit cannot be well and salvation will be impossible.
1.3 Modern Paradigm
Salvation in the modern paradigm consists in the point of departure that religion took. Religion as “the expression of total dependence upon God and as eternal salvation in the hereafter was an anachronism and remnant of humankind’s period of childhood” . Now salvation came to mean libration from religious superstition, attention to human welfare and the moral improvement of humanity.
“… Soteriology emerged an understanding of salvation in which humans were active and responsible agents who utilized science and technology in other to effect material improvements and induce socio-political change in present. In this respect, critique of religion became in essence the critique of soteriology. Salvation remained the motivating force in the life of modern men but it was redefined radically”
Here shows the shift in attention in what the processes of salvation ought to be. This leads the church to react vehemently to modernism by trying to redefine salvation in traditional terms since the modern view of salvation had taken its source from the enlightenment. Now salvation is defined as exclusively in worldly terms depicting dimensions of (1) economic justice against exploitation, (2) struggle for human dignity against oppression, (3) for solidarity against alienation, (4) for hope against despair in personal life (WCC 1973:98) positing that in the ‘process of salvation we must engage these four dimensions to each other. An outcome of such insistence was the liberation theology. Even though the interpretation has brought about the thinking and practice elements which narrow the definition in our world of today where interpersonal relationship are invaluable to salvation, there should be a manifestation of hatred for injustice, oppression, war violence and other forms of evil which plague our world and concern for humaneness should form part of our quest for salvation. We remember here the ‘Our Father’ where Christians pray that the kingdom of God should come and that his will be done on earth as it is in heaven [Mt. 6:10] should once again be resounded in the hearts of all men for that is the focal point in sanctification of our souls and eventually salvation.
1.4 Toward comprehensive salvation
The integral character of salvation demands that the scope of the church’s mission be more comprehensive than it has traditionally been. Salvation must be coherent, deep in today’s world of technological exigencies. There should be a better redefinition of mission not only as word but also by deed. The life of the missionary who is sent to proclaim Christ must in effect radiate him by his lifestyle lest we fall into the spate of the NGO worker. People should understand that mission and salvation today are intricately related and thus inseparable. To quote Gaudium et Spes 1 “ the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of men of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted in any way, are the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well” . Here we are reminded to also take into account the plight of those to whom we are sent. We should involve everyone in the process of salvation
1.5 Salvation as the ultimate end of mission
As enshrined in all religions, man needs a savior in life’s intricacies. He must have for himself one on whom he depends. His life must have a solid foundation and this foundation is provided by religion. In attempt to proclaim Christ to the ends of the world, the church has put in place missionary activities and therefore has movements to that effect. The church so sends missionaries to virgin lands to proclaim the loving message of Christ and to urge the people to whom they are sent feel the presence of Christ part and parcel of their being. In today’s approach to salvation and mission, emphasis is not only put on the material aspect of the human person but also his spiritual dimension. But as mission encompasses all aspects of human life it goes on to say that to save the human being he must be saved in his entirety. But one may here ask that is there any special need for mission, why even must there be mission, is there any value or importance to mission, is mission realistic today? These are the many questions that stem from mind in discussing issue of such concern. Following the ‘Salvation project’ we learn that
“The task of identifying God’s saving purpose in the midst of historical events requires solid theological criteria on the basis of which critical judgments can be made. Here an important task remains to be undertaken in order to ensure that the Church’s credibility will not again be lost in a dash for short-lived relevance” (1973:177)
But we realize that Christ’s call to all people is a call to wholeness and that wholeness consists in the full realization of the human person in all his beingness. This clearly shows that in mission, the nitty-gritty of all our work is to uncover the wholeness which only Jesus can give, i.e. our salvation.
2.0. Difficulties of Salvation in Mission
A lot of difficulties and controversies arise when we come to the distortions of the meanings ascribed to mission and salvation. The attenuated emphasis of man relegates to the menial the main objectives for which mission stands. As realized from the above the ultimate end of mission is salvation. But this salvation does not deny the human aspects in the process. However, there is a kind of ambiguity which lies in the fact that people now consider only the materiality of the human being by downplaying the spirituality aspect. Thus makes missionaries into NGO workers. But again, at what point can one rightfully say that he is saved? This is another difficulty posed and in a way making salvation a kind of burning passion without quench. Here we should remember the thought of St Paul who sees salvation as a process positing that we begin in this world and we ushered into the next life.
Another difficulty posed is the acclaimed axiom “extra ecclesiam nulla salus” meaning that outside the church there is no salvation- though this axiom is seemingly overcome; there happen to be a contradiction. Christ’s body includes all and could it ever be possible that unless one is a member of the church, he cannot be saved? Obviously not, Christ has his own way of saving people which in unknown to us. But looking objectively at the axiom seems to portray the iota of truth imbibed in it. The early fathers of the church were convinced that the church is Christ and so any one who is not a member of that body cannot be saved. We should note by way of admonishing that God knows his way of salvation so whether or not salvation is the activity of the church or her missionaries must not be the object of discussion. Since God saves in whatever way as he pleases.
3.0 Agents of Salvation
The principal agent of salvation is the Trinitarian God. He has his own redemptive plan as the father creates, the son redeems, so does the spirit sanctifies. We must note here well that all the activity of salvation has the trinity for its origin. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were associated in such New Testament passages as the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19); and in the apostolic benediction: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14). Thus, the New Testament established the basis for the doctrine of the Trinity. Stemming from this fact we come to the apostles who are currently represented in the bishops of the church. Not only does this finish the constitution of the agents, the priest and deacons have intrinsic vocation in that regard. Finally and not the least important, all baptized Christians are called upon as ambassadors of the gospel to go all the earth around to proclaim the good news and subsequently save ourselves.
4.0 Conclusion
In conclusion, the church’s activity of mission is very important in light of today’s exigencies of technology and science. The call of Christ is still fresh. We are to go all nations and proclaim him. We are called by our baptism and specially called by our noble vocations to share in the salvific activity of the Lord. Unless there is something like salvation, human life will lose its essence so I sound here and intrinsic call to all Christian to cooperate with their good lives the salvation of our souls. We must share in the mission of the redeemer. He has come to show us the way, may with all truth and sincerity of heart follow him. Amen

