RELIGION 101: La continuation de la religion par d’autres moyens (Assume the position: German website teaches migrants the missionary position)

missionaryposition

homo

Présider la République, c’est ne pas inviter les dictateurs en grand appareil à Paris. François Hollande (janvier 2012, Le Bourget)
On peut parler aujourd’hui d’invasion arabe. C’est un fait social. Combien d’invasions l’Europe a connu tout au long de son histoire ! Elle a toujours su se surmonter elle-même, aller de l’avant pour se trouver ensuite comme agrandie par l’échange entre les cultures. Pape François
We see, then, that the sexual practices of a people are indeed prototypical and that from their position in coitus their whole psychic attitude may be inferred. Geza Roheim (« Psycho-analysis of Primitive Cultural Types, » 1932)
Mother Teresa, the ghoul of Calcutta. I always had real doubt in my mind as to whether there really was this saintly person. If you ask people why they think Mother Teresa’s so great, they’ll always say, « Isn’t it true that she spends her time always helping out the poor of Calcutta? » But if you really push them, they don’t know anything about her at all. They just take it on faith, as saints always are taken. So I went to Calcutta, actually for another reason. I thought while I was there I’d go and look her up, and I was rather appalled by what I found. She showed me around her mission and announced that the purpose of the mission to run the campaign in Calcutta and Bengal against abortion and conception. As it happens, I have my doubts about abortion. I find I’m very squeamish on the subject, but one thing that Calcutta definitely does not need is a campaign waged by an Albanian Catholic missionary against the limitation of the population. It rather, to me, spoiled the effect of her charitable work. She was saying, actually, this is not charity; it’s really just propaganda. I think the Vatican policy on population control is calamitous. So that aroused my curiosity anyway. It had been a bit of a disappointment meeting her then, and I didn’t like her manners particularly, either, as she went around among the poor. Then I found her turning up as the defender of the Duvalier family in Haiti, saying how lovely they were and how gentle and beautiful. I found her turning up as Charles Keating’s personal best friend in the Lincoln Savings & Loan scandal, taking a lot of money from his for a private plane, giving him blessings and crucifixes in return. I found her turning up in Albania where she’s a supporter of a very extreme right nationalist party. And quite a few other such things. I thought, hey, I don’t like any of these things singly or together, and, second, when does she ever get time for the poor old poor of Calcutta. She’s forever on some, « scumbag’s, » Lear jet going around cashing in on everyone else’s belief that she’s a saint. I think this is probably how medieval religion was worked. You took the faithful as credulous, and you reckoned that they would believe whatever you said. I don’t think it’s necessary for someone who is supposedly consecrated to the mission of charity and who’s world famous for it to ever have to beg for money. If she ever wanted it, she knows where to go for it. People would open their pockets and, I think, their hearts. The fact is, I don’t know if she got any money from the Duvaliers. What she was doing was defending them as a dynasty in Haiti, and everyone knows what the record of the Duvalier family is. She did get money from Keating, and I actually ask in my piece, you know, would she care, would anyone care to say that they know where it’s gone because she must have known or should have known that that money doesn’t belong to Keating and doesn’t belong to her. It’s stolen money. (…) But the fact is she was giving him in return various kinds of absolution in his campaigns, and I think this is because he started off life as morals cop. He was another of the prohibitionists who began his career as an anti-pornography person. She’s evidently, it seems, on call for people with dubious characters of this kind. I just thought it was worth pointing out. I can’t tell you the mail I got about it. If you touch the idea of sainthood, especially in this country, people feel you’ve taken something from them personally. I’m fascinated because we like to look down on other religious beliefs as being tribal and superstitious but never dare criticize our own. Christopher Hitchens
Bashing an elderly nun under an obscene label does not seem to be a particularly brave or stylish thing to do. Besides, it appears that the attacks which are being directed at Mother Teresa all boil down to one single crime: she endeavors to be a Christian, in the most literal sense of the word—which is (and always was, and will always remain) a most improper and unacceptable undertaking in this world. Indeed, consider her sin: 1. She occasionally accepts the hospitality of crooks, millionaires, and criminals. But it is hard to see why, as a Christian, she should be more choosy in this respect than her Master, whose bad frequentations were notorious, and shocked all the Hitchenses of His time. 2. Instead of providing efficient and hygienic services to the sick and dying destitutes, she merely offers them her care and her love. When I am on my death bed, I think I should prefer to have one of her Sisters by my side, rather than a modern social worker. 3. She secretly baptizes the dying. The material act of baptism consists in shedding a few drops of water on the head of a person, while mumbling a dozen simple ritual words. Either you believe in the supernatural effect of this gesture—and then you should dearly wish for it. Or you do not believe in it, and the gesture is as innocent and well-meaningly innocuous as chasing a fly away with a wave of the hand. If a cannibal who happens to love you presents you with his most cherished possession—a magic crocodile tooth that should protect you forever—will you indignantly reject his gift for being primitive and superstitious, or would you gratefully accept it as a generous mark of sincere concern and affection? Jesus was spat upon—but not by journalists, as there were none in His time. It is now Mother Teresa’s privilege to experience this particular updating of her Master’s predicament.Simon Leys
Since the letter from Simon Leys [“In Defense of Mother Teresa,” NYR, September 19] is directed at myself rather than at your reviewer, may I usurp the right to reply? In my book, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa In Theory and Practice, I provide evidence that Mother Teresa has consoled and supported the rich and powerful, allowing them all manner of indulgence, while preaching obedience and resignation to the poor. In a classic recent instance of what I mean—an instance that occurred too late for me to mention it—she told the April 1996 Ladies’ Home Journal that her new friend Princess Diana would be better off when free of her marriage. (“It is good that it is over. Nobody was happy anyhow.”) When Mother Teresa said this, she had only just finished advising the Irish electorate to vote “No” in a national referendum that proposed the right of civil divorce and remarriage. (That vote, quite apart from its importance in separating Church from State in the Irish Republic, had an obvious bearing on the vital discussion between Irish Catholics and Protestants as to who shall make law in a possible future cooperative island that is threatened by two kinds of Christian fundamentalism.) Evidence and argument of this kind, I have discovered, make no difference to people like Mr. Leys. Such people do not exactly deny Mother Teresa’s complicity with earthly powers. Instead, they make vague allusions to the gospels. Here I can claim no special standing. The gospels do not agree on the life of the man Jesus, and they make assertions—such as his ability to cast demonic spells on pigs—that seem to reflect little credit upon him. However, when Mr. Leys concedes that Mother Teresa “occasionally accepts the hospitality of crooks, millionaires, and criminals” and goes on to say, by way of apologetics, that her Master’s “bad frequentations were notorious,” I still feel entitled to challenge him. Was his Jesus ever responsible for anything like Mother Teresa’s visit to the Duvaliers in Haiti, where she hymned the love of Baby Doc and his wife for the poor, and the reciprocal love of the poor for Baby Doc and his wife? Did he ever accept a large subvention of money, as did Mother Teresa from Charles Keating, knowing it to have been stolen from small and humble savers? Did he ever demand a strict clerical control over, not just abortion, but contraception and marriage and divorce and adoption? These questions are of no hermeneutic interest to me, but surely they demand an answer from people like Leys who claim an understanding of the Bible’s “original intent.” On my related points—that Mother Teresa makes no real effort at medical or social relief, and that her mission is religious and propagandistic and includes surreptitious baptism of unbelievers—I notice that Mr. Leys enters no serious dissent. It is he and not I who chooses to compare surreptitious baptism to the sincere and loving gesture of an innocent “cannibal” (his term) bestowing a fetish. Not all that inexact as a parallel, perhaps—except that the “cannibal” is not trying to proselytize. Mr. Leys must try and make up his mind. At one point he says that the man called Jesus “shocked all the Hitchenses of His time”: a shocking thought indeed to an atheist and semi-Semitic polemicist like myself, who can discover no New Testament authority for the existence of his analogue in that period. Later he says, no less confidently, that “Jesus was spat upon—but not by journalists, as there were none in His [sic] time.” It is perhaps in this confused light that we must judge his assertion that the endeavor to be a Christian “is (and always was, and will always remain)” something “improper and unacceptable.” The public career of Mother Teresa has been almost as immune from scrutiny or criticism as any hagiographer could have hoped—which was my point in the first place. To represent her as a woman defiled with spittle for her deeds or beliefs is—to employ the term strictly for once—quite incredible. But it accords with the Christian self-pity that we have to endure from so many quarters (Justice Scalia, Ralph Reed, Mrs. Dole)these days. Other faiths are taking their place in that same queue, to claim that all criticism is abusive, blasphemous, and defamatory by definition. Mr. Leys may not care for some of the friends that he will make in this line. Or perhaps I misjudge him? Finally, I note that he describes the title of my book as “obscene,” and complains that it attacks someone who is “elderly.” Would he care to say where the obscenity lies? Also, given that I have been criticizing Mother Teresa since she was middle-aged (and publicly denounced the senile Khomeini in his homicidal dotage), can he advise me of the age limit at which the faithful will admit secular criticism as pardonable? Not even the current occupant of the Holy See has sought protection from dissent on the ground of anno domini.Christopher Hitchens
If Mr. Hitchens were to write an essay on His Holiness the Dalai Lama, being a competent journalist, he would no doubt first acquaint himself with Buddhism in general and with Tibetan Buddhism in particular. On the subject of Mother Teresa, however, he does not seem to have felt the need to acquire much information on her spiritual motivations—his book contains a remarkable number of howlers on elementary aspects of Christianity (and even now, in the latest ammunition he drew from The Ladies’ Home Journal, he displayed a complete ignorance of the position of the Catholic Church on the issues of marriage, divorce, and remarriage). In this respect, his strong and vehement distaste for Mother Teresa reminds me of the indignation of the patron in a restaurant, who, having been served caviar on toast, complained that the jam had a funny taste of fish. The point is essential—but it deserves a development which would require more space and more time than can be afforded to me, here and now. (However, I am working on a full-fledged review of his book, which I shall gladly forward to him once it comes out in print.) Finally, Mr. Hitchens asked me to explain what made me say that The Missionary Position is an obscene title. His question, without doubt, bears the same imprint of sincerity and good faith that characterized his entire book. Therefore, I owe him an equally sincere and straightforward answer: my knowledge of colloquial English being rather poor, I had to check the meaning of this enigmatic title in The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 1993, 2 vols.—the only definition of the expression can be found in Vol. I, p. 1794). But Mr. Hitchens having no need for such a tool in the exercise of his trade probably does not possess a copy of it. It will therefore be a relief for his readers to learn that his unfortunate choice of a title was totally innocent: when he chose these words, how could he possibly have guessed what they actually meant?Simon Leys
In the late 1960s and early 1970s « the missionary position » became widespread as a technical expression for face-to-face man-on-top sexual intercourse. It was accompanied by standard (and undocumented) stories as to the origin of the expression, stories featuring missionaries and either Polynesians, Africans, Chinese, Native Americans, or Melanesians. By the late 1980s and 1990s the expression had become a core symbol in modernist and postmodernist moral discourses, appearing in dozens of titles such as The missionary position: Mother Theresa in theory and practice (Hitchins 1995) or (Un)doing the missionary position: gender asymmetry in Asian American Women’s writing (Kafka 1997). My book, tentatively titled Missionary Positions: Christian, Modernist, Postmodernist will examine published accounts of the origin of the expression « missionary position » and will provide evidence that the expression and accompanying legend originated in Alfred Kinsey’s (mis)reading of Malinowski. Robert J. Priest

Attention: une position du missionnaire peut en cacher une autre !

A l’heure où le pape lui-même reconnait les bienfaits de l’invasion arabe à laquelle est actuellement soumise l’Europe et bientôt l’ensemble du monde occidental …

Et où en Allemagne un site officiel se dévoue pour expliquer à nos chers envahisseurs  le BA-ABA de la mécanique et de l’étiquette sexuelle pour assurer la meilleure pénétration possible de ladite invasion  …

Pendant qu’au Pays autoproclamé des droits de l’homme (sic), on continue de plus belle, entre tapis rouge et légions d’honneur, à danser avec les décapiteurs et lapideurs  …

Comment en cette journée mondiale de la femme ne pas repenser …

A la fameuse position du missionnaire qui avait fait les beaux jours de nos chers croisés de la contreculture des années 60 ?

Missionary Positions: Christian, Modernist, Postmodernist

Robert J. Priest
Current Anthropology
Vol. 42, No. 1 (February 2001), pp. 29-68
In the late 1960s and early 1970s « the missionary position » became widespread as a technical expression for face-to-face man-on-top sexual intercourse. It was accompanied by standard (and undocumented) stories as to the origin of the expression, stories featuring missionaries and either Polynesians, Africans, Chinese, Native Americans, or Melanesians. By the late 1980s and 1990s the expression had become a core symbol in modernist and post-modernist moral discourses. This paper examines accounts of the origin of the expression, provides evidence that it originated in Kinsey’s (mis)reading of Malinowski, analyzes the symbolic elements of the missionary-position narrative as synthesizing modernist objections to Christian morality, analyzes the « missionary position » in postmodernist narratives as synthesizing postmodernist objections to modernist morality, and explores some of the functions of this myth within the academy.

Three years ago I was invited, as an anthropologist and a seminary professor, to give a lecture on morality and postmodernism to the faculty of another seminary. Intrigued, I accepted. This invitation led me not only to visit another institution to which I had strong connections as an academic and as a Christian hut also to travel down a complex intellectual path. My initial goal was to compare conservative Christian, modernist, and post-modernist moral discourses. Rather than focus on explicit propositions or grand abstractions, I chose to search the moral discourses of each movement for distinctive metaphors, myths, and symbols. One trope which I first observed in postmodernist writings was that of « the missionary position. » This trope appears, for example, in dozens of titles such as « Postmodernism and the Missionary Position » (Wilde 1988), « Pomosexualities: Challenging the Missionary Position » (in Rogers et al. 1995), and « (Un)doing the Missionary Position » (Kafka 1997). Eventually I collected hundreds of usages of the expression both in contexts marking the postmodernist break with modernism and in contexts marking modernist breaks with Christian morality. A single symbol occurs at two different boundaries, employed by two different movements on behalf of their moral visions.

