American Indian Council
RECONCILIATION, PART II
By David Three Dogs Armstrong
Sequel to Reconciliation - Part I
The Beauty Path that Runs Unashamedly Through Us
There is a River in the forest; it springs up from a place high in the mountains, so far away and so long ago that no one quite knows where it came from; indeed, it is apparent it has always been there.
One might say that the River runs into the Ocean, but it’s almost worthy to say that the Ocean runs into the River. The River runs across the whole world, and all the streams and creeks and tributaries in the world draw their substance from it. They break off and they twist and they twine but always find their way back, through wood and over rock and with the help of those that come to drink. Each branching off is its own distinct entity, and yet, it is of the same substance and nature as the River; more than anything, they are different pictures of the River brought out, the River’s personality shown uniquely yet powerfully in the undignified yet honorable race of each brook from its origin and to it again.
This River, my friends, is the Great Spirit, the Eternal One (lit. meaning of Yahweh in Hebrew), the Great Mystery, the Father and Mother of All, and you are His (and Her) tributaries.
Whatever the Truth is, friends, however we may disagree, we must all accept this one truth, or forever forget about faith: we are the expressions of God on this earth. If we do not come from God, if God did not breathe us out from himself and is not taking us on a journey in, through, and to him, then we need not devote our thought-life to the Creator of All Things. But I do not think it is a difficult task for us to admit our true parentage, our true origins, and our true destiny is the One; indeed, it is this one fact which binds us to all things.
Truth is also that River, and you each are shards of the Truth Star. All of you have the fire of God burning within, illuminating your path through the world, as you flow on and on, burning away whatever is constructed to try to dam you in and keep you from progression.
And it is with that, my brothers in Christ, that I invite you to discover the beauty of Amerindian culture and with that, my brothers on the Good Red Road, that I invite you to discover the beauty of Jesus: the knowledge that we are all connected, that we are all offshoots of the same River, that whatever Truth we possess is all from the same original Truth, and that whatever our divisions, they are woefully incomparable to the riches of the strengths of our bonds together because of our common Father and Mother—the Creator of Everything that Is.
This is the tale of two people who I’d like to introduce you to, one to each. My Christian brothers and sisters, we’ll begin with your mystery date. I’d like you to meet a very special lady.
THE RAINBOW WOMAN
I remember this dream like it was yesterday, though now it has been quite a few years.
I have a love-hate relationship with the Powwow. On the one hand, the Powwow was the first time I was gathered to other people who practiced the traditions of my culture, and gave me my first opportunity to say our culture, and allowed me to see the rich diversity of our peoples and their ways. It introduced me to Grandfather Lee Standing Bear Moore, it introduced me to Manataka, to the Circle, the Dance, the knowledge that God was everywhere around me and within me.
On the other hand, the powwow is the love-child of commercialism with Indian culture. In times past, the powwow was sacred, and became a way to keep our traditions alive in modern times. But money came to dominate the circles of many powwows—vendors wanting to sell their products and dancers dancing for the most money. In the old days, when barter, trade, was the law of the land, this was not a problem when two nations would come together—because then it was not a buying and selling, but a gift-giving, an exchanging in which the two givers were saying that they found the other and the other’s gift worthy of acceptance and the one’s gift. But nowadays, money is essentially the fuel of the powwow machine.
I had this dream after I learned that.
In my dream, I was at a powwow and was speaking with many people I had met before and looking for old friends, when I was called into a strange building. The powwow itself looked like an amusement park—and indeed, grown men and women were running around laughing and playing like children. When I entered the building, there was a very young, beautiful Native woman dressed in a simple white dress with two braids laying on each of her shoulders, who welcomed me in a voice that sounded motherly yet reserved, as if to respect any possible boundaries. She was dwelling there, in the inner room of the building, and in a sunroom cared for a creature who looked quite like her, except older, decrepit, and senile.
I remember not knowing who the woman in my dream was for a very long time. I had my guesses and I had my answers to those guesses, which were short-lived and did me not a lot of good. The question of who was the most aggravating part of the dream’s interpretation. I understood the symbolism of the amusement park—the man-made commercial entity designed to distract from the Spirit, which dominates many powwows. I understood the three-roomed building, representing the biblical tabernacle or Temple, which we are. But the woman—who was she?
It was not until I opened Manataka’s homepage one day and was stared at by her that I realized exactly who she was and why she was there.
