Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Media Take: The Easter Show

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  • David Hood,

    "Imagining the classical mind is so hard precisely because it was a pre-Christian one"

    I'm having a hard time imagining how the classical mind, if defined by it's absence of Christianity, differs from large parts of the world that have never had significant exposure to Christianity to the extent that it underlies their culture. And I don't see those people as being so different.

    Those inscrutable Romans, eh.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Alan Perrott, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 438 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to BenWilson,

    Jesus we can fix at two points – he was very likely baptized by John the Baptist and crucified by Pontius Pilate, and everything before and between is hazy clouds of possibility and supposition.

    And even those two points require you to believe that the self-contradictory documents that make up the New Testament are true, to some degree. Which is like saying that National's election promises are true, to some degree. Christian propaganda (in the true sense of the word) does not equal evidence.

    The books of the Bible were chosen much later than 100 years after the supposed death of the supposed Messiah in order to suit the political situation of the time (The Catholic Church did not finalise the canonical makeup of the Bible until the Council of Trent in the mid 1500s, although there was a canonical New Testament recognised by the Council of Trullan in 692) and many books were included or left out, depending on one's brand of Christianity. The Protestants, for example, adhered to the narrower Hebrew list of books of the Old Testament rather than accept the wider Popish list that Catholics used, and the Catholics left out Gnostic and Coptic texts yadda yadda yadda...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2934 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to mark taslov,

    If the colonisation of New Zealand had involved a unified strategy between Church, State and private entererprise then my analogy might be unreasonable:

    Except that it did. The head of state was also the head of the prevailing church in Britain and granted liberal consessions to the companies such as the New Zealand Company to go forth and claim the world on her behalf. It may not have been painted as a crusade against the godless, but christianity was a huge factor in forming the ideology of colonialism.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2934 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to nzlemming,

    Except that it did. The head of state was also the head of the prevailing church in Britain

    Isn't this still the case Mark? I feel that the emergence of democracy in Britain, and the extent to which the New Zealand Company pushed the British Government's hand is perhaps getting too little credit in that argument - Post-Enlightenment.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to mark taslov,

    Isn’t this still the case Mark? I feel that the emergence of democracy in Britain, and the extent to which the New Zealand Company pushed the British Government’s hand is perhaps getting too little credit in that argumen

    I seriously am confused as to where your point lies. You said:
    "If the colonisation of New Zealand had involved a unified strategy between Church, State and private entererprise then my analogy might be unreasonable" to which I pointed out that this unified strategy did indeed exist, which you now appear to agree with which means your analogy is indeed unreasonable.

    If you're trying to argue that the New Zealand Company is getting credit for democracy either here or in Britain, I'm sorry but the facts don't bear that out at all and no-one else has been saying anything like it.

    Yes, the head of state in the UK is still the head of the official church of the UK, but the New Zealand Company no longer exists. The corporate interests are now multinational and need neither church nor state to achieve their ends (except when pushing things like "free trade agreements" through)

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2934 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to nzlemming,

    Yes, the head of state in the UK is still the head of the official church of the UK

    Not only that, The sovereign and Head of State in New Zealand is still the Head of the official Church of the UK. By that token, on this train, we could blame the Church for Gallipoli, The Falkland’s War, for the GCHQ and GCSB’s mass surveillance and for the the executions

    From my initial response to Tom, the quote that I assume engaged Rich was:

    our Government and its apparatus have killed more New Zealanders than all the other religions combined here

    I made this point because I’m bored of that old chestnut that Tom bought up. It’s the Godwin that comes up in every religious thread we’ve had. Yes, over the course of history, atrocities have been committed by Christians and in the name of Christianity, most of us attended history class, and it’s a staid point when analyzing the role of religion in contemporary society; atrocities have been committed in the name of numerous ideologies, right now Islam is the ideology explicitly being used by ISIS to justify it’s atrocities, I find a comparison between the way ISIS exploits it’s Islamic connections and the way early New Zealand justified it’s colonialism to be a mismatch. Should Islam wear the actions of ISIS, should Christianity wear the actions of NZ’s Colonial Government, or even our contemporary Government? For me it seems to exclude a couple of hundred years of history; the separation of Church and state beyond the symbolic. What I gleaned from Rich’s response to my initial post was;

