Reflection on Reflecting


For over a week, I have had no access to my wordpress.com blogs. I maintain four. This is one of them. Then we have one for our family (bobandceliamunson.wordpress.com). Then we have our main ministry (bukallife.wordpress.com). Finally we have our local (Philippine) church. (westbaguiobaptist.wordpress.com).  Some I do a better job of updating than others.

So for about 10 days I could not open these blogs, nor update. Rather frustrating. But then today, I have access again.  Great!!

So I was all ready to start putting down things in my blogs when I realized that I had nothing to say. That is odd. I normally have quite a bit to say… if not every day, at least every 3 or 4 days. It is not to say that there hasn’t been things that could inspire topics. My Missions History (master level) class is just finishing, and my Cultural Anthropology (doctoral level) class will start in a few days. I have been working slowly on a book for pastoral care in the Philippines… and have been working especially hard on pastoral assessment. But nothing jumped out at me to put in a post.

It occurs to me that I think by writing to some extent. My thoughts do not coalesce unless they go through the process of being put into written form. Additionally, however, I find it difficult to push through the process of writing down unless there is (the possibility at least) of readers or listeners. It is not the number of readers that matters, nor even the reality of readers. It is the POTENTIAL of readers that can motivate to write.

I am not so sure that this is unusual. There are relatively few Emily Dickinsons out there… writing at a high level with no plan to make the results available to the eyes of others.

So… NOW that I am in the middle of typing, it occurs to me what I really want to say (I had no idea when I started).

I don’t know about in other countries, but in the Philippines, missions teaching and missions writing are dominated by foreigners. A lot of bible schools don’t really pay much of anything for teachers… even less for missions professors. Why? One can get a foreign missionary to teach the class for free commonly (since they are externally supported). Publishing houses in the Philippines commonly publish foreign works… republishing in some cases foreign works, or new materials written by foreigners living locally. It is hard to make money writing in the Philippines so the ones that can write are often those who don’t need financial remuneration.

The result, to me, seems to be cyclical. Foreigners (in missions) write and teach, taking away the need (and incentives) for locals to write and teach missions. This creates a lack of qualified locals in missiology, resulting in a vaccuum that is filled by foreigners…. and around the circle again.

Some things can be done to improve things. Local publshing can actively seek local writers. I know of some schools that pay the same amount (either salary or honorarium) to all regardless of whether a foreign missionary or not. That removes the temptation to make teaching decisions, either way, based on cost.

Don’t get me wrong. I live as a foreign missionary here and enjoy teaching and writing. I also believe that we all learn by the “cross-pollination” knowledge… meaning that there should always foreign reflection and local missions reflection in any cultural setting. However, if it becomes to lopsided there can be problems. If either local or foreign reflection has all incentives removed… something valuable is lost.

 

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