Thursday, October 24, 2019

USC Videos: Inculturation and the Missions

It's been awhile since I made a video for the Youtube channel, but the controversy surrounding the Synod on the Amazon and the now infamous Pachamama idol provided excellent occasion for me to make this video exploring the idea of "inculturation"--how is it different from Christianization, how is it being interpreted by contemporary Church leadership, and what it means for the Catholic missions. It's about fourteen and a half minutes long. Enjoy!


José Enrique said...

It's not Pakamama but Pachamama. It's a Quechuan word, transcribed first into Spanish by the missionaries, when they were real missionaries, and in Spanish ch is never pronounced as K but as ch in Chesterton. I'm a native speaker of Spanish and I have lived for many years in South America, in fact I've been all over the continent, and I never heard something as weird as "Pakamama".

Boniface said...

Thanks, but I am from the Midwest and myself everyone up here is saying PaKamama. Haven't run across a single person saying it your way; I don't doubt you're right, but we don't run across many Quechuan speakers or even Spanish speakers up here, so all us rednecks in the great white north are saying PaKamama and I'm afraid it's going to stay that way. :)

Unknown said...

Im a spanish reader, maybe we're underestimated, btw the change it's kind of modernist, isn't??

Mr. Baxter said...

Hey, Bonni. You said the name of the demon wrong. Show some respect.

Konstantin said...

From what I could gather from my collection of pre-conciliar missionary magazines, there was already an unhealthy tendency towards artistic inculturation experiments among missionaries in the 1930's. They might not have been widely adapted, but it was probably one of the first steps to radical inculturation.
The mindset among some missionaries in Africa was that there was "too much going on" in European religious images, so they decided to dumb it down for the African faithful. The result were pictures that in my opinion did not illustrate biblical facts truthfully enough, such as Abraham sacrificing Isaac by Fr. Nico Vandenhoudt, CICM. Isaac is depicted as a kneeling African boy (which is not a problem) whose head is tied into the branch of a small tree according to the costums of some Congolese tribes that would behead offenders with their head tied into the branches of a tree so the severed head would be catapulted up with the branch and stay up there. His father is holding a short sword up high and is held back by an angel. I wonder whether this is going to evoke the right understanding among onlookers, as Isaac was not simply to be executed and his head left hanging in a tree, but immolated. If there was too much going on in European pictures, why does this not apply to African art? Certainly everyone would understand Abraham was about to strike his son dead without his head being depicted in a branch, which would definitely have simplified the illustration.

Then there were the church buildings Fr. Henry Heras, S.J. designed for India. One church he proposed was almost indistinguishible from a Hindu temple, with statues of elephants and peacocks, holy animals of Hinduism, guarding the entrance. The depictions of the angels looked like Hindu deities. While Europe applauded him, clergy and laity in India for the most part rejected it. He participated in the design of the Cathedral of Belgaum, which thankfully is not easily confused with a Hindu temple.

I hope the missionaries mentioned had the best intentions, but I imagine that this inculturated type of art would be something liberals around Vatican II and afterwards gushed about.