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Christianity Rediscovered

de Vincent J. Donovan

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476552,204 (4.18)16
Dear Bishop, ...Suddenly I feel the urgent need to cast aside all theories and discussions, all efforts at strategy?and simply go to these people and do the work among them for which I came to Africa. I would propose cutting myself off from the schools and the hospital and just go and talk to them about God and the Christian message. Outside of this, I have no theory, no plan, no strategy, no gimmick, no idea of what will come. I feel rather naked. I will begin as soon as possible...What happens when an American missionary priest leaves behind all his old familiar structures to enter the world of the nomadic Masai people of Tanzania? That is the subject of Vincent J. Donovan's beloved classic, Christianity Rediscovered. Donovan learned what the gospel looked like, shorn of its Western packaging. In the process he discovered the creativity and humanity of the Masai people… (mais)
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I was cautiously positive about this book when I read it as a Christian, although even then its age was apparent—time and chance happens to us all, but it was written a long time ago by an old man; and an old man who was rather cautious, even if he was fair according to his lights—which made the almost Pop Warner, bow-down-and-worship, worship-the-classics anniversary edition kinda jarring, you know.

That said, it is useful to have learned that peoples in general, even ‘pagan tribes’, believe that there is a ‘High God’ above all the national gods, although that still doesn’t stop the human personality from being partial in its judgments, of course….

But he was a Christian, and he had some respect for the people he was trying to influence; he thought they had rights and didn’t murder them or use them as slaves, you know. (And his god was Jesus! It must be a very common name among the holy gods! 🤪😹). He even has some respect for his dialogue partners as moral agents, and notes with dismay the tendency not to see them as such, as in the still recent past then (now?) the technology of the ‘Christian West’ was evidence of its superior path, and proof that the lesser peoples hadn’t found the way, you know: that was the centrist consensus, not long ago….

Anyway, again: I never quite had the Pop Warner attitude towards the Christian classics and am obviously not now rooting for the side or whatever of something I do longer belong to; at the same time, ‘pagan’ culture is also possessor of all the psychic wounds that flesh is heir to, and not every Christian missionary brings only bad and nothing else, you know. Some of them even do some good.
  goosecap | Jan 23, 2024 |
This is one of the few books by a Catholic priest that fellow vicars-in-training at my Anglican evangelical college have been urged to read. And this classic is both the faith-encouraging story of the conversion of clans of Masai tribes in East Africa, and a guide to evangelism in any context. For in every context there are people that cannot relate to the gospel, and need it translating into their worldview and culture. Giving a glimpse into the challenges this was to the Masai and to Donovan presenting the gospel to them, it helps us see more clearly our job of translation even in a culture we were born into.

Along the way Donovan uncovers some searching questions about the nature of community (at least to Europeans and Americans), the nature of church, the norms of "Western culture", and the role of the ordained priesthood.

This should be read by anyone who takes Christian mission or ministry of any shape or colour. Or frankly, any Christian believer. Thanks to Paul W and Rebecca F for reminding me. ( )
  jandm | Jul 7, 2013 |
Described as a "classic of modern missionary writing", Donovan explores how to truly root faith in the culture where you are - not where you are coming from.
That leads to questions of what is priesthood, Eucharist and praying in such a community - and leave them to discover their way.
This book is pertinant to anyone seeking to bring faith 'in a foreign land' - ie anywhere... ( )
  pamjw | Aug 1, 2012 |
The story of how Donovan broke with tradition to evangelise the Masai in culturally relevant terms and then build a culturally sympathetic church, with profound theological reflection at every stage. Essential thinking on how to make the gospel relevant to culture in today’s society. A classic that everyone entering Christian ministry should read. (Staff, 2008). ( )
  hcameron | Nov 22, 2008 |
Christianity Rediscovered, by Vincent Donovan, a Roman Catholic missionary priest to the Masai from 1955 to 1973, challenges conceptions of culture, mission, evangelization, and most importantly, Christianity. Donovan records his thoughts on his work during his seventeen years with the Masai, struggling with how to share the Gospel with an illiterate, nomadic, pagan people. Some of his difficulties in evangelizing are a lack of common words and concepts or even a future tense in their language. He questions everything he had learned: missionary strategy, the priesthood, the Church, the Gospel. At times a profoundly beautiful book, at other times a frustratingly maddening book, Christianity Rediscovered nevertheless, makes one think and reevaluate basic beliefs and missionary practices. ( )
  ExOrienteLux | Jun 13, 2007 |
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Dear Bishop, ...Suddenly I feel the urgent need to cast aside all theories and discussions, all efforts at strategy?and simply go to these people and do the work among them for which I came to Africa. I would propose cutting myself off from the schools and the hospital and just go and talk to them about God and the Christian message. Outside of this, I have no theory, no plan, no strategy, no gimmick, no idea of what will come. I feel rather naked. I will begin as soon as possible...What happens when an American missionary priest leaves behind all his old familiar structures to enter the world of the nomadic Masai people of Tanzania? That is the subject of Vincent J. Donovan's beloved classic, Christianity Rediscovered. Donovan learned what the gospel looked like, shorn of its Western packaging. In the process he discovered the creativity and humanity of the Masai people

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