This website is (or will be) moving to

from the ashes, we rise
[touch the earth]
Two spiritualities meet each other

~ the good, the bad - of what Europeans brought ~

Letting their light shine: the missionary impulse
The Massachusetts Bay Company, which held the charter to the colony of Massachusetts, featured an Indian carrying a bow and arrow standing between two pine trees and saying, 'Come over and help us.'

The Puritans' missionary efforts among the Indians, unlike the Virginia Anglicans, achieved some (modest) success. The Puritan minister John Eliot spent his entire career in Massachusetts seeking conversions among the Indians. The Puritans published more than twenty Christian books in the Massachusetts (Indian) language between 1654 and 1690, including a complete translation of the Bible in their tongue. Native Indians who had converted to Christianity themselves preached among other Indians. By 1674 more than thirty so-called 'praying towns' of Christian Indians dotted Massachusetts.

But all that came to an end with King Philip's War.

The so-called King Philip's War of 1675-76 effectively ended Eliot's work. In 1655, Indians led by Metacom attacked English (Puritan) settlements. They devastated 25 English (Puritan) villages, destroyed more than 1,000 English (Puritan) homes, and killed at least 2,000 English (Puritan) men and women, as well as 8,000 cattle.

The whites counterattacked vengefully, killing Metacom and upward of 7,000 Indians, some in battle, others by starvation and disease. They reduced the number of the 'praying towns' to four, several of which quickly disbanded.

A success story: Père Isaac Jogues
By comparison, the French priests who brought (Catholic) Christianity to the Indians in America proved substantially more successful. [Père Isaac Jogues, etc. See Pope John Paul's tribute.] The French missionaries worked more patiently and learned more about native customs and life, not just the native language. They indulged a greater longevity among converts of a kind of syncretism, retaining elements of traditional native lore and custom alongside their deepening introduction to Christian belief.

Most importantly, as one Jesuit put it, the French fathers used "mildness and force, threats and prayers, labors and tears." They understood that conversion was an emotional as well as a logical process. As one Jesuit put it, "In order to convert these peoples, one must begin by touching their hearts, before he can convince their minds."

Father DeSmet It was said of Father De Smet that, like the Quakers of old, he alone "of the entire white race could penetrate to these cruel savages and return safe and sound." See outline history.

The Moravian missionaries in New York and Pennsylvania likewise encountered considerable success. Like the Jesuits, the Moravians made a point of learning much about the native cultures and exhibited considerable patience in awaiting conversions. They also distanced themselves from the aggressive actions and attitudes of the borderer frontier settlements with their hard-drinking, Injun-hating, and sometimes Calvinist-spouting mores and values.

Most importantly, Moravian theology fit the realities of the conversion process and important themes in traditional native beliefs. Inspired by Quakers, Moravians envisioned unity among all Christians as an ideal of Christ-like harmony. They practiced, like the Quakers, a "peace" ethos, but never rebelled against the traditionalism of the Lutheran practice, in the way that other "peace churches" (Anabaptist Brethren, Dunkers, Amish) chose to do.

As pietists and quietists, Moravians stressed "living" the Word, calling for believers to "embody" the love of Christ, preaching as much by example as by instruction. Like the Quakers but unlike the Puritans, Moravians did not stress doctrine. They lived among the Indians and used native language in day-to-day conversation, not merely in translated books. Like Native Americans, they discussed how dreams could communicate religious truths and moral lessons.

An Irish Calvinist Ulsterman in Pennsylvania commented enviously, "The Moravians appear to have adopted the best mode of Christianizing the Indians. They go among them without noise or parade, and by their friendly behavior conciliate their good will."

Jon Butler, Grant Wacker, & Randall Balmer:
Religion in American Life

The soreness of the land - the prophecy of Kate Luckie, Wintu Spirit Woman

The bridge is love ~ native spirituality is the wordless song of the heart

"Town Destroyer" George Washington impresses the eastern sachems

Wisdom of the Great Chiefs - native words still speak from long ago

Chief Seattle's oration, 1854 - I first encountered this speech in Norton's reader.

Never Give Up. The native American saga of hope and triumph.

Strange Correspondences Between Aboriginal American Cultures And Ancient Hebrew and Shemite Tribes

John Marrant, black apostle to the Cherokee - having credibility with Native folk, God used him greatly

John Stewart "Man of Color" - Adopted into the Wyandotte people as one of their own; he let his light shine

The American Indian Heritage Foundation Providing relief services to native peoples

NARF : Native American Rights Fund - 38 years of standing firm for justice.

Hanksville - index of Native American resources on the internet.

Medicine - the gospel light (spirituality resources)

Honoring our roots - history re-enactments and rendezvous of the Rocky Mountain fur trade

Look inside - and find God there

Living Sacrifice

GeoCities Site Maintained by
Bob Shepherd
Hosted by