Conclusion: Inculturation Assessed

Catharine Randall

in Black Robes & Buckskin

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780823232628
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240449 | DOI:
Conclusion: Inculturation Assessed

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The historian Francis Parkman's assessment of the grand project of the Jesuit Fathers in French Canada may yet be the most fitting summary: he deems the Jesuit order “a vast mechanism for guiding and governing the minds of men, this mighty enginery [sic] for subduing the earth to the dominion of an idea.” It is possible that he overstated his case; the syncretism we have observed suggests that “a mighty enginery” might be more aptly stated as “well-disciplined mission directed toward saving souls” with those souls being acknowledged to have individual worth and cultural distinctives to which the Jesuits sought to appeal rather than to coerce. The aboriginal response to this ideology of conversions was mixed—receptive on the part of Algonquian, especially Huron, but those gains were ultimately undone by Iroquois militarism. The period of struggle for mission and conversion, however, left a lasting legacy of great value, not only theologically and ethnographically but also in terms of literary influence. The Relations remain a formative text for much of North American literature and history, and they have left their mark on European audiences as well.

Keywords: Relations; Jesuit missionaries; French Canada; Francis Parkman

Chapter.  924 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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