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 Nathan Price 
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What is your thoughts on how a nonbeliever would view the Christian faith after reading of Nathan Price?


Mon Nov 10, 2003 1:39 pm
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This character's behavior and mindset give the worst possible "witness" to a non-believer of what Christianity is all about. Sadly, this is often how Christians are portrayed in secular fiction - as bigoted, "self-righteous", abusive, clueless, myopic, narrow-minded, ethnocentric, bible thumping, dictatorial, poorly educated jerks. Or, occasionally - some of the above "qualities", and then add in a large dose of hypocrisy. I am reminded of a Patricia Cornwell novel - the villain turned out to be the mother of the murdered girl, who had seemed to be this very pious Christian!

Obviously, some Christian missionaries have done their work using much more discernment, or Christianity would not have spread as far as it has! I have no desire to become a missionary, but if I had found my message as rejected as Nathan Price's, I would have certainly asked some questions early on - such as "Why are all these people so against being baptised?" (Better yet, a missionary needs better background, language, and other training, but the Prices received none of this. It wouldn't have been as interesting a story if they had.) They needed to know how not to offend and "turn off" the very people they were trying to reach. They did worse than offend, the death of children was blamed on their actions -( that part really "got to me", since I have lost a child.) Asking the right questions could have prevented so much heartbreak and tragedy.

Of course, Price showed no common sense at all - even on his first day - lecturing against nakedness, after that joyous welcome! I guess he never heard "you can catch more flies with honey." The Apostle Paul showed much more grace and tact when he spoke to the Greeks about their statue "to an unknown god" - using that cultural icon as a point of departure for his message. As for Price, in everything he says and does, it seems that he may know "chapter and verse", but he knows only the "letter of the law" not the "spirit of the Good News". For the sake of the plot, I am glad the author gave us some background on Price's war experiences, and why his wife ended up with him. If Price truly understood his bible, he would treat his wife with love and respect, as the helper given to him by God. He would treat his daughters with love and respect - as it is, he "provokes them to wrath" - thus turning them away from God. If Price understood the depth of the real Christian message, he would have more sensitivity to everyone whom he meets, and he would have some humility and be "teachable" himself! A real Christianity would have been contagious.

If Jesus walked and talked with these villagers, his actions and speech would be diametrically opposed to Price's. However, to my opinion, they would not be exactly the same as Brother Fowles, a most interesting character - (whose arrival I was anticipating in this book.)
Of course, Brother Fowles is basically the opposite of Nathan Price. In many ways, he is much more "Christ-like". As Jesus did, Fowles met the people "where they are", and spoke to them in parables that they could understand and relate to. He displays a much truer spirit of Christian love in his ministry, his work, and his interaction with the people. Obviously, he took great pains to understand the intricasies of their language, customs, and culture before he figured out how he could best minister to their spiritual needs. He befriended the chief, (even though the chief's religion was pagan to a Christian.) I have heard interesting stories of how a village was won to Christianity, because a missionary found a way to understand the needs of the people through the eyes of the chief. It was obvious from the welcome that Price received, that Fowles had given the people a much more joyous version of Christianity than Nathan Price could ever produce!

What I disliked about the Rev. Fowles character was that his Christianity was more of the "salad bar" variety - he picked what he wanted to believe in, and then left the rest! I have rarely seen a balanced, educated, tolerant, loving, yet truly biblical theology evidenced by a Christian character in a secular movie or book.

There's a great Kevin Bacon movie, The Air Up There - in it, Bacon plays a basketball recruiter for some Catholic college. He learns all these lessons (that Nathan Price refuses to learn) from some African Chief when he tries to recruit the Chief's son to play basketball for the college. It is a terrific movie - illustrating (in a lighter way) many of the lessons of this book, yet not being so critical of Christianity.

I could write for hours on this subject, as I am distressed by how it is now "politically incorrect" to be a white Christian in our world! Any belief or practice is "cool" to admit publically - but a white Christian is assumed to be Nathan Price-like. (Grrr.) It is only acceptable (as a "cultural thing") to be a church goer if you are black. The only people on TV who go to church are African-Americans, or Mafia families. White people only attend church for weddings, christenings, and funerals -have you ever noticed that? As you can tell, this really "burns my bacon".

What does anyone else think?

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Joyce Jarrard


Tue Nov 11, 2003 5:19 pm
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Wow lots to say here.
I have never seen a balanced Christian who wasn't a bit of the salad variety type., The fact is, to stay sane, one can't just live totally by anothers set of rules. Spoeaking of which, with so many varieties of the bible, and interpretations oif beliuef, I think a lot of Christians are of this type. I think what kills Christians is their "by the book" nature. Brother Fowles brought up a point about translations and I agree. At Gardner-Webb I was ostracized in mty class for questioning it. Its strange but Christians cling so damn tightly to it, its like they don't have faith if they can't believe every word written. I like how Brother Fowles saw the Glory of Gods work in the rise and set of the sun.
]In terms of going to church, it is of my opinion that church is basically boring, and spiritually dull. Thats justr me though. My wife sees a very different view than I on these issues. But church is in my opinion just a tradition, and can be comforting but I have rarely found myself feeling spiritual there. I see nothoing wrong with skipping church and being spiritual elsewhere. So I think most people do not attend because it does not have the flare or meaning to them, not because its not cool to go.
AN outsider looking in would be very justified in think Chriistianity is a form of social control. Ole Tata Price was a control freak and quite misguided. Outsiders would see Christians as nutbars. UNfortuynately, as Joyce has explained, those are the ones that our society finds more interesting.

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Wed Nov 12, 2003 9:14 am
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As I mentioned in class, I am often intrigued by the subject of religion. I find Nathan Price to not be a missionary for Christianity, but rather a promoter of any other faith. If he is modeling the Christian faith, who will follow? It is often the case when other ministers of the faith attempt to bring the non-believers to the light, that they often push them in the opposite direction!

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Amy E. Wilson


Thu Nov 13, 2003 8:47 am
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As I read about Nathan Price he reminded me of a man I encountered while I was in college. He came once or twice a year to the campus and would beging to preach out on the commons area between the dorms and the library. He would preach the bible and an extremely fundamental way of living. For example, women with short hair or those who wear pants would go to hell. As you could imagine there was soon quite a disturbance going on as people stopped to listen. It became a spectacle. His only accomplishment was to discourage others from the Bible and Christianity. It disturbed me greatly to see a man so unwilling to open his mind yet willing to condemn others. Nathan Price has the same unbending view on his faith, and many others paid a great sacrifice.


Thu Nov 20, 2003 10:21 am
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Shelly, if the nonbeliever had little knowledge or experience about the Christian faith he/she probably would not think very highly of Christians like Nathan Price. However, no one can be sure of the greater plan of God especially when its not very clear to any of us, particularly in regard to Nathan Price who is on the extreme right. Brother Fowles is a compromising and middle of the road Christian that nonbelievers could possibly recognize and align themselves with.


Thu Nov 20, 2003 9:08 pm
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