Philosophically and emotionally I do not accept Christianity, it feels so wrong to me on so many levels. At the same time I admire and respect many of the things that it causes and creates.
There is a strong link between religion and development. The Word of God arriving in Funsi has dispelled darkness and fear. Before Christianity there wasn't a road, there wasn't a school, there wasn't a health clinic. Without the missionaries, nobody would be there to help.
This isn't a property unique to Christianity as a religion, and I'd love to learn more about Islam or Buddhism's influence in helping development. Let me know of any pointers to interesting articles or books, particularly which deal with this subject as a whole.
Part of me has a fear about development being carried out by Christianity. This is because of both the cultural imposition and the reduction in diversity. Because of this I support secular development organisations like Oxfam. However they suffer in a lesser way from the same problems. My context in thinking about development is a Christian one, a British one, whether or not I am Christian doesn't change that. Even Oxfam was started by Christians.
Religion is a very humble way of doing development. Christians will say that it is God's work which is reducing poverty, rather than claiming credit themselves. This gives a nice feel to the work. In some ways religion is a stop-gap measure for ineffective government, people in Ghana often see a religion as being their government. You can see why, when one is sometimes less corrupt and more effective than the other.
A religion is a real, solid thing to those who believe in it. That sounds obvious, but do you really have a feel for it in your mind? Do you sense, smell what it would be like to have, to be completely in a different belief system?
Hanging round Christianity so solidly for two weeks has given me a clearer insight into that. I'm wrestling all the time, trying to understand how people believe such different things in the world. Christian, Muslim, Atheist, New Age, Buddhist, Agnostic.
A belief system is an amazing, incredible, astonishing thing. If we met one in the street we'd call our friends over to look, we'd run away in fear and awe, we'd take photos. I see it like a whole organism, writhing and snaking across our planet, across time and history. It can grow and breed, adapt and change, love and hate.
It is beautiful.