Different Roots | Sojourners

Different Roots

IN GENERAL I enjoyed Elizabeth Holler's article, "Beyond Skin-Deep Diversity" (July 1993). But she contradicts the thesis of the article with her line, "these traditions [i.e. Native American and African-American spirituality], born and nurtured out of suffering...." Granted, African-American spirituality was/is rooted in suffering--in the slavery experience and its legacy. But Native American spirituality existed before America, before the conquest. And it was not "born in suffering." To say so misleads and discredits several centuries of pre-American life. Let us not be too quick to romanticize suffering as the source of deep spirituality.

For me the power of Native American (Lakota in this case) spirituality lies in its ability to require all parts of the self to participate in the ritual--the physical and emotional parts, as well as the intellectual. The "power" then is due to the genius and beauty of the people in the particular indigenous tribe, not to their suffering.

Tom Montgomery-Fate

Laoag, Philippines

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Sojourners Magazine December 1993
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