Question: "What is the difference between religion and spirituality?"
Answer: Before we explore the difference between religion and spirituality, we must first define the two terms. Religion can be defined as “belief in God or gods to be worshipped, usually expressed in conduct and ritual” or “any specific system of belief, worship, etc., often involving a code of ethics.” Spirituality can be defined as “the quality or fact of being spiritual, non-physical” or “predominantly spiritual character as shown in thought, life, etc.; spiritual tendency or tone.” To put it briefly, religion is a set of beliefs and rituals that claim to get a person in a right relationship with God, and spirituality is a focus on spiritual things and the spiritual world instead of physical/earthly things.
The most common misconception about religion is that Christianity is just another religion like Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc. Sadly, many who claim to be adherents of Christianity do practice Christianity as if it were a religion. To many, Christianity is nothing more than a set of rules and rituals that a person has to observe in order to go to heaven after death. That is not true Christianity. True Christianity is not a religion; rather, it is having a right relationship with God by receiving Jesus Christ as the Savior-Messiah, by grace through faith. Yes, Christianity does have “rituals” to observe (e.g., baptism and communion). Yes, Christianity does have “rules” to follow (e.g., do not murder, love one another, etc.). However, these rituals and rules are not the essence of Christianity. The rituals and rules of Christianity are the result of salvation. When we receive salvation through Jesus Christ, we are baptized as a proclamation of that faith. We observe communion in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice. We follow a list of do’s and don’ts out of love for God and gratitude for what He has done.
The most common misconception about spirituality is that there are many forms of spirituality, and all are equally valid. Meditating in unusual physical positions, communing with nature, seeking conversation with the spirit world, etc., may seem to be “spiritual,” but they are in fact false spirituality. True spirituality is possessing the Holy Spirit of God as a result of receiving salvation through Jesus Christ. True spirituality is the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in a person’s life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Spirituality is all about becoming more like God, who is spirit (John 4:24) and having our character conformed to His image (Romans 12:1-2).
What religion and spirituality have in common is that they both can be false methods of having a relationship with God. Religion tends to substitute the heartless observance of rituals for a genuine relationship with God. Spirituality tends to substitute connection with the spirit world for a genuine relationship with God. Both can be, and often are, false paths to God. At the same time, religion can be valuable in the sense that it points to the fact that there is a God and that we are somehow accountable to Him. The only true value of religion is its ability to point out that we have fallen short and are in need of a Savior. Spirituality can be valuable in that it points out that the physical world is not all there is. Human beings are not only material, but also possess a soul-spirit. There is a spiritual world around us of which we should be aware. The true value of spirituality is that it points to the fact that there is something and someone beyond this physical world to which we need to connect.
Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of both religion and spirituality. Jesus is the One to whom we are accountable and to whom true religion points. Jesus is the One to whom we need to connect and the One to whom true spirituality points. Are you interested in discovering true religion and true spirituality? If the answer is yes, please begin your journey on our webpage that describes receiving Jesus Christ as your Personal Savior -
Should corruption be seen as a moral issue? It often seems so, and that attitude is often reflected in how societies decide it should be dealt with – punishment through the legal system or the rule of law. In this worldview, corrupt acts are a well-thought out and premeditated way for people to capture resources which aren’t rightfully theirs.
There is another way of thinking about corruption, however, which says that the historical social and economic structures in a country create the conditions for corruption. While some forms of corruption do come down to sheer greed, in the wider scheme of how societies progress, corruption is a structural phenomenon – it is built into the structures around which politics in developing economies work, especially of redistribution. The work that the Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) Research Consortium does is designed to tease out whether, within existing realities, opportunities can be found to change incentives and behaviour to make a specific sector more productive, and therefore less corrupt.