The Rainbow Woman, I would venture, symbolizes within herself a major part of Native theology and belief—the femininity and Motherhood of God. God’s female side gets lost a lot, mostly because when people read the Bible or even just talk about God in everyday speech there are so many “He’s” that we forget that God is actually male and female (Genesis 1:26-28), father AND mother. In fact people often forget that one of the earliest revelations of God in the Bible, one of the first names given the Creator by man is “el shaddai” which literally means “big breasted one” or “provident mother” in Hebrew, despite being translated “God Almighty” in most translations of holy writ.
The woman in my dream and the woman of the Mountain were the same Woman—the one who dwells in the inner room, the Motherhood Heart of God waiting for us to come and find Her and receive from Her the nourishment we could not find in man’s world. As Christians, who are accustomed to Jesus, God’s Son and His Father, the feminine side of God can be hard to accept, but it is a side we need to embrace if we will ever become all we can be in Christ.
I choose the Rainbow Woman to speak of the beauty of Native culture and spirituality because she, within herself, represents both the diversity and the collective of Native experience. God is masculine, yes; God is also feminine, and both aspects of the Creator should be honored in faith, life, and thought. The Earth is Mother because she is a reflection of the Great Mother; the clan of the Mother is the clan of the Child because it is the Great Mother who bore us in Her spiritual womb and then delivered us into this realm of flesh, leaving our mark upon Her. The feminine is the giving, the nurturing; the feminine is strong enough to bear and plentiful enough to give while bearing. Native Culture celebrates the feminine for this very reason, because it is the masculine that is outgoing, that is aggressive, that confronts and makes its presence known, and it is easy when not carefully examined to become consumed with the masculine personality and miss the feminine personality, and without the feminine personality, we would not be here, physically or spiritually.
Please examine a few areas in
scripture where the feminine personality of God is evident.
• God providing for Abram as “the big breasted one” during his long trek from Ur to Canaan.
• God graciously bearing Jacob and caring for him throughout his trials and finally bringing him to see Joseph’s face.
• God providing the manna for the Israelites in the desert.
• God, through Naomi, giving motherly counsel to Ruth to help ensure the success of her love life and future
• Jesus crying out to the people of Jerusalem to gather them together “like a mother hen does her chicks”
• God expressing Herself as Mother through the church community in the New Testament
This is but a taste of the feminine heart of God. Now, granted, there is no disharmony within God—the masculine Spirit and the feminine Word always working together to bring forth Life. But we must remember and celebrate the feminine, else wise we are in danger of forgetting her.
The Rainbow Woman is the Mother of all colors, and the Guardian of Peace between them. She dwells in the inner room, in all her many facets and appearances, and even cares for the old, decrepit version of her that man left to rot in the blazing sunroom of their souls. She is the feminine heart of God, crying for her children to come to her and receive the milk of the Word, to come and find safety behind her skirt, to play nicely with one another, saying supper’s ready and healing scraped knees with her kisses. The kindness of the mother is without a doubt the underlying relationship of Native spirituality—and indeed, the relationship every Christian who refuses to accept this very real part of God misses out on.
We need God’s Motherhood as much as we need God’s Fatherhood. In God’s Fatherhood we are raised, tested, proved, empowered—in God’s Motherhood, we are nourished, cared for, provided for. In God’s Fatherhood we are taught Strength, imbued with Bravery, made Warriors and leaders—in God’s Motherhood we are taught Gentleness, Grace, and Appreciation of Beauty. So we need the Motherhood of God, else wise we miss out on the fullness of God’s nature, which is “male and female” (Genesis 1:27-28).
And now, my brothers on the Good Red Road, I’d like you to meet the most important man I’ve ever met in my entire life.
YESHUA OF NAZARETH
It is a regular day at the Temple square in Jerusalem. The clinking of money can be heard as people exchange currency for small birds and animals for the still to come sacrifices later that day. The money boxes of the changers fill more and more with each passing hour, as the time of sacrifice draws near.
And in a side corridor by himself, Yeshua of Nazareth is making a whip.
It’s a rather unimpressive weapon, by all standards—it’s mostly constructed from the straps of leather lying nearby, the bottom portions forming the handle with a flay outwardly, much like the Roman cat-o-nine tails they used in torture. Yeshua whips it against a box nearby once or twice, is satisfied, and rushes out to the pavilion.
