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June 4th - Lecture #9.doc

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Adam Lehto

June 4 th RLG203 Lecture #9 Spreading Messages: European Colonialism and Christian Missions Last Class Recap: - the new reality in Europe after the reformation - patchwork quilt of different emerging modern nations – did not have the same kind of religious affiliation o reality of diversity and difference – let to a whole set of questions about religious tolerance  what to do, how to handle it - rejection of superstition helped to prepare the way for greater emphasis on reason/logic – rational religion o but that is not what the protestants were trying to do – ex. Luther o what they wanted to do was to bring the religion back to what he thought was the core message  but this gradually stirred up a debate about the role of religion itself • reform - those underlying processes that were already underway that led to all Catholics and protestants being pushed out of their dominant positions o if the whole system is being eroded from underneath – assumptions are started to be questioned – Catholics and protestants did not see that Today’s Class – Process of Modernization - looking at mission and it’s relationship to colonialism is extremely important in understanding..? - the role of Christian missions in these processes and the relationship of these missions in colonialism were highly ambiguous o one area of Christian history that cannot afford to be black and white o very complex phenomenon – much more than the preaching of a religious message o mission isn’t just a mission - missionaries brought with them a set of assumptions about Christianity and about their European heritage to their travels o by 16 century, missionaries were mostly from Europe - missionaries took for granted that European society in its Christian form was the most advanced civilization o it was what all Europeans concluded, not just the Christians - range of opinions among missionaries o most of them never challenged the assumption of the superiority of the European culture o ambiguities in the entire process – modernization and the Christian missions involved in these processes - Catholic missions – well before the Protestant missions o 19 century – resurgence of European colonial activity and with it an explosion of missionary activity - in Latin America – after Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, landed in Barbados – in Spain, which was the power behind Columbus’ trip (financed the venture) o soon after this initial contact, the Portuguese ship in 1500 drifted off course (attempting to go across Africa) and hit Brazil o now there are 2 players in the colonial games of the Latin America  opening moves in a campaign of exploitation - right from the beginning of this process, the catholic church was firmly behind the colonizing activities of these 2 countries o just before the reformation – continues on to the reformation period - Bartolome de Las Casas - in all of the colonizing activity – catholic church concerned with their souls o part of their mission to save souls – saw this as worthwhile activity o noble activity – to save souls – give them access to salvation by becoming catholic and participating in sacraments - many of the native population became catholic – 99% o have very little choice in fact o but what they do often is that they have a split experience  public persona to Catholicism – play the catholic game – might even feel there is some spiritual value  however, they also kept their own traditions alive beyond the reach of the church  and right to this day as well, in religious terms, there is a set of hybrid religious across Latin America that mix catholic elements in native traditions • the other side of the coin of missionary activity - in the end, missionaries don’t control the outcome – usually they don’t control much of the outcome of any particular mission o happens again and again in this whole era – Latin America, Africa, modern Asian – unintended consequences - well known example of indigenous traditions with Catholicism – Mexican Day of the Dead o this hugely popular festival, celebrated from October 28 to November 2 nd has roots in Aztec religion, but has been combined with Catholicism in various ways o it corresponds to the catholic ‘all saints day’ and the related Halloween o participants honour and celebrate their ancestors, who are thought to be visiting for the duration of the festival - Industrial Revolution - Spain and Portugal no longer have control of these colonies o colonies becoming independent - the catholic church, for the most part, had resisted this independence movement – did not want these countries to become independent because they would lose their positions o deeply threatened by political independence o rather threatening position - for the native populations – things didn’t really change o political independence in Latin America did not make any difference to the religious aspect? - different pattern when we look at catholic missions in the other direction - the great pioneers of this mission – Syriac Christians – but by the reformation period they were long gone o of the modern mission – the Jesuits – the society of Jesus o the founder of the Jesuits – Ignatius of Loyola  but unlike Luther, he was a loyal catholic – was not out to reform the theology of Christianity  never even contemplated becoming a reformer like Luther  however, he thought the reform that needed to happen was in piety – devotion  the problem was that people were not taking this serious enough – people were to become more methodological in their devotion  another difference from Luther – this renewed devotion to Christ included mission work – but we don’t know why this is so • note: went to Palestine to convert Muslims to Christianity but he completely failed – that experience of failure led to the formation of the Jesuits - to understand the Jesuit missionary activity – we need to understand how the order was set up o traditionally, if you were in the Christian world and wanted to join the religious path – you would vow to the monastery (3 major vows: poverty, chastity, obedience) th o the Jesuits added a famous 4 vow – obedience to the Pope  pope could order any Jesuit to order them to do whatever he wanted them to do - in order to be successful in missions, Jesuits need to have the best educatio
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