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The Religious Affiliation of Native American Author
Sherman Alexie


Evangelical Protestant authors Barsotti and Johnston included some information about Alexie's religious affiliation in their discussion of the movie Smoke Signals, which was adapted from short stories written by Alexie. A number of aspects of this description may seem anti-Catholic. From: Catherine M. Barsotti and Robert K. Johnston, Finding God in the Movies: 33 Films of Reel Faith, Baker Books: Grand Rapids, Michigan (2004), pages 194-195:
...Sherman Alexie, who wrote Smoke Signals, is a Coeur d'Alene Indian who has gained national attention for his writing--eight collections of poetry, two novels, and two short story connections. The New Yorker called him "one of the best American fiction writers under forty"...

Sherman Alexie didn't play in a church basketball league, but he did pay basketball regularly and even once went to a Christian basketball camp in the Northwest. He describes himself as growing up Catholic and being a recovering Catholic who's had to learn a lot about grace and forgiveness.

As viewers note, he uses allusions to Catholic liturgy and theology, which he values. His wife, also a Native American, has a master's degree in theology and worked with Young Life at one point. When asked in the Door 2001 interview about the connection between humor and the spiritual life, Alexie responded, "God is funny . . . I just feel it. I'm never happier than when I'm making people laugh about serious subjects. I think people are more open to new ideas and thoughts, changes, when they're laughing."

Some notes about the above passage: Apparently the word "Christian" is intended here to mean "Evangelical". "Recovering Catholic" is a phrase usually used only by people who have rejected Catholicism and consider their Catholic upbringing something that was harmful or damaging to them, akin to alcoholism. "Young Life" is a decidedly non-Catholic interdenominational Protestant youth ministry that the book's authors regularly teach courses for.

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Webpage created 4 September 2005. Last modified 4 September 2005.
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