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American Missionary Killed by Indigenous Tribe


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39 minutes ago, snarkopolis said:

So what if the islanders die, and he breaks laws---he's a (WHITE) CHRISTIAN (MAN) FROM AMERICA and these are inferior brown people.

He actually wasn't white.

I was talking about this with my parents, who used to be missionaries themselves. My dad and I have also talked about the Andaman Islands, including that particular island, quite a few times before, so I knew this was a story he would be interested in. Anyway, even though my parents are Evangelical Christians and very pro-missions they both thought that Chau was being really stupid and it was a pointless death rather than a martyring. 

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On 11/21/2018 at 7:45 AM, ViolaSebastian said:

But they’ll die knowing about Jesus! /s

Nope, they speak their own language which has never been translated. 

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5 minutes ago, DarkAnts said:

Nope, they speak their own language which has never been translated. 

I meant the comment in a sarcastic way. I probably should have added an emoji to make that clear. 

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54 minutes ago, refugee said:

(snip)

His christianized homeschooling science (I don’t know this as a fact, mind, but am extrapolating from the Facebook people we have in common) may well have been crappy enough that the thought of killing them with germs never crossed his mind. (snip)

Sadly, it may never have crossed the people's mind to take any of that into consideration either. :(

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1 hour ago, refugee said:

may well have been crappy enough that the thought of killing them with germs never crossed his mind.

If he had done even the most simple basic search about the island he would know that they are at high risk for death by infectious diseases because they have no immunity. If he knew enough to lie his way to getting to the island, then he knew enough to have read this information. 

He might have chosen to not believe it, but at some point there is no way that he didn't read it. He might have brushed it off as nonsense or that they need Jesus anyway, but I don't see how anyone could learn enough about the island to get there and not learn basic info like they are at risk of dying from contact because they lack immunity. 

I do agree that he was probably raised with missionary stories that glamorize going to the "natives" and saving them. I remember reading the Peace Child forever ago. I wonder how accurate that was, does anyone know?  Jim Elliot is praised as a hero but he royally screwed up, something that is glossed over in many accounts of his mission journey.

Like with the guy in Cameroon who died because he ignored warnings and got himself entangled in a conflict, I can see why the family wants to present both of these guys as martyrs, it is easier than admitting that they died pointlessly because they got in over their heads and refused to listen to warnings.   

 

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I don’t think they will be able to retrieve the corpse. In 2006 two fishermen were killed because they got too close to the island. There was an effort to retrieve fishermens the bodies. The tribe attacked the intruders and the bodies were left behind. 

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1 hour ago, refugee said:

He was probably raised on missionary stories where missionaries went to live in a tribe to learn their language and customs and then preach the gospel to them in a way that was relevant to them.

I can think of at least three such stories from when I was in that crowd. Kay Arthur told one. I think the book “Peace Child” was another, though I never read it so I could be wrong.

ETA: these are examples of a popular genre in that crowd. Many families seriously constrain their kids’ reading. So the kids satisfy their sense of curiosity and adventure with this type of thing:

https://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/christian-heroes-janet-benge/1024071001?ean=9781576582084&st=PLA&sid=BNB_New+Core+Shopping+Top+Margin+EANs&sourceId=PLAGoNA&dpid=tdtve346c&2sid=Google_m&gclid=Cj0KCQiAxNnfBRDwARIsAJlH29BVkTQjlHlFtj8iAU6AaONW1fEey-RCHGjPBxWTm3W9E4VLoPlaPjsaAjq7EALw_wcB

It appears we share some Facebook friends. From the context of their responses to this, I would guess he was from the neo-reformed crowd and thus heavily influenced by the Harris family’s “Do hard things” message.

Oh, he was probably raised on Jim Elliot, the pineapple story, and any number of stupid books glorifying missionaries who "are martyred for their faith."

He apparently had been planning this trip for 3 years, had a college education, was educated enough to figure out how to get there, was smart enough to find the money, figured out how to get a passport, knew how to lie about his visa, knew how to bribe fishermen, and (according to his own journal) knew he risked being killed by the indigenous people who have made it perfectly clear that they do not want contact with the outside world.  And who did their level best to warn him off before they killed him in self defense when he kept coming back!

But it never occurred to him to wonder why these people have protected status, why going within 3 miles of the island is forbidden,  or what risks of disease and death he was bringing to them by his mere presence on their island?   Give me a break.

Ignorance is no excuse.  This missionary fervor, idiocy, and glorification of uninformed arrogant evangelists should be stopped in its tracks.   Churches or misguided individual donors that want to support such endeavors should be criticised just as much as the people who get themselves killed.

Chau is actually the second American "missionary" killed within a month for being criminally stupid.  Although this one managed not to risk the lives of a wife and 8 children, just himself, he threatened the very lives of the people he was trying to bring to Jebus.

We have been discussing Charles Wesco over on the Shrader thread.  Nothing like taking your wife and children to convert Christians to Christianity in an area of the Cameroon that is basically having a civil war, against travel advisories, and when other foreign nationals are being evacuated by their employers.  And then getting caught in crossfire thanks to your own stupidity only to have your family, church, and other misguided Christians, claiming that you are a martyr targeted for your faith.  

Has Chau's family set up a GoFundMe yet?  5. 4. 3, 2 ...

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Once again, thank you @Palimpsest.

Enough with the "what abouts" and "both sides" bullshit. Chau was an asshat and deserves no sympathy for the fatal outcome of his criminal decisions and actions. I'm sorry for his family who will no doubt miss him and mourn his loss but I hope they resist the temptation to turn in this into another Jeebus + moneymaking fable like Jim Elliot's.

OTOH, perhaps you can't blame them for trying since the late Elizabeth Elliot profited so extensively off her husband's untimely demise that she chose to keep using his surname through two subsequent marriages.

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(except I would blame them for trying... in that it might inspire further idiotic attempts by misguided people who think they are inspired by some divine force rather than propaganda)

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13 minutes ago, refugee said:

(except I would blame them for trying... in that it might inspire further idiotic attempts by misguided people who think they are inspired by some divine force rather than propaganda)

ITA - should been clearer about the sarcasm behind my comment!

 

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I saw this and immediately thought it happened in Africa. Although maybe if it did, all these religious nuts would leave us alone and not try to rescue our souls with tracts and preaching

I feel for the family but really, what did he think would happen

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3 hours ago, snarkopolis said:

Missing the entire point. It is cut and dried. The law in India is clear. Do  not go within 3 miles of the island, no contact allowed. Guy lied about his purpose on his Visa ( he KNEW). When he got there the people SHOT arrows at him. That action does not sound like "Hello, come in".

Let's just admit that this guy thought that him being a CHRISTIAN FROM AMERICA was his excuse to ignore all the laws of another country he was visiting (India) and endanger the lives of people who had no immunity, on an island he was NOT allowed to visit, because he thought exposing them to JESUS/CHRISTIANITY was WAAAY more important. So what if the islanders die, and he breaks laws---he's a (WHITE) CHRISTIAN (MAN) FROM AMERICA and these are inferior brown people.

 

So you don't want to address my concerns about had this NOT been a zealous converter unaware of the laws--had it been a true, ignorant innocent--it might force us to look at this differently? 

I wasn't saying that the actions/motivations of the guy himself were gray area/worth discussing.  I don't think anyone here thinks he was doing a good thing.  I wanted to get into the bigger surrounding stuff.   

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25 minutes ago, RidiculousFundies said:

I saw this and immediately thought it happened in Africa. Although maybe if it did, all these religious nuts would leave us alone and not try to rescue our souls with tracts and preaching

I feel for the family but really, what did he think would happen

From the bit of his journal I read in that news piece, it was a blend of “wtf have I gotten myself into”, “I could go home and be safe”, “I don’t want to die” and something about glorifying god. 

Isn’t “soli deo gloria” one of the bywords of the neo-calvinists? Or is it more generally applied in other faith groups as well? I’m most familiar with hypercalvinism as that’s the crowd we spent two decades too many as a part of. (I remember being told that Bach signed all his compositions s.d.g., but this guy used the phrase in his letter home, I think—it was either there or in the journal)

Edited by refugee
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3 minutes ago, LilMissMetaphor said:

So you don't want to address my concerns about had this NOT been a zealous converter unaware of the laws--had it been a true, ignorant innocent--it might force us to look at this differently? 

I don't understand where you're coming from.  He absolutely, 100% knew what he was doing, as @Palimpsest laid out.  The local people know, and if, I dunno, a rich dude on a private yacht who landed there without knowing, I'd 100% blame him too, for not doing any research or finding out about the local laws.  I'm sure if we all tried, really, really hard, maybe we could come up with a scenario where "a true, ignorant innocent" landed on the island and "accidentally" committed genocide, but I don't understand what that would add, because even if we could manage it (why did the "innocent" not do perfunctory checks about which country different islands belonged to?  Why did they assume they didn't have to follow local laws, or care which international waters they were entering?), it wouldn't have any connection at all to this story - where some educated, privileged dude decided rules are for other people, was very much given due warning and died, just as a perfunctory google search would have told him he would.

