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  • Navajo minister mixes tribal and Christian traditions

    Indianz.Com. In Print.
    URL: http://www.indianz.com/News/archives/003215.asp


    Navajo minister mixes tribal and Christian traditions
    Tuesday, January 13, 2004

    For Shirley Montoya, becoming an ordained Methodist minister carried some challenges. While training in New Mexico, she says leaders wanted her to give up her Navajo traditions.

    For Montoya, whose uncle also was a minister, that wasn't an option. "How do you do away with yourself? How do you hate yourself?" she tells The Arizona Daily Star. She never completed the process there.

    But after moving to Arizona, Montoya decided to try again. She was ordained in 1996 and blends Navajo traditions with Christian teachings.

    Get the Story:
    She finds path to Methodist pulpit (The Arizona Daily Star 1/13)

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  • #2
    Perhaps it's not so much blending as it is worshipping Jesus as a Navajo woman. But you can expect some white Christians to start condemning her as practicing paganism or "syncretism", which is the mixing of 2 incompatable beliefs, like atheism and christianity for example. More power to her as a Dine' believer.

    I don't do church. Many Native believers are returning to expressing their faith in Creator-Son from their own traditional practices, using traditional prayer-songs and dances, which are sung to Creator as they always have been, offering tobacco with the pipe, smudging, holding prayer feathers, and sitting in a circle facing each other instead of sitting in pews looking at the backs of other's heads. I go to water every morning, as I was taught to as a very small child by my great-grandmother, who was as traditional a Cherokee as could be and a follower of Tsisa. I bless my house each day with water and cornmeal, and offer a snudge to Yowa as a fragrant offering.

    Whites have said that their way is the only way to worship Jesus, but like everything else, that's a big fat lie. He made us NDN to worship Him as NDN's, and we don't have to white or be like whites to please Him(seeing as how they act, I can't imagine Him being pleased at all with that). It has never been Jesus' intent to destroy any of our cultures, but to guide us to Him through the teachings of our ancestors, the revelations given to our prophets and holy people down through the generations, and through the lessons of Himself in His creation.

    He gave us the pipe and the tobacco, the drum, rattle, flute, the songs and dances, the ceremonies so that we are drawn to walk with Him, to find peace and joy in His company, healing for our hurts, forgiveness for our imperfections and wrong-doings, and greater spiritual growth and maturity with each step on the Good Red Road. Being the Giver, He can restore what we have lost or what has been taken from us since 1492, and purify what has been defiled. There is strength and beauty in our cultures, gifts from His hand, and healing in embracing Him as the people He made us to be. There is no heart He can't touch, no soul He doesn't love and long for.

    Creator loves us NDN people, and it has always been his way to use the least to astound the greatest, the ones who have been rejected and oppressed to humble the ones who exalt themselves. Heck, we can go to other parts of the world where the people HATE Americans, but they will welcome us if we go as who we are(unfortunately, wearing a US military uniform makes us just another American). Ask a Russian if they ever played Cowboys and Indians and they'll say sure, and tell how everyone wanted to be the Indians not the cowboys. Our ways are healing ways, and maybe we can share that gift of healing with others; we darn sure know what it feels like to hurt to the marrow of one's soul.

    Comment


    • #3
      Well, I say good for her. I do the same thing. When I started Pastoring the church that I currently Pastor, I let them know up front how I was and what it is that I do. I let them know that I practice my/our native traditions. One Sunday after we had communion, I sang a Lakota song that my drum group sings sometimes as an honor song. Of course, I had mixed feelings there. Some loved it and asked me what did it mean and others just turned their head at it.

      I am the same way, whether I am at my church or at a p/w. I worship the Lord in my own way. I smudge at my house, my church, and at p/w's.

      I just wish that white believers would come to understand that we always knew who the Lord was and worshiped Him in our own way. Just because we did not do it their way did not mean that it was wrong. He tells us to dance, so we dance in our own way. He tells us to sing, so we sing in our own way. We are who we are, NDNs, and He accepts us as NDNs. We are His creation. Without us, heaven will not be complete. We are the final piece to the puzzle.

      Let us continue to worship Him in our own traditional way.
      Through the good times and bad times, always pray.

