Sunday, June 28, 2009

More Death and How to Talk

Okay, almost done with this topic. I think I provided this link before. The writer of it is a librarian. He has a lot of information at his hands. At some point information has to be interpreted. He seems to be pretty good at that too. Evaluate the above link for yourself, I won’t give my opinion on the conclusions. Also, just click around, it’s a great site.

I will reproduce a list he has of how to evaluate who is culpable for all the killing throughout history. When I was young I once said, “More killing has been done in the name of God than anything else.” I said it because I had heard it, not because I had actually counted it up. This guy has done the counting! But, how do you decide what category to put your counts. If you were counting deaths by Christians, here are some questions to ask:

1. Were the perpetrators Christian?
2. Were the perps from a traditionally Christian society?
3. Was the Christianity mainstream?
4. Was the conflict mostly religious?
5. Was the conflict partly religious?

He has more detailed definitions of these if you follow the link.

In the heat of an argument, many people, even people who are otherwise reasonable, will take a “yes” answer to anyone of these and say that proves the point. One “No” answer usually does not win such an argument. Like I said, the guy who came up with this is a librarian, if you want to go have a shouting match in a library, you go ahead, I’ll be here writing about his 5 point scale of death tolls.

Someone recently said that anytime you bring Hitler into an argument, you’ve automatically lost. As in, “well, oh yeah, would you have given Hitler’s Mom an abortion, huh, did he have a right to life?” But I’m not arguing, just blogging. If you read the whole page in the above link, you’ll see he gives World War II 2 points and puts it in the “Christians are Not Guilty” part of the graph.

The Holocaust is a special case because of Christianity’s history of anti-Semitism. He puts it in the gray area, but right at the top. Not stated here, but very important, is that each action must be viewed in its time. That is, I don’t consider myself anti-Semitic, but I have to acknowledge that it is part of my ancestral history and part of an institution that I choose to associate with. This gets worse the farther back you go. A common reason people have for abandoning their faith is that they read the book of Leviticus. It’s nasty.

Going to church on Sunday neither condones the actions of people who went to the same church 50 years of 5,000 years ago, nor does it require that you follow the rules that those people followed 50 or 5,000 years ago. If that were true, then you also have to apply that rule to every government and ethnic group and then we would all be guilty. And that may be a good way to look at it. We are all responsible for dealing with the mess that our ancestors left us, and all of us have ancestors somewhere back there that did something atrocious. It’s at least easier than trying to claim that some of us are innocent and holding trails for everyone in our family tree to prove it.

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