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Christianity Archives - St. Stephen's University

Faithfulness and Fear Mongering; My Response to the Manchester Bombing

By | 2017, Europe | No Comments

The loss of life – any human life- is a tragic occurrence. One thing worse than wanton killing, is the manipulation of grieving. The morning paper on the train into central London is NOT the best quality. It is, however, mass produced and widely available to the public. Unfortunately. Our theme of Seeing the Other was (potentially) put to the test in our first week of travels when the Manchester attack occurred.

How do we continue seeing the other when the other has proven them self to be dangerous? The papers jumped – nay PREYED- upon this question. The fear people have of the other, especially the Islamic or the migrant other, is real and the fear mongering occurs. The headline “Now They Kill Our Little Girls” and “He Was Chanting His Prayers Loudly In The Street” preyed upon Other- ing. Who is they? The question is open ended in order for the reader to fill it in with whatever prejudice they hold: Muslims, migrants, religious other, ISIS….

Even the positive headlines are enforcing the idea of other: particularly the Muslim other with headlines such as “Muslim Heroes of Manchester” and “Muslim Leaders: Never Let Barbaric Animals Destroy Us”. Their association with the already established “other” makes them vulnerable and likely to fall under suspicion anyway- despite the good they have done.

It was interesting to be in a Mosque the week of the tragedy. To see and hear about Islam from a faithful follower of Islam, someone who believes that what they follow is the doctrine that will bring them to God, was so beautifully refreshing. After having learned about Islam from the media and possessing a warped understanding of the religion, I was not sure about what should or should not be believed about this religion so similar and so different from mine. I received a Quran from our presenter, which was a weird moment for me. As a Catholic I read the Bible. I wouldn’t know how to read the Quran. But to have it, to hold their sacred text, is a beautiful reminder to fight theĀ things that inspire fear, and to follow those that lead you in faithfulness to God.

“Well, that was interesting.”

By | 2010, Asia | No Comments

All I can say after Thailand is
“well, that was interesting.”

The language barrier was incomparable to anything I have ever experienced, the cuisine was the most unique amongst all the countries visited, and the evident history – and awareness of it – was astounding.

Please allow me to dispel the belief that I have negative opinions about my experience. I mean only to say they were a challenge. I thoroughly enjoyed being given Thai lessons by my home-stay, even if the lessons extended no further than picking up an object and telling me its Thai name. I got used to the food, as it was reminiscent of that consumed in the Philippines. I haven’t told anyone this yet, but I am 98.76 % sure I ate scorpion in a salad one afternoon…Thai crab limbsĀ are not that small and certainly not black…and that’s awesome!

Living in a Buddhist culture was enriching to the purpose of learning that Christianity is not the only faith to be fragmented and confused about what is going on in regards to its organisation. Animism influences rural Buddhism, while the royal courts are influenced heavily by Hinduism and the average Thai is somewhere in-between. Simply put, there is no uniformity, which is refreshing; not because I take joy from their confusion, but for the first time I view Buddhism in a perspective I can understand: human.

As for the King, [I am censored from my actual opinion because of a law that prevents me from saying anything that may paint him in a bad light, and while I do not have ill wishes ufor him, I do wish to comment on the fact he is the RICHEST Monarch in the world – look it up – and yet his people are quite, quite poor. I smell injustice.]

One night in Bangkok, all of us walked to a dinner prepared for us.
On the way, we passed through crowded street markets filled with the urban poor. I noticed one man that we all passed by who sat begging; he with one leg.
Some Thais tossed coins into his cup without looking at him.
As I began to pass him, I was compelled to drop to my knees, facing this man;
as I looked him in the eye, I gave him part of my wallet.

I was unable to stop crying the 10 minutes thereafter back to the hotel, which was made less – and more, if we’re considering my pride – embarrassing by April’s presence. God broke my heart for this man.

There are so many lessons myself or anyone can interpret from this excerpt of my life:
but just remember that our wealth was given to us for a reason.
Let’s use it for good.

Liam