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Missionaries in Age of Exploration and Middle Ages-Fat and Rich?

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  • Missionaries in Age of Exploration and Middle Ages-Fat and Rich?

    One thing I notice popular media portrays missionaries They always portray them as physically low tier, often fat and rich, and sheltered from the hardships of the Medieval World. They are portrayed as such pampered people that when they move into unconverted areas that are being explored such as South America, they are offered the best living conditions under travel-they are given the best food, often given very fine tents, and they are always shown on donkeys safe from any dangers by Crusaders (or in the case of South America Conquistadors). They are shown so pampered they have jewelry and fancy expensive Bibles,Rosaries,and beautiful Crucifixes and other religious items made out of the finest and most expensive materials such as Gold or the finest wood, and embedded with jewelries such as diamonds. If tough times come, such as food supplies running out, they are shown as the first ones to die out of the expeditionary force. Heck even when forced to face conditions that are more descent than that the Conquistadors and Crusaders faced like all the finest food running out and the fancy shelters being destroyed, the Missionaries are shown as whining how hard things are and moaning the "low standards of livings" they have to face (even though the Crusaders have sacrificed the finest foods,tent, and so on and given them to the missionaries).

    Don't even get me started on how when Pagan Warriors come to fight the Christian missionary force such as the Aztec Warriors ,unconverted Germanic tribes in the Baltic,and Muslim Warriors during the Crusades, the Missionaries are always shown as cowering and are particularly the first to get killed in the middle of a chaotic melee.

    When Missionaries are doing work at home, they are shown living in very fine monasteries with the finest foods, fine bedding, and basically the highest standards of livings a person could dream of in the Middle Ages.

    Excellent examples of this portrayal is in the game Age of Empires 2 were Missionaries are portrayed on Donkeys as healers for the Spanish faction.They are the weakest unit in the entire game after the Monk unit. They can't even fight to defend themselves under attacks, something even the lowly peasants can do.

    Another example is most movie incarnations of Robin Hood where the Missionaries are portrayed as fat and pampered and often corrupt. They are portrayed as comic humor in the typical Robin Hood flick.Even Friar Tuck,one of the good guys, is often portrayed as this.

    However I was told that in actuality Missionaries were physically strong, if not then at least used to facing physically hardships.According what I was told, they had to because the regions they were going to like South America were often dangerous. Prior to even going to such regions for seeking converts, Missionaries were expected to live an austere life in Catholic regions that was pretty Spartan even when compared to what hardships peasants in the time period typically face. Even in our modern world, Missionaries going to places like India are expected to be austere and mentally tough for the hardships they'll face.

    Excellent example of this is in the novel Silence by Endo. The Missionaries, while having lived most of their life in Catholic Altair, were quite the mentally austere enough to have survived many of the hardships typical in Missionary Work such as hunger, passing through rough terrains such as mountains, and treachery.

    I've read that in the Middle Ages it was not uncommon for Missionaries to maintain physical fitness and even practice some form of Medieval Wrestling and Weapon Fighting. Of course this didn't mean they were conditioned to fight professional soldiers like Knights, but they certainly had much more knowledge about self-defense and hand-to-hand than the average peasants of the Middle Ages and I actually even read of accounts were missionaries beaten well-trained knights in wrestling matches.

    While I'm not sure if he was a missionary, in the older incarnations of the Robin Hood stories, Firar Tuck is also the epitome of how the missionary would have lived. In these incarnations, Tuck was a muscular man who was well-versed in swordsmanship and other fighting arts.

    I read of so many of the things missionaries faced in South America were the worst hardships in Spanish exploration of the region. It was not uncommon for them to be captured, and they faced the most desperate of situations that would break even elite battle-hardened warriors like the Knights Templar and Viking Berserkers.

    So what I read about Missionaries is that they were anything but fat and pampered. Their fortitude is on the same league , if not surpasses, those of Medieval Knights and while they were not trained for war, they were very fit for non-fighters and there is evidence of missionaries holding on their own against Knights in combat activities and even killing Warriors like Vikings in battles.

    So I'm curious which view is correct and where did this stereotype come from?

  • #2
    Very confusing post.
    "Ask not what your country can do for you"

    Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

    youre entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

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    • #3
      Robin Hood (spelled Robyn Hode in older manuscripts) is a heroic outlaw in English folklore.

