More from RELS 348: Empire, Colonialism, and Religion

On March 10th Professor Hexham briefly discusses Christianity’s continuous hold onto modern day societies, religious and secular. It is undoubtable that Christianity has effected many cultures and civilizations, these influences can still be perceived today in countries involved in the crusades, colonialism and even both World Wars. Perhaps the most influenced was the “New World” the exploration and colonialism of the Americans brought on the revival of fundamental Christian theologies. In “For Lust of Knowing: The orientalists and their Enemies” Robert Irwin demonstrates missionaries and colonists as they began to use controversial biblical interpretations to further their exploitation of newly discovered resources and desires. It was through this period that

The modernity of the west is attributed by many to the separation of church and state, however Christian influences are undoubtable present through out the west. As Christianity helped create the foundation of the modern west it is reasonable that our society is to a degree organized on fundamental Christian influence; moral expectations have seeped into the judiciary, political and economic systems. Even annual calendars and public holidays reflect the influence of Christian beliefs onto the West. Despite the great impact on society few individuals are self-aware of the religious influence onto their daily lives and world view. On June 6 26th 2010 Alex Wilhelm discuses the role of religion in modern day culture in “Why Christianity Must Adapt—or Perish.” Wilhelm argues that modern Western cultures no longer benefit from the constructing, often socially enforced religious values.

Wilhelm proposes an adaption of how religion is practiced and perceived, declaring religious texts should not be perceived as fact as they often are. He furthers that Christianity as an institution needs to revise many fundamental aspects if it going to survive the future. Wilhelm clarifies the ideology of modern Christianity, through this understanding Christian ideologies would be understood objectively allowing religion to be more applicable to modern societies. Claiming this construction of modern religion to be best suited for “modern educated people” was somewhat insulting, through this understanding Wilhelm devalues the belief systems of all religions. Aspiration for wide spread modernity, equality and morality is very altruistic, however implying that this is only achievable through secular civilizations discredits humanity of historical humanitarian acts and achievements.

An important aspect is that Wilhelm does not address is who would be constructing this objective interpretation of religious texts. Would this task be left to the biased leaders of churches, would all sects of the religion collectively decide the relevant and beneficial ideologies from the bible, or would this task befall a biased secular “modern, educated” person? Wilhelm also does not explain to what degree modern Christianity would be applied to the lives of modern individuals, or the benefit of this modified Christianity at all for that matter. Religion at its fundamental roots is a guide for humans, a guide to achieve the perceived responsibilities and expectations for individuals to fulfill their purpose in life. Striping religion down to objective ideologies would defeat its existence all together. Irwing provides multiple examples through which religion controls the world view of civilizations, a common theme through these historical accounts is that the authoritative individuals are those who influence history. The effectiveness of colonization is credited to the continuous validation of religious ideologies, the potential of leaders was greatly based on their ability to clarify and even at times manipulate or distort religious texts in their favor. Upon further inquiry it becomes obvious that corrupt humans rather than religion are to blame for the appalling history of humanity. The influence of religion onto the west is undeniable, claiming that its abolishment for the good of humanity seems to be a near impossible task to achieve or even explain to practisers of religion. # uwreligions

Irwin, Robert. For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and Their Enemies. London, England: Allen Lane, 2006. Print.

Wilhelm, Alex. “Why Christianity Must Adapt — Or Perish.” The Huffington Post., 26 June 2010. Web. 23 Mar. 2015. <;.


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