Friday, January 9, 2015

A No Longer Relevant Gospel????

Today was an involved day with talking time and an inspiring talk by Basil Brave Heart, one of the Lakota elders who came to visit with us.  Basil's talk focused more on the spiritual life that he experiences, but one thing that really caught my attention and something I have been wrestling with was how he mentioned that "the Gospel is no longer relevant." While this might ruffle some feathers, Basil said it was not a statement of disrespect, but was pointing more to the Western culture and how people, both young and middle aged no longer embrace or live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as they "are walking away from the Gospel in droves." As Western culture becomes increasingly secularized, I can see Basil's point.  In fact, ten years ago when I was taking the class, "Images of America" with Dr. Jackie Donath at Sacramento State, we would watch a series called "Primal Mind" which juxtaposed Native American culture with Western culture and the topic of religion happened to be one of the episodes.  The narrator, Jamake Highwater would talk about how Native Americans have a deep spirituality and that there is a divinity in everything, something I saw in our discussion with Basil.  He would take a glass of water and before drinking a drop, would consecrate the water.  However, he also talked a lot about finding the center of divinity in all that we look at, something I'm not entirely sure we do as much of in Western culture.  But the best way to bring the Gospel back to relevancy is how we live it, how we take care of those who are the least of these, whether it is a listening ear, offering someone food or coffee on the street, as he said we could easily be handing that cup of coffee to Jesus.  I look forward to sharing more about Basil's presentation and expanding on this soon!!

We then went to the Red Cloud Indian School just outside of the township Pine Ridge, although still on the reservation.  The school was founded by Chief Red Cloud and the Jesuits in 1877 and was originally a boarding school, but is no longer today.  The campus also included an art gallery which had a number of artifacts and paintings by local artists.  However, I did fall in love with the chapel, Holy Rosary Catholic Church which offers a daily mass and is a building of natural light and knotted pine.  The building was re-constructed in 1997 after fire destroyed the original chapel, although the baptismal font and mantle in the front survived and are a part of the current building.

Then this evening, most of the group attended the basketball game between Pine Ridge High School and Red Cloud High School.  It was quite a sight seeing so many people, probably around 1,000 at the game and with so much energy.  We watch the freshman, JV, and Varsity squads, which most people stayed for all three games.  The display of sportsmanship was also impressive, although Pastor Karen told us when we returned that it was not always the case.

As bed awaits, we will be feeding buffalo tomorrow, then heading to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse.  It is hard to believe that almost one week has already flown by, with more adventures that await. 

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