A LEVEL OF COMPLEXITY YOU SHOULD UNDERSTAND
My several different interactions with several different people over the Ese Walters saga has informed the writing of this. It is clear from these interactions that we have a limited understanding of what humanity entails. The situation is understandable because we all are only human with our various limits. What is unforgivable is the stubborn refusal to expand our scope of response, when confronted with seemingly strange stimuli. We take the course of autoimmune diseases, where the body’s immune system responds inappropriately to the body’s tissues and substances as it would respond to foreign substances.
A lot of us hold absolutes that are ungrounded in reality because they are bound by the extent of our experiences and imaginations. Therefore the better the mind is able to conceive and wander, the better the appreciation for the wilderness of possibilities that is humanity.
A careful reading of the Ese Walters saga will reveal it as a study in the psychology of power and susceptibility, and the consequences of the violation of trust by authority.
A BRIEF STOPOVER IN SWEDEN
But before we proceed, we need a lesson in complexity. The Stockholm Syndrome has always fascinated me as a phenomenon in human psychology. An excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on the Stockholm Syndrome is supplied below (you can do a personal study by clicking on the link):
Stockholm syndrome can be seen as a form of traumatic bonding, which does not necessarily require a hostage scenario, but which describes “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.” One commonly used hypothesis to explain the effect of Stockholm syndrome is based on Freudian theory. It suggests that the bonding is the individual’s response to trauma in becoming a victim. Identifying with the aggressor is one way that the ego defends itself. When a victim believes the same values as the aggressor, they cease to be a threat.
Lesson over, let us return to the issue at hand.
ON A SCALE OF 1-10, 8 SAYS PASTOR BEE IS GUILTY AS CHARGED
Of course you can put me on record and attack me as appropriate if it Ese’s story is proved to be fiction. Although Pastor Biodun exuded typical confidence, the direction of his sermon suggests that waters are indeed troubled. We were treated to the entirely situation-inappropriate story of Joseph, a history of the foundation of COZA, the incredulity of the number of days he has been fasting (in penitence?), his previous silence over the death of a family member, the incredulity of having coming so far this early amidst several references to his wife (to be fair, I wouldn’t know if this is typical). The Pastor also at least acknowledged the allegations against his person, even if it was fleeting and unsatisfying to us curious hordes. I respect him for this. Some others would have remained stoically silent. Finally, if the allegations are false, I think we would have seen a laughing-off of the event of the blog post. We didn’t get that. What we got was a promise of a robust response. We await that and hope it is not an “I-forgive-you” stunt.
IN LOVE OR IN AWE; THAT IS THE QUESTION
Ese has been cast as a villain in the piece – a woman scorned – who fell in love with her pastor, had a week-long affair with him and now cries sore when the pastor, having cured himself of her itch would have acquired the next target. This is a simpleton’s understanding of the complexity of human interaction. Some egregious buffoon on Twitter even saw it fit to quote that profound piece of American wisdom: whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
We may fault Ese on the following points:
- That she listened to her friend who suggested that she start attending COZA.
- That she is a weak-willed and easily manipulable human being.
She may not have been able to help Point 1 but she certainly should have been able to help Point 2, no? Wrong. This equation of the mental and psychological capabilities of different human beings to a constant given in every and any being is silly. The nature of religious authority is such that characters such as Ese will find themselves susceptible to that aura of cosmic invincibility religious figures are wont to bathe themselves in. The pastor paints himself (and actively encourages that he be seen) as some sort of a Superman whose spirit man buzzes about in the VIP corridors of erudite Christian contemplation. Ese, taken in by this figment of her imagination, is awed by this aura thereby rendering her susceptible to manipulation. I have absolutely no doubt: Ese was not in love with her pastor. Shall we now condemn Ese because she exhibits her own human imperfection in a way different from the way we exhibit ours? To whom did Jesus say “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”? That’s right, to imperfect priests and scholars of the law, in defence of an imperfect red-scarlet woman. There is an important lesson to be learnt there.
WE COME TO FUCK WITH YOUR MIND
The social psychological powers of pastors should not be in dispute. They put this acute alertness to the needs and inadequacies of the human mind coupled with the opiate of religion to good use. Church has always been psychological theatre; the best performers reap the fruits of their labour in numbers. Why else would miracle sessions be put on national television? To fuck with your mind is why.
PASTOR WARREN BUFFETT
We should also note that the conquest of Ese Walters has every marking of being played from a well-written book. A clear pattern runs through the story. Ese Walters does not strike me as someone who is aware enough of literary tenets to maintain consistency if she were fictionalizing. But this consistency is there: that Pastor Biodun instigated every major action in that story. From the disregard for convention of her strategic recruitment into the Pastoral Care Unit to the skilful cultivation of her attention culminating in the week-long tryst, a thread of conscious design runs through. Pastor Biodun after all possesses admirable profiling acumen; by his admission in his eagerly anticipated Sunday sermon, COZA was built on speculative risk – identifying (profiling) university castoffs and dropouts for rehabilitation. Surprise, surprise when it turned out those castoffs had rich parents who full of admiration for their hero in turn funded the takeoff of COZA.
