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Source: (consider it) Thread: What do you think of this "blessing"?
no prophet's flag is set so...

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This is commonly said.
quote:
As we gather here today, we acknowledge we are on Treaty <number of treaty goes here> Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another.
I've heard it in church before the procession (Anglican), and opening hymn. It was said last evening at a university banquet, it was said earlier in the week at a NPC* board meeting.

I think it is a blessing and sort of like a prayer. Though some have said it isn't.

(*NPC - non-profit corporation)

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Eutychus
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It sounds something like the Welcome to Country in Australia, my experience of which was more cringeworthy than anything else.

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Enoch
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Whatever one's views on how relevant or appropriate it is to its context, those words are neither a prayer nor a blessing.

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Oscar the Grouch

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Around here, most diocesan events begin with a statement something like this:
"We acknowledge with thanksgiving that we gather on the territories of the First Nations Peoples, and especially those of (insert local name here)."

For me it is a simple and healthy reminder that we are settlers in a land that already had inhabitants. Whether it needs to be said on absolutely EVERY occasion is another matter. Perhaps we will reach a time when it no longer needs to be said because it is instinctively known and appreciated.

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Faradiu, dundeibáwa weyu lárigi weyu

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Gee D
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
It sounds something like the Welcome to Country in Australia, my experience of which was more cringeworthy than anything else.

The general idea is good, but all too often it is simply a collection of words said without any meaning or apparent belief.

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Gramps49
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This really does not sound like a blessing, more of an introductory statement that is usually said before the entrance hymn. After the entrance hymn, I bet the worship leader will use a traditional invocation. Context is everything.
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Soror Magna
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I'm ok with being constantly reminded of a constant fact. I was a squatter on someone else's land yesterday, I am today, and I will be tomorrow. If people find it annoying, then maybe they can work on resolving that fact.

Musqueam and UBC

[ 18. November 2017, 20:02: Message edited by: Soror Magna ]

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
Whatever one's views on how relevant or appropriate it is to its context, those words are neither a prayer nor a blessing.

Yes, it feels more like an acknowledgment of hospitality, alluding to gratitude. How that might be received probably depends on the context-- if it were an American context it might feel rather revisionist (glossing over all the hardness and genocide that was encompassed in that transition) or it might feel restorative (remembering that history)-- very much depending on the context. In other cultures/places I might expect it to feel differently.

All things being equal I think connecting us to a sense of place, remembering our history and how we got here, including the nasty bits, is a good thing. But no, it's neither a prayer nor a blessing.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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I put "blessing" in quotes, because I don't know quite what to make of it. It was said last evening at the university affair in the place where I might have expected a pre-meal grace in a manner which reminded me of an unfortunate popular way (to me) of saying "The Grace"** derived from 2 Cor 13:14 where some say we must furtively glance around at all in the group. Probably I'm too sensitive about some things.

**(May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore.

[ 18. November 2017, 21:04: Message edited by: no prophet's flag is set so... ]

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churchgeek

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I feel like the only people whose opinion matters is the First Nations people it is seeking to acknowledge. How does it sound to them? I'm genuinely asking, because I live north of the border [Biased] and in the US, we tend to avoid acknowledging that we live on stolen land.

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Kwesi
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No Prophet
quote:
As we gather here today, we acknowledge we are on Treaty <number of treaty goes here> Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another.
This invocation derives from primal religious practices in which a visitor to a particular place is expected to pour a libation to the local Gods. If Christians do such things then one might suspect their theology is defective or their actions insincere.
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churchgeek

Have candles, will pray
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
No Prophet
quote:
As we gather here today, we acknowledge we are on Treaty <number of treaty goes here> Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another.
This invocation derives from primal religious practices in which a visitor to a particular place is expected to pour a libation to the local Gods. If Christians do such things then one might suspect their theology is defective or their actions insincere.
I don't think so - at least not in Canada, I suspect. I'm US, so I can't say with complete confidence, but my impression is that the Anglican Church isn't terribly different from my own Episcopal Church.

In North America, Christians are pretty used to being told our traditions are from pagan sources - Halloween, for example, or different elements of Easter and Christmas. Yet no one really supsects Christians of worshipping gods that have never been part of their tradition.