Bibliography

 Bosch, David J., Transforming Mission -paradigm shifts in Theology of Mission New York, Orbis Books, 1994

 Karotemprel, S. et al, Following Christ in Mission, Nairobi, Paulines Publications Africa, 1995.

 Sarpong, Peter K. Peoples Differ, an approach to inculturation in Evangelization, Accra, Sub-Saharan Publishers, 2002

 Shorter, Alyward, Evangelization and Culture, New York, Geofrey Chapman, 1994

 ——————–, Theology of Mission, London, Mercie Press, 1970

 John Paul II [pope], Redemptoris Missio , an encyclical, 1990

Human Virtues

Introduction
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praises, think about these” . Human life in its entirety is geared toward a good end. To achieve this end calls for a virtuous life. A virtuous life is that which makes the human existence lovely, peaceful, harmonious, and amicable, etc for “the goal of a virtuous life is to become like God” . In God, is found every honorable thing- because he is the source and fountain of all goodness, therefore to become like God through the life we live and lead is the eagerness/desire to build a prefect human community “an utopia” where rights are respected and human beings are treated with dignity and love. It is appropriate that every human being know that virtues are, and their significance to life so that they can work the end product of virtue (i.e. good). In this essay, we are going to discuss some virtues and show how important they are in our lives.

Meaning of Virtue
Virtues constitute an essential part of a person’s character, in that, to promote peace and serenity, humans must accept virtues and live them and abhor vices. It is very difficult to give a one accurate definition of virtue because many writers have defined in many ways. Etymologically, virtue comes from the Latin ‘virtus’ meaning humanliness. A virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do the good and it allows the person not only to perform good deeds, but also to give the best of himself for the good of the other. One who is therefore virtuous tends toward the good with all he is made up of, and he pursues the good. It is also worth mentioning that virtue is the habitus that develops our personality in a way worthy of a human being. To be truly human, means that one’s life must be laid on firm morality; and again virtue is a way of being, it is first and foremost, the “motor” of moral life. When we act virtuously, we re-live our past and anticipate our future . Virtue which is also a habit “gives both the inclination and power to do readily what is morally good” . The virtues are therefore a quality which benefit the person and increases his/her capabilities. St Augustine defines virtue as “good spiritual quality by which we live rightly and which no one can be put to bad use” (virtus est bona qualitas mentis, qua recte vivitur et qua nemo male vivitur) . Now, we know that virtue is any deed toward the good. Human virtues then “are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith” . Virtues make possible ease, self mastery, and joy in leading and living a morally good life. This then is virtually as saying that “virtue is governance by the reason” . The virtuous person is one who freely practices the good. ‘Virtue then is a state of character concerned with choice, lying in a mean, i.e., the rational principle, and by that principle by which the man of practical wisdom would determine it’ . Good life constitutes virtues and that is the realization of the human person.

Classification of Virtues
Human virtues are classified mainly into two:
(a) Intellectual and Moral virtues
(b) Cardinal Virtues

Intellectual and Moral Virtues
Moral and intellectual virtues, according to my understanding of the terms are those virtues which draws our attention to things that pertains our moral lives. When properly used, it focuses our desires on that which promotes the good of others and this helps life become worth living. The intellectual virtue also serves as a reminder on right and wrong. It also helps us to always pursue the right cause.

Cardinal Virtues
These virtues are very important in human life. They are called cardinal because of its origin. Etymologically, cardinal comes from the Latin “cardo” meaning “hinge”. This means that like a hinge of a door, our actions turn upon these virtues. In fact, our actions are more or less, good as much as they are governed by these virtues. The cardinal virtues are four in number, namely; wisdom, justice, fortitude (courage), and temperance. We are therefore going to briefly discuss them and try to show the vital role they play in our lives as human beings.

Justice
Justice is a much invoked claim and virtue and all men, in one way or the other, appeal to it. But the will is spontaneously oriented to a good that is known. By nature, it possesses a habitual orientation toward a person’s own good. The fact is that the will’s spontaneous direction entails the preference of one’s own good to that of another. And yet, a more profound analysis reveals that it is not worthy of a man (it is not good) to prefer one’s own good if I so doing, an evil (the privation of a good) may result for another person .
Justice is the virtue that renders the will firm, constant, and joyful in giving to each his own that is the good that is due to each person . Our actions turn upon justice like a door on its hinges, and therefore justice being a social norm apart from the fact that is a religious heritage, is a directive for guiding people in their actions toward another. It is also approbative, in that, judging an action to be just manifests approval of the action. Justice is also obligatory in the sense that, a person in the like situation ought to do the same thing . Justice is therefore more aptly defined as “the fulfillment of that to which our neighbor has by right in rendering to each what is his/her own due by right . Justice should therefore cut across ethnic lines so that the good of all peoples will be realized. It should not discriminate by religion, color, race, sex etc so that the dignity, respect and love that every human life must enjoy will materialize.

