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  • "Flavors" of religion and cultural interaction.

    I was watching the VOM presentation Underground Reality - Vietnam, which chronicles the journey of Christian teenagers from America and Australia as they go to Vietnam to smuggle Bibles for the underground church there. After hearing stories of the persecution and seeing it's effects I was somewhat depressed and I tossed Rambo 2 into the DVD player. After an hour and a half of watching Stallone stab, burn, shoot, explode, and in other creative manners otherwise terminate with extreme prejudice an NVA company and a few Soviet advisors (wouldn't Chinese advisors have been more realistic? ) I felt better.

    Then something occured to me. I fall into the category of a meat eating, flag waving, drinking soda right out of a 2 liter bottle kind of freedom lover who always gets a kick out of seeing liberty's size 12 kick straight into the collective backsides of communism, fundamentalism, and facism. But this is at complete odds with the average values of the eastern Christians VOM supports. And it always has been. Throughout history there have been two distinct cultures of Christianity (not restricted to denomination) and they are geographically restricted to East and West.

    Throughout history eastern Christians have always been pacifistic and western Christians more militant. Eastern Christians, with few exceptions, in the regions of Asia, Eurasia, and the Middle East have always borne persecution with a stoic nonviolent front. When persecuted, eastern Christians tell their persecutors about Jesus. This stands in direct contrast with western Christians who, when persecuted are much more likely to send their persecutors to Jesus directly.

    I started to wonder why. This is a possible theory:

    This might be a stereotype, please alert me if it is, but it has seemed to me that the Eastern mentality and Western mentality are distinctly different in the following way. The Western mentality is more problem solving oriented, whereas the Eastern cultural philosophy is more introspective. This could explain the vast technological gulf between the two cultures. An easterner who encounters a bump in the road seeks to learn from the bump in the road whereas a westerner looks for a way to fix the bump.

    As these cultures intermixed with Christian theology, two distinct patterns began to emerge. The westerners, who see persecution as a problem to be solved, respond with military force to end persecution. The easterners, seeing persecution as a life lesson, seek to gain wisdom from it. When told to be compassionate, westerners respond with compassion to victims and with righteous anger to the victimizers. Eastern Christians, on the other hand, respond with compassion to the persecutors, who they feel are squandering their lives away and who they mourn for as hell bound.

    Am I on to something here?

    This brought another train of thought.

    This isn't the only instance of cultural interaction producing different "flavors" of religion. I find it interesting that both Catholicism and Protestantism have power structures that emulate the popular power structures at the time of their foundation. Catholic power structure closely resembles the power structures of the latter Roman and Holy Roman Empires. Protestantism, especially in America, is more independant, each church functions similar to a city state and has a more democratic system of government. It is no coincidence that the 30 Years War not only pitted Catholic against Protestant, but Royalist against Parliamentarian, both respectively aligned.

    What do you all think?
    A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

  • #2
    Don't be so sure of that...

    During the early Christian history, at the time of Roman Empire, many Christians suffered horrible persecutions, and they didn't send their tormentors to Jesus!

    My viewpoint is completely different from yours.

    I firmly believe it has to do with the false teachings of Roman Catholicism. In the beginning, the early Christian churches were not divided and had a close fellowship with each other. It was not until 251 AD when many churches split from each other, because some Christians viewed the compromises some other made in face of persecution were unacceptable and contrary to what the Bible taught on. From that point on, many unsaved people joined or became members of said churches solely on the basis of infant baptism, which is obviously a false doctrine. Thus, unsaved people with no Holy Spirit indwelling naturally had worldly philosophies and were sinners with no real intent of following the biblical teachings closely at all.

    Because of Constantine the Great's famous edict, the formerly persecuted Christian churches became the most powerful force due to the fact they were now joined together with the power of secular authorities. Many Christians abhorred the marriage of church and state, and it was made worse when Constantine demanded they be brought under the control. So they were now persecuted by fellow "Christians"! Catholics believed there was no salvation outside of their Roman Catholic Church, and all world must be brought under its control in according to postmillennial kingdom philosophy. That is how warring Christian mentality came into existence. God never intended early Christians to be warriors and forces joined together with the states to bring the entire world under submission to Christ's authority.

    I'll explain more on this one as soon as I have time. I have to go to a bible study tonight. I'm excited, because this is my favorite subject to debate on, hold on that thought, will ya?

    Thanks.

    Dan
    Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

    "Aim small, miss small."

    Comment


    • #3
      Religion is ultimately nothing more or less than a profound personal belief system. Anything or anyone that seeks to oppress the beliefs of others is operating under an extremely deluded belief in their own superiority while simultaneously deluding themselves that it is somehow "right" or "proper" to persecute anyone who believes differently.

