Thursday, February 14, 2008

Following Customs

Over at Crooked Timber, they don't hyperventilate about the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent controversial statements. The entry is accompanied by (currently) 213 comments, and Crooked Timber's respondents tend to be smart and/or entertaining. The post itself includes this anecdote, which I enjoyed:
In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of "suttee"—the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. General Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."


Blogger Fox said...

What a gem. How wonderfully refreshing in this age where reprinting a cartoon brings the death penalty in some zealots minds. Religious customs are one thing, but sense and reason should never bow to religion as humanity continues to slowly outgrow the barbarity that religions can sometimes cling too for centuries.

11:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the British tolerated suttee for quite a while, but they tolerated it in India. I doubt they would have tolerated pyres being built in Trafalgar square. And that, I think, is the difference between what the Archbishop is proposing may be inevitable, and what happened with throwing wives onto funeral pyres.

But it is incredibly refreshing to see an internet post that doesn't immediately and reflexively resort to screaming, gnashing of teeth, and declaring an end of days. In this political season, it seems that reasonability is the rarest of responses.

-- MattM

5:17 AM  

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