Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Papua New Guinea Cannibal Descendant Apologies Plus Yet More Religious Guilt

I am not pro-cannibalism by any stretch of the imagination, but this story in the BBC News really got me scratching my head. A village where murders, and cannibalism, happened literally over a hundred years ago are apologizing for the murder-cannibalisms. Thousands attend.

Then, from the article:

The head of the mission, English pastor George Brown, avenged the killings by taking part in an expedition that resulted in the deaths of a number of tribespeople and the torching of several villages.

But, then:

PNG's Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane praised the early missionaries for making the country Christian - and called for more people to follow its guiding principles.

So, the villagers killing the Christian missionaries, who were Western imperialists, is bad and you need to have a reconciliation ceremony a century later but the Christians who enacted reprisals to those murders, which killed an unknown number of people but is recorded as having destroyed whole villages, are to be praised for, ironically, bringing the Ten Commandments to the island. The same commandments those missions honored more in their breach than their observance.

And where are the Methodists to come forward and say, "Golly, uh, maybe . . . village destroying reprisals was wrong." Why aren't Christians taking any responsibility for the vast suffering their cultural imperialism has inflicted on the people they "converted"? I'm not just talking cultural damage, either, but stuff like murders and villages burned -- the actual material cost of the horrors of this missionary work, work that continues to this day? Where are the Christians coming up and saying that it was a terrible thing what their ancestors did, that the work was attended with huge violence, and it was vicious and arrogant to go into other people's societies and through fraud, force and intimidation change their societies -- often, at the same time, extracting both cheap labor from the people and resources from their land? I'm not going to hold my breath for that one.

Still, it caught my attention of the fundamental hypocrisy of Christianity. The people who were viciously colonized by Christians are apologizing because they violently resisted colonialization, they praise the people who invaded them, killed their people, destroyed their culture, but Christians are silent about what they did to the people they attacked, killed and whose cultures they destroyed.


Sir James Beiggelschwarz said...

You're a bit late on this, HH - we all blogged on it a week ago.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hypocritical indeed. and all these apologies aren't going to bring anyone back? James, does it matter if it's a "bit late" if it's a good post? I didn't realise we were in a race.

L>T said...

Chris? where are ya? I miss your posts.

Stew said...

A bit late?
This is the first I heard of it.

Norfolk Blogger said...

And descendents of people should not have to apologise for the actions of people that they had no control over.

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