Religious Studies Paper on Book Review

Book Review

The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in early America is perhaps one of the greatest historical and religious book ever written. The events of the time are organized in a chronological manner making it easy for the reader to follow them. It then informs the reader of historical, cultural, and religious colonization and an awakening of the Indian community living in the pre-historic America (Fisher 24). The Euro American missionaries invaded the culture of the native Indians with Christianity, which they eventually adopted despite initially retaliating. This review looks at the historical and social contexts described in the text. It also analyses the writing of the book and how the author captures the attention of the readers to make them understand the various concepts explained in the book. The text also raises various questions about religion and other thoughts which will be described in the review. The review further shows its connection with the course and other religious phenomena described in class.


Fisher Linford wrote and published The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America in 2012. His story is based on the events of the 17th Century lasting to the 18th Century when the euro American religious converts were going round evangelizing and trying to convert people to Christianity. Fisher describes how the Indians were adamant to abandon their traditional religious practices to adopt Christianity (28). In the book, Fisher also notes that the Indians were fearful of the colonialists whom they perceived as using a different approach to Christianity to continue colonizing them.

            The Indian natives were out to protect their land, traditional religion, and politics, which they saw as under threat from the perceived colonialists. Local tribal politics takes center stage in the book as it shaped the various resolutions taken by the community (Fisher 31). Despite the seemingly hostile resistance from the natives, the missionaries went on with their teachings and preaching. The natives, therefore, chose to affiliate with the Christian missionaries to protect the sovereignty of their land, culture, and traditions even though it was evident that they had started enjoying the work of the missionaries.

            Fisher gives a chronological survey of the events of interaction between the natives and the missionaries in eight chapters. In each chapter, he presents a description of different processes. The first chapter, Rainmaking, makes a general observation of the lives of the colonialists and the natives (Fisher 16). The second chapter highlights the evangelizing process whereby the colonialists and the natives interact. In the third chapter, the natives begin embracing the activities of the missionaries and are awakened.

            Fisher describes the affiliation and the conversion process in chapter four whereby the colonialists begin to assimilate the natives and separate them with their traditional cultures and beliefs in chapter five. Chapter six is the education section of the book whereby the colonialists challenge the natives to take up formal forms of education. Massive migration from the traditional to the modern practices are discussed in chapter seven, while chapter eight concludes the text by examining the reasons why some remained after the migration.

Style of Writing of the Book

Fisher makes the description of his events vividly and uses simple language that can be understood by both native and non-native English speakers. Fisher discusses the themes of the book clearly and extensively making it easy for the readers to understand and follow the events (18). The chronological description of the events from the 1700s to 1820 allows the reader to reflect on the contexts therein. Fisher makes a comparison of the two parties in the book. The natives and the missionaries-cum-colonialists differed significantly, and the author describes these factors of variation to show how the times and practices of these groups had changed considerably over time. Fisher makes use of references to show the origin of his works (56). Even though he does not rely directly on eyewitnesses, he makes a thorough review of the existing literature on these subjects and reflects this in his book.

How the Context Impacts On Understanding of the Book

The social and the historical contexts of the book play a significant role in understanding the book and its purpose. The context introduces and moves the reader to the historical times when colonization was still evident in many parts of the world (Fisher 42). The reader is taken through the period of colonization and the introduction of various modern factors such as changes in religion, culture, and education. This context enables the reader to follow up on the events of that period, while also making them feel the reaction of the natives who were being invaded.

Arising Questions

The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America prompts the reader to ask questions such as how the natives and the world as a whole existed without Christianity. Before the introduction of Christianity, native communities had varying religions. Therefore, why did the missionaries assume that these traditional religions were unworthy? Besides, why and how did the missionaries come up with Christianity? Another question relates to the ease of acceptance of the native Indians (Holloway 88). The natives were easily influenced by the missionaries to abandon their religious and cultural practices and adopt the practices of the missionaries. What was the motivation for this sudden move? Lastly, religion seems to be changing or improving over time. What are the possible religious changes that may be expected in the world since each religious group such as Islam is trying to gain popularity and influence?

Connections between the Book and Other Religious Books and Information

Most books on religion and history are written in the same style using the chronological form of analysis of events (Holloway 67). They also give descriptions of the context of the events discussed in the book for the readers to understand the various concepts outlined in religious studies. These events would, however, be complex without the descriptions. It is evident that missionaries had a powerful influence over other religions since they easily ventured into other communities and altered their religious affiliations. According to Holloway, the missionaries used the same strategy to approach different communities (103). They conducted their evangelic activities, as well as educating communities on different issues. Eventually, they converted a lot of followers in the community.


The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America is a well-written book that enables students of religion and other interested parties to understand the subject well. It presents a good overview of events and uses a very simple language that is easy to understand. The book can be used to teach religion to different levels of students without any difficulty. It challenges both learners and teachers of religion to teach widely and rationally on these subjects by presenting different views for thought by the readers.

Works Cited

Fisher, Linford D. The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Holloway, Richard. A Little History of Religion.2016.