Jun 12 2012

Reading Lawlor’s Voices of the First Day

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from a story told by a Catholic missionary, who was among the first to come into contact with Australian Aborigines:

The priest had decided that in one grand gesture he would change the “uncivilized, primitive” behavior of the Aborigines who had been forced to live on his mission. One day he took a group to a nearby stream, where he commenced to baptize them, telling them that the splash of water would remove the invisible stain of sin that was upon them, and from that point on, they would be and act likecompletely different “civilized people”. The following Friday he observed one of the baptized Aborigines enjoying a meal of kangaroo steak from an animal he had just captured. The priest said to him, “You know that since you have become a Christian it is wrong to eat meat on Friday.” The man smiled and said, “This is not meat, it is fish.” The priest was angry and told him he was compounding the sin by lying about it. The Aborigine looked at him very sternly and replied, “Last week you sprinkled water on me and told me I had changed into a completely different person, so I did the same thing with this kangaroo. Sprinkled water on it and changed it into fish.”

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