Fortitude (Courage)
This virtue is that which ensure firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good . This virtue is responsible for perfecting our actions and it manifests in the habitual readiness to avoid both fear of effort and cowardice, as well as the recklessness that exposes an individual to unnecessary or disproportionate dangers. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations as to overcome obstacles in moral life. The virtue of fortitude involves standing firm in hope against all pressures, even death. In situations of desolation, suffering and controversy, it is courage or fortitude that moderates the irascible appetite by strengthening it against the passion of fear and by curbing its immoderate stirrings of audacity and destructiveness . In the light of this, “fortitude entails the human capability for powerful action that can be oriented toward positively or negatively its practice must be guided by self knowledge and informed by wisdom (prudence) lest either foolish temerity or quaking timidity hold sway” . This clearly shows that the ability of one to resist evil and pursue the good depends on how courageous one is.
The acts of fortitude according to the New Dictionary of catholic Spirituality have been described by the tradition as 2- endurance and attack. Endurance is that which is more than mere passive submission to danger and suffering involves the strong action of holding steadfastly to the good while refusing to yield to fear or pain . Attack is the aspect of fortitude that does not hesitate to pounce on evil and to bar its progress if can be reasonably be done. In everyday living, human experience of frustration emerges and therefore it is important that the individual gets the courage to attack or endure with patience the frustration. This calls for prayer. For there is a prayer that “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the courage to change those I can…” To be able to do this, we must all pursue the virtue of courage and stand out in all adversities, tribulations etc.

Prudence (Wisdom)
Prudence (wisdom), the “know how” virtue of the practical intellect, seeks the best to do the right thing in the right place and at the right time. It entails the capacity to translate general principles; in short, prudence deals with acts that are individual but not isolated, for it must know the singular always in its relations to universal norms. Prudence can be exercised when the following recommend steps are exercised, (1) making inquiry, taking counsel, deliberating, (2) making judgment about application of knowledge to a particular situation; and (3) giving command and doing the action . Qualities found in prudent person may are many. Among others include knowledge of moral principle, ability to profit from experience, vigilance, perceptivity, docility, ability to make rational inferences or creativity, foresight and the ability to balance and weigh circumstances etc. In this vein, Bernard of Clairvaux, in his Five books in Consideration spoke of “consideration (sustained reflection aimed at greater knowledge of self, others, one’s surrounding and God) as displaying prudence since it purifies the mind controls the emotions, guides actions, corrects excesses improves behavior, confers dignity and order on life, and even imparts knowledge of the divine and human affairs” (VII: 8). The Christian tradition has dealt therefore with the virtue of prudence largely on themes of prayerful reflection and discernment. Prayer is a prerequisite for the fostering of growth in prudence, especially when prayer involves meditation on one’s life everyday. Christian moral teaching or prudence puts emphasis on the importance of the overall faith vision out of which the moral good is perceived than on instructions on how to do good and avoid evil. It therefore calls for total respect between being and doing. Pope Paul VI’s Evangelii Nuntiandi (1975) links the essence of the virtue of prudence with the mission of the church in the late 20th century “For the church is a question not only of preaching the Gospel in ever wider geographical areas…but also of affecting, and, as it were, upsetting, through the power of the Gospel mankind’s criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interests, lives of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the word of God and the plan of salvation”(art 19) . To be able to determine what is good and necessary I our life, we need prudence and this is human beings must strive after.

Temperance
Maintaining a balance or temperate rhythm of life has been recommended as essential to growth in holiness. Temperance is the virtue that moderates one’s bodily appetites and disposes them for development of the whole person. It fosters what might be called selfless self preservation from the fact that it treats sensual instincts not as ends in themselves but as a means to an end; the fulfillment of God’s kingdom . It is chiefly known that one who chooses to temper or is open to experience that life has another and deeper source- God. It is for this reason why all our actions and deeds should be susceptible to his glory. Involvement in spiritual disciplines is a means to achieve this end. A sound approach to these would acknowledge that our bodies are normal channel, not an enemy, by which the spirit expresses itself. Despite our inadequacies, asceticism is often spoken of temperance as the exercise of removing obstacles that stand in the way of following Christ more freely and mortification, the ‘putting to death’ of unbridled passions through discipline and self denial. It is inevitable therefore that in our everyday life, the virtue of temperance should and must be involved so that we can tame our passions and live honorably as children in the light of God.

Significance of Virtues
God created us toward a good end that is to love him, live like him and to be with him at end of everything. Consequently, it follows that our life needs to be lived on sound spiritual and moral principles which are oriented toward this good end. A life oriented toward the good is that of holiness. It is for this ultimate reason that cardinal virtues become imperatively paramount in achieving this goal. They are the virtues which all our lives are intertwined on them, because it creates order and peace. Virtues encourage no violence, vices or chaos, so all human beings need virtues displayed in our lives so that the purpose for which we created will be manifested. From the above we realize that virtues seek the good end of man and so everybody should promote it and wage war on all that destroys it.