      It is said that there is no religious freedom under a political dictatorship, and no political freedom under a religious one.

      One of the things that force demonstrates very ably is that personal religious belief, even if it becomes the State as it does in the Middle East, is no match for the beliefs of others who harbor a different viewpoint. Allah does not, in fact, offer any protection from incoming fire, and a MOAB doesn't really care what religion you were in the micro-second before it went off.

      I don't actually accept your point, however, that those in religion-dominated cultures tend to "seek to understand" much of anything. Predominantly, they just persecute everyone who doesn't believe as they do while blindly following the will of their self-appointed priests/leaders/whatever.

      Anyone who truly believes in a Superior Being - a "god" if you prefer - should still be intelligent enough to questioon why his diety doesn't tolerant anyone who is different in anyway, which would ultimately lead that person to start wondering how all those other religions got started in the first place in a perfect world controlled by his own personal diety.

      The other little-mentioned problem with dominating religions is that they tend to lead to cultural stagnation. Change becomes anathema to those who interpret the Words of The God, and so it becomes a crime to do anything new. The Muslim world is a case in pouint. Once the center of learning, knowledge nad science, the Muslim world hasn't done anything useful or meaningful for the last two thousand years, and their stated goal is to regress even further to the ancient Caliphate.

      Survival in this day and age mandates a more open mind than the collective mentalities of intolerant religions and the governments and cultures they spawn. Ultimate irony is a cellphone in the hands of a Muslim, or a citizen of Viet Nam.
      Last edited by Mountain Man; 14 Sep 07, 10:35.
      Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Cheetah772 View Post
        Don't be so sure of that...

        During the early Christian history, at the time of Roman Empire, many Christians suffered horrible persecutions, and they didn't send their tormentors to Jesus!

        My viewpoint is completely different from yours.

        I firmly believe it has to do with the false teachings of Roman Catholicism. In the beginning, the early Christian churches were not divided and had a close fellowship with each other. It was not until 251 AD when many churches split from each other, because some Christians viewed the compromises some other made in face of persecution were unacceptable and contrary to what the Bible taught on. From that point on, many unsaved people joined or became members of said churches solely on the basis of infant baptism, which is obviously a false doctrine. Thus, unsaved people with no Holy Spirit indwelling naturally had worldly philosophies and were sinners with no real intent of following the biblical teachings closely at all.

        Because of Constantine the Great's famous edict, the formerly persecuted Christian churches became the most powerful force due to the fact they were now joined together with the power of secular authorities. Many Christians abhorred the marriage of church and state, and it was made worse when Constantine demanded they be brought under the control. So they were now persecuted by fellow "Christians"! Catholics believed there was no salvation outside of their Roman Catholic Church, and all world must be brought under its control in according to postmillennial kingdom philosophy. That is how warring Christian mentality came into existence. God never intended early Christians to be warriors and forces joined together with the states to bring the entire world under submission to Christ's authority.

        I'll explain more on this one as soon as I have time. I have to go to a bible study tonight. I'm excited, because this is my favorite subject to debate on, hold on that thought, will ya?

        Thanks.

        Dan
        Will do. But if I may make a quick point: I said with few exceptions and that I felt was one of them. Even then, though, Roman Christians had their wiles. The apostle Paul was not above throwing his Roman citizenship around in Judea and he knew how to lawyer his way around Roman beauracracy. While he never struck in violence he didn't sit idly by and wasn't above pulling strings - nor do I feel he should have been.

        Also some Romans did occasionally engage in violent resistance though this was not the norm. (Some eastern Christians also engage in violent resistance but this is also not the norm).
        A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by MountainMan View Post
          It is said that there is no religious freedom under a political dictatorship, and no political freedom under a religious one.
          Plus points for pithiness.

          Originally posted by MountainMan View Post
          I don't actually accept your point, however, that those in religion-dominated cultures tend to "seek to understand" much of anything. Predominantly, they just persecute everyone who doesn't believe as they do will blindly following the will of their self-appointed priests/leaders/whatever.
          I'm not sure what you mean by religion dominated. Technically all areas are religious dominated. Even the USSR. I was differentiating between Western and Eastern mentality in general.

