Religion And Catholicism? Essay, Research Paper
When the settlers first came to America they were meet by the Indians. Once the settlers were able to make it on there own, they no longer needed Indian help. Then they began to try to change the ways of the Indian. One of the aspects that the settlers spent much time on trying to change of the Indians was there religion. One of the main religions that the Indians were forced to try to convert to was that of Cathoilism. Many attempts were made to change the Indians ways and convert them, but to understand why they were trying to convert them one should know the differences between the religions of that of the Indians and of the Catholics. One of the biggest differences is that of individual interpretation by that of the Indians. Compared to the structured ways of the Catholics.
There is first the two different types of ceremonies that go on in the two religions. In Catholicism you have the weekly event of going to mass. Every Sunday a practicing Catholic is supposed to go to mass. Next to repent for ones sins you may go to penance or also known as reconciliation. Those are the main ceremonies that you have for Catholicism. In the Indian religion you have the Sweats. When Professor Anderson came to class to speak of the Crow Indians, he spoke of the different sweats that he had been invited to take part in. It seemed very interesting that he, a white man, was able to take part in a ritual that has been around for hundreds of years in the Indian religion. When he talked about them he spoke of the welcomes that he received from the Indians. He said that every sweat was different, none being the same. Everyone asks for a different thing, hence is the individual interpretation. In Catholicism you have the same ceremonies year in and year out.
Next there is the major difference in scriptures that are read. In Catholicism there is one book, I am sure that we all have heard of it, the Bible. In Catholicism it is made up of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is made up of scriptures before the coming of Jesus. The New Testament is made up of scriptures written up after the coming of Jesus. These scriptures are written up pretty straight forward and they are read year in and year out. There is no room for individual interpretation by the reader, it is set in structure. In the Indian religion everything is told through myths and legends. Because of this everything is passed down from chief to chief person to person. By this exchange of tongue there is great room for individual interpretation. Every generation the tales will change and the myths will be told in a different tone.
Another difference in the structure in that there is more leniency towards individual interpretation. For example in the Catholic religion, it is set up for the upbringing of the young people of the church. When you are first born you are baptized. Then you go on to making your first communion when you reach the second grade. At the fourth grade you make penance or also known as reconciliation. From then your final step into becoming an adult in the church community is when you are confirmed usually around the age of sixteen. At that time you are considered an adult in the churches eyes. As you can see it is a very structured environment in which you are raised in the Roman Catholic church.
In the Indian religion there is no set time period for the young people to be seen as adults and able to participate in the activities such as a sweat or other religious ceremonies. When the elders of the tribe decide that a man child is old enough to be recognized by the tribe as an adult than a ceremony takes place to inaugurate him. So you can see the religion is controlled by the elders men of the tribe or community. It has no set structure to follow and there are no rules and regulations to follow, it is just individual interpretation.
The actual beliefs of the religions are more open to interpretation. For instance the Catholic church is very much against homosexuality, premarital sex, abortion, and divorce just to name few. But the Indian religion is more lenient in its traditions. They see no problem with more than having one wife in a life time. They seem to live a very “wild” life on the reservations and that was carried over from earlier times. The Indians have open views partying, drinking, and sex. Maybe this has lead to the high unemployment on the reservations and the high death rate among drugs and alcohol, and the high alcoholism and the high rate of birth defects among newborns.
In the sense of when the settlers first came to the Americas they tried to convert the Indians into there religion. They believed that there religion was superior to all other religions. It is kind of interesting that they tried to push there religion so hard onto the Indians because of the sole reason that they came to America in the first place, religious freedom. It was the reason the first colonists offered to come here because they would be granted religious freedom. And now they were doing exactly what they had done to them over in England. A perfect example from the Indian perspective of the “white mans religion” is that of a poem written by an Indian to show how the white man tried to convert him to a Catholic and how he just saw so many differences that were between the two religions. For instance in the Indian Convert, by Philip Freneau They try to convert the Indian into some other type of religion, probably Catholicism. He does not agree with the religion at all. !
He makes comments such as, “Has it liquors of plenty?”, he then proceeds to say that if it did then he would be willing to go. The preacher goes on to explain that there is no eating or drinking there. The preacher proceeds to tell him that, “the wicked do not go there”, “he will never get there.” So the Indian says, “I none of mess with you”… “where there’s nothing to drink and little to steal.” The Indian was just not meant to convert. He saw the life of the Indian religion as much more fun and complimenting to his needs and wants. The preacher could not and did not want to understand his dirty and sinful ways. He was appalled by the fact that he was worried with drinking in the afterlife. The two obviously had very different views. The Indians saw no room in the “white mans” religion for his individual interpretation
I see these differences between the two religions as another difference I today’s world, in a metaphoric sense, in that of the recent elections. There are the two parties, the Republicans and the Democrats. In the recent election each party was trying to convert you to each side. Each party was so different in there messages. I saw the Republicans as the Catholics, they are the “old ones” set in there ways, with a strict itinerary to follow. The Democrats as the liberals, were things can change and interpretation is at the will of each individual. There plans and ways have room for change. Now the Democrats have won for the second election in a row. Maybe change and individual interpretation is the way of the future. Maybe the Indians have the right idea, maybe the Catholic church could use some individual interpretation too?