CHIEF SEATTLE’S SPEECH – 1854

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 Chief Seattle, Si’ahl, Siʔaɫ, ˈsiʔaːƛ̓ , Sealth, Seathle, Seathl, or See-ahth [circa 1830]

Yonder sky that has wept tears of compassion upon my people for centuries untold, and which to us appears changeless and eternal, may change. Today is fair. Tomorrow it may be overcast with clouds. My words are like the stars that never change. Whatever Seattle says, the great chief at Washington can rely upon with as much certainty as he can upon the return of the sun or the seasons. The white chief says that Big Chief at Washington sends us greetings of friendship and goodwill. This is kind of him for we know he has little need of our friendship in return. His people are many. They are like the grass that covers vast prairies. My people are few. They resemble the scattering trees of a storm-swept plain. The great, and I presume — good, White Chief sends us word that he wishes to buy our land but is willing to allow us enough to live comfortably. This indeed appears just, even generous, for the Red Man no longer has rights that he need respect, and the offer may be wise, also, as we are no longer in need of an extensive country.

There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell-paved floor, but that time long since passed away with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory. I will not dwell on, nor mourn over, our untimely decay, nor reproach my paleface brothers with hastening it, as we too may have been somewhat to blame.

Youth is impulsive. When our young men grow angry at some real or imaginary wrong, and disfigure their faces with black paint, it denotes that their hearts are black, and that they are often cruel and relentless, and our old men and old women are unable to restrain them. Thus it has ever been. Thus it was when the white man began to push our forefathers ever westward. But let us hope that the hostilities between us may never return. We would have everything to lose and nothing to gain. Revenge by young men is considered gain, even at the cost of their own lives, but old men who stay at home in times of war, and mothers who have sons to lose, know better.

Our good father in Washington–for I presume he is now our father as well as yours, since King George has moved his boundaries further north–our great and good father, I say, sends us word that if we do as he desires he will protect us. His brave warriors will be to us a bristling wall of strength, and his wonderful ships of war will fill our harbors, so that our ancient enemies far to the northward — the Haidas and Tsimshians — will cease to frighten our women, children, and old men. Then in reality he will be our father and we his children. But can that ever be? Your God is not our God! Your God loves your people and hates mine! He folds his strong protecting arms lovingly about the paleface and leads him by the hand as a father leads an infant son. But, He has forsaken His Red children, if they really are His. Our God, the Great Spirit, seems also to have forsaken us. Your God makes your people wax stronger every day. Soon they will fill all the land. Our people are ebbing away like a rapidly receding tide that will never return. The white man’s God cannot love our people or He would protect them. They seem to be orphans who can look nowhere for help. How then can we be brothers? How can your God become our God and renew our prosperity and awaken in us dreams of returning greatness? If we have a common Heavenly Father He must be partial, for He came to His paleface children. We never saw Him. He gave you laws but had no word for His red children whose teeming multitudes once filled this vast continent as stars fill the firmament. No; we are two distinct races with separate origins and separate destinies. There is little in common between us.

To us the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their resting place is hallowed ground. You wander far from the graves of your ancestors and seemingly without regret. Your religion was written upon tablets of stone by the iron finger of your God so that you could not forget. The Red Man could never comprehend or remember it. Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors — the dreams of our old men, given them in solemn hours of the night by the Great Spirit; and the visions of our sachems, and is written in the hearts of our people.

Your dead cease to love you and the land of their nativity as soon as they pass the portals of the tomb and wander away beyond the stars. They are soon forgotten and never return. Our dead never forget this beautiful world that gave them being. They still love its verdant valleys, its murmuring rivers, its magnificent mountains, sequestered vales and verdant lined lakes and bays, and ever yearn in tender fond affection over the lonely hearted living, and often return from the happy hunting ground to visit, guide, console, and comfort them.

Day and night cannot dwell together. The Red Man has ever fled the approach of the White Man, as the morning mist flees before the morning sun. However, your proposition seems fair and I think that my people will accept it and will retire to the reservation you offer them. Then we will dwell apart in peace, for the words of the Great White Chief seem to be the words of nature speaking to my people out of dense darkness.

It matters little where we pass the remnant of our days. They will not be many. The Indian’s night promises to be dark. Not a single star of hope hovers above his horizon. Sad-voiced winds moan in the distance. Grim fate seems to be on the Red Man’s trail, and wherever he will hear the approaching footsteps of his fell destroyer and prepare stolidly to meet his doom, as does the wounded doe that hears the approaching footsteps of the hunter.

A few more moons, a few more winters, and not one of the descendants of the mighty hosts that once moved over this broad land or lived in happy homes, protected by the Great Spirit, will remain to mourn over the graves of a people once more powerful and hopeful than yours. But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation, like the waves of the sea. It is the order of nature, and regret is useless. Your time of decay may be distant, but it will surely come, for even the White Man whose God walked and talked with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We will see.

