Monday, February 22, 2010

Why I shouldn't answer the door to 'Christians'

Catholic Man came knocking on my door yesterday, from a local Catholic church conducting a census of members in the area. "None here" was my response which prompted Catholic Man to enquire as to my religion. I told him Buddhist and he said they had encountered a lot of Buddhists in the area. He didn't know much about Buddhism, but wasn't it all a bit "vague"? I'm not sure what he meant by that but replied that on the contrary it was very precise. He then queried me about Buddhists not believing in a creator and how did we explain the creation of the world. He couldn't get his head around the idea that to Buddhists it was a waste of time pinpointing the very first moment of creation so instead launched into a speech about how Christianity brought love to the world as well education and reading and writing and democracy! Not really wanting to get into a discussion with him, I let him rabbit on until the reading/writing line, which I couldn't let pass - would have been news to the ancient Greeks, Romans, Eygptians, Chinese, Indians - and he conceded he had exaggerated a bit there. Methinks he exaggerated rather more than a bit. In fact, he seemed to be demonstrating rather a lot of Christian hubris.

Christianity brought education to the world? So he's never heard of the University of Al Karaouine in Fez, Morocco, which was founded in 859 CE and is the oldest, continuous degree-conferring university in the world and precedes Oxford by almost two hundred years. It just happens to be Islamic.
He also needs to go and read up on the University of Nalanda, one of the greatest Buddhist universities of its time, which operated from 427-1197CE. 427 - let's see...wasn't Europe plunged into the Dark Ages about then. Very little education going on there.
And then of course, there is Nanjing University, founded in 258 and still operating today. It didn't confer degrees way back then, but provided education to future scholar-clerks.

Universal education is a very recent concept, even in the 'Christian' West, and came about primarily because of the Industrial Revolution and its need for literate and numerate factory workers, and not because of the Christian churches.

Democracy too, I believe is less a product of Christianity than of the Enlightenment. In fact, the Churches held to an autocratic model of rule in which monarchs were seen as God's viceregents on earth - not much democracy going on there. Nor was much democracy on show in Hitler's Germany, Mussolini's Italy, Franco's Spain or in Latin America up until recently - all Christian countries. Catholic Man's boss, the Pope, doesn't seem to hold to defending human rights much either as his recent diatribe against UK's Equality Bill demonstrates.

I let the man go with all those ambit claims, but it was when he claimed that Asian countries lacked a solid grounding in honesty because they weren't Christian that I saw red. His example of lacking honesty? "Asians rip off Westerners." When I said everyone tries ripping off others, he replied that Asian countries do it more than Western (ergo Christian) countries. Well, I snapped and told him he was insulting and offensive and I'd heard enough and sent him off with a flea in his ear.

I think he was trying to say that Christianity was superior to Asian religions because it introduced all the above-mentioned qualities to the world. But all he did was prove the narrow-mindedness, bigotry and arrogance of his own religion, as well as his own ignorance. He sure did not display any of that love he claims Christianity brought to the world.