Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Has anyone seen my moral high ground?

I’m interested in a recent article in the Seattle Times about casual sexual encounters for two reasons. The first reason has to do with how we’re perceived globally. Since a marriage is more likely to fail in America than anywhere else in the world, and since we also are near the front of the pack in statistics such as abortion, venereal disease, and those ailments that arise from a sense of isolation, it’s understandable that not everyone would want to be ‘just like us’. In fact, it’s understandable that Islamic cultures, with their strong ties of family and their limitations of sexual expression to marriage, would find our culture reprehensible. It’s equally odd that we would then frame our struggle to export democracy as a struggle between good and evil.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand some of the evils and shortcomings of Islamic culture, and I’m not advocating bashing our culture or exalting another. But I am suggesting that we’re perceived by much of the world as doing just the opposite – in public platforms on the world stage, our rhetoric tends to exalt American culture and bash those cultures who aren’t part of the ‘coalition of the willing’. What’s needed, it seems to me, is the humility to realize that, for all our strengths, our American culture is riddled with some deep pathologies. And when we turn our eyes to other parts of the world we should acknowledge that there are cultures that do things better than we, and be willing to learn from them. This would go far in creating a different, and I would assume, better image for the USA over on this side of the Atlantic.

The other observation from the article needs to be saved for another time… I need to go teach.


At 17/12/05 22:01, Anonymous S. Ross said...

Actually, right now in Iraq there is a struggle against evil, not that we are "good." For Iraqis, saying the wrong thing or being at the wrong place can give a Jihadist reason to kill you and your family. The same was true before the fall of Saddam. In Israel, people face the constant threat of Palestinian suicide bombers. And now the President of Iran is calling the holocaust a "myth" and for Israel to be "wiped off the map." Whatever the shortcomings of American culture, these are not a part of them. I don't think there is any reason to be ashamed our efforts to spread democracy.

At 20/12/05 10:18, Anonymous said...

I believe this post represents the disconnect between our efforts in Iraqi and the perception of those efforts (which I believe is one of Bush's biggest failings, clearly articulating our efforts in Iraqi).

I thing the framework of 'good vs evil' isn't about social moral high ground in the Middle East. The 'good' we're trying to implement is a democratic political system in which the people are able to take part in the process. The 'evil' we're fighting is dictorial rule in which the people are subject to absolute power.

Once freedom and democracy reign it's up to the Iraqi's to do with it what they will (within the confines of their new constitution/government). We're not fighting to implement our societal ways in Iraqi, we're fighting to give the Iraqi people the chance to shape their own society.

At 20/12/05 14:43, Blogger Kristi said...

I'm reading _Anthropology for Christian Witness_, by Charles Kraft of Fuller Seminary, and it speaks quite pertinently to how other peoples often perceive western ways. I highly recommend it also for a study in differentiating Kingdom ways from American ways. Very good stuff!

At 20/12/05 23:08, Anonymous s. ross said...

I agree with you, and I would like to read that book when I get a chance. The Iraqi election went very well here, and I have seen that our work is making a difference. I pray that God will bless our efforts and reveal his will in Iraq.


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