    1. *The* ideology that justified colonial atrocities was Christianity.
    2. That despite various other justifications for colonial atrocities by non-christian Empires, New Zealand’s used Christianity as *the* ideology to justify its colonial atrocities.
    3. That the closer the official bonds between church and colonists, the greater the culpability of the church.

    Regardless of the merits of any of these arguments, they fail to address the singular point they appear to be in response to as stated above and twice on the previous page, for the most part, they simply strike me as defensive of the Government.

    As to your confusion about my ‘non-unified’ point, I’m hesitant about how to proceed as I’m unclear as to your depth of knowledge here, as you restate:

    I pointed out that this unified strategy did indeed exist

    I’m unclear as to what your source is for this. In fact I’m not sure if you read the link I provided on the previous page (to the New Zealand Company Wikipedia page), but to save you the time, I’ll provide some quotes from there and the History of New Zealand page in an attempt to clarify why I don’t feel there was a unified strategy.

    1. “an organisation under the name the New Zealand Company was formed in London, headed by John George Lambton, MP. The association unsuccessfully petitioned the British Government for a 31-year term of exclusive trade as well as command over a military force, anticipating that large profits could be made”

    2. “In September or October 1826 the ships, the Lambton and the Isabella (or Rosanna), sailed into Te Whanganui-a-Tara, (present-day Wellington Harbour), which Herd named Lambton Harbour…Henry Williams recorded that Captain Herd relinquished the idea of landing settlers as the Māori they encountered were hostile. Henry noted in his journal that “They have charged the Missionaries with prejudicing the natives against them, forgetting that those natives were at war with our people; consequently out of our reach, even if we been that way disposed . . . Captain Herd appears very desirous to cast considerable blame on Mr Marsden.””

    3."In response to complaints about lawless sailors and adventurers in New Zealand, the British government appointed James Busby as Official Resident in 1832. In 1834 he encouraged Māori chiefs to assert their sovereignty with the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1835. This was acknowledged by King William IV. Busby was provided with neither legal authority nor military support and was thus ineffective in controlling the European population.”

    “in 1836 set his sights on New Zealand, where his theories of “systematic” colonisation could be put into effect. A year later he chaired the first meeting of the New Zealand Association. Its members soon included MPs William Hutt and Sir William Molesworth, R.S. Rintoul of The Spectator and London banker John Wright. Wakefield drafted a Bill to bring the association’s plans to fruition.

    The Bill attracted stiff opposition, however, from Colonial Office officials and from the Church Missionary Society, who took issue both with the “unlimited power” the colony’s founders would wield and what they regarded as the inevitable “conquest and extermination of the present inhabitants”. Anglican and Wesleyan missionaries were particularly alarmed by claims made in pamphlets written by Wakefield in which he declared that one of the aims of colonisation was to “civilise a barbarous people” who could “scarcely cultivate the earth”. Maori, he wrote, “craved” colonisation and looked up to the Englishman ”

    5. “By late 1837 the association had started to gain some favour in government circles, and in December was offered a Royal Charter to take responsibility for the administration, and the legislative, judicial, military and financial affairs of the colony of New Zealand, subject to safeguards of control by the British Government. To receive the charter, however, the association was told by Colonial Secretary Lord Glenelg it would have to become a joint stock company,[1] a condition the association initially rejected. But in August 1838 the association was wound up and replaced with two organisations, the New Zealand Colonisation Company and the New Zealand Land Company. In May 1839 both bodies merged with the 1825 New Zealand Company to form the New Zealand Land Company and in December the name ‘New Zealand Company’ was selected for the one and only company that would send emigrants to New Zealand. Once again Edward Gibbon Wakefield provided the driving impetus, although by then the offer of a charter had been withdrawn.”