(I don't even understand what his best case scenario was - the inhabitants of the island accepted him, by a fluke of fate didn't catch some awful disease from him and... he learns their language well enough to try to explain his religion to them, and they just go "oh, ok, we'll follow you now"? I just don't get any of this.)

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Again, I'm not talking about the guy.  He was obviously an asshat who didn't listen and thought he was, I don't know, above the law or something.  I'm talking about the other issues, like watching a culture, a language die out.  How can we share things with other cultures without hurting them? How can they share things with us?  Isn't it sad from a purely etymological perspective? No? Do we all just want to rant about the dumb guy who knocked on the one door he reallllllly shouldn't have knocked on? Okay then, let's do that. 

 

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2 minutes ago, LilMissMetaphor said:

Again, I'm not talking about the guy.  He was obviously an asshat who didn't listen and thought he was, I don't know, above the law or something.  I'm talking about the other issues, like watching a culture, a language die out.  How can we share things with other cultures without hurting them? How can they share things with us?  Isn't it sad from a purely etymological perspective? No? Do we all just want to rant about the dumb guy who knocked on the one door he reallllllly shouldn't have knocked on? Okay then, let's do that. 

 

It's pretty simple, from where I stand: They know that they aren't alone. So, if they want contact, they can make contact on their terms.

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15 minutes ago, LilMissMetaphor said:

 

So you don't want to address my concerns about had this NOT been a zealous converter unaware of the laws--had it been a true, ignorant innocent--it might force us to look at this differently? 

I wasn't saying that the actions/motivations of the guy himself were gray area/worth discussing.  I don't think anyone here thinks he was doing a good thing.  I wanted to get into the bigger surrounding stuff.   

Imagine what the equivalent would be for us - individuals who look different from us, dress different, don't speak our language, have technology  that we don't understand (big boats, helicopters etc), say like aliens from a big spaceship, landing on our world and walking in like they own the place, not responding to our warning shots. 

Would you seriously walk up to them hands open? And if you did, do you seriously think your country's military would let you walk into what could easily turn into a hostage situation where everyone knows the individual who looks different, dresses different and speaks gibberish you don't understand has access to machines that you know are more powerful than any of your own weapons? 

Id like to think the situation would be very different after for instance a shipwreck that brings people to the island, when it's obvious they're there by accident, mean no harm, and need help. The islanders might still stay away (very wise considering the immunity implications) but might just bring food to help out until help arrives. Hopefully we'll never know. 

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6 hours ago, LilMissMetaphor said:

This isn't cut and dried, though. There's plenty of ethical/moral/legal questions raised by this situation.  Of course, the guy should have known better.  You could even argue (and people are) that he deserved it.  But the tribe doesn't know it is protected by the law of the land and that people shouldn't come there.  They're just like, get off my island! Theoretically, what if these people were in a different location that was more accessible and someone (say a child for the sake of argument, not aware of "US law" per se, stumbled into their area and was shot with arrows? That wouldn't be okay.  People would just say it was a terrible accident.  Uh, well, but it's not actually okay to shoot others with arrows, even if they are protecting their way of life and just want to be left alone.  Does being special and unique and genetically fragile mean we have the right to kill others to keep them away from us? 

I don't want an entire tribe to die of germs because someone was stupid, either.  But we can't exchange anything, bad or good, any knowledge, any language, anything preservable.  They are just going to die of natural causes soon with very little known about them until after their deaths.  Is that the ideal situation?   

Yes in this situation they do have a right to kill to keep people away. 100%. I’m sure they have passed down their oral history where in the 1860s explorers made it on the island then kidnapped two elders and four children. Naturally the two elders died because they were suddenly exposed to new germs. The four children were returned but who knows what they picked up germ wise and what sort of effect that had on the health of the island. So now the Sentinelese will kill you unless of course you do the sensible logical thing and don’t get on a boat and sail up on their island. 

 

And Im sorry but that whole I don’t want the whole tribe to because of germs buuuuuut what about exchanging knowledge is the most clueless bullshit excuse I have ever seen. If they want to be left alone they deserve to be left alone and obviously they don’t owe the rest of the world any sort of knowledge about their existence. We don’t get to risk killing them off in exchange for more information about them.  

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I'm sure that I've read that the Sentinelese have killed fisherman who were legitimately stranded on the island as well.

Even I have read of them and know they mean business. 

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14 minutes ago, Letizia said:

We don’t get to risk killing them off in exchange for more information about them.  

