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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Not an end, but a beginning

The Australian Parliament today, by way of the Prime Minister, apologised officially for the mistreatment of the Australian Aboriginal Peoples. (BBC story here.)

Looked at from one perspective, this might be an end, a balm to troubled consciences, a way for the oppressor to move on and forget, to say to himself 'well, that's fixed, no more worries there': a way for nothing to change.

Or it can actually be the beginning of something much bigger, much messier, less manageable, and more troubling. It might not be a balm (in the short to midterm) for consciences, but actually stir up more trouble; it might be the occasion for more stories to be told, more uncomfortable truth to come to light. Any apology, by dint of coming clean about what one has done, always contains the risk of encountering more fully the depth and nature of one's offense

But maybe, just maybe, it will be the beginning of healing and reconciliation - ultimately, for all involved (for the oppressor often forgets how his oppression distorts his own humanity). And that would begin to change everything.

And maybe - just maybe - my own people in America might take a cue.

Jason Goroncy, an acquaintance who is a PhD student at the University of St. Andrews, and an Antipodean native himself, blogs on this new development here (with the text of the official apology) and here (with an extended reflection on guilt and forgiveness - good stuff).

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7 Comments:

Blogger Jason Goroncy said...

Hey Jason,

Thanks for the thumbs up.

'... for the oppressor often forgets how his oppression distorts his own humanity'. So true. I'm rethinking through this at the moment as I read Volf's 'The End of Memory'.

How's the thesis going?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 11:58:00 PM  
Blogger Pamela said...

"...it might be the occasion for more stories to be told, more uncomfortable truth to come to light."

I agree entirely. It should be brought to light that Aborigines were captured and killed, and their skulls and corpses preserved in the name of evolutionary "science". The abhorrant and scientifically accepted notion was that white Europeans were the most highly evolved of all "races", and they viewed the "subhumans" as specimens to study and put on display in museums around the Western world.

Women were victimized to introduce European genes into the population, and children were forcibly removed from their homes to help them evolve beyond their parents' poor plight.

The sad thing is that the missions were complicit in this because the 19th century Church was so impressed by the scientific "wisdom" of the day that they believed it to be true, despite what Scripture plainly teaches.

To wit: Genesis teaches that God created all living creatures to reproduce after their kind, whereas Darwinism teaches that organisms reproduce beyond their kind. Genesis teaches that death stained God's perfect creation after the fall, whereas Darwinism teaches that death in the world is necessary for nature to mature to its full potential. Genesis teaches that man is created in the image of God, whereas Darwinism teaches that man has evolved from the image of a subhuman ancestor.

By now the Church has become more sophisticated in trying to reconcile these two opposing concepts, and macro-evolution has become an integral part of origins theology, so she has repeated her medieval error that gave Galileo so much trouble when he proved Copernicus' point that the philosophically pagan-based Ptolemaic system was scientifically baseless and not taught in Scripture.

Uncomfortable truth, indeed. The churches of the Enlightenment era didn't stand firm in their understanding of Scripture, and they got swept up into the fervor of the day. They abetted these deadly and debasing crimes.

And what deadly and debasing crimes does the Church abet today? Consider the millions of pre-born humans whose lives have been snuffed out because it was more convenient to do so than to let them live.

Sadly, this dehumanizing scourge on our society also has its root in evolutionary theory: Haekel published fraudulent drawings to illustrate his theory of embryonic recapitulation, where embryos were purported to be revisiting each stage of evolution, moving from fish to human. Believe it or not, my mom was actually taught this ridiculous fantasy in high school! Is it any wonder, then, that a generation so "educated" should bring this on our nation's conscience?

(As a side note, this same concept was extended and further applied to the modernist stages of child development and used as a basis for separating families into same-age peer groups. Hence the exaggerated and unfounded concern in the cultural psyche about socialization in the homeschooling community.)

There's so much to apologize for. Darwinists should apologize for propogating a culture of death. The Church should apologize for embracing it. We should all repent and seek forgiveness from our heavenly Father for our faithlessness and transgression of His holy law.

