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Nov 20, 2022

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We celebrate Thanksgiving weekend by investigating a Christian film with a “wacky” clash of cultures between white, first world Christians and the indigenous peoples that fascinate them. In this case, END OF THE SPEAR is based on the true story of American missionary Nate Saint (yes, that’s his name) and his crew trying to teach the uncontacted Waodani tribe about Jesus by flying a plane to the jungles of Ecuador in 1956. Their first attempt does not go well. To be frank, the five men get their entire shit absolutely speared within minutes of setting foot on the Ecuadorian beach. But this story doesn’t end here — the missionaries’ wives, and young Steve Saint (son of Nate Saint) return to forgive the Waodani for their rash actions and save the tribe from a polio epidemic. The movie ends with the civilized Waodani dressed in what looks like JCPenney basics, begging the missionaries to stay, much like the story of the first Thanksgiving. Using this movie as a jumping-off point, we ponder: is Christian missionary work noble or savage?

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