          Originally posted by MountainMan View Post
          The other little-mentioned problem with dominating religions is that they tend to lead to cultural stagnation. Change becomes anathema to those who interpret the Words of The God, and so it becomes a crime to do anything new. The Muslim world is a case in pouint. Once the center of learning, knowledge nad science, the Muslim world hasn't done anything sueful or meaningful for the last two thousand years, and their stated goal is to regress evwen further to the ancient Caliphate.
          Actually it depends on how the religion interacts with the culture. Religion can be a source of cultural stagnation under certain interpretations or it can be an adrenaline shot. Western Europe became a dominating economic, cultural, and military powerhouse when religion was in vogue as did the Roman Empire. Clearly religion did not hurt these regions. Also while the Middle East has stagnated recently, the time when it was a place of prosperity and culture was also a time when it was under Islam. Some of it's greatest architecture came from the age of Islam.
          A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by pirateship1982 View Post
            Will do. But if I may make a quick point: I said with few exceptions and that I felt was one of them. Even then, though, Roman Christians had their wiles. The apostle Paul was not above throwing his Roman citizenship around in Judea and he knew how to lawyer his way around Roman beauracracy. While he never struck in violence he didn't sit idly by and wasn't above pulling strings - nor do I feel he should have been.

            Also some Romans did occasionally engage in violent resistance though this was not the norm. (Some eastern Christians also engage in violent resistance but this is also not the norm).
            In regards to Christian theology, the major differences between Catholics, Protestant groups and Baptists were on the basis of infant baptism and postmillennialism. With infant baptism, it was easy to believe that infants if baptized could go into Heaven anytime. Unfortunately for us, that was not what the Bible taught. The infants could not form their own beliefs, thus their baptism was for nought. They remained unsaved. Postmillennialism is a theological term that describes the belief that there is no Rapture and the way to introduce the millennial kingdom was through converting the entire world by either sword or the use of secular means. Catholics and some Protestants thought it was crucial that a country must have a state religion, or else how could it keep the control according to their own beliefs? That's how religious wars are caused.

            Please keep in your mind, we're now talking about state religions, and they are using the arms of secular authority to get things done the way they want. The marriage of state and church occurred when Constantine asked for a sign to show that he will emerge victorious before marching into the battle. Needless to say, he was victorious. Ironically, he didn't want to be baptized, because he felt he still had to cleanse all of his sins just before his death! Talk about being fooled by false teachings. Constantine was a secular king who wanted Christianity to be brought under his control, like any good politician, he set out to be a 'good' friend of the most powerful bloc within the Empire. That bloc was made up of worldly and carnal Christians with many unsaved members within their churches. Pretty soon, you have all of those unsaved members outnumbering sincere Christians, and eventually they rose in power and prestige.

            More on this when I get home by 10pm, or I will type tomorrow morning.

            Dan
            Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

            "Aim small, miss small."

            Comment


            • #7
              Tyler,

              What are Christian teenagers from the US and Australia doing in Viet Nam? To a Communist bureaucrat there is no difference in smuggling bibles or arms and ammo into his country. There are now so many Vietnamese living outside Viet Nam that THEY could easily supply all Bibles needed in Viet Nam.

              I would think that some of these dedicated young religious people could find a suitable role to play in their own communities. When the old, sick and poor are adequately taken care of, then we should be able to share our religious and philosophical views on the world scene.

              I bet no one on that show saw anything wrong with trying to convert a people of ancient religious beliefs that have worked well for them all these years.

              Pruitt
              Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

              Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

              by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by pirateship1982 View Post
                Actually it depends on how the religion interacts with the culture. Religion can be a source of cultural stagnation under certain interpretations or it can be an adrenaline shot. Western Europe became a dominating economic, cultural, and military powerhouse when religion was in vogue as did the Roman Empire. Clearly religion did not hurt these regions. Also while the Middle East has stagnated recently, the time when it was a place of prosperity and culture was also a time when it was under Islam. Some of it's greatest architecture came from the age of Islam.
                To say that Islam was the downfall of the Middle East is a little oversimplifying things. I believe the factors point more to a combination of War (the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258 CE is especially important) and the economic factors resulting from the decreased importance of the Silk road; without the trade and flow of ideas through the middle east (new european ships could reach India/Asia directly), the Arab world was denied much of the income they needed and the 'new' ideas out of China. The Ottomans could be seen as somewhat immune to the worst effects of this, but they were also close to the rapidly advancing European world and could capitalize on many of it's advances.

                And because of this economic destruction and itellectual stagnation, the cultures of the middle east (and Islam) began to form into a very conservative, reactionary interpretation of the religion.

                As for Europes technological growth/domination, religion played two major roles: the first was in the preservation of knowledge. Without dedicated Catholic monks and priests copying ancient texts, we would be at a loss for some of histories greatest works. One would remember the tale (as related to me by my Great Texts Professor) of a medieval manuscript where, at the end of the work, a monk wrote something along the lines of "I must now flee, for the Vikings are coming".

