The Patient Body: Our Sick Body Politic

“The Patient Body” is a monthly column by Ann Neumann about issues at the intersection of religion and medicine. This month: Politicizing sick bodies and the body politic’s sickness. Continue Reading →

In the News: Calligraphy, Coens, a Caffeinated Casket and much more!

A round-up of recent religion news. Continue Reading →

God and Guns

Patrick Blanchfield tracks the long-standing entanglement of guns and religion in the United States. Part 1 of 2. Continue Reading →

In the News: Candles, Kombucha, Crocodiles, and more!

A round-up of the week’s religion news. Continue Reading →

Playing Indian

An excerpt from the new Demons, Saints, & Patriots: Catholic Visions of Native America Through The Indian Sentinel (1902 – 1962).  The Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions published The Indian Sentinel “as both a chronicle of Catholic Indian missions activities and an impassioned public relations tool to save a beleaguered missionary venture.”

By Mark Clatterbuck

Many missionaries through the 1920s no longer perceived Native customs and religious beliefs as a genuine threat to reservation Catholicism. In turn, spoofs on so-called Indian superstitions, and photographic gimmicks at the expense of tribal customs, were employed as humorous props in Sentinel advertisements and appeals for donations. This development paralleled a rising tide of Catholic triumphalism which rendered formerly-feared indigenous ways as largely benign relics of a fast-fading culture. In the contest between Church and paganism, the outcome was no longer in doubt in the great majority of missionaries’ minds. Christianity and civilization had conquered, and time was now on truth’s side.

In subsequent decades, the Indian as mission-prop did not disappear from Indian missionary literature so much as it morphed into a new version of itself. The practice gradually moved beyond photos of funny feathers and mock arrows to feature, instead, Indians role-playing staged versions of themselves. Continue Reading →