Saturday, May 23, 2009
If Jesus were a Choctaw ...
In, “The Conqueror Meets the Unconquered: Negotiating Cultural Boundaries on the Post-Revolutionary Southern Frontier,” a chapter in Pre-removal Choctaw History: Exploring New Paths (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008), historian Greg O’Brien hangs the assumptions and complications of the 1885-1886 Choctaw Treaty of Hopewell with the United States on a fundamental Choctaw worldview that defined relationships with others thusly:
“Creating peaceful relations with a foreign people required the Choctaws to manipulate supernatural powers and employ political-religious specialists who could establish the sacred atmosphere necessary for incorporating strangers into the Choctaw kinship system. This requirement existed because there were essentially two types of people in Choctaw eyes: relatives and enemies.”
Two types of peeps: kin and enemies.
Now, Jesus said: "Love your enemies." Treat 'em like kin, in other words.
Why? Because we're all kin when it comes down to it.
The Choctaws manipulated supernatural powers and employed political-religious specialists who could establish the sacred atmosphere necessary for incorporating strangers.
Is there an example in there for us?
An example for us?
It is standard biological animal behavior to create the dichotomy of "us" and "them". Mankind just formalized it to make a way so that "them" may become "us". To make this "change" requires an "agent". Often the agent of blood rites (such as blood brother ceremonies) or marriage is used. These are natural agents. But often the natural agents have to sanctioned and sanctified by a super-natural agent. Marriage for example carries this sacramental quality. (thus the irrational response to "gay" marriage)
Across the spectrum of the American Indian tribes one must make "them" into "us" before you could interact with "them". I suspect such would be found in most if not all tribal cultures everywhere.
As a historian and potential seminarian you would enjoy acquiring a little knowledge of this kind of activity I think. So let me recommend a book about Bent's Fort and how spirituality and the supernatural agency was employed to allow the Bent's to establish and succeed in their trading business at the Fort.
The Bent's invoking a supernatural agency to expand the borders of the young America in the Southwest worked right up to the Sand Creek Massacre.
Matthew 5:44 is a step beyond this behavior. Black Kettle of the Cheyenne, however practiced this Christian doctrine of Matthew 5:44. The irony that it was an ordained evangelical Methodist minister that attacked him at Sand Creek and a self proclaimed "Christian Soldier" that killed him at the Washita is one of the saddest chapters in our bloody bloody history.
Then Black Kettle is our example -- and by "our" I'm not sure I'm talking about the nation.
The more I consider what I should think and how I think I should behave as a Christian and an American -- and as a potential but highloy unlikely minister of the Gospel -- the more I'm thinking the conventional wisdom can go hang, in both spheres.
Word verification: "extrify"! I think I can ue that in my rewritin' project!
Naw, it don't really work that way.
Green is Green unless it is Greenburg. Another thing is that light green is never green enough until the third generation. Having hob the nob with the ultra rich and carried their water as well, they don't really accept one another just on "wealth".