Deloria, Vine, Jr. Francis A. Lalley - Essay

Francis A. Lalley

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

His native viewpoint is the unique strength of Deloria's writing. He can explain how the world appears to those who were here on this continent countless centuries before Europeans arrived. The world does not appear as an arena for struggle between humanity and nature, as the Christian creation story suggests. Death is not something evil that must be conquered, as the Christian resurrection may imply. Religion for the native people has never been "other worldly" but intimately tied to the natural phenomena of this world. In these areas and others, Deloria discusses the differences of perception and feeling among Christian and native people with regard to this continent and its religious meaning.

[God Is Red] is not all serious theology. He writes with amusement about some extraordinary manifestations of contemporary Christianity…. There is both hope and despair in Deloria's book. He is hopeful about the survival of Indian religious experience when discussing the restoration of Blue Lake to the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. He is more often despairing of any religious experience surviving in America, either Indian or Christian….

Deloria is antagonistic toward much of Christian belief. In fairness, however, it must be noted that he has gone to our schools and learned our theology and is now urging us to do likewise—listen to his people and perhaps learn from them. Although his book will not be pleasant reading for most Christians, I think he has struck a fair bargain and perhaps one which will benefit both Christians and native Americans alike. (p. 200)

Francis A. Lalley, "'God Is Red'," in America (© America Press, 1974; all rights reserved), Vol. 130, No. 10. March 16, 1974, pp. 198. 200.