Feb 26, 2006

Christian Mob Kills Muslims

You have heard that it was said,
"An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."

But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil;
but whoever slaps you on your right cheek,
turn him the other also.

MATTHEW 5:38-9

To members of the Nigerian Igbo tribe, I have to ask, how's that "turn the other cheek" thing workin' out for you?

AN enraged mob of Nigerian Christian youths has slaughtered dozens of Muslims in two days of rioting in the southern city of Onitsha.

Rioting broke out in the lawless trading town on the banks of the Niger River yesterday when members of the Igbo tribe launched revenge attacks in response to an earlier massacre of Christians in the north of the country.

Nineteen corpses were seen scattered by the side of the main road into the city across the Niger River bridge, where a contingent of soldiers had set up a roadblock to hold back hundreds of rioters armed with clubs and machetes.

The bodies had been beaten, slashed and in some cases burnt. Around the bloodied corpses lay scattered the caps and Islamic prayer beads associated with the northern Hausa tribe.

It gets better.

"Some of them had been beheaded, others had had their genitals removed. I saw one boy holding a severed head with blood dripping from it," he said.

I don't mean to be flip, but it does give the lie to that whole "religion of peace" idea. I know what you're saying. This is a skirmish among Nigerian tribesmen; an atrocity committed by people whose Christian conversion just hasn't permeated their more ancient tribal differences. I don't know enough about the history of these tribes to say what other cultural factors are at play. I do know enough about the Christian Bible to say that it does not instill the values of peace and forgiveness.

But if there is any further injury,
they you shall appoint as a penalty

life for life,eye for eye, tooth for tooth,
hand for hand, foot for foot,
burn for burn,
wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

EXODUS 21: 23-5

And if a man injures his neighbor,
just as he has done so it shall be done to him:

fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth;
just as he has injured man,
so it shall be inflicted on him.
LEVITICUS 24:19-20

Thus you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye,
tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

So, one could argue that our Igbo brothers were simply following a different Biblical directive. Christianity is anchored in a time of tribal warfare and an ethic that is by most modern standards, barbaric. To quote Joseph Campbell:

[The Bible is] the most over-advertised book in the world. It's very pretentious to claim it to be the word of God, or accept it as such and perpetuate this tribal mythology, justifying all kinds of violence to people who are not members of the tribe.

The thing I see about the Bible that's unfortunate is that it's a tribally circumscribed mythology. It deals with a certain people at a certain time. The Christians magnified it to include them. It then turns this society against all others, whereas the condition of the world today is that this particular society that's presented in the Bible isn't even the most important. This thing is like a dead weight. It's pulling us back because it belongs to an earlier period. We can't break loose and move into a modern theology.

One of the great promises of mythology is, with what social group do you identify? How about the planet? To say that the members of this particular social group are the elite of God's world is a good way to keep that group together, but look at the consequences! I think that what might be called the sanctified chauvinism of the Bible is one of the curses of the planet today.

1 comment:

Sari Friedman said...

This article's excellent.