Conclusion
Human virtues are very significant. As my research indicated, they are those that make life worth living, because they give man the disposition to do good things and focus on the promotion of the life of others in physical, moral and spiritual dimensions. To conclude therefore, I will say that all people should endeavor to live for God’s glory and must also be ready to endure with patience all the difficulties, tribulations, stresses, and adversities and as well, encourage them to have a solid foundation in virtues so that we can all live in the image and likeness of God in this our world.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 Aldo Vendemiati, tr. Cynthia R. Nicolosi, In the First person- an outline of General Ethics, Urbaniana University Press (1999),

 Awuah George,

 Karl Peschike svd, Christian Ethics-Moral Theology in the light of Vatican II Vol 1 , Bangalore, Theological Publications(2001)
 Kersten

 Karl Peschike svd, Christian Ethics-Moral Theology in the light of Vatican II Vol 2 , Bangalore, Theological Publications(2001)

 Michael Downey (Ed) The New Dictionary of Catholic Spirituality, Bangalore, Theological Publications, (1995)

 Ratzinger Cardinal Joseph, Catechism of the Catholic Church, New Jersey, Paulist Press, (1994)

Birth of Thought- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

In his attempt to combine modern, Christian thought and traditional philosophy, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin exposes us to the ‘birth of thought’ of a way in which the species of homo have gradually evolved in some complexities up to a point of awareness [of awareness] and self-reflection. His preliminary remark on the human paradox even usher us to the sophisticated nature of man which makes the sciences unable to unravel his mystery from a purely positivistic point of view. This essay will be based on my understanding of the work. All quotations in this essay come from the paper of study.
Human psychism is different in nature from that of his predecessors. Teilhard believes that basic trends in matter keep being ordered toward the production of progressively more complex types of aggregates, and so though much has been said about the intelligence of animals, that of man reigns supreme. Man is evolving toward a social and spiritual growth. The supremacy of man over the animals lies in the fact; apart from his intelligence like the other animals, he transcends them by reflection. This reflection is the “power acquired by a consciousness to turn in upon itself, to take possession of itself as of an object endowed with its particular consistence and value; no long as merely to know but to know oneself; no long merely to know, but to know that he knows ”. However, admittedly though the animal knows it cannot know that it knows [it lacks awareness of its knowledge]. And so, if a being is able to become the object of his reflection then he’s raised into a new sphere. By man’s reflection, he becomes different from the others and there’s a change not of degree but of nature which results in value. Teilhard develops further life as an ascent of consciousness which transforms itself in depth. Here, the accession to the power of reflection emerges in which subsists the particular and critical form of transformation.
As regard the utmost divergence in relation to the psychical make-up, the early schoolmen have ascribed to instinct a ‘sort of sub-intelligence, homogenous and fixed, marking are of the ontological and logical stages by which beings grades downwards from pure spirit to pure materiality; while the Cartesian regards thought to be existed which meant that animals, devoid of any within was a mere automaton. But in our minds we realize the fact and the reason for diversity of animal behavior. Every instinct will be considered in its special case positing a multitude of forms of instincts. So here we can say that the psychical make-up of an insect is not and never that of a vertebrate. This is because the more complex an organism, the more perfect it becomes. If instincts become complex by growth, it imbibes a better defined centre of coordination and consciousness. This means that the psychical make-up of organism changes and the organism becomes complex. We recall that there’s some sort of intelligence in [higher] animals but there is present in man ‘reasoning soul’ .
By the end of the tertiary era, the psychical temperature in the [cellular] world had been rising for more than 500 million years. And finally, primates fashioned instrument and animal psychism was consolidated. However because nothing prevented the organism from advancing, anthropoids were brought to a remarkable point in the mental sphere, and so there was a leap in the forward. A great revolution took place and consciousness now leapt in space of super-sensory relationship: which simultaneously conscious of perceiving itself in contented simplicity of its faculties- and these happened to the anthropoids for the first time. That was seen as a transcendence of man over the rest of nature- and that added a sort of new dimension to the world.
Nonetheless, there has been discontinuity in continuity as regard the birth of thought taking a look at the primaeval forms of man and the resource of thinking of awakening of intelligence. Culmination in man at the stage of reflection, life must have been preparing a whole group of factors for longtime. From the organic point of view, the whole process leading to man depends on the question of- better known- a perfectioning of the cerebrum. But we are happy ‘to admit that the birth of intelligence corresponds to a turning in upon itself…of the whole being’ . In human ontogeny, the child goes through stages from fertilized ovum to adult and there occur a critical transformation in him which is the psychical transcendence over instincts.
