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Things Fall apart - The Clan's Beliefs and Christian Beliefs
There are many differences between the Clan's beliefs and Christian's beliefs. This is illustrated on pages 126-129, in the mention of `the one true god.' Both the tribe and the Missionaries have different perceptions on who this one true god is. The clan has trouble understanding the Christian beliefs as they have lived a tribal existence for so long. They have only ever been aware of their own culture, which makes it hard for them to adjust to the ways of the Christians.
On arrival, the missionaries barely understand the tribe. They have very little knowledge of the cultural beliefs or rituals that the tribe revere. It seems inappropriate that they are willing to declare that the villagers' beliefs are false. "He told them that they worshipped false gods, gods of wood and stone." They don't even acknowledge that this too is a successful community, which works well under its method of religious law. They take it upon themselves to change the religion or `make it civilised', not respecting the fact that maybe the villagers were already content with what they had.
The missionaries believe in one supreme god. This god is the 'creator of all the world and all the men and women who inhabit the Earth'. They believe that all men go for judgement before him when they die, and that all men who worship `false gods of wood and stone' would be thrown into a fire `that burned like palm oil.' If the lord saves their soul from sin they will have eternal life in heaven with god, who is also eternal. They bury the body of the deceased in the ground, but believe their soul goes up to heaven if they have accepted the lord in their heart. The missionaries believe that Christianity is the only right religion, why else would they be so intent on conversion and spreading the word of Jesus Christ? This creates conflict with the tribe, as the Clan are content with their way of life and do not wish to change.
The Clan has a different perception when it comes to the gods.
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The tribe have lived for thousands of years in an untouched and unviolated existence. It is difficult for the tribe to adjust, as their ways are all they have ever known. If you have lived a specific way your whole life, you find it hard to adjust to sudden dramatic changes. The arrival of the missionaries and the conversion of many to the Christian faith make it very difficult for some to cope with. Especially those who choose not to convert, and have to watch as their friends/family take a different path.
This difficulty to adjust is expressed in the situation with Okonkwo and Nwoye.
The villagers barely understand the Christian faith, let alone who or what these white men are. "Stories about these strange men had grown since one of them had been killed in Abame... and so everyone came to see the white man." This puts Okonkwo in a difficult situation. Because he knows so little about the missionaries, he is unable to understand where they are coming from. Therefore he views them as fools and chooses not to convert.
He is also very resistant to the onset of the missionaries, as they have the potential to undermine the lifelong work of the clan to please its gods and ancestors. If the tribe was to convert, all his hard work and sacrifices, (eg. the killing of Ikemefuna whom he had loved as a son), and the struggle he made to clear his father's name, would all have been in vain. We understand his feeling of absolute betrayal as he watches his son Nwoye transfer and join the missionaries. He doesn't see how Nwoye can just give up his beliefs for a religion with values that seems laughable.
Nwoye however, sees the Missionaries as more compassionate, so he finds understanding them far less difficult. We see most of the new converts as people who had no place in Ibo society, therefore wreaking benefit from this new religion. Because everyone is seen as equals in Christianity, they would be accepted, making it far easier for them to understand the missionaries.
However this lack of understanding between the remainder of the tribe can be seen as the only matter holding them apart. If both groups were willing to accept and understand each other, rather than trying to rule each other out, we would see a lot more progress.
There are many differences between the Clan's beliefs and Christian's beliefs. This is illustrated in the mention of `the one true god.' Both the tribe and the Missionaries have different perceptions on who this one true god is. The clan has trouble understanding the Christian beliefs as they have lived in an untouched tribal existence for so long. They have only ever been aware of their own culture, which makes it hard for them to adjust to the ways of the Christians.