As I explored the image of « the missionary position » I discovered a history quite different from that imagined by many people, and this discovery reinforced my desire to examine its meanings and functions as a discursive symbol. This examination, in turn, led me to consider some troubling issues of openness and closure in con-temporary academic discourse. In this article, I offer a guided tour through this terrain.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines « missionary position » as « a position for sexual intercourse in which a woman and man lie facing each other, with the woman on the bottom and the man on the top. » Merriam Webster’s Collegiate explains the term as arising from the idea that « missionaries insisted that this coital position is the only acceptable one. » Modernist and post-modernist usages of this trope clearly draw on this imagery but employ the phrase in contexts in which coital kinesics is not directly the subject. Before analyzing this trope in moral discourse, an excursus on the origins of the expression is needed.

The Random House Unabridged Dictionary (second edition) explains that it was « so-called because it was allegedly favored by Christian missionaries working among indigenous peoples, in preference to positions in which the man approaches the woman from behind. » Westheimer (1995:171) writes: « South Pacific folk didn’t limit themselves to one position, and . . . missionaries . . . were shocked by this ‘sinful’ behavior. . . . Missionaries . . . advocated the use of the male-superior position, and that’s how it got its name. » She explains (1994:76) that « the term was first used by indigenous peoples of the South Pacific to describe the preferences of missionaries, who considered other positions sinful. » Similar ac-counts are given in Richter (1993:143), Goldenson and Anderson (1986:172), Holder (1995:2,41], Wilson (1972: 194), Carrera (r99T:ia’^l, Tuleja (1987:45), Adams (1994:216), Hooper (1992:28), Stoppard (1998:74), Comfort (1972), Graves and Patai (1963:69), Camphausen (1991), Allen and Martin (r97i:TO9), Francoeur (1991), Haeberle (1978:216), Masters (1962:63), Partridge (1984), Harrar and Vantine (1999:71), Block (1999:69), Cox (1998:62), Calderone and Johnson (1981), Gotwald and Golden (1981), the Encarta World English Dictionary, and the Reader’s Digest Guide to Love and Sex (1998:78).

Some locate the origin of the expres.sion in the South Pacific (Westheimer 1994, 1995) or among Pacific Is-landers (Tuleja T987; Reinisch 1990:123; Block 1999). Others pinpoint Polynesia {Comfort 1972, Wilson 1972, Calderone and Johnson 1981, Goldenson and Anderson 1986, Holder 1995, George and Caine 1998, Reader’s Di-gest 1998) or Melanesia (Graves and Patai 1963:69; Cam-phausen 1991). Partridge (1984) ptjints to the South Sea islands and China andFrancoeur (1991) to Africa and the South Pacific, while Haeberle (1978:216) simply states, « The less inhibited ‘heathens’ of Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands used to ridicule it as the ‘missionary po-sition. »‘Allen and Martin (1971:109) assert that « inmost of the world this position is ridiculed as the ‘missionary position. »‘ Other sources point to unidentified native peoples as the original users of the expression (Masters 1962:63; Adams 1994; Hooper 1992,- Riehter 1993).

Similarly, sources are unelear as to when the expres-sion was eoined. Partridge (1984) and Richter (199^) date its origin to the 19th century, but Wilson’s (1972) sexual dictionary appears to be the first reference work to include it. The Oxford English Dictionary included it in 1976 but gave a date of 1969 as the first usage it was able to document. The Random House Unabridged in-dicates that the term first showed up ca. 1965-70. Many sources prefaee their aeeount by phrases (« it is thought that, » « allegedly ») indicating that they are repeating an undocumented story. Other sources present it straight-forwardly as historical fact hut without documentation.

I asked for help in documenting its origin from various Internet diseussion groups. Those who responded seemed sure of their faets but could not remember their sources. On every lead they suggested (Malinowski, Micbener, Mead, the Human Relations Area Files) 1 drew a blank.

Initially tbe earliest references to the expression I could find were in 1962 and 1963. Masters (1962:63) writes that this position « is sometimes referred to as the ‘missionary position’ by natives of primitive lands. » Graves and Patai (1963:69) state: « Malinowski writes that Melanesian girls ridicule what they call ‘the mis-sionary position.' » Unlike later references, these report a native expression but do not assume that it is part of the English language, though Masters seems to believe

that readers will have heard the story before. Graves and Patai pinpoint a specific source. No such reference oc-curs in Malinowski, but three other authorities (Gotwald and Golden 1981:339; Camphausen 1991; Westheimer 1995) refer to Malinowski as the source and a fourth (Partridge 1984) references an unnamed ethnographer. In published sources on tbe topie, Malinowski is the only name given. It seemed obvious that each was depending on some as yet unidentified further source which itself cited Malinowski.

Further searching turned up sucb a source. Alfred Kin-sey, in Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (Kinsey, Pomeroy, and Martin 1948), documents an American preference for face-to-face man-on-top woman-below in-tercourse, wbieh be ealls « the English-American posi-tion. » He writes (p. 373), « It will be recalled that Mali-nowski (1929) records the nearly universal use of a totally different position among the Trobrianders . . . [and] . . . that caricatures of the English-American position are performed around . . , campfires, to the great amusement of the natives who refer to the position as the ‘missionary position. »‘ The book referred to is Malinowski’s The Sex-ual Life of Savages in North-Westem Melanesia, but no such account occurs in it.

Kinsey only reports a story; it is not until the late 1960s that writers begin to use tbe expression for this position in intercourse. Some of them clearly cite the story in a form (with references to Malinowski) that ean only have come from Kinsey (Graves and Patai L963; Gotwald and Golden 1981:339; Camphausen 1991; Westheimer 1995).

Many had doubtless tried without success to document Kinsey’s reference and, rather than cite a clearly faulty source, decided to eite no source at all. Despite extensive efforts, lexieographers and sexologists have turned up no usage of this expression prior to Kinsey.

How are we to account for Kinsey’s faulty memory?

Trobrianders do gather to play and sing mocking songs (Malinowski 1929:238-39), but under tbe full moon, not around campfires, and it is not here that we learn about sexual positions. Later we learn that Trobrianders moek face-to-face man-on-top woman-below intercourse (p. 338), but no context is given, Kinsey’s memory appar-ently substituted mockery around a campfire for mock-ery under a full moon and conflated the topie being mocked—a certain position in intercourse (p. 338)—with the occasion when moekery occurs—a ribald nigbt ses-sion in tbe village center (p, 238). Furthermore, when Trobrianders moek this position it is said to have been learned from « white traders, planters, or officials » (p. 338); there is no refcrenee here to missionaries. Another memory in this same context seems key. Kinsey recalls medieval Catholic teaching that preseribed faee-to-face man-on-top woman-below intercourse. Clearly be was struck by Trobriand mockery of the very position pre-scribed by medieval theologians. The distance between two elements separated by centuries and half a world is overcome through the simple addition of Christian missionaries.

We need not aeeuse Kinsey of inventing this out of whole cloth, however, for Malinowski’s text does speak

of missionaries and of Trohrianders’ coining an expres-sion of disapproval for one of their romantic practices. On p, 479 Malinowski tells of seeing an engaged Troh-riand couple in puhlic, in his words, « leaning against each other and holding hands, in a manner which we would find perfectly natural in a pair of lovers soon to he married. But, , , I was told at once that it was a new fashion and not correct according to old custom [and] , , , that this was misinari si bubunela, ‘missionary fash-ion,’ one of those novel immoralities introduced hy mis-sionaries, » All of the elements of Kinsey’s narrative are present here. It seems clear that his memory reworked and combined various elements scattered throughout Malinowski’s hook and elements from medieval Cath-olic history. In the process he transposed « missionary fashion, » which speaks of missionaries’ expanding the possible romantic repertoire, with its opposite, « mis-sionary position, » an expression speaking of restraint and tahoo and one more compatible with his rhetorical pur-poses, Kinsey apparently invented a legend while be-lieving himself to be reporting historical fact and coined a new expression while thinking he was reporting an old one.

From there, apparently, the story was told and retold until the expression evolved into a technical term for face-to-face man-on-top woman-below sexual inter-course. Virtually tbe whole English-speaking world even-tually learned both the expression and the accompanying explanation. By this time the connection with Kinsey or Malinowski appears to bave been forgotten. Dictionaries, atlases, and encyclopedias of sexuality, anthropologists, and even subsequent publications of the Kinsey Institute seem unable to document usage of tbe expression prior to 1969, Nonetbeless, they have no hesitation in ex-plaining that missionaries taught tbat any other sexual position was sinful and that Chinese, Africans, Polyne-sians, Melanesians, and/or American Indians have used the expression to mock this missionary etbic. Comfort’s 1972 bestseller The foy of Sex taugbt the expression to millions, and in 1976 the Oxford English Dictionary listed it, to be followed by tbe major English-language dictionaries. Older synonyms (« the matrimonial, » « the Mama-Papa position, » « the English-American position, »

« the male superior position ») were increasingly replaced by « the missionary position, » By the 1990s Spanish, French, and German dictionaries carried corresponding expressions in those languages: German Missionarsstel-lung, Spanish posture del misionero, and French position du missionnaire.

Parallel to its rise as a technical term was an increase in its invocation as a symbol. In 1973 the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania (ASAO) held a sym-posium on missionaries entitled « The Missionary Po-sition in Oceania » (Heider 1973a, b]. While not recalling where he first heard the expression and accompanying narrative, Heider (personal communication, March 1997) reports having felt sure that readers would understand the reference. Increasingly one finds the expression appearing in the titles of books,^ articles,^ papers presented at scholarly meetings, » chapter titles,^ and plays* as well as in scholarly narrative, poetry, and song lyrics. Most references occur after the mid-1980s, and many recent ones are clearly postmodernist.

Like urban legends, tbe story of the missionary posi-tion was not generated and sustained by rational concern witb evidence. No authority documents a single situa-tion in which missionaries taught such an ethic and natives used such an expression. Yet our society has ac-cepted the « truth » of the missionary position. In contrast to most urban legends, this legend has managed to certify itself through the accredited reality-defining institutions of society and to instantiate its truth as part of the Eng-lish language. If we wish to understand the meaning and dynamism of this myth, it is to symbolism that we must turn.

A symbol’s meaning must be sought not in referents external to discourse but by examining otber symbols in the same discursive formation, « The missionary posi-tion » draws on symbolism present in modernist dis-courses, and each element of the narrative must be examined not in isolation but witbin tbose discourses. One critical element is the « social others » who ostensibly coined this derisive expression.

The Missionary Position as a Modernist Symbol

SOCIAL OTHERS

Theologians all to expose, ’tis the mission of primi-tive man, [E, B, Tylor, quoted in Taylor 1986:17]

Social others are central to modernist moral discourses. As Europeans « discovered » new worlds, the concept of « modern » was defined with reference to social others who were « not modern » and constituted as superior. The

modern was constructed in opposition to the traditional grounding of morality in religion partially through dis-courses on social others. As Tylor pointed out, discourses ahout « primitive » (not-modern) man had utility for dis-crediting the view of theologians. Three emphases can be identified in these discourses.

I. The norms of other people were considered irra-tional. Captain Cook discovered that Polynesians refused to engage in many seemingly unexceptionahle hehaviors. When asked about their odd interdictions, they explained that such things were taboo. Europeans were fascinated hy the concept. Within decades the word had moved into English usage, where it was understood to mean essen-tially « an interdiction that does not make rational sense. » Europeans had morals; social others had tahoos. What distinguished the two was thought to he ration-ality. And yet modernist philosophers insisted that West-ern morality owed too much to Christian morality, which was itself irrational and tahoo-based. Modernist ethics required rational foundations which could claim universality and owed nothing to particularistic tradition or Christian revelation. Kant grounded ethics in a tran-scendental rationality detached from cultural particu-larities. Others, like Frazer, focused attention on the cul-tural particularities of other times and places, defining all others with reference to the modern and the suhor-dinating them to it. In The Golden Bough (1927), writing of reason hattling through centuries of superstition, Fra-zer devoted hundreds of pages to the taboos of others, and in Folk-Lore in the Old Testament (1923) he made clear that the Bible itself was grounded in taboo. Mod-ernist ethics were articulated through a discourse of con-trast with the morality of the not-modern other and dis-tingiuished from Christian morality through a discourse which equated the latter with the morality of the not-modern other.

2. Europeans were fascinated hy accounts of people who were naked and not ashamed, of « guiltless Men who danc’d away their time. Fresh as their Groves, and Happy as their Clime » (John Dryden [Kinsley 1958:33]). Mod-ernist discourses endlessly exploited the theme of social others who enjoyed freedom and pleasure without guilt precisely where European « Christian » morality imposed restraint and inculcated a sense of sin. By implication, Christian interdictions were not inherent in universal morality hut an unnecessary and unhealthy imposition.

3. Whereas Christians insisted that God was founda-tional to morality, modernist discourses stressed that so-cial others who did not worship God were nonetheless moral. The Chinese, for example, were moral: they hon-ored their parents, their ancestors, their teachers. Their leaders were scholars, instructors in morality, and athe-ists. Clearly God was unnecessary to morality. « Can-nihalism aside, » Melville stressed in Typee, Tahitians were « more kindly » and « more humane than many who study essays on virtue and benevolence » (1846:258-59). Rather than needing missionaries, he argued, such people should send missionaries to America (p. 159).