    6. “at the end of 1838 the decision was made to appoint a Consul as a prelude to the declaration of British sovereignty over New Zealand. The officers of the New Zealand Company knew that any such declaration would involve a freeze on all land sales pending the establishment of effective British control, and control over the purchase of Maori lands by Europeans.[6] They had other plans, which involved treating New Zealand as a foreign country and buying the land directly from the Māori, knowing this would allow them to secure a better deal.”

    6. “In 1839, the New Zealand Company announced its plans to establish colonies in New Zealand. This, and the continuing lawlessness of many of the established settlers, spurred the British to take stronger action. Captain William Hobson was sent to New Zealand to persuade Māori to cede their sovereignty to the British Crown. In reaction to the New Zealand Company’s moves, on 15 June 1839 a new Letters patent was issued to expand the territory of New South Wales to include all of New Zealand.”

    7. “At a meeting in March 1839, Wakefield was invited to become the director of the New Zealand Company. His philosophy was the same as when he planned his elopements: “Possess yourself of the Soil and you are Secure.”

    8. “William Wakefield began negotiating to buy land from the Māori around Petone in the Wellington area as soon as he arrived in New Zealand. By the end of 1839 several purchases had been concluded—extending as far north as Patea—that quickly became mired in controversy over their legitimacy.

    The settlement differed greatly from what had been planned in England: among the many falsehoods in company prospectuses and advertising about the nature of the country,”

    9. “In November 1839 Henry Williams and Octavius Hadfield arrived in Port Nicholson, Wellington days after the New Zealand Company purchased the land around Wellington harbour. Within months the company purported to purchase approximately 20 million acres (8 million hectares) in Nelson, Wellington, Wanganui and Taranaki. Williams attempted to interfere with the land purchasing practices of the company. Reihana, a Christian who had spent time in the Bay of Islands, had bought for himself 60 acres (24 hectares) of land in Te Aro, in what is now central Wellington. When Reihana and his wife decided to go and live in Taranaki, Williams persuaded Reihana to pass the land to Henry to hold it in trust for Reihana.[10] On his journey north, Williams records in a letter to his wife Marianne: “I have secured a piece of land, I trust, from the paws of the New Zealand Company, for the natives; another piece I hope I have upset”

    10. “The Church Missionary Society in London rejected Williams’ request for support for the practice of acquiring land on trust for the benefit of the Māori. The society was aware that the company actively campaigned against those who opposed it plans. While the Church Missionary Society had connections with the Whig Government of Viscount Melbourne, in August 1841 a Tory Government came to office. The CMS did not want to be in direct conflict with the New Zealand Company as its leaders had influence within the Tory Government led by Sir Robert Peel. In any event the actions of Henry Williams in attempting to thwart the ambitions of the New Zealand Company, led to attacks on his character by members of the company and their supporters.”

    11. “The New Zealand Company had long expected intervention by the British Government in its activities in New Zealand, and this finally occurred following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on 6 February 1840. The treaty transferred sovereignty from the Māori to the British Crown, while under its so-called pre-emption clause, Māori were prohibited from selling land to anyone but the Government and its agents. Lieutenant-Governor Hobson immediately froze all land sales and declared all existing purchases invalid pending investigation.”

    12. “Britain was motivated by the desire to forestall other European powers (France established a very small settlement at Akaroa in the South Island later in 1840), to facilitate settlement by British subjects and, possibly, to end the lawlessness of European (predominantly British and American) whalers, sealers and traders. Officials and missionaries had their own positions and reputations to protect.”

    13. “The Māori tribes at first sold the land to the settlers, but the government voided the sales in 1840. Now only the government was allowed to purchase land from Māori, who received cash. The government bought practically all the useful land, then resold it to the New Zealand Company, which promoted immigration, or leased it for sheep runs. The Company resold the best tracts to British settlers; its profits were used to pay the travel of the immigrants from Britain."

