Food for the Flames

Idols and Missionaries in Central Polynesia

David Shaw King
Foreword by David Attenborough

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  • $80.00s hardcover (9781907372162) Add to Cart
  • Published: May 2011
  • Subject Listing: Literature
  • Bibliographic information: 256 pp., 300 color illus., 8.5 x 11 in.
  • Territorial rights: Rights in U.S. and Canada only
  • Distributed for: Paul Holberton publishing
  • Contents

Twenty-five years after Captain Cook, the London Missionary Society sent its first representatives to the South Seas. Their goal was to eradicate heathenism and idolatry, but unwittingly, they became agents for the preservation of Polynesian culture through their diligent recording of language and religious practices. They even preserved a number of religious artifacts, which they sent back to England for exhibition in the Mission Museum in London.

Food for the Flames focuses on these artifacts, the idols that avoided the flames. With the scientist's belief in letting the evidence speak for itself, the author, a biochemist, has mined a wide range of primary sources to bring together a wealth of new information on a generally unpopular subject, the missionary endeavour. Missionary subjects, Polynesian 'temples', and numerous idols are illustrated in color. The majority of this material is published here for the first time.

". . . this book offers an excellent starting point for scholars wishing to pursue issues pertaining to the missionary enterprise, pivotal in Central Polynesian history and which has just started being considered." -Fanny Wonu Veys, Pacific Affairs, December 2012