Essays & Images on Cities, Travel and Contemporary Culture. A web journal of James A. Clapp, Ph.D., an UrbisMedia Ltd. Production


Poster from Christian website

Poster from Christian website

The heavy-set Korean guy who crammed himself into the seat next to me on a commuter flight from San Diego to LAX had a ring on his pudgy finger that looked like one of those NFL Super Bowl rings—big, gaudy with diamonds, and ostentatious. Starched cuffs protruded from the polyester sport jacket. He also wore a glossy tie and topped things off with a ridiculously high pompadour. He looked like some third-rate appliance salesman trying to look second rate. It took him about three sentences—breath clouded with kim chee —to inform me that he was on his way to his “ministry” in Seoul, sister church to three ministries in the Wisconsin.   He makes videos of his sermons that he sells to support his ministries.


I am always amazed when I meet someone who goes a stereotype one better, and this guy did. He reeked of all that evangelistic arrogant pietism that I detest. The money they manage to all but extort from thjeir credulous flocks confirms to them that the Lord does indeed favor their “ministries.” In Asia, Christianity gets a boost from its association with financial success; Asia is a place where the gods are often supplicated for “good fortune.”   In didn’t ask my seatmate if he was a Moonie, the whacko Christian sect that has made its founder filthy rich, and who owns The Washington Times. It didn’t matter, I already knew that S. Korea was awash in evangelistic Christian kim chee .


That was a while ago. But it was freshened in my memory, when I saw on the news that a group of S. Koreans have been kidnapped in Afghanistan by those bad-ass Taliban Islamic extremists. Still, I am not very sympathetic to their plight. One of them has already been executed by their captors, and the threat is that the same fate might await the rest, almost all of them Christian nurses. The Taliban want to trade them for some of their own who have been captured by the Americans. But the Americans say “no deal,” they do not want to appease the Taliban with such ransom. So, the Christian Americans don’t mind offering up the Christian Koreans—ah, what the heck, they’ll all meet up after the Rapture and have a good laugh over a few beers and some kim chee over all of this.


So the Koreans were using the old canard—heal the body, snatch the soul.   They are, in a sense, kidnappers themselves. [1]   They claim not to be “missionaries,” but that is about as credible as if they said they don’t like kim chee.   Are these people so stupid that their subtraction from the human gene pool may be the only salutary residue of their shoving their noises into other people’s metaphysical business?   That sounds harsh; but these are people so convinced of their righteousness that they do not understand that this soulsnatching game is being played with 12 th Century rules?   And under 12 th Century rules, evangelism and war are pretty much the same thing.


Most of us start out having our innocence robbed of us at tender age; we are made credulous, and what we believe we adopt not by some God-instilled impulse to faith, but out of fear and indoctrination.   We get our faith and sect from nurture, not nature.   Depending upon where we are when we get our nurturing in religion, we end up in one faith or another.   Let’s face it, if these Koreans had been born in Afghanistan they would be Muslims.   Their culture would be entirely different.


I think it is the underlying implied attitude of superiority in evangelists to which I owe my paradoxical contempt and fascination. That someone can deign to judge the soul of another as unworthy of paradise, save for the Hitlers, Stalins, Pol Pots and Bushes, and their ilk, and to judge people’s need for “saving,” is an arrogant and bigoted enterprise. When evangelists insinuate themselves into my life I view it as a declaration of war—not bang-bang shooting war, but a metaphysical free-fire war, where their faith, their beliefs, their gods, are targets.   But the Taliban, of course, do not make this distinction.


I have my own point of view of the roots of evangelism, which I believe to lie deep in the soil of creation myths and the cosmologies of early religions. As it seems to always have been religion and warfare share some of the same social purposes. To demonize an enemy, to portray them as an evil force intent upon taking your land and your women, makes conquest, subjugation, or extermination of them a sacred duty as much as a social necessity. Prayer and sacrifice before battle go back to the earliest accounts and can be seen today as American troops prepare for their missions in Iraq.


If you can’t make an enemy fear your weapons you might be able to make them fear your gods.   General Boykin wasn’t the first general to publicly claim that his (Christian) god could whip the ass of the enemy’s god. [2]   Since many people are inclined to “go with a winner” they can be persuaded to switch their deities as a means of survival.   Either way, religion comes in handy as a means of making enemies tremble or, once subdued, making them conform to customs and mores of their new masters.   Those that don’t can be offered a martyr’s death.


It’s all designed to work out rather neatly and efficiently. In the dualistic world of the contending forces of good and evil, both physical and metaphysical, the world is a place of endless battle between those forces, and victory on the earthly fields of Armageddon, is seen as a guarantee of heavenly reward because, as everybody know, God loves a winner.


The two big monotheisms currently in contention clearly see things through this dualistic cosmology. Their faiths are on a collision course.   There may be those who see some form of eventual syncretism, or accommodation between the two—after all God and Allah are just two different names for the same entity, right?   Yeah, right, but Mr. Mohammad sees Mr. Christian’s wife as some underdressed feminist slut and Mr. Christian sees Mrs. Mohammad as an illiterate, repressed bag of laundry—and that’s where “the rubber meets the road” in differential theology.   Forget accommodation, even tolerance, which is a delicate and rare spatial balancing act, because convert, or die, is the rallying cry.


This is because another dimension of the cosmology is—for all of its seeming contradiction with conventional fundamental Christian thought—Darwinian.   One need not listen too carefully to hear Christians bemoaning abortion because, in addition to being “murder” in their terms, it deprives their side of a potential warrior. Those Muslims, more than one Christian preacher has warned from his pulpit, “are out-breeding us.”   Yup, that whole serial impregnation of multiple wives thing can be seen as a lot more effective than the U.S. Army having to pay enlisting bonuses and college tuition to et their warriors.   Demographics seem to be bearing this out.   France is already concerned that its Muslim population will be a legitimate political force in not many years because of its rate of reproduction. [3]   Thus, religion becomes a form of “survival of the most-est,” of arithmetic hegemony over ecological niches, over which faith supercedes the other numerically, a war over social policies, customs, mores—culture.   In this form of Darwinian struggle even the great Western secular faith of “democracy” can even become a weapon against itself!


I wonder if it was some pastor like that fat-fingered Korean evangelist who dispatched those missionary “nurses” into the vortex of such a momentous Armageddon.

©2007, James A. Clapp (UrbisMedia Ltd. Pub. 8.10.2007)

[1] Readers of these pages already know this writers contempt for evangelism. DCJ Archives, No. 3.9; 37.7; see also “Invasions of the Soul Snatchers”; Chapter 17 of my book, This Urban Life. There is also an insurgency of evangelistic Christian into the armed services of this country, cf, DCJArchives No. 41.1, and check out this link:   Armageddon

[2] He wasn’t demoted or discharged by his Commander-in-Chief, as he should have been according to military rules about evangelizing in uniform, he was rewarded.

[3] A Burmese tour guide expressed the same concern to me in his country, where the Muslims outbreed Buddhists as well.