Emily the Congo and back to safety

Emily TesicMrs. LealENG4UP-112 Jan 2018The Poisonous PreacherINTROFor as long as the world can remember, religion has been a part of life throughout all of time. An astounding number of 84% of the world’s population is affiliated with some type of religious practice. Religion has influenced the social, legal, political, religious and economic organization worldwide. It has done many good things in the world. Religious people and groups have started incredible charities and organizations and in like manner have offered comfort to the terminally ill. However, religion has equally had negative impacts on society, such as taking advantage of its power to do wrong. Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Poison Bible, uses the character of Nathan Price to demonstrate the destructive nature of religion when put into a power obsessive, controlling, and patriarchal man, which ultimately sabotages his children, his wife, and the people of Kilanga.PGRPH # 1 – His ChildrenNathan, a Pastor and father, obsessively prioritizes his religious mission over showing love and nurture for his children. First and foremost, Nathan does not simply neglect his children, but is disgusted with reproduction itself. His wife, Orleanna states, “He was profoundly embarrassed by my pregnancies. To his way of thinking they were unearned blessings, and furthermore each one drew God’s attention anew to my having a vagina and his having a penis and the fact we’d laid them near enough together to conceive a child” (Kingsolver 198). Nathan does not view reproduction as a beautiful miracle, but rather as a shameful action in God’s eyes. This proves how much he has twisted the bible’s teachings in his mind and how he is not following legitimate Christian principles, but actually making up principles of his own. The Bible emphasizes, “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. (The Bible, Genesis 1:28). To add, Nathan chose to disregard the Mission State’s advice to take his family out of the Congo and back to safety to America when the Congo turned politically unstable during the war, disregarding his family’s wishes. His eldest daughter Rachel helplessly “Mother tries to explain to him day in and day out about how he is putting his own children in jeopardy of their lives, but he won’t even listen to his own wife, much less his mere eldest daughter” (176, Rachel). Nathan risks the lives and well being of his family simply to continue his stubborn mission in converting Congolesian “sinners”. Additionally, Nathan continues to show his neglect towards his children when his daughter Ruth May dies, yet his focus still remains on his religious mission. As soon as Ruth May dies, he exclaims: “She wasn’t even baptized yet” (Pg. 368, Nathan). Instead of being in a state of shock that his daughter is no longer alive, his shock is moved by the traumatic realization that he did not have a chance to baptize Ruth May before she died. His only concern is that he was not able to fulfill his religious mission through the baptism of all of his children. *Transition Phrase*PRGPH # 2 – His Wife, OrleannaNathan is a neglectful and unloving husband who believes his Congolian baptismal mission is much more important than the kind of relationship and respect him and his wife have together. Nathan treats Orleanna as more of his child than his wife and partner in life. “Father looked at Mama hard for talking back to him.” (Kingsolver 64). Talking back is a common ‘sin’ among children towards parents. It is immoral for children to talk back to their parents, for their parents are the figures of authority with a bountiful river of wisdom, knowledge, and life experience. But Orleanna is a mother, a grown woman, who is shamed for essentially ‘having a voice’ in their marriage. Nathan does not see her as an ‘equal’ in their marriage nor in his religious mission. He continually establishes himself as the head of the marriage and family, and she, as not even the neck. Although a Christian, Nathan does not treat his wife as a Christian husband should, and instead sets his eyes and focus on earning salvation by baptising all of the people in Congo. Nathan is stubborn and self centered despite the outward appearance of being generous and going all the way to the Congo. His mission is all a part of him wanting to fulfill his mission and gain personal favour with God. “It’s harder to imagine a mortal man more unwilling to change his course than Nathan Price” (Pg. 96, Orleanna). Nathan refuses to listen or consider all others’ opinions and seeks only the mission sent to him by God. This ties into the fact that he uses God and religion as a way to exert his arrogance and need for complete and utter control to show that he is correct and all others’ opinions are inferior. Nathan becomes violent when his wife Orleanna tried to put up any type of dispute on leaving the Congo in hopes to be safe and sound. “Orleanna, shut up!” he yelled, grabbing her arm hard and jerking the plate out of her hand. He raised it up over her head and slammed it on the table, cracking it right in two. The smaller half flipped upside down as it broke, and lay there dribbling black plantain juice like blood onto the tablecloth. Mother stood hopelessly, holding her hands out to the plate like she wished she could mend its hurt feelings. (Kingsolver 134). Nathan’s abuse escalates from mental and verbal to physical. *Transition Phrase*PRGPH # 3 – The Congolese PeopleNathan is ignorant to the fact that the Colognese culture is entirely different from the American culture and disregards the difficulty they have with understanding Christianity. He pushes it upon them forcefully, thus being inconsiderate to the essence and base of their beliefs. Nathan insults men and women for their lack of clothes when they have no other clothing to wear. *Insert Quote Here* Reverend Nathan Price does not embrace the Congolese culture and their differences but rather shames them for something they are unable to change. He believes the clothing they are wearing to the baptism is informal and disrespectful towards God. However, he is very unsympathetic towards the fact that they simply do not have anything else to wear. Nathan Price ignorantly baptizes people in a river where there are crocodiles. “She got killed and eaten by a crocodile. They don’t let their children step foot in the river, ever. Not even to be washed in the Blood of the Lamb” (Pg. 81, Leah). Even after being told that a child’s life was recently taken there, he does not change his approach but simply persists to preach the importance and necessity of baptism and that the river is the only “proper” place to do so. He is unable to acclimate to the Congo’s environment and amend to their ways of living, and essentially, surviving. Many of the ‘parables’ in the bible do not make sense to the Congolese people as they are unable to relate to and understand it contextually. However, Nathan keeps pushing this upon them when he knows they are unable to understand. “If you change a few words they’ll understand” (pg. 246, Nathan). Nathan is not open to moulding his way of preaching to a way that the Congolese people actually understand. He focuses on making himself look knowledgeable and better than them through his impossibly rich vocabulary and non understandable parables. He does not care to teach them how the Christian ideology can be applied to their daily lives, but rather only how they can ultimately transform and reach salvation. *Transition Phrase*

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