Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A History of American Christianity and the Scottish Election

This is a rather detailed and raw telling of the history of Christianity in the US by Leonard Bacon written in 1898.  I very much enjoy the filling in of a large number of details and anecdotes that I wasn't familiar with.  The earliest part of this work tells of the conquest of America by Spain where he leaves us with this observation:

"The propagation of the gospel in the western hemisphere, under the Spanish rule, illustrated in its public and official aspects far more the principles of Mohammed than those of Jesus.  The triple alternative offered by the Saracen or the Turk - conversion or tribute or the sword - was renewed with aggravations by the Christian conquerors of America."

I guess that is an alternative explanation for why Christians behaved un-Christian-like at times.  Mention is made of Las Casas and his desire for a purer Christianity, but then Bacon notes that Las Casas proposed the usage of African slaves under the belief that they would be better suited to the harsh treatment than the physically more frail Indians.  Mixed in with all this are countless stories of humanity and care for others.

The humanity of the French missionaries is commended for the most part.  But then we have this:

"The missionary became frequently, and sometimes quite undisguisedly, a political agent.  It was from the missions that the horrible murderous forays upon defenseless villages proceeded, which so often marked the frontier line of New England and New York with fire and blood."

This seems to have been driven largely by political factions in France, but we then have this:

"we could wish that the Jesuit historian had not boasted of these atrocities as proceeding from the fine work of his brethren ..."

He then goes on to give thanks that the animosity of this earlier era of factionalism had long disappeared.  These are the early stages.  Lest there be any misunderstanding, the wars between the various Indian tribes were just as fierce, and many of the more gentle and considerate missions to the Indians were exterminated by Indian raids:  Both missionary and converts were killed together.

Another feature to the history is the story of how earlier theocratic colonies gave way to a Christian pluralism.  Some of this was driven by English governors who legally imposed the Church of England onto colonies, thus, uniting all the dissenters.

Some insights on the latest situation in Scotland is perhaps provided by this tidbit:

"Twenty years later the ferocious persecution of the Scottish Covenanters, which was incited by the fears or the bloody vindictiveness of James II after the futile insurrection of Monmouth, furnished a motive for emigration to the best people in North Britain, which was quickly seized and exploited by the operators in Jersey lands."

So there you have it.  The best Scots left Scotland for America long ago, which explains why the current Scotland is so confused.

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