Pivotal to the narrative of « the missionary position » is the presence of those who are not Christians or Europeans hut are sexually free in ways which contrast with the sexual ethic articulated hy Christians. Almost any social others will do, hut the most common location for the narrative is on some South Pacific island. In assessing this symholism, what is important is not the objective properties of social others in a geographical space but their properties as they appear in the dis-courses of modernity. Bougainville, Melville, Gauguin, Maugham, Mead, and Michener are hut a few of the sources constructing Western images of South Pacific islanders. While narrative may locate the missionary po-sition in the South Pacific, it is a South Pacific of the Western imagination. It is douhtless hecause light-skinned Polynesians, for racial reasons, occupy a more prominent place in the Western sexual imagination than do dark-skinned Melanesians that the narrative com-monly refers to Polynesia or, more hroadly, to the South Pacific instead of to Trohriand Melanesia.

THE MISSIONARY

Missionaries . . . considered other positions sinful.

[Westheimer 1994:76]

A second element of the « missionary position » narrative is the missionary. The prior « knowledge » of missionaries which gives this image its plausihility and persuasive-ness is a shared hackground shaped hy modernist dis-courses which feature missionaries. Somerset Maugham, for example, skillfully exploited the image of the mis-sionary in his short story « Miss Thompson » (later called

« Rain »). An enormously successful Broadway play, three

Hollywood movies, a Broadway musical, and an African-

American film based on this short story were suhse-quently produced. Pivotal to its extraordinary grip on American viewers was the theme of the repressed mis-sionary hringing sin to an exuherant, life-filled people. Maugham had the missionary say: « The most difficult part of my work [was] to instill in the natives the sense of sin. … We had to make sins out of what they thought were natural actions. We had to make it a sin, not only to commit adultery . . . but to expose their hodies, and to dance and not to come to church. I made it a sin for a girl to show her hosom and a sin for a man not to wear trousers » (1950:279, 281). The missionary’s wife says that the natives had formerly heen « crazy with dancing » (p. 272) hut « no one has danced in our district for eight years » (p. 273). The missionary’s life-denying ethic is discredited when he commits suicide after having sex with the prostitute he has puhlicly condemned.

Michener picked up similar themes in his « historical novel » Hawaii (1959). When a naked young woman surfed toward the missionaries’ ship, the missionaries were aghast. In Michener’s words, « to the missionaries she was a terrifying vision, the personification of all they had come to conquer. Her nakedness was a challenge, her heauty a danger, her way of life an ahomination and

her existence an evil » (p. 222). When the first church was huilt, the missionary Abner Hale announced, « There will he no nakedness in this church » (p. 268), and so women wore high collars and long sleeves « hiding the offensive nakedness of the wrists » (p. 268). Men wore outlandish combinations of clothes, « but in deference to the white man’s God, who refused to share his mysteries with the naked, all wore something » (p. 268). Hale summarized the job responsibilities for bis top deacon as follows: « [You] find out wbo is smoking. You cbeck to see wbo bas alcobol on bis breatb. Eacb week you band me a list of people to be expelled from cburcb. At nigbt you will creep quietly tbrougb Labaina to let me know wbo is sleeping witb anotber man’s wife » (p. 282). Tbe mis-sionaries disapproved of pleasure, and even wben tbey felt deep love, as did Abner and Jerusba Hale, they lacked the « capacity to speak of it to the other, because tbey judged that Congregationalism would not approve » (p. 244).

In Peter Matthiessen’s novel At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1965), missionaries were horrified when the Niaruna « indulged . . . with much laughter … in erotic games » (p. 148), but tbey tbemselves were consumed witb lust. One missionary, Martin Quarrier, began to conclude tbat Indian nudity and sexual play were « nat-ural, » not « sinful » or « filtby. » After bis son died of fever and bis wife went insane, be lost bis faitb and made plans to become an antbropologist. Andy Huben, after ber en-counter at a secluded pool witb a naked « Indian, » re-called, « I was naked, and I wasn’t asbamed. Am I a sin-ner? … For tbe first time tbe jungle seemed like paradise … be was beautiful. And I was beautiful. … He wanted me, really wanted me. … I wanted bim .. . but I pusbed bim away. . . . And my immortal soul was saved » (pp.

259-61). Mattbiessen weaves a narrative of missionaries « pinned like butterfiies to tbe frame of tbeir own mo-rality » (p. 312), a life-denying morality. Leslie Huben tbreatened to witbbold medicine from dying Indians un-less tbey would submit to bis direction. « Better dead tban to live in sin, » be cried (p. 29r). His wife Andy lost ber faitb and offered berself to a soldier of fortune. « I don’t even know wbat sin is anymore, » sbe said (p. 357). By tbe novel’s end, sin bas been deconstructed, tbe sacred profaned. No prayer is unaccompanied by a lustful tbougbt, an overbeard profanity, someone scratcbing bis crotcb, or some otber desanctifying accompaniment.

Tbe narrative of tbe missionary position is plausible and persuasive to tbose whose knowledge of mission-aries is derived from Maugham’s « Rain, » Michener’s Ha-waii, or Matthiessen’s At Play in the Fields of the Lord. It is missionaries of the modern secular imagination rather than fiesh-and-bloodm issionaries tbat inform tbis narrative.

SIN

[Missionaries] found wbat tbe « beatbens » were do-ing between tbe sbeets to be sinful and . . . [told

tbem] tbe « Missionary » position was tbe only one tbat God endorsed. [Wells 1997]

Sin is a tbird component of tbe narrative. At tbe time of tbe discovery of tbe New World, tbe concept of sin was at tbe beart of Western refiection on tbe buman condition. Tbeology, sermons, tbe confessional, art, and literature united in instructing people to interpret tbem-selves tbrougb a vocabulary of sin. Tbe encounter witb social otbers wbo lacked a sense of sin and guilt was electrifying. Wben in 1555 Villegaignon led Huguenot colonists to Brazil to civilize and evangelize tbe natives, Ronsard reproacbed bim for trying to cbange a people so

« innocently and completely untamed and nude, as naked in dress as tbey are stripped of malice, wbo know neitber the names of virtue nor vice. . . . Live happy, you people without pain, without cares. Live joyously: I myself would wish to live so » (Delumeau 1990:127). Here we see tbemes repeatedly elaborated in modernist dis-courses on social otbers. Nudity and innocence were linked. Lacking any sense of sin, tbese people were tbougbt to enjoy a bappiness tbat escaped tbe guilt-rid-den European. Tbe image of people witbout guilt was a powerful and moving symbol to be exploited in dis-courses designed to remove guilt and sin.

• Antbropologists repeat similar refrains. Margaret Mead (1949) stresses, for example, tbat in spite of a mis-sion cburcb tbe sexually free Samoans are still witbout a « conviction of Sin » (p. 126), « an individual conscious-ness of sin » (p. 164), or a « doctrine of original sin » (p. 277). Kroeber (1948:612) claims tbat tbere is « little or no sense of sin » in « Asiatic, Oceanic, native American, and African cultures »—tbat it is found principally in « Anglo-

Saxon and Protestant culture. » Missionaries enter spaces wbere sin and guilt are absent and bring witb tbem « cos-mic guilt » (Mayer 1983:618). Tbe result, according to one antbropology text, is tbat a « pall of Protestant gloom bangs over many a community in the Pacific and tropical South America that once throbbed witb life, laugbter and song. Tbe concept of sin must rank witb smallpox among our most damaging exports » (Keesing 1981:40). Tbe sin motif is central to tbe narrative of « tbe missionary po-sition » and to modernist discourses about missionaries and social otbers more broadly. In bis 1975 presidential address to tbe American Antbropological Association, Walter Goldscbmidt (1979:296) stated, « Missionaries are in many ways our opposites; tbey believe in original sin. » In Science and Magic in Traditional Iron Smelting in Malawi: The Materialist and the Missionary Position, van der Merwe and Avery (1986) consider and reject one missionary’s explanation of tbe sexual taboos involved in iron-smelting magic: tbat even tbose witb « lax » mor-als « recognize perfectly tbe beauty of purity, suspect its bappy influence [and] know very well tbat sin displeases God, attracts punisbment, [and] causes many failures even in temporal affairs. »

ETHNOCENTRISM

« If it wasn’t for all those British missionaries, the entire heathen world would still be procreating in the most unspeakable ways. Upside down, bent over double, end-on-end, back-to-front. Disgusting, isn’t it? » « Ghastly, » he said with a shudder. « No self-re-specting Englishman would ever use anything but the missionary position. » [Dubow 1997]

There are other viewpoints in the world besides Christian, man-wife-2.3 kids, and missionary posi-tion. [Egbert 1997]

Goldschmidt is not alone in positing an antithesis be-tween anthropologist and missionary (cf. Stipe 1980; Bonsen, Marks, and Miedema 1990; Stocking 1992:20;

Van der Geest 1996). Littlewood contrasts « the mission-ary position, close to the locals but with the aim of trans-forming them, » and « the anthropologist’s planned and sanctioned ‘going native' » (1985:197). Salamone writes: « The ideal culture of anthropological students codes missionaries as ‘enemies' » (1979:54). If missionaries are identified by an idea of sin, as Goldschmidt says, an-thropologists historically have been identified by their emphasis on cultural relativism and respect for cultural difference. It follows that if the key anthropological vir-tue is respect, then the primary sin is to evidence a lack of respect by crossing boundaries with a message imply-ing moral judgment—in a word, to be ethnocentric. And if « the anthropologist’s severest term of moral abuse » is « ethnocentric » (Geertz 1973:24), then perhaps the an-thropologist’s clearest example of ethnocentrism is the missionary.

In calling for a symposium on the missionary position in Oceania, Karl Heider (1973a) writes, « Anthropolo-gists’ relationships with missionaries are remarkable: we live off of them … in the field; we tell stories about them in classes and at parties; and we ignore them in our ethnographies.’^ David Spain (1984:205) agrees: « As anthropologists, we talk a lot about missionaries, but we seldom write about them. One cannot but wonder why this is true. » A partial answer becomes clear if we ex-amine the ways in which anthropologists invoke the missionary in their discourses. Typically the missionary is referred to as a symbol of ethnocentrism, as in the following quote from an anthropology text (Cohen and Eames 1982:376-77):

The premises of missionary work are directly oppo-site to those of anthropology. As cultural relativists, anthropologists begin with the assumption that any cultural system is as good or bad as any other. . . . Missionaries begin with the ethnocentric view that

7. Anthropologieal silence about missionaries in Afriean ethnog-raphy (1930-65) has been documented by van der Geest and Kirby (1992). In « Exploring the Missionary Position, » Miihlhausler (1999) critiques texts on anthropological linguistics for not paying « at-tention to missionary language work. »

their religion is the true path to salvation. . . . Con-version . . . was the major objective of missionary work . . . [and] often involved the destruction of na-tive beliefs and rituals. . . . Missionaries in the Pa-cific are known to have urinated and defecated on native shrines to demonstrate . . . that their god was superior to native deities.

Whether missionaries urinated and defecated on native shrines is undocumented; the phrase « are known to have » suggests hearsay. My queries of ethnohistorians failed to elicit knowledge of such a practice. Clearly the meaning of the account lies not in history but in symbol and allegory. The text’s message is that the essence of ethnocentrism is to defecate on the sacred values of oth-ers as, in essence, missionaries do. Many anthropologists historically have been interested in the missionary pri-marily as a symbol and thus have been less likely to study missionaries than to refer to them in socializing students to relativistic values or warning that such val-ues are threatened.

I should qualify these comments by noting that, while one is hard-pressed to find systematic examination by anthropologists of missionary realities prior to the late 1970s (for a notable exception see Rapoport 1954), there is now a sizable body of anthropological writings on mis-sionaries and indigenous responses to them (e.g., Annis 1987; Barker 1991; Beidelman 1982; Boutilier, Hughes, and Tiffany 1978; Burridge 1991; Clifford 1992; Comaroff and Comaroff 1991,1997; Headland and Whiteman 1996; Hefner 1993; Hvalkof and Aaby 1981; James and Johnson

1988; Kipp 1990; Pels 1999; Poewe 1994; Salamone 1983; Saunders 1988; Schneider and Lindenbaum 1987; Stear-man 1987; StoU 1990; Swain and Rose 1988; Whiteman 1985). Whereas historically anthropological discourses tended to allude to missionaries only briefiy, often for symbolic ends, anthropologists have increasingly chosen to make them the object of careful, sustained research. Even here, of course, scholarly texts are underdetermined by the data, with standard symbolism sometimes being invoked to bring meaning to the data. For example, the title of Hvalkof and Aaby’s (1981) « anthropological » treatment of Summer Institute of Linguistics mission-aries—Is God an American^—invokes standard imagery of missionaries as symbols of imperialism and ethno-centrism. Yet only 4 of the 13 essays in this volume are solidly anthropological (Canfield 1983:56; Stipe 1985: 118), and 3 of these provide rich ethnographic description which repeatedly fails to support the symbolic rhetoric of the other chapters. What missionaries actually are fre-quently diverges as markedly from the missionary of the modernist secular imagination as it does from the mis-sionary of the devout religious imagination. But when anthropologists engage in careful anthropological study of missionaries, the results cumulatively tend toward understandings resistant to summary in standard stereotypes. Although the ASAO mobilized an examination of missionaries under the title « The Missionary Position in Oceania, » the eventual publication (Boutilier, Hughes,

and Tiffany 1978) was of high quality and minimally reflective of the original symbolism. Many of the sources cited above are similarly of high quality.

The message of the missionary-position narrative is that the morality of the missionary is ethnocentric. How much more ethnocentric could one be than to insist that only one position in intercourse is permissible?