    That’s tests the boundaries considerably, but if one were to really dig their heels in, I guess one could – with a stretch – claim that once the Government had voided all the sales, that the colonization strategy between Church, State and Private Enterprise acquired a semblance of unification, finally. However I do argue that this is quite a departure from:

    The head of state was also the head of the prevailing church in Britain and granted liberal consessions to the companies such as the New Zealand Company to go forth

    In no way am I asserting that The New Zealand Company deserves credit for democracy, though that would be awesome. I’m arguing that democracy in Britain had evolved significantly from Tudor times when Elizabeth was persecuting the Catholics and charging Raleigh to “Seek out new worlds and boldly go where no man has gone before.”. New Zealand wasn’t settled by the Puritans in 1620. To be clear: “New Zealand Company pushed the British Government’s hand” = to sign the treaty (see 6 above).

    My point hinges on my understanding that British democracy in the 19th century bears far more similarity with our current system than with what you appear to portray in the above quote. Much earlier the Bill of Rights 1689 had set out the requirement for regular parliaments, free elections, rules for freedom of speech in Parliament, and limited the power of the monarch. This ensured, with the Glorious Revolution of 1688 that, unlike much of the rest of Europe, royal absolutism would no longer prevail. With it went the church.

    My point is simply that there were far more revolutionary systemic changes in Britain prior to the settlement of New Zealand than after. We can’t reasonably blame the church for Arie Smith-Voorkamp’s maltreatment at the hands of our Government apparatus in this day and age. Yet it would seem too easy to overlook the reality that our own country’s relationship between church and state is not significantly dissimilar to how it was say 135 years ago. This is with the notable exception that 135 years ago – and until 1897 when The Education Board made special dispensation to allow Rev. J. McKenzie of Nelson to organise Religious Instruction in primary schools after hours – the stipulation that Primary education should be secular, as prescribed the first Education Act of 1877, was largely adhered to.

    Despite his appointment as head of the New Zealand Company in March 1839, Edward Gibbon Wakefield did not sail with the colonists, and many years were to pass before he saw New Zealand. The corporate interests of the New Zealand Company were not dissimilar to the contemporary multinational: it was unsuccessful in its 1825 petition to the British Government despite the projected returns anticipated from New Zealand flax, kauri timber, whaling and sealing. 2 above states it was required by the British Government to become a joint stock company in order be conferred a royal charter which it duly did, though the offer was later withdrawn. When considering Edward Wakefield’s philosophy:

    ”Possess yourself of the Soil and you are Secure."

    Does it seem to be more attuned with the ideology of Christianity or that of imperialism?

    Imperialism is a type of advocacy of empire. Its name originated from the Latin word "imperium", meaning to rule over large territories. Imperialism is "a policy of extending a country's power and influence through colonization,

    Which is not to say that I don’t understand where you and Rich are coming from in claiming that the 19th and 20th century British and New Zealand Governments honour connections to the church, protect values that are fundamental to Christianity, and may feel that the church justifies their actions.

    God defend N….I swear to tell the truth, the wh…

    It’s simply that very little has changed in that regard, legally speaking. In the eventuality that someone apportions blame for atrocities perpetuated by these Governments; for another individual to pipe up and claim “but it was the church! The church was our Government’s justification!” is little more than a red herring, however you frame it.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    There is no "official church of the UK".

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Technicalities Keir. few reading Mark’s post here would assume he was referring to anything but the Church of England given his initial “the prevailing church in Britain”. Isn’t it easier to just go with these things than prolytise stuff?;)

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    The Church of England would differ with you on that, Keir. When your synod decisions have to be ratified by both houses of parliament and 26 of your bishops sit in one of those Houses, that's about as official as it gets outside of an Iran-style theocracy. And Iran would claim it's a democracy as well.