What was already chaos takes on a new spirit of the word. The tables of the money changers go up, the cages get opened and a flurry of feathers covers the scene. Goats and lambs are running around frantically, happy they’re free and frightened by the multitude of people running around scared for their lives because of the man with the whip. Yeshua can be heard yelling at the moneychangers as he destroys their stations. “My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations,” he declares, “but you have made it a den of thieves!”
The majority of the people have heard the name of Jesus sometime in their lives, whether because the organized religion supposedly built around his teachings has made it a point to shout his name from the rooftops or because he turns up somewhere in the mockery of pop culture. Point being, Yeshua or Jesus of Nazareth is a pretty well known guy. The theology of who he is and why he matters is not so much my focus here in terms of trying to sit down and give some systematic reason to believe he was who he claims to be, just like when a man sits down and introduces himself to another man, he doesn’t try to prove his last name is really Smith or that he is really a lawyer from New Jersey. The only theology I present is the personality of the Creator revealed in Jesus and what I believe He has to offer to Amerindian spiritual seekers. Let’s note, as with last time, I’m not telling anyone to join a Christian denomination. Truth is, organized Christianity misses the mark (sins) in a lot of its understanding and practices, and as with any organized religion, kicks and beats down more often than it builds up. So my goal is to present the biblical Jesus—the flesh and blood man who came to bring the gospel, who, despite dying and rising again for sin in the Bible, is not some unapproachable white guy on a cloud.
If the Rainbow Woman signifies the Femininity of God, Jesus comes as a revelation of the Fatherhood heart of God. I stated before that we need God’s Motherhood and Fatherhood equally: the reality of both in our lives is the means by which we grow up as a child of the Great Spirit. And this is undoubtedly true. For Christians, the Motherhood of God is often ignored today, yet in times past, the Motherhood of God was often associated with the nourishment of the Community, which worked together to meet the needs of its individuals. Amerindians and Christians are similar in this regard: the Rainbow Woman finds an earthly expression in the community of Her children.
The Fatherhood of God is difficult for a lot of people to get involved with or to learn about. For one thing, this is a fatherless generation. There is an overwhelming number of fathers who have abused, abandoned, or otherwise maltreated their children and permanently marred the image of the father, be it applied to God or any other man. Other children have been raised under the hands of men who are not their father and harshly dealt with as a result, whether by force or by the simple disassociation of unshared heritage. When it comes to God, people will bring these biases with them, finding it easier to associate with God as a Mother or as a Friend than truly as a Father. And truthfully, it is much easier to relate to the Motherly aspect of God, which is concerned with nourishment rather than with discipline.
Part of the mission of Creator in Jesus is to give a Father to the fatherless. In Jesus we are told our Father in the heavens (spiritual realms) is not a harsh authoritarian, He is not a forgetful, negligent or distant being, He does not take joy in our suffering or revel in our discomfort. Rather, He is a Father who loves giving good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). God the Father is approachable and loving, abounding in mercy in Jesus. In God we at one time have a Mother who is able to make us strong and a Father who is gentle and understanding in our struggles. Jesus reveals to us a Father who, though desirous to discipline us and bring us up in wisdom (Hebrews 12:6), does so out of love for us and not out of disappointment.
In Jesus also, however, is revealed the ferocity and passion of the Creator. Jesus is a brave warrior that makes war against the things that prevent us from moving forward spiritually, clearing out the charlatans who set up shop in the temple of our beings where we come to pray to the Great Spirit. Jesus is intolerant of the religious bigots who think they’re better than everyone else, intolerant of the religious system which leaves people behind and oppresses the people who are trying to seek the Creator, and furious with the organization that points its guns at the “sinners” when it itself is run by them. Jesus fights both against mindsets that close us off from the Spirit’s inner working as well as to keep us on a path of honor and morality. In Jesus Creator is shown as the Warrior who fights the thieves that wait along the Beauty Path, watching us and hoping to strike us along the way.
This is something that is key to Amerindian spirituality and therefore, in my own opinion, links the two. The practice of spirituality, the practice of ridding ourselves of things non-conducive to spiritual life, the practice of emptying ourselves so that we may be open to the Creator, is exactly what is expressed in the teachings of Jesus. We know that the Creator fights for us, not in earthly wars between men, but in spiritual wars against the things which inhibit our spiritual growth. In Jesus, God is a ferocious lion who will protect His cubs from evil.
Spirituality is spiritual identity and existence. The quest of spirituality is a simple one: from who do we come, where are we now, and to where are we going?
