Dangerous Territory Discussion Group discussion

Peterson mentions the book The Poisenwood Bible in her first chapter as an example of literature critiquing western missions. Can you think of other examples you have read of these types of books? Which ones are important? Which ones miss the mark?

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message 1: by D.L. (new)

D.L. Mayfield | 7 comments Mod
I remember being shocked when the head of my Bible College's mission program told me he wished that The Poisonwood Bible could be required for every student in the Missions program (of which I was a part). When I was 19 I thought the book was terrible! Now, I see it how Peterson does--one view on how wrong western missions can be (and the hubris and pathos behind the motivations of the missionary in question). Another book that I think is vital for having a different view than the classic missionary books would be Silence (the penultimate scene haunts me to this day).

message 2: by erin (new)

erin (sunbean11) | 2 comments I so loved The Poisonwood Bible when I read it in college, but I'm thinking it was after I took a 400 level critical study of missions class I somehow talked my way into freshman year, which likely influenced my outlook. I also recommended it far and wide to very mixed reviews at the time....

message 3: by Tia (new)

Tia | 3 comments Gabrielle, thanks for those recommendations; I need to read Said's work. Two missions critiques come to mind, though they are not literary examples. Steve Saint's Great Omission has some very useful thoughts, especially for those of us who grew up steeped in the legendary story of his father. And Reformation in Foreign Missions is a little quirky and sometimes defensive, but I think many of Finley's points are valid nonetheless. Also, Why America Misunderstands the World, by a former CIA analyst, is political, but I think some of his insights can be applied to missions thought as well.

message 4: by Tia (new)

Tia | 3 comments Also--a thought on Poisonwood Bible. An excellent book and useful critique of missions, but I thought it might have been more powerful if the missionary father character did not go quite so crazy. Sometimes patronizing in missions is most toxic when it is subtle. Nathan Price's over-the-top antics are obviously repulsive, but more complex attitudes and motives are more difficult to call out and repair (even in oneself).

message 5: by Gena (new)

Gena Thomas | 4 comments Tia wrote: "Also--a thought on Poisonwood Bible. An excellent book and useful critique of missions, but I thought it might have been more powerful if the missionary father character did not go quite so crazy. ..."
That is a really great point Tia! It's easier for us to negate extremists as if we are nothing like them, but harder when subtle complexities move us a few degrees off the right path.

message 6: by Gena (new)

Gena Thomas | 4 comments Poisonwood Bible was amazing! Other critiques of Western Missions: Walking With the Poor by Bryant Myers, God of the Empty Handed by Jayakumar Christian, Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo, Craig Greenfield: Urban Halo and Subversive Jesus, Western Christians in Global Missions by Paul Borthwick. But Kingsolver's fictional piece is more like a parable that sticks with you.

message 7: by erin (new)

erin (sunbean11) | 2 comments Agreed on Orientalism!

message 8: by Tia (new)

Tia | 3 comments Gabrielle--just had to pop back to this discussion to say thanks for the Orientalism recommendation. Grabbed a copy and have been working my way through ever so slowly. So much to consider there. A related interesting discussion would be the themes of orientalism present in the types of evangelical literature that influenced many Western missionaries in their youth (I'm thinking Chronicles of Narnia, which I love, but in hindsight can see some stereotypes embedded there, especially in The Horse and His Boy (incidentally my favorite of the Chronicles!))

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