as white Christian settlers

The truth of the matter is that, as white Christian settlers, we are much more aligned with the Egyptians than the Hebrews/Israelites, since we have benefitted from a history of colonial violence, genocide, deception, exploitation and racism.  We are firmly located among the oppressors, and this sets us fundamentally at odds with the God of the exodus, the liberator of the oppressed.  This God is radically opposed to the brutal concentrations of wealth and power ascribed to the Egyptian regime in the exodus narrative, and, I would infer, opposed to the political and economic hegemony evident in the construction and consolidation of the colonial Canadian state.  In the effort to ensure superiority and domination, Christian settlers have readily enlisted the biblical God among the endorsers of expanding accumulation of political power and material wealth, completely suppressing the understanding of God as Creator and humans as creatures living in harmony and humility with other creatures and the earth, a truth firmly embedded within the sacred traditions of Indigenous culture(s).

Dave Diewert, “White Christian Settlers, the Bible, and (De)colonization” in Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry, page 134.

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7 comments

  1. Jim Davenport · May 20, 2014

    Seriously. My family has been on this continent for at least 200 years that we can verify. I can not see how you can compare Canadian culture with Egyptians, And as for the living in harmony with the earth. I suggest you read 1491. It may correct your understanding with respect to alleged First nations living in harmony with the pristine forests.

    I do not wish to minimize the impact that the clash of the two cultures has caused to those that were here when the Europeans came, And clash they did, But that has happened all over the earth and even among themselves even before Europeans arrived.

  2. Chris Lenshyn · May 22, 2014

    What up Jim!

    Whether or not horrific clashing of cultures has happened in other places cannot be a justification. The process by which white European settlers came to “own” the land here was devastating.

    Our white Western colonial culture has a dark history that we can often “forget.” That dark history has much in common with the themes we see the Egyptians embody in scripture. It is all too easy to identify with those liberated, and not recognize the oppressive foundations we build our culture of power upon. Therefore, viewing ourselves in light of the oppressive Egyptian story is prophetic and challenging in nature. It brings to light these realities and presses us to pursue a deep seeded shalom.

  3. jim davenport · May 22, 2014

    Again, I am not minimizing that some terrible things did occur, and stating that cultures clashed, is not meant to justify the process. Prior to the European arrival they were quite territorial to varying degrees, depending on where they resided in North or South American continent. Consider this, that when the Europeans did arrive, those that they met on the beaches, had pushed out and likewise removed prior waves of occupants in this land that we currently share.Where is there justice? Also the Egyptian regime in its day, was both amazing and terrible, and the Hebrews were trying to leave ,to grab there own land somewhere else. Looking at the past with the present days standards seems problematic to me, Native education is in crisis mode, Throwing money at the other problems has not helped, they even have internal issues to address as well some of their own steal and misappropriate funds. Tell our governments to do the right thing and honour the treaties we did sign and seek to come along side them would be best thing to do,

  4. Chris Lenshyn · May 22, 2014

    I agree, we need mutuality, and there is none. And like what you are getting at, It is more than just honouring treaties. To walk beside is to understand that we live within the consequences of past actions, and the way in which white Christian settlers culturally “killed the Indian” via residential schools is something in which Christians need forgiveness (among other things). The social consequences have been horrific, both short and long term. Without this reconciliation there is no walking beside. We need to repent.

  5. Jim Davenport · May 22, 2014

    I think the assumption that all those settlers were Christian, as I would define it,is a false premise,Secondly,define “white” . My personal heritage has a strong biological connection to the black community,What I dont understand, is that I have “First Nations: friends, and their perspective on the residential schools was more along the lines of misplaced good intentions, I am not denying that some had some bad experiences,and this should not be taken as agreeing with the overall school purposes, Under the present 20/20 hindsight, clearly not a good idea, Back then , not as clear. We are a post Christian nation,in an alleged pluralistic society,That past governments made these choices, We need to hold those grandparents and there parents accountable for what they handed us, But we cant. So to me this leaves us again with having to address those former treaties and trying to move forward. I do not think repentance is the step to be taken, But , frankly what i can do is limited, So I can extend my hand to the homeless,as I meet them, and I do, I will be with the 5 and 2 ministry feeding the homeless at Jubilee Park, which include all races, “when I was hungry, you feed me”

    • Chris Lenshyn · May 26, 2014

      We are left however with the consequence of past actions in the decimation of the indigenous people. For that we must repent, no matter our direct involvement and listen hard to the implications. We do build our lives on a society built upon European colonial Christian religiousity. I think we agree that relationships must be built, and service must happen. I think we need to begin by repenting for the societal systems in place which enable white Euro’s to thrive, and ostracize minorities, even if they were here before us. We have much to learn from each other. (sorry it took so long to reply friend, it has been crazy lately!)

  6. Howard wideman · May 31, 2014

    Chris is right on. He doesn’t say it is easy. The christian life is to work for peace and justice and stand beside the oppressed

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