A Conversation for Cargo Cults

Many serious errors in this article

Post 1


This article fudges a lot of the important details on this topic.

1. Christianity was not "introduced across the globe by European colonial missionaries." A good reading of any decent history of missions will show that before these, many others had already introduced Christianity to large areas including... ahem... Europe.

2. Madang was not "flooded with Lutheran missionaries looking to 'save' the natives from their 'barbaric idols' and ancestor worship." Both Catholic and Lutheran missions existed in Madang from the late 19th century. The entire European population of the area never reached more than 300 persons before the first world war. Of these, much fewer were missionaries and, again, fewer still were Lutheran. Both the Lutherans and, especially, the Catholics had, initially at least, very liberal policies on the "barbaric idols and ancestor worship" mentioned. The word "save" in the the context of the anthropology of missions is clearly understood and need not therefore be placed in quotation marks. The indigenous peoples of New Guinea do not "worship" ancestors but consider them separate beings from deities.

3. Both the section "Christianisation of Cargo" iand "The Christian Message (Interpreted)" are gross generalisations. They contain misplaced facts with a great deal of artistic interpretation. Recommend a good thorough reading of "Road Belong Cargo" by Lawrence to untangle this mess.

4.The statement "By the time the Australians recaptured New Guinea the natives were entirely sure that all foreigners were thieves and liars." is entirely false. There were many who had remained loyal to the Australians and so many were still loyal to the Japanese that the new Australian administration had to work very hard for years to convince the local population to change loyalties.

5. Yali was not taken to Australia "as a reward" after WW2. He went there for jungle training during the war and then returned to New Guinea as a member of the Allied Intelligence Bureau. After the allies successfully retook Madang, he returned to Australia for further training. In total, he visited Australia three times before the end of 1945, each time as a member of the Allied forces.

6. When he saw the New Guinea gods he had no thoughts that they were worshipped by the Australians who he presumed at that time were all Christian. He became convinced that they had been removed there by the Australians to prevent the New Guineans themselves from finding out secrets of cargo from their deities directly.

7. "Australian officials who were attempting to stamp out all Cargo Cults related in any way to God or Jesus as heresies." is false. The administration was vehement in denying all involvement in religious affairs. Their concern about cargo cults was simply for the civil unrest that its beliefs gave rise to. Yali did not speak against the cults. He spoke for the secular civil administration of the Australians. His message was severly distorted by a number of leaders in the area and the cargo momentum this caused enveloped both Christians and pagans and ultimately Yali himself.

8. In 2003 James Yali did indeed order the destruction of settlers homes but these were not European. Instead, 12,000 nationals lost their dwellings. he did not, as far as I can find out, seize power. Authorities that I trust more than the author of this document state that he was elected Madang governor.

9. To state that Yali was "The greatest of all Cargo Cult prophets" or a prophet of any sort is to tragically misrepresent him. This was never in any way the case.

If I find anything else, I'll be sure to post it here.

Many serious errors in this article

Post 2

Gnomon - time to move on

Thanks, Arukiyomi, for your comments. We'll try and incorporate them into the Entry. We want our Entries to be as accurate as possible.

But before I make any changes, I'd like to talk about them with the author of the Entry. Unfortunately, she's going through a difficult time personally at the moment, and I'd like to wait until she is over it before pestering her with this. So we'll try and sort your concerns out eventually.

smiley - smiley

Many serious errors in this article

Post 3

Gnomon - time to move on


Many serious errors in this article

Post 4


Was a decision ever made on the suggested revisions to this Entry?
smiley - bluefish

Many serious errors in this article

Post 5

Gnomon - time to move on

No. We were waiting for Frenchbean to sort out her personal problems, but she never came back. She hasn't posted since July 2009.smiley - sadface

Key: Complain about this post

Many serious errors in this article

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more