Thursday, April 25, 2024

Imperial Christianity (Part II)


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By Yona M. Nonglang

Indeed, coming back to our own context, the passionate intensity of the “civilising” religionists succeeded in not only destroying our indigenous cultural innocence, they were also instrumental in alienating their “christian” “converts” from their kith and kin and their customs and traditions. Hence the dilemma of generational victims of imperial Christianity—the binary choice between a culturally hegemonic not-of-their-world deity or the abandoning of one’s own roots.
Then there’s also the loss, of affection for, and connection to, land and nature, as all sense of respectful reverence for the environment is gone. Because, according to imperial Christianity, respecting mother earth is “demonic” “nature worship.” And because “God” is giving them a new heaven and a new earth when they’re done with ransacking this one, why care about so transitory a thing as planet earth?
Therefore, in the meantime, the most acquisitive among them are “mining” mother nature’s abundant wealth meant for all her children to benefit from, in the same manner the avaricious forces of empire pillaged their colonies to enrich themselves. These same unconscionably rich folks are also the biggest donors to their imperial church coffers, for the purpose of spreading its imperial “gospel” to its ever-growing new frontiers.
So yes, the danger of our complete culturicide as an indigenous tribe and the ecocide of our land are a possibility even though colonial Britain left our hills more than a generation ago. Because our hearts and minds remain colonised through the imperial religion and education they left behind. We’re still very much enthralled by all things ‘phareng,’ as it is. And our own self-contempt as a result of that colonial hangover is still at play.
One only has to take a look at the “reformist” “Christians” among us who have been eager to put an end to our age-old benign customs and traditions enshrined into our customary laws by our wise and far-sighted forebears who saw “tangjait” from the father and “shimjait” from the mother as the ways to ensure the survival of their descendants in perpetuity no matter the changing times and political circumstances.
But our lost and confused, but overconfident, self-proclaimed “saviours of jaitbynriew” with disturbing biblical messianic complex, would rather copycat chauvinistic western patriarchy than respecting their roots. For years they’ve been threatening to overturn our cherished lineage legacy by discarding what our clear-sighted forebears put in place.
And it’s these same “Christian” Khasi supremacists who sanctimoniously display their personal piety by bowing before their imperial “God” in prayer, and by citing, in public, their favourite passages from their imperial religion’s plagiarised and doctored “infallible, authoritative Word of God,” even as they wax eloquent about “transforming” Khasi society into some “biblical” patriarchal “Christian” utopia! How far into the Stone Age are they going to take us back, if we let them?
So it goes without saying, therefore that confused by a split sense of belonging (yes, I’m Khasi, but, my religion isn’t) and alienated from our indigenous understanding of life, we therefore indulge in all sorts of self-sabotaging exercises that will one day completely undo even whatever still remains of our way of life.
“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/The ceremony of innocence is drowned . . .”
The question worth asking is whether we needed our colonial oppressors to teach us anything useful about God and our collective way of life. Like the revered ancient myths, legends and folklores of other indigenous people groups, we the children of Hynñiew Trep, too, have always let our own Khanatang (our cosmogony, our imagination of the divine mystery, sense of collective purpose, ethos, etc.) guide us along the way.
But imperial Christian theology will sternly rebuke the very idea of narratives on the divine as “khanatang.” Because it’s in its hegemonic interest to approach Jewish ancient texts in its one-dimensional literalist and inerrantist way that induces mindless fanaticism and religious militancy in the reader’s mind, you see.
But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Creating mindless, brainwashed followers who can be controlled at will, who are incapable of asking questions that are dangerous to the white supremacist cultural hegemony project? Easterners who think, walk and talk like their western white supremacist masters, eternally subservient to their cause?
“Equo ne credite, Teukri. Quidquid id est, timeo Danaon et dona ferentes . . .” wrote Virgil in Aeneid more than two thousand years ago. And it is worth repeating here, I believe. “Do not trust the horse, oh, people of Troy. Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks even when they come bearing gifts,” are wise words best heeded even to this day.
Because, that’s why the ones who brought this particular horse to our Hills have been persisting with the arrogant view that the white supremacist way of reading Jewish narratives is the only way. And that’s also why, for centuries, white supremacist religionists succeeded in selling to the unsuspecting world their twisted theology, their creeds, even their violent apocalypse where their fetishised imperial “Jesus” will make his “triumphant” literal “second coming” to take charge of our planet as an avenging warrior. But with the help of the military might of the “Christian” nations that created him in the first place, of course (
It’s rather apt that Yeats concludes his poem, “The Second Coming,” with an ominous picture of another empire on its way to usurp the birthplace of the indigenous Jewish Jesus?
The darkness drops again; but now I know/That twenty centuries of stony sleep/Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle/And what rough beast, its hour come round at last/Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? ( ).
Did you witness the funeral rituals of present-day “Christian” monarchs Or watch their coronation ceremonies You should, if you want to understand the extent of the blatant corruption of Jewish sacred texts by “Christian” empires. At the end of the day, won’t you agree that the religion of the empire is an all-consuming and all-demanding form of religiosity that lacks the moral imagination and moral conscience to offer anything meaningful to its adherents, except for its strange form of individualised, delusional, other-worldly “personal” “salvation” that demands obsessive and irrational devotion to its deity? Is it not imperious, self-righteous, judgmental, alienating and divisive, an “us” versus “them” that is extrinsic to our indigenous communitarian spirit? And, sadly, because it has managed to embed itself as a subculture within our culture, it’s also impossible for us to simply wish it away?
So what do we do to deal with the divisions and confusion it has caused? Would letting go of the duplicate Jesus of the empire a good way to start? Our own cultural roots, certainly, don’t forbid us from appreciating the original indigenous Jewish Jesus narrative. Because, traditionally, we indigenous folks have no problem respecting and learning from other moral narratives that help in enriching our imagination of the divine.
And don’t we owe a debt of gratitude to those among us who have been faithful custodians of our customs and traditions and our understanding of the sacred divine mystery that continues to call us to do better as children of Hynñiew Trep? In spite of imperial culturicide and our collective changing fortunes? Don’t we also owe them our apology for our ignorance, arrogance and moral bankruptcy because we were too indoctrinated by the colonisers of our hearts and minds to be appreciative and respectful towards our own indigeneity?
Isn’t it also time for churches to decolonise and distance themselves from the shallow insularity of divisive “evangelising” imperial Christian theology by simply scripting their own independent theological narratives that honour indigenous non-European contexts? And for churches to, instead, strive to create non-discriminatory, welcoming, caring and sharing communities, especially for the least (orphans and the destitute) and the most marginalised and discriminated against (so-called sinners and victims of empires’ culture wars)? I know this generation is left to grapple with many questions but I also know there’s hope for us to turn around as a people. With a little bit of introspection, humility and deep sense of responsibility, of course.


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