Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Surfing my 80 channels Sunday night and I came upon a the Discovery channel or Nature network: a show about bare-chested indigenous people in New Guinea. A new widow. Her husband, a chief, had been killed in an attack. Now due to her widow status she must serve her mother-in-law like a slave and suffer all kinds of indignities due to her loss of status. She is worried about having enough to eat. Old and New Testaments instruct us to take care of widows. Even secularists accept such precepts without thinking. What about those who since the 1960s have worshiped the naturalness of indigenous primitive cultures? Do they see this? But by going back to Rousseau's romantic notions, the ideas about the "Noble Savage" they essentially have worshipped primitive cultures as "authentic." Christianity, conversely, has been presented as patriarchal, oppressive, evil. And at a Twelth Night party, a woman who vaguely subscribes to New Age beliefs was telling about her trip to Vietnam, the friendliness of the people, etc. One sight that struck her particularly was a place of shrines, statues of Buddha. Around it a little free market economy had popped up ( you'll hear no socialist rants against the 'profit motive' for these ventures, though): peasants were buying food and gifts for these idols.

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