We come from a Heavenly Mother and Father. This one God, who is both masculine and feminine at the same time, who is Spirit and thus encompasses whilst transcending gender, breathed every human spirit forth from His and Her own infinite substance before the creation of the physical universe. That is our origin.
The Beauty Path is the walkway to our origin, which is also our destiny, as we know by the Law of the Circle—all things are on the same journey to the place from which they come. It is where we are now, each one of us, whether we know and are walking with sacred steps or are ignorant and leave loud, obvious footprints. It is at one time a path we walk on and the next a path flowing out from within, where the Spirit of God, our substance, dwells. We walk this Beauty Path ever as the Singularity in which Duality finds peace—where Masculine and Feminine, Gentleness and Ferocity, Love and Anger, Justice and Mercy dwell in peace with one another. The one who walks the Beauty Path walks as the child of both the Rainbow Woman and Jesus—as one in whom all the attributes of God which seem fragmented and separated through the jagged shards of our understanding are clearly revealed in one.
This article began as a sequel to Reconciliation, and indeed, the subject continues to be ways for Amerindians and Christians to connect and have peace. The Wedding symbolizes this. Jesus came to reveal the Father, and the Rainbow Woman is the Mother. Just as Christians, including myself, profess the Spirit of Jesus, so is the Rainbow Woman actively living within us all today. My goal here has been to present Jesus and the Rainbow Woman to the groups who have not known them truly, and UNDOUBTEDLY, there is much more to say. Perhaps there will be another article, or two, or however many more are needed. I don’t have the answer, but then perhaps that is a good thing, for then Christians will be encouraged to meet the Rainbow Woman for themselves, to know Mother God in the Place of Peace which lies within them, and Amerindians may be enthused to meet Jesus, the one who came to reveal Creator to those who were trapped by hollow religion and who sought to bring freedom and knowledge of the Father’s Heart.
Do I pretend to believe all Christians will do this, or all Amerindians will suddenly appreciate Jesus? Heavens no. There will be Christians who undoubtedly will find themselves uncomfortable with the thought of God being Mother and Amerindians who will turn their nose up at the thought of seeing Jesus as remotely representative of God. Our goal is merely understanding, and if there’s some exchange and some growth, we should consider ourselves graced.
CLOSING THOUGHTS: INCLUSIVISM AND THE PATH TO PEACE
Pluralism, Inclusivism, and Exclusivism
In studies of people of different spiritual beliefs, there are three trends that are found in the views of most believers. Characteristically, a practitioner of any religion or specific spiritual tradition will find themselves Pluralists, Inclusivists, or Exclusivists.
Pluralism is an ideology which puts all religious beliefs and spiritual ideas on the same par. It is an equalizing philosophy. Pluralists look at all religions as being equally true or valid, to whatever degree that person believes a religion can be true or valid, or true because it is relative to that specific person. All doctrines, dogmas, and teachings are equally true, regardless of contradiction.
Logic would tell us that Pluralism simply doesn’t work. Religion is differentiated from spirituality in that it takes doctrine, which is a factor of both, and immortalizes it and puts it on the same level as God; in so doing, religions divide from one another, raise the banner and post men on the walls. If all religions are equally true, the Spirit World is frankly a giant mess, as that would mean that all of the conflicting doctrines, dogmas, and creeds of all world religions are completely true. Pluralism, if the right way of doing things, would also require us to accept everything we are told as true. A few moments’ thoughts should reveal the deception of pluralism therein, and the danger of pluralistic thinking.
Exclusivism is just as big an error. As Pluralism does so by making the concept of Absolute Truth meaningless by eliminating the problem altogether, Exclusivism stunts spiritual growth by limiting the view of the person who finds themselves in this camp. Exclusivism is the belief that Truth is restricted to one’s own sect or creed, and that there is no value in any other teaching or faith. Exclusivism can divide even religions from themselves, as people can become convinced of the validity of their sect and the woeful inadequacy of all other sects. Exclusivism disconnects people and, like Pluralism, does not assist anyone in coming to spiritual understanding.
And so we reach the middle path. Inclusivism, as I have come to understand it, is the attitude God wills human beings to adopt.
