Thursday, November 20, 2008

Circumcision, Christianity, and Common Sense

I was told tonight by a scholar of "Lost Christianities" that Christian faith was rooted in Muslim faith and that someone from this time period would have felt more comfortable in a Mosque than a Western Church and that some of the practices, such as how they pray were much closer to Christian roots. While I understand that Jewish, Islamic and Christian roots are rooted in the Hebrew text, I do not adhere to this tradition's understanding of ethics...

In "Infidel", a Somalian woman talks about how she is circumcised and sewn up to prevent premarital intercourse. She has no pleasure within her marital sexual experience as she is torn and scared by the procedure! She cannot go outside without a male accompanying her. She recites all of her geneology for generations back, as this is her identity and tribal culture.

Phillip Jenkins, a religious studies professor, as well as historian of 20th century America, etc. from PennState, spoke on his new book, "Lost Christianities". His approach was solely a religious one and I was curious as he did not talk about colonialism or politics in general. Religious studies, of course, does not necessarily cover other subjects, but I find it very limiting and narrow to view a tradition even within its own history without expanding that udnerstanding beyond the tradition. Traditions do create a "world", but a limited one....

Christianity is rooted in Judiasm and was a peasant movement. In understanding group identity and how these identities form, Christianity became a separate identity under the writers of Pauls letters and was furthered through the testimony of the scribes who wrote the Gospels. It was an attempt to create a special identity within a God framework, as Judiasm had in the past. Those who have been discriminated, the "outsider", are those who are likely to create their own story, rather than identify with those who persecute or oppose them. Was this what Dr. Jenkins purposes happened to these people under the persecution of Constantine and the Crusades? The empire persecutes the underdogs and the underdogs create a way to survive under persecution. It is an interesting thought/theory. I don't know enough about the history and have not read Dr. Jenkins book.

I do know that Hirshi Ayraan Ali is an atheist because of her abuse. Her identity is not found within a God framework, but a political one. I don't find that this is wrong, as we all desire to survive in the best environment possible, which is one that is free of oppression, whether it be religious, or political. Common sense tells us that we choose freedom for our own self-interest, as well as the interests of others! What better framework than our American identity?

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