I went to my library’s book discussion group tonight. I absolutely hated what we read this month but it was probably the best discussion that I have been to. We read TRUMPET IN THE LAND, a play by Paul Green written in 1972. It is about a pacifist settlement of Christian missionaries in Ohio caught between the British and the Americans at the outbreak of the Revolution. Eventually the missionary leaders are detained by the British and while they are gone the Americans come in and kill all the Indians at the settlement. This is based on a true story and the play is performed regularly at an outdoor theater in the area.
My problems with the play are based on the writing. I think that the dialogue is just awful. I can just envision this being performed by bad actors. It also is very rascist and anti-women. I don’t know if that is the feeling of the writer or an accurate reflection of the attitudes of the time. It’s hard to tell.
The discussion centered a lot on the treatment of natives in the area and on religious imperialism. We had several Indian scholars in attendance so they were able to give insights into the history. I found the discussion of religion most interesting. It was led by a minister but he was open to the idea that evangelizing the natives was not the most humane thing to do. I was worried that he would start with the presumption that Christian=good and work from there. The character I sympathized with most was an Indian leader who hated the whites for killing his family but was willing to leave them alone if they left him alone. Of course, that didn’t happen.