                There were also a number of great European theologians whose works are not just of christian or religious worth, but are also posses a beauty of their own. The beautiful prayers of St. Anselm, for instance, posses a beauty far beyond christianity.

                The second phase, however, saw Christianity opposed to some forms of learning and thought. The European nations in this phase advanced technologically, but they were somewhat hindered by a very closeminded religion (of the kind that seemed to dominate large sections of the world at that time: the Christian and Islamic worlds were both fairly unaccepting of "radical" thoughts).

                Really, when one considers the underground christian groups and their non-violence, one might just consider the fact that many religions, when a small minority, usually are very peaceful in their actions. Until Christianity became the state religion of Rome, you see many examples of Early Christians embracing the same stoic treatment as the Vietnamese did. One could also point to the Jews reaction to Pogroms in the medieval ages: rarely would they fight, instead they would seek to minimize conflict either by becoming even more closenit/isolated (and less visible to gentiles) or would try and escape to another region.

                Well, thats more than enough text for 1:13 in the morning.

                DoD does not sleep: he is eternally awake.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Cheetah772 View Post
                  The infants could not form their own beliefs, thus their baptism was for nought. They remained unsaved.
                  So unbaptised infants of "born agains" are not saved?

                  Anyway, the ignorance of Eastern Christianity by many here is amazing. The early church both pre and post Constatine was Orthodox, not Roman Catholic as we understand it today. I've already posted on the false doctrine of rapture so won't again. Here is the Orthodox view on baptism.

                  http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/ar...rticle7067.asp


                  To balance the very Western oriented view of church history I will post the following links:
                  http://www.orthodoxcanada.org/

                  For pirateship1982 this might be interesting:

                  http://www.orthodoxcanada.org/sciandorth/

                  Last point, that Orthodoxy has been the national and even state religion of many, some powerful (Russia and Rome) states is undeniable, one can discern this tendency even in the USA. The calls doe the USA to be a "Christian" nation and the promotion of it by the State does exist there albeit much more subtle and nuanced.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    [QUOTE=pirateship1982;762174]Plus points for pithiness.



                    "I'm not sure what you mean by religion dominated. Technically all areas are religious dominated. Even the USSR. I was differentiating between Western and Eastern mentality in general."



                    The USSR was officially atheist, so I, in turn, am not sure what you are ferrerring to, ubnless you mean that the Soviet fear of religion forced them to act as they did in oppressing it?

                    ************************************************** ******************************


                    "Actually it depends on how the religion interacts with the culture. Religion can be a source of cultural stagnation under certain interpretations or it can be an adrenaline shot. Western Europe became a dominating economic, cultural, and military powerhouse when religion was in vogue as did the Roman Empire. Clearly religion did not hurt these regions. Also while the Middle East has stagnated recently, the time when it was a place of prosperity and culture was also a time when it was under Islam. Some of it's greatest architecture came from the age of Islam."

                    I take your point - the Eastern mindest is inclined to be more philosophical and introspective in some ways, but far more callous and brutal in many other aspects. To my Western mindset, this mental dichotomy seems strange.

                    I tried to make the point that stagnation results when religions become the controlling force in a State. Your point about the West is well put, however; certainly Olde Europe under the Catholic Church would qualify. I can only assume that the Western mentality is to question things and to be rebellious to a degree, while the Eastern cultures seem to me to more resigned to "fate" if you will and more accepting of the flow of things around them. It also depends a great deal on the amount of violence and terror the religion is willing to use to maintain a hold on the populace.

                    I know that Islam is highly karmic; the constant saying of any Muslim about anything is Insh 'Allah - "as God wills it", and that expression also stands for whatever happens in someone's life. It is all pre-ordained by their God, while we Westerners seem to think we are masters of our own destinies.

                    In re architecture and so forth- it is indeed ironinc, because the greatest architecture in Europe was produced under the mnost oppressive Western religion of the time.

                    Good replies.
                    Last edited by Mountain Man; 14 Sep 07, 10:49.
                    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I realize that I did not keep my promise of adding a few more comments on this thread. Now, it looks like this thread is going off into oblivion, oh well.

                      Nevertheless, as I stand back and reexamine my previous posts, I realized that what I have posted is not really enough to explain the difference between western and eastern mentalities. More than anything else, I honestly believe the key difference lies in the fact western mentality has to do more with the Christian state religions fighting each other as soon Protestant Reformation ended the Catholic control of Europe. However, for a brief time, it was all about religious wars, but as you can see, after 1648, secular kings and states were now no longer bonded to fight for a certain state religion, turning their energy toward acquiring resources, keeping the Ottanom Turks at bay, and maintaining their political independence and supremacy over others.