My main concern would be that it would sound hollow - like "hey, if we say this, then we've absolved our national guilt." I trust that's not how it sounds to anyone involved. But I would want it to be well-received by First Nations folks.

ETA: Also, if it's something done in civic settings, then it would be seen as that, rather than a religious thing, when it's done in church.

[ 18. November 2017, 22:57: Message edited by: churchgeek ]

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I reserve the right to change my mind.

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Ian Climacus

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quote:
Originally posted by churchgeek:
ETA: Also, if it's something done in civic settings, then it would be seen as that, rather than a religious thing, when it's done in church.

Done here in civic settings.

My workplace uses it to begin (some) meetings. I will say I generally prefer an Indigenous person welcoming me to country, rather than the acknowledgement, but I can see that both have their place. And it's hardly fair to call on the local elder to be here at 2pm every third Thursday for 10 minutes, thank you very much.

But when I hear an Indigenous person welcome us it is meaningful to me (and I confess most times I find Indigenous culture impenetrable - I can't connect with their history and rituals) as they link their, or someone they know's, experiences to the place we are. Since moving here I have experienced this much more.

But as Gee D wrote I see the acknowledgement as a good idea.

I am fascinated by Eutychus' experience here; may you be tempted to share more?

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cliffdweller
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# 13338

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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
No Prophet
quote:
As we gather here today, we acknowledge we are on Treaty <number of treaty goes here> Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another.
This invocation derives from primal religious practices in which a visitor to a particular place is expected to pour a libation to the local Gods. If Christians do such things then one might suspect their theology is defective or their actions insincere.
It feels rather superstitious to eschew a practice simply because it was used at one time by peopke of another faith. If you included the "libations to the gods" then, yes, it would be idolatrous. But it didn't-- and, as noted above, we have many borrowed rituals and celebrations. The notion of acknowledging your history, both good and bad, showing gratitude, and laying the foundation for future peaceful relationships certainly seems appropriate

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churchgeek

Have candles, will pray
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quote:
Originally posted by Ian Climacus:
But when I hear an Indigenous person welcome us it is meaningful to me (and I confess most times I find Indigenous culture impenetrable - I can't connect with their history and rituals) as they link their, or someone they know's, experiences to the place we are. Since moving here I have experienced this much more.

That would be very meaningful.

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Adeodatus
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It reminds me of the Old Testament exhortations to the people of Israel to remember that other nations were destroyed to make way for them, that they reaped from vineyards they did not plant, and so on. As an exercise in group humility, I like it.

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Kwesi
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I didn’t really want my observations to be taken too seriously, or be po-faced about these things. The presence of fetish trees in Christian churches at Christmas time doesn’t bother me either. I guess what really irritated me was the embarrassing naffness of the liturgy and its patronising tone. For a tradition that rose from the sublime prose of Cranmer it seems to me less than acceptable. How about contributors to this post composing short collets on the topic that invokes the orisons of that glorious cultural foundation.

How about this for a start? Guilty of what I’ve criticised in others?

“Almighty and ever living God whose power and justice are manifest in Thy creation, and hast latterly revealed Thyself in Jesus Christ our Lord; and out of whom all families on earth have been fashioned, named and blest, we give thanks to our forefathers [forebears] who have born witness to thy glory and grace towards [hu]mankind. Most especially on this day and in this place we recall with gratitude the prophetic ancestors of the………..who have defended the truth which has been completed in the Son, and pray that they together with their inheritance represented here will be gathered into that better place of those made perfect through the merits of Him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

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lily pad
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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
This is commonly said.
quote:
As we gather here today, we acknowledge we are on Treaty <number of treaty goes here> Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another.
I've heard it in church before the procession (Anglican), and opening hymn. It was said last evening at a university banquet, it was said earlier in the week at a NPC* board meeting.

I think it is a blessing and sort of like a prayer. Though some have said it isn't.

(*NPC - non-profit corporation)

Typically, the phrase "unceded traditional territory" is used. I love hearing it, especially at the beginning of public events.

Unceded Territory Vancouver Sun article

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Ian Climacus:
I am fascinated by Eutychus' experience here; may you be tempted to share more?

