Tuesday, February 08, 2005

West Hijacks East

So, I was thinking about a conversation I had yesterday regarding East versus West. As I stood in the shower this morning, I thought: The West has no religion of its own (save consumerism-capitalism-militarism-absolutism).

Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and yes, Christianity all have their roots in the East. Near-eastern and far-eastern religions are what this world is defined by. I don't mean to disclude other smaller religions or sects created in the West; I just mean the large percentage of religious people.

Yet many think of Christianity as a Western religion, rooted in Western understandings of God [read: Platonic and Socratic understandings of dualism, the soul, etc.], perhaps rooted in the East, but refined and defined by the West.

Have we gone astray in these thoughts? Or is this just how history works? Hmm.


Anonymous said...

I'd guess you'd have to define the 'west'. If you mean America, we're a country that's been around for such a short period of time. If you don't include the Native American religions almost all our beliefs came as a people group coming here from Europe. If you consider Europe 'the west' than certianly Christianity is the dominant force, which originated in the Middle East. I guess you could also see a lot of Paganism (celtic & others) that came from the west and this is carried on today in many New Age & Wiccan movements.

D. Goodmanson

Ryan Lee Sharp said...

Good call, Drew.

Defining terms is a really big deal. By West, I mean what began in Europe, particulary during the Greco-Roman age... then exported via empire into the Western world of that time (Europe, northern Africa, and parts of the Middle East), then retracted and moved to Europe proper. This was then exported to both North and South America (as well as other places like Australia/NZ, India, other colonies of the British and Spanish empires, etc.).

I do not consider pagan or Native American ideologies or religions to be particularly Western since they were not developped by the European mindset that was heavily informed by Greek thinkers such Plato and Socrates, both philosophically and socio-politically.

Most Native American and pagan understandings were created in isolated communities where the current empire had little influence.

I guess what I mean is that the problem with empire-building is the hijacking of a certain idealogy and the exporting of it to other places as if it were its own. Like as if the Roman Empire were really Christian, you know?