Disbelief

Just opposite ACE Hardware in SM Megamall is a small Christian fundamentalist bookstore. I think it’s the American religious right’s answer to the aggressive media campaign of the Paulinians. In the bottom left hand side of the stall’s display of literary offerings, there’s a small book that easily catches one’s eye.The Secrets of the Jesuits, it proclaims in big bold letters, with a picture of a crucified Jesus over a Nazi flag. Of course, this book has about as much credibility as Ador Mawanay, but that’s beside the point.

Thing is, I now study in a Jesuit school, and with the number of Jesuit products in high places leaves the impression that these clerics are just about as untouchable as Elliott Ness, so the fact that this book was sold as wantonly as it was kept me staring at the book and the saleslady for a few hours.

You’ve got to admire that much chutzpah.

***

What shocked me, though, was how a religious ideology so closely associated with the systemic oppression of blacks in the South and the suppression of democracy in the Philippines (see Rudyard Kipling and the white man’s burden), and was one of the staunchest supporters of the can afford to play the race card.

This is not to say that the Roman Catholic Church is off the hook when it comes to the specter of the Holocaust. Ronnie Landau, in his definitive work on the subject, indicts Pope Pius (whatshisnumber) for his relative inaction during that period. I wonder if the book on the Jesuits and the Nazis would be more effective in this country if the book traced the evils of Spanish Catholicism in the country, too.

I find it both sad and ironic that in order to convert Catholics to Christianity (in this country, at least), the Christian fundamentalist movement has become a pot calling the kettle black. This, by the way, is the very reason why we weren’t given our independence after we were “bought” by the United States (based on the speech delivered before the United States Congress defending our acquisition). Of course, this tiny little fact is glossed over by American schoolbooks. Sadly, it seems that this is just par for the course. The Germans don’t talk about the Final Solution, the Japanese don’t talk about Pearl Harbor, the Pope doesn’t talk (well, not much) about friar indiscretion in the Philippines, and the Americans (especially the fundamental Right) will probably never, ever talk about the lost generation of Samar.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that these books should never see the light of day. The Jesuit link between the Church and the Holocaust does make for interesting reading, as a historical subject. However, I think that being published by a fundamentalist organization (even if it it’s just plain old benign Christianity) takes away from whatever noble character the research might have had in the first place.

***

I’m sure there’s a better way to do criticize Catholicism, and you don’t need to put Catholicism down just to bring another one up, just like what the Iglesia and the Dating Daan people have been up to lately. Have you seen those? They beg viewers to call in with their questions for their “live” shows without leaving a phone number onscreen (of course). When someone calls in and takes the bait, he gets massacred on “live” television. What entertainment!

Someone should complain, really, but I think that too many people are having too much fun watching these guys rip each others’ guts out. I fear that deep down in the Filipino psyche, there’s nothing more irresistible than the chance to say, “Beh, buti nga!”

I’ll bet one of these days, these wisecracking evangelists are going to open a Pandora’s Box when a knowledgeable, learned, or hostile caller gets through. When these callers go through, there’s usually a one-word description of the caller’s faith and a copy of his question flashed onscreen. In all the times I’ve had the misfortune of coming across these shows on late night TV, I’ve never once come across the word “Wiccan” or “Satanist” or “Hedonist” on these shows.

***

I’ve only done it once myself, though. Once upon a time, (two summers ago, more or less) I was approached at the Asian Center parking lot by a woman asking for “love donations”. I was there while waiting for my then-girlfriend to finish her Soc Sci II class.

At the time I was into hard rock – Led Zeppelin, AC/DC – really good, really 70’s stuff. Naturally, that was playing on my stereo.

“Pahingi po ng love donations,” said this young lady while flashing a dubious ID that said she belonged to some religious sect.

“Sorry po, Satanista po ako,” I lied. I thought the loud guitars would scare her away. It didn’t. “Kahit na po, she replied. How dense could she be? “Naniniwala pa rin po kayo kay Kristo, di ba?”

Apparently, something with a three digit atomic mass would be denser than this little girl.

“Satanista nga e. Sorry.”

With that, she left. I think she sensed she wasn’t getting anything from me.

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