Firstly, a disclaimer: I hope I can make this make sense and due allowance must be made for me being entirely unAustralian. Doubtless Australians have a lot of bad things to say about both my native and my adopted country; there is no shortage. I might be being really unfair.

The context was a faith-based conference, although not a formally religious setting. The welcome ceremony was a plenary event and Kwesi's descriptors of "embarrassing naffness" and "patronising" covered it pretty well, at least from my perspective. And to borrow from Adeodatus, if there was any "group humility", I didn't notice or feel it.

The non-Aboriginals involved in the formalities appeared to view the ceremony as a quirky piece of exotica they had to get through (a bit like saying grace in the presence of a vocally atheistic in-law), and seemed to view the dance part as a circus sideshow rather than something with intrinsic and at least partly spiritual meaning.

The Aborigines involved didn't seem to be taking things very seriously either; it felt as if they were performing something they didn't believe in as a gig to con the whites out of a fat fee. The ceremony seemed to achieve the very opposite of inter-cultural understanding; it was more like two divorced people meeting at someone else's wedding and engaging in faux politeness dripping with sarcasm.

(This sentiment was not helped by the casually and blatantly racist remarks of some of the white Australians about Aborigines I heard at the conference).

If I was in a situation where I had to engage in something like this, I would pinch Adeodatus' line above immediately. The spirit is the antithesis of how I experienced that ceremony.

Against all that, I do recall one small seminar at which one of the speakers was at least of Aboriginal descent and who made a short, far less formal but to my mind far more eloquent and heartfelt statement along these lines at the start.

[ 19. November 2017, 16:10: Message edited by: Eutychus ]

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Let's remember that we are to build the Kingdom of God, not drive people away - pastor Frank Pomeroy

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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quote:
Originally posted by lily pad:
Typically, the phrase "unceded traditional territory" is used. I love hearing it, especially at the beginning of public events.

Unceded Territory Vancouver Sun article

The phrase "unceded traditional territory" would be used where there are no treaties signed AFAIK.

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Ian Climacus

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Thanks Eutychus; having attended something with similar feelings (a business event one year long ago) I can understand, and agree. Appreciate you sharing.
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Leorning Cniht
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# 17564

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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:

I think it is a blessing and sort of like a prayer. Though some have said it isn't.

I agree with everyone who has said that it is neither a blessing nor a prayer, but a generic acknowledgement that the European overlords are relative newcomers. The acknowledgement of ancestors tied to a particular place doesn't seem terribly compatible with Christianity to me, but there's probably room for interpretation.

You have written before about how Christianity is practiced in First Nations communities, and I'm not sure exactly where to draw the line between adapting practices to a particular culture and syncretism. Shades of interpretation again.

So I don't know exactly how to understand the "ancestors" phrase, but perhaps more to the point, I don't know exactly how a First Nations person understands it.

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:

How about this for a start? Guilty of what I’ve criticised in others?

“Almighty and ever living God whose power and justice are manifest in Thy creation, and hast latterly revealed Thyself in Jesus Christ our Lord; and out of whom all families on earth have been fashioned, named and blest, we give thanks to our forefathers [forebears] who have born witness to thy glory and grace towards [hu]mankind. Most especially on this day and in this place we recall with gratitude the prophetic ancestors of the………..who have defended the truth which has been completed in the Son, and pray that they together with their inheritance represented here will be gathered into that better place of those made perfect through the merits of Him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

It sounds very, very European to me. Which is fine for a European or a white European-American congregation. But if the context (of which I know nothing) is a more inclusive or multi-cultural setting I think the original one quoted in the OP is a better complement to our already way to heavily European liturgy.

[ 19. November 2017, 22:33: Message edited by: cliffdweller ]

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Soror Magna
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quote:
Originally posted by Kwesi:
... How about this for a start? Guilty of what I’ve criticised in others?
"... we give thanks to our forefathers [forebears] who have born witness to thy glory and grace towards [hu]mankind. Most especially on this day and in this place we recall with gratitude the prophetic ancestors of the………..who have defended the truth which has been completed in the Son, and pray that they together with their inheritance represented here will be gathered into that better place ...”

