the art of blindspot exposure

The comment which provoked the most response while teaching in Zambia was when we came to the 'submission' passages in 1 Peter 2:11-3:7 and I suggested that we needed to avoid two errors:

(a) the 'cut and paste' error
This occurs when we 'cut' these verses out of the context of this letter and the occasion and time into which Peter was writing and just 'paste' them into our own occasion and time ... and then sit back and pat ourselves on the back for interpreting the Bible literally - as if 'literally' means the same thing as 'accurately'. It doesn't!

(b) the 'delete and escape' error
This occurs when we see something we don't like in the Bible - like these submission passages. We kinda pretend they aren't there, skip over them, basically 'delete' them and 'escape' from them to something that rests more easily with us. The outcome? We shut down the possibility of the Bible ever saying something hard to us.

One of the benefits of living in another culture for awhile is that you see your own culture more clearly - together with its blindspots. And these blindspots do tend to develop and grow when we live our lives oblivious to one of these twin errors.
After two weeks mixing with pastors in Zambia I reckon some of our Kiwi blindspots came into focus for me. I offer my TOP SIX blindspots (in no particular order) and welcome additions or subtractions or changes from you:

1. Family
Two extremes! One is the idolatry of family in which we worship our children and can't allow God to call us to do anything that we think might damage them. The second is where we are so intent on career-advancement and/or lifestyle-enhancing that we make decisions about the care of children that might well damage them over the longer term.

2. Money
The poverty of Christians in so many parts of the world is just unacceptable. The wealth of Christians in so many parts of the world is also unacceptable. While some wealthy Christians are remarkably generous, far more of them need to be so. And we all need to be more content with what we have.

3. Age
It was interesting to be in a culture where it is the older ones who are respected and exalted. In our culture it is the younger ones that are respected and exalted. Our obsession with youth and youthfulness really is very odd indeed.

4. Holiness
It is not just about sex ... but having said that we have raised a young adult generation whose standards on sexuality owe more to a decade of watching Friends than it does to a decade of reading Jesus - which, of course, should not surprise us as more time has been spent doing the former than doing the latter.

5. Eternity
"Israel put their hope in the judgement of God." Why? They were an oppressed people and so coming judgement was something to sing about and celebrate. Eternity is that time when all unpunished badness is judged for all time and all unaffirmed goodness is vindicated for all time. No wonder we can't make sense of this world. We think the present time is all there is...

6. Justice
Justice has gone from being something we fight for and protect for others (particularly other believers globally) to becoming something we fight for and defend for ourselves. Personal rights now eclipse personal responsibility ... and so something like submission having a beauty in a particular situation just cannot be entertained.

Which means I've ended up where I started and so I should quit and let you contribute something.

nice chatting



Stephen G said…
Interesting list, Paul.

Pretty similar to the one in Walter's book "A Long Way from Home" that I read back in the 80's sometime. (One of the books I was encouraged to read to start connecting Christian faith with real world issues)

I guess some things don't change.

Walter, J.A. "A Long Way from Home : A Sociological Exploration of Contemporary Idolatry." Exeter U.K.: Paternoster Press, 1979.
ana said…
Just picking up on the age thing...

As part of my upbringing, I was taught to call my elders by Mr/Mrs/Aunty/Uncle as a sign of respect. Whilst I still call people of my own ethnicity Aunty/Uncle, I have often been asked not to call fellow New Zealanders by a title because it makes them feel old or uncomfortable.

So it has always seemed that people older than myself want to be referred to (and therefore treated) as my counterpart regardless of my age.

Is this true? And if so, why do people feel that way?
Paul Windsor said…
Ana - an Indian friend of my son Joseph called me 'uncle' just two nights ago ... and it was the first thing Joseph asked me about 24hrs later. It reflects a delightful mix of love and respect and sure beats children calling adults by their first name. Growing up in India, we always called other missionaries 'uncle' and 'aunty' ... but I don't think it will catch on in NZ! And rather sadly, when people ask for their first names to be used we probably do have to give in to their wishes! But if you were five years younger I'd want to hear that 'uncle'!!
Christina said…
Hi Paul
I just want to pick up your comments on age. " In our culture it is the younger ones that are respected and exalted."
While I agree with that and can see that in the media. I wonder how that fits with shows like "studentville" that show young people as out of control drunks, that don't deserve respect. Also with the paradox in the working world where experience is everything (which makes it increasingly hard to get your first job) but you can't be too old either?

Tim said…
Can I take up the "family" thing, I've been thinking about Christian talk of family quite a bit recently writing the pieces for VisionNetwork.

Christians in the West are not only subject to the two tendencies in the wider culture that you identify. We have also come to (is idolise too strong?) give too much authority to the Victorian (Mum, Dad and two kids) model of family (which is only dubiously biblical), while quietly ignoring and turning our backs on the much stronger and clearer teaching throughout the Bible on divorce.

Sure there are difficult and sensitive pastoral issues, but can we simply reject so much that the Bible teaches clearly?
Paul Windsor said…
Point taken, Christina
I guess I am speaking into the celebration of youthfulness in our culture. White hair and wrinkles is anathema - something to delay with whatever product we can! We do not value the wisdom and life experience of the 'older adult' enough...
On the employment front I do wonder if a 25yr old has a better chance of employement than a 55yr old?? Maybe, maybe not...
Paul Windsor said…
On family... I am increasingly persuaded - as you are Tim - that the nuclear family is over-stated. The NT word of 'household' seems to be much more the priority - which itself approximates more the idea of whanau, does it not?

As for 'idolise' - I think I'll keep the word! It is possible to so focus on the children that it blocks the ears to the call of God and life easily defaults to disobedience. That sounds close to 'idol' to me!
Sean du Toit said…
Sha, good comments all round. But Paul, I can't believe you came all the way to Africa without popping down to Cape Town! The weather is great, the place is as beautiful as NZ, the people amazing, and the church in need of some good theological reasoning. So next time, come visit me! :)
Studentville said…
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Studentville said…
Ya gotta respect any Student that can drink 8 jugs of piss and still go study any one of many respectable professions. Or organize one of the biggest pub crawls in the world (undie 500).

I quote the head of the Otago University Chaplaincy who kindly came and blessed this years Hyde St Keg party in Dunedin “…we bless today in the name of our lord savior, who himself attended many similar events”. A men to that :)

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