- Special Sections
- Public Notices
To the editor:
I enjoyed Ms. Kennedy’s Feb. 15 column titled “Seeking God’s face without a formula.”
Over the years I have encountered the story of “cargo cults” many times while studying World War II history.
I find the phenomena interesting and a fine example of writer, inventor and futurist, Arthur C. Clarke’s third law of prediction which states: any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
I believe cargo cults are illustrative of an emotional vehicle used in an innocent attempt to find a higher authority to legitimize man’s existence.
The article is somewhat humorous in that the author believes that her religion is different from the cargo cult religion practiced by the Tannan Islanders. Under close perlustration any normal person would perceive numerous similarities. Though our cultures are worlds apart, our approach to eternal happiness is much the same. Let’s investigate further.
Any religion will suffice, but for comparison’s sake, let’s assume the author is a WASP (white Anglo-Saxon protestant), a Christian who follows Jesus Christ.
The article informs the reader that the islanders worship a god in human form who came down from the skies in an airplane, perhaps a polished and shiny flying chariot bearing gifts. Soon the god departs but promises to return bringing gifts. He is now an unseen god who promises to return.
The Christian God is an ancient one who spoke to man from a burning bush and sent his son in human form who died and then rose from the grave. He is now an unseen God who left, but promises to return guaranteeing believers eternal life and non-believers horrible punishments.
The islanders worship by dressing like American soldiers, body painting “USA” on their bare chest and backs, march perfectly while carrying simulated weapons and chant and dance around symbolic landing strips in an attempt to lure their god back to the island.
Christians have their own rituals. Let’s take a look at a typical Christian day of worship.
The family rises early and has a meal. Then each bathes appropriately and puts on his/her finest Sunday-go-to-church costumes. Our author probably retreats to her favorite vanity where she applies her “body paint” or what our culture calls “make-up.”
The whole family then assembles inside the shiny and highly polished family chariot, which will transport them to their symbolic house of God, where they may entice God to come to worship.
After arrival, the family proudly marches down the center isle to their favorite pew where they will gently sway to the rhythm of hymns of praise to an unseen God who promises to return someday.
Cargo cults developed during World War II in the mid-1940s. So the islanders have waited approximately 70 years for their god to return.
Christians, on the other hand, have waited thousands of years.
Though our cultures are worlds apart, our approach to the afterlife runs parallel.
Perhaps writer, soldier and explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890) said it best: “The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.”