Friday, July 07, 2006

No Comment.

There is a blog that I am currently following that I felt compelled to comment on: The post is here. The article as you can see is celebrating a well-known missionary. As you might expect, I have some strong feelings about missionary practice(as well as many about the idea of Christian persecution), so I decided to comment. I pointed out my feelings that missionaries have been responsible for many atrocities for many hundreds of years, but also responsible for the destruction of cultures that were thriving and valid. Now whether or not they agree, it is immaterial, but as is typical, my comments were removed, because as we know devoutly religious people are often afraid to have any real discourse or suffer opposing viewpoints gladly. My belief is that it causes them to think critically and that conflicts with their programming - especially when they encounter things their do not have pre-programmed answers for. But more specifically, I think that believing that you are God's gift (literally), does not really leave you the possibility of being open to the idea that you are not. But, this is not an unusual situation for your pal Rudicus, I have often lost rants, thoughtful questions and eloquent responses in the name of purity of thought in Christian based websites. Fortunately on this particular site, a very nice person actually asked for my thoughts and why I was so opposed to missionary practice, and if I felt the same way about immunization programs etc. I wanted to share my answer here (just in case that too is erased):

Kendall, thank you for your thoughtful questions and open attitude. I would like to point out that a perfect example of my reasons for being against missionary practice can be seen in this very discussion. You will notice my original comments have been removed from the site - thus no real discussion can continue. If we are not open to differing viewpoints we are doomed to not learn anything - on either end, and all this does is perpetuate conflict and misunderstanding.

Now despite the fact that my views and beliefs have already been disrespected, I will endeavor to answer your questions.

In truth, I feel much the same way about immunizations and operations of that nature as I do about missionaries, because they have much the same impact.

When immunization and modernization programs come to indigenous people they have the unfortunate effect of destroying culture as well.

This happens for one reason - the belief that there is only one right way to do things. That belief is shared by most missionaries as well as most western medical practitioners as well as governments.

The problem is that it is not only not true, but it does not allow for the things that are different but equally positive about the culture.

A spiritual practice of a particular culture may have elements that are both profound and inspiring, but we will never know because they were not Christian practices, therefore they must be eradicated - mostly without ever looking at those practices to see their value.

The Maya had one of the most accurate calendars in history as well as some profound advances in medicine and architecture, not to mention art - but most people will never know that, nor will we ever know because their culture was destroyed because it was a "heathen" culture.

The same goes for immunization programs - often times those immunizations come to eradicate diseases that didn't exist in those cultures before their contact with Europeans or Americans.

We will never know what incredible spiritual, cultural or medicinal practices may have transformed our world because they were destroyed because the destroyers thought they knew the one right way.

It is that very lack of openness that is the true sin. To believe that your way of living, medicine or belief is the one right way or worse the ONLY right way is unmitigated arrogance and vanity and to me is profoundly unchristian.

If God made the world and everyone in it then he made these peoples and their cultures as well - to subvert their culture for your own in the name of God or for any other reason is the same as saying that you know better than God what is right.

Even if people die from disease or are never introduced to Christianity they have a right to live their lives in that way without interference.

Much in the same way that I'm sure you would be unwilling to change if armies of missionaries armed with literature and passionate belief came to this country and fervently tried to convert you and your church to Buddhism or homosexuality.

And that's why I cannot support of view as a hero anyone who's sole aim is to subvert another's life in favor of their own beliefs - no matter how altruistic they may be.

There you have it. Thank you to Kendall for being open. As always, I invite your comments whatever they may be. And remember: Don't Prosthelytize, Disorganize!

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