Wednesday, October 03, 2007

God, sharks and one armed wonders.


A couple of posts back - it won't take much figuring out - I was sorely tempted to mention "Bethany Hamilton" and "unlikely to endorse" in the same paragraph. This would have been both tasteless and infra dignitatum. If you don't know who Bethany is, you can read all about this remarkable surfer from Hawaii at her own super slick website.


Now, if a Tiger shark had snacked on my arm, I'd be looking to track the bugger down and mount it on a wall. This would involve having to drink a lot of cheap whisky and giving up shaving and finding a clapped out boat and a harpoon and cylinders of gas and a crew of disgruntled shipmates and a really good soundtrack and... I could go on. Not in the Christian spirit, perhaps.

Bethany is a Christian, however, and her faith has helped her to make some sense of the events following the shark attack. She continues to surf competitively and is involved with World Vision "a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty."

Surfing has undergone a bit of religious revival in Hawaii it would seem since the days when...the first of the Calvinistic Christian missionaries arrived from England and began to convert the Hawaiians from polytheism to the one True God, whose son was Jesus Christ. The Hawaiian chiefs resisted this new God for a time, but within a decade this new strict, moral Christian code was replacing the kapu system and the Hawaiian's sensual way of life. The Calvinists insisted that the Hawaiians wear more clothes, learn to read and write, work more and play less. Restrictions on play included surfing. People who knew Hawaii before and after accused the missionaries of ruining much of what was unique and good about Hawaii, and that included discouraging Hawaiians from surfing.*

Is that irony or enlightenment? Who cares? Hallelujah!

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