However much early Christian and Jesuit authors followed culturally defined rules and logic to produce convincing and meaningful stories,
80 The Jesuits were "new rationalists," believing that revelation and metaphysics provided unique insights that became truths by subjecting them to natural reason. J. B. Russell, Mephistopheles (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1986), 80-82.
81 Huizinga conveyed this worldview in a sentence: "The Middle Ages never forgot that all things would be absurd, if their meanings were exhausted in their function and their place in the phenomenal world, if by their essence they did not reach into a world beyond this." Johan Huizinga, The Waning of the Middle Ages (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1967 ), 183.
82 Perez de Ribas, History of the Triumphs, 185.
83 Reff, Disease, Depopulation and Culture Change, 154-160.
their texts invariably evidence punctum, inconsistencies, gaps, and occlusions that hint at other possibilities. As noted, Jesuit as well as early Christian literature often take the form of a dramatic narrative,84 replete with moments when early Christian and Jesuit authors switched to direct discourse, seemingly relinquishing control of the text to converts, shamans, and apostates. Although this relinquishment is orchestrated,85 direct discourse often reveals competing and conflicting voices and what Barthes termed punctum - small details of a photograph or narrative that convey realities such as epidemics that may have gone unnoticed by an author or photographer, preoccupied with conveying "larger truths."86 The challenge with respect to early Christian and Jesuit literature is to acknowledge as well as think past an author's own epistemologically informed construction, mindful of oppositions and rhetoric that evidence "complex differences and differentiation" - other story lines besides the author's own will to truth.87 My own search for these story lines has been guided by the assumption that cultural-historical analyses benefit from cognizance of the day-to-day lives and struggles of ordinary people, even if those people did not have the privilege of writing their own history.88 Of course, just as poststructuralism taken too far can result in
84 Alter, Art of Biblical Narrative; Pizarro, A Rhetoric of the Scene.
85 James Clifford, "Introduction, Partial Truths." In Writing Culture, The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, eds. J. Clifford and G. Marcus, pp. 1-26 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), 14-15; Peter Hulme, Colonial Encounters: Europe and the Native Caribbean, 1492-1797 (London: Methuen, 1986), 9.
86 Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, trans. C. Emerson and M. Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981), 324. Barthes used the terms punctum and studium to define how individuals relate to photographs, suggesting that studium is the " ... extension of a field, which I perceive quite familiarly as a consequence of my knowledge, my culture," and that reveal the photographer's intentions. Punctum are small details that break or punctuate the studium, " ... rising of their own accord into affective consciousness," overwhelming the entirety of the reading. Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981), 25-26,
87 James Clifford, ThePredicament of Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), 53; Stuart Hall, "Old and New Identities, Old and New Ethnicities." In Culture, Globalization and the World-System, ed. A. King, pp. 41-68 (London: Macmillan, 1991); Gyan Prakash, "Writing Post-Orientalist Histories of the Third World: Indian Historiography Is Good To Think." In Colonialism and Culture, eds. N. B. Dirks, pp. 353-388 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992), 354.
88 Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, The German Ideology (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1964 [1845-1846]), 39-49.
Nihilism, so, too, a preoccupation with the material conditions of life can result in a reductionistic functionalism.89 It is apparent that since the advent of state-level societies some seven thousand years ago, classes and institutions frequently have sustained themselves on fictions and social constructions that have seemingly dictated rather than responded to the material conditions of life. That said, it is a human conceit, exacerbated in the twentieth century through the uncritical acceptance of scientific progress, to conceive of history solely or largely in terms of power struggles realized through ideas or social constructions. "Men [people] make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please."90 Throughout history, biological processes have asserted their power and influence over human beings,91 despite social constructions that may imply otherwise. Hemorrhaging, ulcers, a helpless infant dying in a mother's arms - some things are hard to ignore or cast as something else.
Juxtaposition of what sometimes are several or more texts by contemporary authors facilitates supportable inferences regarding the pretex-tual reality of the mission frontier and the contingencies that governed the writing of early Christian and Jesuit texts.92 Still, in the near total absence of pagan and Indian voices it is imperative to approach early Christian and Jesuit texts from an ethnographic perspective,93 bringing the archaeological and anthropological literatures to bear on the question of pagan and Indian identities. Although anthropology has been complicit in colonialism and the "othering of others," cultural relativism offers the possibility of much thicker descriptions94 of pagan and Indian
89 Mircea Eliade, Ordeal by Labrynth (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 137; Wayne A. Meeks, The First Urban Christians, The Social World of the Apostle Paul (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1983), 20-21.
