Mind Your Privilege

One thing that irritates me is Christian nonfiction that belittles Western culture while ignoring the privileges that culture gives the author. This issue is of note in Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus. I agree with Tverburg that the Bible is an Eastern document and that for too long the church has tried to reinterpret it through a solely Western perspective. However, she falls into the trap of disparaging Western culture with its individualism as being inherently selfish. Tverburg and other authors fall into the trap that one culture is inherently superior to the other, not just different. However, these authors ignore a major point: this “inferior” Western culture gave them privileges that they would most likely not have gained in other cultures. Tverburg celebrates being an “armchair anthropologist” and encourages her readers to pick up some basic Hebrew vocabulary for their Bible studies. And there is nothing wrong with that: except it ignores the fact that that level of academia, even the causal “armchair” level, is a privilege of Western societies. To have the free time, the money, the opportunity to study, to purchase books, to read, to further your knowledge is a privilege we have. It is ignorant to dismiss Western culture as somehow less, and ignore the fact that it was that very Western culture enables so much of what you propose are good things.

That’s not to excuse Western culture or to crow over other cultures. We have a lot to learn from Eastern cultures. This lack was recently seen in the “controversy” over wearing masks during the pandemic. Many have focused on their individual rights (such as the “right” to ignore government mandates) over the good of the whole (preventing the spread of a pandemic-level disease that is extremely fatal). Eastern cultures see the good of the whole over the good of the individual, and have been wearing masks during cold/flu season for years in order to stop the spread of disease.

But excuse my minor rant. I’ve been thinking on this while reading and wanted to get it out on “paper” while my brain was somewhat enlivened by my morning cuppa.

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