Sunday, November 25, 2012

Native American Heritage Month: Jesus as Sun Dancer

Sundancer Christ by Fr. John Giuliani
In honor of Native American Heritage Month, I am reposting parts of an Easter-themed article by Rich Avery titled "Good Friday – Jesus the Greatest Sun Dancer."  The article (and the accompanying video by Pastor Larry Salway) offer an interesting contextualized view of Jesus and the Sun Dance, a ritual ceremony performed by Native American Plains Nations.  Avery writes:

Most Native North American people groups have a story of how their people were created, and this story has been passed down orally for hundreds or thousands of years. 
And many have a story of a Messiah-like figure who will sacrifice himself in order to deliver or bring greater enlightenment to their people. But few make the connection to Jesus Christ as both their Creator and Messiah. 
The Lakota, and other nations of the Plains, have a ritual called the Sun Dance, where men will punish or sacrifice themselves by piercing their body or tearing their flesh in order to hopefully bring about a closer connection to Creator – not only for themselves but for their entire community.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Father John Giuliani, Painter of Native American Icons

Lakota Victory Christ by Father John Giuliani

Father John Battista Giuliani (b. 1932), the son of Italian immigrants, grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut.   He was an artistic child whose parents and teachers encouraged him to pursue his artistic interests, which propelled him as an adult to obtain an undergraduate degree in Fine Arts at New York's Pratt Institute.  Yet, in 1960 he gave up his pursuit of art to become a Catholic priest, a position in which he still serves today.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Diwali 2012

Today marks the beginning of the 5-day Northern Indian Hindu festival of Diwali, or the Festival of Lights (in South India it is called Deepavali).  Like Dashain in Nepal and Navratri in India, Diwali celebrates to victory of the Good over the Evil and Light over Darkness.  On the first day of Diwali, part of the festivities include drawing designs called rangolis on the ground in front of the entrance to one's home, as a form of welcome to the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, Lakshmi.  This brought to mind another painting of mine...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November is Native American Heritage Month; New Book by Richard Twiss

Native american youth wearing a mixture of contemporary and traditional clothes.
Photo by thaths, 2011.

In case you didn't know, November is Native American Heritage Month:

Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. Heritage Month is also an opportune time to educate the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges (

And on that note, it's also great to mention here for those of us interested in Christian missions and indigenous communities, that Richard Twiss of Wiconi International has written a new book titled Rescuing Theology from the Cowboys: An Emerging Indigenous Expression of the Jesus Way in North America.  Twiss, the author of One Church, Many Tribes: Following Jesus the Way God Made You, says that the new book was the basis for his Doctor of Missiology Degree dissertation for Asbury Theological Seminary.  He is self-publishing it (for now at least) and making it available online for $20.

I haven't read it yet, so if any of you read it before I get a chance, please let me know what you think.  I'm sure it will be an eye-opening and heart-searching book.  Here is Twiss' description:

My new book, Rescuing Theology from the Cowboys, is based on my reflections, research and experiences over the past 24 years as a Lakota learning to walk on the Good Red Road as a follower of Jesus. It is also the story of many of us Native leaders who have been walking this Jesus Road together in community since the late 1980s.  
It is a close examination of the inter-connectedness between European colonialism and Christian missions among the tribal nations in North America. It is a redemptive look toward a preferred future, informed and inspired by the good, bad and ugly of the past... 
I believe you will find it educational, helpful, challenging and hopefully inspiring. I truly hope it empowers you to discover what it means to be more fully human as a lover of our Creator, our relatives in Creation, yourself and your neighbors in the spirit of Jesus as we all work and live for the well-being of Seven Generations!

One reviewer at writes that the book "is an excellent codification of important movements of the Holy Spirit both in the Americas and globally over the past 20yrs."