many brutal wars, such as the Crusades, yet also founded many hospitals and charities, proving it difficult to categorize religion as a positive or negative influence. Author Chinua Achebe acknowledges this debate in his novel Things Fall Apart. This novel takes place in Nigeria during the late 19th century and shows the Ibo tribe’s transformation after Christian missionaries arrive. Achebe suggests that Christianity can guide a society by including outcasts but can also destroy a society by breaking family values and establishing schools.
Achebe shows a positive result of the power of religion when the Christian church accepts outcasts into their community. Outcasts, also called osu, never interact with Ibo society. When two outcasts attend a service at church, the congregation raise a protest. Mr. Kiaga, the native-turned-Christian missionary, stops them and explains, “We are all children of God and we must receive these our brothers” (136). Because Mr. Kiaga “stood firm” in his “unshakable faith” (137), he convinces the church to accept the outsiders. This benefits the outcasts with a safe community for the first time. Mr. Kiaga then asks the outcasts to shave off their hair. Since osu fear razors, their matted hair signifies their low caste. Mr. Kiaga ordered, “Unless you shave off the mark of your heathen belief I will not admit you into the church” (137). Using the incentive that the outcasts will belong in a safe community at church, Mr. Kiaga convinces the osu to shave off their manes. Achebe uses these moments to illustrate how Christianity can be beneficial to the Ibo society by showing how the outcasts find a safe communi...
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...court messenger or even a court clerk” (156). Prior to the missionaries’ arrival, Ibo society had no need for schools to give better jobs. When the missionaries bring their government to Umuofia, schools trick people into falling for the new system and forgetting about their old social structure and culture. Achebe uses these ironic occurrences to display how religion may seemingly positively influence a society, but in reality pillages the Ibo people’s original culture.
Overall, Christianity can guide and destroy Ibo society by welcoming outcasts, tearing families apart, and building schools. In his novel Things Fall Apart, writer Chinua Achebe uses his novel to describe the positive and negative effects of religion.. The effects of Christianity on Ibo society can serve as a lesson to us to recognize religion as a powerful force that is both ruinous and beneficial.
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