Jan. 27, 2006
Jan. 30, 2006

Jan. 28-29, 2006 weekend

BUT FIRST, THIS:

Pope Benedict XVI wants marriage annulments speeded up. I'd be interested in hearing from Catholics who got annulments about the church's process. Is it fair? Right? Necessary? All (or none) of the above?

* * *

AND THIS:

The Vatican is reported to be thinking about asking Muslims to join in the Jewish-Catholic conversations it has been part of. In principle, this is a good idea. But the details matter.

* * *

As regular readers of this blog may recall, I'm auditing a Christian history class as Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Kan. In fact, the second semester of this two-semester course started this past Tuesday.

DesotoOne of the books we are using is Christianity: A Global History by David Chidester. Every once in awhile I run across information in the book that makes me feel deeply ignorant. I had that experience the other evening while reading about the Spanish conquest of Latin America, especially Mexico.

Starting with Columbus, the Spanish explorers came to preach Christianity and convert anyone they could. That much I knew. What I didn't know in detail was what Chidester describes this way:

"While the indigenous people were subjected to military conquest, dispossession of land, forced labor and large-scale reduction in population through imported European diseases, a demographic disaster that reduced the native population of Mexico, for example, from 25 million to 1 million within a century, they were also drawn into the systematic project of Christianization."

From 25 million down to 1 million? Could that be right?

Indeed, I located that very figure on a Minnesota State University Web site describing the Spanish conquest. Here's part of what you'll find there: "Relegated to practical slave labor within sugar cane plantations and mining caves, the native population of Peru declined from 1.3 million in 1570, to 600,000 in 1620. In Meso-America (Tammeus note: essentially from today's central Mexico to Costa Rica) the circumstances were no different. The population of Indians went from 25.3 million in 1519, to a scant 1 million in 1605."

Today one frequently hears criticism of Islam for the aggressive techniques it used to expand in its early days, and some of those criticisms are valid. But such strategies as forced (or essentially so) conversions were not unique to Islam. I'm not suggesting that the loss of 24 million residents of Mexico in the 16th century can be attributed entirely to Christianity. But the processes of colonization, conversion and conquest all played a role. No one's hands are very clean.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.

Today's religious holiday: Chinese New Year (Jan. 29, Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist)

(PS: Looking for a good religious holiday calendar? For the one on Beliefnet.com, click here.)

Comments

Kansas Bob

So sad when you think of how people take the great commission and pervert it for their own purposes. I guess that is the difference between being religious and being spiritual. So sad how many religious people are ignorant concerning their own scriptures ... guess ignorant is an accurate descriptor for terrorists ... many are willfully ignorant of what their own scriptures really say.

craig griffin

this should come as no surprise at all to anyone.

after all i remember studying that in high school and even grammer school.

also read the details of religious persecutions by the catholic church in the ages past.

as far as sadam hussein goes, yes, he is a bad guy, but who do you think armed him?

the u.s. of course.

when saddam was fighting the ayatollahs in aran we armed him to the teeth with the germs and other nasties that he used in his slaughters.

i know. i did a report on it for high school class with press releases from the papers at the time.

one of the things that led me to a total distrust of pretty much evetything.

we have been playing both sides against the middle in the mideast for a long long time.

little wonder we have had such poor luck there.

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