Fear of Different Cultures


The article reminds me of the book “A Generous Orthodoxy” by Brian McLaren. The idea is a bit novel to most. Find the good in those not like us, without a simplistic relativism of belief and culture. Most tend toward bigotry (the bad in “them” is highly relevant, while the bad in “us” is tangential to who we are). Some drift to pure relativism (I’m okay, you’re okay, we all are pretty much the same aren’t we?). A few drift to exoticism (we are sooo screwed up… why can’t we be like them). But what about an openness to learn from others (both the good and bad) without relativism our faith? A rare thing.

Global Theology

I spend a lot of time thinking about how the Western church can benefit from the exploration, examination, and integration of non-Western perspectives. A recent voice I have appreciated is Christina Cleveland (@CSCleve), a social psychologist, professor, writer, preacher, and consultant on multicultural issues affecting churches and organizations.

Her post, Our Culture of Fear (of Different Cultures), takes a psychological look at a group’s tendency to avoid those who are perceived as different. These same elements affect interacting with non-Western theologies because of the unspoken assumptions of Western superiority. If the people of the Global South are viewed as having a deficient or derivative perspective, it is a matter of priority to preserve the “purity” of a Western interpretation.

“I sometimes wonder if the animosity some express toward [those who offer a different perspective] is motivated by the fear that the case [for the opposing perspective] might…

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