Now to the prolongation, we see the nature of the transit to reflection and that involves a change of state- the beginning of another kind of life. Where intelligence is concerned, ‘it centers itself by penetration into a new space…by the establishment of an even more coherent and better organized perspective’. Thus the ego becomes even more itself and so man becomes a person in and through personalization. Under reflection, collection and transformation parallel to individualization went on. Thus each phylum became charged with psychism and animals grew in value in relation to species. However that of man took a definite shape.
Under the threshold of the phylum, Teilhard talks about the composition of the human branches as the attempt to link together systematically somatic and psychic elements of the species but below man purely a morphological criteria gives an adequate skeleton for studying the distribution. But we are confronted with irregularities thus can be reduced to the laws of biology. However what is somatic is interwoven by the psyche, despite all the complexities, operates according to the same mechanism. The operation comes from the material organs and formulate itself above all mind. Thus the complexities show that there is no satisfactory classification of human genus which later emerges. Since to unravel the structure of a thinking phylum demands something deeper than anatomy, it must have psychology for backing.
To perspectivise, the psychic value of zoological evolution remains perforce as vague for our knowledge since consciousness gives through human beings. From the threshold of thought, the progress of consciousness becomes easier to discover because life has now gone by the exigencies of physiology and so seeks itself and it grows. That leads to the unparallel complexity of the human group. There are so many ways that we neglect in analyzing them. This represents multiplicity viewed as a whole. The threshold of the terrestrial planet here talks about the flourishing of man towards a higher consciousness. It underlines the remarkable growths taking place in a Pliocene world as the development of the stages of the mind. Teilhard talks about the noogenesis when a creature for the first time perceived itself. Here a glow ripples outward from the first spark of conscious reflection showing the enormity of the event in man- his birth to thought.
In spite of the birth of thought elevating human being above all else, there are some things which entangles our being thus preventing us from going beyond the collective. We are entangled by materialization and repulsiveness. In order to transcend the collective, these entanglements must be done away with. There are formidable pressures which force individuals in extreme ways both psychologically and geographically against one another. A fact remains that there is an energy which brings men together, individuals do not seem capable of falling within their radius of internal attraction- and thus people exclude and repel one another with all their strength.
But we know that with every form of life, for the sake of coherence and consistency, for one to be fully one, he had to be with others [legion- an organized unit]. Here the materialization consists in the fact we have been regarded as whole and thereby making us slaves of obscure seethings. But we have to react to such conditions. Slavery in the history of men, we should note, gained grounds in our attempt to reorganize ourselves. Now instead of our expected consciousness, there is a mechanism on to inevitable totalization. Thus we have neglected what is due to the person. The convergence of the person and the Omega is seen in the need to depersonalize all what one admires most. The new spirit lies in the impersonal because the evolution is an ascent toward consciousness. However, that ascent must consists in supreme consciousness, thus must contain a higher degree of perfection for it is only by hyper-reflection that human thought can extrapolate itself. Personality is seen on one hand as a prison from which we must escape so as to reach the impersonal. Man is called to personalize the universe. As a custodian of consciousness, he will be wastage to hoard the consciousness without activity. From us must pass onto humanity, invention, education and diffusion of vital importance. Personalizing the universe realizes in our contribution to the collective, our work which the universe contemplates. And to be fully realized is in the direction of convergence- toward the Omega, done by our acme of originality. So to say that in personalizing the universe, there must be unity and an inverse growth against egoism. That draws us closer to love.
Love is seen as that which unites living beings in order to fulfill and complete them. In order to reach the Omega, we need love as energy toward our cause. Though man seems confined in his love only to one or few beings, he is called to universal love. This call for love transcends our distortions of love. A universal love is possible though common sense is not wrong in saying that man can’t give himself to anonymous number, but because the universe is assuming a face and heart toward unity, it is not impossibility since love is that property that embraces all. Conclusively, Teilhard is not wrong in his theory of evolution as regard man since man goes through a lot of ramifications throughout his life, but there is a kind of obscurity and repetitions in his writing which makes the meaning of his thought difficult to decipher, but he has a point in his discussion of the topic at hand.

