Advertisement

Making Disciples of All Nations

  • John C. Hawley

Abstract

With this remarkable image Richard Rodriguez makes a point similar to one recently discussed at length by Kwame Anthony Appiah, to the effect that “the experience of the vast majority of [the] citizens of Europe’s African colonies was one of an essentially shallow penetration by the colonizer” (Appiah 7). The notion assumes a variety of shapes in contemporary writing reaching the West from the missionary’s target populations. In The Poor Christ of Bomba (1956), for example, a novel that reads like a manifesto for the liberation of the imaginations of his fellow Cameroonians, Mongo Beti offers a bitterly ironic salvation to the French Fr. Drumont, a 20-year veteran missionary. Only by rejecting the work that had given meaning to his adult life—only by accepting a dark epiphany that calls into question his zealotry and sends him home to France—does Drumont emerge with his integrity intact. In his bitter parting conversation with Monsieur Vidal, the smug colonial District Administrator who demanded the Church play a pacifying role, Drumont explains his decision:

“These people worshipped God without our help. What matter if they worshipped after their own fashion—by eating one another, or by dancing in the moonlight, or by wearing bark charms around their necks? Why do we insist on imposing our customs upon them?”

Vidal’s mouth fell open and he flushed slowly as he gazed at the Father, who turned as he spoke and watched the courtyard slowly emptying.

“I’ve never asked myself this before. Why don’t the Chinese devote themselves to converting all Paris to Confucianism or Buddhism or whatever? Oh, I’m not saying that I’ve solved the problem. Perhaps I’ll never solve it, except by the Grace of God. But all the same, I’m certain that it’s a serious question.” (150–51)

Keywords

District Administrator Missionary Work Contemporary Writing Christian Theorist Roman Catholic Priest 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Works Cited

  1. Appiah, Kwame Anthony. In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture. New York and Oxford: Oxford UP, 1992.Google Scholar
  2. Axtell, James. The Invasion Within: The Contest of Cultures in Colonial North America. New York: Oxford UP, 1985.Google Scholar
  3. Barbour, John D. Versions of Deconversion: Autobiography and the Loss of Faith. Charlottesville and London: UP of Virginia, 1994.Google Scholar
  4. Barrett, David B. and James W. Reapsome. Seven Hundred Plans to World-Class Cities and World Evangelization. Birmingham, Alabama: New Hope, 1986.Google Scholar
  5. Beti, Mongo. The Poor Christ of Bomba. Trans. by Gerald Moore. Oxford: Heinemann, 1971. [Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, 1956].Google Scholar
  6. Crowley, S.J., Paul. “An Ancient Catholic: An Interview with Richard Rodriguez.” America (23 Sept. 1995): 8–11.Google Scholar
  7. Donovan, Vincent J. Christianity Rediscovered: An Epistle from the Masai. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1978.Google Scholar
  8. Ela, Jean-Marc. African Cry. Trans. Robert Barr. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1986.Google Scholar
  9. Ellul, Jacques. The Subversion of Christianity. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986.Google Scholar
  10. Friel, Brian. Dancing at Lughnasa. London: Faber and Faber, 1990.Google Scholar
  11. Inch, Morris A. Doing Theology Across Cultures. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1982.Google Scholar
  12. Jacobs, Janet Liebman. Divine Disenchantment: Deconverting from New Religions. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1989.Google Scholar
  13. Markus, R.A. The End of Ancient Christianity. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990.Google Scholar
  14. Mason, Peter. Deconstructing America: Representations of the Other. London and New York: Routledge, 1990.Google Scholar
  15. Morrison, Karl F. Conversion and Text: The Cases of Augustine of Hippo, Herman-Judah, and Constantine Tsatsos. Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 1992.Google Scholar
  16. Netanyahu, Benzion. The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth-Century Spain. New York: Random House, 1995.Google Scholar
  17. Pagels, Elaine. The Origin of Satan. New York: Random House, 1995.Google Scholar
  18. Ragussis, Michael. Figures of Conversion: “The Jewish Question” and English National Identity. Durham and London: Duke UP, 1995.Google Scholar
  19. Rambo, Lewis R. Understanding Religious Conversion. New Haven and London: Yale UP, 1993.Google Scholar
  20. Reed, John Shelton. Glorious Battle: The Cultural Politics of Victorian Anglo-Catholicism. Nashville: Vanderbilt UP, 1996.Google Scholar
  21. Richards, Jeffrey. Sex, Dissidence and Damnation: Minority Groups in the Middle Ages. London and New York: Routledge, 1991.Google Scholar
  22. Shipley, Orby, ed. The Church and the World: Essays on Questions of the Day in 1868. London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 1868.Google Scholar
  23. Shorter, Aylward. Toward a Theology of Inculturation. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1988.Google Scholar
  24. Taylor, John V. The Primal Vision: Christian Presence amid African Religion. London: SCM, 1963.Google Scholar
  25. Thomas, Nicholas. Colonialism ‘s Culture: Anthropology, Travel and Government. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1994.Google Scholar
  26. Todorov, Tzvetan. The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other. New York: Harper and Row, [1982] 1984.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • John C. Hawley
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Latin American StudiesUniversity of LiverpoolUK

Personalised recommendations