    Mark, you can take it as read I know about the history of the New Zealand Company. My point is that the predominant christianity of the colonisers (i.e. the decision-makers in London rather than the actual colonists) was a driving factor in the formation of the imperial ideology as Britain pursued it. It may have been unconscious on their part ("this is just the way things are done") but it is quite visible.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2934 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to nzlemming,

    It's good to know where we stand. Your first paragraph is news to me Mark, thank you. though one could argue that 26 of 783 seats in one house is token at best, it's the most tangible argument for the Church's political influence so far IMHO.

    As far as I understand, and this is perhaps my problem, imperialism as an ideology is almost polar opposite to Christian ideology. In considering unconscious influence; civilising the barbarians stretches back since well before the Romans colonised Britain.

    I think in order for me to better understand your angle it would be incredibly helpful if you could outline some of the features of Christian ideology unconsciously driving Britain's imperialist ideology, and most specifically those features of Christian ideology that may also no longer be applicable to governance in the "post-colonial" age.

    If it's too much trouble, I'll understand, but I'm glad to learn as I'm having difficulty parsing this idea that there was something either inherently Christian about Britain's colonialism, or that the British Government's connections to the Church should equate to the Church's guilt by proxy for any atrocities committed by the coloniser's or the colonists in here.

    Mainly, I guess it's that I can't think of a single politician who - despite lip service - has struck me as genuinely ideologically Christian by any stretch, but I reckon if there we could get a majority, we'd have heaven on earth. Perhaps that's what this is.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    civilising the barbarians

    Now there's a cute phrase, loaded with all manner of nastiness.
    Still going on I believe...

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to andin,

    Attachment

    Now there’s a cute phrase, loaded with all manner of nastiness.

    Did someone mention Barbarians?
    Bruuuuuce....

    < source >

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7944 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to mark taslov,

    I think in order for me to better understand your angle it would be incredibly helpful if you could outline some of the features of Christian ideology unconsciously driving Britain’s imperialist ideology,

    Well, there is The Great Commission.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    One little thing to bear in mind if one is conflating Christian ideology and colonialism in a New Zealand context: New Zealand’s only leader appointed by a Christian organisation was Governor Fitzroy, who demonstrably applied Christian values in his leadership ... and was hounded out of office by the colonists within two years as a direct result.
    (Amongst the signatories to the petition calling for his removal was my own great-great-great-great-grandfather… and also one of his sons, who was 11 at the time, and seems to have signed the petition twice…)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1931 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to andin,

    Wakefield in which he declared that one of the aims of colonisation was to “civilise a barbarous people” who could “scarcely cultivate the earth”

    Our founding father, would you believe?:

    British writer Edward Gibbon Wakefield (1796-1862) exerted a far-reaching influence. His plans for systematic British colonization focused on a free labour system, in contrast to slavery that existed in the United States and convict labour in Australia. Inspired by evangelical religion and abolitionism, Wakefield's essays (1829 to 1849), condemned both slavery and indentured and convict labour, as immoral, unjust, and inefficient. Instead, he proposed a government sponsored system in which the price of farm land was set at a high enough level to prevent urban workers from easily purchasing it and thus leaving the labour market. His colonisation programs were over-elaborate and operated on a much smaller scale than he hoped for, but his ideas influenced law and culture, especially his vision for the colony as the embodiment of post-Enlightenment ideals, the notion of New Zealand as a model society, and the sense of fairness in employer-employee relations.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to mark taslov,

    I think in order for me to better understand your angle it would be incredibly helpful if you could outline some of the features of Christian ideology unconsciously driving Britain’s imperialist ideology, and most specifically those features of Christian ideology that may also no longer be applicable to governance in the “post-colonial” age.

    The essential thing is not christian idealogy, which one could say might be a Good Thing (tm) as regards charity, social justice, equality and whatnot, but the practice of christianity in Britain, as exemplified by the mixing of church and state referred to above. Pretty much the worst thing the colonisers did was make way for missionaries, the single most destructive force on indigenous cultures.

