Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Equality of the Nations - starts with our churches

My brother(s) have begun a little campaign (which I am backing) concerning a certain idea about the missionary mindset in Aboriginal communities (started by a certain pastor and his mindset). Which couldn't of happened at a weirder time for me - I just had it out with 2 managers of mine at work about 'what seems to be vast cultural differences' and the way we view ourselves. That being said, I stood my ground for self-respect and now see my brothers doing the same (on a somewhat larger scale).

My older brother has been somewhat harrassed by a local church pastor about his son (who attends a church school there). The incidences seem to involve a syatematic picking on of his children for not following the cultural norms of the school (ex: hair length). One of his sons was booted for accusations of pornography and for 'long hair' (which were unfounded and without proof). Now the second son is feeling the heat for that (it seems) - he was picked out of a whole service and made to feel ashamed for his 'haircut' and said to not 'be listening' (again accusations without ground and made the kid feel such shame). The real problem in this is these kids are Aboriginal and 'long hair' is a sign of pride in our culture (something we see a right to do).

This was later followed by that pastor calling my older brother's wife and calling them bad parents - for the 2 kids more or less. Needless to say, you know what attitude happened next (anger). The pastor apparently never stopped there and went on to blame my younger brother for being a parapalegic on his choices and the 'he brought this on himself'. Top that off, I also had a sister who just went through a divorce at that church and was judged very extremely by that congregation there - and her kids attended that church school only to hear 'un-truths' about their mother. Add this all up and you have the systematic damaging of one family - that one being mine.

My younger brother is now writing letters to a group that supports that church and is questioning the very tactics of the faith they use towards Aboriginal people (and with these incidences at his side - he has some good reason to be skeptical). He uses much more militant language than I do but makes his point very clear - calling that church to account what they are doing. He has a meeting with these church funders later this week (unbelievably they granted him some time to hear his case).

I don't usually make a stand for anything but this time I am asked to search my conscience on the issue and I have heard the stories first-hand - and they are not heart-warming in the least. What seems to be at the core of the issue is European views and Aboriginal one's regarding the teachings of the faith (at least this is the case being made by my younger & older brother). I agree they are onto something. I can't quite recall when this particular church has ever built the esteem of the Aboriginal peoples they 'preach' to in regards to history, culture, community, and family. It's a real sad state of affiars that one un-accountable pastor cannot find the reality to humble himself and make things right (and maybe even being some cultural training about the people he thinks he is a missionary to).

The real odd thing is - this is the same pastor I wrote that letter of thanks to (concerning my time spent under his tutolage as a youth) - yet he can't find the heart to do the same for my family? I find that extremely sad. But I will continue to hear this story out and defend my family with all their faults and their faith (of which we all share in common) - only on the issues of accountability and cultural identity of this inner-city church. I can't help but think why this pastor to the inner-city has pushed away so many Aboriginal peoples he has worked with (and this possibly un-intentionally)?

In the end, I want a total halt to the superiority of some 'European' view on the faith and find equality for the Aboriginal view of it. This mentality may have worked in times past but those days are now past - and now we need to grow up. Maybe this endeavor will spark just that - a re-birth of the Aboriginal giving to the faith and how there is nothing wrong with viewing it through our experiences (which oddly enough was horrendously oppressed by Churches and the gov't in Canada through years of documented school-churches/institutions). One can hope that it will get more respect and value the views of the Aboriginal in the faith.

8 comments:

dorsey said...

I get really bent out of shape when elitists impinge upon the freedoms of others, especially in the context of Christian community.

In the anger that arose while reading your post, my only suggestion at the moment is a "reverse crusade," wherein the euros are given a taste of their own medicine.

"No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!!!" --Cardinal Richleau

Anonymous said...

Society,

I'll be praying for you and I empathize as I have been there too with my sons. Know that those who are so narrow in their view towards others find many reasons to exclude and not only against Aboriginal people. They strain at gnats and they destroy lives. I'll be praying in particular for the children. I am so proud of you guys for going to the mat for them. That alone is enough to let them know how valued they are by their family and how important their heritage is.

Jesus is for all people and knows no racial boundaries. Even if you are not able to win this battle and the children able to stay in that school and be respected, they have already lost in their blindness to the all inclusive nature of Jesus Christ.

May God's Holy Spirit fill and enable you all to speak words of wisdom.

Pam

SocietyVs said...

Dorsey, I loved that sketch by Monty Python. On an even stranger note I have been 'tails of the inquisition all week' (and I recognized that true narrowness of belief is extremely dangerous).

Thanks Pam, I think my fight is about justice more than any other value (and I am more supporting people in the fight). I guess I thought all this type of cultural bias died out when was I child - but I now think that is not so - systemically forms of ehtnocentricity have been ingrained in systems - which teach one cultural view has priority over another (which happened at my workplace in some regards and now in this church). Still, I am thankful for the freedom this country allows for self-expression and I am hoping the church can catch up to that. Again thanks Pam - you truly are someone with insight.

Jim Jordan said...

Apparently we're not as removed from the colonial period as I thought. You might want to ask the pastor, Is God of European descent?

the_burning_bush said...

Reminds me of the beginning of 1 Timothy 4 about how in the later times people will forbid things God has not forbidden.

"For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer."

I find it very sad when people are more interested in external formalities than they are in the inward movements of faith and repentance. My hope is you will continue showing patience to this man, Jason, though it sounds very difficult!

jim said...

Ouch! That stinks (I'm holding back). As you know I have been a missionary to a First Nations community. As of June 30th I am done... it's a long story. Part of me wants to know who it is that you are talking about, but I'm afraid that I'll know him. I hope the church (missions) catch up soon too!

God Bless you brother... you have my full respect, faith and trust.

Jim

chris said...

Jay, you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers!

Ambree C. said...

Ditto what chris said. :) I'm so sorry that's happening to those kids...but somehow, the Lord always works things like that out for good, so I'm trusting He'll do that for them.

Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. Obviously that pastor has his focus on the wrong thing, and when that's off, everything else in his life will be off. I'll definitely pray for him too. :)

Ambree C. :)