Although described with great absurdity, many of the quirky statements found in the first half of Tales of the Tikongs are actually quite relatable, particularly the descriptions regarding the religious institution of the Tikongs. Read from the perspective of a Loyola University student, they are almost even more hilarious, but also laced with a twinges of guilt at thought that these ridiculous things actually are more commonplace than we would like to think. By traveling to this strange island, we actually end up learning more about ourselves.
The opening chapter of the book presents us with a number of significant facts about the religion of the Tikongs. Right away, we learn that Tiko is completely opposite from other Christians; “Thus if the Lord works six days and rests on the Seventh, Tiko rests six days and works on the Seventh” (1). We later learn that this “work” that the Tikongs perform each Sunday is actually attending church every two hours. While at church, the primary goal for Sione, and probably for many of us, is to make up for the sins he has committed that week. Hau’ofa describes him as “a self-confessed sinner who goes to church every Sunday mainly to ask God’s forgiveness for his many, many errors” (1).
Forgiveness is vital to the Tikongs’ society; “it is the Christian virtue most ardently sought and most freely bestowed in the realm” (10). Any Christian here at Loyola might originally agree that the concept of forgiveness is one of the most important aspects of religion, as well they should. Hau’ofa takes forgiveness to an extreme however, describing characters who have forgiven the ancestors of their friends for insulting their own ancestors, or those corrupt businessmen who retained their jobs because all was forgiven and over with. Faced with these examples, that same Loyola Christian might start to think twice about exactly how forgiveness works. Rather than a weekly list of what we’ve done wrong, and will undoubtedly do wrong again, or a simple apology for a misstep of epic proportions and expecting to get away with it all, forgiveness should hold a more special place in people’s relationships with God and with each other. Not to sound preachy, but forgiveness is supposed to take a great deal of personal thought on the part of the confessor as well as the forgiver. A casual statement or weekly reiteration of the same sins does not quite cover the whole goal of forgiveness.
The Tikongs are more like us than we may think at the start of the book. A final humorous example of this occurs during the description of the Sunday ritual. Hau’ofa writes, “Throughout the Seventh Day the Lord is praised, the Lord is flattered, and the Lord is begged. Though perhaps the Lord doesn’t hear if it’s His day off” (2). At some point in our lives, I’m sure we have all questioned how exactly God can be everywhere at once, listening to everyone’s prayers all the time. That last statement makes a good supporting point for the doubters among us; if Sunday is truly a day of rest, isn’t God resting too? How can He be present at all of our 10am Sunday services? Despite their odd brand of Christianity, the Tikongs do manage to keep believing in their God and continue giving Him His deserved one day a week. Taking this into account, doesn’t their faith make the Tikongs not quite so “opposite” and bizarre after all?