90 Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (New York: International Publishers, 1963 ), 15.
91 The inseparability of the history of nature and the history of man was explicitly noted by Marx and Engels in a passage crossed out of the original manuscript of the thesis on Feuerbach (Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, 28).
92 Caroline W. Bynum, Fragmentation and Redemption, Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion (New York: Zone Books, 1991), 23.
93 Sherry B. Ortner, "Resistance and the Problem of Ethnographic Refusal." Comparative Studies In Society and History 37 (1995): 173-193.
94 Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York: Basic Books, 1973).
cultures and the dynamics of conversion than would otherwise be the case.
As noted earlier, the explicit "story"95 told by early Christian and Jesuit authors is almost always about how God and, more precisely, the Holy Spirit, working with and through Christian missionaries, successfully defeated Satan and his pagan and Indian "familiars," the dreaded magi and shamans. In narrating this triumph of the Holy Spirit, early Christian and Jesuit authors inscribed or alluded to another story line that pagans and Indians might recognize, and perhaps have voiced. This other story is not predicated on the assumption that pagans and Indians were backward and prisoners of Satan, nor does it understand the spread of Christianity in terms of a wholesale change wrought by the Holy Spirit. Rather, unprecedented calamity is suggested as having paved the way for Christianity. Moreover, rather than vanquishing heathenism and the devil, Christianity accommodated both! This is the "unthinkable" implied but never made explicit in early Christian and Jesuit narratives.96
But who is to say that this is indeed the story lurking beneath the surface of Bede's Ecclesiastical History or Perez de Ribas's History of the Triumphs of Our Holy Faith? And who is to say that this is the story pagans and Indians would tell, or would have told? Spivak is correct in her assertion that academic knowledge is inadequate to the task of representing subalterns. However, it is not as if we have a choice about whether a story, and preferably, stories, will be told; they are told every day in textbooks, the media, and so on, with profound consequences for everyone and particularly for subalterns. I proffer the foregoing story because it assumes that pagans and Indians were agents - not simply victims. Too often the laudable pursuit of oppressive institutions and discourses has
95 Here I follow Ricouer who suggests that it is through narrative that historical understanding is conveyed. Paul Ricouer, Time and Narrative, Vol. 1., trans. Kathleen McLaughlin and David Pellauer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984).
96 For the "unthinkable" see Barthes, S/Z; Derrida, On Grammatology, Writing and Difference, trans. A. Bass (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978 ; F. Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1981), 35, 82-83; Pierre Macherey, A Theoryof Literary Production (London: Routledge, 1978), 80.
had the unfortunate consequence of "othering others." Although I am in fundamental agreement with the many scholars who have highlighted the oppression and repression carried out in the name of Christianity,97 I doubt that medieval pagans and Indians were duped into abandoning "cheerful other worlds" for a preoccupation with purgatory and hell (as per Le Goff) and "exhaustive and permanent confession" (as per Foucault). Indians and mestizos in colonial Mexico certainly were not "duped." Despite confession and the coercive influence of ecclesiastical rules and courts, the people as a whole were rather tolerant of consensual unions, illegitimate children, and ethnic mixing.98
Recent, yet now orthodox formulations of "the Church" and "state" strike me as unduly reductionistic, not only in their imagining of regimes of power that are monolithic but also because they essentially imply and embrace Greco-Roman stereotypes of pagans as rustics and barbarians, and Native Americans who are likewise less-than-rational or backward.99 And how are we to understand the millions of Europeans as well as Indians and mestizos who today bloody their knees and spend their hard-earned wages on candles consumed before plaster images of the Virgin and innumerable other saints?100 Are we to understand these people as puppets - prisoners of an imposed "habitus?"101
Although the rise of Christianity is very much a story of sexual repression, abusive clerics, unholy wars, and so on, it is also a story of
97 For instance, Foucault, "Politics and Reason," 63; David E. Stannard, American Holocaust (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).
98 Asuncion Lavrin, Sexuality andMarriage in Colonial Latin America (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989), 78-80.
