Positioning the Missionary: John Booth Good and the Confluence of Cultures in Nineteenth-Century British Columbia

By Brett Christophers | Go to book overview

5 Conversion

For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

-- 1 Corinthians 4:20

'Long ago I was very wicked.' said Chil-lool-uk, 'now I repent & have my desire for baptism.' These words were uttered at St. Paul's Mission on 92 May 1874, as Chil-lool-uk stood before Bishop Hills, affirmed his conversion, and became a Christian. 1 By 1877 some 450 Nlha7kápmx had been baptized, 2 many after similar appointments with the bishop, and when the first Canadian census was conducted four years later, the entire Nlha7kápmx nation was enumerated (by Good) as practising Anglicans. 3 In little more than a decade, English religion had seemingly taken hold of the Nlha7kápmx, yet neither these bare statistics, nor Chil-lool-uk's words, tell us what conversion entailed, or how these Natives viewed their new faith. The latter question must remain open, for the ethnographic evidence, if illuminating, is thin, but from Good, Hills, and others we can discern the Anglican instruction that prepared the Nlha7kápmx for conversion. Behind Chil-lool-uk's absolution lay months, if not years, of spiritual and moral training.

An impressively deliberate air attended Good's mission to the Nlha7kápmx. He knew that Native conversion would not be immediate and steeled himself for a long haul when he set about teaching them. In this respect Good observed a heady tradition of Christian scholarship on reserve in communicating religious knowledge. As a graduate of St. Augustine's, Good was steeped in the writings of the Tractarians, who held that imparting Christian doctrine demanded tact, patience, and perseverance. Nonbelievers could not grasp the whole Truth at once, so had to be fed morsels, followed, eventually, by more weighty spiritual sustenance. When Good wrote that with the heathen 'it can only be line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, first with milk, and then with strong meat as they are able to bear it,' he followed to the letter the Tractarian injunction to emulate Christ's apostles. 4

-92-

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Positioning the Missionary: John Booth Good and the Confluence of Cultures in Nineteenth-Century British Columbia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures viii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Abbreviations xxiii
  • 1 - Beginnings 3
  • 2 - Redemption 19
  • 3 - Reproduction 41
  • 4 - Space 67
  • 5 - Conversion 92
  • 6 - Morals 119
  • 7 - Dissolution 137
  • Notes 153
  • Bibliography 182
  • Index 193
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