Friday, July 22, 2005


Methods of Conversion

Francis Parkman, The Jesuits in North America, chap. XIII:
We have seen the methods of conversion practised among the Hurons. They were much the same at Quebec. The principal appeal was to fear. "You do good to your friends," said Le Jeune to an Algonquin chief, "and you burn your enemies. God does the same." And he painted Hell to the startled neophyte as a place where, when he was hungry, he would get nothing to eat but frogs and snakes, and, when thirsty, nothing to drink but flames.

Pictures were found invaluable. "These holy representations," pursues the Father Superior, "are half the instruction that can be given to the Indians. I wanted some pictures of Hell and souls in perdition, and a few were sent us on paper; but they are too confused. The devils and the men are so mixed up, that one can make out nothing without particular attention. If three, four, or five devils were painted tormenting a soul with different punishments, — ­one applying fire, another serpents, another tearing him with pincers, and another holding him fast with a chain, —­ this would have a good effect, especially if everything were made distinct, and misery, rage, and desperation appeared plainly in his face."

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