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  • Victorian Urban Legends: Missionary Tales December 15, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback

    missionary tales

    This story appeared in Table Talk in 1870. Not having easy access it is taken here from the British press. Was it true or wasn’t it?

    When in India with my regiment, we were, at one time, quartered at a place where there was a missionary station. Some of the officers (as was frequently the case) having much leisure, and being so disposed, gave lay assistance to the clergyman in his endeavours to instruct the native population. Upon one occasion, I attended a special service which had been appointed to precede the celebration of the Lord Supper, of which three advanced proselytes desired to partake. Upon the occasion the missionary preached a short sermon upon the Faith, the foundation Christianity, taking his text from Romans iv. 3, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.’ He treated the subject in a plain way, suitable to the capacity of his hearers, and expounded the narrative in Genesis xxii. A native Hindoo had been observed at the service, who, although had not previously attended the instruction of the missionary, was extremely attentive to the sermon. On the evening of the same day I and brother officer rode some six or seven miles towards a native village, from whence most of the converts came; nearing which our attention was attracted by a crowd of natives, in the midst of which a large pile of wood was blazing; and the monotonous tum-tum of the Indian drum and a low croning wail were audible. But few words are necessary to describe the difficulty of teaching Christianity to a race of ignorant people whose minds are so governed by external impressions, and who are so matter-of-fact in practice; and still fewer words to describe the horror felt when we found that the strange and attentive native had returned home and literally carried out the command given to Abraham! He had slaughtered his son, and was now offering him to the ‘big God,’ a sacrifice.

    There is a long and very understandable tradition of non-Christians misunderstanding the details and logics of that most paradoxical religion: some of which have been examined before in this place. It is also true that human sacrifice was practiced in Hinduism and isolated instances occurred into the early twentieth century. However, there is something perhaps a little too pat about this narrative. Any other Christian missionary urban legends: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com  Or any proof that it was true?

    Filip points out, 30 Dec 2017, via twitter, that a similar story is found in Borges’ Gospel according to saint Mark.