      Comment


      • #4
        _____

        I am really glad to hear there are other organized church leaders who are both traditional and Christian.

        The church I attend is Indian Methodist. Our pastor is extremely involved in the United Methodist Church. He serves as pastor, Adjucnt Professor of Religion at a large University, Member of General Board of Global Ministries, UMC, (our mission agency of the Church) and Chairperson of Native American Comprehensive Plan, United Methodist Church, programmatic task force for all Native American United Methodist Churches in U.S.

        He travels worldwide representing his faith.

        I have seen him in a sweat I attend. When it was his turn to share he stated, "the Creator gave Native people many ways to worship Him. And they are all good!"

        Keeping with this philosophy, our Methodist Church sponsors a Native American Church (peyote religion) meeting each year for Indian university students.

        Why can't ALL who preach God's word realize that their earthly ways . . . are not the only way to get to heaven?
        Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

        Comment


        • #5
          Any Christian that points the finger at syncretism is only showing their own ignorance of church history. The Messiah's real name is Yeshua, not "Jesus". The Sabbath is from Friday's sundown to Saturday's sundown, not Sunday. The Bible commands the keeping of specific holidays and prescribes specific rituals for doing so, most of today's "Christians" shirk all of that to worship the penis of an Egyptian sun god in their very own living rooms every December. The Christian religion of today is almost pure syncretism with a variety of ancient Mediterranean and European "pagan" rituals absorbed over hundreds of years. Even the identity of Messiah as the second "person" of a three-person "trinity" god is a teaching borrowed from Mithraism. A purist view of the Bible sees Yeshua performing miracles and healings through his own faith in the god he worships, not because of his own supposed powers as a "god man".

          Christian belief of today is as shallow as the stickers on their bumpers.

          But yes, they will moan and scream. The REAL reason? THEY are jealous. The NDN's that DO become Christians are better Christians than THEY are.
          "Friends don't let friends drink decaf..."
          Wakalapi's $49 unlimited phone service www.49deal.com

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          • #6
            Christianity did not borrow from mithraism and you know thats absurd if you really find out who the sources are of the people who make that claim. The earliest forms of Roman mithraism is found no earlier than the 2nd century. Yet the bible was written in the first century. Roman mithraism does not even match Indu-persian forms of mithraism. Many of the quote links of mithraism to christianity have been proven to belong to other religions not mithraism. The worship styles and practices are entirely different as well.

            Im not a defender of western christianity however because I believe western christianity is syncrestic in many ways however mithraism is not one of them. though mondern forms of catholicism shows alot of syncretism there isnt any evidence in the new testament or old testament matching the other religions of the world.

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            • #7
              I did not say the Bible borrows from Mithraism. Christianity borrows from it. Christianity does not come from the Bible that it touts so loudly. It makes a habit of borrowing traditions and beliefs from other sources, many of which were merged into their doctrine hundreds of years after the first century.
              Last edited by Wakalapi; 01-14-2004, 11:27 PM.
              "Friends don't let friends drink decaf..."
              Wakalapi's $49 unlimited phone service www.49deal.com

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              • #8
                Ok I would agree with that.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Jesus is the Greek form of Yeshua or Joshua, which in Hebrew means "He saves". While the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and Aramaic(books of the prophets after the exile to Babylon), the New Testament was written almost entirely in Greek, which was the trade language of the day. John(Greek) was "Yonas" in Hebrew. Both Greek and Hebrew have subleties not found in English, and some words cannot be translated without use of metaphor, and some words not at all. Still, from ancient scripts, better than 95% of the manuscripts have been translated accurately.

                  The Law of Moses was given exclusively to the Hebrews/Jews. Although the first followers of Jesus were Jewish, and all of His Apostles most certainly were, and while here on this earth, Jesus was an orthodox Jew, the Apostles in the 1st century church settled the issue of whether one had to be culturally Jewish in order to truly be a believer in the Council at Jerusalem in Act 15. Their decision was that in addition to believing the Jesus is the Son of God, and the Messiah whose shed blood is the price for the forgiveness of sin, one must abstain from food and drink offered to idols, from sexual immorality, and from blood. So this means that every culture is redeemable in Christ, just as every individual can be redeemed in Him.

