Robinson Crusoe (and proselytizing)

I just finished reading Robinson Crusoe. You know the story, it’s the one about the guy who is stranded on a tropical island and manages to survive for years before eventually being rescued.

Overall, I liked it, even though it took me a good long while to a) get into it, and b) finish it.

Seriously. I started the darn thing months ago, and then got distracted by the interwebs. But I finally managed to finish it.

Now, it wasn’t quite what I had expected. I had in my mind Robinson would get marooned and learn to survive, eventually hooking up with his ‘servant’ Friday. Then it would end with a random ship landing on the island, or floating by and coming to see what is going on on the island, and Robinson’s final line of the book being something like “And I stepped off that god-foresaken rock forever.”

Nope. That’s not what happened.

Instead, some other Europeans land on his island and he gets in league with them to capture a mutinied ship and then he gets to Europe and eventually back to his homeland England. Then years later he returns to the island to check on the people he left there (the mutineers and such and such).

So I felt the ending was drawn out too much. But not enough to ruin the book for me.

But the book was still ruined by Robinson’s needless proselytizing.

See, once he rescues Friday from the ‘savages’ who were going to eat him, Robinson goes about converting Friday to christianity. Why?

Why is there this thing within the christian religions that non-christians have to be ‘saved’ from eternal damnation? Why are Native populations called ‘savages’ when ‘discovered’ by Europeans?

I often thought of the following image while reading Robinson’s preaching:

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In my opinion, the ‘savages’ in the interactions between Natives and Europeans are the Europeans. They tend to adopt a holier-than-thou posture, denigrating customs and traditions that are more than adequate to the survival of those people who were on the land first.

Sorry I just went into a toned-down anti-theistic screed. It’s just something that bothers me, this whole hubbub around christianity being necessary for a good and wholesome life, and that there is some afterlife toward which we are all headed.

Enough. Back to my book review.

So while the proselytizing was off putting, I mustn’t hold it against the entire book.

I recommend reading Robinson Crusoe. It is a classic, and I advocate reading the classics. I just warn you that it may take some getting into, as the action isn’t right off the top.

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