Pretty sure I didn't suggest that we do that.  I just thought it bore raising questions about.  Shoot me.  Oh wait...

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I came across this interview in The NY Times where T.N. Pandit discusses how his research group made contact with the Sentinelese but now discusses why he regrets doing so.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2017/05/05/world/asia/anthropologist-india-andaman-island-tribes.amp.html

C3983C92-B91B-48B0-8531-6512DB7B4150.thumb.jpeg.01c04ff2f4e18c67c5177d25a69b5d91.jpeg

T.N. Pandit is on the far left and they are giving the Sentinelese coconuts. It took them a long time and many years, over two decades, to earn their trust.

Edited by luv2laugh
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@LilMissMetaphor My husband is asking some of the same questions. He wonders if it’s fair to the Sentinelese to leave them isolated, without modern medicine etc.  I understand where he’s coming from. I can’t decide if it would benefit or harm them more, even if there were a way to bridge the language gap and immunity issues. Our way of life is not necessarily the best way. But dh argues that pathogens will eventually make there way onto the island and their isolation will come to an end. I don’t think that means we have to speed up their demise. 

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7 hours ago, LilMissMetaphor said:

I don't want an entire tribe to die of germs because someone was stupid, either.  But we can't exchange anything, bad or good, any knowledge, any language, anything preservable.  They are just going to die of natural causes soon with very little known about them until after their deaths.  Is that the ideal situation?  

I see where you're coming from with this.  I've said some of this over in a JRod thread awhile ago, but I'm a linguist and linguistics teacher.  As someone who finds human language in general fascinating, and can enthuse for far longer than some of my students want me to about the wide variety of features and quirks worldwide, I do find it sad that the Sentinelese language - which almost certainly has some features shared by no other language on earth, but probably also has some telling similarities, and could potentially teach us something about Language* - is likely to vanish without ever being documented.  The same can be said of their beliefs, oral traditions, and knowledge of their home island.  So no, it's not ideal.  But - and it's a big but - the Sentinelese, their language, culture, and history do not exist for our benefit, and we have no right to force them to share, or to force them to learn anything from us.  They are well aware that other people are out here, and have made it pretty clear that they want nothing to do with us.  Even without the risk of bringing disease, that's reason enough to leave them alone until/unless they decide to make contact.  

 

*I hesitate to even use the P-word and C-word (Pirahã and Chomsky), because that's a whoooole debacle, but it's a fairly well-known example of a single, small language sparking a conversation about how human language in general might work.

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48 minutes ago, SamiKatz said:

I'm sure that I've read that the Sentinelese have killed fisherman who were legitimately stranded on the island as well.

Even I have read of them and know they mean business. 

The fisherman were fishing illegally in the exclusion zone.

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8 hours ago, LilMissMetaphor said:

This isn't cut and dried, though. There's plenty of ethical/moral/legal questions raised by this situation.  Of course, the guy should have known better.  You could even argue (and people are) that he deserved it.  But the tribe doesn't know it is protected by the law of the land and that people shouldn't come there.  They're just like, get off my island! Theoretically, what if these people were in a different location that was more accessible and someone (say a child for the sake of argument, not aware of "US law" per se, stumbled into their area and was shot with arrows? That wouldn't be okay.  People would just say it was a terrible accident.  Uh, well, but it's not actually okay to shoot others with arrows, even if they are protecting their way of life and just want to be left alone.  Does being special and unique and genetically fragile mean we have the right to kill others to keep them away from us? 

I don't want an entire tribe to die of germs because someone was stupid, either.  But we can't exchange anything, bad or good, any knowledge, any language, anything preservable.  They are just going to die of natural causes soon with very little known about them until after their deaths.  Is that the ideal situation?   

No, they don't know that. And, they don't need to. They live their lives on their island, in their society, speaking their language with their rules/laws/norms/ways/lives. 

If they were theoretically in a more accessible place with regular or even some interaction with society at large, this wouldn't even be an issue. The entire point is that they are not a society with contact or interaction with other society. They don't know that missionary from tRump and they don't care. The laws of India do protect them, but they are primarily laws for society at large to follow. India did not make laws for the Sentinelese; they made laws to f*cking keep people away from the Sentinelese. 

We don't know that the Sentinelese shot arrows, or killed him, to protect their way of life and be left alone. For all they knew, they were being invaded. Invaded civilizations fight back. Always have, always will. 

It's impossible to judge the Sentinelese by the rules of society as we know them. It may not be an ideal situation for "us" for them & their society to die off, but they aren't asking anyone to intervene. They aren't asking to be saved, for anyone's god or anyone's rules of society. 

 

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