Dear Richard, et al,
After reading some posts in theMissions as an UnfundamentalistChristian thread, I started thinking about the people in the pre-Columbian Americas. As a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, I and some other people with Native American ancestry had asked in a Bible study about what happened to the people who died before Christianity arrived in the Americas. Being Caucasian for all intents and purposes, I didn’t give much thought to whatever the answer we were given, and pushed the question out of my mind.
But now after thinking about UR for a while, it seems to me that ECT and dehumanization go hand in hand. As you mentioned in* Unclean* about Darwin’s disgust at the “naked savage” touching his food, it seems logical that most of Western societies would have viewed these native as not-fully-human savages. Today, we generally don’t come into contact with, or even refer to them as ‘savages’, but we still use ECT in a dehumanizing context with our neighbors. Now, there isn’t a hugely visible difference between the ‘churched’ and the ‘unwashed heathens’ so the mechanisms of scapegoating and ostracizing are used to identify the outgroup. There are some huge churches and lots of airtime used to send the message letting the entire world know who doesn’t belong to the ‘good guys’. And I think this huge boundary wall is necessary to dehumanize the outgroup; how else could anyone believe the position that the ‘saved’ will be looking down on the tortured souls in ECT with rejoicing?
Forgive me if you already covered this elsewhere (or if I missed it in my first reading of Unclean), but it seems quite relevant to me right now.