TABOO

Sex was brought into the realm of the taboo by tbe

Cbristian church . . . Absolutely notbing outside of . . . missionary intercourse sbould go on at all. [Rif-fenburgb 1997]

If Cbristian morality is summarized in tbe image of a missionary forbidding as sinful any sexual position in intercourse but one, tbe image is clearly one of morality as taboo. Tbat is, the missionary’s morality is equated with the most irrational and objectionable element in the morality of « primitive » social others. In Michener’s Hawaii, for example. Hale tells Malama the queen that she must renounce her husband because be is also her brotber. Sbe is puzzled over sucb a moral judgment, but tben comprehension dawns (pp. 237-38):

« You mean it is kapu! » she asked brigbtly. « It is not kapu, » Abner insisted. « It is forbidden by God’s law. » « That’s what kapu means, » Malama explained patiently. . . . « All gods have kapu. You mustn’t eat this fisb, it is kapu. You mustn’t sleep witb a woman who is having her period, it is kapu. You mustn’t . . . » « Malama! » Abner thundered. « Being married to your brother is not kapu! It’s not some idle superstition. It’s a law of God. » « I know. I know. Not a little kapu like certain fish, but a big kapu, like not entering tbe temple if you are un-clean. All gods bave big and little kapus. So Kelolo [my busband] is a big kapu and he must go. I understand. »

What, after all, is the ban on all positions in intercourse except one but a kapu, a taboo? In a taboo-based etbic, ethical interdictions do not make sense; they are not available universally to moral intuitions and recogni-tions. Instead they are imposed by raw assertion and au-thority. Lacking universal grounds, taboo-based etbics are, above all, etbnocentric. Tbe irrational prejudices of one’s own tradition are imposed on social otbers. Tbis is wbat tbe missionary-position story asserts about

Cbristian morality. Thus Harmon (1998) suggests that Christian morality for Solomon Islanders is defined in terms of taboos on betel nut, tobacco, alcobol, pork, scaleless fisb, magic, and fornication. Islanders wbo ig-nore Cbristian obligations are said to be « ignoring the missionary position. »

ANTILIFE/ANTIPLEASURE

How the missionaries became apprised of what posi-tion the natives were using I don’t know, but I sup-pose if it becomes apparent that everybody else in tbe village is baving a lot more fun tban you are, you make it your business to find out. [Adams 1994: 216]

[Missionaries said tbe] « missionary » position was the only one God endorsed, and tbat the others were too exciting and likely to get you sent to hell, as most exciting things do. [Wells 1997]

A taboo morality is arbitrary and against—against pleas-ure, joy, desire, variety, love, life. It insists tbat « tbou shalt not go near, thou shalt not touch, thou shalt not experience pleasure, thou shalt not exist, except in dark-ness and secrecy » (Foucault 1980:84) and guilt. The nar-rative of the missionary position essentializes Christian morality as drawing lines restrictively, banning variety, pleasure, and joy. Examining tbe marriages of Oberlin missionary graduates between 1840 and 1855, Clark (1989) found tbat in some cases marriage proposals were delivered to virtual strangers. Personal feelings were « suppressed » (p. 8), marriage decisions being governed by vocational commitment to missionary service and by the single question of the will of God. Clark analyzes the diary of a 17-year-old girl being courted by an ascetic, mirthless, rigid, and deeply pious missionary. She de-scribes ber feelings for another person, her less than pos-itive feelings for the missionary, and her eventual sub-mission to God’s will, as sbe saw it, that she marry him. Such decisions, devoid of love and attraction, are life-denying. Thus Clark’s title: « The Missionary Position. »

MORALITY AND POWER: THE MISSIONARY ON TOP

T. J. Last . . . like many missionaries wanted to found a Christian village which he could govern alone. [Beidelman 1982:55]

We’re the Moral Majority and we know what’s RIGHT/We’ll come to your bedroom to cbeck every night/We’ll let you have sex on just one condition/ it’s done with your spouse in the missionary posi-tion. [Shuster 1998]

Since a taboo morality lacks rational foundations, it must be grounded in power. For Tongans and Tahitians the ability to impose a taboo was directly dependent on the mana—the mystical power—of the imposer. Mich-ener’s missionary imposed moral norms that made no sense to Hawaiians. He could not, as a result, trust Hawaiians to run the church (pp. 281, 356); he had to run and control everything himself. Sucb a morality, in turn, underpins specific power relationsbips. Francoeur (1991:402) explains tbat missionaries advocated the

missionary coital position because of « an interpretation of tbe story of Genesis in whicb man is created first and given primacy over woman in all tbings. Hence tbe supposed immorality of woman being in any position superior to or above a man, » Man-on-top involves dom-inance. As one antbropologist explained to me, mis-sionaries taugbt « tbe ‘male above’ sexual position to Hawai’ian and Polynesian groups in tbe late i8oo’s, as an indicator of ‘God’s order’ (i,e,, God, Man, Woman, bierarcbically in tbat ‘position’), » Campbausen (1991: 127) asserts tbat tbe « missionary position » is charac-teristic only of « civilizations wbere women are treated as cbattels, »

Tbis logic is persuasive not because of any evidence of a cross-cultural correlation between male dominance and tbe « missionary position »* but because Westerners bave been unconsciously sbaped by metaphors in whicb power and status are conceptualized in spatial terms—as up or down (Lakoff and Jobnson 1980:15-16), As a result, body positions in intercourse are easily seen as implying power relations. Even an expression like « tbe male-superior sexual position » not only describes tbe physical position of two bodies but privileges « up, » In Western contexts, tben, one does find sexual position occasionally thought of as iconic of power relations.

Feminists have often stressed sexual position as iconic of power. For example, in « Missionary Position, » Judy Forrest (1987:208) explores Fay Weldon’s novels, in which « downtrodden » women (women in the mis-sionary position) are able to « gain power, » « end up in cbarge, » and « always end up on top, » Again, one may observe the appropriation of Lilitb as a feminist icon. In postbiblical Judaism Lilith was a female demon that seduced men and killed babies. Under tbe infiuence of a 9tb-century story (Schwartz 1992:107), Lilith became known in Judaism as Adam’s first wife, who refused to lie under him in intercourse, insisting that she be on top, and tben fied to the wilderness, where she took up her activities as succubus and child-destroying witch. Many females have appropriated Lilith as the prototyp-ical feminist, rejecter of patriarchy. Two journals are named for this figure; summer music tours of female artists have been named after ber (The Lilith Fair tour); a burgeoning literature of poetry and refiection on women’s issues takes its inspiration from Lilith (cf, Cantor-Zuckoff 1976, Plaskow 1979, Colonna 1980,

8, Kluckhohn (1948) provides statistics on sexual positions reported in different societies but establishes no correlation with male dom-inance, Roheim (1932:221) concludes that « posture in coitus » is « prototypical » of a society’s « psychic attitude, » His focus, however, is not on power but on the distinction between impersonal sex, in which only the genitals are surrendered to one’s partner, and per-sonal sex, in which the total self is given (cf, pp, 206, 221), Marks

(1978), a Classicist, says that rear entry is typical in Greek art, with Roman art typically featuring the female sitting or kneeling above the reclining male. She says that Americans typically recline with either on top though female-on-top is less common in patriarchal marriages. Although Marks (1978), Kinsey, Pomeroy, and Martin (1948), and Beigel (19853) provide evidence that some North Amer-icans treat sexual position as iconic of power, there is no data base establishing this as a cross-cultural universal pattern.

Koltuv 1986, Pirani 1991, Schwartz 1992, Starck and

Stern 1993), The element of the Lihth myth most stra-tegic for catalyzing this response is the story of Lilith’s refusing to lie under Adam in intercourse.

When the myth of the missionary position is used to evoke the theme that Christian morality is really but a cover for dominance and power, it is not only patri-arcby wbicb is in view but tbe dominance of the mis-sionary over the native social other. Thus one anthro-pologist told me that this position was taught to South Sea islanders « in an attempt to control them, » Another source simply defines « missionary position » as a « term coined by savages wbo associated this position with the conquering missionaries » (Joannides 1997:358), In a radical upending of traditional Christian rhetoric, which associates missionaries with loving service, self-abnegation, and sacrifice, new discourses construct missionaries as motivated by a will to power (see Bei-delman 1982, StoU 1982, Hvalkof and Aaby 1981, Colby 1995, Mulball 1986)—power exercised in part through the imposition of a taboo morality. In Missionary Po-sition: Mother Theresa in Theory and Practice, Chris-topher Hitchens (1995) presents Mother Theresa as pro-moting moral taboos (no birtb control, no abortion) wbich contribute to the problems of overpopulation, poverty^, and suffering wbose existence is tbe secret of her position and infiuence. Although the image is awk-ward, it is the male subject position which Hitchens imputes to Mother Theresa, She invites the poor to ac-cept their one-down position but herself hobnobs with the hkes of Charles Keating and « Baby Doc » Duvalier, administers large sums of money, often in ways other than intended by donors, and furtbers patriarcbal Catholicism,

Bruce Dickinson’s Monty-Python-like-novel The Missionary Position (1992) similarly features the quest for power and wealth under the rubric of missionary religion, in this case by a TV evangehst. In « Falwell’s Missionary Position » [Freedom Writer 1985) we learn of a fundamentalist program to « pursue missionary ac-tivity » in public scbools and to « attend and take control of party conventions » to bring about « a second Amer-ican Revolution, » Again, in « Tbe Missionary Position » (Virsbup 1989), Reverend Wildmon mobilizes funda-mentalist Christians to pressure advertisers not to fund « immoral » television shows. Here again, power is used to impose taboo morality.

In sbort, « tbe missionary position » may be thought of as a symbol synthesizing modernist objections to Christian morality. When this symbol is co-opted by postmodernists, bowever, it botb extends and intensi-fies tbese objections and redirects tbem toward mod-ernist morality.

The Missionary Position as a Postmodernist Symbol

I challenge puritanism. Western religion, our helief in nature external to ourselves and the missionary position. [Joe 1997]

In « Mark Twain’s Missionary Position, » O’Conner (1994) documents Twain’s frequent negative comments about the moral and religious activities of missionaries and his positive comments on missionary « civilizing » activities. Twain criticizes missionary effort on behalf of Christianity hut welcomes missionary activity on hehalf of modernity. O’Conner explores Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, demonstrating frequent themes first treated hy Twain in his writings on mis-sionaries. Hank Morgan is a missionary of civilization, technology, and progress to the natives of England. « From the hrutalities of feudalism [he] delivered them into the ‘light’ of the ‘modern’ world. Within Twain’s novel, the Church ultimately represents a form of pa-ganism that needs to he replaced hy Hank Morgan’s gos-pel of progress » (p. 14). O’Conner takes the expression « missionary position, » created to stigmatize a mission-ary commitment to Christianity, and redeploys it to stig-matize Twain’s missionary commitments to civilization and progress. In his hook St. Gorbachev and Other Neo-missionary Positions John Hatch (1990) critiques modern agendas as neo-missionary positions. Jeremy Seahrook (1992) suggests that while the West has liherated itself from « the controlling revelations of religion » (p. 12), it treats free-market ideas as grounded in « reason » (p. 12) and preaches free-market virtues. He argues that Western promises of development are « prescriptions for suhor-dination [and] the maintenance of Western privilege » (p. 12). An ideology mandating that others embrace « free-market » ethics is essentially an « ideology of dominance » (p. 13). His title? « Still in the Missionary Position. » Mo-dernity’s ethic, ostensibly grounded in reason, is but a cover for dominance.

THE FOCUS ON DOMINANCE AND POWER

Postmodernism has made dominance and power a cen-tral preoccupation. In a review of Sonia Boyce’s London art exhibition, Michael Archer (19 8 7) notes the rhetorical hias of modernism which excludes those already ex-cluded from mainstream culture—such as Boyce, horn in London of West Indian parents. He focuses on one art piece: « Missionary Position II addresses the interpene-tration of gender, race, politics and religion within the act of submission » (p. 144). Boyce’s painting Missionary Position I clearly elaborates similar themes (Beaumont

1987:12). While religion is still present, the missionary-position idea has been broadened to implicate modernist patterns as well in dominance and subordination.

The body has long heen treated as metaphor. Every-thing from a society to a church has been thought of as

a hody. Postmodernist writings, in particular, treat the body as text. If one body over another in sexual inter-course is a semiotic text narrating sexual power asym-metries and if the hody is itself a metaphor for society, then power asymmetries hetween societies or social groups may naturally be symbolized through sexual ico-nography. U.S. advocacy of a Canada-U.S. free-trade agreement is critiqued by the Canadian Margaret At-wood as follows: « Canada as a separate hut dominated country has done ahout as well under the U.S. as women, worldwide, have done under men; about the only posi-tion they’ve ever adopted toward us, country to country, has heen the missionary position, and we were not on top » (quoted in Tome 1993:74). In « On the Limitations of the Missionary Position, » Lieherman (1991) explores the ways in which regional art puhlishing is suhordinated to the New York cultural mecca and marketplace. In « Between the Missionaries’ Positions and the Mission-ary Position: Mexican Dirty Jokes and the Puhlic (Suh)version of Sexuality, » Jennifer Hirsch (1990) argues that Mexican dirty-joke discourses which affirm patri-archy are really metaphors for Spanish dominance over Indians and Mestizos. The « missionary position » is sym-hoiic of patriarchy, which in turn symbolizes dominance hetween social groups.

In « (Un)Doing the Missionary Position, » Kafka (1997:

62) suggests that white men force Asian men « into the missionary position—into feminine suhject positions in work and social situations. . . . [Such men], in order to avoid internalizing female acculturation, . . . tend ‘to reassert their lost patriarchal power’ hy dominating . . . [their] women. » These women are douhly suhordinated hoth « as racial minority and as women crossing between two patriarchal cultures, . .. Chinese and … American » (p. 4). ‘ »The missionary position,’ patriarchy is a glohal system » (p. 170), Kafka argues. She says that anger at this « global asymmetry » is the « source of inspiration for . . . the contemporary Asian American women writers in this text » (p. 93).

