When looking at things through a systemic lens, individual intent is not the question.  Individual morality is not the question.  The question is how we as individuals are granted or denied things based on where we fit within the hierarchies that the system has constructed and uses to shape and maintain its power.  And how then, as part of an in-group or an out-group, as defined by the system, our lives are shaped in ways that have nothing to do with merit or morality and everything to do with membership and access or exclusion.  This does not mean that on individual level, people who are part of an in-group do not work hard, or that people who are part of the out-group do not make mistakes.  It does mean, that with the access that membership in the in-group gives you, there are either advantages or lack of barriers that are placed in the way of or not provided to those in the out-group.

The (his)stories contained in the various Christian versions of the Old Testament are a history appropriated from the Jewish peoples. Within my context of a fundamentalist Christian upbringing, the interpretation and ownership of these stories was rarely approached with either humility or self-awareness in terms of what that appropriation meant from a non-colonial perspective.  For me, as I approach my middle years, in essence, the faith of my childhood is the spiritual equivalent of stolen land, a psychic space usurped and occupied by an alien, foreign spirituality. 

 

As a history student, I am also aware of the ways in which rulers, state, capital, military and faith combined to invade and control in a variety of ways, countries which were "discovered" by those desiring their resources, ignoring everything that would get in the way of empire's purpose.  While religion and education and medicine, all seem "benign" in their intent - they are not.  These are all tools of assimilation.  From an imperial perspective, they are looked on as ways in which to build homogeneity, "community", relationship - but only on terms and in ways that serve the Empire and its power structures.  Could the witch doctor get their teeth pulled at the local mission hospital - absolutely, but not without concerted effort to fundamentally change and alter who he was - to put away his "heathen" idols and ignorance - in essence to become European.  And yes, I am speaking here about the most recent round of Game of Empires - dominated for 2,000 odd years by the 'West'.  And yes, in an awareness that the West is fading, as is the nature of the waves in history and the East is rising and the Wheel turns.  

And then the question is similar to those I struggle with in terms of being an immigrant/settler to land, stolen under the false pretenses of the Christian Discovery doctrine and the racial superiority pretenses of the European empires, we are here, 33 million of us (plus or minus) on stolen land in Canada, 2.2 billion Christians worldwide according to 2010 estimates in terms of claiming "ownership" of the Jewish story - where Jews can only be 'saved' if they convert.  And even the most ecumenical Christian at heart believes this because the New Testament story demands it as part of its narrative arc.

However, the Christian version of these stories formed some of the early literary metaphors of my life.  The poetry of Ecclesiastes and Isaiah make me still wish that I could indeed mount, with wings like eagles. 

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