Books that tell lies
Recently a young man admitted that the book he wrote was a pack of lies, and that he never did visit heaven.
I wish that certain others who have written similar sagas would own up to their misrepresentations, instead of enjoying a position on the best sellers list.
Here are a few book titles that are biographies, but promote certain religious fallacies.
Pioneer in Tibet: The life and Perils of Dr. Albert Shelton, by Douglas A. Wissing.
The Cross and the Switchblade, by David Wilkerson.
On a Wing and a Prayer, by Janet Benge & Geoff Benge.
My Several Worlds, by Pearl S. Buck
In Pioneer in Tibet, Dr. Shelton’s dream was to penetrate into the heart of the forbidden country, Tibet, and establish a foothold for Christianity in Lhasa. Despite having an invitation from the Dalai Lama at the time, he was welcomed only to the fringe of the country, and that only because he offered medical services.
He loved going on camping trips and buying up Tibetan artifacts for pennies, and succeeded in having all his efforts financed by the folks at home. He also spent many enjoyable hours crisscrossing America giving fund raising speeches and slide shows. This enabled him to go back and build a dispensary in western China. In all his years of effort, there were only 20 converts, called “rice bowl Christians” and no ethnic Tibetan was ever baptized.
Despite warnings of dangerous conditions, he insisted in traveling in bandit infested territory, and was shot, robbed of his horses, and died of the wound. Another awarding of the Darwin Trophy.
The Cross and the Switchblade is another example of the buttinsky syndrome of Christian enthusiasts. Mr. Wilkerson states on the first page of his ghost written biography that a photo in Life magazine inspired him to drop everything at his local church and go barge into a New York City murder trial brandishing a bible. This was due to his unbounded arrogance that “God” called out to him to work for the saving of souls that were doomed to a life of drug use and crime without his intervention.
This arrogance built on ignorance led this country preacher out of his small puddle of influence to the big city, life on the mean streets, a bestselling book, and then to a movie.
The fact that he was bored with his life and restless for change was at least honestly admitted. (Page 10) He looked for “signs” and heard “voices”. Now if anyone claims to have direct communication with unseen forces, hears voices, we usually diagnose schizophrenia.
Why couldn’t he just be more up front, say he was looking for more challenging work, and offer his involvement to the proper social services? I suspect that he had to cloak his ambition in religious terms and magical shamanistic sales talk, to lighten the wallets of his former parishioners.
The book On a Wing and a Prayer was also turned into a movie, The End of the Spear.
It reminded me of the thoughts I had of Nate Saint when I first read the book some 50 years ago.
This was an account of another arrogant missionary pilot trying to export his version of religion onto primitive people. When he was greeted with arrows in his plane’s fuselage while buzzing over hostile territory in the Amazon, he should have taken the hint.
We have a saying in aviation “There are bold pilots and old pilots, but not old and bold pilots. Well, poor Nate did not make old bones, as he was attacked with machetes the next time he came in contact with the Auca. He had thought for sure that this primitive tribe needed converting to Christianity and he was just the fellow to accomplish this. This was simply another example of arrogance that forms in egotistical religious minds.
My Several Worlds, by Pearl S. Buck
I first encountered the missionary story of Western intrusion into China by reading Ms. Buck’s 1954 biography. In that book she reveals the trials of living in the family compound during the Boxer Rebellion.
The old Chinese Empress of China got it right when she claimed that white men and missionaries were “slicing China up like a melon”.
The family lived under siege both in Shanghai and at the compound, and when the rebellion was forcibly put down by foreign intervention, the trust and ease with the local Chinese had vanished. Even the servants of the missionary families had to hide from reprisals.
What kind of man would endanger his wife and children to wartime conditions, tropical diseases and homesickness? According to Pearl’s maternal relatives all missionaries were “uncountable fanatics”. They could not understand why any “sensible” man would leave home and family, not to mention his own country and set out to preach to Chinese, who already had several ancient religions of their own?
Missionary efforts in China were not productive in the long run, and the price paid by wives and children were inordinately high.
These books do not tell lies in themselves, as they are tales about people’s lives, and adhere to what transpired in their heads and actions.
The lies come into the picture in that these people acted on their own opinions of reality which when viewed from the outsider’s point of view were obviously wrong, or lies told for advantage.
What were these opinions? Besides the obvious “white man’s” superiority, the whole basis for these missionaries’ efforts was based on the opinion that there was an invisible, unknowable, unpredictable, and un- responsive deity in the great Up There that governed the suitability of men achieving salvation after death. The fact of the low numbers of conversion to Christianity for all the missionary efforts leads an objective observer to the conclusion that these religious spouting’s were indeed lies, and much harm ensued in the pursuit of trying to convince others to join in the praise of such fantasies.
When we look at today’s headlines and see attacks on churches and public gathering places all in the name of religion, one has to wonder where this all knowing all forgiving invisible deity is.
Maybe he/she/it is hiding out from the little squalling quarreling tribes that inhabit the blue planet, and is contemplating ending the whole thing with a bang. Or maybe just a shrug.