We've been reading "Jane Eyre", by Charlotte Bronte.
In searching for reviews of Jane Eyre
, as part of my assisting my daughter with her reading programme, I just now came across something quite interesting that is in the book that either had entirely escaped me before, or which I simply had not read/understood. I certainly do not recall having read it: The book includes a pretty balanced approach to revealing the fallacy of the Christian teaching of "Turning the other cheek".
My attention was drawn to this by reading a post in drhurd.com
: Jane Eyre Exposes the Fallacy of Turning the Other Cheek (Charlotte Bronte)
Posted on February 21, 2016
“If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all their own way: they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow worse and worse. When we are struck at without a reason, we should strike back again very hard; I am sure we should–so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again.” [said Jane Eyre]
“You will change your mind, I hope, when you grow older: as yet you are but a little untaught girl.”
“But I feel this, Helen; I must dislike those who, whatever I do to please them, persist in disliking me; I must resist those who punish me unjustly. It is as natural as that I should love those who show me affection, or submit to punishment when I feel it is deserved.”
“Heathens and savage tribes hold that doctrine, but Christians and civilised nations disown it.”
“How? I don’t understand.”
“It is not violence that best overcomes hate–nor vengeance that most certainly heals injury.”
“Read the New Testament, and observe what Christ says, and how He acts; make His word your rule, and His conduct your example.”
“What does He say?”
“Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you and despitefully use you.”
“Then I should love Mrs. Reed [Jane’s abusive aunt and foster parent], which I cannot do; I should bless her [abusive, bullying] son John, which is impossible.”
— from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
This artificial discussion does not seem to be polemic or propaganda, but merely puts both sides of the issue out in the open using the device of a fictitious discussion between an adult (a Christian) and a child - viz: the Turn the Other Cheek
Christian teaching on the one hand, and, on the other hand, why this may not be pragmatic/rational in our everyday life (particularly in the world of reducing peace that we might find ourselves in today).
This, for me, leads to a perfect example of why reading widely and making connections between what one reads is likely to be beneficial for developing an improved understanding
of the de facto
philosophical challenges that we are likely to face in life, and so I pointed it out to my daughter - because she is studying philosophy at school this year - as a useful teaching point when read together with a news item that I had read recently and with two of the other books that she refers to from time to time (and which I encourage) - which are the Bible
and the Koran
The news item
was from an interview with an orthodox Christian man living with his family in Syria (the Middle East), and what his response was when ISIS (jihadist soldiers of orthodox Islam) had taken over his home town. He reported that of the thousands of Christians living there, his was one of only about 50 families that had decided to remain. They had been faced with three options:
- Expulsion: Be expelled (forced to flee - become a refugee) under threat of almost certain death/rape/pillaging by ISIS (because all non-Islamic people are "infidels" and the women and children and their property would become legitimate slaves/spoils of war).
- Jizya tax: Stay and hope to be allowed to pay the annual jizya tax (ISIS so far has seemed pretty reliable in honestly allowing jizya).
Jizya or jizyah (Arabic: ????? gizyah IPA: [d?izja]; Ottoman Turkish: cizye) is a religiously required per capita tax on non-Muslims under Islamic law, levied by an Islamic state. Jizya tax was not paid by Muslims, who however paid zakat (alms) tax instead.
Jizya is an example of taxes that depended on the religion of the individual. However, historically, the Jizya tax has been rationalized as a fee for protection provided by the Muslim ruler to non-Muslims, for the permission to privately practice a non-Muslim faith with some communal autonomy in a Muslim state, and as material proof of the non-Muslims' submission to the [supreme] Muslim state and its laws.] - Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jizya
- Convert to Islam: this would be to formally renounce all one's Christian (or other non-Muslim religions) views and beliefs, which are all considered heretical under Islam - and submit to Islam ("Islam" means submit) that is, to the will and the word of Allah as per the Koran. (The Jews are not allowed to convert though.) Islam is a one-way ticket, because, having once become a Muslim, one may not leave, under fear of death by stoning for committing the heresy of apostasy.
The Syrian Christian decided to take the 2nd option - the stigmatising and prejudicial jizya tax, and he and his family were "safe" under the protection of the Caliphate (rather like the Mafia), as long as his annual jizya tax had been paid and was still current - like a licence to practice Christianity.
If that 2nd option had not existed, then it would have been the 1st option - i.e., flee as a refugee, leaving one's property behind (which would be expropriated by the Caliphate) - because the 3rd option (renounce Christianity and submit to Islam) would presumably have been untenable to an Orthodox Christian.
The "Jane Eyre moment f truth"
here is the realisation that nowhere
in this is the response of "turning the other cheek" likely to be an appropriate or acceptable or even useful response - if one values the lives of one's family and oneself. That is, the foe that one faces and who curses you may have an infinite appetite for your extinction, and thus "turning the other cheek" could be interpreted as a weak response and a sign of weakness, and would thus be at best a useless response and at worst a response inviting death.