Tuesday 3 August 2021

International Left-Handers Day


Image description: a bust photo of Nicholas Ferroni, educator & activist with his quotation…

I was born a sinner too. My sin is mentioned in the Bible 25 times. I tried to change, but couldn’t… Luckily society learned to accept us left-handed people.

Today, 13th August, is International Left-Handers’ Day.

I was born left-handed, a lefty, and was probably part of the last English generation to be forced to be right-handed, at least to write right-handedly. However, prior to disability, I used to be able to scribe with either hand. I use cutlery as a right-hander, but prefer to drink with my left. I played tennis and cricket with my left-hand, but kicked a ball with my right-foot (footedness usually indicates handedness). See this Wikipedia item on Handedness for further details.

Left-handers are often considered to be ‘evil’, ‘sinister’ (the English word is derived from the Latin for left, ‘sinistra’), ‘clumsy’ or less worthy than right-handers. There are many cultural reasons for this.

For several centuries, mainstream Christianity considered those who predominantly used their left-hands to be sinful. Some smaller denominations still do (see for example this by Seventh-Day Adventists). But when was the last time you heard a sermon denouncing left-handedness or sinistrality? The likelihood is probably never if one is young or not since your childhood or youth if one is more mature. In actuality there is not a single Bible verse that categorically states that left-handedness is sinful. The Church as a whole, however, used passages such as Matthew 25:31-34 & 41, to back up their wrongful assertions - a case of blatant eisegesis (placing one’s own suppositions etc. into an interpretation of Scripture)! For background, it may be of interest to note that Judaism does not hold any mores against left-handers (e.g. see this recent article).

Selective ‘Christian fundamentalists’ pick & choose which bits of the Bible they wish to believe in - oddly enough, usually those passages that appear to justify their own bigoted beliefs! Strange how they ignore other parts that are inconvenient, etc.

As a student at university, studying theology away from the biases of specific denominations was a revelation: I discovered just how much official Christianity (whether Evangelical, Anglican, Roman Catholic or Orthodox) has distorted and still distorts Biblical understanding and how it reprioritises and/or suppresses Jesus’ words & teachings.

For some two decades, I was a ‘born-again’ believer. In all the time that folk had prophecies, words of wisdom and pictures, funny how they could pick on sins but never seemed to find the love to support the sinned agin! Also odd was the obsession with sexual sinning, but a total ignoring of inter-personal wrong-doing (such as gossiping, back-biting, bitching, rumour-mongering, etc., and to which we can add the modern sins of trolling and gaslighting) which it can be argued are far more destructive to the individual, community and society as a whole.

The Church - in this sense, all denominations together - is and has long been out to protect itself and its powerful position. Jesus was a radical free-thinker who wanted to completely revolutionise society (e.g. Cleansing of the Temple). He was an early believer in equality - he was, inter alia, proto-feminist (see this article for several examples), anti-classist (e.g. The Widow’s Mite), and anti-racist (e.g. The Good Samaritan). He called for all of us to love everyone: not some wishy-washy emotionalism; but active love-in-action (or agapē). 

Pope Francis has iterated the call for radical love-in-action (e.g. see my blog-post on his Evangelii Gaudium), but the bureaucracy of the clergy ensures that any radicalism is tempered by an ineluctable conservatism.

Change can only occur if the so-called faithful pursue it. Given a couple of millennia of history, I doubt such will come to pass… But one never knows - miracles do happen from time to time, for nowadays the Church no longer considers left-handedness as sinful!

No comments:

Post a Comment