“The missionaries go forth to Christianize the savages – as if the savages weren’t dangerous enough already.”
Edward Abbey

This quote always makes me chuckle, but then I realize the truth behind this statement. I think one of the greatest achievements of any empire, individual, or institution is the Christian movement. The Christians have successfully spread the Word to every inch of this world, and not always peacefully. It is truly amazing if you think about it, but is this necessarily a good thing? If you look back through history you will find many religions snuffed out by the Christian movement. Many of these religions were taken out during the various inquisitions. I remember reading this large encyclopedia on the world religions past and present. I kept on finding a common theme for why these religions are still not around today. Catholicism and Christianity converted them and like I said before not always peacefully.

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”
Edward Abbey

When I read this quote and ponder on it I think of the show Star Trek. In Star Trek one of their major rules is to not interfere with lesser civilizations. They would go through great pains to not make themselves known. They did this because as a civilization these primitive people were not ready for such knowledge. If you were flying through space and came across a world where they just invented fire well then these people are not ready to have the knowledge of knowing there are people with giant ships and death rays. They did this because they did not want to interfere with the natural progression of these people. I think the same can be said about tribes in the heart of Africa, or small civilizations in the rain forest. They are content with their own little niche in this world. I understand the Christians motives; part of their belief is they are responsible for spreading the Word of God. I think the Christians could have learned a few things from Star Trek. The “savages” have their beliefs and who are we to try and take that from them. Imagine for a second that the Taliban went out as the Christians did to the savages and preached their beliefs. Within a very short order you would have a tribes of people armed with the most deadly of tools… wayward religion. Instead of hunting and dancing by a fire they would have a new directive; they would go forth and kill the infidels.

 “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said “Let us pray.” We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”
Desmond Tutu

Like children I believe the “savages” need to discover “advanced” religion on their own time and their own terms. I do not agree with sending missionaries out to teach them of a “better” religion. How pompous are we to tell these people that our beliefs are better than theirs, and if they believe what we tell them to believe then we will bring them cool shit from America. The Muslim extremists are currently doing this, but are not just limiting themselves to savages they are trying to infiltrate as many places as they can to further their cause. I suppose I am appreciative that the Christians beat the Muslims in vastly spreading their faith. In the end I am 100% against any religion trying to manipulate their way into “converting” people. This is one of my biggest disputes when it comes to Christianity.

To end this I would like to add one final quote by Annie Dillard, which is humorous in a way yet very true. It is funny how the purpose of missionaries is to “save” the souls of those who not only don’t believe, but are not even aware of these beliefs. Gaining the knowledge of a higher power which can condemn your soul to an eternal damnation is scary shit for the “savages” to deal with. Yesterday these people where worshiping the Polar Bear God, and the Ice Princess. The missionaries awe these people with our advancements in life, and they just follow suit. Not because they are now magically saved, they are simply just gullible.   

Eskimo: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?” Priest: “No, not if you did not know.” Eskimo: “Then why did you tell me?”
Annie Dillard

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Comments
  1. E_Dragon says:

    “Then why did you tell me?”

    That is probably the best quote I have heard on religion that I have ever seen, thank you for that.

    I have some knowledge on what Christianity has meant for my First Nations Heritage and while I cannot escape the historical horrors, I am able to appreciate the level of Faith that I do see and the fact that my culture has been able to Christianity and make it our own as well. It has been incorporated into our lives while not ‘taking over’ our lives.

    Awesome post, thank you Tim.

  2. hames1977 says:

    dear tim,

    i believe this commentary you have here is a manifestation of your disappointment to what occurs to be an anomaly of christianizing the tribal groups of the world. i respect you for having written this, but as a reader, i take this opportunity to express an opinion.

    faith is the substance of things hoped for. for without it, we simply cannot understand the purpose of God in our lives. for one who truly believes is a task to reach the unreached. this is the great commission that missionaries are ought to fulfill.

    all the best to you.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      Thank you Hames.
      I just think it is wrong to infiltrate other group’s religious beliefs to supplant our own beliefs. The motives of the missionaries are far less violent than back in the day. The Bible says

      “Judge, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:”
      Luke 6:37

      There is nothing wrong with spreading the gospel, but we need to look at the measures we have taken in the past. I think in our quest to spread the word we have in sense sinned

  3. E_Dragon says:

    Religion without responsibility has lost its Faith. My opinion.