    The British colonisers saw themselves as superior to the indigenous people (and to a lesser but significant extent, the colonists as well) because they were a) white, b) christian and c) British. They saw this as giving them the right to spread white rule (because it's best) and christianity (because it's best) and Britishness (because it's obvious). Indeed, it's fair to say they equated c with a+b.

    Chris mentions the Great Commission. I grew up catholic and the missions to the Islands, to Biafra, to anywhere where brown people were thirstily awaiting the word of god (as interpreted by Rome), were a huge part of religious life even into the 70's. Up until I was 17, I was seriously considering the priesthood as a career, right up until I left catholic school and started reading a bit wider than the school library. When your dominating culture is so pervasive that you don't consider alternatives and downsides to be important, then it is influencing any other ideology it comes into contact with. This is what happened in 19th century England.

    You seem hung up on the fact that what was actually practiced by christians doesn't match up with what you think are the tenets of christian ideology. I'd argue that the ideaology you speak of has only ever existed in the abstract, except in certain individuals who stand out because of that (e.g. Francis of Assissi) and that you should look more at how religion was practiced in the period and how that affected other aspects of life, such as colonisation.

    Could a true christian who adhered to Jesus' teachings to the letter have perpetrated the genocide against the Aborigines, the rape of Maori land, the reduction of Maori to a dying race whose coverlet we were soothing? Hell, no!. Did the people who did those things think of themselves as christians and that they were acting accordingly? Hell, yes! And that is where the dichotomy lies.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2934 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to mark taslov,

    Edward Gibbon Wakefield

    Our founding father, would you believe?:

    Yes I would...
    ...start as you mean to go on:

    He is mentioned and criticised in Chapter 33 of Karl Marx's Das Kapital (Volume 1) and similarly in Henry George's How to Help the Unemployed. He was imprisoned for three years in 1827 for kidnapping.
    ...
    Although wealthy by contemporary standards, Wakefield was not satisfied. He wished to acquire an estate and enter Parliament, for this he needed more capital. He almost managed to wed yet another wealthy heiress in 1826 when he abducted 15-year-old Ellen Turner, after luring her from school with a false message about her mother's health. Wakefield was brought to trial for the case known as the Shrigley abduction in 1827 and, along with his brother William, sentenced to three years in Newgate prison. He then attempted to overturn his father-in-law's will and get his hands on the remainder of his dead wife's money. This did not work either, and in fact, the entire affair did a lot to tarnish his reputation – there were strong suspicions that in order to strengthen his case he had resorted to forgery and perjury, although he was never tried for these.

    nek minnit:

    the New Zealand Company
    Wakefield did not sail with the colonists, and many years were to pass before he saw New Zealand. Probably he also recognised that he did not have the patience, the skills or the talents needed on a frontier. His talents lay in visualising dramatic plans and grandiose schemes and then persuading other people to get involved. He was not even a good organiser as he tended to ignore the details. He was a salesman, a propagandist and a politician.

    Sounds familiar - National are such worthy raptor-like successors...
    Maybe TV3 is remaking The Governor to run in Campbell Live's spot...

    This makes for interesting reading too:.
    http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/1966/history-myths-in-new-zealand/page-1

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7944 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2934 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to nzlemming,

    Attachment

    That’s a superb reply NzLemming, exactly what I was hoping for. To be clear about my hang up, it’s this: despite the fact that explicitly Christian organisations have as far as I know burnt no individual at the stake here, when Christianity comes up as a topic in New Zealand it quite often devolves into talk of massacres, casualty figures etc, which regardless of historical accuracy, somewhat muddies the waters in terms of enabling us to better understand the role of religion (especially in relation to politics), exclusive to our own country.

    Ours is a country where considerably more atrocities have been committed by iterations of our Government and its apparatus as opposed to the organizations that make up Christianity, regardless of dominant ideology. This is why I deeply appreciate more personal nuanced stories such as Linger’s above and your own, they present a less Michael Bay version of these manifestations of the conflicted psyche, as they have occurred *here*.