To explore these seemingly opposite perspectives – the view that corruption is a moral issue and that corruption is a structural issue, we teamed up with Timothy Adewale, of the Nigerian NGO Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, or SERAP. SERAP has been working since 2004 to use human rights law to increase transparency, accountability and protect social and economic rights in Nigeria. SERAP has undertaken several major investigations of corruption scandals in Nigeria, as well high-profile legal cases. Challenging the daily reality of corruption in Nigeria, and bringing wrong-doers to light, is part of their model for change.
Here, Timothy Adewale discusses SERAP’s approach with Pallavi Roy, SOAS-ACE Research Director in Nigeria.
Pallavi: So, Timothy, if you were to ask the woman or man on the street in Nigeria, how do you think they’d see corruption – as a moral failing by a corrupt individual, or just how politics is played out in the country?
Timothy: Although morality is relative in Nigeria as in other parts of the world, most Nigerians know corruption when they see it. The problem is that corruption and fighting it has been well politicised thus making it seem to Nigerians that one is only corrupt when the ruling party/authorities in Abuja say so. For example, violations of traffic law are so rampant in Nigeria that nobody cares anymore. But the day the authorities decide to arrest someone for it, it is easy for people to conclude that there must be an ulterior motive for the arrest. So goes the story of corruption and its fight in Nigeria
Pallavi: Yes, and that’s when people stop buying into anti-corruption efforts or only pay attention to the more ‘sensational’ cases. But SERAP has done some very brave and important work to expose and prosecute corruption, within the Nigerian legal framework – how would you describe your theory of change?
Timothy: There is a legacy of corruption and impunity in Nigeria, exacerbated by prolonged military rule, unresponsive political systems, lack of accountability, limited civic space and weak judicial and legal systems, lack of political will to enforce decisions of the court, and all of these posing serious threats to citizens’ access to essential public services and human rights. There is also, as you pointed out, citizens’ apathy and limited participation in the fight against corruption.
At SERAP, our theories of change are aimed to address the fundamental governance and human rights issues, including by pushing for increased accountability for grand corruption; robust and effective legal and judicial systems that are able to hold leaders to account; improved access of citizens to information on the management of the country’s resources and improved citizens’ participation in the fight against corruption. Others are improvements of the accountability mechanisms to protect human rights and reduce abuse of public office for private gain.
Pallavi: At ACE, we tread a more nuanced line. Corruption is clearly a damaging phenomenon, and corrupt individuals shouldn’t be condoned or protected – but we also see clearly that corruption occurs so widely and is so resistant to change in developing economies like Nigeria because economic and political power are not aligned to protect formal rules (such as those to forbid public exploitation for private gain). The balance of power is maintained by ‘informal’ politics between patrons and clients, and informal decisions about how available resources should be shared.
Timothy: The problem with developing countries with the fight against corruption is that the most important thing to an average person is survival. So, whether you are fighting corruption or not, one must survive, thereafter you can talk about corruption. When government fails to pay salaries and pensions, people are then wired to do things to survive or “store for the future’’. Therefore, to Nigerians fighting corruption must translate into their socio-economic lives and development. It makes little sense to recover billions if the money recovered goes down the drain pipes again.
Pallavi: I couldn’t agree with you more on what you just said. Because it links to our work which says an impartial rule of law is only possible after countries have reached a certain level of development, and powerful productive organisations want a broad-based rule of law and not a selective one. But this transition is difficult to make for most developing countries including Nigeria, and the rule of law becomes selective, and top down vertical enforcement often fails leading to fatigue with ambitious anti-corruption efforts. Hence the need to look for ways where we can make sequential progress and where we can build coalitions of actors who see rule following in their interest and come together as horizontal enforcers.
But Nigeria has a vibrant media space, and political debates take place openly. Do you think anti-corruption will become an election plank in 2019 like in the last general elections? And more importantly, do you think corruption is treated as a key issue before elections but matters revert to the status quo after?
