Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2003), 85, (1), 256–257.


256 Labour History Number 85 November 2003 the Aboriginal population identifies as Christian and associate with one of three denominations: United Aborigines Mission (UAM), Roman Catholic, and Assemblies of God. McDonald adopts an anthropological approach to her analysis but contends that it is not sufficient to anthropologise Aboriginal Christianity; the same approach must be taken to Western Christianity. The latter she argues should be regarded as a Hellenistic Mediterranean religion of displaced peoples developed in a political context of city-states. Christianity is a universal salvation religion. How then, did a land based people with a local cosmology and who understand their lives to be 'organically connected to all life-forms' embrace Christianity? McDonald explores how Aboriginal Christians re-interpret and integrate Aboriginal and Christian beliefs and concepts into a new and meaningful cosmology and ontology in terms of both their colonial past and present social and political circumstances. McDonald highlights the dynamic and dialectical nature of religious expression among the people of Halls Creek in a variety of forms and contexts. For example, she argues that the Lord's Supper is regarded as a form of mortuary cannibalism. A UAM adherent explained: 'Wine is the blood of Jesus, And that bread what we take, that's the one what they were break in his bone, and smash im up, That's why we break bread and eat im' (p. 155). Blood, Bones and Spirit is an important contribution to an understanding of contemporary Aboriginal society, particularly in northern Australia. But its relevance goes further. Christianity has had a significant influence on Aboriginal communities throughout Australia. This book provides insights into the often perplexing relationships between Christianity and Aboriginal society. McDonald adopts a different and fresh approach to this issue. In the past, historians and anthropologists have tended to highlight the extent to which missionaries condemned and attempted to eradicate Aboriginal social and cultural practices. Rather this book seeks to evaluate Aboriginal Christianity on its own terms. Brisbane THOM BLAKE Alfred Gabay, Messages J. Melbourne's Golden pp. xi + 244. $32.95 It is often experience the that a said from nineteenth manages strange Gabay to and that labour neglect and century hist cond fascina interrogate, credulous presents f Age, 1870-1 paper. with cultura spiritualism as b us that internationally 'Spiritu philosophy of life for thousand was in many ways a repudiation manifested as investigation of m science and nature to explore, a and spiritualist advocate William

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Author details

Hearn, Mark

Table of Contents

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