                  There are a growing number of whites(WASP's usually) who are tryin to Judaize the faith, and this is extremely offensive to Jews, even to Messianic Jews, because these people don't know what they're doing; they take on the trappings of Judaism but without the knowledge of the culture or the permission of those who are Jewish. I've had these morons try to tell me that in order to practice the faith properly, I had to keep Torah(Law of Moses). I told them that if I hadn't become white in order to be Christian, what made them think I was going to give up being Cherokee to be Jewish to be Christian.

                  And did you know that the Rabbinical Council of Israel considers us NDN's to be Ephraim, the son the Lord calls from the West in the end times? They consider us to be brothers, heirs with them in Israel's portion from the Lord. They consider Americans and Canadians to be only friends or allies, or at best righteous gentiles. Considering how many white church leaders hold that they are Ephraim, you can imagine how contemptuously they dismissed that. When a delegation of Native believers went over to Israel 6 yrs ago, they had been invited by the Knesset and the Prime minister, presented themselves to the Knesset, Prime Minister, and Rabbinical Council and asked permission to enter the land of Israel, and gifted them with tobacco, baskets, beadwork, blankets and robes, and many other precious handmade items. The Prime Minister, Knesset president, and Chief Rabbi were given eagle feathers. In return, we are recognized by Israel as the First Nations of North America, and have our own place in the Rollcall of Nations, and the whole of Israel was opened up to us in welcome. Chiefs are received as heads of state, and we don't get that kind of respect in our own land.

                  I think we NDN's have a better cultural understanding of the Scriptures becuase like the Hebrews, we are tribal peoples, have a cyclical view of time and relationship, and a very deeply ingrained respect for the sacred. God has never been some conceptual being living someplace far away, but very near to us, His presence all around us. Our cultures are based upon strict protocols which clearly define the boundaries between people, between ourselves and the rest of creation, and between us and the Great Mystery. I'm definitley NOT saying we are descendents of some lost tribe of Israel, though.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Traditional & Christian

                    Bravo Tsunawa,

                    The Bible is an Eastern book, not Western. The people our Creator called understood COVENANT, a concept Euro intellect has never embraced. When Scripture was given to them, they did what they do best...perverted..it.

                    Concepts like ..Manifest Destiny and others were all designed to pimp the Bible. That's the real reason it was against the law to teach a Black person to read.. as they were spoon fed it was the will of God for them to be slaves. Manifest Destiny was the crap they fed us, Jesuits included.

                    As I search Scripture, I see over and over how God validated all peoples. If you research the begats in Jesus' linege you will find the seed of every ethnicity there. In Acts when the Great Spirit was released, Scripture says people heard the Apostles glorify the Creator in their OWN tongue.

                    Many of our beliefs and traditons are reflected in Scripture, even how we treat animals ( Prv 12:10, Prv 12:27), the earth, we recognized by the Spirit of the Creator pre-contact that the Creator covenanted with the earth and we are His husbandman. Gen 9:13. In Romans 8:19 Scripture says how all of Gods creation groans for us, (the two-leggeds) to get it together and live like we're supposed to, sounds like "all my relations to me" in that scripture shows the conncection between man and all of the Creators works and their interdependance.

                    I'm so glad this thread was started. I was raised catholic (God loves you people too...), without ever seeing a Bible. However, once I read it I knew we didn't have to stop being who we are no more than any other ethnicity. It was because of Paul and who he was that he could be used so greatly and so on.

                    A good book to pickup is 'Native and Christian' by James Treat, it's a collection of essays on this very subject by various Ndn scholars, clerics etc.

                    :Angel2 CC
                    Last edited by comchocldy; 01-17-2004, 11:13 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Also try "In Living Color" by Randy Woodley, "Many Tribes, One Church" by Richard Twiss, "Aboriginal Christianity: The Way it was Meant to Be" by Dr. Adrian Jacobs, "Can you Feel the Mountains Tremble" by Dr. Suuqiina. They can be obtained from WICONI at
                      www.wiconi.com. You can also get Native believer's worship music there, and they have it set up so you can hear samples of each cd/tape offered. Some of the artists are Jonathan Maracle(Mohawk) and Broken Walls, New Life Singers(Robert Soto, Lipan Apache), Wohali(Cherokee), Creator's Tiospiye Wakan(Lakota), and many others. Good stuff!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Open your mind, lay aside all the Christian gobbledigoop and pay a long awaited visit to:

                        http://www.netzarim.co.il

                        You'll be glad you did.
                        Last edited by Wakalapi; 01-19-2004, 02:52 AM.
                        "Friends don't let friends drink decaf..."
                        Wakalapi's $49 unlimited phone service www.49deal.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks, Wakalapi. It IS very interesting. I'm still chewing on it, so I can't say I'm able to form an opinion just yet-there's alot of info to process and such things need time and thought, as well as prayer and guidance from Creator.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            It seems very interesting unless you know the scriptures of the Jews and Christians and the secular scholar works for the last 2500 years. Any orthodox jew will tell you that the God form is plural not singular. Sunday was celebrated by early christians not as a sabbath but as a celebration of the Jesus rising from the dead. The sabbath does not apply to non jews never has. Not in t he noahic laws. Jesus was killed by the Jews because he I AM which puts in him in the same authority as the Creator. Whether you want to believe in the Son of the Creator is up to you. I would talk more but just got called into work. Argh

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Tsanuwa Usgolv
                              Thanks, Wakalapi. It IS very interesting. I'm still chewing on it, so I can't say I'm able to form an opinion just yet-there's alot of info to process and such things need time and thought, as well as prayer and guidance from Creator.
                              I am not in agreement with *everything* "Yermayahu Ben-David" has to say, when you read through the whole site (and I remember things that were on the site 4-5 years ago, too) you find out that he is a former Baptist preacher and a former US Air Force technician of some sort. You can tell that he has a big chip on his shoulder when it comes to Christianity, well so do I but I mean THIS guy is out to belittle and ridicule in the most false-polite and intellectual manner possible (and then make it sound like he just did you a favor by opening your eyes to all of his wonderful research).

                              As far as "I AM" goes, that appears to be a misinterpretation by the New Testament writers of the Hebrew "eheye asher eheye" statement most English bibles bring as "I AM who IAM". I've seen Hebrew scholars translate it as "I am who I shall be shown to be". The Jehovah's Witnesses, unfortunately are the ones to pick up on a version of that theme and then parade it around, so many trinitarian scholars immediately debunk anything that sounds even close as a kneejerk reaction.

                              ANOTHER interesting site, and a competing group that claims to practice "Nazarene Judaism" is...

                              http://www.nazarene.net

                              When many Orthodox Jews believe the Sabbath is forbidden of Gentiles, and while it is not required of Gentiles in any case, I think it's in one of the Prophets where it is written that G-d is pleased even when it is practiced by the "foreigner". Take that for whatever you think it means.

                              I find it interesting that some of our Plains traditions do parallel Judaic and Christian teachings (people like Twiss like to point this out alot in an attempt to point to Christian teachings as a hidden source). Compare the purpose of the sun gazing dance with the crucifixion, as far as flesh sacrifice for benefit of all people goes (if Yeshua did EVERYTHING as an EXAMPLE then it would stand to reason that the sun gazing dance simply follows his example). Compare the Torah practice of putting menstruating women into a special tent outside the camp, with our Plains traditions; the cohanim (priests) were not supposed to go near her - sound familiar? Look at the way Israel is encouraged to pray, with humility and supplication; we are taught to pray in admission that we are PITIFUL men in NEED of Creator's help - not the I-am-a-warrior-look-at-my-buff-biceps way that is depicted in the movies.

                              If Yeshua really gave a "new" commandment "love one another", what happened to the existing commandment "love your neighbor as yourself". The New Testament was written 30-60 years after he lived. They had plenty of time to study the Torah and to write his story in such a way as to supposedly fulfill prophecies. It's like firing an arrow into the barn wall, and then drawing the target around where it just hit and claiming "See? I hit the bullseye".

                              If you want to believe Christianity, I hope you are happy with it. I really do. But it is tragic that anyone should think that the rest of our people need to follow suit, or need to somehow be "prayed into the kingdom". Our path to Creator was given to us, and Christianity is not even on the map.
                              "Friends don't let friends drink decaf..."
                              Wakalapi's $49 unlimited phone service www.49deal.com

                              Comment

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