In the local context, that's going to come across as "colonists who were genocidal thieves will be rewarded in heaven."

The reason we do territory acknowledgments in Canada is because Canada is a nation founded on treaties with Indigenous peoples. The reality, unfortunately, is that Canada has broken that promise and failed to live up to the treaties. And in some parts of the country, as has been pointed out, there are no treaties yet i.e. unceded territory.

The acknowledgment isn't a generic "bless our ancestors" prayer or invocation. It is a statement of historical and contemporary fact. Remember when the bush said to take your shoes off because this was holy ground? Well, this is more like "don't forget your shoes are on someone else's land."

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Kwesi
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Sorry about that, Soror Magna. No offence intended. Perhaps you could compose a more appropriate prayer and share it with us.

Soror Magna
quote:
Remember when the bush said to take your shoes off because this was holy ground? Well, this is more like "don't forget your shoes are on someone else's land."

In which case you should bugger the ritual and get out of there as quickly as possible.
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Augustine the Aleut
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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
quote:
Originally posted by lily pad:
Typically, the phrase "unceded traditional territory" is used. I love hearing it, especially at the beginning of public events.

Unceded Territory Vancouver Sun article

The phrase "unceded traditional territory" would be used where there are no treaties signed AFAIK.
"Unceded territory" can be problematic, as there are areas where it is really unclear, and such a declaration is a partisan statement (viz., the disputes among the Algonquins), or perhaps not relevant (parts of Québec, which for historical reasons fell outside the treaty mode), or disputed among aboriginal nations (much of southern Ontario is still contested between the Six Nations/Haudenosaunee, Huron/Wendat, and Ojibway). I have long urged speechwriters to use "traditional lands" instead, as it's clearly accurate and directs us to our common history.

I think that this is particularly useful with an increasingly diverse population, to which the term "European overlords" is not really relevant.

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
You have written before about how Christianity is practiced in First Nations communities, and I'm not sure exactly where to draw the line between adapting practices to a particular culture and syncretism. Shades of interpretation again.

This is interesting, with the query, isn't the way Christianity is currently practiced syncretism? with whatever culture it's within. It is Roman catholic, Anglican (English), Lutheran (German), etc. All are fused with cultures aren't they? Just because the pedigree and history of the fusion is older doesn't seem to to me to be enough to agree one is better or required.

--------------------
Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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Zappa
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quote:
Originally posted by churchgeek:
I feel like the only people whose opinion matters is the First Nations people it is seeking to acknowledge. How does it sound to them? I'm genuinely asking, because I live north of the border [Biased] and in the US, we tend to avoid acknowledging that we live on stolen land.

That, surely, is the critical issue. In Aotearoa too there is an equivalent, whereby gatherers are welcomed to the place where ancestors also gather, where the (in Christian terms "small-g") gods of heaven and earth keep watch, where all are welcomed ... always in Māori. Occasionally it is excruciating, as the speaker makes no attempt to embrace Māori pronunciation, but on the whole it is done with dignity ...

But if it is platitudinous then that is all it is. If it is reinforced by engagement with first peoples, and the first peoples know that to be true, then it is deeply empowering ... or power-surrendering which may be more important ...

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Zappa:
That, surely, is the critical issue. In Aotearoa too there is an equivalent, whereby gatherers are welcomed to the place where ancestors also gather, where the (in Christian terms "small-g") gods of heaven and earth keep watch, where all are welcomed ... always in Māori. Occasionally it is excruciating, as the speaker makes no attempt to embrace Māori pronunciation, but on the whole it is done with dignity ...

But if it is platitudinous then that is all it is. If it is reinforced by engagement with first peoples, and the first peoples know that to be true, then it is deeply empowering ... or power-surrendering which may be more important ...

That's all very well, but, politeness to first peoples or no, can you really not imagine what the reaction St Peter, St Paul or any of the great figures of the early Church would have been to a suggestion that services should start with a grateful tribute to and welcome in the name of Baal, Astarte, Diana of the Ephesians or the spirits of Romulus, Remus or the Druids for letting the people gather on their former territories?