Inclusivism permits for both belief in an Absolute Truth, whatever the person conceives that truth to be, as well as for the recognition of Truth in others. Inclusivism enables people to continue the pursuit they’ve begun while at the same time drawing from many sources. It is a loving and humble mindset: to admit that one does not know everything, while continuing in what one does know to be true, and jumping at the truth when they hear it and see it. As an inclusivist, I can believe in Christ as the ultimate revelation of God to humanity and still accept that the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Jew, the Muslim, the Sikh, and the Medicine Man all also have truth to share. As an inclusivist, it does not destabilize me to find evidence of truth elsewhere other than where I am accustomed to finding it. It does not completely debase me to consider that others have relationship to God.
Inclusivism, unlike Pluralism, allows people to be able to sift through what they hear, while not putting on a helmet of instant rejection as Exclusivism does. Inclusivism shares some traits of Exclusivism, the belief in what one knows to be Absolute Truth as being Absolute Truth—but is able to open the door wider than that at the same time. Through Inclusivism, people of faith can recognize what is false while being able to see what is true about something as well. It is a way of looking at the world as being founded on truth, despite whatever man, in his wanderings, have built upon it. It is also a way of being able to hold to the foundations of learning and permit growth—in Inclusivism, we do not have to trash beliefs that don’t agree or conflict with others, but rather, we can permit ourselves to appreciate what is true and what is beautiful about other faiths.
Inclusivism as the Key to Reconciliation
“In him was life, and that life was the light of men…that gives light to every man that comes into the world.”—John 1:3, 9
The mass majority of Christians don’t read the Bible carefully enough. They’re conditioned to know specific parts of it well, which act as dull swords to combat the challenges that the world will commonly throw at their faith. But ultimately, they are mostly woefully uneducated about the teaching in the Bible, especially that of Christ’s Omnipresence.
The idea of Omnipresence is usually thought of only in physical terms, as of God’s being everywhere in the Creation at all times, consciously aware of everything. This is true, of course, because God is Spirit, unbound by time and space, but the truth of God’s Omnipresence does not necessarily restrict itself merely to the physical universe. That form of Omnipresence necessarily gives birth to an expression of itself, as that All Pervasiveness is effective on all men, who are able to see God in the Creation and worship what they perceive about the Creator thereof. Every man and woman born into the world is Enlightened with God-Life, possesses the Seed of Spirit, and therefore is able to recognize the Spirit in the Creation. Every man. Every woman. Not just Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or any other one people group: ALL PEOPLE.
As I’ve said, the mass majority of Christians are blind to this teaching which is in the very book most of them tote to church with them on a Sunday morning: the Life that was in Jesus is the same Life present in ALL MEN. As the Bible has it, Jesus came to manifest the full growth and maturity of that Seed of Spirit that has been given to all men, which acts as Light or UNDERSTANDING to all the people groups of the world. It is from that teaching and understanding that Inclusivism is derived, and it is from that teaching that we will also achieve Reconciliation.
Our Amerindian heritage teaches Inclusivism as a central part of any spiritual faith. Inclusivism allows people to disagree and yet still respect one another, and even more so to find common ground and come together.
A Vision of Hope
Imagine, for a moment, a ship barraged on the sea for many days. It finally sees land and comes ashore. A few hours into that ship’s inhabitants’ time on land, a small contingent of Red Men approach them. This is not a war party—they are here to welcome, to discover these newcomers and their purpose here. This is a warm greeting.
Don’t get ahead of yourself. Instead of going where one would traditionally go in this scenario, imagine if those settlers walked up to them and graciously thanked them for their hospitality, and if through many hours of attempts to interpret and speak through language barriers, asked permission to live on a small plot of land once they had unloaded their supplies. Imagine, even then, if the two groups agreed to return the next day.
This ritual continues, until both groups can speak each other’s language with some ease. It eventually comes out that these people are here because they desire freedom to worship God the way they want. This is strange to the Red Men, who have only ever experienced a land where this freedom was the law. They question further and find out that the white newcomers are persecuted because they interpret a book differently than the others in their land.
“What book?” ask the curious Red Men, most of whom have not ever needed to write ideas down, but have utilized rich oral tradition to transmit ancient wisdom. The book is explained—it is the account of the Great Spirit’s relationship with a nation in the East, how God freed the nation from slavery, and brought them into land that was promised to their ancestors, and how they were given a holy law to live by, and to teach the nations around them, who practiced several things that were against the law of God; and how, eventually, even this special people, called to witness for Creator, fell away. But then, to gather them back, Creator sent them a king, who died to paid their debt to the Law and then conquered Death by raising Himself up again, and then, living up to the call of priesthood given to that nation, sent out His students to proclaim the Love of God for all men and his desire for all men to live honorably for Him.
