Saturday, June 11, 2005

Cheek Turning as Viewed in the Ancient Roman Empire

There's a thread over at Eschaton in which Adventus explains that in Turkish (and by implication, longstanding Middle Eastern,) culture, if someone slaps you with their open right hand, on your left cheek, that to then turn and request that they then slap you, backhanded, on your right cheek, emulates a greeting!

So, as seen in its cultural context, "to turn the other cheek" means to reverse the intent of the aggressor, inviting him to hit you again but in a manner that is seen as a greeting of good friends, in that culture. This is not self-abasement, as the phrase seems to suggest to way too many people.

Jesus was not saying "Please sir, may I have another," as in the "Animal House" fraternity initiation scene.

Not that the rightwing Christian movement in this country would ever consider that. War, homophobia, tax-cuts-for-the-rich, and the dismemberment of the social contract occupy far too much of their present political agenda for them to actually stop to consider the words of their Saviour.

To be a modern American conservative Republican born-again churchgoer today pretty much means that you're really a Roman.

1 comment:

Tedski said...

A roman...
...or a pharisee.