99 Foucault's Discipline and Punish has had a significant impact on recent scholars, many of whom seemingly have lost sight of the fact that the all-encompassing "terrific" exercise of power that Foucault described for Europe in circa 1800 may not be gen-eralizable. Joanne P. Sharp et al., "Entanglements of Power, Geographies of Domination/Resistance." In Entanglements of Power: Geographies of Domination/Resistance, eds. J. P. Sharp et al., pp. 1-42 (London: Routledge, 2000), 14-16.
100 The paradoxical nature of the cult of the saints (undercutting yet empowering individual agency) is powerfully conveyed in Robert Orsi's, Thank You, St.Jude: Women's Devotion to the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999).
101 Pierre Bourdieu, "Legitimation and Structured Interest in Weber's Sociology of Religion." In Max Weber: Rationality, and Modernity, eds. Samuel Whimster and Scott Lash, pp. 119-136 (London: Allen and Urwin, 1987), 126.
human beings responding in novel ways to unprecedented adversity.102 Rigoberta MenchU is perhaps the most celebrated, recent example of such agency. Is she truly exceptional or is she one of countless people who have made a difference in not only the lives of others but also in various institutions and regimes of power, including "the Church"?
Note that in arguing for the agency of pagans and Indians I am not assuming some consciousness of subjectivity - that pagans and Indians necessarily understood themselves as in opposition to established authorities within the Church (e.g., bishops or Jesuit missionaries), battling as it were to define Christianity. As Asad has reminded us, those who make history rarely are altogether conscious of what they are doing; their acts are more (and less) than their consciousness of those acts.103 Perhaps as significant as pagan or Indian consciousness of subjectivity was the cultural-historical context of late antiquity and colonial America, respectively. Epidemics, population collapse, and internal migration rendered economic, political, and social structures unstable and fluid, requiring new forms of economic, social, and religious life that nevertheless were bound to the past. During epidemics, "ideology" as a coercive system of meanings inscribed on bodies and reality writ large,104 necessarily faltered along with the purveyors of socially constructed "truths."
During the nineteenth and early twentieth century, it was assumed that pagans and Indians were attracted to Christianity because of Christianity's greater intellectual coherence and moral rigor, as evident in the works of its great theologians, notably Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. After World War II, this view was supplanted by the Weberian notion that Christianity offered a cultural logic that was adapted to the
102 Gabrielle Spiegel, "History, Historicism and the Social Logic of the Text in the Middle Ages." In The Postmodern History Reader, ed. Keith Jenkins, pp. 180-203 (London: Routledge, 1997), 195; Ivan Strenski, "Religion, Power, and Final Foucault." Journal of the American Academy of Religion (1998): 345 -367, 354.
103 Talal Asad, Genealogies of Religion, Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993), 15.
104 Louise Althusser, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses." In Reading Popular Narrative: A Source Book, ed. Bob Ashley (London: Leicester University Press, 1997 ); Bourdieu, Outline of A Theory of Practice; Michel Foucault, "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History." In The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow, pp. 76-100 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984).
"civilized macrocosm."105 Once a pagan or Indian became a citizen of the Roman or Spanish empires, respectively, his or her thoughts and concerns were no longer local, and thus required religious beliefs and practices that were less instrumental and more universal in scope.106
Archaeological and ethnohistorical research have made abundantly clear that Neolithic Celts and pre-Columbian Indians were quite familiar with what was their own civilized macrocosm.107 Long before Caesar invaded Gaul, or Cortes set foot in Mexico, pagans and Indians had known town life, surplus production, philosophy, far-reaching trade, exploitive elites, and other hallmarks of civilization. Ethnographically informed research has likewise revealed that Christianity always has been instrumental, even if its doctrines and rhetoric have suggested otherwise.108 Indeed, a major argument of this book is that Christianity's success in both the Old World and the New was due in part to the instrumentality of Christian rituals and practice, particularly in the context of a disease environment. Similarly, whereas Christian theology may be universal
105 Hefner, "Introduction: World Building and the Rationality of Conversion," 6-10.
106 This logic has been embraced by a number of prominent theorists: Robert Bellah, "Religious Evolution." In Sociology of Religion, ed. R. Robertson, pp. 262-292 (Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1969), 276-277; Arnold Toynbee, An Historian's Approach to Religion, 2nd ed. (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1979), 76-77; Max Weber, The Sociology of Religion, trans. Ephraim Fischoff (Boston: Beacon Press, 1956). No less a scholar than Stancliffe embraced this logic when she suggested that the "seedbed" for a great number of conversions to Christianity in Gaul was "a world that had grown frighteningly large." Clare Stancliffe, "From Town to Country: The Christianization of the Touraine, 370-600." In The Church in Town and Countryside, ed. Derek Baker, pp. 43-59 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1979), 46. More recently, Russell has embraced a similar Weberian notion, arguing that Christianity was essentially "world-rejecting," explaining in part the reluctant embrace of Germanic peoples. James C. Russell, The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1994).