Competences of Religion today

Human beings have in themselves a deep search for the ultimate meaning of things. They seek to unravel the mystery behind life and so get to the understanding of the inherent meaning of the universe around them. Also, they realize the complexities and multi-faceted-ness of life and they are filled with awe and wonder as to how things happen the way they do. This is what religious activities [perhaps found everywhere in the world] seem to have had its basis from. John Mbiti in this vein contends that human beings [with particular reference to the African] are incurably religious. They seek to express the complexities of life in religious terms. The usefulness of any religion will find basis in the functionalistic view we adapt to it.
Functionalists’ measure religion as in what religion does for the benefits of man, what religion contributes to meeting society’s needs such as social solidarity, value consensus and harmony and integration between its parts. In this essay, the writer will attempt to highlight on some competences [or functions] of religion and will expound whether or not there are some other thing(s) that religion does which the other social institution does not do. The work will begin with some considerations of religions’ definitions, delve into the competences and make comparative analysis of religious institutions and the other social institutions as in what they do. From this will lead the writer to evaluations and conclusions.
There are inherent complexities in trying to adopt an overarching definition for religion. This is because many religious systems exhibit their profound peculiarities and many writers have often offered various descriptions of what they contend religion to be. Clifford Geertz treats ‘religion as a vital component of cultural meanings. He argues that religion carries symbols which establish especially powerful moods or feelings, which help explain human existence by giving it an ultimate meaning, and purport to connect us to a reality that is “more real” than what we see every day’. The religious sphere thus has a special status above and beyond regular life. Yinger sees religion to be ‘as system of beliefs and practices by means of which a group of people struggles with the ultimate problems of human life’ (quoted in Hamilton, 1995). Emile Durkheim (1961) defined religion in terms of a distinction between the sacred and the profane. For him, whereas sacred objects produce awe, respect and reverence, profane ones do not. Emile Durkheim (1961) wrote that “…religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden.” His focus was the importance of the concept of the “sacred” and its relevance to the welfare of the community. Religious beliefs are symbolic expressions of social realities without which religious beliefs have no meaning. Here, Durkheim reveals how religion serves in social functions. This essay however borrows the definition given in the course, sociology of religion by Peter Wiafe-Akenteng (Rev. Fr.) in which he sees religion to be ‘the sets of beliefs and rituals by which a group of people seeks to understand, explain and deal with a world of complexity, uncertainty and mystery by identifying a sacred canopy of explanation and reassurance under which people live’. In this definition, the world in its complexities is seen as uncertain and mysterious. This therefore contends that religion must contribute something substantial in dealing with the complexities that beset life.
From the sociological viewpoint, religion as an institution comprises symbols, beliefs, values, and norms that address ultimate problems of meaning especially in relation to a supernatural or a transcendent order (Babbie, 1977). One function of religion, like the other institutions, is to support the survival of group life without which religions will be non-existent. It reinforces the shared values, and moral beliefs- what Durkheim calls collective conscience- that hold society together. By defining these shared values as sacred. Religion provides people with greater power. According to Durkheim, when people come together to worship, they are in effect recognizing the importance of the social group, and in this way, religion promotes and strengthens the unity of the group and that results in social solidarity (Holborn, Martin et Langley, Peter 2004).
Religion also provides a shared view of reality, it gives people a sense belonging. In effect, religion defines who we are, and it gives people shared identity as believers. For example, the Catholic Church over the world sees herself as one irrespective of racial or territorial boundaries. In Biblical times, this shared identity made the Hebrew people saw themselves as ‘the chosen people’. Religion among others provides ‘patterned ritual activity in the context of group support to channel deeply felt emotion and to reintegrate the person under stress with the group’ (Op. Cit. Babbie). This includes the things religions do to bring about relief in its people.
Talcott Parsons also sees another function of religion as that which provides guidelines for human action and standards against which people’s conduct can be evaluated. The Ten Commandments for example provides the basis for the many social norms. Malinowski also contends that religion dealings with problems that disrupts social life (Op. Cit. Holborn et Langley 2004). No wonder in Ghana, religious leaders have vehemently insisted in the inclusion of Religious and Moral Education in the basic school curricula.
For the Marxists, religion functions as a mechanism for social control, by keeping people in their proper places. This prevents the eruptions of violence, chaos and anarchy in society. These and many others are performed by religion. Religious institutions have provided and continue to provide social services for the good of society. They provide among others better education, healthcare, counselling services to mention but a few. The Ghanaian situation is not an exception in this arena. Consider the numerous schools, healthcare facilities, employment opportunities that the Catholic Church in Ghana has contributed to human welfarism. Religion serves as an anchor that maintains social order and peaceful coexistence.
While this is so, many people ascribe to the thought that because religion has been undergoing a kind of desacrilization [that religion is being deprived of its sacred orientation], that the functions which religions purport to perform are also performed by the other components of society. These people hold that there is no thing which religions do that are not done by the family, by education, by politics, by health and by economics. However this may be, they [economics, politics, education, family, health] complement to what religions have been doing. In the light of the above gives the myopic view that there is no new thing that religion does that the other institutions do not do.
As a result of that trend of thought, people today are looking to knowledge, not faith as the basis of their existence, even the concept of an immortal ‘spirit’ within has been discarded as superstition. They fail to see the inherent contributions of religion to human life. Indeed, humankind today has become more materialistic in thought and outlook and is looking for instant gratification of pleasure ‘here and now’ rather than in a future after life.
However in the light of these exigencies, Hoffman (2005) observes that “not all young people are looking for money and power. Some are looking for happiness and satisfaction born of the spiritual world”. This is to say that not all [young] people are materialistic. He continues that “young people are looking for meaningful experiences…, for [something] that is the opposite of the material world.” Here, religion stands tall as a beacon of hope to intervene in what the other institutions do not provide. People are suffering unbridled restlessness, because they continue day in and day out to search for [ultimate] meaning and purpose in life.
Modern man is beset with uncertainties despite the insurmountable advancements in scientific endeavours and technology. These things, however important do not say it all, there must be something real than what we see, and most renowned scientists believe that. In fact, the highly exaggerated scientific world now turns to religion for meaningfulness. They simply are following gestures in which there are no contents, and as one philosopher Bartolomé Burgos puts it, ‘gestures without content is meaningless and empty. So also have the other social institutions realized the role of religion in society or suffer to their fate. Among what religion does and the other social institutions do not do include allaying the fears of people, be offering them reassurance.
This is what Paul Tillich (1952) said that religion was addressed to our ultimate concerns, to the fundamental problems of meaning. It does so by providing an ambience for human relaxation by positing in the words of St. Augustine ‘our hearts are restless until the rest in Thee’. Meaningfulness, ultimate reasons, purpose of human existence can only be found in religion, and this, no other social institution provides such function. In the writers unqualified opinion this is what religion does which adds a new dimension to human life thus making it enhancing which the other social institutions do not and cannot guarantee.
Religion thus shows its social relevance by liberating people, allaying their fears, assuring them of a certain future [eternal bliss], opposing tyranny and social injustice. Religion creates the platform for sharing, compassion, peacemaking, and the manifestation of love. This love is even extended to the natural environment, a resource that is threatened by global warming, pollution, desertification, and the destruction of the rain forests. Albert Hofmann has advised people “to go out into the countryside” because “such places are of the world of nature, to which we fundamentally belong. It is the circle of life, of which we are an integral part.” This has seen to religions promoting eco-spirituality. This really, shows that religion is a sine qua non element of human life and for life to achieve or attain its oughtness, people should return to their roots, the roots where religion is accorded its due metaphysical relevance.
References:
 Babbie, Earl R. (1977). Sociology-An Introduction, Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company
 Durkheim, E. (1915). Elementary forms of Religious Life. Trans. Joseph Swain (1954). Glencoe, Illinois.: Free Press
 Fox, M. (2006). A new reformation: Creation spirituality and the transformation of Christianity. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.

