Erik (eriktrips) wrote,
Erik
eriktrips

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why reading is so hard

I'm reading this book which is annoying me: Vine Deloria's God is Red. it doesn't annoy me for the reasons I expect that he expects of white readers, but it annoys me nonetheless. for one, he seems to conflate "time" with History and teleology and the enlightenment ideal of progress; in setting up the differences between christianity and native american religions he wants to attribute to christianity a concern for "time," while he sees native american religions as oriented primarily by "space." this would be ok, if it were argued consistently, but it is clear that the time sense he attributes to Euroamerican beliefs is that of a sense of teleology specifically, and not simply "time" in general, unless by "time" one can only mean progressive linear movement according to an articulated divine plan. because the religions he characterizes as religions of space incorporate their own kind of time, a repetitive mythological time that does not reveal a plan but instead makes possible the event, or, as he puts it, "experience itself," which is understood as contrasting with the christian "abstract interpretation" of experience.

another annoying thing is that he doesn't seem to notice that the western objectification of nature and belief in progress underwrite science as well as religion; he simply points out that certain native american conceptions would seem to accord better with scientific explanations than do parallel christian ones, and makes of this a triumph for native american religion, without questioning whether one might want to get on board the scientific project so quickly, without stopping to consider the way in which the christian view of nature as subject to human domination has itself facilitated the scientific endeavor.

I mean there's more to be said about science than just that, and there may be ways to be scientific without behaving violently towards the world, but right off the bat I wish he would take a more subtle approach to these things. if nothing else, it is a pain to have to stop every few pages and articulate my annoyance.
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