THE PURSUIT OF CLOSURE
I have seen hypocritical assertions that Ese Walters should not have come out the way she did. This is an assertion of evil people who are themselves content to acknowledge that religious leaders are human when it suits an agenda but will not tolerate any consequent treatment of these leaders as humans more often than not prone to horrific gaffes. These wicked people conveniently forget that human beings are first human before they are Christians. Ese’s recounting of her experience may appear cheery, or appear like she was having fun, but I insist that the cheery playfulness of that blog post is a veneer. Beneath that cheeriness was the relentless psychological torment she would have suffered in that period. The writing of that blog post was not to scorn COZA or Pastor Biodun per se; the writing of that blog post was a search for closure. This is the same way the family members of murder victims for instance pursue closure by watching the execution of the murderer. That the event gives them closure is debatable. That it takes them closer to closure or at least eliminates one more possible source of closure is not.
DARWIN TAKES ROOT IN CHURCH AND A FOIL APPEARS FOR WALTERS
To the suggestion that she should have flown from temptation I respond: Seriously? Can you not see the complete and utter idiocy and dishonesty and duplicity and madness of such a position? Who is expected to flee – a pastor who professes to represent Christ or a girl who by her own admission is more of a happy-go-lucky churchgoer than a Christian? The emergence of another story by a Franca is being cited as justification for the cruel unchristian crucifixion (a paradox, yes) Ese Walters has since suffered from the hands of Pastor Biodun’s Crusaders. But they miss the point. Franca, whoever she is (and taking her at her word), is merely a character foil for Ese Walters when considered in analysis. She is what Ese is not – strong-willed and sure. These dishonest analysts have only succeeded in rendering a honest painting of the church as a Darwinian jungle, where the weak and unsure will be preyed upon. My understanding of what “church” means is that it is a communion of beings, a complementary fellowship standing together in the pursuit of good despite the near futility of such an enterprise. Of course, I am being overly romantic. Darwin wins here.
THE CHURCH PROTECTS ITS OWN
The wicked criticisms of Ese have also neglected the part in the story that has her talking to COZA’s Lagos’ pastor. Unfortunately, the church almost always protects its own. The catch is however in whom the church sees as its own and you can always tell by whom the church protects. Pastor Biodun is the church’s own; Ese is an outsider. Those abusive Catholic priests are the church’s own; those abused boys are outsiders. The outsiders are expendable; the religious leaders are not. The delusionary effects of the opium cannot be allowed to wear off. She also states that she talked to a male friend who in turn lapsed into a psychological trauma. This is one validation of my “awe” argument. The lapsing of this guy into a state of psychological confusion is a pointer to the fact that he was as in awe of his pastor as Ese.
It becomes apparent that Ese Walters tried to pursue closure in-house. When it became obvious that Pastor Biodun had sought forgiveness from the church, and the church, without recourse to the wronged person, had granted that forgiveness, more disillusion-cum-trauma would have set in. The blog post was one more perhaps last casting of the die.
A LEVEL OF GRACE THAT’S TRULY PUZZLING
I think I may understand the quote that has since gone popular: “I will teach a level of grace you don’t understand.” It is called justification. I do not see Ese Walters as someone who is aware enough to make up that quote by herself. That quote is Luciferian in the intelligence of its construction and application. It is written in Romans 3.24: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is Christ Jesus.” From the Bible we also learn that “His grace is sufficient for [us]”. I can imagine that Pastor Biodun sees this promise and sufficiency of grace as a carte blanche to behave exactly as he pleases, an a priori justification that neutralizes sin at its conception. Hey, I’ve been baptized and grace is sufficient and my old self was crucified in him so that sin might be brought to nothing therefore I am no hostage to sin, therefore I may sin as I please. “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” But I understand.
BROTHER MARIO OF THE LIMITLESS LIVES
Of course, the extravagance of material comfort generally does not lend itself to a striving for righteousness. It becomes harder and harder to become a slave to righteousness sans deprivation, which is why you’re more likely to learn profound life lessons from a Buddhist monk than a pastor these days. If the means to obtain pleasure are within your grasp, you are less likely to give any thought to asceticism… well, except you’re Jesus. Grace might indeed be sufficient for us when we as humans falter, but you shouldn’t wilfully smash your TV just because you have a life-long no-conditions warranty. Or you shouldn’t perform deadly experiments with Mario just because he is now “Kòkúmó”… ah, fuck it, that’s as tough as a camel traipsing through a needle’s eye.