Heroes and Villains
by MW Cook
John Calvin was a hero, they told me. I didn’t argue. It wasn’t my place to argue. It was my place to listen. And so John Calvin was a hero.
He was clever, you see. A pioneer of sorts. One of the first and brightest to read the Book the way they told me it was meant to be read. He was a hero. Like Martin Luther.
It bothered me that he killed a man, though. Bothered me that he thought folks who disagreed with him ought to die. But he was a product of his culture. He can’t be fully blamed. He just used worldly weapons in a spiritual war. When you put it that way, it doesn’t seem like that big a deal.
Though I bet Michael Servitus thought it was a big deal.
And, sure, Martin Luther was a misogynist and anti-semite. Well, he was a product of his culture, too. Can’t be too harsh on him. Or on Jonathan Edwards for his owning of slaves for that matter. Products of their culture. Innocent, in their own ways. Heroes still, I suppose.
Mother Theresa, on the other hand, was not a hero, they said. Sure she poured herself out for the ‘least of these’. Sure she inspired millions and eased the sufferings of countless invisible people. But she was the wrong kind of Christian. Roman Catholic. Damned. In hell, despite her service. That’s what they said.
Gandhi is another one who isn’t a hero. Sure, he championed non-violent resistance against the forces of evil. Sure, he fought against oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. But, like Theresa, he was one of ‘them’, not ‘us’. Hindu. Blind. Damned and in hell, despite his service. That’s what they said.
Is it any wonder?
Is it any wonder they talk about us like they do?
Is it any wonder I felt the need to [………]?
We forgive the murderers and slave owners because they thought like we do.
We condemn the compassionate souls because of a rosary and a dash of vermillion upon the forehead.