Tuesday, March 3, 2009

To Live Upon Hope

The seventh post in Algonkian Church History was about Rachel Wheeler's PhD. thesis, Living Upon Hope. This, my 107th post, is about her 2008 book with a slightly different title.

To Live Upon Hope: Mohicans and Missionaries in the Eighteenth Century Northeast (Cornell University Press), is written for a more academic audience than this blog, but if you like Algonkian Church History, there's a good chance that you'll also like Wheeler's book.

Wheeler succeeds in showing the contrast between the Moravian Mohicans and their neighboring tribesmen, the Calvinist Mohicans at Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Remarkably, the two types of mission communities were so different that the nature of what was recorded for posterity didn't allow Wheeler to make direct comparisons.

The Moravian Mohicans at Shekomeko practiced a syncretic religion, as Wheeler states on page 95:

Delaware, Shawnee, and Seneca prophets inspired new religious movements that often blended rejection of European goods and the creation of a pan-Indian identity. Adaptation of European-style agriculture and Christianity was another option, as exemplified by the Mohicans of Stockbridge. Somewhere in between was the path chosen by Abraham and Johannes and other Indians of Shekomeko, who found in the blood of Jesus a new source of spiritual power, or manitou, which could be deployed to address the problems brought with colonialism.

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