The Red Men contemplate this book. “It seems like a wonderful book,” they say. They resonate with this God of Love, who they quickly identify as the Great Spirit they themselves know, and share some of their own stories about the work of God in their peoples’ history. The settlers listen respectfully and come to the same sort of appreciation for the stories of their culture. Over many days and weeks, some of the more educated men about the stories and their spiritual significance continue to talk and discuss, and share ideas. Some of the ideas presented by both are riveting, absolutely exciting to the other—either because it is an idea that is shared or overwhelmingly identified as true. Ultimately, they agree that God is Love, and loves all men and desires that all men should love one another and live in a way which does not harm one another or the Creation God has made.
If the above scenario had taken place, I am convinced that there would not have been a genocide of the Indian peoples. I am convinced that there would not be reservations, and that perhaps there would not be a United States that stretched from Sea to shining Sea, and that if there were one, a great percentage of it would be Native American States. I’m convinced that there wouldn’t be tension between Christians and Natives, or between Christians and anyone, because we would have developed a history of Love and Understanding, perhaps blended together more frequently. I’m convinced that evangelism would not be rude or disrespectful, and I’m convinced that many of the woes this nation has faced would not have occurred.
I know what you’re thinking. “Well, David, that’s great and all, but how does that help anything now? That’s not what happened. We all know that’s not what happened.” When a doctor looks over a sick patient, they are looking for what should be working and isn’t. In their diagnosis, they look at what did happen to cause the illness or homeostatic imbalance and then identify its current influence and seek to rectify it. To know what’s the source of the wedge between us today, we have to know what should’ve happened and didn’t. And that’s what should’ve happened. The settlers, who should’ve recognized that Jesus was calling them to develop a relationship of Love, Peace, Understanding, and Generosity between them and the Amerindian peoples, instead engaged in needless militaristic warfare for what they saw as their new promised land.
Because of that, there is a deep-seated mistrust in the Amerindian subconscious in white culture and what many see as “white man’s religion” and there is a preconceived notion of Indian inferiority in white culture. Both have retreated into Exclusivism to some degree both culturally and religiously, and those who have retreated to Pluralism often group Christian teachings into the mix merely to appease their sense of integrity. The Medicine Great Spirit is calling for to heal this rift is Inclusivism.
We can’t dance around what we believe. We can’t not share what we believe to be true simply because we feel it will offend someone else, or else invoke their wrath. Engaging in such passivity is how the Holocaust and multiple evils of like nature have been allowed to take place. Furthermore, it’s a high crime indeed to not be true to one’s convictions. I will never stop proclaiming the gospel; likewise, I do not expect or require anyone else to stop proclaiming what they in their hearts believe, unless it is harmful to others. We also can’t go screaming at people believing that we’re right about everything and that their best chance is to listen to us. I’m not only speaking about Christians.
There are Amerindians who are certainly guilty both of saying nothing out of fear and of closing themselves off completely by stubbornly and narrowly refusing to see any other way. Now, mind you, for the large part these two have been on the Christian half of things, but it has appeared in the Amerindian camp also. Ultimately, we should not only be free to openly share what we believe, but encourage each other to share the truth we believe; without this sharing of thoughts and revelations, the truth will never flesh itself out. Christians might be uncomfortable with this idea, but remember the Apostle Paul, who preferred rather to debate and discuss daily with people of many philosophical and religious traditions in the Greek world than in the religious establishment where he was the only one allowed to say anything (Acts 19:8-41).
We have to learn to appreciate each other and see that each of us contains the Seed of God’s Spirit and that it’s grown to different degrees in each of us. And, in reality, our beliefs aren’t so different. We both know that God by substance is Spirit and by nature is Love, and that whatever other attributes or aspects of God that are real fall under those facts about Him (and Her.) We both know that God calls us to live lives of honor on the earth and that God detests it when we destroy the earth. Christians, can’t you see Jesus alive and working through the Native men and women who instill these truths in their children, teaching them the traditions that will ensure they are faithful stewards of each other and the Earth? Amerindians, can’t you see the Beauty Path being followed by those who devote themselves to being the servant of all men and women who cross their path, all in the name of Jesus?
