July 1st, 2010
The Holy Eucharist: The Metaphorical Cannibalism of the Body of Jesus Christ Justified. “Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom” (The Episcopal Church 363). This phrase is a phrase spoken in every Episcopal Church every Sunday during the Holy Eucharist otherwise known as the Holy Communion where Christians participate in the ingestion of the “Body” and “Blood” of Jesus Christ. The Christian Faith, by denying that the ingestion of the “Body” and “Blood” of Jesus Christ is an act of metaphorical cannibalism, used the defamation of the rituals of indigenous cultures as acts of cannibalism to attract members to the Christian churches, retain already existing members, and obtain land from the new found cultures of the New World. This ritual of participating in the communion of the “Body” and “Blood” of Jesus Christ is a ritual which has existed in the Christian Faith for many years, but yet is considered by the Christian church as an act nowhere near cannibalism. However, there are cultures in the world which participate in rituals similar to the Holy Eucharist, for example, the Aztec culture of the Americas. Christians, however, upon realizing that the Aztecs participated in the physical ingestion of the human body, were eager to label the Aztecs as cannibals when, in reality, the ritualistic “cannibalism” was clearly similar to the Holy Eucharist. The ritualistic “cannibalism” of the Aztecs was similar to the Holy Eucharist of the Christians because both communities engage in these rituals in order to attain a sort of closeness towards a higher deity. “Human sacrifices, cannibalism, and the behavior of Aztec warriors can all be attributed to and explained by motivational factors, such as religion…” (Ortiz de Montellano, 616). As explained by Ortiz de Montellano, ancient Aztec cannibalism could be attributed in many cases to religion much like the Holy Eucharist being an act of faith in attaining a relationship with Jesus Christ. The Christian belief in attaining a closer relationship with a higher being is shared with the Aztecs. For the Aztecs, “Sacrificial victims were believed to have become sacred. Eating their flesh was the act of eating the god itself. This communion with superior beings was an aspect of Aztec religion…Communion in conjunction with a belief (which some Christian religions practice), is no different in symbolism to the actions of the Aztecs in consuming what they considered to be the flesh of the gods” (Ortiz de Montellano 615). The similarity between the Aztec religion and the Christian religion concerning the issue of cannibalism, either metaphorically or physically is clearly defined in this statement. However, Columbus, for example, upon reaching the New World saw tribes such as the Carib tribe Columbus discovered on his first voyage, which participated in cannibalism, and immediately labeled these tribes as savages who had a strong interest in consuming human flesh. Columbus even went to the extent of claiming that the Caribs were a tribe that hunted the other tribes for human flesh. This claim however, did not bear any proof because the source of Columbus’s conjecture was the Native Americans. Columbus’s speculation runs into trouble because he bases his judgment on hearsay from people whose language he can barely understand. In addition to this setback, Columbus also uses the aid of a translator who is not fully accurate. He also bases his judgment on the physical body structure of the Caribs which is said to look deformed by the narrator in the journal of Columbus’ Second Voyage. Upon assessing the journal of Columbus’s First...
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