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Paul Tournier on the Superiority of the White Race

June 16, 2015

Paul Tournier is a Swiss physician whose writings influenced my American missionary parents greatly. I asked my mother recently if she’d read his The Violence Within (translated by Edwin Hudson for English language publication in 1978), and she thinks she has. That was before I’d myself read what he writes about power (which is, his Part II of the book, to go on further with his work “not so much to describe the escalation of violence as to discover its root cause”).

Please forgive me, dear blog reader, for enticing you in with the title, “Paul Tournier on the Superiority of the White Race,” as if the white race is the only thing with “superiority” in Tournier’s mind. Now that I’ve read his book — both Part I on Violence and Part II as his perceived root cause of violence, namely Power — may I share with you a few quotations? And I’m going to ask my mother again what she remembers. The year he writes this is 1977, not a year in the world without either escalated violence or power behind it.

Here is a bit excerpt for you, for us, then, in 2014:

Mission always aims at mastery. Missions to heathen lands, as they were conceived when I was young, were permeated throughout with a preconception of the superiority of the white race. Missionary committees followed their progress with the satisfaction of a General Staff following the advance of their victorious troops on a headquarters map….

This cause [of the escalation of violence in our modern world] is, I believe, to be found in the modern idolatry of power. ‘Be powerful’; such is the first commandment, as much in our so-called Christian West as in Islam and in the [atheistic] Communist world.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. yancywsmith permalink
    June 16, 2015 9:42 am

    Sounds very intriguing on several levels. Ideals for the world and practice in the family are so hard to integrate, because the true integration comes deep within one’s self before it can be brought into expression in the world. Sometimes children have to suffer our “mission as mastery” mindset the parents are trying to realize a higher ideal in the “mission field” out there. But the violence is already in the heart. How can it be uprooted? You got me thinking, Kurk.

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