I have somewhat loosely followed a translator in recent years who actually helped me on one occasion find an ancient quote. Anyway, from time to time he has complained of ‘Christian persecution’ in England and I assume by extension, the world at large. He also seems to have some issue with homosexuals as well which appears to have something to do with his religious beliefs. I think he may believe that homosexuals are great examples of ‘Christian persecution’. In any case, the majority of his work is not along this polemic but rather translating ancient texts. Recently, I read one of his posts here which I could not resist adding my own contrary two-cents to…
After reading your post I think it is very close to, “This shall not have been a polemic!”. I would even go so far as to suggest it could be an apology in wolf’s clothing. First, I admire your work and dedication to scholarly pursuits. I understand the lack of time for such indulgences in whatever your post wasn’t. In any case, I must say that as an ‘other side of the pond’ observer, I do not see this Christian persecution that you rail about. It is hard for me to believe that the originators of the Magna Carta would imprison folks because of their religious beliefs. I think you may be over the top on these claims. On one hand, if you did convey the whole story in your slightly more than emotive quips on the arrest, I think most rational folks, whether Christian or not, would agree it was a travesty of justice. On the other hand, some of this alleged ‘persecution’ may actually result from a kind of natural law, reaping what you sow.
I cannot believe any magistrate would uphold such a shabby arrest as apparently he did not. Justice is not perfect every time. There are reasons why justice is required and not some kind of natural law which needs no socially sanctioned enforcers. Injustice occurs regularly not just by criminals but also by sanctioned enforcers and by regular ‘ol mean-well folks. I am not surprised at all when sanctioned authorities commit injustice. I am aggravated when they appear to get away with it carte blanche. I hope democracy can ultimately address such atrocities but I am not even sure about that. In any case Roger, it does seem as if this Christian persecution thing is a bit of a stretch. I can tell you get a lot of emotional mileage out of it but I think most folks are not convinced by such claims. Of course, I know that you write that off as more of what you claim, Christian persecution. It comes across as an unfalsifiable belief if you know what I mean. On this side of the pond there are panhandlers and/or street philosophy peddlers regardless of theological persuasion which do get arrested for harassment and aggressive behavior so ‘forced free speech’ is not a right that is typically defended here.
I think you ‘doth protest too much’. I am not a Christian but I have no need to persecute Christians. ‘Persecution’ seems to me to imply a kind of on-going plot, a concerted endeavor. As you suggest, who has time for such shenanigans. Certainly, there may be some folks Christian or not which engage in such pathologies but I would not think this takes place in the majority of the sociological bell-shaped curve. However, paranoia does seem prevalent these days as it affords a certain kind of passive response to the ‘devils’ of existence. It seems to me that paranoia elevates ones false sense of uniqueness and importance as keepers of the Truth which requires social critique and upheaval. It may be fun for some but actual persecution requires way too much time and effort for most. Folks are creatures of necessity not ideology. My take is that we may have disagreements which some, more or less, would like to sanction socially, politically and legally but personally, I prefer the philosophical path of polemos, not in the sense of overt war but in the sense of strife and conflict, which gets worked out cathartically rather than violently. I see no problem with challenging philosophical or theological positions. I found my many years of undergraduate and graduate work intensely challenged my belief systems and forced me to change my ideas many times over the years. I think if the Greeks had simply been ‘polite’ the Occident would be a very different place today. Additionally, I think if one were God and would weigh historical, religious persecution in the balance, Christianity, at least as self-acclaimed, would not find itself weightless.
Why would you complain and emote some sort of sacrosanct indignation over Christian persecution anyway? Didn’t Jesus tell you that is what you signed up for as a Christian. Did you see him rail against the unbelievers? Isn’t he the one that said, turn the other check; give a stranger your coat and walk with him if he asks; lay down your life as he did for the sinful world, the enemies of the cross. It seems to me that if Jesus had indignation it was for the Pharisees and scribes of his day and even more for the money changers in the temple.
If there is a God, the world was created with a huge amount of sow what you reap in it. If Christians are persecuted it may not be heathen indignation but it may be that they are sowing what they have reaped. As Kierkegaard tells us if everyone is a Christian no one is a Christian. Doesn’t the Revelator tell us of an apostate Church, false messianic claims and ask if there would be faith on earth? Could it be that what you deem aggressive resistance to Christianity could rather be ‘chickens coming home to roost’ for Christians? Here across the pond, we have no lack of Christians which are brash and have none of the famed English politeness in such matters. We are regularly accosted by faith warriors both at shopping malls and in our politics. We have those that would legislate their morality in the name of ‘religious freedom’. There seems to be no end to what ‘religious freedom’ means over here. Of course, not any religion but the Christian religion is what most clearly rises to the top in these jurisprudent befunkles. Did Christ try to establish a kingdom on earth? Didn’t he say to the contrary and those that defended an earthly kingdom misunderstood him? Isn’t the Christian kingdom not of this world. Isn’t the mystic vision of Christianity to have the Holy Spirit reveal the pettiness of this sinful world in light of the glories of Heaven? Epiphany allows Christian suffering without whining of persecution, without hostility and even more so – laying down one’s life for the persecutor, dying for the sins of others. What happened to that Christ?
As a natural law, it may be that aggression requires aggression, enmity requires enmity, persecution requires persecution. Who would break this cycle? I think from ancient texts we may surmise that, for one, Jesus would not answer hatred with hatred but love. Did he strike out on the cross or pardon criminals? Even Socrates asked another to pay his debt with his dying words. Jesus and his disciples went to prison multiple times. Do you see any writings from those folks complaining of the ‘injustice’ or the persecution? They accepted it as par for the course and ministered to their fellow prisoners. They healed the sick, championed the poor, comforted the poor in spirit. I do not detect modern animosity and religious fervor in their approach to the world. They were long suffering. I think the thin skin approach to one’s faith and theology betrays a kind of insecurity in the coherence of one’s beliefs. If someone tries to convince you that you are wrong make them reason, explicate and clarify while you attempt to do the same; the worst case is you both walk away thinking more clearly, the best case is both may learn something.