Rick Steves in El Salvador

Rick Steves is probably best known as a travel writer who writes about Europe. He recently traveled to El Salvador for the anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero's assassination, and put his Journal online. Here is one insightful excerpt:

Jubilee Year: Justice or Slaughter…Choose One

There’s a pattern in El Salvador history. Jubilee massacres…every fifty years. In the 1830s an insurrection and its charismatic leader were put down. In 1881, peasants suffered a big and bloody land grab. In 1932, after the great global depression and Communist influence complicated the mix, 30,000 were massacred following an insurrection. After 1932, when a white person looked at an Indian his head would drop. Indigenous culture was outlawed, the left wing was decimated and a military dictatorship was established. In the 1980s again, the people rose up and were repressed so cruelly that a 12-year civil war followed.

In the Bible, God calls for a Jubilee Year. He figures that, with the greedy nature of mankind, it takes about 50 years for injustice to build to a point that drives a society to violence. Therefore, the Bible says that every 50 years, the land is to be redistributed and debts are to be forgiven. Christians — the kind so outspoken about the “sanctity of life” — manage to ignore this bit. And rich Christians who do notice can’t imagine God was serious.