      Fair Tuck would not have been a missionary but a priest. England was a Christian Nation by the time period.
      "Ask not what your country can do for you"

      Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

      youre entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

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      • #4
        Depends on the context. Missionaries is a broad concept.
        But the ones who went to the territories of colonial Europe were pretty tough, infact a lot of explorers were missionaries. In South America, Africa and Asia missionaries were among the bravest europeans, often operating far beyond the rest of european presence, usually relying on native helpers, and often moving into uncharted territory to set up camp.

        I'm more familiar with my national examples, so I submit the first europeans to cross the Himalayas into Tibet, two portuguese jesuit missionaries.
        The first european to Buthan, also a portuguese jesuit priest. And the first european to travel by land from India to China also.

        Plenty other other examples of bold european missionaries.

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        • #5
          In popular culture, people with strong convictions and selfless principles aren't.... popular.
          "A common thug can kill someone, but it takes the talents of an intelligence service to make a murder appear to be a suicide or accident death." -- James Angleton, CIA, Chief of Counterintelligence.

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          • #6
            Well, two missionary films I can recommend are the Canadien film "Black Robe" and the American film "The Mission", with Robert De Niro. The first is a a view of the first Jesuits to penetrate into far North America. Here the Indians look upon the Whites, not just the priest, as underachievers, but that is in context with their own knowledge of their world. When the young, would-be priest falls in love with an Indian girl, his father cautions her: "He cannot provide for you. He does not know our ways and the ways of the forest." or words to that effect. "The Mission", on the other hand, is a look at the Missions area of Paraguay at a time when political pressure was being put on the Pope to ban the order, thereby opening the lands of the Mission Indian communal cultures in the Paraguay river region to exploitation by Sao Paulista slavers. Neither of those portraits depicts flabby, fat missionaries.

            Authors, screenwriters, and actors tend to play to the visions of their audiences, not historical reality. James H. Michener's Hawaii paints an unflattering picture of the missionaries in Hawaii, and by extension, the Pacific. I had applied that paradigm to Korea, and much to my amazement found it to be just the opposite of the truth. I am a buddhist, not a christian. But those in the West who can speak, read, and write Korean do so because of the efforts of late 19th Century Protestant missionaries in the region, who besides learning the local languages (Korean, Jurchen, Chinese) went on to found hospitals, universities, schools, communal savings institutions, and a plethora of other institutions which greatly assisted in the modernization of those countries. Billy Graham's wife Ruth Bell, a Presbyterian raised in Manchuria by missionary parents, attended Pyongyang International School in North Korea. A medical missionary organization named in honor of her father used to care for TB patients there. The only Westerner who ever passed the Korean medical exams in Korean was a Dr. Linton, the great-grandchild of missionaries. Several of Seoul's modern hospitals, plus universities, trace their roots back to missionary founded institutions. In short, my myopic vision of missionaries borrowed from Michener was 180 degrees off the mark. But, to be fair, these missionaries were graduates of well known universities who held valid degrees in fields other than divinity, as well as in divinity. These were among the best and brightest of their generations, but dedicated to a religious mission.

            In their number, I must include Charlie Soong, the father of the three famous Soong sisters, whose husbands included Chiang Kai-Shek, Sun Yat-sen, and KK Kung(?), all movers and shakers in early 20th century China, who received his divinity degree in the U.S., returned to China as a missionary, and left that work to publish Chinese translations of the Christian bible. His history alone explodes many myths on missionaries, and reinforces some others.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Soong
            dit: Lirelou

            Phong trần mi một lưỡi gươm, Những loi gi o ti cơm s g!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
              Robin Hood (spelled Robyn Hode in older manuscripts) is a heroic outlaw in English folklore.

              Fair Tuck would not have been a missionary but a priest. England was a Christian Nation by the time period.
              As a fallen away friar he was notorious for introducing the missionary position .......

              Among the of the in the of Naughty' ham.
              The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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              • #8
                One of the earliest known uses of the F word concerns lascivious churchmen:

                "The word apparently is hinted at in a scurrilous 15c. poem, titled "Flen flyys," written in bastard Latin and Middle English. The relevant line reads:

                Non sunt in celi
                quia fuccant uuiuys of heli

                "They [the monks] are not in heaven because they the wives of [the town of] Ely." '

                http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=f***

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                • #9
                  It probably says a lot about the screenwriter or producers of a film. If anyone is stupid enough to believe that the old west was like "Hang 'em High," then they will obscure older history even more.

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