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Religion in The Poisonwood Bible

Frederick W. Norris
Professor Emeritus of World Christianity
Emmanuel School of Religion
norrisf@esr.edu

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Abstract

Kingsolver's intriguing tale attempts to depict a "genuine" Congo. She has fol lowed  the  political  circumstances  carefully  and  provides  a  bibliography  that indicates her investigation of significant books. Indeed her novel is enhanced by her grasp of those historical conditions. United States' foreign policy of Anti Communism destroyed chances for negotiations with indigenous movements. It got in the way of African development including noncommunist efforts. The novel itself is a gem, written by a master who has captivated readers before but never quite as well. The fractured missionary family is based on a dysfunction al marriage that reflects the psychological difficulties of the husband and to a lesser extent the wife. Sadly some of his dangerous traits grate on his wife until she has had enough. The story deftly depicts how religion, in this case a type of fundamentalist  Christianity,  can  make  everything  worse.  The  children  have open  eyes  for  Africa;,  the  mother  sees  much.  The  father  looks  on  Africa  with jaundiced eyes. The narrative has a series of flaws that indicate how her research into the Congo was superficial in terms of religion. The bibliography in that area is sparse. Her treatment of Christian or native beliefs and practices lack the  sharpness  of  the  novel's  political  insights.  That  brings  its  own  tragedy. Kingsolver has strong religious views learned within the regions where she lived and  found  deeply  within  her  own  family  and  her  education.  She  tells  a  few haunting stories of the witch doctor and the people who accept his leadership, yet there is little, either of Christianity or of indigenous religion.

 
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Volume 22 Issue 2

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