Sunday, January 26, 2014

The gift the Protestant missionaries bequeathed the world

There's a great article in the current issue of Christianity Today, about the influence of Protestant missionaries in the Third World over the past century and a quarter. Far from being mere enablers and apologists of imperialism, they succeeded in creating broad, lasting uplift for the indigenous people, even in ultimate opposition to colonialism itself. In brief, the Protestant missionaries felt it imperative to spread the Gospel among all people. This meant teaching the Bible, which required teaching people to read. So missionary schools were founded, and thus literacy spread among the people in the areas where the Protestant missionaries operated. (The Bible did not have such primacy among Catholic missionaries.) There was of course more to it, as Western civilization made its way through the colonized lands. Medicine, law, technology, coupled with the Christian imperative to share those blessings with "the least of these" helped give credence to the missionaries' message. The liberating aspects of the Gospels themselves had their effects, as well. The end result is that areas that were ministered by Protestant missionaries were more well-disposed to democracy. The CT article details one researcher's quest to nail down these findings in statistical form, and to overcome the revulsion of deracinated secular academics at such a thing.

In search of answers, Woodberry traveled to West Africa in 2001. Setting out one morning on a dusty road in Lomé, the capital of Togo, Woodberry headed for the University of Togo's campus library. He found it sequestered in a 1960s-era building. The shelves held about half as many books as his personal collection. The most recent encyclopedia dated from 1977. Down the road, the campus bookstore sold primarily pens and paper, not books.

"Where do you buy your books?" Woodberry stopped to ask a student.

"Oh, we don't buy books," he replied. "The professors read the texts out loud to us, and we transcribe."

Across the border, at the University of Ghana's bookstore, Woodberry had seen floor-to-ceiling shelves lined with hundreds of books, including locally printed texts by local scholars. Why the stark contrast?

The reason was clear: During the colonial era, British missionaries in Ghana had established a whole system of schools and printing presses. But France, the colonial power in Togo, severely restricted missionaries. The French authorities took interest in educating only a small intellectual elite. More than 100 years later, education was still limited in Togo. In Ghana, it was flourishing.

Enough examples like that added up to this:

Woodberry already had historical proof that missionaries had educated women and the poor, promoted widespread printing, led nationalist movements that empowered ordinary citizens, and fueled other key elements of democracy. Now the statistics were backing it up: Missionaries weren't just part of the picture. They were central to it.

To wit:
Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations.

It's sad to think of such an important bit of the Western heritage being downplayed or denied in modern academia. In at least one country I know of, South Korea, they remember and honor the missionaries that came in the late 19th Century, the Bells, the Junkins, and many others. It's too bad Christopher Hitchens isn't around anymore; I'd like to see how he would have reacted to this. The same effects took hold in their native anglophone nations too, of course; and still do to this day. It's too bad we are as ignorant of them as fish are ignorant of water.

Edit: Dr. Horace Jeffrey Hodges, the Gypsy Scholar, has excerpts of the original academic paper and further thoughts here.

Sunday afternoon ADHD linklets & quotes

Lost letters, photographs and diaries by Heinrich Himmler have been discovered in Israel.

Nobody disputes the fact that, in order to make efficient use of the means at its disposal, the government must exercise a great deal of discretion. But, to repeat, under the rule of law the private citizen and his property are not an object of administration by the government, not a means to be used for its purposes.
-- The Constitution of Liberty, by F.A. Hayek

Previously unknown Egyptian pharaoh discovered.

America does not know the difference between money and sex. It treats sex like money because it treats sex as a medium of exchange, and it treats money like sex because it expects its money to get pregnant and reproduce.
- Peter Kreeft

Liberal, 2.0 A view of the wreckage by James Bowman at The New Criterion.

Islamic Extremists in Nigeria Attack Christians at Sunday Worship Every Week in January

Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.
-- Gustav Mahler

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Costco and the minimum wage

Speaking strictly from personal experience here...Re: Costco and their workers high wages. Great for them! It's a good store! I just have to search longer to find a worker to help me than I do at Sam's Club, because there are fewer of them. Also unlike Sam's Club, the workers giving out samples at Costco work for a different company & don't know where anything in the store is. Wonder what their pay is like?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Happy blogoversary to The Jawa Report!

Rusty and the gang have been giving it to the e-Jihad hot and strong for ten years now!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

RIP Ariel Sharon

He didn't care what the outside world thought; his only concern was protecting his people. And he was right to do so. As P. J. O'Rourke said:

This is [a] wonderful thing about Zionism: it was right. Every other "ism" of the modern world has been wrong about the nature of civilized man—Marxism, mesmerism, surrealism, pacifism, existentialism, nudism. But civilized man did want to kill Jews, and was going to do more of it.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday morning ADHD linklets...and some musings too

Did Nigerian soldiers join Boko Haram's massacre of Christians?

From the Pentagon to homelessness.

"For nearly 30 years I have asked myself this question: Why Richard?"

What American malls need: Husband storing facilities.

Okay, so Melissa Harris-Perry is smart. Maybe after this she'll also be somewhat wiser. Is MSNBC's bubble so thick that she, her co-hosts, writers, producers and everyone else involved in show prep all thought that this segment was a good idea? "We were jeering at the family photo to highlight how racist Republicans are. Because white Romneys." Too clever by half. She should have known better.

Goodbye to Amiri Baraka. It was rather hypocritical for New Jersey's poet laureate people to get all offended after his despicable reaction to 9/11. He had never misrepresented himself. What did they think they were getting when they awarded the post to him? But as with so many other Sixties radicals who went on to receive establishment recognition, he was well summed up in V. S. Naipaul's observation about the U.S.:

Always out there, the United States, an unacknowledged part of the
world picture of every kind of modern revolutionary: the country of law
and rest, with which at the end of the day a man who had proclaimed
himself to be on the other side–in politics, culture, or religion–could
make peace and on whose goodwill he could throw himself. –V.S. Naipaul,
Beyond Belief, 1998

Saturday, January 04, 2014

al Qaeda retakes Fallujah

This is very double plus ungood. One of the biggest urban battles the U.S. was involved in during the Iraq war was in Fallujah, driving al-Qaeda out. Army tank commander Lt. Neil Prakash kept a blog of the battle, and even in its redacted state makes for thrilling reading. The Americans were welcomed by the citizens, who were being brutalized by the terrorists:

I am also a professor at a military-related institution, and
my little brother is an enlisted Marine (a sniper with 1-3) in
Fallujah. This weekend he called for the first time since the battle
began. He informed us that a large number of the residents of
Fallujah, before fleeing the battle, left blankets and bedding for the
Marines and Soldiers along with notes thanking the Americans for
liberating their city from the terrorists, as well as invitations to
the Marines and Soldiers to sleep in their houses. I've yet to see a
report in the media of this. Imagine that.

Now we are gone, and the terrorists have returned, according to these reports. So sorry for those citizens, having to go through this ordeal again! We can only hope that the Iraqi national government can come together long enough to drive them out--I doubt they can be bought off.

A scene from the war: