Something that really struck me in the reading was the story of Samson, and how it complicates the Christian understanding of martyrdom. Most people, including Christians, would call suicide bombers murderers or terrorists rather than martyrs. Murdering someone is believed to be a great sin, but there are characters like Samson in the Old Testament, who kill many people, too. The Book of Hebrews (New Testament) refers to Samson in a positive light. When Samson is captured by his enemies, they give credit to their god. The story becomes about divine power, as well as vengeance. Samson commits suicide in order to kill more people than he ever had in his lifetime, thus showing the might of God. Is this story any different from what suicide bombers do today?
Most people define a "martyr" based on their own understanding of morality. Middleton's definition has more to do with the way people interpret/use someone's death. This works well in an academic setting, like ours.
But I'm really curious about how a martyr is defined by different religious or social groups. For many Christians, both suicide and murder are very sinful, but Samson did both of those things. How would a Christian reconcile calling a suicide bomber a murderer, and Samson a martyr? What about someone who's Jewish?
Also, I really like one of the pictures from the slideshow up at the top. The one with the red graffiti, which says, "If dying for your faith makes you a martyr, what does it make those whom you killed for your faith?" It's thought provoking.