Timothy: Corruption without question will be an election plank just like it was the case in the 2015 general elections. However, citizens’ expectations in terms of what can be achieved at the level of prosecution of grand corruption cases, reducing the cost of governance, and improving the governance architecture, are pretty low. The key is for citizens to engage politicians, ask critical questions and ensure that corrupt politicians are not voted in, and to keep the momentum even after the elections. The campaign for good governance and accountability is a continuum and should be intensified by people holding politicians to their commitments made during the elections. Bottom-line: we need public/citizens’ ownership of the fight against corruption if the issue of corruption is be more than just election slogan. Otherwise, it will be business as usual and matters might indeed revert to the status quo.
Reflections: It is easy to understand the anger and frustration around corruption and anti-corruption policies, and it is undoubtedly justified. But just so one can provide the reassurance that policy can work, big bang ambitious reforms, while necessary cannot be sufficient to address issues at the sectoral level. This requires an understanding of motivations and incentives. Devising policy that changes those incentive structures in a way that people no longer need to be corrupt to benefit from the system is one way of ensuring some success in the highly fraught field of anti-corruption.
originally published on SOAS Blog on 6 December 2018
A Liberian womans Video went viral on social media as she talked about how Men simpy love women who wear fake hair, fake eye lashes, fake lips, and fake backsides.
She claims that whenever she walks down the street with her natural hair and no make up, Men do not approach her.
They prefer to approach women with fake hair, lipstick, fake eye lashes, fake butt and fake breast. She said that it is no surprise that such women have little to no good characters in them but yet those are the ones men are attracted towards.
She implied that most men simply look at a woman’s fake look rather than looking deep into their characters and behaviour.
The video which has gone viral on facebook is now on YouTube.
Chancellor Angela Merkel made a "catastrophic mistake" in letting immigrants flood into Germany, US President-elect Donald Trump said in a newspaper interview on Sunday.
He blamed the refugee crisis for being the "straw that broke the camel's back" and triggered Britain's vote last year to leave the European Union.
"I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals, you know, taking all of the people from wherever they come from," Trump said in an interview with The Times of London and Germany's Bild, adding he had "great respect" for the chancellor.
Some 890,000 migrants, many of them fleeing war in Syria, entered Germany in 2015 after Merkel opened her country's doors in response to massive pressure on countries along the so-called "Balkan route" into western Europe.
The mass arrivals prompted an initial mass outpouring of support, but fear about the consequences has also driven anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany to between 10 and 15 percent in polls.
One MP deserted Merkel's centre-right Christian Democratic Union this weekend over her refugee policy, as the Chancellor tees up a re-election bid later this year.
Trump said that he would start out "trusting both" Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Let's see how long that lasts, may not last long at all," he went on.
While he allowed that Merkel was a "fantastic leader," the Republican said that Germany had "got a clear impression" of the consequences of her policy from a deadly December 19 terrorist attack in Berlin in which a hijacked truck was used to mow down Christmas market patrons, killing 12.
Berlin suspect Anis Amri, a Tunisian national, entered Europe via Italy in 2011 and served a four-year prison sentence there before allegedly carrying out the attack.
Trump also argued that the mass arrivals in 2015 were "the final straw that broke the camel's back" in convincing British voters to back leaving the European Union in a June 24th referendum.
Pro-Leave campaigners warned in the wake of the crisis that refugees would flood into the UK, producing a poster showing a crowd of Middle Eastern men under the words "Breaking Point".
Britons were wise to choose to leave the 28-member union, Trump said, arguing that it was a "basically a vehicle for Germany."
"Other countries will leave" the European Union in future, Trump prophesied.
In comments set to cause further consternation among eastern European NATO countries nervous about Moscow following Russia's annexation of Crimea and involvement in Ukraine, Trump also said NATO was "obsolete".
"I said a long time ago that NATO had problems," Trump told The Times of London and Bild
"Number one, it was obsolete, because it was designed many, many years ago," he said.
"Number two, the countries aren't paying what they're supposed to pay."
