The Danger of a Homogeneous Blindspot

The Danger of a Homogeneous Blindspot
 
Phil Miglioratti @ The http://Reimagne.Network
 
WHAT - is homogeneity?
SO WHAT - does that have to do with my faith? Or those I disciple?
NOW WHAT ...?
 
This quote in an email from 2012 appeared while I was digging for explanations of why we all have blindspots that are obvious to others but not ourselves.
"Embedded within our self-definition, we build relationships, institutions, cities, systems, and cultures that, in reaffirming our values, blind us to alternatives." "Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril" by Margaret Heffernan
 
The simple truth is every human being is a composite of a myriad of influences, many of which control us without our conscious knowledge.
 
That composite is, in my opinion, the result of our drive to belong with, to be validated by, people who have a sameness with us; our values, interests, preferences, beliefs, Even our weaknesses and fears. We are drawn to what appears to us to be a homogeneous context. Familiar. Safe. A verification of who we are and what we believe.
Homogeneous: "of the same or a similar kindnature or class; of uniform structure or composition throughout a culturally homogeneous neighborhood or a group marked by common characteristics." "The quality or state of being all the same or all of the same kind." (Dictionary)
 
Our search for homogeneity is inherent in our:
  • Identity: Self-image is the search (and often, struggle) to know who we are and discover our purpose in life
  • Family: We cannot choose our brith family but not all birth-families are healthy; some seek "family" with others who suit/affirm their mind-set or value-system
  • Ethnicity: Ancestoy.com has exploded with millions searching for their biological relatives
  • Community: Neighborhoods, schools, churches, shape (and stunt) worldview, behaviors
  • Geography: Terrain impacts life experience (mountains, desert, plains, tropics):
  • Nationality: For most of history, ethnicity and nationality were close to synonymous; now we have Italian-Americans, African-Americans plus mass migration
  • Society: The segment of society we live in or identify with can shut us off from what life is like in other social environments
  • Economy: Financial status funnels us into a "class" and each class has a different experience with/access to the systems/institutions of society
  • Affinity: We gravitate toward certain groups, jobs, or activities based on personal interests, lifestyles, past experiences (divorce, for example)
  • History :Everyone is affected by a limited (and sometimes inaccurate) view of history, which is often communicated to define/defend a particular group 

Homogeneity is both beneficial and (potentially) destructive. Beneficial as it binds together persons of l interests, values, skills, with the potential of bringing happiness, peace, progress from their partnership and cooperative endeavors. Destructive when the worldview of that homogeneous group affirms or demands bad behavior.

"A blind spot is a very small gap in the visual field of each eye—an area of your relatively nearby surroundings that you can't see. It may sound like a physical defect, but everyone has a small natural blind spot (physiological blind spot), and it's not usually noticeable. (VeryWell Health)

 "An area in which one fails to exercise judgment or discrimination." (Dictionary)

As I write this, the Taliban (a homogeneous group bonded in their drive to create a nation based totally upon their fundamentalist version of the Islamic religion) has taken control of Afghanistan, threatening women and Christians, education and modern progress. While this is an obvious example of the dangers of myopic thinking, the blindspot of unexamined homogeneous thinking can infect clubs, churches, political parties, schools, and businesses.
 
When Jesus taught us to love our neighbor, pray for our enemies and to welcome strangers, he was opening our eyes to the negative effects of a homogeneous worldview. To ignore someone because of their ethnicity (not a Jew) or nationality (Samaritan) or social class (a socially powerless women who had been divorced by 5 husbands) is a sin produced by a prejudiced viewpoint.
Homogeneous thinking simply, and strategically, seeks people, places, things and ideas that are identical to the current parameters and preferences of the controlling culture. The objective is to protect the status quo. Things visible (appearance, fashion, architecture) and invisible (values, attitudes). Assimilation protocols. Insider language. Life-style boundaries Societal systems (justice, education). National songs and stories.
 
Throughout history, homogeneity has been vital to survival within families and between nations. Speaking the same language was critical to every aspect of culture, from commerce to courts, education to entertainment. Traditions passed on forms and functions from one generation to the next. Wisdom spoken through storytelling. "Our" history was described in song. 
 