But I have a question: might your suggestion for America be requiring more of the American people than God does?

Must the sins of others be laid against me, especially if I detest and denounce the deeds?
Does God hold me accountable for sins I myself have not committed?

If God does not, then why should man?

I do, as God wills, share in other's grief, but I must be shown in Scripture that God requires me to also bear someone else's guilt.

I prefer to learn from the past, and let Christ free me of its shadow so that I can fearlessly love each person as He has called me to do. The rest takes care of itself. Seriously.

I would say that the impressions of a society depend upon the experiences with the individual, for I have found that to be true in many different cultural contexts.

Blessings, Jason. I hope you've enjoyed reading this reply, as long as it is. I grieve for those Aborigines, and this recent news has touched a soft spot. It also ignited a fair share of indignation, as you can see. I just wanted to fill in some of the lesser known, but well-documented aspects to this sad history.

Greet your dear wife for me.

~ Pamela

Thursday, February 14, 2008 4:53:00 AM  
Blogger Crimson Rambler said...

Good morning Jason -- I enjoy your blog very much, and it's interesting to look at this development in the light of recent Canadian history too.
In the meantime, I've tagged you for a (fairly fluffy) meme at my place...

Thursday, February 14, 2008 4:20:00 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Jason:
Thanks! Thesis is moving along. Will I see you at SST in Durham?

Pamela:
That's more or less a post in itself! I'm not in exactly the same place as you on this interpretation of Genesis 1, but you point out a real problem. Along similar lines are the massive problems that have arisen as Christians - and others - have uncritically adopted social Darwinism, which has twisted politics and economics in all sorts of ways.

Give my warm greetings to your family as well - if the weather reports coming Chicago are any indication, the warmth will be welcome!

Crimson Rambler:
Thanks for this - you're right that Canada has in some ways led the way with this. The founding of Nunavut is one example. And I'll look forward to having a look at the meme.

Thursday, February 14, 2008 7:41:00 PM  
Blogger Doug Wood said...

"Must the sins of others be laid against me, especially if I detest and denounce the deeds?
"Does God hold me accountable for sins I myself have not committed?

If God does not, then why should man?

I do, as God wills, share in other's grief, but I must be shown in Scripture that God requires me to also bear someone else's guilt."

I can only speak for myself, but it seems to me that by simply participating in the economic system in America that I am complicit in the sins of my forefathers. It seems almost certainly true that my life is easier because of the privilege that comes unearned in the color of my skin, my gender, my Christianity, my middle class upbringing (which is, in part, a product of the same privileges my father and mother enjoyed), my age, my sexual preference. Because of all of these things I am given the benefit of the doubt in most situations; instead of having to prove myself capable, it is assumed that I am capable until I prove otherwise. The realty is that I can try a little less hard and get a little more than those who do not enjoy the same privileges. The question to me is, how do I rectify that? There certainly is no right answer, but if I, and other American's who benefit like I do from past injustice, can begin to admit that the systems that have allowed us to be successful have also kept others from success, perhaps we can move a little closer to justice.

Friday, February 15, 2008 6:44:00 PM  
Blogger Doug Wood said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Friday, February 15, 2008 7:23:00 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Hi Doug,

(I removed your duplicate post.) Thanks a lot for weighing in on this.

I quite agree with your point, and I should note that you have intentionally put yourself in a place where you can see this sort of systemic sin and injustice on a day-to-day basis - and, perhaps, to work to redress it in some measure as well. All of which I think is commendable.

Theologically, reconciliation with God is never apart from reconciliation with people, although obviously God takes the lead in ways that humans never could. As the Archbishop of Canterbury has elegantly put it in a recent talk here in Cambridge, Christian faith does not make the world smaller, it makes the world larger, puts us more in touch with the truth of reality, not less. And a part of that, I am convinced, is seeing the magnitude of our own sin, personally and systemically, as well as sin done in my name and on my behalf.

I regret that I did not give voice to this earlier, but it has been bugging me (subconsciously) since the 14th. Thanks again for your thoughts!

Friday, February 22, 2008 10:37:00 PM  

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