On the campaign trail, Trump said he would think twice about helping NATO allies if the United States were not "reasonably reimbursed" for the costs of defending them.
After Trump's victory, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance had been a bedrock of transatlantic security for "almost 70 years" and was especially needed at a time of new challenges.
Spending has been a common source of friction within the 28-nation alliance over recent years.
The core military contributor to the alliance is the United States, which accounts for about 70 percent of spending.
In 2014, stung into action by Russia's intervention in Ukraine, upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa, NATO leaders agreed to reverse years of defence cuts and devote the equivalent of two percent of economic output to defence.
"The countries aren't paying their fair share so we're supposed to protect countries," Trump said in Sunday's interview.
"There's five countries that are paying what they're supposed to. Five. It's not much."
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Monday that Trump's NATO remarks have caused concern at the US-led military alliance and also appeared at odds with his own officials.
Steinmeier said he had met NATO head Stoltenberg earlier on Monday "where the statements of President-elect Trump... were received with concern."
"This is in contradiction with what the American defence minister said in his hearing in Washington only some days ago and we have to see what will be the consequences for American policy," he added.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party won the national election on Sunday by a clear margin. But they scored their worst result in almost 70 years, as the AfD had a night to remember.
We're packing it in for the evening. Just like the campaigning itself, German elections are over with much less fuss than those in the UK and US... except for the fact that coalition building could take months.
Exit Polling shows Angela Merkel is set to become German Chancellor for a fourth time, as her party won a double-digit victory over their nearest rival. She seems pleased with the result, describing it as a good result after "an incredibly difficult legislative period."
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) scored a better-than-expected result in the exit polls, set to win 13 percent or higher and thus become the third largest party in the Bundestag.
Polling stations closed at 6pm, and exit polls immediately showed the Social Democrats (SPD) had slumped to a historic low in support.
The SPD have already ruled out joining another coalition, something other parties have called irresponsible.
The only other possible coalition is Merkel's Union joining up with the Free Democrats and the Greens. But big ideological differences between the parties mean we might not have a new government until the new year.
9.20 - Merkel ‘optimistic’ she can build coalition before Christmas
There was no love lost between the Green Party and the Free Democrats (FDP) during the ARD TV round table, with FDP man Christian Lindner accusing the Greens of being idealistic and not realistic. Green party head Katrin Göring-Eckardt replied that she would put the environment at the centre of any coalition agreement, adding that she saw little common ground with the FDP. If a coalition is to be built though, it will most likely involve these two parties.
But Merkel finished the show by saying that she was “optimistic” she could build a coalition by the end of the year.
“Power lies in calmness,” she said, repeating the idea she had put across through the evening i.e. that when all the parties had had a good night's sleep they would see everything differently.
If the biggest concerns of Mr.Trump`s victory last November were how to prevent him from rolling back the gains of the previous administration, destabilizing American democracy and the world order, addressing them has so far been most effectively done by president Donald J. Trump.
Mr. Trump's shocking defeat of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton put the future of a number of his predecessor`s legislative accomplishments and executive decisions including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and a host of regulations that protected the environment and labor on a shaky ground. But the biggest threat was to the Affordable Care Act - also known as Obamacare - which was passed in 2010 by the Democrats and signed into law by then President Barack Obama. The law, which sets new standards for health insurance plans, creates a minimum benefit level for each plan, and most significantly prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to persons with pre-existing conditions has provided healthcare coverage to more than 10 million Americans. But by March of 2014, Republicans had attempted to repeal Obamacare more than 50 times. With a Republican-controlled House, Senate and White House following the November 2016 general election, the undoing of Mr. Obama`s signature legislative achievement looked all but done.
