Friday, December 15, 2006

At the Apex of Holiday Giving

Onward, Christian Soldiers!

Time to bring out those Bibles and start our conversions- I’m feeling charitable! Next time I’m at the mall I think I’ll visit the Angel Tree, as there are plenty of needy poverty-stricken children who would love a shiny new leather Bible. Yippee Mom! Look what I got! Tis’ the season of giving, so surely these sinners will be eternally grateful- especially for the rescuing of their children’s souls from the fires of hell. All praise Billy Graham!

This, fellow bloggers, is not anything new. Christian Missionaries have been playing this game for centuries. These religious zealots trick indigenous people to “convert” under the guise of providing humanitarian aid. Now, I’m not saying humanitarian aid isn’t appreciated and needed, but it comes with a price. It’s the old “nothing is for free in this world” philosophy. The problem occurs when missionaries use “aid” as a way to hook others into their beliefs. The moral issue being, aid should be provided regardless of the religious affiliation. In this situation, the tried n’ true litmus test is, oddly enough, “WWJD?” As in, HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, people, do you really think Jesus would leave someone dying on the side of the road just because they wouldn't believe what he was preaching?

If so, our beloved son of the father has some serious explaining to do, and also an entire bracelet/tee-shirt empire to salvage from the claws of hypocrisy.

After the December 26, 2004 tsunami hit eastern Asia (See Wiki entry)killing hundreds of thousands of people and uprooting many more from their homes, various humanitarian agencies from all over the world stepped in to provide aid. These people, by enlarge, were motivated by a sincere need to serve. However, there were also missionaries who, bent on spreading the good word, used every opportunity to shove a Bible down their throats.
See an article below written in January just after the Tsunami hit, which shows the outrage many “potential convertees’” must’ve felt when missionaries approached them.

Conversion Attempts in a Time of Grief
By: Shobha Warrier in Nagapattinam January 24, 2005 15:45 IST

When I entered one of the rows of temporary shelters built for tsunami victims in Pattancherry village in Nagapattinam, I witnessed a minor scuffle in a corner.
Some inmates had surrounded a Christian priest and two nuns, and a war of words was going on.

"We are Hindus and we want to live as Hindus. Why do you want to convert us?" some young men shouted at the missionaries.

The priest said, "We are not here to convert people. We were only offering prayers for your peace of mind."

But flashing some pamphlets distributed among them by the three, the inmates snorted, "What does this mean?"

The priest had no answer.

"Why do you enter our houses and pray?," they asked. "Your nuns do this when our women are alone at home. We know how to pray."

The young men were extremely furious. The priest was unruffled.
The scuffle went on till the three were forced to leave the place.

Day two:
As I was visiting the areas close to the sea that were badly affected by the tsunami waves, I saw another angry scene outside another temple in another village.
Police jeeps were seen parked outside the temple in Samandapettai. So was a van.
Villagers were complaining to the police about a missionary group to which the van belonged.

They said the group had taken away to another place their belongings and the relief they had got from nongovernmental organisations and the government, which they had kept inside the temple, because they refused to listen to its missionaries.
"They want to try their luck at some other place. Since we resisted, they took away our things. We won't allow this to happen," they said. "Why don't you arrest all of them?" the villagers asked the police.

The villagers' torrent of angry words continued. "We have lost everything to the sea. They said they would help us if we followed their religion. What logic is this? Are they here to help us or change our religion?" The police couldn't cool their tempers.

The group said it did not take away the belongings of the villagers and insisted that the contents inside the van belonged to it.

That evening, some villagers came with the news that the police had arrested the priest they had confronted the previous day.

"He shouldn't be doing this when we are grieving, when we are suffering. Everything has its time and place," a villager said.

When I wanted to talk to the panchayat president and locals of the Karakkalmedu village at Karaikkal, they called me inside the village temple. That was where they met outsiders. The temple has become the centre of activity in the village.
Before we started talking, one of them opened the door to the sanctum and pointed to a mark left by the strong tsunami waves. They told me that water stopped at the feet of their deity and then receded. "We might have suffered, but our Goddess saved us."
This belief had taken the villagers all the more closer to their deity.

"That is why it hurts us when others come and tell us that it was because of our God and our belief that we suffered. We won't let anyone exploit us when we are down," the panchayat members asserted.

Shobha Warrier in Nagapattinam January 24, 2005 15:45 IST

This is, of course, preposterous. The logic here being, “Hey, everything you love including people, possessions, cities, culture ect… has been destroyed, how about a Bible?” I may have slapped a nun or priest at that point. In the words of Dave Chapelle, “Am I gonna have to punch a bitch?” How offensive. I, myself, knowing too well how insensitive others can be during the grieving process, wouldn’t have been surprised at the missionary’s opportunist actions. Nevertheless, Christian or not, we all should at the very least have a shred of compassion for our fellow human beings. One would expect more from these saintly so called “servants of God.”

My father, a self-proclaimed “servant of God”, often used his beliefs as way to manipulate and control others. Hooking others under the guise of “saving souls” while in same breath announcing the sinners would burn. The sinners, of course, being anyone who didn’t believe what he was preaching. My sisters and I worked hard for his approval, believing our mythical charismatic father had all the answers about the universe in his hands. Children, especially, are vulnerable in the face of these unfounded religious beliefs, their young minds ready to be molded to create the values their adult lives are to be based on. Whether our parents or missionaries infect us with these poisonous beliefs, the result is the same, needless suffering and heartache with even less compassion to go around.

How about putting down the Bibles to actually help someone? How about instead of protesting in front of Planned Parenthood (which does absolutely nothing for living breathing children) we volunteer to be a big brother/big sister to a child, help out at the banquet, or even pay attention to our children when they need us- what a concept! Gees, I didn’t know it could be that easy. Silly me.

The Holiday’s are a perfect time to get off of our lazy butts, put the peanut brittle down, and do something constructive. Let’s use our time, dollars, and energy wisely. Give the gift that keeps on giving- compassion.

These days I’m loving all the feisty redheads out there, you go Bonnie Raitt!- give’em something to talk about.

Bonnie Raitt-Unnecessarily Mercenary

You’re just into looking after #1
Only thing you worry ‘bout is having your fun
First sign of trouble and it’s understood
You’ll get going while the going’s still good
You’re so very unnecessarily mercenary

You’re a secret agent got a hidden agenda
Got me in your sights, think I’m a real big spender
Stick around baby pretty soon you’ll see
I ain’t got no money but my love’s for free
You’re so very unnecessarily mercenary

You’re a gun for hire when a war breaks out
Loving on the front line ‘til the money runs out
Finger on the trigger, baby pull it and see
If your mercenary tactic’s gonna work on me

You’re so very unnecessarily mercenary
So very unnecessarily mercenary