Mission madness


Some years ago I was sitting in a missionary meeting listening to an Aboriginal Australian speak of Christian work among his own people. He illustrated his talk with the usual slides of the outback, but there was one slide that seemed to me totally out of place. It was a picture of his home, and there out the front was a genuine spear-carrying concrete Aboriginal garden gnome. If it had been a Homer Simpson, or even the Prime Minister of Australia (dressed in a WW1 military uniform, of course), there would be some sanity in it.

Actually, some friends of ours removed their parents Aboriginal garden ornament and gave him an enforced holiday. For the next year they sent postcards home from Neville as he toured the outback on walkabout, and yes, even a picture of him with some of his relatives. He even got married and was photographed with his new bride. It was full on crazy, funny, but not quite PC.

It gives me the cold shivers how we have so easily confused culture with the Christian faith. In the name of Jesus we have dressed half the world's native population in bras and bloomers. The most common argument used for westernizing tribal people was that the spread of civilization will inevitably destroy the culture of native tribes and therefore, if they're to survive, they must be educated and prepared for the onslaught. Much of this type of work is going on at this very moment in the Amazon jungle. The social consequences are enormous. The people virtually lose their and identify and self worth. So, in fact, the opposite is so; the preservation of culture is paramount.

Western civilization is based on Christianity, but Christianity is not Western civilization. Every culture thinks it's superior and we Westerners are no exception. In truth, the Christian faith stands quite apart from culture. In fact, if you want to give it a home, it's more Eastern than Western. The good news about Jesus is not limited to any one particular culture.


[Pumpkin Cottage]