On the international front, the postwar world order and America's allies in Europe and elsewhere appeared destined for a bumpy ride following Mr. Trump`s victory last November. In an interview with the New York Times in July 2016, then-candidate Trump shocked the foreign policy establishment when he made U.S military support for its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies conditional on their ability to meet their financial obligations to the alliance.When asked by the Times` Sanger to elaborate on what would happen under a Trump presidency to NATO members who did not meet their defense spending obligations he stated:
If we cannot be properly reimbursed for the tremendous cost of our military protecting other countries, and in many cases the countries I’m talking about are extremely rich… We’re talking about countries that are doing very well. Then yes, I would be absolutely prepared to tell those countries, “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.”
To his credit, Mr. Trump was not the first to sound that alarm. At a news conference in Brussels in March 2014, then President Barack Obama stated:
I have had some concerns about a diminished level of defense spending among some of our partners in NATO; not all, but many. The trend lines have been going down… but the situation in Ukraine reminds us that our freedom isn’t free and we’ve got to be willing to pay for the assets, the personnel, the training that’s required to make sure that we have a credible NATO force and an effective deterrent force. And this can’t just be a U.S. exercise or a British exercise or one country’s efforts; everybody’s going to have to make sure that they are engaged and involved.
A goal set by NATO is for each member to spend at least 2% of its GDP on its own defense every year. That goal is currently being met by only 5 of the 28 members including the United States, Britain, Estonia, Greece, and Poland. But while Mr. Obama was talking about the importance of meeting the minimum 2% goal for the sake of the credibility and effectiveness of NATO, Mr. Trump made it a condition for US military defense of a NATO ally which is a clear violation of the collective defense clause or Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. And unlike the Republican nominee, his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton did not hold such position, thereby making his candidacy and election the more worrisome for America's NATO allies.
Also at stake following the election of Mr. Trump on the international front was the future of free trade. As a candidate for president, Mr. Trump was opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement and it was one of the few topics on which he and Mrs. Clinton were in agreement. But unlike Mrs. Clinton who once called the agreement the gold standard of free trade agreements, Mr. Trump`s position was consistent with his long-held belief that free trade with other countries - especially China - was bad for America. If it was ever likely that one of them would change his or her mind once in office, it was not Mr. Trump. His election, therefore, signaled the end of free trade as it was known.
On other issues including climate change and the use of nuclear weapons, Mr. Trump's position frightened both America`s allies and adversaries. He once called climate change a hoax invented by the Chinese in order to ``make US manufacturing non-competitive`` and as a candidate he promised to ``cancel`` the Paris climate accord. On nuclear weapons, then-candidate Trump reportedly asked a foreign policy expert ``if we have them, why can't we use them?``
But the threats to Obamacare, DACA, free trade, the environment, NATO and American democracy and global leadership that was signaled by Mr. Trump's election last November have so far been most effectively mitigated by... president Trump. Obamacare remains unrepealed after a third try this year and DACA is still in place and will likely be regardless of whether or not Congress do something about it over the next 5 months. Following Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, a coalition of 227 American cities and counties and about 1,650 businesses and investors known as America's pledge has since moved to uphold the United States commitment to the accord. The United States remains committed to NATO and its NATO allies despite president Trump`s tough talk. While TPP is dead, the much-touted trade war with China has not materialized. Mr. Trump's travel ban is currently being challenged in the courts. Last month, the president was openly rebuked by his own secretary of defense James Mattis in an impromptu speech to U.S troops stationed overseas and following Mr. Trump's comments on the white supremacists rally in Charlottesville, his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated in an interview with Fox News that `` the president speaks for himself`` and presumably not for the country. His ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has repeatedly and openly contradicted her boss on a number of foreign policy issues including Russia. The open rebukes and contradictions by the president's top officials have more than likely had the effect of reassuring America`s allies that Trump`s position is not necessarily the country`s position; shocking! And remember that wall that he was going to build with pesos?
No doubt his own appointees, the courts and the public which stood up against his agenda in town hall meetings across the country have assisted in stalling the Make America Great Again agenda. But it is becoming increasingly more difficult to deny that the main reason why president Trump has so far been unable to get anything done legislatively is primarily because of... president Trump.
