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Writing About Others

So there is internet at the hotel where I'm staying. I'm still not sure how much I'll get to blog this week. In the meantime, I wanted to make a note of this quote, from an article on Hinduism linked by Ampersand:

For Sharma, author of Classical Hindu Thought: An Introduction (Oxford, 2000), the debate has shades of gray. “Both the insider and the outsider see the truth,” he writes in an e-mail interview, “but genuine understanding may be said to arise at the point of their intersection. At this intersection one realizes that the Shivalinga [the icon of the god Shiva] is considered a phallic symbol by outsiders but rarely by Hindus themselves, or that the Eucharist looks like a cannibalistic ritual to outsiders but not to Christians.” He continues, “If insiders and outsiders remain insulated they develop illusions of intellectual sovereignty. Each is required to call the other’s bluff.”

I don't know much about Hinduism, but the comment on communion-as-cannibalism is right on. Having learned Christianity as an "insider," I find it strange, and dissonant with my own experience, to hear people describe communion as cannibalism. It's got a sort of superficial resemblance, in that the bread and wine are said to represent the body and blood of a man, but it completely lacks the other connotations that are associated with real cannibalism in our culture. (It's interesting to note that it's exactly those other connotations that motivate many people to make the cannibalism-communion connection -- by drawing that comparison, they aim to make Christians out to be strange and barbaric.)


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