The Shark God: Encounters with Ghosts and Ancestors in the South Pacific
When Charles Montgomery was ten years old, he stumbled upon the memoirs of his great-grandfather, a seafaring missionary in the South Pacific. Poring over the faint text and faded pictures, he was entranced by the world of black magic and savagery the bishop described, and couldn't help but wonder what drove the Victorian to risk his life among people who had shot, drowne...more
As a young boy, Montgomery discovered journals from his missionary ancestor and the stories contained within fascinated him enough that ...more
Is this a travel monologue? Yes. Is this an expose of missionary work? Yes. Has Christendom arrived and still present today in the islands? Yes, as long as you understand that many of the pagan myths remain a part of this Christiani ...more
Tinakula Volcano, Solomon Islands.
I read Paul Theroux's The Happy Isles of Oceania (1992) before reading Charles Montgomery's The Shark God (2004), which is also known as "The Last Heathen." Theroux's book was an informative and entertaining travel book that visited over a dozen Pacific island nations, whereas The Shark God retraces the journey of the author's great-grandfather, who was a missionary in Melanesia. Montgomery's travel focuses solely on Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. Fu ...more
Motivated to learn about his great-grandfather's missionary days in Melanesia, Montgomery discovers and unveils more than place and peo ...more
But m ...more
The tale of Shark God is Henry Montgomery’s journey to retrace the footsteps of his great-grandfather, a Victorian missionary in the South Pacific, in order to rediscover the mysteries of the dark magic the native inhabitants held before they encountered the Europeans. Montgomery is deeply passionate ...more
"Myth, like love, is a decision. What it answers is longing. What it demands is faith. What it opens is possibility." p294
Interesting anthropological quest to follow his missionary grandfather's route in Vanuatu and The Solomon Islands.
The subject matter is interesting and the book is well written. I have a problem with non-fiction when there are too many names and facts to remember - probably why I struggled with History in school - and became overwhelmed a little over halfway through the book. Although ...more
I found the history and descriptions of the islands interesting, but the narrator annoyed the hell out of me, and considering the book is autobiographical, I don't think that was the intention.
While describing historical white people traveling to these islands as racist, and looking at the savage natives, somehow I get the feeling the writer himself is more racist than he'd like to admit.
Also his insistence on challenging everyone he meets on do ...more
I'm not sure I want to keep reading a book the is recycled racist colonial nostalgia about the paegen and savage brown islanders....
It's a really interesting exploration of the cargo cults of the South Pacific and the encounters between Christianity and native religions.
My good friend Gary gave me this book for my birthday, and I really enjoyed it.