Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Don't you find it uncanny that the demands of "God" are invariably aligned to the petty parochial interests and prejudices of his followers, funny that.

I recently watched the film 12 years a slave which won a BAFTA last week (highly recommended). This excellent film is a very precise telling of a book written by a man called Solomon Northup who was a (free) black man living in New York, America in the 1850s its a first person account of a family man being kidnapped into slavery and forcefully transported to the cotton fields of Mississippi and Louisiana; it left me feeling numb. Even if you don't see the film you can download the book for free from here it's short and makes for an eye-opening read. Both the book and the film are replete with God fearing white men wielding perverse interpretations of their "holy" books to justify the suffering of slaves for the purposes of self-enrichment. Much like the current-day religious right, they drink heavily from the well of confirmation bias and were complicit in a world-wide trade which one could argue was the rule and not the exception at that time, there was clearly lots of blood on lots of hands.

It's a risky business to "judge" the actions of people from history, their moral landscape was different from ours, what counts as moral behaviour evolves as we learn more about the world we live in. I think the best we can do is educate ourselves and ensure that useful lessons learnt are not lost. In my travels I often find that religious apologists often prefer to defocus the role of religion in slavery by claiming that these people just didn't interpret scripture correctly or that the abolitionists were also Christians (interpreting the same texts!), however, regardless of your faith or otherwise it's indisputable that people of all strokes are capable of sustained evil of the highest order. Such people always gravitate toward unfalsifiable ideas and theologies in order to justify their actions, break this spell with accountability, reason and enlightenment and things invariably improve for all.


Chairman Bill said...

I'll pray to God for enlightenment (not!).

Steve Borthwick said...

CB, problem is, which God?

an muti said...
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