Download E-books The Last Heathen: Encounters with Ghosts and Ancestors in Melanesia PDF

In 1892, the Bishop of Tasmania set sail for Melanesia with the reason of rescuing islanders from lives of worry, black magic and cannibalism. Over a hundred years later, his nice grandson, Charles Montgomery, the bishop's direction during the South Pacific, searching out the spirits and myths his missionary forebear had sought to destroy.

Montgomery explored distant beaches the place gospel and empire by no means took carry. He rubbed shoulders with barefoot preachers, witch medical professionals and gun-toting rebels, basically to find that the pagan spirits have been extra tenacious than the missionaries had imagined. Melanesians had stirred Jesus and Mary into an already highly spiced broth of ancestor worship, ghosts, shark gods and magic. via confrontations with a weird and wonderful forged of characters -- the randy ethnographer, the soft-talking murderer, the leper prophet -- the adventure turns into a debate at the nature of magic, fantasy and religion, and a metaphor for the remodeling strength of story.

The final Heathen marks the debut of a thrilling younger author who charts his adventures with ardour, perception and grace.

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The adventure to Mota used to be unlike my trip aboard the Brisk. It used to be now not dreamy. if you are in a small boat, you don't minimize throughout the ocean swell. You journey each one wave as you'll a very good wrinkled beast. The wave rises above you, threatens to damage over you, lifts you onto its large again so that you can see down into the blackness of the impending trough, while the following swell is bulging, shape-shifting, lumbering in the direction of you. after which you fall. i used to be coming to dislike the ocean immensely. I held quickly to the gunwale as we left the take care of of Kwakea. The bullock glared at me. The grinning guy cupped his hand round my ear and informed me why Alfred had such unhappy eyes. It was once on a crossing similar to this that the final diocesan ski¤ had taken a rogue wave over the bow. The boat sank inside seconds, leaving Alfred within the swell together with his six-year-old daughter clinging to his neck. He attempted to swim for Mota, however the island simply saved getting smaller and smaller, so he attempted to swim west in the direction of Sola, however the present used to be too robust. Alfred and his baby drifted north during the morning and the afternoon. because the solar disappeared in the back of the mountains of Vanua Lava, Alfred treaded water and surveyed the explosions of surf alongside the reef that separated them from the seashore at Port Patteson. His daughter grew vulnerable. Alfred misplaced power too. He held the lady so long as he may possibly. a number of hundred metres from shore, her palms slipped from his neck and she or he sank into the blue shadows. From a distance, Mota resembled an exceptional nipple poking from the sea. nearer, the island regarded extra like a shark’s fin served on a thick platter. The fin was once a dormant volcano. The platter used to be a 3-kilometrewide plateau of uplifted coral rock, minimize brief on both sides by means of black cli¤s, down which spilled vines with crimson vegetation, trailing all of the method into the surging ocean. there have been no shores, basically cabinets of wave-beaten coral striking over the sting of the electrical blue abyss. Alfred drew up opposed to a submerged shelf on Mota’s leeward facet. We waded ashore, sporting the bleeding bullock on our shoulders, after which ascended the facet of a deep, mosquito-filled ravine. The cracked rock used to be imprinted with the shapes of seashells. Alfred’s village, Mariu, sat in a [ 121 ] HeathenInteriorFinal 6/28/04 11:02 web page 122 T H E L A S T H E AT H E N grassy clearing at the fringe of the plateau. there have been dozens of the standard thatch huts. subsequent to them used to be a church with cement foundations and the one tin roof for kilometres round. I pitched my tent lower than a grapefruit tree at the back of the church. That night the lads lit an exceptional bonfire in a pit open air Alfred’s apartment. An historic lady heaped rocks at the hearth and tended it into the evening. in the course of the mesh wall of my tent, i'll see her bent body as she stirred the embers and poked on the gleaming stones lengthy after the flames had ceased licking them, lengthy after the remainder of the village had long past to sleep. She neglected the animal-like hoots, the choruses of grunts and squawks, that echoed during the woodland.

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