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February 25, 2006


drew Roberts

Something is missing.

It seems that in this view, "Christianity" is something native to Western Europe. Isn't it the case that "Christianity" did to Europe's previous religions just what it is being accused of doing to that of others?

I could say more, but I will leave it simple to see what develops from this thought.

all the best,



This is all fascinating, especially when tied to Nicolette Bethel's recent Guardian article asking whether "Wendy's" is "a part a we cultcha". (Is spaghetti Italian? Or Chinese?)

Much of the present discussion seems coloured by contemporary fashion which does not smile on anyone in the "intelligentsia" speaking positively of Christianity - or colonialism. There can be nothing positive in either, can there?

Both the pessimistic "any time in the past was better than the present" and the incredibly arrogant "we are living in the most enlightened times in history" are patently wrong. The latter seems to be what drives much of the condemnatory comments in this discussion. The former is behind a lot of the rebuttal.

One of the main reasons Christianity was so successful in the first century C.E. [trying hard to be PC here!] was that it blasted through the social restrictions on slaves and women among other things (just to narrow the range down a bit) which were a huge part of the Greco/Roman civilization of the day.

And there is soooo much more to consider before casting our views in concrete ...

Can we really equate "judeo-christian" culture with "Christianity"?

Does "colonialism" really equal Christianity?

What part did William Wilberforce play in the abolition of slavery? What absolutely DROVE him to his position? Was there anything "colonial" about what he did ... how he worked out his convictions?

What about Shusako Endo's take on on Christianity in Japan? Read "Silence" and "Deep River" (among others) by Japan's leading modern (Christian!) novelist.

Why are various branches of Christianity growing so quickly in parts of Africa, Korea, China, Latin America? What do they offer that their new adherents crave? Is it simply neo-colonial or something much deeper?

To be intellectually honest we must consider the other side of the question where one can find historical sociologist Rodney Stark's very accessible body of work. He began his career from a decidedly agnostic position on religion (though I don't know if that's where he's at today - he teaches at Baylor FWIW). Some of his books include "THE RISE OF CHRISTIANITY"(quite old), the fascinatingly titled "FOR THE GLORY OF GOD: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery" (can anyone say "even-handed"?) and "THE VICTORY OF REASON: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism & Western Success" (which kind of flies in the face of some of the back and forth in this discussion).

As to cultures which have been transformed by [non-culturally specific] Christianity, I would prefer to leave judgement in the hands of that culture itself as to whether it is a net positive or negative. We might well lament the passing of certain elements of an imagined idyllic existence in the Amazon rain forest ... but if you've lost your husband/wife, child, mother, father, etc. to inter-tribal warfare, you might have a different take on things!

And don't let's start on why most indigenous Latin Americans so quickly fed at the "colonial" trough! Suffice it to say it wasn't the size of the invading armies.

Bottom line: If what one wants is an amorphous entity on which to attach all the evils of society as well as the personal suffering and discontent of one's own life and that of everyone else, Christianity is a great target! It doesn't fight back nowadays, and it's not fashionable to defend it. So is "Colonialism". These are wonderful wellsprings for the nihilistically inclined.

On the other hand, none of it explains the ills, attitudes or mores of contemporary Bahamian society - which as Mr. Allen makes clear, is NOT a monolith by any means.

If we remain ignorant of history ... the WHOLE story ... we are indeed condemned to re-live it.

Global Warrior

Being away from the Bahamas, I was unaware of the article in question. However, I commend Bahamians for having the tenacity and wisdom to discuss and deal with the racism that existed (and exists) in our country. Far too often we stick our heads in the sand on the issue, and now we can improve and learn from our history and present condition. America hasn't truly dealth with slavery, thus, other problems continue to rise up. Similarly, for the Bahamas to develop fully, we must address the UBP, racism and the fact that after such revelation, Bahamians of all hues should unite and work cohesively together.

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