The missionary position

Sometimes a short post is all that’s needed to convey a deep thought. And Makagutu’s posts is both.

While I do side with him on his thoughts, my own position on the matter is a little bit more complicated.

Firstly the easy bit. It think the Christian Missionary culture brought with it much that is bad. They ravaged local cultures and customs and forced those living in the lands they invade to convert to their doctrines. The side affect of this is that those who followed found it easy to pillage the occupied lands and take the wealth back to their own nation. Leaving those who knew and loved the lands worse off. I think that is a terrible legacy that is yet to be redressed.

I am a product of that which I condemn. I grew up in Zambia and spent many of my formative years cocooned within the missionary environment there. I have benefitted from it. Emotionally I love Zambia as a country, it is beautiful and those who live there are beautiful. Humans and other animals, all of them are beautiful.

It’s been more years than I care to admit since I visited and I miss the country still. I miss the dust and the smell of rain and the many sounds and the fabulous food.

Yet, much of what I love is tainted by the knowledge of injustice that took me there. Injustice that I once supported. Injustice that I once thought was godly and right. Injustice that in some small way was carried out by my own family line. it is done, it is past and I can do nothing about that. Sometimes that knowledge hurts.

Without that, I could never have seen some of the wonders I have seen. I would not have the memories that lead me to call the Victoria Falls my favourite place on earth. A name that itself is a product of that culture.

I was taught that those who died making first contact in the spread of the gospel were heroes and martyrs. There are Christians today who still think that.

I can only shake my head in disbelief, tainted with a small amount of shame.

Random thoughts

In this post I wrote, following, Professor Makau Mutua, that indigenous religions should be protected against the proselytizing religions, that is, Christianity and Islam.

Those of you who don’t live under rocks have heard about the missionary, John Chau, who met a not very good fate when he went to spread the not so good news of chesus to guys who were not interested.

Maybe had my ancestors meted the same treatment to early missionaries, the profile of our world would be different. If the missionaries believe their god is everywhere and can perform miracles, I would suggest they pray and fast, while at home, and ask the gods they pray to to convert whoever it is they are interested in saving from a death that meets us all.

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Creationism – Still a problem for Christianity

Here in the UK, the main publisher of Christian content is Premier Christianity. They do radio broadcasts, podcasts, a magazine and host various blogs.

This week they published a pair of blog items that were guaranteed to grab my attention.

https://www.premierchristianity.com/Blog/10-questions-to-ask-a-young-earth-creationist
https://www.premierchristianity.com/Blog/10-questions-to-ask-Christians-who-believe-in-evolution

The ten questions for Creationists are:

1. Can we start by agreeing that the Gospel is more about the Rock of Ages than the ages of rocks?
2. Does the age of the earth – or its shape – matter to a Christian?
3. Does the Bible teach that the earth is spherical?
4. How could people in 1000 BC grasp the idea of geological time?
5. Does the Bible always speak in a direct literal way?
6. Why do you assume that animal death only began to happen after Adam ate the fruit?
7. Is young earth creationism the traditional Christian view?
8. Were early geologists opposed to Christianity and did they use their geology to undermine belief?
9. Did Christians oppose old earth geology in the past?
10. Why do you claim that so many geologists in the last 350 years got their geology wrong?

The ten questions for those who accept evolution are:

1. If the Bible was your only source, would you ever suggest that Jesus Christ used evolution?
2. Why do you believe rocks containing thorns are millions of years old?
3. Why would you believe that Jesus the Creator used such processes to create the world, and then hypocritically declared it to be “very good”? (Genesis 1:31)
4. Why would God use a process which favours the strong over the weak?
5. How do you reconcile the truth of God’s word with millions of years?
6. At what point did humans become humans?
7. Was Jesus mistaken?
8. How can we trust God?
9. If evolution is true, then why didn’t God simply tell us that?
10. What would the Apostle Paul make of the theory of evolution?

Some of the questions (like Creationist question no.3) look to me like ‘softballs’, unserious questions designed to allow a standard response to a common internet meme. Given the majority readership of these posts is likely to be Christians, this seems like a waste of a question. Why not present a question that promotes deeper dialog between different Christian factions? I for one am not interested in this sort of question, it’s not challenging.

I’m also disappointing by the depth of the answers to the questions, they are all brief and only cover the the question superficially when some of them (like evolution question no.5) deserve much longer answers. Maybe what should have been done is cover each question in a single blog post and allow a bit of dialogue between the two individuals involved in the questions. That would have been my preference anyway.

Questions aside, it’s the public comments below that have produced the most heat. I have weighed in with my own views and predictably ran into the expected presuppositionalist telling me what it is I believe. I find those highly irritating and it is always a test of patience to remain civil in my replies.

As is to be expected, the more thoughtful comments come from the Christians who accept an old earth and some form of evolution and the more antagonistic comments are from the creationists, who espouse a much more literal version of the bible accounts. Sadly, they don’t continue their biblical literalism into the verses that talk about loving your neighbour and witnessing with respect and gentleness.

Oddly, I find myself welcoming the terrible comments from Creationists, not because I enjoy reading what they say, I don’t. I welcome the comments because it permits the rotten part of Christianity to expose itself. The more this literal and unloving section of Christianity floats to the surface and spews it’s bile, the more people will be turned away from it and be unconvinced by its claims. The clutter and chaos created by the creationists acts as an inoculation against the more attractive aspects of Christianity. Because at the very core, Christianity is still a myth trying very hard to be taken seriously and Creationism reveals that in the most effective way possible.