Dissonant Worlds: Roger Vandersteene among the Cree

Dissonant Worlds: Roger Vandersteene among the Cree

by Earle H. Waugh


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Dissonant Worlds: Roger Vandersteene among the Cree by Earle H. Waugh

How did a Belgian Oblate missionary who came to Canada to convert the aboriginals come to be buried as a Cree chief? In Dissonant Worlds Earle Waugh traces the remarkable career of Roger Vandersteene: his life as an Oblate missionary among the Cree, his intensive study of the Cree language and folkways, his status as a Cree medicine man, and the evolution of his views on the relationship between aboriginal traditions and the Roman Catholicism of the missionaries who worked among them. Above all, Dissonant Worlds traces Vandersteene’s quest to build a new religious reality: a strong, spiritually powerful Cree church, a magnificent Cree formulation of Christian life.

In the wilderness of northern Canada Vandersteene found an aboriginal spirituality that inspired his own poetic and artistic nature and encouraged him to pursue a religious vision that united Cree tradition and Catholicism, one that constituted a dramatic revision of contemporary Catholic ritual. Through his paintings, poetry and liturgical modifications, Vandersteene attempted to recreate Cree reality and provide images grounded in Cree spirituality.

Dissonant Worlds, in telling the story of Vandersteene’s struggle to integrate European Catholicism and aboriginal spirituality, raises the larger issue: Is there a place for missionary work in the modern church? It will be of interest to students of Native studies, the religious history of the Oblates, Canadian studies and Catholicism in the mid-twentieth century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780889202597
Publisher: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Publication date: 11/18/1996
Pages: 376
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.72(d)

About the Author

Earle H. Waugh is a professor of religious studies at the University of Alberta. He is the co-editor of Native Religious Traditions (WLU Press), and the author of The Munshidin of Egypt: Their World and Their Song and the Alberta Elders' Cree Dictionary).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents for
Dissonant Worlds: Roger Vandersteene Among the Cree by Earle H. Waugh

Preface and Acknowledgments

Roger (Rogier) Vandersteene, 1918–1976




One. Flemish Matrix: Blood, Art, and Piety

Two: “Steentje’s” Beginnings: Between Family and Flanders

Three: Grouard before Vandersteene: Cree, Catholic, Canadian

Four: “My Little Sisters, My Little Brothers”: From Encounter to Wasabasca

Five: Intransigent Reality: Manitou’s Land, Manitou’s Children

Six: The Great Mystery: Visible and Touchable Art

Seven: Sojourn Charts: Poetry in Serenity and Flux

Eight: Wrestling the Spirits: Powagan, Beethoven, Cancer

Nine: Beyond the Dissonance: Legacy of a Quest

Ten: Theoretical Epilogue: Vandersteene and the Understanding of Religion

Appendix 1: Chronology of Roger (Rogier) Vandersteene’s Life

Appendix 2: Evaluations of Vandersteene Collected during Research

Appendix 3: Ode to Vandersteene by Willem Vermandere

Appendix 4: Names of Informants



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