You Are Who You Eat
As I’m about to take a two week vacation in Fiji I thought I would read up on the country to make sure I don’t offend any of the natives with my boorish Australian manners and wit, and was delighted to come across a story about a British missionary in the 1800s. This one actually made me laugh out loud. This is what can happen to those who go about the world wishing to push their religious doctrines upon others in the vain hope of glorifying the name of their deity.
In 1830, a group calling themselves the London Missionaries Society, and another calling themselves the Wesleyan Methodist Missionaries arrived in the Lau islands, some of the smaller islands south-east of the main Fijian group in the hope of stemming the reported practices of cannibalism among the natives. It seems that the local custom was to eat the flesh of their enemies who were slain in battle. By converting the chiefs of the tribes the missionaries had quite the success in proselytizing the native folks to the path of god and righteousness. with this success under their belt they thought it would be a good idea to spread the good word further to the western highlands of Viti Levu, the largest island of the group and certainly the most difficult to convert. In 1854 the Methodist church sent one Reverend Thomas Baker out into the scrub to convert these people, who had longstanding traditions of their own, namely that the idea of bowing to the “God of heaven and Earth” made the chiefdom subservient to a higher power. This caused a distaste for him among the locals, and in an altercation caused over the chief’s use of Baker’s comb, the tribe promptly killed him and ate him in a show of disgust for the man and his beliefs.
Call this religious intolerance if you like, but when someone goes into a community that already has an established belief system about the world, why would they expect anything but resistance. Eventually, however, the Christian faith was accepted as the main religion of the islands, but the natives still practice portions of their own belief system in among the Christian doctrines.
Now while I don’t condone the practice of cannibalism, nor do I like the idea of gloating over the death of another man, this story serves as a valuable lesson to those who might push their religion on others. I know I too like spread my ideas, but I have never, ever, professed that someone will perish in a lake of flames if they don’t see the world as I do. Not everyone will sit idly by as their traditions are taken over by a larger and much more influential power. Let this serve as a lesson to those who think that it’s their God given duty to do so.