    You seem hung up on the fact that what was actually practiced by christians doesn’t match up with what you think are the tenets of christian ideology.

    To be clear about this, perhaps it may help if I point to Rich’s initial response to my first post:

    But the ideology that justified colonial atrocities *was* christianity.

    What struck me about this is that Christianity was cited as the justification, for *colonial* atrocities. As if at some point Christianity ceased to be the dominant ideology, as if New Zealand isn’t still one of the most ideologically Christian countries you’re ever likely to stumble into, as is evident from your own personal experience. What I most liked about Chris’s contribution is that having spent the last 15 or so years in China, he will be seeing the pronounced instances of Christianity everywhere he looks.

    At the end of the day who are we? We’re a nation popularly referred to as God Zone, our National Anthem is ‘God defend New Zealand’, there’s a diamond configuration of stars on our flag known as ‘The southern cross’. In our most popular sport we may get points for conversions. We mark crash death zones on roads with crosses, if we’re lucky enough to survive we’re taken to hospital by St. Johns. We decriminalised homosexuality 156 years after Brazil. Only monogamous marriages are legally recognized. Despite countless examples of our leader lying he is forgiven time and time again. Our most well known movie series is Lord of the Rings. Our most popular pop star, working under the technically non-blasphemous nom de guerre; Lorde, had her biggest hit with a reworking of Jesus’s ‘Camel through the eye of a needle’ metaphor. In our entire pop music history there has barely been a single hit song to make even the slightest reference to either sex, drugs or rock n’ roll (Jesus I was Evil).

    We swear oaths to God in our courts (?). The non-believers feel compelled to habitually introduce themselves as athiests, though generally speaking these are quite often people espousing the exact values that Jesus taught while often castigating Christianity specifically for its old testament values. Despite not believing in God, from all manner of appearances they embody the spirit of the Christ’s teachings.

    We offer a healthcare and welfare to those in need, further assistance can be gotten from the Samaritans, we offer the church tax-free status. Sure we don’t have our own hymn declaring that Jesus walked on New Zealand’s mountains green but Jerusalem was builded here, somewhere down near Whanganui. Unlike England, New Zealand is a place where ideologically it would seem classlessness, equality and humility are embraced. To police this we make extensive use of tall poppy syndrome and charity.

    We remember a whole swag of indigenous ‘Christian’ prophets, none more so than the founder of Ratana, whose church our elected leaders customarily have the habit of making a pilgrimage to. One of biggest cities is Christchurch in the Canterbury province, the woes of whose cathedral now regularly makes national news. Christianity permeates to such a degree that even when someone takes a swipe at Christianity here (as opposed to taking a swipe at any another religion – which may be frowned upon) it barely raises an eyebrow and is widely tolerated. When our PM suggested we ‘turn the other cheek’ our media steps up to correct and assist him in order to facilitate his understanding of scripture. The founding father of our welfare system was a Roman Catholic named Michael Joseph Savage.

    It’s not so much that I can’t see just how dyed in the wool Christian this culture was, it's that I can't see how this is not still the case and therefore it’s that I can’t quite understand how being of a Christian ideology should in any way absolve the Government of culpability for atrocities it commits. Hesitantly I’d suggest that blaming the religion shows scant consideration for the victims of the atrocities, and is a perpetuation of the tenet that I, we, our Government are merely sheep performing God’s work. Hardly the level of accountability one desires in a democracy, but, all things considered, this would appear to be the promised land.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to mark taslov,

    ...but, all things considered, this would appear to be the promised land.


    :- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7944 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to mark taslov,

    We swear oaths to God in our courts (?)

    No, you can make a non-religious affirmation, as you can when entering Parliament. You can even (I think) swear on the Qu’ran, if you’re Muslim (I stand to be corrected on that last, but I think I remember something about it last time I was on jury duty).

    I think your “At the end of the day who are we? ” para goes totally off the rails in equating individual words with beliefs (Lorde? Really??).