Being honest, I’ve seen more of the Heart of Jesus in the ways of my people than I have in man’s church world. I see more of Jesus in the way that we dance freely, sing openly, remember the Creator in everything, serve one another however it is needed, love our mates, raise our children, and seek always to rise up in the Spirit and be in the Spirit experientially than I do in the empty and mostly noisy traditions of the zillions of churches. It’s why I bother to write these articles, because I really, really believe that Jesus has more to offer Amerindians than we allow ourselves to think because of what the white culture has done to His Image, and because I believe that white culture has so much to benefit from and receive from Amerindian culture.
As usual I have a message for the various groups that will read this article. You’ll fall into one of the following categories, more than likely.
To fellow Amerindians and Practitioners of Indigenous Spirituality:
I’m actually just ecstatic to have the opportunity to talk to you and hear back from you. So many of you wrote back in response to the last article with words of praise for the blessed vision and hope of peace between men. I was excited to learn from you and become a student of the words God was saying through you. Thank you for reading again, if you’ve come this far. I invite you to take up the talking stick again and give me more of your thoughts, which are precious to me.
To fellow Christians:
Friends, I don’t know what realm in the Lord you’re walking in, and I’m not one to criticize the relationship between God and any man. As it was tradition not to walk in between a fire and one sitting around that fire in the ancient days, so it is unlawful to come in between a man and God today. I have only this advice for you. If you have felt God tugging at the strings of your heart to leave whatever man-made system you belong to, whatever sect, whatever denomination, don’t deny Him. It’s a scary, scary journey to take with God. I know, because when you get pulled out of the system of thought you’ve come to adopt, it’s like being thrown into cold water to be woken up. But please, if you’ve begun to take this journey, don’t think that I have left the faith or relegated Jesus to just another teacher. It is because I believe He is more than that that I am writing this to begin with, as well as that I believe that we will never bring forth His Kingdom on the earth by thinking of ourselves as spiritual know-it-alls who refuse to see God outside of the box we make for Him. Continue preaching and reaching out with the good news. But be respectful and as willing to listen and learn as you are to speak and teach.
To those fellow wonderful hybrids of both:
I don’t know what word to use here. Companions sounds about right.
It’s a strange journey to embark on, trying to reconcile faith in Jesus with the Beauty Path. The reality is, the two fit together like a square peg in a square hole, but that square hole is hidden and covered up by the multitude of traditions, creeds, and ways of thinking that have divided us and told us to choose time and time again. For those of us who feel as though we can’t choose, as both are a part of ourselves, this leaves us feeling lost and torn.
I encourage you to always pursue God as He reveals Himself. God is everywhere; His parousia, His presence, pervades all things, places, and people. Those who see this God-presence everywhere, who are able to detect what He is doing, what He is saying, and who He is directing us to in every situation are the “pure in heart” that Jesus spoke about, who have a spirit that is unmixed with worldly ways of thinking. Being those eyes can bring a lot of people to their Creator a lot faster than a pulpit or a sweat lodge can.
The Spirit is with you.
--David Three Dogs Armstrong
The Author of this article seeks dialogue with
readers to increase
understanding between American Indian and
Please use the form below to respond to the article above.
Please include your name and email address.
David T’soi Gitli (Three Dogs) Armstrong is a 16 year-old student living in
the St. Louis area of Missouri. He is also a student and friend of Lee
Standing Bear Moore. "We are proud of David Three Dogs because he accepted the
challenge to examine religion and spirituality with an open heart and mind.
He also challenges the ideas and proposals of his teachers and reconciles
differences respectfully and thoughtfully," said Standing Bear. He began
writing short stories and fiction at age nine. He now has a passion for
poetry. He also writes literature aimed at communicating spiritual truths. His
desire is to see unity among all people who genuinely seek the Spirit of God.
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The Author of this article seeks dialogue with readers to increase
understanding between American Indian and Christian Theologies.
Please use the form below to respond to the article above.
Please include your name and email address.
David T’soi Gitli (Three Dogs) Armstrong is a 16 year-old student living in the St. Louis area of Missouri. He is also a student and friend of Lee Standing Bear Moore. "We are proud of David Three Dogs because he accepted the challenge to examine religion and spirituality with an open heart and mind. He also challenges the ideas and proposals of his teachers and reconciles differences respectfully and thoughtfully," said Standing Bear. He began writing short stories and fiction at age nine. He now has a passion for poetry. He also writes literature aimed at communicating spiritual truths. His desire is to see unity among all people who genuinely seek the Spirit of God.
EMAIL | HOME | INDEX | TRADING POST