Category: Religion and Spirituality

A Seat at the Table

About a year ago, a foreign visitor to Harvard gifted me with an odd realization. It doesn’t seem as something intentionally taught, but it may have been—it is impossible to know someone else’s intentions. What I know is that his spatial and cosmological imagination grew…

The Powers of the Sacred

Some 45 years ago, when I first went to live as an anthropology doctoral student, with the Baniwa indigenous people of the northwest Amazon in Brazil, it was a very remote place, though still under the control of Catholic Salesian and Protestant evangelical missionaries…

Myth and Metaphor

The full measure of a culture embraces both the actions of a people and the quality of their aspirations, the nature of the metaphors that propel their lives. A child raised to believe that a mountain is the abode of a protective deity will be a profoundly different human being…

The Catholic Church and the Souls of the Amazon

From the Colombian Amazon town of Leticia, a visitor reaches Brazil or Peru in minutes by foot or canoe. Three outposts here – the towns of Leticia (pop: 48,000) and Tabatinga, Brazil (pop: 62,000), and the island of Santa Rosa, Peru (pop: 2,500) – and their surrounding…

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