 Hofmann, A. (2005). From molecules to mystery: Psychedelic science, the natural world, and beyond. In R. Walsh & C. Grob (Eds.), Higher wisdom: Eminent elders explore the continuing impact of psychedelics (pp. 47-53). Albany: State University of New York Press.
 Hofmann, A. (1980). LSD: My problem child. New York: McGraw-Hill.
 Holborn, M. et Langley, P. (2004). Sociology-Themes and Perspectives, London: Harper Collins Publishers Limited.
 Tillich P. (1952). The Courage to Be. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press
 Wiafe-Akenteng, P. Sociology of Religion Lecture Notes, Ejisu: Unpublished.

Disability and deviance

Conformity to societal rules is of paramount importance to the very existence of human beings. Lawlessness and non-conformity are akin to the destruction of human life. It is therefore on such basis that utilitarian theorists among who include John Stuart Mill accept rules in society as a way of promoting the good of all. The reality is that insofar as rules are adhered to, deviance will be out of the question and society will be more of utopia. However, this is not the case, societal norms are sometimes broken. Even though people most often conform to most norms most of the time and as a result of which social life takes on a fairly regular and predictable pattern.
However, this gives an incomplete picture of society since people both the able and disable rob, rape and defraud others. They wear peculiar clothing, smoke crake and take part in riots. People embrace alien religions and commit bigamy as well (Addae-Boateng, Lecture notes on deviance). This makes it quite a difficult task to make the attribution as to whether disability and deviance have a link or otherwise, since the so called able people also become deviants at certain points in time. The essay is going to critically discuss whether or not disability is related to deviance. In the light of that the researcher will highlight some historical considerations, consider the views of writers and sociologists on the subject-matter and conclude with his anecdotal observation on the matter under study.
Deviance seems to come from the Latin words de meaning ‘out of’ and via meaning ‘way or road’. With the analogy at hand, deviance may be explained in its simplest terms to mean ‘out of the way’. To expound further sociologically, deviance refers to that which violates the norms, laws and/or expectations of society (Henslin J. 2008). This is to say that any act, thing, occurrence or situation that goes contrary to society’s expectations and norms is deviant. Noteworthy is the reality that deviance in whatever shapes it takes is socially construed. When society makes judgment that a certain act is deviant, so it becomes.
Disability as defined by the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English is a physical or mental condition that makes it difficult for someone to use a part of their body properly, or to learn normally. It is also seen as the physical incapacitation that makes it difficult to use a part of their body in the ‘normal’ way (Keel R. 2008). Examples of physical disability include the incapacity to walking, seeing, hearing etc. This is to say that blindness, deafness, dumbness, paralysis all form part of physical disability.
The terms “disability” and “illness,” refer to the social and physical experience of people whose bodies or minds are deemed abnormal or malfunctioning. Illness and disability differ from each other in that the physical aspect of illness is the quality of being “unhealthy” or of having malfunctioning organs due to infection, virus, etc., whereas the physical aspect of disability is generally seen as more permanent or as the disfigurement or failure of distinct parts of the body (Hingston, 2006). Illness functions as disability because it is socially and physically debilitating and can lead to permanent or temporary disability. The terms “impairment” or “disease” refer to the physical evidence of disability and illness.
However, these definitions are very problematic as they create a binary based “on assumptions about the normal human being” and presume a fundamental physical difference, which is in reality an arbitrary division of a spectrum of varying degrees of ability (Op. cit. Hingston). As indicated by Foucault, the body is a site in which a struggle for power occurs in order to control deviant behaviour: “power relations have an immediate hold upon [the body]; they invest it, mark it, train it, torture it, force it to carry out tasks, to perform ceremonies, to emit signs (Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punishment quoted in Hingston 2006)
Disability too is socially constructed; the definitions are arbitrary and are based on social and cultural, a criterion that is they are created by the agencies and general public.
Physical incapacity is considered by many a sociologist as a form of deviance. In this way disability has often been considered as deviance simply because it does not meet society’s expectations. The basis on which this is built seems to be historical than recent. Physical disability among which include blindness, deafness, dumbness and paralysis are seen as deviant because it “violates institutional expectations” or is different form the physical characteristic possessed by the norm”als” (Op. Cit. Keel). In the early eras, babies born with deformities were defined as monsters and were thought to be predictors of disastrous epidemics. In ancient times, children with deformities were killed. Plato is believed to have supported that by saying that ‘deformed and infirm children should be hidden away in a secret place’ (Plato quoted in Keel 2008). In medieval ages, disability was simply considered as the action of God.
However, today as Keel portrays the picture, those who possess the stigma of being physically disabled or handicap require the attention of social agencies.
