Reviewing Rushdoony’s “The American Indian” — Power

“The Indians originally venerated Cortes as a god. They respected strength, they were ruled by very powerful gods, and a man who could overthrow those who would be acknowledged.”

Patrick Marnham
So Far From God: A Journey to Central America — pg. 93

So, starts Rushdoony in his chapter on Power in his book “The American Indian.” The burden of this chapter is to reveal that in terms of worship what the Indian worshiped was “power.” In this context Rush insists the converse was true also in his experience. Because the Indians worshiped power, they likewise despised powerlessness. Along the way Rushdoony labors also to show that this worship of power is something that is now characteristic of American culture.

Rushdoony states the obvious in this chapter that men who will not Worship the God of the Bible, will inevitably worship naked power instead.

“If the omnipotent and all-gracious God of Scripture is not worshipped, men will pursue their adoration of power in other ways.”

Rushdoony notes that the disrespect for powerlessness that the Indians had was exhibited by their disrespect for blacks.

“Owing to this respect for power, there was a corresponding disrespect for powerlessness. The clearest expression of this was their attitude towards blacks…. to them, blacks were inferior and their feelings did not count.”

One wonders if this attitude was really about power so much as it is a mindless ethnocentrism that can be so typical among different people groups.

It is interesting though that RJR contrasts this with the attitude of the white man towards blacks as in telling a story about interaction between Indians and a particular black man RJR concludes,

“He (the black man upon whom a prank had been pulled) soon came to realize that no Indian would regard him as an equal, whereas some white men would and most white men would be reasonably fair to him.”

However after making these kinds of blanket statements Rushdoony turns around and admits that Indians could respect the black man if he was a warrior type,

“In some areas, blacks intermarried with Indians. I am of the opinion that this usually occurred where blacks fought back against enslavement and escaped. Such defiance would have earned Indians’ respect. The Indian attitude was not earned in terms of race or color but of warrior standards….What mattered was a man’s exhibition of the traits of the fighter and the hunter.”

Of course this refers back to the worship of power. According to RJR if any individual revealed power then they might be accepted on some level by the Indian. The best way that I can harmonize RJR here is to say as a general rule the Indian did not respect blacks but exceptions might occur if individuals blacks were to show a warrior spirit that bespoke power.

Rush even connected the peyote cult with the pursuit of power. He notes that the peyote drug creates “gives illusions of power.” At the same time Rush noted that many of the other Tribal members looked down upon the peyote users as being weak, thus showing again the power esteem.

As a brief side-note it is interesting that RJR reports that many of the Indians claimed that the use of peyote was a modern phenomena that was introduced by the country of Mexico.

Getting back to the power theme RJR spends time examining how modern American culture has likewise turned to the cult of power.

“This veneration of power was very notable to me, especially because I saw the characteristic becomem very prominent in the white American culture by the 1960’s. One aspect of it was the rise of ‘groupies,’ girls who eagerly sumbitted sexually to power figures in the popular culture. Popular musicians, athletes, film and television stars have since then been pursued with intensity by women, young and not so young, who feel it is an honor to be used sexually by them. Frankly, nothing I saw among the Indians matched in intensity this power worship that became so prevalent in the United States…. White American culture has far outstripped that of the Indians in its worship of power, with deadly results.”

Clearly, if man will not worship God he will worship that which he believes will give him power. As bad as this is it may be even worse when Christians worship God because of how they think they can bend God’s power to their own selfish use. Too often in the Church today God is worshiped, not because of who He is, but for what He can offer to the worshiper. If it is bad to worship naked power apart from God, how much worse to worship God for how His power can be channeled to serve our own selfish purposes? To often, in the words of Bob Dylan, we think of God as ” just an errand boy to satisfy our wandering desires.”

When are we going to wake up and strengthen the things that remain?

Perhaps a clear sign of Christian maturity is the willingness to worship God when He has determined to be God hidden. There are times in life when God’s providence comes as a severe mercy announcing a seeming powerlessness in some life event. When all seems without the necessary power we would summon will we still be a people who worship God?

In such times we need to remember with Rush,

“God’s being is more than simply power. He is justice, love, grace, law and more.”

May God be pleased to reveal to us the lie that the temptation to worship naked power is.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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