‘Black Robe’ by Moore is one of the most classical historical novels I have ever come across. Emanating from a French setting, the book is endowed with diverse thematic message that is essential for the today’s Christians. In particular, the concept of religion comes out as one of the controversial issues that define the plot of the story. Father LaForge, the main character of the story desires to convert the Huron Indians into Catholicism. However, his journey is marked with numerous challenges. The following paper is an argument on how the ideals of the society play a critical role in defining the spread of religion.
Presentation of the religion concept
Commitment to religion is one of the moral values that are promoted in the world today. However, very few people have the right understanding about it. Father Laforge, like many Christians, finds himself in adverse situation. According to Moore (34), Larfugoe is a catholic priest with a dire quest to convert everyone to salvation through baptism. He is so focused that no one can stop from pursuing his dreams. However, Father Larforge has a defined perception about his faith. He is of the view that by converting many people to Catholicism, he will become a martyr and go to heaven directly. In essence, he is insinuating that evangelism is the ultimate key to inheriting the kingdom of God.
Moreover, he believes that the people of Huron are controlled by the devil. Consequently, salvation is the only way to salvage their souls. He holds unstaggering emphasis that those who are not baptized are deemed for hell. While the belief of Father Laforge cannot be discarded, it brings out the enormous pain that lack of balanced wisdom can bring to an individual. Understanding the manner of life of a community is an important tool for mission work. In fact, it questions the sobriety of faith in its entire dimension. It is illustrated by numerous moments of suffering. First and foremost, his arrival into the Huron is met by diverse reaction. It is paradoxical that the same people he considers to be demonic also view him as a sorcerer. In fact, that highlights the origin of his name the ‘black robe’. The Alonguins regard his religion a sort of mockery. Their ideologies are very different with those of Father Laforge. At one point they abandon him when they see him baptizing a dead child. The misery of this priest continues. Accompanied with his guide Daniel, the two pass through rough terrain and unfavorable weather that threaten their stability. In fact Larforgue tell his guide ‘I am afraid of this country. The devil rules here. It controls the heart and minds of these people (Moore76).
Welborn (1), in his review acknowledges the delicate subject of faith in the novel. He challenges Laforge’s idea of baptism at the expense of the harmony of the community. For example, Algonquins and Iriquos have sharp differences. He argues that everyone who seeks to make known his faith must have proper ideals that are transmissible. In other words, he says that it is not enough just to baptize and convert people. Nevertheless, the society must show an understanding of the faith they would like to profess. For example, towards the end of the novel Laforge get a number of people into his faith. However, their motive is out rightly unacceptable. In fact, one can question the sobriety of Father Laforge in the process. The pursuit for martyrdom no longer makes sense to him
Reception of the Book in Relation to the Concept of Religion
While many people have praised Moore for such a great piece, there are those who have had numerous challenges in his presentation of the concept of religion. For instance, one questions Moore’s presentation of religion in the political world. According to Welborn (1), religion brings the conflict of an idealized society in view of the western religion. In other words, the spread of religion is directly proportional to the understanding the ideals of the society. Consequently, one must not be overtaken by the need of evangelism. It is vital to consider the background of the community at stake. Moreover, one needs to perceive their religious activity and design a mode of entrance into their culture. Such a system is viable for success.
However, breaking into a community without prior investigation brings intimidation the missioners. Besides, one must understand that embracing a new idea requires adequate time of understanig. Laforge ought to have been slow in converting the people. I believe he had zeal without knowledge. People cannot easily discard what they have known for a long time just because a new celibate priest has introduced it. LaForge has therefore, been criticized as poor in his social interaction. Needless to say, the best way of acquiring converts is through friendship. While it is enviable to suffer for the sake of your religion, it is clear that some of the issues that Laforge go through are unnecessary. True martyrdom is dying for a righteous course
According to the argument, it is clear that one must not ignore the ideals of the community when introducing his faith. The diversity in traditions and understanding must be considered. In essence, zeal and wisdom should work together. Nevertheless, ‘The black robe’ is one of the missionary idealistic novels of our times. It is a must-read for all people in the religious set-ups.
- Moore, Brian. The Black Robe. New York,NY:Plume,1997.Print.
- Welborn, Amy. Black Robe by Brian Moore. Web. Retrieved on 16th November 2014 from: http://www.amywelborn.com/catholicwriters/moore.html