Spirit of the Rainforest: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Culture

This post will finish the summary of Spirit of the Rainforest by looking at the strengths and weaknesses of the book. We will also introduce the next part of this book review by looking at the Yanomamo culture and my own Western culture. The next post will give an expanded look at the positives of their culture and after that, the weaknesses of their culture compared to the West.


 

The strength of this book is the personal and intimate account of an actual Yanomamo shaman. Jungleman describes the Yanomamo life in graphic detail and gives the reader reasoning to understand their culture and lifestyle. Spirit of the Rainforest shows how God can truly make a difference in a community. The book beautifully shows a village of new believers struggling between their old traditions and new beliefs. It describes how they become different and standout from other villages by treating women and children appropriately and by not seeking revenge.

The weakness of this book is primarily with the verifiability of the stories. It seems that Ritchie did all he could to verify the stories and research, but many anthropologists seem to differ with him due to the negative impact and experiences described in the book. Also, since Jungleman was not physically present for every account or event described, the accuracy of the stories is questionable: information could have been missing or altered through second hand accounts. Ritchie however does state repeatedly that the events are true and that “truth is stranger than fiction.”[1]


Compare and Contrast Cultures

Spirit of the Rainforest provides the reader with a glimpse into a different culture, a different way of life, and the impact of true Christianity. The heavy reliance on the spiritual world is more neutral for the Yanomamo’s when compared to an American worldview. The Yanomamo’s loyalty and community is a positive aspect compared to an American society, while the revenge mentality and poor view of women is a negative in comparison.


[1] Mark Andrew Ritchie, Spirit of the Rainforest, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Island lake Press, 2000), 8, 245-48.

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