We will ponder your proposition and when we decide we will let you know. But should we accept it, I here and now make this condition that we will not be denied the privilege without molestation of visiting at any time the tombs of our ancestors, friends, and children. Every part of this soil is sacred in the estimation of my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove, has been hallowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. Even the rocks, which seem to be dumb and dead as the swelter in the sun along the silent shore, thrill with memories of stirring events connected with the lives of my people, and the very dust upon which you now stand responds more lovingly to their footsteps than yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch. Our departed braves, fond mothers, glad, happy hearted maidens, and even the little children who lived here and rejoiced here for a brief season, will love these somber solitudes and at eventide they greet shadowy returning spirits. And when the last Red Man shall have perished, and the memory of my tribe shall have become a myth among the White Men, these shores will swarm with the invisible dead of my tribe, and when your children’s children think themselves alone in the field, the store, the shop, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities and villages are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White Man will never be alone.

Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless. Dead, did I say? There is no death, only a change of worlds.

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THE GOD CONTROVERSY RESOLVED

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THE TREE OF RELIGION

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This likely will not expand here – so to see the details visit this site.
It would have been nice to have the current numbers linked to each group. 
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THE GUNGOR HERESY by ALAN BEAN

Al Mohler has adapted nicely to our twenty-first century media revolution.  He even does podcasts.
Al isn’t hip.  Not even a little bit.  But he talks about hip people, albeit with disapproval.

I can’t imagine the venerable Roy Lee Honeycutt or Duke McCall (Al’s predecessors at the helm of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky) dissecting the theological errors of pop artists, but Al is willing to have a go.

Take Gungor, for instance.

Who, or what, is “Gungor” you ask.

Michael Gungo

First, Gungor is a guy (Michael Gungor) and second, Gungor is the musical ensemble Michael formed with his wife, Lisa, and a few others.  The couple moved to Denver in 2007 and started a church for creative types like themselves.  If you want a taste of their music, here’s a taste:

According to Wikipedia, the album and the song “Beautiful things” (released in 2011) “were nominated for the Grammy categories Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album and Best Gospel Song, respectively.”  Relevant, a magazine for hip young Christians, has produced a number of YouTube videos if you want to hear more.


The lyrics to “Beautiful Things,” reveals the wistful, longing, questing tone of Gungor’s music.

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

Michael Gungor is an evangelical Christian . . . of sorts.  He loves Jesus and doesn’t think it’s much of a stretch to believe that Jesus turned water into wine or healed the sick.  In other words, he’s no hard-science rationalist.

But, like millions of young, educated Christians his age (he was born in 1980), Michael Gungor has thought long and hard about the Bible and has reached some tough conclusions.

Specifically, he doesn’t think he can hold onto Jesus without relaxing his grip on some of the Bible’s nasty bits.  You know, the smitings and blood-soaked massacres that God commands, or the notion that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ would sweep away thousands of innocent people in a flood that covered the highest mountains.

It isn’t just that Noah’s flood is hard to reconcile with the universal consensus of the scientific community; it’s also hard to square with the compassion and infinite forgiveness of Jesus.  If the man from Nazareth truly is the human face of God, there’s a disconnect here.

And then there’s the fact that the early chapters of the Bible (what C.S .Lewis called “the parables of Genesis”) read like ancient folk tales or “myths”.  They aren’t mythical in the sense that they aren’t so; but they are much closer to poetry than prose.

When Gungor sings “you make beautiful things, you make beautiful things out of dust,” he is affirming the God of the Apostle’s Creed: the “Maker of heaven and earth.”

But if you ask how God made the world and all that dwells therein, Gungor would direct you to the scientists (who are making shocking discoveries about the wonders of God’s creation on a daily basis) and to poets who reckon with the wonder the rocks and skeletons reveal.

Al Mohler action figure
Al Mohler action figure

Al Mohler is not impressed.  There is a biblical worldview and a scientific world view, he says, and we must decide which has the upper hand.  Mohler isn’t anti-science, but when scientific consensus and the revealed, inerrant, infallible Word of God are at odds, Christians go with the Good Book.

Every time.  Simple as that.

We know the Bible is true, Al says, because it is the very Word of God, and God doesn’t lie.  We know the Bible is the Word of God because the Bible itself says so.

When Michael Gungor accepts the miracles of Jesus while questioning the historicity (and the ethical implications) of Noah’s flood, Mohler accuses him of arbitrary and illogical thinking.  Dispense with an inerrant Bible, Al says, and you have no philosophical foundation for accepting anything the Bible says.

All or nothing at all.

