American Christian colonizer’s idea of providence led to genocide
Creating a new, transformed economy means changing the way American Christians have seen the land and their own identity, and the primacy of private property. The best thing I saw this week was Willie James Jennings keynote at our Neighborhood Economics conference. White colonizers crimes were committed by their tragically flawed interpretation of two linked Christian ideas; providence and productivity. Providence meant to them they were given the land like the Israelites were; as theirs and it didn’t matter who lived there before. Thus genocide against indigenous peoples was not really killing people who mattered. They took the land over the bodies of native peoples and felt no guilt.
The second idea was productivity; part of the Protestant work ethic. They had to make the land productive, to show that they, peasants, were like the landed gentry of the country they left. Private property, and individual ownership was central to their new identity. It made them something new; individual land owners and thus with a different kind of status that they used their religion to sanctify. And they did that on the backs of slaves. The path to healing, Jennings says is to adopt the native way of seeing the land; the question is not who owns it, but who do you live around, and how can you share those resources. For more, see and maybe join us at Faithfinance.net