Friday, January 09, 2009

Missionary Efforts Among American Indians

Marden summarizing Jonathan Edwards' evaluation of Indian missions:

"Most of the Europeans had failed them; 'They have not done their duty toward you.' 'The French, they pretend to teach the Indians religion, but they won't teach 'em to read. They won't let 'em read the Word of God.' Most others are no better. 'And many of the English and Dutch are against your being instructed. They choose to keep you in the dark for the sake of making a gain of you." Edwards kept the tie close between the light of the Gospel education and the Indians' practical interests. 'For as long as they keep you in ignorance,' he coninued, ''tis more easy to cheat you in trading with you."

Marden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life, 385-386

Marsden on the comparitive success of French Jesuit and English missions:

"The events that led to the disaffection of many of the Indians who had spent time at Stockbridge illustrate the great defect in English missions to the Native Americans and why they were so much less successful than their French counterparts. Heroic French Jesuit missionaries who went to live among the Indians presented little immediate threat to the natives' territories or interests. The French population of New France was tiny and spread out compared to the situation in New England. 
[...]
When the French and their native allies said the English 'were only opening a wide mouth to swallow 'em up,' it was difficult to demonstrate otherwise."

Marsden, 407

What St. Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 7:33-34 would seem to be especially apt for missionary work, at least in the early American experience: "But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband."
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