Mohler doesn’t argue that the Biblical worldview is demonstrably superior to the scientific alternative.  He’s a “presuppositionalist” who believes our fundamental, a priori assumptions predetermine our conclusions.  Start with God’s word and you get a biblical worldview; start with science, and you get a scientific worldview. Small wonder that the God of the Bible and the men in lab coats sometimes disagree, and when they do, eternal destiny hangs in the balance.

Mohler doesn’t argue with scientists, or the vast majority of theologians and biblical scholars who claim to be cool with science.  These people don’t pay his bills.  Al’s bills are paid by simple folk who love God and have never been forced to grapple with the theological implications of the scientific method.

A quarter of the American population believes the sun revolves around the earth, so Al has a considerable constituency.

I’m not saying that Al Mohler is simple, or that he’s a con man sayin’ what he knows ain’t so.  His theology is what happens when you spend a quarter century in an environment where no one is allowed to consider alternatives to “the biblical worldview”.

Most of us don’t live in that world.  Like Michael Gungor, we want it all: the Bible, the poets, and the best science our little minds can grasp.

Like Gungor’s song, our pendulum swings between “Could a garden come up from this ground at all?” and “you make things beautiful!”  We want  to hold the anguished question and the ringing affirmation in holy tension.

If Al Mohler’s logic works for you, that’s fine. If you are young, restless and reformed, go for it.  By all means.

But millions of young people aren’t prepared to choose between secular scholarship and the Bible.  The crisis might come in high school, or it may wait until college; but sooner or later, our sons and daughters confront questions about God, faith and the Bible that never came up in Sunday School and were never addressed from the pulpit.  Convinced that the Church has no answers, they are walking away, millions of them, and they’re not coming back.

Al Mohler has nothing to say to these kids; he might as well be speaking in tongues.
But some of them will listen to Gungor.

I hope they do.  But pop singers, however gifted, can’t do the heavy theological lifting for the church.
Al Mohler has a point, after all.   It isn’t hard to find churches that have abandoned their erstwhile allegiance to an inerrant Bible and Four-Spiritual-Laws evangelism, but what do they offer as a substitute?

Thin gruel, mostly.

Typically, denominational training materials avoid hard questions that easily translate into controversy and cancelled orders.

The adult Sunday school classes created for the rebels and eggheads drift from “The Gnostic Gospels”, to “Zealot: the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”, to the latest self-help guide for the spiritually inclined.

It’s all great fun, but such classes rarely coalesce around a gospel consensus; a few hearty conclusions about how Jesus impacts life in the real world.   The traditional language of faith no longer speaks to us and we have little to put in its place.

And Al Mohler is right about the need to make fundamental choices.  But the question isn’t whether or not we take the scientists seriously.  God wants to know if we take Jesus seriously.

Do we?

We need a new orthodoxy
. . . that begins and ends with Jesus and the kingdom he proclaimed
. . . that values truth wherever it is found
. . . that is simple, honest and humble.

Michael Gungor may not have all the answers we seek; but he shows us how to ask the right questions.

Alan Bean – Friends of Justice

Posted in Guest Commentary, Religion | 20 Comments

THE "I" IN TEAM

Nicely Done!
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NAMPEYO

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Nampeyo – “the snake that does not bite”

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When we lived in Los Alamos, NM, we became quite familiar with the pueblo potters of Northern New Mexico, the most famous being Maria from the close-by San Ildefonso Pueblo.  Maria’s pottery was in such high demand we were never able to afford any of her creations – we did get to see a lot of pieces in galleries!  One of our friends was able to purchase a Maria while prices were merely high rather than exorbitant. We settled for purchasing a few pots made by lesser known potters from the Santa Clara, Zia and Acoma pueblos.

So what about Nampeyo and why write here?  She and her daughters were Hopi-Tewa from Arizona, and we were not aware of them when we lived in New Mexico.  However, when we lived in New Mexico, Rhonda’s parents, Abe and Ruth, visited us many times and we enjoyed introducing them to the Land of Three Cultures.  Having learned a bit about the New Mexico potters, Ruth had the presence of mind to reclaim a pot that had been used by another teacher to hold pens, pencils and assorted classroom necessities.  It was a bit beat up, but Ruth carefully cleaned off some of the pencil, crayon and ink marks.  She thought we would be interested to see it, and we were.  It was obviously an older Native American pot, and we were surprised that it still had a legible signature on the bottom - Fannie Nampeyo.  Most graciously, Ruth and Abe gave us the pot to add to our small collection.

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This is not a photo of the actual pot, but it is almost identical.  Because of its use in the classroom, ours shows more wear than this one, but the shape and design is nearly a match.  The pot was likely purchased in Arizona by an Indiana tourist and made it back to Goshen.  It would have been pitched into the trash if Ruth had not come to the rescue.  The owner obviously did not know the significant history of Nampeyo and her daughters and their role in resurrecting ancient pottery techniques and using designs from “Old Hopi” pottery dated to the 15th century.

Posted in New Mexico, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment