Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Crossdressing Suicide Bomber

It's not funny, nor is it meant to be. But it is curious. Iraq's first female suicide bomber is reported to have worn men's robes to disguise her weapons -- which were studded with metal balls, to cause more injuries. She killed seven, and wounded 37.

We may be wrong here. But we'll bet that Shariah takes a dim view of gender-bending. Of course, we also thought that it took a dim view of mass murder, so that shows our ignorance.

In another piece of horrible Mesopotamian news, the core lay leadership of
St. George's Anglican Church, Baghdad, disappeared and is presumed dead on the road between Falujah and Ramadi. They were returning from a conference in Jordan, and are at this writing two weeks overdue.


Anonymous said...

it's interesting to note that the bomber's ascendance to martyrdom came to one who was disguised as a man. puts me in mind of the maid of orleans, also a cross-dresser, and definitely a christian martyr.

Father Anonymous Bosch said...

Well, yes and no. Both women, both soldiers, both dressed in men's clothing.

But Joan of Arc was a martyr in the traditional sense -- somebody else killed her. Suicide bombers are "martyrs" only according to a novel definition, by which killing oneself counts, so long as you take out a fair number of other people at the same time.

Anonymous said...

ah, but isn't a martyr a person who sacrifices their life for the principles of their own faith? when you refer to martyr in the "traditional sense", are you using the parameters of christianity for "traditional"? would not our 21st century suicide bomber fall into an expanded understanding of martyrdom?

Father Anonymous Bosch said...

Well, look: We can choose to redefine a word however we want, and if an "expanded understanding of maryrdom" makes you happy, go for it.

But the word is etymologically derived from the Greek "marturia", testimony in a court case, and refers to the experience of early Christians who refused to renounce their faith when they were brought before legal authorities, and were therefore executed as the result of legal proceedings.

This is quite a different thing from, for example, death in battle, even if that battle is ostensibly waged for religious purposes. Roland, in the "Chanson de Roland," dies fighting Muslims -- but he is a soldier, not a martyr.

Yes, the parameters of "traditional understanding" of the word are Christian -- it is a word that related directly to a central experience of formative Christianity. And while we can redefine it if we must, the wiser choice might be to find a new word which means "deliberately causing one's own death and the death of others as an expression of one's religious faith." I don't know any Greek or Latin roots that can say this briefly; but perhaps there is something in Arabic.