19 January 2012

The Mohawks Didn't Smoke Peyote-- But I Can't Speak for This Guy

I came across this "op-ed" about soon-to-be-Saint Kateri Tekakwitha on the Op-Ed News site, which describes itself as "Progressive.  Tough.  Liberal.".  It doesn't say accurate, logical, or sane.

The author, Keven Tully, states in his short bio that he is "concerned about the state of public discourse and the state of the earth; good discussions and good relations should not be mutually exclusive."  Based upon his hatchet job (see what I did there?) on the Catholic Church's decision to canonize Blessed Kateri and more so for its honoring (he would suggest, no doubt, exploitation) of her Christian life on earth, he doesn't appear to want good relations with the Bride of Christ.  He certainly seems unhappy that she is to be made a Saint.

He begins with a variation on the venerable "tell" of "I went to Catholic schools, etc.": 

I am a Catholic. I love Mass. I love Catholic iconography because it very powerfully identifies with the human condition; if you see it as Jesus and people-centric and not dogmatic or institutional. I don't go to mass anymore. 

Great.  Got it. 

He then quotes from a biography of the Saint's life, adding his own take: 

The above was posted on the Catholic Conservation website as a devotional biography - it could be interpreted as another Native American horror story. 

Then the familiar litany begins: the Europeans, under the direct orders of the Catholic Church, tortured and killed and burned everyone and then destroyed the earth, then made the earth again in order to destroy it again, then committed genocide, then got rich and spent all the money killing everyone.

OK, I am paraphrasing.  But you get the idea: 

Europeans brought smallpox to Kateri and her people which scarred her, almost blinded her and weakened her physically. Her village was burned to the ground in 1666 by the French general Alexander de Prouville -- He set out on his mission with the blessing of the Bishop of New France. ... She was propagandized into extreme acts of penance which hastened her early death. ... She was proselytized into self-imposed virginity. The population of her people was in rapid decline because of the depredations of the Europeans and smallpox -- she consequently would not contribute to the future prosperity of her tribe. This could be construed as an indirect act of genocide... 

See, it isn't enough that she was holy, it had to be a psychological con-game of some kind.  So what does the author prefer for St. Kateri? 

Why can't we have Saint Kateri, who did the miraculous, altruistic, wonderful things that she did, as a Native American, who was empowered and touched by Christianity, but, maintained her Mohawk identity and spirituality? In other words - a spiritual hybrid. Maybe this wouldn't be the truth, and, this is not historically the Catholic way. Catholicism conquered, tortured, appropriated, coerced, enslaved, obsfucated, diminished, denied, humiliated...I have often wondered where we would be right now if Christians and Native Americans could have somehow managed to join, Physically and spiritually, before the North American Holocaust? 

I don't know if historical revisionism is the author's hobby, but at least he acknowledges that the freakish spiritual hybrid between the True Faith and pagan worship "maybe" wouldn't be the truth.  Not only isn't it true, but that kind of namby-pamby compromise of both types of spirituality would not attract converts from the other.  It would be rejected by upright individuals of both sides, as the type of lukewarm mess that Our Lord warned He would begin to vomit out of His mouth. 

St. Kateri was converted to Christ by God's Grace, in the prayers and actions of His Church, His ministers and faithful, and the Communion of Saints.  This Church worshiped God in the same Form of Mass that continues to this day.  It is a demanding, rewarding faith.  And now St. Kateri is in a position to help those of the Church's members who still toil here below.

I enjoyed the article, though.  But I'd lay off the revisionist peyote.


Anonymous said...

Yes, revisionist American History is hard to stomach, especially when it is about Catholics.


Rachel said...

For a guy who thinks Christians were wrong to spread their beliefs, he sure is pushing his own ignorant point of view pretty hard. Since he doesn't go to Mass, he evidently doesn't believe Catholicism in spite of calling himself Catholic, a muddled state of mind which clearly influenced his conclusions.

This reminds me of the "perversion of reasoning in the Academy" described by a college professor at the end of this article: http://catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0289.html It's long but I think you might really enjoy the author's clarity of thinking-- anyway, I did. :)