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The Sacred and the Secular

In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and in the modern West, the divide between the sacred and the secular is particularly pronounced. This is not the case for all cultures. In modern Saudi Arabia, for example, the sacred runs like a thread through each person's daily life. Historically, indigenous people have also had daily lives that were characterized by an ongoing relationship to spirit. What happens when indigenous people have to coexist with modern Western culture? According to the two books under consideration in this analysis, the result of the encounter is disjunction, confusion, and a great deal of despair.

It is not quite accurate to think of the protagonists as existing in a pure state in which their indigenous culture was all that they knew. Yet, in the case of Abel, there was a difference in his relationship to the world before he left home for the war and after his return.

For example, the incident with the eagles represents an encounter with spirit that seems to flow fairly naturally for Abel. He saw the eagles soaring and releasing the snake. He pondered that, told the leader of the Eagle Watchers Society, and became part of their ritual. There is no major conflict here, at least initially. At the same time, Abel felt shame and disgust after capturing the eagle, which does not seem to be the expected feeling (p. 25). So, there was already something working to separate him from his own culture.

On the other hand, the characters in the Rabbit Boss remember a time when their life was purely of their own culture, but they do not actually live it. In the very first section of the book, there is the expression of the first encounter between the two cultures. Gayabuc saw the white men eating themselves, presumably engaging in some form of cannibalism. This seems as much symbolic as actual. Yet, there also is the realistic recognition that "they" have come closer to the Indians dwelling place and that t...

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The Sacred and the Secular. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:57, June 24, 2019, from