In « Missionary Positions, » Bredheck (1997) analyzes E. M. Forster’s story « The Life to Come, » in which « two dominant topics » of Forster’s fiction, « homosexuality and British colonialist expansion . . . are fused » (p. 141). Pinmay, a missionary, preaches love, has sex with native chief Vithohai, and, guilt-stricken, preaches law. Vitho-hai is marginalized as the colonial enterprise advances; after « years of painful denial and repression caused hy Pinmay’s refusal to have further relations with him » (p.

140), Vithohai kills Pinmay and commits suicide, ex-pecting they will consummate their love in « the life to come. » Bredheck argues that Forster deconstructs the Christian colonial missionary position but has his own

« missionary position. » It is Forster’s « own deferred erotic desires, » working through « projection and intro-jection, metaphoric and metonymic strategies, displace-ment, overdetermination, guilt and aggressivity » (p. 147), which create « that most pernicious trope of colonial rep-resentation, the stereotype » (p. 146) of « unrepressed erot-icism » (p. 145) or even of « the hestial sexual license of the African » (p. 147). That is, Forster’s depiction of oth

erness « in point of fact erases any possibility of otber-ness » (p. 144).

Postmodernists see begemonic realities as discursively constructed. Brown, in « Alternatives to the Missionary Position » (199s), argues that the writers of Victorian (and modernist) travel narratives tend to adopt the « mission-ary position » as a discursive strategy (p. 596), hegemon-ically « positioning » themselves in the text above those they write about. (Sbe explores an exception to tbe rule, tbe writings of Anna Leonowens.) Suzaan Boettger, in a review of feminist ecological art entitled « In tbe Mis-sionary Position, » suggests tbat feminist discursive priv-ileging of tbe feminine over tbe masculine is itself a « missionary position » violating feminists’ own non-bierarcbical precepts (1994:255). In « Gotta Be on Top: Wby tbe Missionary Position Fails to Excite Me, » Marie

Baker (1994), wbo describes berself as an « uppity » native woman writer (p. 299), suggests tbat wbite feminists con-trol and set tbe agenda for writing and publisbing about native women and tbeir cultures and are tbus in tbe « On Top Wbite position » (p. 310). Gina Dent, in « Missionary Position » (1995), argues tbat the feminist discursive form of « confession » is governed by disciplinary and exclu-sionary rules wbicb privilege wbite feminism over black feminism or « womanism. »

zed bomo/betero binary, » universalizing tbe bomosexual as « transbistorical, trans-spatial subject. » « Like tbeir missionary forebears, » tbey export tbeir sexual « mis-sionary-position » norms, failing to be sensitive to otber ways of organizing corporeal intimacies wbich are not grounded in such a binary.

SEXUALITY AND MORALITY

Tbere sbould be taboos on sex in tbe office, wrote Margaret Mead. . . . Witbout strict bans on work-place romance, … it would be impossible for women « to work on an equal basis witb men. » However, Dr. Mead didn’t cleave to ber own mis-sionary position—ber second and tbird busbands were close colleagues. [Kesterton 1991]

Drawing on ber own rational and commonsense ideas. Mead asserted ber own moral taboos on sexuality, but like tbe missionary in « Rain » sbe failed to live by tbem berself. Similarly, postmodernists accuse modernists of imposing taboos wbicb restrict and restrain otbers. Fou-cault (1980) argues tbat modernists obsessively pursue discourses on sexuality wbicb claim to be liberating but in fact impose restraints. Medical, demograpbic, psycbo-logical, and sociological discourses force bodies and pleasures to submit to the dictates of rationality, replac-ing premodern concepts like sin with modern concepts like pathology that equally restrict. Thus, in « Missionary Positions » one psychoanalyst (Goldberg 1995) condemns the « missionary position » of another who sees homo-sexuality as pathological. In « Making the World Safe for the Missionary Position » (Adams 1990) we learn that literary images of lesbianism as pathological are moti-vated by tbe old restrictive etbic of tbe missionary position.

In « Representing ‘African’ ‘Sodomy’ in tbe Missionary Position, » Hoad (1999; cf. 2000) argues tbat many ho-mosexual-rights advocates operate with an « essentialized homo/hetero binary, » universalizing tbe homosexual as « transhistorical, trans-spatial subject. » « Like tbeir missionary forebears, » tbey export tbeir sexual « mis-sionary-position » norms, failing to be sensitive to otber ways of organizing corporeal intimacies wbich are not grounded in such a binary.

PROCREATIVE SEX

« Ah, yes. For uncounted millennia Elosia was the trysting place for all the species of the galaxy. Then suddenly, my dear Mr. Rider, horror! [Missionaries initiated] a formal prohibition of all forms of sexual activity save in the pursuit of mindless procreation. And as the Elosians—delightful trisexuals in their native form, as I recall—are fertile for perhaps a week in every thousand years, you can imagine the gravity of the prohibition. » [Science fiction sbort story entitled « Tbe Missionaries’ Position, » Peirce 1977:104].

If biblical fundamentalists are going to follow [tbe Bible] . . . tbey will no longer engage in any sexual act otber tban missionary intercourse—and tben only wben procreation is tbe goal. [Duberman 1991:

347]

Despite biblical silence about sexual position, church authorities from the 6 th to the i6th centuries taught that, except when illness, obesity, or pregnancy dictated otberwise, sexual intercourse sbould be face-to-face witb tbe man on top (Brundage 1984,- Payer 1980, 1984, 1993; Ten tier 1977). A procreative ethic combined witb a par-ticular medical model of conception (semen needed to run witb gravity) undergirded tbis teacbing. While Prot-estants did not produce discourses on sexual position and Catholics eventually abandoned sucb discourses, this historical association makes « the missionary position » naturally symbolic of a procreative etbic. Tbose espous-ing « more deviation, less population » do so in opposition to « tbe missionary position » (Nicbols 1997)—wbicb, by extension, now stands for all beterosexual intercourse. For example, in a review of tbe 1995-96 Paris art exbi-bition « Feminine-Masculine: Tbe Art of Sex, » Stepben Todd writes: « In the exhibition’s anteroom, Louise Bour-geois’ pneumatic Twosome (1991) goes tbrougb its pen-etrative perpetual motions. Enormous, beavymetal, and sleekly mecbanical, as you pass on tbe way in it looks impressive. On tbe way out, it looks like it’s pumping in tbe missionary position » (1996:67). Todd argues tbat tbe position of this modernist machine is symbolic of the wbole exbibition. Wby? Because tbis exbibition sub-limated « tbe anus as a site of erotic pleasure » and priv-ileged « male and female reproductive organs as tbe locus of libidinous activity, » tbus relegating « sex to a progen-itive role » (p. 67). Tbe title of bis review: « Tbe Mission-ary Position. »

NATURAL VERSUS UNNATURAL SEX

Missionaries told . . . converts other positions were unnatural. [Alice 1996]

[There are] 3 intrinsic differences between the ani-mal kingdom and human-kind: the opposable thumb, the neo-cortex, and the missionary position.

[La Rocque 1993]

How can you tell your dog is kinky? When it starts having sex in the missionary position.

The medieval Catholic Church, observing that animals copulated in the ventro-dorsal position and humans in the ventro-ventral position, concluded that the ventro-dorsal position was unnatural to humans. That is, it in-terdicted ventro-dorsal intercourse on the basis of an ap-peal to « nature, » not to Scripture. When modernists rejected the revelation of Scripture, they nonetheless continued to make moral judgments under the rubric of the natural versus unnatural. Lawmakers ceased to ground their sexual interdictions in religion and instead appealed to nature. Homosexual acts were banned as « crimes against nature. » Of course, laws euphemistically banning « unnatural and lascivious acts, » « crimes against nature, » or even « sodomy » were unclear. When pressed, lawmakers often clarified them by defining which body parts were not to be brought into contact. A law might stipulate anal or oral sex as « a crime against nature, » for example, and while homosexual relations may have been in the minds of lawmakers, the law, as written, provided no indication that it should not apply to heterosexual marital relations as well as to homosexual ones. While many states have repealed these laws, others have not.

In « Sex Laws and Alternative Life Styles » Myricks and

Rubin (1977:357) write: « Many states have laws which prohibit every sexual act except sexual intercourse, in the missionary position, between husband and wife. » The Oxford English Dictionary quotes a newspaper: « In six States [in the U.S.] a woman may still be awarded a divorce if her husband makes love to her in any other than the missionary position. » Repeatedly it is asserted that in Arkansas (Hypercleats 1985), Florida (Stupid Laws 1997), North Carolina (Cariaga 1996), and South Carolina (Gv^ryn 1991), all sex other than married sex « in the mis-sionary position » is illegal. At least one human-sexuality text (Gotwald and Golden 1981:339-40) stresses the same. What do these laws actually say? South Carolina bans « the abominable crime of buggery, » North Carolina any « crime against nature, » Florida any « unnatural and lascivious act, » and Arkansas « sodomy »—same sex only (Summersgill 1994). Such laws do not refer to positions in intercourse. Despite the rhetoric, it would appear that no U.S. law has ever banned ventro-dorsal heterosexual intercourse or stipulated which partner needed to be on top. But such laws have banned sexual activities, in-cluding oral and anal sex, on the ground that certain behaviors are « against nature » (cf. Leonard 1993), the

same logic appealed to by medieval theologians writing about sexual position. Thus, the « missionary position » has been employed to symbolize laws which restrict sex-ual behavior said to be « against nature. » In an article reporting on Congress’s failure to pass a bill that would have « decriminalized homosexual conduct, » the title proclaims: « Congress Assumes the Missionary Position » (Krieger 1981).

The missionary position serves as a symbol of an ethic grounded in a distinction between the natural and the unnatural and is deployed by postmodernists against modernist moralizing grounded in such an ethic, as is evident in the articles by Adams (1990), Goldberg (1995), and Todd (1996) summarized above. In an explicitly post-modernist textbook, Rogers et al. (1995) set themselves the task of resisting « social psychology’s own missionary agenda » (p. i). « We seek . . . not to define but to un-define » (p. i)—that is, to deconstruct modernist dis-courses as mixing biology with ideology. Their chapter on sexuality (pp. 192—224) follows Foucault in seeing modernist discourses as normalizing certain patterns of sexual behavior and pathologizing others. Sexual « de-viations » cease to be treated in a language of sin but are medicalized or psychiatrized as pathology (i.e., against nature). Yet moralizing impulses underlie such modern-ist and scientistic categories, operating by stealth, and should be critiqued. Their chapter title: « Pomosexuali-ties: Challenging the Missionary Position. »

In « Missionary Positions: AIDS, ‘Africa,’ and Race, » Watney (1989) examines « the discursive regularities of

Western AIDS commentary … in the construction of ‘African AIDS' » (p. 45). Watney argues that discourses about a medical problem are shot through with imagery and references of a moral sort (to promiscuity, prosti-tution, Sodom and Gomorrah, orgies) which repHcate the moral rhetoric of missionaries. Medical discourse be-comes a cover for moral discourse. Black Africans and gay men are rendered interchangeable, Africa becoming a deviant continent and Western gay men effectively Af-ricanized (p. 50).

BEYOND THE MISSIONARY POSITION

Dan Ouinn struck her as a simple man. Steak and potatoes. The missionary position. [Hoag 1994:256]

We are a … couple . . . looking for sexual adven-tures above and beyond the missionary position. . . .

Seeking women, men, mixed-sex couples or groups.

[Polypersonals 1997]

In a book on « the sexual revolution, » Heidenry (1997) covers the antipornography efforts of Christian funda-mentalists and liberal feminists in a chapter entitled « Missionary Positions, » indicating that missionary po-sitions are espoused not just by fundamentalists but by other movements in the mainstream of modernity. Vogel (1982) in « Missionary Positions » argues that the Motion

Picture Association of America and tbe National Asso-ciation of Broadcasters support the missionary position through rating systems which enforce an absence of « re-alistic sex. » Sex manuals and sex seminars bear tbe title « Beyond tbe Missionary Position, » a rallying cry for tbe advocacy of sexual diversity.

This expression is used in calling for the rejection of a variety of modern patterns. Food cooked in restaurant-chain « cook-by-tbe numbers establisbments » is « mis-sionary position food » (Childress 1996, Nasser-McMil-lan 1996). Art which essentializes ethnic and gender identity is « missionary position » art (Steyn 1996). Those wbo pursue democracy in Cambodia or Congo are adopt-ing « tbe missionary position » {Economist 1993, Mam-dami 1997). Writers wbo begin with their own great ideas rather than with the need of the audience are performing « the missionary position in public » (Carr 1991). Rbet-oricians who impose their understandings of rhetoric on other disciplines with different discourse conventions are in the « missionary position » (Brent 1995; Segal et al.

1998a, b). In « Beyond the Missionary Position » Wat

(1998) calls for « student activism from the bottom up. » In « Beyond tbe Missionary Position: Teacber Desire and

Radical Pedagogy » McWilliam (1997^:219-20) theorizes

« the pedagogical relation as a power relation » in which, under the guise of « value-free knowledge … Eurocentric and androcentric knowledges and cultural practices . . . delegitimate the claims of those disadvantaged by their identity position in terms of race, class, culture, gender, and ecology. » And yet a feminism which « refuses to ac-knowledge its own will to power » (p. 224), refuses to affirm eros, and fails to « perform » its « critiques in ways tbat point to its own lack of innocence » (p. 221) is also in the « missionary position. » (For similar and highly elaborated uses of missionary-position imagery, see McWilliam i^^jb, 2000.)