                      It is true that other pagan empires in the past did fight over land resources and trade routes, however, for now, we're not talking about pagans but the difference between western and eastern Christian mentalities.

                      In the case of eastern Christian mentality, it is worth keeping in your mind that there was no Christian state religion in the East! Thus, early Christians faced with biggest challenge to convert others without the use of force. According to some early Christian traditions, Apostle Thomas did go to India to preach the Gospel and establish churches there, but different circumstances there meant India didn't witness anything on scale what Catholics achieved in Europe. Moreover, very few Christians made some impact with the natives in the East until 19th century when missionaries were sent over there. The missionaries had to work from within, so eastern Christians were more accostumed to persecutions, because they never had anything like a Christian state religion or a powerful secular king or empire seeking some big favors from Christians. The bloc of Christians was too small to effect anything more than annoyed looks and a nuisance to be put down brutally.

                      In short, there were no man like Constantine in the East who gave Christians an opportunity to establish themselves in power and persecute others for different beliefs. Had someone like him came on the stage, don't you think it would change how we view the eastern Christian mentality?

                      What do you think?

                      Dan
                      Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

                      "Aim small, miss small."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Dan, what do you mean by "East" and "Eastern" Christians? I am somewhat confused by your terminology and although I will add something I hope to be clear about what you mean.

                        If you mean "Eastern Rome" well that is not correct to say they had no state religion...the Empire remained so even when split. Also, at least 2 Eastern Kingdoms adopted Christianity, Armenia and Georgia and I believe the latter before Constantine the Great.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by joea View Post
                          Dan, what do you mean by "East" and "Eastern" Christians? I am somewhat confused by your terminology and although I will add something I hope to be clear about what you mean.

                          If you mean "Eastern Rome" well that is not correct to say they had no state religion...the Empire remained so even when split. Also, at least 2 Eastern Kingdoms adopted Christianity, Armenia and Georgia and I believe the latter before Constantine the Great.
                          I meant the West's Christian mentality which is different from the Far East's Christian mentality. Eastern Rome is still technically part of the Western culture.

                          Dan

                          PS. Edit: I might add that this is what Pirateship pointed out in his first post. I was just following what Pirate said and adding my own observations and interpretations, that's all. I'm sorry if either Pirate or I confused you.
                          Last edited by Cheetah772; 17 Sep 07, 13:21. Reason: for joea, clarifying things a bit...
                          Major James Holden, Georgia Badgers Militia of Rainbow Regiment, American Civil War

                          "Aim small, miss small."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            That clears it up thanks.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                              Tyler,

                              What are Christian teenagers from the US and Australia doing in Viet Nam? To a Communist bureaucrat there is no difference in smuggling bibles or arms and ammo into his country. There are now so many Vietnamese living outside Viet Nam that THEY could easily supply all Bibles needed in Viet Nam.
                              But there is a difference WHO. Western missionaries have been slipping into Vietnam, China, and even N. Korea on occasion and sometimes they do get caught. When they do they are imprisoned for a few days and then deported with their names on a do-not-enter list.

                              Westerners and Orientals from free countries aren't disappeared or flat out shot because shooting a foreign citizen, even one who is comitting what in your country is a crime, is a dicey matter and the easiest thing to do for diplomacy's sake is to send them home and make sure they don't get through again.

                              Now, Chinese missionaries do get a rough time because of the pinko pact, but these kids VOM was sending were in greater danger of disease than the cops.

                              Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                              I would think that some of these dedicated young religious people could find a suitable role to play in their own communities. When the old, sick and poor are adequately taken care of, then we should be able to share our religious and philosophical views on the world scene.
                              Many, if not all, do. This is just multi-tasking.

                              Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                              I bet no one on that show saw anything wrong with trying to convert a people of ancient religious beliefs that have worked well for them all these years.

                              Pruitt
                              Probably not, but these kids weren't converting people anyway. They were delivering Bibles to Christians, evangelizing to non-Christians wasn't their game. This is usually the case with any persecuted church situation. For one evangelism is much more likely to be discovered and get a westerner deported than Bible smuggling. Also local people can identify with their neighbors better than foreigners so it's wiser to let the local people do the proselytizing. There's too much of a culture gap otherwise. VOM just provides supplies but the backbone of the persecuted church is the persecuted church.

                              And what's the talk about ancient religions working so well all these years? Christianity is one of them. Christianity has been in the orient since the Roman Empire. Most people don't know how much those disciples got around.
                              A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

                              Comment

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