“Religion is the opium of the people.” – Karl Marx

A good day to you in the name of my holy television set.

On SABC 1’s Worker’s Prayer program early this morning, it was well when Florentina’s testimony of a reckless, sluttish lifestyle was used to much profit.

Then, in a stroke of spiritual inspiration, the pastor, with customary charisma, requested those of us searching for deliverance from life’s burdens to touch the television. He went on to unpack the (quasi) ‘physi-chemo-spirituo’ phenomenon that would follow: God’s grace, he explained with unshakable conviction, would leave his studio, and supposedly travel alongside the electrons through the television broadcast network, and end up on our television sets ready to anoint us.

This is how the pastor, like many of his ilk, imagine the (super)nature of the Holy Spirit to operate. I don’t know about you, but this strikes me as acutely curious – as charlatanism on a biblical scale – a straight fail of supernatural proportions.

I stand corrected, but do you believe that the Holy Spirit travels through the telecommunications broadcast network from a pastor’s studio, through cameras, network routers and wires, navigates the software configurations, traverses via the electromagnetic satellite infrastructure, and arrives safely at your TV’s end, all in good time such that you must necessarily touch the TV to inherit it?

But Pastor, rather, why doesn’t the Holy Spirit just get delivered to us, the much in need, without the need to compel some of us to dust off our undergraduate Engineering textbooks? How come the Holy Spirit was not transported using, say, teleportation or something? Surely! And what of those of us suffering from televisionlessness? Or worse yet, is it not patently unfair that Jesus’s Stone Age counterparts are disadvantaged from all of this since it is common cause that there existed no such telecommunications up until last century, nor was the television discovered then?

Surely the Stone Agers would envy the ease with which the pious seamlessly receive the Holy Spirit while enjoying the comfort of their homes. In all of this, one can’t help wondering whether those with HD 3D LED TV sets will receive the greatest ration of the Holy Spirit. The mark given for this ambitious foray is naught – zero marks – it’s a FAIL – can I get a brave witness?

I’ll tell you something, these sorts of logical inconsistencies will continue to serve as barriers to entry for some sense-loving people, and eventually it is these glaring cracks that may lead to the final nail in the coffin for this terrible opium addiction. As a society embracing 21st century hindsight and foresight, we ought to call spades with these kinds of things. We cannot stand pat and watch idly as people suffer capricious abuse by charlatans who take people’s money by conjuring religious feats of dubious veracity, all in the name of respectfully tiptoeing around religion. For this we would be on the wrong side of history.

An absurdity is an absurdity is an absurdity; and in speaking to my friends who are regarded in some circles as ‘mature’ in faith, I was advised to “exercise unshakable faith and an unquestioned belief”. To this, one witty Douglas Adams was apt when he asked: “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”

Indeed, in closing this curious moment, Friedrich Nietzsche was onto something when he lamented that “convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies”, except in this case we may never know whether it was all a conviction or an outright lie. It makes little difference anyway – or is the difference little? It is reported that Florentina has since repented from taking walks on the dark side of the force, and is now toeing the righteous line of God.


  • Gareth Setati holds a masters degree in electrical engineering and qualifications in business management and economics. He is a graduate of the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute and is currently pursuing further studies there. He works in the Communications Service Provider industry involved with systems and software engineering.


Gareth Setati

Gareth Setati holds a masters degree in electrical engineering and qualifications in business management and economics. He is a graduate of the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute and is currently...

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