When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. And that's my RELIGION.” - Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865, Sixteenth President of the USA
"Many Filipinos are what I call Sunday-religious, that is they go to church every Sunday, take in confession and communion, but the rest of the week they bribe and do corrupt deeds..." - Dr. Pura Santillan-Castrence
I will not elaborate on the first love though I believe many so-called/professed Christians concentrate on that. God is supposedly all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good, etc. (as I remember my grade school Baltimore Catechism rote); therefore God must be so self-sufficient and thus should not want more love and attention.
It seems many native Filipino Christians (Catholic, Protestant, Evangelicals/Pentecostals, Fundamentalists, etc. varieties) spend so much time on God trying to buy their "salvation" by saying "Praise the Lord", "Love God", "Jesus is Lord", mouthing special prayers or incantations, etc. Such exercises remind me of the biblical Pharisees and Sadducees.
Native Filipino Christians see their God as a sort of granddaddy or Santa Claus and their saints as facilitators (when saints should be seen as role models to be emulated). Essentially Filipino Christianity as escape from reality.
Those who have "made it" are oftentimes enthusiastic supporters of Globalization or Neoliberalism in the homeland, and often suggest or imply that the poor are poor either because these latter folks do not work hard enough, or are sinners; or at best, deservingly destined to be impoverished and to suffer. I have personally heard this sort of statements from people I know who are either Catholics or "born again.".
However, I qualify that it is not equal to or as powerful as the Catholic hierarchy during our Spanish colonization or vis-a-vis Spanish Catholic Church during "El Caudillo" Generalissimo Franco's 37-year fascistic rule in Spain (whose legacy and memory are still controversial since his demise in 1975; and present-day Spanish dislike of the Catholic Church as an institution, in sharp contrast to its historical prominence.).
Unfortunately the long reign of Pope John Paul II and now succeeded by his former "dogma-hit-man" (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) Pope Benedict XVI, turned back all these enlightened beliefs or interpretations of Christianity and the gains of Vatican II.
Thus, the Roman Catholic Church in general and the hierarchy in our homeland is back to being for the status quo, more a church for the rich despite its lip-service of being the church of the poor.
It is therefore the urgent and primary task of the Catholic Church in the Philippines to emphasize and demonstrate the "love of neighbor," of the neighbor in need; to teach more fully this critical or major part of Christian teachings.
Instead the Catholic Church in the Philippines and its members should be responsible and put emphasis on loving one's neighbors, that is, by seeking and fighting for social justice, by informing themselves and teaching the ignorant mass about their rights for a just society.
To me, much of the authentic Christian followers were from that long past earlier era.
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