107 Robert M. Carmack, "Chapter 3, Mesoamerica at Spanish Contact." In The Legacy ofMesoamerica, eds. R.M. Carmack, Janine Gasco, and Gary H. Gossen, pp. 80-121 (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996); Peter S. Wells, The Barbarians Speak: How The Conquered Peoples Shaped Roman Europe (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999).
108 William Christian's study of local religion in sixteenth-century Spain is one of numerous studies that convincingly point to the instrumental nature of Catholicism as it was and is practiced in Europe. William Christian, Local Religion in Sixteenth-Century Spain (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981). See also Jane Schneider, "Spirits and the Spirit of Capitalism." In Religious Orthodoxy and Popular Faith in European Society, ed. E. Badone, pp. 24-53 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990).
in scope, and in part world-rejecting, the history of Christianity has been characterized by the adaptation of this theology to local settings; Christian beliefs and rituals are not everywhere the same, however much the Vatican and Church hierarchy may endeavor to legislate norms.109 In his study of colonial Peru, Salomon noted that the absolute demand of conversion makes it nightmarish; if conversion were ever complete, the subject would not exist any more.110 "Jews for Jesus" are precisely that. Conversion rarely is such; usually it amounts to a reworking of identity and an acceptance of rituals and beliefs that are deemed useful or true.111 As Valerie Flint demonstrated in her aptly titled book, The Rise of Magic in Early Medieval Europe, Christianity did not so much supplant paganism as find common ground with centuries-old Celtic, Teutonic, and Mediterranean religious traditions. This process of accommodation - "the rise of Christianity" - occurred mostly in Europe's interior, far from the towns and cities of the eastern Mediterranean where Christianity had its origins. Lost to history are the countless monks, clerics, and ascetics who interpreted the Gospels and Augustine for their fellow countrymen.112 That many did so in an expansive fashion, accommodating as much rejecting pagan traditions, is apparent from the innumerable complaints of bishops during the early Middle Ages.113 Relatedly, the acts of provincial synods from the early Middle Ages are replete with legislation that sought to do away with "vagrant" monks
109 Ellen Badone, ed., Religious Orthodoxy and Popular Faith in European Society (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990); K. S. Latourette, A History of the Expansion of Christianity, Seven Vols. (London: Eyre & Spottiswood, 1937-1945); Jane Schneider and Shirley Lindenbaum, eds., "Frontiers of Christian Evangelism." American Ethnologist (Special Issue) (1987): 14.
110 Frank Salomon, "Nightmare Victory, The Meaning of Conversion among Peruvian Indians (Huarachori, 1608)." Discovering the Americas 1992 Lecture Series, Working Papers No. 7 (College Park: Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Maryland, 1990), 18.
111 Hefner, "Introduction: World Building and the Rationality of Conversion," 17.
112 Ian Wood, "The Missionary Life." In The Cult of the Saints in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, eds. James Howard-Johnston and Paul Antony Hayward, pp. 167-183 (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1999), 180-181; The Missionary Life: Saints and the Evangelisation of Europe, 400—1050 (London: Longman, 2001), 7-17, 247-250.
113 This fear is evident in the fourth-century Life of Saint Antony - a narrative by a bishop (Athanasius) who sought to reign in would-be ascetics and their anti-institutional reading of the Gospels. Michael A. Williams, "The Life of Antony and the Domestication of Charismatic Wisdom." JARR Thematic Studies 48 (1982): 23-45.
