God is Red

Deloria holds no punches back, words continue a relentless attack
His refrain, “just leave us alone”, we want peace as our only atone

I give in to a reluctant agreement, praying in silent encouragement
For a return to the simpler ways, when one loved creation’s days

My nagging doubts have passed, while a potential heresy amassed
I can no longer contain the threat, while I wait to affront the death

Truth is, I have seen the Red God, sunshine on a deer’s side broad
Brown, turned an amber red glow, the distance close, yet far to go

He is among morning Cardinals, flitting about performing aerials
A red squirrel that skitters up a tree, repeating chatter, clear to me

Did Natives need our same Christ, did they need the same sacrifice
Living in peace with far less sin, a different forgiveness to rescind

Our land greed was hidden behind a false premise, we were blind
Now we must fix the mistake, to give back more than we take

We must return the sacredness, found in the land of forgiveness
Much to learn of six other days, while we gather red sun’s rays

Perhaps Deloria not that wrong, Christ daily sings us a new song
We can look back, take the best, gather in Red God’s secretness

 

A Native American friend suggested I read the book “God is Red” by Vine Deloria to get a true sense of a Native perspective on Christianity.  To say I was displeased with this attack on my faith is an understatement.  But as God would have it, little bits of red kept coming at me in very obvious ways.

In prayer, a rising red sun was quite profound and I asked; Would Native Americans need the same human Christ? My heart softened more during study and research. Contrary to history’s representation, I no longer believe Christians came to America with the primary mission to “save” Natives. There was a far more sinister hidden agenda.  The ultimate proof is that Christ came physically to a time and place that was in disarray. Can we say the same of the place conquered in his name? Are Natives 300 years later better off?

I know I’m likely on the edge of heresy with these thoughts, but there is a far greater sin in the way we took Native land. Christ gives, we do not take from him. St. Francis of Assisi clearly understood that creation includes respect for all life and it is not meant to be destroyed. Not all is lost, as Natives deserve and have earned a righteous place towards Christian appreciation of creation. If we acknowledge that respect, hardened hearts may soften to receive the truth of Christ.

For further reflection:  The taking of the apple from the garden versus receiving Eucharist

Additional Note: St. Francis of Assisi firmly believed in the healing power of Eucharist. “I beseech all of you, by whatever charity I can, that you show reverence and all honor to the most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, because (in Him) all things, whether on earth or in heaven have been pacified and reconciled with Almighty God”. Long before Columbus landed on America’s shores, St. Francis spoke of our spiritual connection to the cosmos. In this regard Vine Deloria echoes St. Francis. If your faith is strong and you have the courage to examine what Vine Deloria has to say then you might consider reading God is Red.  You can get a preview here at Google Books.

 

The deer in this painting walked only yards away from me as I was reading God is Red sitting on a covered swing in my backyard.  The sun was setting and for just a minute everything took on a red glow that I clearly have not been able to represent in my painting.  This deer came out of nowhere gracefully walking past with her head slightly turned, glowing red along her side. Spiritually one of God’s creatures silently spoke to me while St. Francis and Vine Deloria presence together in the moment could not have been more surreal, merging distance and time.