Monday, July 23, 2007

missionaries: love 'em or hate 'em?

What we might term a "spirited" exchange is occurring over at the Marmot's Hole. Check the comment threads appended to a post about the current crisis in Afghanistan involving Korean Christians who may or may not have been doing mission work along with aid work (this post is being updated as we learn more). At present the comment thread is almost 150 comments long and is dominated by a handful of commenters. I don't normally read through Hole threads anymore, but the sheer number of comments appended to a topic of personal interest caught my eye, so I decided to go against protocol and read through the entire mess.

Most of this particular comment thread is devoted to debating whether missionaries who go to dangerous places like Afghanistan are worthy or respect or scorn (no mention, so far, of scornful respect). Should we respect people who seem to be sincere believers, who are willing even to risk death for their beliefs? Or should we scorn these people as misguided idiots* who know what they are getting into and are therefore undeserving of sympathy?

While the thread contains a lot of hot air, it also contains the elements of an actual, substantive exchange. Instead of providing meta-commentary here (a waste of time), I'd encourage you to go visit that post, read through the ever-growing thread, and make your own judgments. I might discuss my own views on mission work later... but I think longtime readers of this blog already know what I'm going to say.

*"Idiot" is here used in the sense of someone who possesses rational faculties but lacks even a modicum of common sense, especially with regard to danger. I'm pointing this out because the phrase "misguided idiots who know what they are getting into" can be read as a self-contradiction. How can you know what you're getting into if you're an idiot?

The topic of idiocy is itself good blogfodder. I tend to think we are all idiots in some areas of our lives.


No comments: