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Jun 05 2014

The Catholic honor killings

We’re used to seeing the concept of honor killing used as a marker for barbarity, applied to foreign cultures as a way to indicate their inferiority. I can agree that the principle is contemptible and ought to be treated with scorn, but let’s apply it equally — and the modern West is just as guilty. We’ve all heard about the discovery that 800 children and babies at a Catholic home for ‘fallen’ women in Ireland were discovered to have been discarded in a septic tank, after dying of neglect and abuse. Stephanie Lord calls this atrocity what it is: these were state-sanctioned honor killings.

The women themselves served a dual purpose in the Laundries. They were a warning to others what happened when you violated the rule of the Church, and they were financial assets engaged in hard labour on behalf of the Church. They were not waged workers; they did not receive payment. They could not leave of their own free will, and their families, for the most part, did not come for them; the shame on the family would be too great. Ireland had a structure it used to imprison women for being sexual beings, for being rape victims, for not being the pure idolised incubator for patriarchy, for not having enough feminine integrity, or for being simply too pretty for the local priest’s liking. Ireland has a long tradition of pathologising difference.

People did know what went on in those institutions. Their threat loomed large over the women of Ireland for decades. On rare occasions when people attempted to speak out, they were silenced, because the restoration of honour requires the complicity of the community. Fear of what other people will think of the family is embedded in Irish culture.

The concept of honour means different things in different cultures but a common thread is that it can be broken but restored through punishing those who break it. We are familiar with the hegemonic concepts of “honour killing” and “honour crimes” as a named form of violence against women in cultures other than ours. The papers tell us it is not something that people do in the West. Honour killings, and honour crimes are perpetually drawn along racialised lines and Irish and UK media happily present them within the context of a myth of moral superiority.

So 800 children died needlessly and were treated with that ‘pro-life’ attitude the Catholic church shamelessly propagates, all to the end of making sure women were kept in line. And even the lucky children who survived that orphanage were looked down upon by Catholic society.

The entire purpose of this disgraceful institution was to dehumanize women who didn’t obey the Church.

What most never realised was that the nuns tendered for the business of running these homes and received very generous government funding, equivalent to the average industrial wage, for each mother and child in their so-called care. In addition, they profited handsomely from the forced adoptions they transacted, which saw 97% of all non-marital children taken for adoption in 1967.

With that knowledge it is unconscionable that the youngest babies, who should at least have been breast-fed by their mothers, could have died of malnutrition as is revealed on some of the death certificates meticulously uncovered by local Galway historian Catherine Corless in relation to the Tuam grave pit.

A potential explanation can be found in the account given by the late June Goulding in her book The Light in the Window, on the Bessborough mother-and-baby home in Cork, where she worked as a midwife from 1951-52.

She recounted being shocked on discovering the nun in charge of the new mothers insisted on an ad hoc system of wet-nursing where children, rather than being fed by their own mothers, who may have been working elsewhere in the home, were instead assigned to a random lactating mother to be fed. June Goulding, a young midwife, found this practice repellent and quickly grasped that it was part of the dehumanising regime designed to break down the women so they were incapable of questioning the nuns’ supreme authority.

58 comments

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  1. 1
    Forbidden Snowflake

    She recounted being shocked on discovering the nun in charge of the new mothers insisted on an ad hoc system of wet-nursing where children, rather than being fed by their own mothers, who may have been working elsewhere in the home, were instead assigned to a random lactating mother to be fed.

    Destroying the traditional family indeed.

  2. 2
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Aborting a 6 weeks old embryo: grave sin
    Starving a six weeks old baby to death: totally acceptable
    Catholics are pro-life, birn people need not apply

  3. 3
    colnago80

    What else could be expected from the Raping Children Church, the greatest criminal conspiracy in human history.

  4. 4
    wordsgood

    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-, could not have said it better myself!

  5. 5
    cartomancer

    Up until quite recently – well into the 20th century at least – the notion that the catholic Irish counted as part of “the modern West” would have seemed ridiculous to most well-to-do Englishmen. Traditionally they were seen as just the kind of atavistic barbarian other that muslims get viewed as today, to the extent that you frequently saw “no dogs, no blacks, no Irish” signs outside shops and pubs. In the eighteenth century it was commonly thought that the Irish deserved all their poverty and backwardness – as Swift’s Modest Proposal sending up these attitudes shows.

    So I’m slightly uneasy about taking tropes that are already used to foster othering and a sense of imperialistic cultural superiority and applying them to a people who have a long history of being treated in just such a way. Albeit they are little in evidence nowadays. On the other hand, if we can get away from the notion of the Barbarian Other, the religious machinery of ideological control among an impoverished populace does seem strikingly similar in both cases.

  6. 6
    CaitieCat, getaway driver

    RCC is one of the most monstrously evil organizations in our history.

  7. 7
    imthegenieicandoanything

    Saying you believe in God or anything an obviously stand in for God is a hellava strike against you in my silly little book – I then have to identify what’s NOT stupid and potentially dangerous about you, until you grow up mentally and morally.

    To be a believing Catholic is far, far worse. You might as well be a Muslim who believes in the justice of Sharia or a Jew who buys the “chosen people” argument. You’re a dumb fucker, whatever positive traits you have.

    The Popes would still be running the Inquisition, complete with torture, etc., if they could.

    Of course, now, even if they did, it’d be less effective, because EVERYBODY expects it.

  8. 8
    fork

    cartomancer @ 5

    Would a Canadian story work better?
    Butterbox Babies

  9. 9
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I’m wondering: Can institutions be charged with crimes against humanity? In that case, I would like to report the RCC

  10. 10
    cynewulf

    Involved in the molestation and rape of thousands of children over multiple generations. Covered up these crimes and punished those who attempted to seek justice.
    Involved in the forced servitude of vunerable women who were made to work for the financial gain of the Church without pay. Destroyed the public image of anyone who spoke up against these practices.
    Seperated single mothers from their children, shamed both mother and child, and forced them to endure a life of suffering and neglect.
    Took money from charities and government under the claim it would be used to help these people, but was instead funnelled away to the priests and Church infrastructure, leaving many to suffer even greater deprivation.
    And now we have proof that those neglected children were allowed to die and quietly thrown into a mass grave so it wouldn’t cause an embarrassment.

    And these people are not considered part of a criminal organisation? I would ask why not, but I realise I am unlikely to get a satisfying answer. I will instead ask another: Considering the horrific acts we are now aware the Catholic Church permitted and covered up, what new revelation could possible top it?

  11. 11
    steve oberski

    @Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse by Geoffrey Robertson

  12. 12
    gussnarp

    Every time I hear about Catholic atrocities in relatively modern Ireland I’m shocked all over again. It’s just a sickening example of what theocracy does. I had not heard this one and it kind of hits me personally because it was in Tuam.

    When I lived in a small southern town we were lucky to have a few Irish immigrants running a real pub and it was my favorite place to go. I was enough of a regular that I ended up there for the wake of a bartender’s roommate. They were all from Tuam, which means very likely they knew someone involved in this place. After one bartender moved back and started his own pub I went over and visited him. Tuam’s a tiny town and I asked a friendly nun who got off the bus there with me how to get to the street where his pub was. She offered to show me (which really just gave her someone to walk with as far as her turn off – we were already on the right street). She seemed so nice and I was happy and it was a sunny day in the Irish countryside and now I realize, given her age, she may well have been involved in this. Suddenly the pretty picture in my mind of that day, the positive associations of that sweet old nun, are different.

    Think I’ll go watch Sinead O’Connor on SNL again.

  13. 13
    twas brillig (stevem)

    This sounds familiar, wasn’t there a movie about that Laundry, released in the 80-90′s??
    Is the OP new news or reminding us of the RCC’s mass hypocrisy/horror?
    Don’t get me wrong. I am not objecting to this post, I welcome memory refreshers. Just trying to get my awful memory skills realigned.
    Regardless, I DO recommend that movie, the title of which is left as an exercise for the reader ^_^

  14. 14
    Marcus Ranum

    People did know what went on in those institutions.

    Don’t fucking believe that for a fucking second.

  15. 15
    Marcus Ranum

    Oh, wait! WRONG! I misread that as “didn’t”!!!! MY BAD!

  16. 16
    gussnarp

    @cartomancer – I see your point, but I think in this case the whole point of the post is to show that these things happen to people just like us. The American perspective on the Irish is, I think, quite different. While there are still plenty of stereotypical Irish jokes in the States, I think they tend to be meant self-deprecatingly as a huge percentage of Americans has and is aware of Irish ancestry. While Irish immigrants were very much discriminated against, that time is long gone for us in attitudes, if not in years. To me, and I expect to most Americans of European ancestry, this is about us, or at least our people, not an other. Or at least more about us than most such stories we tend to hear.

  17. 17
    Alverant

    Already I’ve seen apologists blame the country of Ireland itself and say things like “Well the US did horrible things too.”

  18. 18
    raven

    We’ve all heard about the discovery that 800 children and babies at a Catholic home for ‘fallen’ women in Ireland were discovered to have been discarded in a septic tank,

    1. It was a shocking atrocity even by the very low standards of xian behavior. Something out of the Dark Ages that occurred recently.

    2. I’m out of touch with Catholic Ireland. Not that I’ve ever been in touch with it. From the Potato Blight famine on, it seems to be one human made disaster after another.

    3. Oddly enough, after all the Catholic church’s atrocities in Ireland, they still have a huge amount of power there. They can still kill women in hospitals by forcing medical malpractice, something that happened to an Indian woman a year or two ago.

  19. 19
    twas brillig (stevem)

    re myself @13:

    I DO recommend that movie, the title of which is left as an exercise for the reader

    IMDB is handy:
    The Magdalene Sisters (2002)
    Three young Irish women struggle to maintain their spirits while they endure dehumanizing abuse as inmates of a Magdalene Sisters Asylum.

    sorry, my original estidate was a little off; 2002 is a little more recent than “80-90′s”, my bad.
    As horrific as the movie shows the Laundry to have been; the latest find, triggering the OP, was the discovery of all the bodies [shudder]. Go rent this movie, pronto…

  20. 20
    The Other Lance

    Looks like the Irish Government is going to investigate. How much and how well they do it is up in the air.

    http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/govt-bows-to-pressure-to-launch-probe-into-baby-deaths-632506.html

  21. 21
    Charles Thornton

    The sickening thing is that you know this happened elsewhere such a Spain and Chile. In Spain it is estimated the Church organised 300,000 (not a misprint, really 3×10^5) abduction/adoptions from places such as this and I strongly suspect an excessive proportion of infant and perinatal deaths will, eventually be found.

  22. 22
    raven

    The babies and children were buried in a mass grave, not in a real cemetery, and with no tombstones or markers.

    Catholic teaching at the time said children born to unmarried mothers could not be buried in “consecrated” ground. Consecration means a black robed magician called a “priest” cast a spell over it making it suitable for dead bodies.

    1. Even after they were dead, these victims were treated as subhuman.

    2. This is the RCC blaming the newborn for the “sins” (if any), of the parents. The kids had no say in who or where they were born.

    These days we humans don’t do this very often. And when it happens, most of us, especially the ones who aren’t xians, consider it a huge wrong.

    3. This is a classic example of the xian high moral ground. It occupies a position down around where Hell would be, if Hell existed.

    Did you know all morality comes from god? It is a good thing it doesn’t, or the earth would be one huge ball of absolute misery.

  23. 23
    gardengnome

    In my final year at a Catholic school I was targeted, among others, as a possible recruit to the Christian Brothers. We were taken out on weekends to visit various church facilities and shown around. I have to admit that I was very attracted to the life (seemed better than working for a living anyway!). It inevitably fell through as my passively rebellious nature and atheistic inclinations crystallized. The thought now of being part of such a inhumanly callous and self-absorbed organisation chills me to the marrow.

    Perhaps the most disturbing aspect is that these revelations don’t even surprise me and I wonder what other dirty secrets lie waiting to be uncovered.

  24. 24
    raven

    I knew one Irish guy who grew up in that era, my friend’s father. He spent time in a Catholic orphanage, not because he was illegimate. His family was poor, had 12 kids, and simply couldn’t feed them all.

    1. He grew up stunted from malnutrition. He is small and slight framed. His kids are all big boned and tall.

    2. He got TB from overcrowding. At that time there was no treatment. You either got over it or died from it.

    He ended up an atheist. And BTW, this RCC orphanage was near….New York City, USA.

  25. 25
    kieran

    Rubberbandits, satirical group from limerick’s take on the situation

  26. 26
    kieran

    Okay block quote fail

    “If I was a babysitter in the 1960s and a child died because I neglected it, so I then buried it in a septic tank out my back… would I go to Jail? What If I kept doing it, another 799 times? Would the guards just ignore it because it happened 50 years ago. Would they leave me off the hook?”

  27. 27
    hyperdeath

    Would anyone be particularly surprised if it turns out that some of the babies were still alive when thrown into the septic tank? I wouldn’t be.

  28. 28
    Alverant

    If corporations are people and if the RCC is acting like a corporation, can it be brought to trial?

  29. 29
    gmacs

    We’re used to seeing the concept of honor killing used as a marker for barbarity, applied to foreign cultures as a way to indicate their inferiority.

    And yet, there is a comedy by one of the most celebrated European playwrights about an attempted honor killing that is so blithely titled “Much Ado About Nothing”.

    Since seeing it, I’ve wondered if Shakespeare was intending to criticize society’s sexual hangups, or if he was merely reflecting them.

  30. 30
    David Marjanović

    We’ve all heard about the discovery

    I hadn’t, and I’m quite deeply shocked now.

    So I’m slightly uneasy about taking tropes that are already used to foster othering and a sense of imperialistic cultural superiority and applying them to a people who have a long history of being treated in just such a way.

    It’s not Ireland that is to blame here, it’s religion, religion with too much power.

    Looks like the Irish Government is going to investigate. How much and how well they do it is up in the air.

    http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/govt-bows-to-pressure-to-launch-probe-into-baby-deaths-632506.html

    From there:

    “Another home where the scandal of unmarked graves was uncovered is the Protestant Bethany Home in Dublin, which was found to have had 222 infants die before being secretly buried.”

    It’s not even just Catholicism that is to blame here. It’s religion with too much power.

    The sickening thing is that you know this happened elsewhere such a Spain and Chile.

    I didn’t know this either, but I’m not surprised.

  31. 31
    twas brillig (stevem)

    2. This is the RCC blaming the newborn for the “sins” (if any), of the parents. The kids had no say in who or where they were born

    No, no, no, They aren’t “blaming the newborn”; the newborn are just the manifestation of the sin itself, and so must NOT be buried in consecrated ground. It is just further punishment of the womenz/slutz that what looks like a baby is being killed because _they_ sinned. “So go weep over there, while doin the laundry.”

    re Much Ado…
    Shakespeare was both a product AND satirist of his times. Much Ado… was an explicit mockery of the mores of the time. Don’t mock Willy, he was a genius!!!

  32. 32
    eeyore

    As Marx pointed out, religion is the opiate of the masses. Opium is a powerfully addictive drug that causes much misery to those who are addicted, but because of the addictive power of it, they keep clinging to it and going back to their pusher for more.

    I’ve never understood why Blacks, both in Africa and in the United States, cling to Christianity, given all of the fairly detestable racism the Christian church helped facilitate. But they do. As a child, I was taught that my black skin was the mark of Cain, proof of God’s disfavor, and proof that God intended the whites to be our overseers. I wondered then, and wonder now, why any Christian church has a single dark face in it.

  33. 33
    raven

    It is just further punishment of the womenz/slutz that what looks like a baby is being killed because _they_ sinned.

    Oh. I remember it now. The xian Doctrine of Children as Punishment/Torture Devices. They are very good for that, especially when they die. You can spend the entire rest of your life grieving for their death and your loss.

    Silly me. I thought they were human beings and Irish citizens.

  34. 34
    CHARLES

    Still playonwords, looks like this is permanent.

    Another film about a similar situation is Philomena from BBC Films
    Synopsis:
    Falling pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952, Philomena Lee was sent to the convent of Roscrea to be looked after as a “fallen woman”. When her baby was only a toddler, he was whisked away by the nuns to America for adoption. Philomena spent the next fifty years searching for him in vain.

    Then she met Martin Sixsmith, a world-weary journalist as cynical as Philomena was trusting. Together they set off for America on a journey that would not only reveal the extraordinary story of Philomena’s son, but also the powerful bond that grew up between Philomena and Martin – a surprising relationship that was both profoundly moving and very funny.

    The film is a bitter-sweet comedy, a compelling narrative of human love and loss, and a heart-breaking story that ultimately celebrates life.

  35. 35
    twas brillig (stevem)

    I’ve never understood why Blacks, both in Africa and in the United States, cling to Christianity, …

    I always assumed (without ever asking), that they did so cuz it was their last hope after all the suffering and degradation the slavers were subjecting them too. The Church tells them that if you suffer enough, you’ll go to heaven and be happy forever. And all the singing and dancing in church, cuz it was the only place they could do so, to at least feel happiness somewhere for a little while. …but is that assumption a sign of my own racism?… don’t answer… I feel badz…

  36. 36
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    eeyore #32
    I suspect that a lot of it relates to a major reason why there are still so many women in the States who are churched: churches provide a rudimentary social safety net to people who toe their line (via, e.g. being able to get a fellow church member to watch your kids), and there’s not an actual social safety net to speak of in the U.S.

  37. 37
    spamamander, internet amphibian

    I had found The Magdalene Sisters online some time ago. That movie totally did me in. Horrifying.

  38. 38
    esmith4102

    It is a fact that the early Church fathers – St Ambrose, St Jerome, and, especially, St Augustine, spent their intellectual energy concerned with women’s virginity and un-baptized infants going to hell than about the misery of the secular world crumbling all around them. They exhibited no compassion for the welfare of their own people.

    Eight hundred infants dead at the hands of an ideological corrupt organization?

    Who can be surprised!

  39. 39
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Here is Joni Mitchell singing the Magdalene Laundries from back in 1998. Back when it was horrific. But we still didn’t know just how horrific.

    I am sickened. But not surprised. I am not shocked. Just sickened and saddened and angered.

  40. 40
    eeyore

    Twas brillig, no 35, I don’t find your comments racist, and I think that’s probably as good an explanation as any: If your life is crap, then maybe holding out hope for a nice hereafter really is the best you think you can do. Even if the institutional church is contributing to why your life is crap.

  41. 41
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    eeyore:

    If your life is crap, then maybe holding out hope for a nice hereafter really is the best you think you can do.

    Well, the bible does say that the meek are gonna get it, right?

  42. 42
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Ogvorbis: that’s one interpretation. However, even under the more favorable interpretation, you have some people losing their patience:
    “Screw the meek,” Says Pope.

  43. 43
    gussnarp

    re: African American devotion to Christianity:

    It’s pretty important to remember that two and a half centuries of slavery followed by a century and a half of Jim Crow can have a pretty profound impact on a culture and how a religion based on a messiah who came to liberate an enslaved people could be appealing to that culture.

    Given also that religious gatherings that appeared to match the religious values of the American South were the only gatherings slaves were aloud. Religious education, such as it was, was the only education permitted to slaves. And religious songs were a very good way to communicate subversively in the fields. Many of the African American spirituals were actually coded messages with instructions on how to escape to the North.

    That after that history, generations of African Americans became truly devoted to Christianity and that it is central to black life in America, is pretty unsurprising.

  44. 44
    gussnarp

    Also, re: “the meek shall inherit the earth”

    “What good is a used up world and how could it be worth having?” – Sting.

    Fits a lot better with most theology than the notion that the meek inheriting the earth is a good thing. Sting made me think, woah, Jesus really doesn’t like the meek!

  45. 45
    Drolfe

    Black membership in an ostensibly white supremacist church is a studied problem.

    The bulk of the answer should not surprise: structural racism. The bulk of blacks that first learned English learned it from a bible from missionaries and slavers (or both, many missions owned slaves). If a slave was permitted to read, it was from a bible. If blacks were permitted to assemble at all it was for church. If blacks were permitted civil leadership or political involvement it was through the church or as churchmen, with notable exceptions. All the way from emancipation to today the state has not provided the necessary amount of social services for black people and black communities, but churches have been permitted and empowered by white power structures to fill this gap. (White philanthropy, government “Faith Based Initiatives”, religious NGOs.)

    This is in addition to the pervasive sexism mentioned above. That’s another component of keeping the system going. Forcing black mothers into the church for socializing and support of their enforced child- and elder-care roles insures a new generation will swallow that shit-sandwich.

    That sure does suck, but it’s pretty much always racism, every time. And it’s one more way our history of slavery is still fucking up everyone.

    Tangent: well educated, economically secure people leave the church in droves —that’s another upside to reparations. Justice will give black freethought more room to flourish.

  46. 46
    Drolfe

    Oh great, was typing while gussnarp was going there too. We’re converging on the same answer.

  47. 47
    gussnarp

    Oh, and *allowed*, not aloud, damn it.

  48. 48
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Crip Dyke @42:

    “Screw the meek,” Says Pope.

    Sorry. Poor writing on my part. That’s basically what I meant by ‘gonna get it.’

  49. 49
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Oggie:

    No, I got what you meant.

    I was saying that **even if the bible meant something good and not what Oggie said** the meek are still in for it.

