Friday, March 20, 2009

The Holy Road

I just finished reading "The Holy Road," the sequel to “Dances with Wolves.” Written by Michael Blake, it’s a heart wrenching tale of the Comanche’s struggles to maintain their free lifestyle in spite of the encroachment of white civilization. As we know from history, their struggles resulted in defeat and they were herded into reservations where their freedom was stripped away.

Although “The Holy Road” focuses on their struggles and their movement into institutionalism, I see much of the same dynamics played out in the church’s movement into institutionalism. At one time, the church was free. Since we had the Holy Spirit living in us, like the free Comanche, we were also free to go wherever we wanted. A time came, however, when the church was herded into the reservation of institutional religion and our freedom was stripped away.

Following are some excerpts from the book that I believe we can all relate to:

“The passing of the ultimatum had swollen the reserve’s population with anxious people utterly ignorant of how to navigate the holy road. The former free roamers knew nothing of the structure upon which the white man’s culture was based and, though, the wild people of the plains responded to peer pressure, to follow instructions from any type of central authority was as alien to them as celebrating a birthday.”

“Two years later, upon their release from an old Spanish prison in the humid place the whites called Florida, Smiles a Lot, Hunting For Something, their firstborn, and Rabbit came back to Fort Sill . . . The old ways were still being practiced but otherwise there was little to remind the returnees of the free life that had once been.”

This last sentence really touched my heart. In the institutional church today, many of the old ways are still being practiced but without the life and spirit that was once behind them. As a result, today’s church has lost the vibrancy and excitement that characterized the early church.

I’m hopeful, however. Throughout this world, I see signs that God is restoring back to his church what was lost and in the coming days, I believe we’ll see a church that is filled with the life of the spirit in even greater measure than experienced by the early church.

To read my previous posts on "Dances with Wolves," go to the following links:

Dances With Wolves
More Dances With Wolves
A mysterious awakening


lionwoman said...

Aida, I'm glad you're bringing these parallels between the institutionalism of other people in history and that of the church. I remember that Dances With Wolves was a wonderful movie with one of the saddest endings I've ever seen. I'm about 95% white and 5% Native American, and when I hear what was done to these people that 5% of me seems to take over, it is so enraged and saddened. How much more so must Father be for us, living in captivity. Like the proverbial zebras in the zoo standing around a water bucket, so many don't know the difference yet... but give Father time. Thank you for your great posts!

Aida said...

Amy, I also have a lot of Native American blood flowing through my veins so I've always had a heart for this group of people who have been stripped of so much. The Holy Road has a very sad ending but the history of the Native people is very sad. Even within the church, this is a group that often seems to struggle more than most.

These two books so clearly in my opinion mirror the journey of the church from freedom to institutionalism. It's heartbreaking when I think of what could have been but I'm also excited to be living in this day when I see Father restoring so much of what was lost.