Final Analysis: Tbe Missionary Position as a Symbol

Modernism and postmodernism are cultural movements sustained and transmitted tbrough symbols. Wbat gives definition and coberence to each is less its explicit prop-ositions than its distinctive metaphors, narratives, and mytbs. As one movement emerges from and contests the hegemony of another, it co-opts old symbols and invents new ones not only to legitimate and sanctify new ideas and values but to desanctify and discredit prior ones. Postmodernism’s moral vision diverges from that of modernism just as modernism’s diverged from that of orthodox Christianity. Each prescribes ways of relating to social otbers, distinctive views of power/authority, characteristic approaches to the body, desire, and sexu-ality, and common justifications/foundations. While ab-stract univocal logic engages only one sucb issue at a time, the symbol’s multivocalic properties allow it to engage all of tbese matters at once. Tbis paper analyzes such a symbol—a symbol first used by modernists to

mark tbe break witb Christian morality and then co-opted by postmodernists to mark tbe break with mod-ernism. As originally articulated, the missionary-posi-tion symbol summarizes modernist objections to Cbristian morality as a morality of negation, as ethno-centric, and as lacking adequate foundations. By post-modernists this symbol is employed to argue that mod-ernism itself is a morality of negation, that it is ethnocentric, and that it lacks adequate foundations. As a foundation for morality, rationality is as inadequate as God and special revelation.

Postmodernism can be read as an intensification of modernism—as a call for modernists to abandon alto-getber any morality of restriction and any effort to find rational grounds for morality and carry tbrough more consistently tbe valorizing of social otbers. And yet there is another sense in which the postmodernist critique of modernism represents a significant rupture; postmod-ernists argue that, lacking rational foundations for mo-rality, modernism’s hegemonic exclusion and suppres-sion of other moral voices can only be grounded in power. This critique opens up the need for rethinking the orig-inal modernist silencing and exclusion of otber voices, including Cbristian voices. And since it is tbrough nar-rative that power is visibly operative, it is in the context of modernist narratives—such as narratives of the mis-sionary position—that such reassessment should take place.

Ernest Gellner has suggested that while most ideolog-ical confiicts have been binary, currently « tbere are not two, but three basic contestants . . . tbree fundamental and irreducible positions » (1992:1). « Roughly equidis-tant » from each other are modernism, postmodernism, and religious fundamentalism—which Gellner defines as any brand of religion wbicb resists modernism or post-modernism wbile insisting tbat its own historical relig-ious meanings are true. In these terms, any version of Christianity which continues to be missionary on behalf of historical orthodoxies may be defined as fundamen-talist. Religious fundamentalism, of course, comes in dif-ferent forms. Gellner’s particular focus was fundamen-talist Islam; ours bere is fundamentalist/ortbodox/ evangelical Christianity.

More commonly scholars tend to frame things in dy-adic terms: modernism versus postmodernism. In part, this tendency refiects the social location of scholars within the academy, where only two positions are sig-nificantly represented. Until recently, the discourses of the academy were modernist—notable for claims to im-partial, disinterested, and universal knowledge. Modern-ists employed an impersonal voice of autbority and de-nied tbat tbeir discourses refiected a particular position. At tbe same time, since religious voices were clearly refiective of particular subject positions, tbey were si-lenced in the academy. Only those writing from an « ob-jective nowhere » were allowed a voice. More recently, postmodernists have stressed tbat scholars do not write about gender, race, religion, or colonial subalterns « from tbe moon, » to borrow a pbrase from Geertz (Olson 1991: 262). Every « social analyst is a positioned subject » (Ros

aldo 1989:207) and is prepared by bis or ber position to observe « witb a particular angle of vision » (p, 19), Par-ticular subject positions « botb enable and inbibit par-ticular kinds of insigbt » (p, 19), Despite modernist rhet-oric, no scholar sees from an « Archimedean point » (p, 169) giving a « God’s eye view » (p, 173), Even modernist construals of reality contain metaphoric, value-laden, mythic, metanarrative dimensions refiective of modern-ist subject positions. Postmodernism bas now won a place in tbe academy. University-based discourses are modernist and/or postmodernist. Conversation is binary; tbe tbird party is talked about, not talked witb.

Postmodernists bave taugbt us to attend to tbe si-lencing and exclusion of voices and to tbe ways power is used for sucb ends, Boas’s effort to prevent missionary linguists from entering tbe « American Indian linguistics establishment » (Stocking 1992:69) exemplifies the power of academic gatekeepers to silence and exclude. Mis-sionaries desirous of becoming antbropologists often bave linguistic fiuency and long-term field experience in minority communities (desirable traits for any antbro-pologist) but may nonetbeless find tbat gatekeepers act deliberately to exclude tbem. Again, I bave queried sev-eral dozen antbropologists wbo were devout evangelicals and/or missionaries (botb Catbolic and Protestant) about their experiences in the academy. With few exceptions, their narratives told of painful struggles with forms of exclusionary power. This paper, however, focuses on an-other form of power—the power of the symbol. Post-modernists bave stressed tbat power is operative tbrough discourse and that discourse should be assessed in terms not just of truth but of power, Antbropologists, of course, bave long understood tbat, more tban just transmitting meanings, symbols operate as active forces in tbe social process. As « agencies and foci of social mobilization »

(Turner 1975:150), symbols not only « say » tbings but « do » things.

THE MISSION OF METAPHOR

What is truth?: A mobile army of metapbors , , , wbicb , , , come to be thought of, after long usage , , , as fixed, binding, and canonical. Truths are illu-sions which we have forgotten are illusions , , ,

[Nietzsche, quoted in Maclntyre 1990:35]

James Fernandez suggests that « in metaphoric predica-tion we are generally not interested in mere parallel alignment, but in adornment or disparagement, Tbe in-tention is to move tbe ‘I,’ the ‘he,’ and the ‘we’ around » (1974:129), The missionary-position metaphor, part of a « mobile army of metaphors, » accomplishes its strategic ends through disparagement. Disparagement can of course take many forms. When Michener describes bis missionary Abner Hale as « skinny, bad complexion, eyes ruined tbrougb too mucb study, sanctimonious, dirty fin-gernails, about six years retarded in all social graces »

(1959:139), repeating sucb disparaging descriptions again

and again (pp, 127, 129, 131, 132, 139, 142, 143), it is clear tbat tbis is not a person tbe reader ougbt to like. It sbould be noted, bowever, tbat such descriptions are usually placed in the mouth of a family member, friend, or acquaintance. In tbis way Micbener disguises bis own subject position, conveying tbe illusion tbat as a bistor-ical novelist be is impartial and dispassionate wbile nonetbeless accomplisbing disparaging ends,

Tbe narrative of the missionary position refiects a sim-ilar rhetorical move. It purports to report on an expres-sion coined by social otbers to ridicule tbe missionary sexual etbic, Tbe expression bas power because of tbe illusion tbat it was coined by social others. In fact, how-ever, it was coined by a modernist (Kinsey) and taugbt to the whole world through a ventriloquism which led listeners to believe it came from autbentic social otb-ers—a move wbich was necessary for modernism to maintain its stance of dispassionate neutrality while rid-iculing Christian morality.

One may, of course, argue that the « truth value » of the story depends not on whether missionaries actually taught such a sexual position and natives coined such an expression but on metapborical truth grounded in a « parallel alignment » between tbe mytb and wbat it sym-bolizes—tbat is, tbat tbe mytb accurately portrays Chris-tian morality as restrictive of pleasure. Nonetheless, we must not forget Fernandez’s insight that « in metaphoric predication we are , , , not interested in mere parallel alignment, but in adornment or disparagement, » Tbat Cbristian morality contains restrictions is not enough to establisb tbat tbe mytb exemplifies parallel align-ment; one must first consider wbere the restriction oc-curs botb in Cbristian morality and in tbe mytb. And wbile Christian communities through time have varied in boundaries drawn, drawing boundaries as to how bod-ies are positioned bas not been common. The mission-ary-position myth was constructed by drawing on an el-ement affirmed in one Cbristian communion bundreds of years earlier—an element not affirmed by any otber Christian community or even by contemporary repre-sentatives of tbat same communion, Tbe myth was cre-ated and deployed in the mid-to-late 20th century as a way of essentializing and discrediting Christian morality by obtaining tbe putative witness of social otbers against it—but in a context in wbicb no contemporary Cbris-tians affirm sucb norms,

Jobannes Fabian argues tbat antbropologists bave « a persistent , , , tendency to place tbe referent(s) of an-tbropology in a Time otber than the present of the pro-ducer of anthropological discourse » (1983:31), Social oth-ers are construed in terms of temporal distance and denied coevality, I suggest that the moral position of fundamentalist/orthodox/evangelical Christian others is essentialized not in terms of current exponents but in terms of wbat current exponents would consider an ab-erration in history. The rhetoric of the missionary po-sition allows one to talk about Cbristians witbout truly accepting tbem as contemporaries,

Metapboric misalignment occurs through allochron-ism and misdirection. Contemporary Christians do not

advocate restricting positions in intercourse to face-to-face man-on-top. Most do affirm an ethic restricting sex-ual relationships outside of marriage, but for modernists essentializing Christian sexual morality as tied to mar-riage has less rhetorical utility than essentializing it in terms of the missionary position. For one thing, it would be more likely to mobilize a defense, since it would be framed in terms that really do matter to many contem-poraries. One would he forced to talk with and not just about those who affirm a Christian sexual ethic, and this would make the outcome of the discussion less easy to control. Furthermore, how one frames the issue is pivotal in rhetorical terms. If all of paradise can be portrayed as lying on the other side of prohibition, then one mobilizes great energy against the prohibition. When in the Gen-esis narrative God grants all the fruit in the garden to Adam and Eve, with one exception, and the serpent sub-sequently asks if God has not banned all the fruit in the garden, a modest restriction is portrayed as an extreme restriction, a great negative—something hiblical inter-preters understand as a key rhetorical move in the se-duction of Eve. Similarly, essentializing Christian sexual morality in terms of the missionary position involves moving the boundary over to an extreme—essentializing Christian morality as a great negative, a great no to life.

It is true that particular Christian communities his-torically have stigmatized all sexual pleasure. Others, however, have celehrated the joys of marital sex. It is equally true that modernist forces in particular times and places have stigmatized sexual pleasure. Recent re-visionist historiography argues that Victorians were more sex-affirming than is commonly thought and/or that Victorian antisensualism had modernist rather than Christian roots (Gay 1998; Haller and Haller 1995; Ma-son 1994a, b]. Mason argues, for example, that 19th-cen-tury « anti-sensual attitudes tended ahove all to emanate from secularist and progressive quarters » (1994^:3), with British Evangelicalism a « counter culture » that was, as pertains to marital sexuality, decidedly prosensual (19940, a]. Measuring the effects of religious morality on sexual pleasure poses difficult methodological prohlems. But, adopting the modernist strategy pioneered hy Kinsey of measuring sexual pleasure by counting reported or-gasms, Laumann et al. (1994), in the most comprehensive nationwide study conducted to date in the United States, indicate that 21.5% of women with no religion, 26.5% of Catholic women, 27.4% of liheral Protestants, and fully 32.6% of evangelical/fundamentalist Protestants reported always having an orgasm with their partner (p. 117). Clearly realities here are more complex and variahle than is sometimes assumed.

SEX AS A SITE OF RESISTANCE

Foucault suggests that modernism produced a « discur-sive explosion » (1980:17) on sexuality. For centuries the Western world spoke nonstop about sex while pretending it was censored and secret (pp. 33-35). Whether the topic was culture, kinship, morality, religion, or missionaries, sex was a pivotal theme. The missionary in « Rain » com

mits adultery; Abner Hale feels guilt for marital pleasure; Pinmay has sexual relations with Chief Vithohai; sexual play and missionary lust are central themes in At Play in the Fields of the Lord. Michael Palin’s movie The Missionary features a rescue mission filled « with happy whores, all of whom are sleeping with the missionary, » according to Ansen’s (1982:90) review entitled « The Mis-sionary Position. » Kathleen Taylor’s (1993) novel The Missionary Position features a missionary who is the sole holdout in a corrupt hut outwardly pious town to the seductions of Delphine. He eventually is sexually seduced, then murdered. Hayward (1978) and Dickinson (1992) have produced novels entitled The Missionary Po-sition that feature missionaries and sex. The expression « missionary position » is part of a wider pattern in which modern discourses on missionaries are simultaneously discourses on sexuality. Discourses on social others and discourses concerning Christianity, modernism, and postmodernism often focus on sexuality. While modern-ist discourses ahout sexuality are supposedly rational and dispassionate, in fact they are moral in nature. Foucault (1980:7-8) writes:

Today it is sex that serves as a support for the an-cient form—so familiar and important in the West— of preaching. A great sexual sermon—which has had its suhtle theologians and its popular voices—has swept through our societies; … it has chastised the old order, denounced hypocrisy, and praised the rights of the immediate and real; it has made people dream of a New City. . . . the lyricism and religios-ity that long accompanied the revolutionary project have, in Western industrial societies, been largely carried over to sex.

Such sexual preaching allows one to « speak out against the powers that he, to utter truths and promise hliss, to link together enlightenment, liheration and manifold pleasures » (p. 7). As one small part of that great sexual sermon referred to hy Foucault, we find the « missionary position. »

SUBTECT POSITIONS

In « Map-making in the Missionary Position, » Cornwell (1994) critiques a modernist scholar who writes about South Africa with an « impersonal voice » of « sovereign ohjectivity, » never acknowledging that his own dis-course is implicated in the very power dynamics heing authoritatively addressed—that his scientific description serves prescriptive ends. When Kinsey read of two Trob-rianders, soon to be married, holding hands in puhlic « missionary-fashion, » what he did with the story re-flected a particular suhject position. One could imagine someone from a different suhject position accurately re-porting the incident and suggesting this as a symhol of Christian morality in which marital sex should be pub-licly acknowledged in a socially approved relationship with hand-holding the appropriate symhol. « Missionar

ies taugbt native peoples tbat engaged and married cou-ples ougbt to bold bands in public! » moves people quite differently from « Missionaries taugbt native peoples tbat all positions in intercourse except one are sinful! » My point is not to construct an alternative mytb but simply to point out tbat Kinsey’s own narrative reworked var-ious tropes (sin, social otbers, missionaries, taboo, etc.) into a mytb refiective of and in tbe service of a particular subject position.

