Dec. 12 – Kaitlin Curtice – Native [Advent Calendar]

The Englewood Review of Books
Best Books of 2020
Advent Calendar
December 12

Kaitlin Curtice NativeNative: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God
Kaitlin Curtice

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2020
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Native is a book with space around it. It is contemplative, full of walks in forests in Georgia, a sojourn to Lake Michigan, and memories of childhood. Curtice points out empty spaces where there used to be natives, and whole cities where there still are. She writes “I find that we must learn what it means to live in an integrated way that honors the cultures and the people around us so that we can, together in solidarity, learn to go home.” This sounds lovely, but what does it mean practically? It means “we do not steal” for this perpetuates colonization. Curtice draws attention to the words of Jesus as they align with the Seven Grandfather Teachers of the Potawatomi tribe: humility, honesty, wisdom, bravery, truth, love, and respect. Because of these teachings, Curtice cannot compartmentalize herself. All of what she believes goes on the journey with her. Care for the earth is bound up in justice, equality, welcome, and representation. Curtice routinely brings all marginalized people into the light—Black, incarcerated, poor, immigrant, LBGT—and affirms their dignity.

“The work of returning is communal work and we must all lead one another,” Curtice writes towards the end of Native. Many of the topics in this book can put readers on the defensive and make us who are white hyperaware of how much we are doing wrong. Curtice doesn’t absolve, but she does continually welcome. She keeps inviting readers to ask, learn, and grow. The third word in her subtitle is rediscovering: rediscover God, rediscover each other, rediscover the earth, rediscover yourself. “We do this because we are human,” she writes, “because we are dust-to-dust, and since there is no way to ask a question wrong, let us lean in and hold space with ourselves and one another.” Rediscovery is the first step towards recreation. I invite fellow readers to pick up Native, hold space for this work, and begin on the journey.

 

*** WATCH a video conversation about this book
between Kaitlin Curtice and Richard Rohr…




 

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