Christianity In Monkey Beach By Eden Robinson

1373 words - 5 pages

The theme of spirituality takes place in many novels that we have read this semester. Natives has used spiritual guidance as a means of connecting with their past and honoring their ancestors. To Natives, spirits have always played an important role in their culture and everyday lives. When Natives were forced to convert to Christianity and over time have their beliefs sucked out of them, the spiritual connection was broken as generations passed. One novel that particularly spoke to me on this subject was Monkey Beach, by Eden Robinson. The main character, Lisa, is struggling to fins herself after being blessed with the gift of being a shaman. In this novel, the author exploits how the European or western “white” culture has destroyed the native culture so immensely, that the younger generation cannot identify a spiritual connection without society calling them mentally unstable. Lisa suffers to accept the gift she has been given, and instead fights it by numbing herself with drugs and alcohol, which also being in another major theme of alcoholism in native culture, due to the suppression of the Native American race.
The idea of spirituality is realistically a difficult word to define, everyone perceives spirituality in their own way, and uses it in different ways. When reading the Christian bible, John the Baptist discusses the idea of spirituality and defines it as, “Spirituality is all about becoming more like God, who is spirit and having our character conformed to his image.”(John 4:24) (Romans12: 1-2). When the Natives were forced to convert to Christianity, this is what they were told to believe, that spirituality means that you must conform you’re character to be more like God. This truly shows you how much the European culture tried to strip the natives of what they believed to be spirituality, and remold their ideas to attempt to conform them into a “God” they had no connection with. While attempting to find a definition for spirituality that explained the native views, I came across a quote by Sachem Walkingfox, a Native American leader in the 1600’s. He said, "Spirituality is not religion to American Natives. Religion is not a Native concept, it is a non- Native word, with implications of things that often end badly, like holy wars in the name of individuals God's and so on. Native people do not ask what religion another Native is, because they already know the answer. To Native people, spirituality is about the Creator, period.” (Sachem Walkingfox). Natives see spirituality as a way of connecting with their creator or how they see their creator. It is a personal and indescribable experience that is based purely on the individual. Lisa is an ideal example of a younger generation Native American girl who because of current day norms, is frightened by her spiritual gift.
Monkey Beach begins when Lisa is quite young, however, flash forwards and flash backs bring us to different times in her life throughout the novel. Lisa’s...

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