The image speaks for itself…
The Photo is attributed as, “The Graves Of A Catholic Woman And Her Protestant Husband Separated By A Wall, Holland, 1888.”
These two lovers in the picture did not lay down very silent did they?
What a powerful image giving Christianity a needed lesson. Yes, you, church, you created this, not the world outside your church doors. Life long faithful Christian lovers denied burial in the same dirt because they were __________ ( insert a Christian denominational term). What?
Despite the dirt they were buried in, and the man made wall erected between them, no one could keep these life long christian lovers apart in eternity.
Here is an African story about the dirt we are buried in.
The Agni of Ivory Coast are traditionally animists, but some started becoming Christians 75 years ago. The Catholics where the first to arrive, When I first showed up on the scene in Ivory Coast, West Africa, about 3% of the Agni considered themselves Catholic, though most were nominal.
While working out in a rural village, I traveled out to a friends field and we came across a group of of old men hanging out in an encampement. We sat down and visited a long while. We shared laughs and stories, but somewhere along the line, I don’t remember why, one of the old men, who had way too much palm wine (Bangee Blanc) that had fermented way too much, in a half drunken stupor, said,
“We Agni like the Catholic church because we can still drink plam wine, do the fetish, and sacrifices and they don’t seem to mind. The Protestants want us to stop it all.” (Agni Old Man)
I laughed at him and jokingly chided, “Well it sounds to me if I don’t really want a change in life, the Catholic church is my best choice then?” (No offense to true Catholics intended.)
The group laughed and chuckled for a while over that one, but they never actually responded to the content of the joke.
Does “religion” lead to any real change? I’ve always wondered why people wear the names, doggedly holding on to these titles, when they don’t give a hoot about their faiths content.
My friend Jean Claude used to be an Animist, but he became a Christian. His mom was still a practicing Animistic fetisher for the region, doing sacrifices and all for the local people. That was the case all the years I was roaming that bush region.
Jean Claude said their church was the first evangelical church in the village. He heard the gospel and believed the words about Jesus.
In those early days one of his church members died. The young leaders, my friend among them, took the body and buried the churchman in what they had assumed was the “Christian” burial ground. Muslims, Animists and Christians do not bury in the same place, because, among other things, animists must return to perform sacrifices etc for the dead ancestors from time to time.
Anyway, after the burial the leaders of the Catholic Church showed up very irate that the newly arrived “Protestants” had just buried their dead man in “their” Catholic cemetery.
Jean Claude and the other young leaders asked for forgiveness, explaining they were young and did not realize the burial site was uniquely for Catholics, they thought it was the site designated by the village for any Christian burial.
Asking “Pardon” usually settles most matters among the Agni, but not this time.
A few of the Catholic Church leaders were so irate that they insisted the church men must go back and dig the body up and move the body to another location. Jean Claude said that they simply did not want to carry out such a grewsome task. Things got so heated that it was finally taken before the “pagan” village Chief.
Most villages chiefs are animists. In fact, most Agni villages, to this day, will not allow a christian chief, because they know that often they can no longer in good conscience continue to practice many of the ancient blood sacrifices and ceremonies for divination, protection, or for honoring the ancestors. This chief was no christian.
Anyway, both parties presented their sides before the Agni village chief, with the evangelical church formally asking forgiveness once again, promising they would not do this again now that they understand the realities.
However, they were begging to please not make them dig the body back up. But the Catholic leaders were insistent.
The animist Agni chief patiently listened in silence to the Christians for a long time, like they always do.
However, when it was clear there was going to be no compromise on this one the ancient Chief broke his silence. The chief indicated for a young man to run into his hut and bring out a bible. My friends said they were surprised the chief even had a bible, and wondered where he gotten it from.
The young man emerged from the chiefs hut with the hugest, foot thick ancient looking bible you could ever imagine. “I’ve never seen such a thick or as ornate bible before or since. It was huge, Andy.”, my friend explained to me.
In Agni style, the Chief had the colossal volume placed at the feet of the Catholic Church leaders.
The Chief then asked them, “This is the book you Christians follow is it not?
“Yes”, the Catholic leaders replied.
“Show me in your Bible where it says Protestants and Catholics can’t be buried together, and I’ll have them dig him back up.” said the Chief.
The church leaders looked at one another in silence. They then stood up saying, “We understand”, and left.
So, just like that, it was the end of the matter.
An Animistic Agni Chief, from a village deep in the rain forests of Ivory Coast has a message for Christians. You are creating too many problems about things that are not in your book.
This articles picture makes me so sad that words can’t express how I feel.
Yes, I know, we’re not supposed to talk about such divisive religious things out loud….. That Catholic who married a Protestant, or that Protestant who married a Catholic, and the great division, arguments, harsh words, and shouting it causes in some families behind closed doors.
Shushhhh…. just pretend such sectarianism does not exist, it’s not there.
But these two lovers in the picture did not lay down very silent did they? Despite the dirt they were buried in, and the man made wall erected between them, no one could keep these life long christian lovers apart in eternity.