and ascetics who were not under the authority of bishops or abbots.114 In a sermon "On Seeking Health of Soul Rather Than of Body, And on Avoiding Soothsayers," Bishop Caesarius of Arles (470-543 c.e.) implied that there were many Christian deacons and priests who had accommodated paganism:115
What is deplorable it that there are some who seek soothsayers in every kind of infirmity. They consult seers and diviners, summon enchanters, and hang diabolical phylacteries and magic letters on themselves. Often enough they receive charms even from priests and religious, who, however, are not really religious or clerics but the Devil's helpers. See, brethren, how I plead with you not to consent to accept these wicked objects, even if they are offered by clerics.116
Caesarius was perhaps the most influential of all early Gallic bishops, yet two hundred years after his death the Church in Gaul still was struggling with pagan practices.117
The mission frontier in America where the Jesuits labored one thousand years later was in significant ways like early medieval Europe. The Jesuits were members of a religious order, embedded in a larger institution, "the Church," which regularized clerical roles, standardized ritual, formalized doctrine, and otherwise worked to create an authoritative culture and cohesive religious structure. It nevertheless was difficult to extend and maintain this religious culture on the frontier. Accordingly, as early as 1610, Jesuit superiors drew up rules and regulations governing the activities of missionaries on the frontier.118 Because of a shortage
114 Roger Collins, Early Medieval Europe 300—1000 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999), 249.
115 What was true of Gaul was true elsewhere; sorcery was rife, for instance, among the Syrian clergy of the fifth century. Peter Brown, Religion and Society in the Age of Saint Augustine (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), 129.
116 Sister Mary Magdeleine Mueller, O.S.F., trans. and ed., Saint Caesarius of Arles, Sermons, Vol. I (1-80) (New York: Fathers of the Church, 1956), 254.
117 R. A. Markus, The End of Ancient Christianity (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1990).
118 Rodrigo de Cabredo, "Ordenaciones del Padre Rodrigo de Cabredo para las Mis-siones, January 1, 1611, Durango." Latin American Manuscripts, Mexico II, Lily Library, Indiana State University; Charles W. Polzer, S.J., Rules and Precepts of the Jesuit of priests, most Jesuit missionaries worked by themselves and only occasionally saw another priest, never mind a Jesuit superior. Physical separation as well as slow and imperfect communication meant that priests on the frontier often made decisions on their own. Obedience to superiors, which was celebrated in Jesuit discourse, correlated poorly with reality.119
Jesuit missionaries infrequently escaped their Spanish-Catholic culture and particularly Jesuit worldview. That said, Jesuits who disembarked in Veracruz did experience a New World - a world in which sights, sounds, and other human beings did not conform to preexisting concepts, words, or narratives. The very "newness" of Mexico became inescapable as a consequence of the Jesuit imperative that all missionaries master the language of their Indian neophytes. This imperative, discussed in Chapter 3, forced missionaries to contemplate and at times acknowledge the worth and complexity of Indian culture and experience. Thus, Jesuits such as Perez de Ribas employed native terms, or native terms alongside Spanish lexical items, and empowered Indians to express views on topics such as infanticide that a Spaniard could or would not express. More important, Jesuit missionaries allowed for Indian input and refashioning of Christianity in ways that resonated with Indian traditions. Paradoxically, the Jesuits were at the same time immovable in their possession of the truth, and often they evoked Indian resistance, which was ambiguous as well as outrightly hostile and subversive.120
The Christianity that "arose" in Latin America as well as medieval Europe encapsulated many stories, not one:
Catholicism in medieval times was enormously diverse - there were not only French, German, Spanish, Irish "churches," but within each there were hundreds of divisions subdivided again into thousands of smaller units, ending at last with a semi-literate cleric in some rude chapel in
Missions of Northwestern New Spain, 1600—1767 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1976).
119 The Jesuit Constitution mandated that Jesuit superiors "interview" Jesuit inferiors on a regular basis, to ensure that each Jesuit did not violate rules and precepts of the order. See John W. O'Malley, The First Jesuits (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993), 354-355.
120 Ortner, "Resistance and the Problem of Ethnographic Refusal," 175.
the midst of inhospitable forests or fields, surrounded by peasants who muttered charms over their ploughs and whispered magic words at crossroads.121
Finucane overstated the simplicity of medieval peasants and their religious practices, but he was correct in emphasizing the local character of Christianity during the early medieval period. In both the Old World and the New it was Catholicism's "reflexivity" - the manner in which it adapted to local conditions - that helps explain its successful spread. In this regard, "world religions" are successful not because they are more rational or because they emancipate the individual from tradition,122 but because they preserve tradition and are instrumental in daily life, all the while they hold out the promise of a world beyond the known.
121 Ronald C. Finucane, Miracles andPilgrims, Popular Beliefs in Medieval England (Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1977), 10.
122 Bellah, "Religious Evolution," 177.
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