This week in history, on 1st March 1562, the Massacre of Vassy took place, beginning 36 years of the French Wars of Religion and use of the word ‘massacre’ as we know it. Symbolic politico-religious spaces and furious, mass casualty attacks against defenceless (often worshipping) civilians characterised this period. Like many historic uprisings, what preceded such incidents in England and France were creeping cultural-religious restrictions imposed by the nation state. For the persecuted, co-existence looked increasingly unlikely and the choice seemed to be system destruction, doom, or departure.
Funnily enough, the 1st of March was also the day Pioneer Missionary Hudson Taylor landed in Shanghai in 1854. Taylor popularised the approach of missionaries living and dressing like the people they seek to evangelise. Community-building efforts by a church in modern Virginia also relied on a nuanced understanding of populations to achieve growth (Ponder, 2021).
CTCB State of Play Newsletter No. 7 explores political violence as a human behavioural pattern: In cults, culture, and scene-making materials. The role of authority figures, often those deemed to have special knowledge or morality, features prominently. Public figures and cleverly publicised texts can catalyse and cohere widespread dissatisfaction and aggression into movements against a defined evil.
Historic incidents of terrorism and suicide extremism are able to violate the status quo of societies and initiate a restructuring of relations and authority. This means chaos for the incumbent or dominant culture, and manifest dreams of progress for the oppressed. As the saying goes, “Blood makes the grass grow greener,” yielding a bountiful harvest for survival.
The anti-scenic effect of an abnormally violent event for most leads to a sense that: This is not Paris (Saint Medard riot, Applebaum, 2015), this is not America (Capitol incident in Carlin, 2021), and this is not New Zealand (post-Tarrant, picture in Thorpe, 2019). For some, it may be a call to “March Forth”.
We hope you enjoy the March fifth issue, and have provided a summary and some extras for the material recommended in Theme 1, as the panel discussion is quite long.
Credit to Christianity Today for the service ‘Today in Christian History’
Porter, D. (2021, February 23). Reading While Not Black. Christianity Today.