    In the onion article, the Pope is all, “oh yeah, JC said the poor were blessed, but they’ve had 2000 years to make good and inherit the damn earth already and they haven’t.”

    It was all about, “Is the pope just obeying the bible in screwing the meek (Oggie’s version) or is he tossing the bible aside after losing patience (onion version)?”

    But really, deep down, I think I just wanted an excuse to link that onion article, b/c teh funn-eee.

  50. 50
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Crip Dyke:

    Sorry.

  51. 51
    madscientist

    The current pope of course is saying that catlicks need to churn out more babies – presumably to support his business of building cesspits to cast the children into. As Mephisto told Faust: “Why this is hell – nor are you in it.” Religion creating hell on earth is not a recent role.

  52. 52
    Kamaka

    cynewulf @ 10

    Involved in the molestation and rape of thousands of children over multiple generations centuries.

    This is nothing new. These privileged self-appointed arbiters of “morality” have been abusing youngsters from the beginnings of the incorporation.

    http://www.crusadeagainstclergyabuse.com/htm/AShortHistory.htm

    https://suite.io/andrew-perry/4vef21f

  53. 53
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Ogvorbis:

    Pff! Oggie, please. There was no need for apologies. You’re sounding positively Canadian. I thought I was the one that moved to the great white north….

  54. 54
    robster

    Those nuns that tossed 796 lifeless bodies of little children in their care into a septic tank is up there with the NAZIs in terms of evil. I can imagine the gaggle of nasty nuns having a giggle after disposing of the unwanted babies in the pit and their feeling clever at cleaning up the unwanted baby problem. This from an organisation that sells itself as a moral guardian. Put them all in jail and keep the red wine and cracker nonsense away from them, that will upset them.

  55. 55
    Kamaka

    Those nuns that tossed 796 lifeless bodies of little children in their care into a septic tank is up there with the NAZIs in terms of evil.

    The NAZIs [sic] were a flash in the pan compared to the centuries of RCC crimes against humanity. That’s how the sweet and gentle nuns could so casually commit such atrocities. In their culture, such murderously abusive behavior was normal. In fact, I do believe they felt it was their god-given job to abuse children in this manner.

    I know these nun creatures. They’re not all bad, but that many of them might demand obedience at all costs surprises me not. The humiliating pass-around breast-feeding regime seems just like something the wicked (and long dead) Sr. Mary Quirina would promulgate with a certain glee.

  56. 56
    Gerard O

    I would say that there is very good reason to prosecute this as a crime against humanity.

  57. 57
    David Marjanović

    As a child, I was taught that my black skin was the mark of Cain, proof of God’s disfavor, and proof that God intended the whites to be our overseers. I wondered then, and wonder now, why any Christian church has a single dark face in it.

    Those churches that taught this have mostly stopped. And most never taught it: after all, how is any descendant of Cain supposed to have survived the Flood?

    (That’s where the Curse of [Ken] Ham comes in.)

    I always assumed (without ever asking), that they did so cuz it was their last hope after all the suffering and degradation the slavers were subjecting them too. The Church tells them that if you suffer enough, you’ll go to heaven and be happy forever. And all the singing and dancing in church, cuz it was the only place they could do so, to at least feel happiness somewhere for a little while.

    Also… “let my people go”.

    And religious songs were a very good way to communicate subversively in the fields. Many of the African American spirituals were actually coded messages with instructions on how to escape to the North.

    I once read that Dixie is actually Canada…?

  58. 58
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Well, OED says that the etymology of “Dixie” (as referring to the US South) is unknown. There are, however, 3 main theories:

    (1) A reference to Jeremiah Dixon, of Mason-Dixon line fame.
    (2) A reference to a slaveowner named Dixey, who was renonwed for his kindness to his slaves.
    (3) A reference to money issued by a bank in New Orleans (specifically, money that was 10 [monetary units] – dix in French). “Dixieland” was the area that this money would be accepted (e.g. an area centered in Louisiana).

    That said, there is a place called Dixie in Canada. It’s on the QEW not far from Toronto.

    As for religiosity amongst slaves and their descendants, it’s not an accident that religiosity historically was (apparently) high when life was hard and amongst the oppressed. Because there’s a message in there of “those that hurt you will get their just desserts, and you won’t suffer any more.” That’s the theory I’ve always heard, of course. Could be wrong.

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