    It’s not so much that I can’t see just how dyed in the wool Christian this culture was, it’s that I can’t see how this is not still the case and therefore it’s that I can’t quite understand how being of a Christian ideology should in any way absolve the Government of culpability for atrocities it commits.

    It doesn’t, and I don’t think anyone’s been running this line in this discussion. It’s perfectly reasonable to discuss colonisation as an historical event, even though the repercussions seep down through the decades, and it’s equally reasonable to discuss the factors that drove colonisation, such as the christian proselytism of the heathens. It wasn’t the only one, but it certainly was a factor in justifying the bloody deeds done in the name of empire.

    This neither excuses nor exacerbates what subsequent governments have done. It’s a nice argument as to when colonisation is deemed to be over (or is it yet?) and I tend to use the milestone of Savage’s government myself, but that’s completely arbitrary on my part and it could equally be deemed to have ended when we became a dominion in 1907 or when the “10 pound pom” programme (otherwise known as “assisted passage”) ended in 1972, or when we stopped calling England “home”. I think we can say we’re in the post-colonial phase at the moment, however, and current atrocities are directed at social strata rather than heathens.

    Hesitantly I’d suggest that blaming the religion shows scant consideration for the victims of the atrocities, and is a perpetuation of the tenet that I, we, our Government are merely sheep performing God’s work.

    I don’t think anyone seriously believes that the current government even vaguely claims to be christian, though individual members might claim to be christians, some I know are of other religions and some firmly of none at all. Certainly, we are currently spared the tea party insanity that grips America where to be labeled as a non-christian makes you unelectable in large parts.

    If your post is a pure rebuttal to what you’ve read in this thread, I’d suggest your comprehension needs some work, because I haven’t read anybody say what you think they’ve been saying.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2934 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to David Hood,

    Those inscrutable Romans, eh.

    #inevitable

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2934 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to nzlemming,

    If your post is a pure rebuttal to what you’ve read in this thread, I’d suggest your comprehension needs some work, because I haven’t read anybody say what you think they've been saying

    This is a problem. It was not rebuttal, I'll attempt to simplify. But please bear in mind, in my defense, that it was you and Rich who engaged me and not vice versa. Bored of my previous approach my post was in agreement, it was for the most part an attempt at an affirmation, it contained no unattributed quotes.

    I was seriously considering the priesthood as a career, right up until I left catholic school and started reading a bit wider than the school library

    In my end of the day para I am not equating individual words with beliefs. I'm pointing out just how ideologically or superficially Christian New Zealand appears to me.

    I was quite serious in initially asserting that iterations of the Government and its apparatus have perpetrated far more atrocities in New Zealand than the Church. That's no small thing to be glossed over IMHO. Given the degree to which I see New Zealand as a Christian nation *currently*, both then and now, a response like Rich's appeared to me as a deflection of Government culpability:

    But the ideology that justified colonial atrocities *was* christianity

    I'm going to put that one to bed now, to much relief no doubt. I didn't come here to talk about colonialism but you've furnished me with some interesting information and that last link you provided is excellent, though I find nothing too contentious in Belich's assertion that New Zealand's colonisation was "settler driven", he reminds us how deeply the culture of our early settlers has shaped our attitudes and aspirations, and continues to do so, Christianity being fundamental to many of these cultures.

    Regardless of whether you think anyone seriously believes that the current government even vaguely claims to be Christian, they say their prayer and we are in no doubt as to where this originates. To take for granted a free health care system, a welfare system, a superannuation system, the role that charity plays in keeping our ambulance service running, the tolerance of 'Religious instruction' in primary schools, the Waitangi day church service, the Oath of allegiance, is understandable. To discount the profound and enduring influence of Christianity on contemporary New Zealand culture is not unusual. But who's got John's back?

    "I, [name], swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God."

    I'll probably get cracking now, but it's been educational Mark, thanks for your time, always a pleasure.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

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