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Brexit wrexit - Sir Graham Watson

Posts: 7333 | From: Bristol UK(was European Green Capital 2015, now Ljubljana) | Registered: Nov 2008  |  IP: Logged
Kwesi
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Enoch
quote:
That's all very well, but, politeness to first peoples or no, can you really not imagine what the reaction St Peter, St Paul or any of the great figures of the early Church would have been to a suggestion that services should start with a grateful tribute to and welcome in the name of Baal, Astarte, Diana of the Ephesians or the spirits of Romulus, Remus or the Druids for letting the people gather on their former territories?
I guess, Enoch, the apostles would wish to assert: "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." (Psalm 24:1).
Posts: 1526 | From: South Ofankor | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged
no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
That's all very well, but, politeness to first peoples or no, can you really not imagine what the reaction St Peter, St Paul or any of the great figures of the early Church would have been to a suggestion that services should start with a grateful tribute to and welcome in the name of Baal, Astarte, Diana of the Ephesians or the spirits of Romulus, Remus or the Druids for letting the people gather on their former territories?

That's the wrong comparison. Peter, Paul and other sainted types would need to be in the dominant culture, and hearing something from a less powerful group. Probably the best one is to consider early Christianity's receptivity for Jewish prayer once Christianity became the state religion of the Romans. We know that Christianity as dominant religion did this cultural genocide thing to aboriginal peoples when they colonized their lands. Thus it is really quite possible that Paul and Peter etc would have been absolute dicks if transported to a scene where they were part of the dominant religion and culture.
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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
That's the wrong comparison. Peter, Paul and other sainted types would need to be in the dominant culture, and hearing something from a less powerful group.

I think you're thinking too much about culture wars and not enough about correctness. Truth is not culturally relative. The most important question, if you want to bring anyone's cultural slant (and that includes the slant of whatever the dominant culture is, to be sure) is whether or not you are saying a true thing about God.
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simontoad
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Here's a pretty good Smoking Ceremony . I like how the celebrant weaves what's happening around him into the narrative of his life and ancestry, and how he conducts himself with obvious pride in the achievement of the new Centre for Aboriginal Studies and in who he is.

I've been present at a handful of Smoking Ceremonies, and witnessed many many statements acknowledging the original people of the land. The Smoking Ceremonies I've seen have always been performed with a group of Aboriginal people present, and have always been quite meaningful, even if I was filled with 'conference alienation' at the time. I think I'm right that a non-Aboriginal person performing a smoking ceremony would be an affront.

The statements of acknowledgement I do not find meaningful, other than that they are utterly and completely necessary given that Australia was settled on the basis that it was vacant land. There was no treaty in Australia, and the call for one, rising and falling in intensity over the years, remains unanswered. We whites need to be reminded, and to remind ourselves, of the crimes that were committed so that we could call ourselves The Lucky Country. Terra Nullius was perhaps the second of those crimes.

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Human

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Gee D
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I largely agree with that, but have some problems with the suggestion of a treaty. There was no concept vaguely similar to nationhood in the thinking of the ancient peoples. They did not have anything like sovereignty over the land, but instead they belonged to their part of the land. It's not really correct to think of them as belonging to a particular tribe in the same manner as you may think of tribes in Africa or the original peoples of North America. Rather, there were groups that lived in particular areas, hunting and gathering food there, meeting those in neighbouring groups for particular ceremonies and for marriages to be arranged according to strict rules.

Given that, with whom could a treaty be negotiated? Who would have the power to agree to one? It seems to be to be alien to the very nature of their being.

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Not every Anglican in Sydney is Sydney Anglican

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
That's the wrong comparison. Peter, Paul and other sainted types would need to be in the dominant culture, and hearing something from a less powerful group.

I think you're thinking too much about culture wars and not enough about correctness. Truth is not culturally relative. The most important question, if you want to bring anyone's cultural slant (and that includes the slant of whatever the dominant culture is, to be sure) is whether or not you are saying a true thing about God.
I agree. Thank you Leorning Cniht for putting that better than I might have managed.

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Brexit wrexit - Sir Graham Watson

Posts: 7333 | From: Bristol UK(was European Green Capital 2015, now Ljubljana) | Registered: Nov 2008  |  IP: Logged


 
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