  4. Johanna says:

    Tim, I enjoyed your quotes especially the last one. I agree that in an effort to evangelize the “savages” many Catholics were cruel and unjust.
    Here’s a good quote for you: “Speak the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words”. -St. Francis
    In other words, our actions speak much louder than our words!

  5. E_Dragon says:

    In order for religion to have any meaning and merit, it requires Faith. It is almost a ying/yang sort of relationship. You can’t have one without the other. Religion without Faith is not religion, it is simply conquest.

    If you consider the atrocities that have been wrought on people in the name of religion, how can I or anyone today have Faith in something that is counterintuitive to its teachings? Be good to your fellow man unless of course you want what they have?

    I tend to steer clear of the usage of the term ‘savage’ because it is a term that is automatically used to hold down (or elevate) one culture over another. Savagery is something that is very much a human trait and to think that something like Manifest Destiny absolves anyone from savagery is purely egotistical and short sighted. Again, my opinion.

    So if you have a religion and this case I am thinking of Catholicism, how can one have faith in something that has been used as a tool to save but in fact it has only served to conquer?

    Conquer what you might ask? Individual identity and cultural identity for the most part and all that goes with said identities.

    Consider that most cultures have resources that the culture is based on. For First Nations, the resources were the land itself. Church and government wanted those resources and seeing that there was no “recognizable society” (at least none that they could understand), they saw fit to undermine the cultural identities and “save the savages” and take control of the resources for themselves.

    In order for Faith to have merit, one must believe in it. Religion for the sake of spreading the word without thought to the impact to the Peoples being impacted is irresponsible to say the least.

    It has taken me a long time to appreciate and accept religion for what it is simply because I am aware of the Residential School system that still impacts many generations some 50 years removed.

    I do have faith but not so much for historical Catholicism or any other religion that uses fundamentalist extremes (a.k.a. savagery) to get their word out.

    Religion requires responsibilty if it is to have merit, Faith.

  6. E_Dragon says:

    Well if anything, it is in the comments and after posting it and reading it again, I almost wish I had posted that in a blog of my own but I like the context with which it is right now.

    Also thank you. =)

  7. […] his blog to my blogroll here but I will wait to hear from him on that. For now, just know that this blog here inspired those words and as I have been thinking about it since I wrote it, I wanted to bring the […]

  8. E_Dragon says:

    Hey Tim, I did manage to bring the notion of Religion Without Responsibility back to my blog but in a different context. I hope you get a chance to read it.

    http://astardly.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/religion-without-responsibility/

  9. thanks for the visit, Tim. nice post. that Dillard quote is awesome.

  10. NIAC says:

    I am not contributing to the discussion: I did find you because George linked to you, and he is a very wise man.

    In the great canon of the universe of Star Trek, and I apologize in advance for representing the nerds and the socialist utopians in the same paragraph, there was absolute a “non-interference” directive. The odd thing is that had they not “thrown away the formula” on the “Enterprise” series – and it had lasted the typical-of-the-genre seven years – Gene’s vision of what exactly “Right” thinking did to another culture would have been explained. In fact, that same canon dictates that humans had so involved themselves in another culture that the disaster lead to a horrible genocide of an entire social system.

    Those ideas of what would happen do, of course, mimic history (and in Gene’s time, this was both ancient, recent and current) and to which your post eludes.

    Good read, nice job. 🙂

  11. E_Dragon says:

    Wise men are not wise unless they have people around them to bounce ideas and discussions off of. Thank you both for the kind words and insights that you have both brought to my life. =)

    Tim, I can’t help but feel like a cameleon now. LOL

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