Kinsey’s success in deploying scientific rbetoric of ob-jectivity, disinterestedness, and neutrality was critical to tbe « trutb » value ascribed to bis writings. He wrote, as it were, « from tbe moon, » but bis writings clearly bave strong modernist subject positions underpinning tbem (Robinson 1977:42-119). Tbe bistorian James Jones (1997) deconstructs bis cultivated image of conventional family man and simple empiricist devoid of any ideo-logical agenda. He documents Kinsey’s sexual « maso-cbism » and « bomosexuality » (bisexuality would be more accurate) and bis decree tbat tbe men of tbe senior staff of tbe Kinsey Institute « could bave sex witb eacb otber, wives would be swapped, and wives, too, would be free to embrace wbicbever sexual partners tbey liked » (p. 603) and explores tbe relationsbip of all tbis to bis early experiences of and attitudes toward Gbristianity in re-lation to sexuality. Jones writes, « Mucb of Kinsey’s life can be read as a struggle to use science to free bimself from bis own religious upbringing and tbe sexual guilt be felt as a boy » (p. 790). Repeatedly Jones cbaracterizes Kinsey as a man witb a « mission » (pp. 335, 465, 488, 687), a « secular evangelist » (pp. 334, 335, 684) witb a « gospel » (pp. 466, 615, 684, 686) to proclaim, and as dis-playing « missionary » (pp. 468, 614) zeal and instincts.

Like Kinsey, modernist antbropologists wrote about sexual matters witb a distanced voice of dispassionate scientificity wbile « remaining very tigbt-lipped about tbeir own sexuality » (Kulick 1996:3). Rutb Benedict’s treatment of bomosexuality (1934a; ig^^b-.ioo) andMar-garet Mead’s treatment of bisexuality (1975), for exam-ple, are solidly witbin tbe modernist tradition—writing from a distanced stance of objective rationality wbile remaining « tigbt-lipped » about tbe fact tbat tbeir topic was deeply personal (cf. Bateson 1984:115-24; Caffrey 1989:188-205; Lapsley 1999). Witb tbe postbumous pub-lication of Malinowski’s diary (1967) disclosing bis con-tinual struggles witb sexual lust and guilt, bis « pawing » of native women (pp. 256, 268), and bis « batred of mis-sionaries » (pp. 31, 41, 46, 57), it bas become increasingly difficult to maintain tbe modernist conviction tbat tbe personal position of the ethnographer is not a factor in the production of academic discourse.

Under the infiuence of postmodernism, recent anthro-pological treatments of sexuality are much more likely to stress that all scholars write from subject positions, tbat tbose subject positions sbould be explicitly noted, or even tbat tbe sexuality of etbnograpbers ougbt to re-ceive explicit attention as a factor in the production of ethnographic texts. From this perspective. Mead, Bene-dict, Malinowski, and Kinsey are to be critiqued not for baving personal positions but for pretending that they

did not—a pretense designed to justify tbeir own au-tboritative voices wbile also justifying tbe exclusion of tbose wbose position was more evident. Tbe postmod-ernist answer to tbe problem of possible bias is to declare one’s subject position. Positioned knowledge is account-able knowledge.

Under modernism, religious scbolars learned that dis-closing their religious subject position was a quick way to discredit themselves. Those who could not convince themselves that their religious subject position was ir-relevant to tbeir scbolarsbip found the modernist acad-emy unfriendly and tended either to withdraw from ac-ademic endeavors altogether or to pursue such endeavors within a smaller, less academic enclave of schools and publisbing bouses devoted exclusively to tbeir faitb-in-formed subject positions. Some, of course, mastered tbe art of writing from « nowbere » and successfully partici-pated in tbe larger academy. However, subject positions, wbetber sexual or religious, do not cease to affect tbe intellectual process wben tbey are denied or unacknowl-edged. Tbey simply operate in more circuitous and sur-reptitious ways, accompanied by camoufiage or even deception.

Postmodernists call for a recognition tbat tbe social location of a scbolar (in terms of race, etbnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation/identity, or religion) is salient to knowledge production and sbould receive explicit ack-nowledgment. Indeed, subject positions provide angles of vision, perspectives, and motivations and affect field-work relationsbips in ways wbicb potentially contribute to knowledge production in areas wbicb might be missed by scbolars witb otber subject positions. African-Amer-icans, women, gays, Buddbists, or evangelicals migbt ap-proacb social researcb witb motivations, perspectives, and fieldwork relationsbips wbicb allow tbem to dis-cover trutbs unlikely to be discovered or pursued by, for example, wbite, male, beterosexual secularists. Post-modernists, tben, bave called for openness to tbe voices of social otbers—tbose wbom tbe modernist academy bas excluded.

Many religious academics realize tbat tbeir own relig-ious commitments are basic to tbeir social location and to tbe perspectives from wbicb tbey approach research. But with the new call for display tbey fear that the avowed openness to the voices of social others does not include openness to their voices—that religious subject positions are still seen as discreditable. Now judgment will be rendered not just on tbe merits of wbat is said but on tbe location of tbe speaker. Tbe requirement tbat one display one’s subject position in a power field wbere display results in exclusion or subordination is doubly problematic. Now even tbe survival strategy of « passing » or « staying in tbe closet » is no longer available.

At tbe same time, some express bope tbat the rhetoric of openness is more than rhetoric. The historian George Marsden (1994), for example, argues that the dismantling of the old Protestant establisbment in bigber education was laudable but went too far. It replaced one hegemonic position with another—one hostile to any expression re-fiective of religious belief. Marsden notes tbe new open

ness to diverse subject positions, argues that such open-ness has inconsistently been withheld from traditional religionists, and calls on the academy to live out its own new ethic and allow traditional religious subject posi-tions to be present. In a follow-up book, Marsden (1997), himself an evangelical, further elaborates his hope that research from a Christian subject position will take its place alongside research from other subject positions.

The idea that a Christian subject position should be discredited because it entails personal commitments and values is a modernist norm which founders on the wide-spread critique that everyone writes from a subject po-sition (Rosaldo 1989). Again and again one finds the trope of modernist scholars as missionaries (Boettger 1994; Brent 1995; Goldberg 1995; Herbert 1991:155; Hoad

1999; Rogers et al. 1995:1-14, 192-224; Segal et al. 1998; Watney 1989). A number of writers explicitly acknowl-edge that they are themselves « in the missionary posi-tion » (cf. Kissick 1998, Kitzelman 1998, Snow 1998, Wilde 1988, Prager 1999). While some postmodernists claim not to be missionary, most acknowledge a mis-sionary agenda of some type. In « Postmodernism and the Missionary Position » Alan Wilde (1988) finds himself on the horns of a dilemma. To be consistently postmodern-ist, one should not be missionary, but if one is not in some sense missionary on behalf of postmodernism, then in what sense is one truly postmodernist? He argues that « all-inclusiveness is indistinguishable from chaos » (p. 23) and that postmodernism requires its own defined limits and categories if it is not to dissolve into chaos. As such, it requires taking a missionary position. In their postmodernist text on social psychology Rogers et al. (1995) argue that modernist social psychologists are mis-sionary but fail to admit it. They acknowledge that they themselves are not neutral—that they have a « mission-ary agenda » (pp. i, 4)—but, unlike modernists, they ex-plicitly acknowledge the personal commitments which inform their work.

Positions affect what one is likely to see or not see.

Most modernist and postmodernist scholars have been so shaped by myths and metanarratives essentializing religion and Christianity that they are incapable of un-covering the myth-making properties of their own think-ing. As an evangelical Christian, son of missionary par-ents, educated at a Bible college and a theological seminary, with graduate degrees from the University of Chicago (M.A., social sciences) and the University of California at Berkeley (Ph.D., anthropology), I encoun-tered these myths from a rather different subject posi-tion—one in which the myths served not to liberate or empower me but, within the academy, to essentialize, marginalize, and silence key elements of the self. I en-countered such myths from a « one-down » position—a vantage point predisposing me to question and doubt. While religious people are often seen as credulous be-lievers in contrast to scientists, who are rational doubt-ers, in fact doubt is’ a function of where one stands vis-a-vis the culture’s dominant myths and certitudes. In the case of this essay, I doubted the veracity of the story of the missionary position, examined it at length, and, I

believe, moved us closer to an accurate understanding of the history and symbolic functions of the expression. My subject position gave me a perspective which helped me to see certain realities that were not as likely to be seen from another position but quite capable of being considered and evaluated once they were pointed out. This essay treats evidence and appeals to standards of interpretation and reason which are public and which, if I am to count my work successful, should be persuasive to those not sharing my subject position. I submit my work to peer review by those from other subject posi-tions, inviting critique and engagement. I disclose my subject position despite the temptation to « pass »—to conceal a discreditable position—not as an appeal to ir-rational subjectivity or as a demand that I be allowed to speak ex cathedra but because an essay on subject po-sitions naturally requires such disclosure and because this provides an illustration of my point that even relig-ious subject positions, if not excluded or silenced, may make positive contributions to scholarship.

POSITIONING AND POWER

If Christian subject positions are not discreditable be-cause they alone fail to be neutral, then perhaps they are discreditable for having a unique propensity for abuse of power. Certainly Christianity has played key roles in old hegemonies, but whether it should be essentialized as dominator (as in the myth of the missionary position) is another matter. Missionaries were present in colonial settings, but their activity was often less straightfor-wardly colonial than modernist myths would suggest and modernism itself more aggressively colonial. In Po-sitioning the Missionary Brett Christophers (1998) con-trasts British secular (modernist) colonial discourses, which employed a grammar of « race, » « time, » and « space » to construct a fixed hierarchical relationship grounded in immutable and asymmetrical differences, with that of Anglican missionaries in British Columbia, who rejected this modernist grammar and the secular colonial agenda. While some colonial governments ac-cepted interracial sexual contact, interracial marriage was seen as a threat to fixed hierarchies (p. 61). These Anglican missionaries, in contrast, criticized concubi-nage out of moral concern; they encouraged European men to marry the native women with whom they were cohabiting. Their sexual morality « transcended ‘race’ and space » (p. 62). Christophers sees the missionaries as colonialists but of a « peculiar » (p. 95) sort. They were often at odds with other white interests, were « adamant that ungodly white colonialists were responsible for Na-tive depopulation » (p. 95), and worked to promote health, to secure means of subsistence, and to intervene with colonial governments on behalf of Native peoples (p. 95). « Few other colonists had Native welfare in mind, still fewer made it the kernel of their calling » (p. 95). Mis-sionary rhetoric stressed « transformation rather than subjugation » (p. 21) and called for a community of faith in which hierarchies of space, time, and race would disappear.

Modernist discourses essentializing Cbristianity as aiming for social hierarchy are motivated discourses and commonly reflect the requirements of modernist metanarrative more closely than they do actual social realities. Missionary realities vis-a-vis power are more diverse and complex than modernist myths would sug-gest (cf. Strayer 1976, Fields 1982, Clifford 1992, Sanneh 1989, Headland and Whiteman 1996). Marsden (1994) documents a historical process in which Protestants lost hegemony in the academy in significant part because of their renunciation of exclusionary power. That is, it is possible to arrive at moral disapproval of inappropriate power (including historical uses of power by Clbristian communities) from a distinctively Cbristian subject position.

Tbis is not to say that fear of an exercise of power by religious people is groundless. Any exercise of power by one group wbicb impinges on other groups will and should raise legitimate concerns by members of tbose other groups. Indeed, according to Marsden, in the latter half of the 20th century it was the hegemony of « estab-lisbed nonbeiief » which, within the academy, exercised coercive power. Coercive power incites resistant or re-actionary power. Any exclusion grounded simply in power tends to encourage the excluded to strategize in terms of power—particularly if they lose faith in the ra-tionale of the caste system which excludes them. Those employing a rhetoric that supports pluralist structures while excluding and silencing certain social groups should not be surprised if those groups fail to display strong commitment to pluralist structures. A society that muzzles academically sophisticated religious voices will instead hear religious voices that are less rational, less interested in constructive reasoned interaction, less supportive of structures underpinning procedural plu-ralist participation, and more grounded in and refiective of a quest for power. Silence in the academic arena is bought at tbe price of shouting in the political arena. Theologically conservative Christians are feared in pol-itics in part because they are squelched elsewhere.

MYTH IN THE SERVICE OF EXCLUSION

While postmodernists stress inclusion, they have gen-erally not directed their attention toward religious in-clusion. In his study of American academia, Hollinger (1996:30) notes that « a persistent deficiency in the mul-ticultural debate is tbe relative silence of almost all ma-jor participants concerning tbe place of religious affili-ation. » In bis book The Culture of Disbelief, the Yale law professor Stephen Carter writes that « for ail the calls for diversity in the hiring of university faculty, one rarely hears such arguments in favor of the devoutly relig-ious—a group, according to survey data, that is grossly underrepresented on campus » (1994:57). Even when someone like Jiirgen Habermas calls for inclusion of all parties in an « ideal speech » seminar, he refuses to admit « religious fundamentalists » (1994:133)—in Stanley Fish’s (1998:80) paraphrase, « I hear you knocking, but you can’t come in! »

Peremptory exclusion and silencing of this sort is grounded in power. Silencing, of course, requires justi-fication. Dominant groups typically generate narratives which contribute to tbe subordination and exclusion of other groups by essentializing them as meriting exclu-sion. In such narratives the symbol becomes more real than the real; image equals essence. The missionary or traditional Christian of the modernist and postmodernist imagination depends very little on what missionaries or traditional Christians are. Mythic narratives displace and exclude the real. The displacement occurs in narrative, but it enables and is enabled by tbe exclusion or at least silencing of such persons within the academy. Academ-ics ban such people from their midst and then tell stories about tbem designed to justify tbe exclusion. Tbe stories assume a presence wbicb stands in for tbose absent. Con-versation about such people is carried on in their absence or in a voice wbich assumes their absence.

