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Unnaturally Unatural September 12, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Deep, God.
4 comments

I’m a teaching assistant for a class this fall and we had the opportunity to put a brief profile up on the web. One of the questions it asked was what books and music we would take with us to a desert island. I would definitely take the Bible and some of my worship CDs, but I hesitated to put it on there for fear that it would either turn people off or label me in such a way that would make open discussion in the classroom difficult (ie. would being known as a Christian make students less likely to trust my answers in class). That bothered me somehow because the answer to a question as simple as what books and music I like should be a no brainer…answering it should come naturally. I began to think of other areas such as asking for advice about school decisions. Its really hard to include in the conversation the fact that my overall orientation towards such decisions is a belief that God is leading me. Instead, I’m usually very concious of leaving that sort of info out.

If my worldview is such that I believe God is intimately involved in my life, that he is in control, that he loves me and so forth, there are countless places in conversation where that should jus slip out. And yet, it doesn’t very often. There’s a sort of preset choke mechanism within me that is always valuing appropriateness. And thus, what should be natural feels very unatural.

And the fact that it feels unatural…is well unatural. Thus, the fact that I don’t feel comfortable simply making reference to my faith and how I see God involved in every aspect of my life is ‘unaturally unatural’.

A big consequence of this is that we actually grow to doubt what we believe rather than strengthen it. Its a psychological reality that our attitudes often align themselves with what we speak, and if we never speak of what God is up to in our lives, we will find it more and more difficult to recognize his presence and involvement ourselves.

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Bloodsucker slayers! September 12, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Christianity.
1 comment so far

Alright…this one isn’t for queasy stomachs.

The other day a friend was telling me that while we was praying for a particular place, she had a picture of this dark, ugly creature that was sucking the life out of the people there. Then she saw that the prayers of the church were pouring salt on this creature causing it to shrivel up and release its hold.

It hit me that pouring salt is exactly what we do to leeches (bloodsuckers) and that ‘blooducker’ is a perfect caricature of the enemy and how he attacks the lifeflow of people, draining them through overwork or emotional wounds, etc. It kind of gives another dimension to what Jesus meant when he called us to be the salt of the earth, doesn’t it?

Inclusiveness September 6, 2007

Posted by amybeth in School.
7 comments

Yesterday I went to a workshop for TAs (teaching assistants) on ‘The Inclusive Classroom’. From the description (interpreted through the lens of my own interest background), I assumed that that we were going to be taught how to work with diversity in the classroom, particularly in terms of helping the various cultures that come to McMaster learn the material and excel as much as their peers.

That’s not what it was about at all. It had nothing to do with learning, perse, but with eliminating discrimination, making everyone feel welcome regardless of race, gender, disability or sexual orientation. While I am strongly against racism or discrimination of any kind and believe that we should definitely confront such when we find it, encouraging, instead, a fundamental belief in the equality of everyone, I get frustrated with the way in which ‘inclusiveness’ has become an obsession to the point in which one has to trip over one’s tongue in order to risk the least hint of potentially offending someone with their language, regardless of their true intentions. Can’t we all give each other a bit of grace and trust that, for the most part, people today are good intentioned and want to show respect to all peoples? Sometimes an accusation of discrimination creates more division than was ever intended in the first place, pointing out difference that was never even noticed in the first place.

One thing I found amusing was the way in which the workshop leader struggled to model what she was teaching. She was being so cautious in her wording, trying to avoid any hint of exlusion. At one point she was talking about some distinction between the dominant culture in the West and others but in doing so she used the word ‘whites’. Instinctively sensing that perhaps that was not the right choice, she scrambled for an alternative and came up with ‘non-ethnic’. Satisfied at last, she went on with her teaching.

Now is it just me, or does the word ‘non-ethnic’ strike you as even more problematic than ‘white’. For some reason, it implies that Caucasions have no ethnicity, but even worse, it implies that they, therefore, are the default from which all other ethnicities diverge. Now, if that isn’t culture-centric, I don’t know what is.

Any feedback? How do you feel about the whole inclusion issue? How do you react to the word ‘non-ethnic’? Have you ever encountered a situation where this extreme caution about wording has made a real difference in how a person feels about themselves (I’m not talking about preventing an overt reaction of offense…I’m talking about the true self-esteem of people)?

Grocery Shopping 101 September 6, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Life.
3 comments

Okay…so yesterday I went grocery shopping at the Fortinos closest to the University. I think I’ve only been shopping there at this time of year once before, so I’d forgotten what it was like. There were no single shoppers…just groups. Either the group was a set of roommates haggling over what they needed or the best brand, trying valiantly to shopy by consensus. Or it was parents shopping with their teenager extending advice about what to buy and sometimes running into interesting roadblocks when they discovered, for example, that their child had decided to go with Soy milk instead of regular. The students all walked around with this sort of stunned, bug-eyed look. In one conversation I overheard, a student was exclaiming at how many shelves of a certain type of product there were compared to the tiny section of that same thing in their local grocery store. Culture shock at Fortinos!

I totally sympathize with their plight and how overwhelmed they must be, how nervous on their behalf the parents must be. And yet I have no compunction about recieving a measure of amusement at their expense. What can I say…it was funny! 

I don’t think I ever had that sudden of a change because even before I left home I was expected to do my own grocery shopping. So I could venture into that area of responsibility while my mom was still around to consult later. How about you…any school or living on your own culture shock stories?