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God Is Red: A Native View of Religion by…

God Is Red: A Native View of Religion (1973)

by Vine Deloria Jr.

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Gave to Kailia
  mckCave7 | Apr 27, 2017 |
I serve as the pastor of a Christian church within the Reformed tradition that has been on a Native American reservation for a bit over 100 years. I've served here three years and in that time I have continually tried to learn and understand Native American spirituality in general terms, and more specifically to answer this question: how does Native American spirituality understand and relate to God? As I have sought an answer one thing I have learned is that there does not appear to be a uniform and/or coherent understanding of Native American spirituality, either within my particular setting or more broadly through the larger Native American community. So I was excited and encouraged when I stumbled across God is Red, by Vine Deloria, who intended to present a Native view of religion.

Deloria was legendary as a voice for Native Americans, particularly as he was an academic and had both access to and credibility with the powers that be politically and culturally. Son and grandson of Episcopal priest and possessing a graduate degree from a Lutheran seminary he had at one time intended on entering vocational Christian ministry himself. With these credentials perhaps my expectations were too high, for ultimately God is Red was unable to answer those questions that I find to be fundamental for understanding Native American spirituality.

What I did learn is that Deloria appears to have an axe to grind with Christianity. He purports to present both sides of a number of spiritual issues, i.e. a Native side and a Christian side. Time and again the Native side is held out as superior, although with little actual substance as to why. And the Christian side, seen from my particular vantage point, is misrepresented. For a man of Deloria's background in Christianity, i.e. growing up in a Christian home and obtaining a graduate theological degree, he demonstrates a poor and circumscribed understanding of Christian theology and doctrine.

While he doesn't explicitly say so it would appear from his writing that he rejected Christianity as his own spiritual position. As a pastor I would love to know why that happened and to understand what he replaced it with. If he had written a spiritual memoir perhaps I would have gained the understanding I am still looking for: How do people following tradition Native practices understand and relate to God? In the end God is Red is not so much "A Native view of religion" as it is Deloria's conclusions about Christianity. ( )
1 vote BradKautz | Sep 8, 2016 |
It helped that I read this while visiting the west and native American cultural centers! Great explanation of native American spirituality, how they believe you cannot have a religion without a shared culture. Gives understanding and credibility to the Mormons and the Jewish cultures. Also describes their religion as circular as opposed to vertical as Christianity is. I would love to have read this for discussion. ( )
  LivelyLady | Jul 29, 2010 |
Book Description: Golden CO Fulcrum Publishing c. 1994. Very Good; Very minor wear on the clean, sound binding.
  Czrbr | Jun 7, 2010 |
This author does an excellent job at analyzing the fundamental differences of "tribal vs. christianity". I enjoyed how he made his observations based on viewing both philosophies from a cultural perspective, rather than a question of "doctrinal validity". Because let's face it, if your not in either religion, then the "validity" doesn't matter. That's the whole point..... ( )
  batmansrocket | Feb 26, 2010 |
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Until 1890, American Indians played a critically important role in American domestic affairs, symbolizing the vast wilderness and frontier that Americans wished to tame. From the 1890s until the 1960s Indians were truly the “Vanishing Americans” and most people believed that the tribes had largely been exterminated. There were token Indians present at Columbus Day and Thanksgiving celebrations and some Indian women sitting at the Santa Fe railroad stations selling pottery, but for most Americans Indians had ceased to exist. 
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Deloria, author of Custer Died for Your Sins, has updated his classic work on Native religion asking new questions about our ultimate fate as we look toward the 21st century.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440544017, Paperback)

Deloria offers an alternative to Christianity through a return to Indian beliefs and concepts.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:13 -0400)

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First published in 1972 during a resurgence in Native American activism, this work critiqued the Western spiritual worldview and its effect on Native Americans and the society as a whole.

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