Monday, September 10, 2012

Verticalist Preachers

The very words “verticalism” and horizontalism” readily evoke radicalism such that one automatically excludes the other. Just as what is verticalist necessarily excludes that which is horizontal, so too what is horizontalist ipso facto does away with anything vertical. Both terms – with the corresponding realities they mean – are terminal in notion and connotation. They do not – cannot and will not – in any way coexist.

Specifically applied to the now rather long obtaining religious preoccupations and social realities in the country – inclusive of political factors – there is ample reason to address the fact of verticalism as verified in the teaching of churches, sects or religious movements with their respective preachers, evangelists or ministers. Let it be expressly noted and clearly pointed out that the matter of verticalism also has relevance to the Catholic Church in the Philippines with its ordained priests.

What is verticalist preaching? Who are the verticalist preachers? Why are there verticalist preaching and preachers?

Verticalist preaching is the teaching of the Christian faith exclusively in terms of the relationship between God and man. Man needs God. God is good to man. Man must worship God. God will bless man. Man has to pray to God. God answers his prayers. Man is sinful. God is forgiving. When man is sick, God heals him. When man has problems, God solves them.

Verticalist preachers are altogether preoccupied with the concerns of their listeners and the providence of God. There is the standard “Praise the Lord!” This is usually accompanied by “Alleluia” And there is the repeated shouts of “Amen!” They continuously invite people to raise hands, to clap with delight, to jump for joy.

Verticalist preaching and preachers have nothing to do with the relationship between man and his neighbors. They equate love of neighbors with but giving food to the hungry – which people do even to their pets. They pretend to see nothing, hear nothing and wherefore say nothing when human life is belittled, when human dignity is trampled upon, when human rights are violated. They have nothing to say and nothing to do as well in conjunction with the public welfare, the common good of people. They are completely over and above dehumanizing social realities, inclusive of distorted political values and rapacious political structures – which are precisely the main causal factors of poverty and misery in the country.

Verticalist preaching with its accompanying verticalist preachers is not only very convenient and pacifying but also very accommodating and profitable. It is such verticalism that becomes the “opium of the people.”