Since he became president, many have attempted to clinically diagnose his mental stability or lack thereof. I resist from doing that since I am but a psychiatrist. However, I think it appropriate to judge Mr. Trump based on his public records from which two things are apparent: Mr. Trump cares mostly about Mr. Trump and he is shameless.
From the allegation that Barack Obama wiretapped him and the FBI covered up for Hillary Clinton to George W. Bush knowingly lied about weapons of mass destruction and the attacks on the so-called enemy of the American people - i.e. the media - and the judiciary , Mr. Trump has placed himself above the presidency and appears prepared to settle personal scores even at the cost of delegitimizing the most vital institutions of democratic governance.
In his defense, president Trump is not the first president or presidential candidate to criticize the press, past presidents or even the judiciary. A politician who is fully content with the press is no politician at all. Mr. Obama was critical of President George W. Bush both as a presidential candidate and as president. Mrs. Clinton was also critical of the FBI`s handling of her email investigation. But Mr. Trump's attacks are demonstrably different. His repeated attacks on the security agencies, the judiciary, and the press, for example, are intended not to merely point out specific flaws in individual actions or decisions but to destroy the very credibility of those institutions.
Mr. Trump's attacks are also different in another regard; they are largely founded in untruths. For instance, the allegation that Mr. Obama wiretapped him was found by his own justice department to be untrue. The allegation that the press falsely misrepresented the size of his inauguration crowd or the character of the white supremacists in the Charlottesville rally is not corroborated by any evidence. According to the New York Times, Mr. Trump told public lies or falsehoods every day for his first 40 days in office. If his frequent attacks on the credibility of government institutions are characteristic of an individual who either does not understand the importance of trust in public institutions to the health of a democracy or simply does not care, his untruths and the frequency and ease with with he tells them are characteristic of an individual who has no shame; why else would his press secretary on his first full day in office lie about something as trivial in the grand scheme of things as the size of his inauguration crowd, something that can be easily proven as false by anyone with a smartphone or a computer?
The president has been unable repeal Obamacare likely because he was too busyattacking the same Republicans in Congress with the votes to do so: He could not pull all of the United States out of the Paris agreement because his track record proves he has no credibility on the issue and cannot be trusted to come up with an alternative measure that is better for both the environment and for American workers; his travel ban has faced serious resistance in the courts because he cannot avoid contradicting himself on the internet and likely because of his attacks on the judiciary; he cannot abandon NATO and America`s commitment to the bloc when his top officials do not even consider his views as representative of the views of the United States; his administration has been a theater of leakslikely because of his attacks on the security agencies and his own top officials continue to rebuke and depart from his position because they do not take him seriously.
Other presidents have also encountered serious difficulties getting things done, but not when they controlled both the House and the Senate. At this stage eight years ago, President Obama and the Democratic-controlled House and Senate were well on their way to passing the Affordable Care Act. Outside of the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch, the Trump administration has no other major legislative accomplishment to boast of and the road ahead looks all but promising.
Furthermore, the fear that Trump`s rise would energize right-wing movements and parties across Europe has not fully materialized. In France, Marine Le Pen of the Far Right National Front party was strongly rejected by French voters earlier this year. In Germany however, the far right Alternative for Deutschland (AFD) did quite well with 12.6% of the total votes in last weekend's election, making it the third largest political party in Germany. Yet it is my belief that the right-wing movements in Europe would have been much more energized and both Le Pen and the AFD would have done far better had the Trump presidency been effective.
But so far, it has not been the Geniuses of Madison and Jefferson or the unstoppable force of the resistance movement that has mostly stalled Trumpism across Europe and the Make America Great Again agenda at home; it has mostly been Mr. Trump himself, a strange ally to his own resisters.
By: Mohammed Adawulai
TopAfric Media Network