Posts Tagged With: Christians

Losing History

President Obama has caused quite the controversy by making comparisons of ISIS’s campaign of terror to the Crusades. I will let others debate what, how and why he said everything that he did. Since this site does touch on history time to time, I will discuss his comparison. How do I put this nicely?

It’s absolutely ridiculous.

The Crusades are often brought up primarily by those looking to attack Christians or knock them down a bit. They have fed the perception that the Crusades were all about expanding empires and destroying Islam. The problem is that this perception isn’t history.

It’s revisionist history.

During the early history of Christianity, its population was centered in what we typically refer to as part of the Middle East (technically the Near East and Asia Minor). It’s hard for some to imagine that a country like Egypt was once predominately Christian. What is left out of drive-by comments about the Crusades is the part about the Muslim Conquests that swept through the region, conquering nearly all of it. Princeton scholar Bernard Lewis wrote:

At the present time, the Crusades are often depicted as an early expansionist imperialism β€” a prefigurement of the modern European countries. To people of the time, both Muslim and Christian, they were no such thing. The Crusade was a delayed response to the jihad, the holy war for Islam, and its purpose was to recover by war what had been lost by war β€” to free the holy places of Christendom and open them once again, without impediment, to Christian pilgrimage.

Were the Crusades full of tragedies, horrible events and misguided people on both sides? Yes, because all war is a horrible tragedy. That doesn’t mean we rewrite history for our agendas. We let history, the good and the bad, speak for itself. We learn from it, so we don’t repeat it. Or, as George Orwell said, β€œThe most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

The revisionism of the Crusades is such an obvious one, it’s sad to see world leaders repeat it. We’ve lost respect for the importance of history. Instead, we have replaced it with superficial study, politics and the tendency of too easily believing everything we hear. We are in danger of losing the messages our ancestors have left for us.

The very messages that can preserve humanity’s future.

crbks

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Categories: Critical Thinking, History | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy Hallowmas?

Autumn is often not appreciated when one is a child, because it signaled going back to school. There were a few good things like playing in the falling leaves (if you live in those regions). And, of course, Halloween. What kids don’t like dressing up as superheroes or cartoon characters (or the old standby sheet as a ghost if you’re in a pinch) and collecting candy? The popularity of Halloween waxes and wanes with time and among people, but there’s much history behind it.

Halloween is technically part of Hallowmas, a three day Christian observance consisting of All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween), All Saints’ Day (All Hallows) and All Souls’ Day. Hallowmas is a time to remember all those who have departed this world. What does “hallow” mean? It’s derived from the Old English word halig, which means saint.

Some object to Halloween because some suspect that it drew from the pagan Samhain, but the connections are debated, other than using the same day. One has to ask, though, what does it matter? Christmas trees and Easter bunnies were reappropriated from nonchristian traditions. Crosses were popular in some pagan religions. In other words, we shouldn’t make the genetic fallacy and judge something on what it once was or what others appropriate to it.

Because secular Halloween can be celebrated in a variety of ways by different people, some Christians have ceased recognizing it altogether. That’s fine, but asserting Halloween is simply a pagan or occultic festivity ignores a few centuries of Christian history (and have we all abandoned Christmas as it has turned into an economic event for businesses?). I have also suspected that some groups perceive the Hallowmas days as Roman Catholic and have as such abandoned them. This too is in error, as many Protestant denominations still recognize these observances. In particular, All Saints Day has been fairly universal in large swaths of Christendom.

Fall festivals have replaced Halloween in other circles. These are actually another universal event among peoples of all beliefs, that reach into history. The last big hurrah before winter, a time to stock up on the summer’s harvest. So if Halloween is not celebrated because pagans do, why not apply that to fall fests? There’s nothing wrong with having such events (fall is the best time to have festivals, in my opinion), but don’t do it on false reasoning. I’ve seen some festivals that try to combine everything and come across as, “We want the kids to be able to do Halloween stuff, but we’ll call it something different.” Fall fests and Halloween are entirely two different things.

Perhaps Christians should reclaim Hallowmas. It’s a sad truth that we often avoid talking about those who have died. Out of a fear of sadness we fail to teach our children about those who came before them. Histories and people lost. It doesn’t have to be that way.

In fact, that’s what Halloween is all about.

Categories: History | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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