Labelling has made it possible to consider being the master status those who are physically handicap in one way or another. There is a kind of a stigma that comes with disability. Erving Goffman (1963) perceptively remarked that the stigmatized person has a ‘spoiled identity’ as a result of the negative evaluation by others (Adapted from Addae-Boateng, Deviance Lecture notes). Here, undesirable physical characteristics represent a form of deviance which tends to attract stigma and generate a contaminated identity for their possessors. The fact that their possessors do attract stigma and condemnation is what defines deviance, hence they are deviants. There is a continuum of personal causality or responsibility for possessors of deviant characteristics, yet all are stigmatized. Frank Tennenbaum and Howard Becker believe that when a person is labelled deviant, s/he internalizes the label and acts in consonance with the label. This, they contend that as time goes on, the ‘labelled deviant’ takes on the traits that define what a real deviant is supposed to do and takes on the role of such a label by committing deviations that conform to the label. This leads the deviant to follow a self-fulfilling prophecy of conformity to the ascribed label (Op. Cit. Addae-Boateng). Because disability is perceived as deviance, it translates into issues of social control: since “[b]odies that are disabled can also seem dangerous because they are perceived as out of control…they threaten to disrupt the ritualized behaviour upon which social relations turn” (Thompson quoted in Hingston 2006). It is argued that a body deemed physically deviant acts as a physical declaration that the controllability of identity is impossible.
The Italian school of criminology which also attributed deviance to biological and genetic factors somewhat relates deviance and disability. The theory of Lombroso states that those who are genetically and biologically less-evolved, and without all the faculties proper to a norm‘al’ human being is predisposed to deviance and break of norms. Here the analogy of a deaf, blind man could well give a vivid picture of the scenario. For example, with a warning written on a wall that no one should urinate around, a deaf and blind person who does not see or hear will be more likely to urinate at such a place if he so feels the call to nature. This seems to be the centre of the argument that less-genetically evolved people are akin to deviance than the norm‘als’.
Again, disability according to some people relates to deviance since it falls short of aesthetic standards. Here, society’s expectation makes disability into deviance. This is because disability is not what society expects to be normal. The account above seems to equate disability with deviance, saying implicitly that perhaps all disables are deviant. However, this is not wholly true. Some researches have demonstrated a regrettable imposition of stigma/deviance into the lives and minds of disabled people, some of it shows disabled people resisting stigma/deviance imputations; and some of it suggests that such imputations are losing force as new ways of thinking about the meaning of disability gain way (Susman J, 2002). Disability is now approached with great respect.
Disability and chronic illness are understood differently depending on the conceptual framework adopted. Biomedical approaches now tend to focus attention on the extent to which specific physiological or psychological problems constrain individuals, and the extent to which these problems can be overcome. Laws relating to people with disabilities include international law, laws directed at people with disabilities such as anti-discrimination law and laws of general application which govern all members of the society including people with disabilities have been intensified (M. Jones et L. A. B. Marks 2004). These contributions vary significantly, with some designed to improve the geographic mobility of individuals, others offering conceptual advances, and yet others informing collective political action of disabled groups.
The picture is that wider society has come to the awareness that both able and disable persons commit deviance and they assert how unfortunate it is to tag someone deviant because s/he is handicapped. That disability is a social construct is not new, however recent studies in the sociology of deviance raises questions as to the moral correctness of tagging someone as deviant simply because such one is disabled. There is an ongoing awareness creation and sensitization that disabled persons be duly respected and those opportunities that exist must benefit all. The stereotypic description of people into disables and ables has been heavily discouraged, hence the use of the word ‘Challenged’. This makes the reference to such peoples as physically challenged. Now the question is not whether disability is related to deviance or not since it has been found that both the so-called normals and non-normals engage in deviant behaviours, but that all human beings must be respected in an atmosphere of trust, love, solidarity and concern. This increasing awareness is bringing to fore issues of equality and dignity of all people, the physically-challenged and non-challenged alike.
In the light of the above, the researcher believes that disability is not related to deviance. He bemoans the unfortunate situations where disability has been linked with deviance, and exhorts all people to respect one another in the spirit of mutual togetherness, where everyone promotes and consists in the reduction of deviance and ensure a society where there is order, peace, and love so can human development take place.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 Addae-Boateng, F. (2010/11) Lecture Notes on Deviance and Social Control, Ejisu: Unpublished
 Albrecht, G. L. (2004) Disability-sociological aspects in International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioural Sciences
 Henslin, J. (2008) Sociology- a down to earth approach, London: Pearson
 Hingston, Kylee-Anne (2006), Abominable Virtues and Cured Faults: Disability, Deviance, and the Double Voice in the Fiction of L.M. Montgomery project work submitted to the College of Graduate Studies, University of Saskatchewan for Master of Arts Degree in English.
 Keel, R. (2008). Characteristics of Deviance, available online at http://www.umsl.edu/-keelr/200/physicaldev.html
 Marks L. A B. Et M. Jones, (2004) Law and People with Disabilities in International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioural Sciences
 Susman, J (2002) Disability, Dallas: Southern Methodist University, Departement of Anthropology
 Disability and Deviance at http://www.wikipedia.org/disability/deviance [Accessed on 26/04/2011]