Modernist and postmodernist metanarratives do not simply ignore Christian narratives and tropes. Rather, they incorporate such tropes in ways wbich dismantle, subvert, and desanctify Christian metanarratives and justify uses of power that silence and exclude Christian voices. One may critique such narratives not only for being mytbic or for justifying exclusion and silencing but for doing so in bad faitb. The myth of the missionary position essentializes (and scorns) Christian morality as taboo morality and uses this very scorn of taboo morality as justification for imposing a taboo on speecb from an explicitly religious subject position in academic discur-sive spaces. Violating this taboo is a « sin » meriting ex-communication from the community of faith. This new taboo is grounded in mytb and metaphor every bit as mucb as were tbe taboos of ancient Tabiti. Tbe mytb of the missionary position takes a group which, insofar as the academy is concerned, is marginalized, silenced, and dominated and essentializes it as dominator in order to justify its subordination and exclusion. That is, the dom-inator constructs a myth pretending great indignation over the idea of domination as a mecbanism for domi-nation and exclusion. Modernists and postmodernists project tbeir own attributes onto Christians and justify their exclusion in terms of the dangers associated witb these attributes. They employ power against religionists and tben point to any resistant power moves wbicb tbeir own actions have provoked as evidence that religionists have a dangerous problem witb power. Modernists claim « male » virtues of rationality and objectivity for them-selves while attributing « female » traits of subjectivity and irrationality to religious believers—wbo are ex-pected, within tbe academy, to lie quiet and subordinate, with minds receptively open to penetration and insem-ination by those on top, those in privileged positions of power within the academy. Postmodernists, of course, formally renounce any one-up claims to such « male » virtues. However, against their own stated values, many nonetheless expect religious believers in the academy to remain in the silent one-down position. Or they repeat, with Stanley Fish, « I hear you knocking, but you can’t come in!

Nevertheless, I am not without some faith that there is openness in the academy. In fact, I am convinced that the time is ripe for this discussion and that there is no better disciplinary community to engage these matters than the community of anthropologists—we who spend our lives theorizing about relations with diverse social others.

 Voir aussi:

L’asservissement de l’Église au show-biz, à la superstition et au populisme.

L’essayiste Christopher Hitchens a publié cet article sur Mère Teresa en 2003, au moment de la béatification de celle-ci par Jean-Paul II. Nous le publions 12 ans plus tard, alors qu’Hitchens est décédé, et que le pape François est prêt à promulguer le décret de la canonisation de la prétendue Sainte.

Je crois que c’est Macaulay qui disait qu’il fallait rendre hommage à l’Église catholique romaine pour (et elle lui devait sa longévité) sa capacité de gestion et de contrôle du fanatisme. Un compliment oblique propre à une époque bien plus sérieuse. Ce qu’il y a de si frappant dans la «béatification» d’une femme qui se targuait d’être «Mère» Teresa, c’est cet abject asservissement, du côté de l’Église, aux forces du show-biz, de la superstition et du populisme.

L’œil est tout d’abord piqué par un éclat de mauvais goût. D’habitude, quelqu’un ne pouvait être nommé à la «béatification», première étape vers la «canonisation», que cinq ans après sa mort. Un garde-fou contre les excès d’enthousiasme local ou populaire, et la promotion de personnages douteux. Jean-Paul II aura nommé MT un an après son décès en 1997. D’habitude, une procédure d’enquête se mettait en route, comportant notamment l’examen d’un advocatus diaboli, «l’avocat du diable», histoire de vérifier la crédibilité des affirmations extraordinaires. Jean-Paul II aura supprimé ce cabinet et, à lui tout seul, créé davantage de saints instantanés que la somme de tous ses prédécesseurs depuis le XVIe siècle.

Un miracle? Une arnaque

Quant au «miracle» devant être attesté, que peut-on en dire? A l’évidence, tout catholique respectable se tord de honte face à la grossièreté de l’arnaque. Une Bangladaise, Monica Besra, affirme qu’un rayon de lumière est sorti d’une photo de MT, qu’elle avait en sa possession à son domicile, et l’a guérie d’une tumeur cancéreuse. Son médecin, le Dr. Ranjan Mustafi, déclare que sa patiente n’a jamais eu de cancer et que son kyste tuberculeux s’est résorbé grâce aux médicaments qu’il lui avait prescrits. A-t-elle été interrogée par les enquêteurs du Vatican? Non. (Je précise que j’ai moi-même été soumis à cette enquête, qui demeure des plus superficielles. Reste que la procédure exige que l’on consulte des sceptiques, consultation qui, dans ce cas, aura été de la pure esbroufe).

Selon un article non-contredit du journal italien L’Eco di Bergamo, le Secrétaire d’État du Vatican a envoyé en juin un courrier aux cardinaux de la Curie leur demandant, de la part du pape, leur avis sur la canonisation immédiate de MT. L’intention manifeste du pape: accélérer le processus pour pouvoir célébrer la cérémonie de son vivant. La réponse fut négative, selon Père Brian Kolodiejchuk, le prêtre canadien agissant en qualité de postulateur, ou juge d’instruction, de la «canonisation». Trop tard. Les dégâts, à l’intégrité propre du processus, avaient déjà été faits.

Une extrême réactionnaire

Lors des délibérations du Concile de Vatican II, sous l’intendance du Pape Jean XXIII, MT était en première ligne pour s’opposer à toute suggestion de réforme. Ce qu’il fallait, insista-t-elle, c’était davantage de travail et davantage de foi, pas de révision doctrinale. Une position ultra-réactionnaire et fondamentaliste, même en termes catholiques orthodoxes. De fait, les croyants sont enjoints d’abhorrer et de refuser l’avortement, sans pour autant devoir considérer l’avortement comme «le plus grand destructeur de la paix», ce que déclarera MT devant une audience médusée lors de la remise de son Prix Nobel de la Paix. De même, les croyants sont enjoints d’abhorrer et de refuser le divorce, sans vouloir qu’une interdiction du divorce et du remariage soit inscrite dans la constitution de leur pays, ce que demandera MT lors d’un référendum en Irlande (son camp perdra de peu) en 1996. La même année, elle déclarera au Ladies Home Journal qu’elle était heureuse du divorce de son amie la Princesse Diana, parce que son mariage avait été manifestement malheureux…

Mère Teresa n’était pas une amie des pauvres. Elle était une amie de la pauvreté. Elle disait que la souffrance était un cadeau de Dieu

Et nous voilà revenus à la corruption médiévale de l’Église, qui vendait des indulgences aux riches, tout en prêchant le feu de l’enfer et la continence aux pauvres. MT n’était pas une amie des pauvres. Elle était une amie de la pauvreté. Elle disait que la souffrance était un cadeau de Dieu. Elle passera sa vie à combattre le seul traitement connu contre la misère –l’autonomisation des femmes et leur émancipation d’une existence de bêtes de somme à la reproduction obligatoirement compulsive. Et elle était une amie des pires des riches, qui profita des biens mal acquis de l’atroce famille Duvalier en Haïti (dont elle ne cessa de louer le régime, pour faire bonne mesure) ou des largesses de Charles Keating, du scandale éponyme. Où sont allés tout cet argent, toutes ces donations? A sa mort, son hospice de Calcutta était aussi délabré que de son vivant –malade, elle préférera se faire soigner dans des cliniques privées californiennes– et son ordre refusera toujours l’audit. Il nous reste ses bonnes paroles: elle aurait ouvert plus de 500 couvents dans plus d’une centaine de pays, tous au nom de sa congrégation. Pardonnez-moi, mais s’agit-il de modestie? D’humilité?

Le monde des riches a une misérable conscience et on aima souvent y apaiser ses tourments en envoyant de l’argent à une femme apparemment défenderesse des «plus pauvres d’entre les pauvres». Mais les gens n’aiment pas admettre qu’ils ont été nigauds ou entubés. L’avènement du mythe servit à leur donner une contenance, tandis que des médias paresseux préférèrent s’asseoir sur leur droit de suite. Si bon nombre de bénévoles partis à Calcutta en revinrent violemment désillusionnés par la raideur idéologique et l’amour de la pauvreté qui suppuraient des «Missionnaires de la Charité», leurs dires ne purent que tomber dans des oreilles de sourds. L’avertissement de George Orwell dans son essai sur Gandhi –que les saints doivent toujours être présumés coupables avant d’être prouvés innocents– fut noyé sous un flot de propagande pour cœurs d’artichaut et cervelles de piaf.

Parmi les fléaux de l’Inde, à l’instar d’autres pays pauvres, il y a le chaman charlatan, qui dépouille le souffrant par ses promesses de guérison miraculeuse. Le 19 octobre 2003 aura été un jour merveilleux pour ces parasites, qui auront vu leurs minables méthodes adoubées par sa sainteté et la presse internationale leur dérouler plus ou moins le tapis rouge. Oubliées les règles élémentaires de la logique, à savoir qu’à allégations extraordinaires, il faut des preuves extraordinaires et que ce qui s’affirme sans preuves peut aussi être infirmé sans preuves. Qui plus est, nous avons assisté à l’élévation et à la consécration du dogmatisme extrême, de la foi étriquée et d’un culte d’une personnalité humaine des plus médiocres. Beaucoup plus de gens sont pauvres et malades à cause de la vie de MT, et encore davantage seront pauvres et malades si son exemple est suivi. Elle était une fanatique, une fondamentaliste et une imposture, et une Église qui protège officiellement ceux qui violent l’innocent nous montre, une nouvelle fois, quelle est sa position réelle en matière morale et éthique.

Légion d’honneur au prince héritier saoudien : face au tollé, Ayrault se justifie

Louis Nadau

Le Figaro

07/03/2016

LE SCAN POLITIQUE/VIDÉO – Le geste diplomatique réalisé dans la plus grande discrétion agace responsables politiques et défenseurs des droits de l’homme.

Devant le tollé provoqué par la Légion d’honneur remise au prince héritier d’Arabie saoudite, Mohammed Ben Nayef, Jean-Marc Ayrault s’est lancé lundi matin dans une périlleuse opération déminage, arguant sur France Inter qu’il s’agissait d’une «tradition diplomatique». Également ministre de l’Intérieur d’un régime responsable de 70 exécutions depuis le début de l’année, Ben Nayef a reçu la médaille des mains de François Hollande, vendredi dernier, lors d’une discrète cérémonie à l’Elysée.

Bien qu’il «comprenne les réactions» suscitées par cette décoration, le ministre des Affaires étrangères s’est justifié sur le protocole: «Je pourrais vous en citer plein, de Légions d’honneur qui ont été données ou de décorations qui ont été reçues par la France». François Hollande avait d’ailleurs reçu la décoration suprême du royaume lors de sa visite en Arabie saoudite. L’ancien premier ministre a également fait valoir l’importance du partenariat avec l’Arabie saoudite dans le conflit syrien.

Un argument insuffisant aux yeux de nombreux responsables politiques, parmi lesquels les membres du Front National, très virulents. «Doit-on parler de Légion du déshonneur?», interroge ainsi le vice-président du FN, Florian Philippot sur Twitter. «Catin d’émirs bedonnants», s’emporte Jordan Bardella, conseiller régional FN d’Île-de-France, dans un tweet agrémenté d’une photo de François Hollande. Le député du Gard Gilbert Collard s’est lui aussi indigné.

Enfin, Marine Le Pen a conclu le tir de barrage frontiste sur le mode de l’ironie: «Si le président de la République fait ça discrètement, c’est peut-être qu’il a honte de son geste, ou peut-être qu’il considère que cette décoration n’est pas méritée».

S’il est en première ligne depuis la révélation de la décoration par l’agence de presse saoudienne SPA, le FN n’est pas le seul à monter au créneau. «C’est honteux, a commenté le porte-parole d’EELV, Julien Bayou, (…) La Légion d’honneur a valeur d’exemplarité, c’est censé être public. Cela montre que nous sommes otages de nos relations commerciales avec l’Arabie saoudite, comme avec le Qatar.» L’écologiste a également rappelé que le candidat Hollande avait, lors de son discours du Bourget, promis de «ne pas inviter les dictateurs en grand appareil à Paris». Jean-Luc Romero, conseiller régional d’Ile-de-France apparenté PS, s’est également étranglé sur Twitter:

Chez Les Républicains, c’est Thierry Solère qui a ouvert les hostilités: «L’Arabie saoudite n’est pas une démocratie, il y a des exécutions capitales (…). La France devrait être plus ferme, comme les autres grandes démocraties occidentales, à exiger un comportement différent», a réclamé le député LR sur Public Sénat.

2 commentaires pour RELIGION 101: La continuation de la religion par d’autres moyens (Assume the position: German website teaches migrants the missionary position)

  1. jcdurbant dit :

    HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL

    Nonetheless, Khorchide and other Islam experts are hopeful that the influx of Muslim asylum-seekers with an open approach to religion is an opportunity to promote a more ‘moderate’ Islam in the Arabic-speaking mosques…

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3881194/In-Germany-Syrians-mosques-conservative.html#ixzz4ORIFgPeP

    J'aime

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