Religion - Religion, or lack thereof, provides the...

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1 Religion, or lack thereof, provides the foundation for a culture’s way of life. Its development stems from the need for humans to understand their origins, surroundings, and reason for being. From this perspective, there is no justification for any religion to be disregarded, as it is simply a mode for understanding the world and forming a way of life that has meaning within a culture. Yet, Christianity has historically disregarded other religions to a point that resembles a dictatorship. Its pervasive tactics are comparable to America’s economic influence all over the world, especially in countries like Iraq, where we have invaded the country, disassembled the government, and forcefully established an American-like territory complete with McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken. American Indian people have, similarly, endured an onslaught of foreign people and religion that has severely inhibited their ability to maintain their own cultures and belief systems. The authors featured in this class paint vivid images and leave lasting impressions in the poems that celebrate their customs, provide evidence of the change undergone in these customs, and engage us in the ongoing struggle in maintaining them. Though each indigenous tribe has its own unique religious beliefs and practices, all seem to be rooted in “a belief in the creation of all things and the holiness of sky, land, and people” (Ortiz,74). Throughout the poetry we have read, the authors describe a spiritual connection their people have to the earth, its creatures, and the sky or heavens. “Earth woman I am blessed, made of you” (Turcotte,16). They exhibit respect for the world as something to live with rather than live on . For example, Harjo claims, “We are part of an old story and involved in it are migrations of winds, of ocean currents, of seeds, songs and generations of nations” (Harjo,14). She illustrates a natural beauty in the oneness between the history of the world and that of all its inhabitants. A relationship to the wind, ocean, land,
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animals, and people is a relationship to “God.” It should not be about extravagant, hierarchical churches possessing concern with material gains and interests involved in global political affairs. This notion reveals the polar opposite definitions Native Americans and Christians have regarding the purpose and true meaning of religion. Further reading helps one obtain a sense of how Native Americans have had to adapt their ideas to the impeding Christian force, one that owns a violent history of wars and hostile takeovers, more comparable to a domineering government than a holy or religious entity. In her poem “there are as many ways to poetry as there are to God,” Joy Harjo brings to attention the disturbing but true reality behind Christianity. “In most world conflicts in the news both church and business interests have been and continue to be major instigators of war” (Harjo,61). While Americans focus in disbelief on the violent religious wars that have continued
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This note was uploaded on 05/11/2008 for the course AIS 450 taught by Professor Teuton during the Spring '08 term at University of Wisconsin.

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Religion - Religion, or lack thereof, provides the...

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