Cross Cultural Review: Spirit of the Rainforest

Continuing our series by looking at the book, “The Spirit of the Rainforest.” This post will take a brief look at the aspects of the tribal Yanomamo culture that is not necessarily better or worse than those in the West, but is something that Americans can relate to with that culture.


Neutral Aspects

The Yanomamo tribes and American’s view the spirits or God as a tool used to get their way, envisioning a “genie” to grant their wishes. Both cultures experience Satan’s lies that God does not exist or is an enemy as he masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:4). Americans struggle with many negative aspects found in the Yanomamo culture like vengeance, murder, and mistreatment of minorities. While the Yanomamo are much more aware of the spirit world including the good and bad spirits, a hierarchy to the spirits, and even inquiring of the spirits, the spirit world of the American culture has deceived many to move away from spiritual matters including to believe there is no God. Shoefoot even identified many signs and symbols of the spirit world while visiting America.[1]

Instead, many Americans are worshipping the counterfeit gods of money, sex, fame, and success without ever realizing what they are doing. Despite the differences between environment and culture, both suffer with sin and desiring more material possessions. Yanomamo men are more concerned about displaying courage and bravado[2], while in much the same way, Americans fall into the trap of displaying a false sense of success. Christians, like those of Honey, are often tempted to follow the surrounding culture and give in to its temptations. But as Christians, we are asked to stand apart and stand up for what is right, true, obedient, and to be faithful to God.

[1] Ibid, 251.

[2] Ibid, 44, 59.

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