Wilderness

October 19, 2017

Creation 01

I’m reading an excellent book I happened upon at Boswell’s Books in Shelburne Falls (great bookstore BTW). It’s title is God is Red, which I found intriguing. Long story short: the author, Vine Deloris Jr., explores the divide between native American religious ideas and those of Western European Christianity. The excerpt quoted below is from the chapter, The Problem of Creation, which examines how native American and Western European attitudes about nature lead to certain outcomes. Deloria makes a case that the western Christian view of Man over nature, Man apart, Man at war with nature, is integrally bound up with a theology that pits man against nature from the very beginning (from the Bible’s Genesis). He shows how Man’s fall (into nature) is woven into a theology of salvation and fundamentally necessary to it. This brought many things into focus for me. It helps explain (especially) American capitalism’s virtually complete self-destructive disregard for the damage it does to the ecosystem of which we are integral. Underneath it all is a centuries old, deep-seated doctrinaire religious myth.

“We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, and winding streams with tangled growth as “wild.” Only to the white man was nature a “wilderness” and only to him was the land “infested” with “wild” animals and “savage” people.. To us it was tame. Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery.. Not until the hairy man from the east came and with brutal frenzy heaped injustices upon us and the families that we loved was it “wild” for us.. When the very animals of the forest began fleeing from his approach, then it was that for us the “Wild West” began.”
…………………………………………………………………………… —Chief Luther Standing Bear

Jim Culleny, 10/19/17

God is Red: here, herehere

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