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

by Vine Deloria, Jr.

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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9561120,668 (3.96)6
The seminal work on Native religious views, asking questions about our species and our ultimate fate.

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This was an interesting and insightful book. It raised a lot of intriguing questions, even if I didn't always agree with his conclusions. However, I found the book very dense which made it a struggle to get through at times. Overall, I would recommend it to anyone interested in religion or philosophy. ( )
  queenofthebobs | Jul 20, 2020 |
Deloria tries to convey the basic differences in religious outlook between native beliefs and practices and those of Christianity. ( )
  ritaer | Apr 9, 2020 |
This updated version asks questions about our species and our ultimate fate.
  yellerreads | Jul 9, 2018 |
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 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Deloria, Vine, Jr.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Silko, Leslie MarmonForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tinker, George E.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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The seminal work on Native religious views, asking questions about our species and our ultimate fate.

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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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