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Jesus Was An Indian: A Response Essay To Joseph Bruchac's "Our Stories Remembered".

1217 words - 5 pages

I joined the Native American Literature class by an indirect route. I had originally registered for the "Black Culture in America" course because it was the only available "ethnic diversity" class that would fit my schedule. When I tried to read the textbook, I started to worry. The tone of the text was so defensive, so negative. Basic concepts were over-explained in order for them to be used in a new way. Terminology was borrowed from other ethnic groups without even a mention of their origin. Statements were made, hinting of the existence of supporting data, but no supporting data was offered. I couldn't read more than a paragraph without having to walk away. I was in trouble.In desperation, I went to the university registration site to search for any alternative class that I might have missed in my previous search. Amazingly, one seat was available in the Native American Literature class. It sounded interesting. It fit my schedule. I didn't know if my educational sponsors would approve of a change to my schedule, but decided I would rather ask forgiveness than permission. I grabbed the last seat.The next day I scrambled to exchange my books and charged to my new class. I would certainly be doing more reading and writing in this class. That night, still uncertain if I had made the right choice, I opened the first book of our required reading. It was Joseph Bruchac's "Our Stories Remembered." As I read the introduction, tears came to my eyes. Overwhelming humanity and compassion were somehow conveyed in a story that spanned less than two pages. I knew that I was in the right place.In the first week, I finished the book and took part in some classroom discussions. I had originally assumed that native Americans spirituality was somehow based on nature. In the readings and stories however, I could see the focus on a creator, and emphasis on the same character traits we normally hear advertised as "Christian values." The first two pages I had read that made up the introduction to the book were all about forgiveness--forgiving others, and forgiving ourselves. What more "Christian" virtue exists? I believe that the stories in Bruchac's book point to a culture that is vastly more spiritually advanced than that of the "more civilized" Europeans and Americans. In the next pages I'll discuss examples of traditional "Christian" virtues in American Indian history and lore.Generosity to those in need is a fundamental Christian value. In Christian religions, this is even formalized in rule form as tithing, with an expected guideline of giving 10% of your income to the church. In my experience, whether these tithes go to those in need or are simply used to build a grander church is a subject of debate.In the Indian culture, generosity is much more ingrained than an arbitrary 10%. One example is the Indian tradition of the potlatch. Actually, the true focus of the potlatch is gratitude, another "Christian" value, but it also demonstrates generosity, as a family...

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