Religion Final Paper

Religion Final Paper - ST. OLAF COLLEGE ANTHROPOCENTRISM...

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ST. OLAF COLLEGE ANTHROPOCENTRISM VERSUS THE CIRCLE OF CREATION: AN EXPLORATION OF NATIVE AMERICAN AND CHRISTIAN ECOLOGIES SUBMITTED TO JASON J. RIPLEY PhD IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF RELIGION 121L: THE BIBLE AND SALVATION BY ZACHARY HUDSON DECEMBER, 15, 2007
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Since the passion of Christ 2000 years ago, Christianity has grown and flourished throughout the Western world. As a result of this process Christian values have become engrained within our society, even for those who do not profess to be Christians 1 . The puritans brought these beliefs and values with them when they came to the new world, where the native people held strikingly different views of the creator, and their role in creation. As the White Man’s culture spread, fueled by manifest destiny, Native American culture was slowly and deliberately swept aside in favor of Christian beliefs. With that movement a strong connection to the land and a responsible environmental ethic lost out to ideas of anthropocentrism and the subjugation of the natural world for human gain. Native values of spatiality and reciprocity lost out to Christian traditions of dominion and stewardship. In the process the symbol of creation as a circle was replaced by anthropocentric views as Christianity came to dominate North American thinking. This history provided a real world comparison between the ecological values of two distinct cultures. This history demonstrates the superiority of Native American spiritual beliefs over traditional Christian values concerning environmental sustainability, because of a greater sense of connectedness with the land. The land that a tribe occupied played a central role in the formation of traditional Native American beliefs. Many tribes found that the land where they made their home was perfect, and through their relationship with it they were provided with everything they needed to survive. 2 This concept of spatiality was developed through various tribes’ sense of kinship with the land 1 Lynn White Jr., “The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis,” Science, 105 (1967): 1203-07 2 John A. Grim, “Native American Worldviews and Ecology,” In Worldviews and Ecology. ed. Mary Evelyn Tucker and John A. Grim (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1994) 41-54 2
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that sustained them. 3 John A. Grim describes the shaping influence of the land on the Apsaloke tribe of the Crow nation of southern Montana, “The sacred relationship of the Crow with their mountainous homeland is not articulated in a vague manner, but in robust statements of life lived in proximity to the natural world.” 4 This deep connection to the land fosters a respect for creation that is prevalent throughout the spectrum of indigenous North American cultures. Respect, and acknowledgement of the environment’s influence led to a reluctance in these
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This note was uploaded on 05/08/2008 for the course REL 121 taught by Professor Ripley during the Fall '07 term at St. Olaf.

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Religion Final Paper - ST. OLAF COLLEGE ANTHROPOCENTRISM...

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