Homogeneity produces a consensus worldview indoctrinated from birth through teachings of belief and behavioral norms. Ignoring cultural protocols (dress codes, music style), advocating counter-cultural mores ("the fixed morally binding customs of a particular group;": Webster), resisting or redefining class boundaries were met with resistance, even violence.
 
Homogeneity, while protecting current beliefs-behaviors-boundaries, is unable to distinguish between what remains essential and valuable and which narratives, value-systems, and-mind-sets-will benefit from review and possible revision or replacement. A thriving culture must encourage both the foundation of conservatism and the fresh scaffolding of liberal thought.
 
SO WHAT...?
 
Jesus, knew a self-protective and passionate homogeneity preserves and serves the kingdom of this world but not the kingdom of God. He exhorts us to repent;  a radical change of thinking that is necessary to see and live this kingdom lifestyle.

Jesus began to preach, saying,
“Change your hearts and lives, because the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Matthew 4:7
 
That radical change of thinking must be lived out in every level or relationships; individuals, families, affinities,  ethnicities.
 
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemies.
 But I say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you.
If you do this, you will be true children of your Father in heaven.
He causes the sun to rise on good people and on evil people,
and he sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong.
 If you love only the people who love you, you will get no reward.
Even the tax collectors do that. And if you are nice only to your friends,
you are no better than other people.
Even those who don’t know God are nice to their friends. Matthew 5:42-47
 
His message? Love beyond. Beyond economic classification which creates isolated and under resourced communities.. Beyond ethnic differences of skin color, language, type and volume of music, food aroma and taste, greeting protocols. Beyond social customs and political perspectives.
 
 And we no longer see each other in our former state—Jew or non-Jew, rich or poor, (slave or free),male or female—
because we’re all one through our union with Jesus Christ.  Galatians 3:28
 
As followers of Christ we are not required to reject our family or ethnicity nor are we all to adopt a single cultural identity. We have freedom of thought regarding the issues and ideas of our society. We have freedom of choice to select what we believe to be best. But we are required to discern between our personal preferences (what makes us feel respected and safe) and the prescriptions and principles of the Kingdom of God. The former must be judged by the latter.
 
This is a struggle for every believer, regardless of leaning left or to the right. Homogeneity makes it easy to believe we hold to liberal ideas because we see liberty in Scripture, or that we champion conservative causes because we see a law and order God in the Bible. Preferences become prejudices (and worse) when they preclude anything outside our sphere of reference.
 
We apply our Lord's instruction (Matthew 4 and 5) to one-on-one relationships but seldom think of "neighbor" as the family next door or a group of people who share an affinity or the ethnicity of refugees or immigrants. Rather than responding in/with love, we are much more prone to judge, dismiss, disagree, or assume our own superiority.
 
Self-Centeredness is a clue to an individual who believes their personality is the best basis of behavior for everyone they meet.They judge others by their own thinking and behavior.
  • Ethnocentrism extends that worldview to other families and nationalities.
  • Nationalism is the product of the homogeneous perspective applied to the policies and traditions of a society or nation.
#ItSeemsToMe…much of the dissension within the Evangelical movement across America is based on a lack of considering homogeneity as a contributing source to our often radically varied opinions.
 
I truly believe we have an inerrancy-complex. We have become so secure in our belief of the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture that we unconsciously begin to over-trust our interpretations and applications of the biblical text,  Homogeneous teaching and preaching, even when faithful to the Scripture-statement, interprets and applies the text within a bounded set of circumstance related to the homogeneity of the audience. Those applications are not necessarily false but they may be inadequate to expand the worldview of the listeners.
 
The homogeneous blindspot causes us to automatically consider differences as a threat or heresy to "biblical" truth (read, our group's doctrinal statement). Thinking we are speaking up for Godwe are actually reacting to a perceived peril to the equilibrium of our culture or limited worldview. Reimagining justice, for example, threatens the historical narrative of the United States that has been taught and sung  and celebrated since our inception. Treatment of the First Nations tribes or the kidnapped African slaves is described from the vantage point of the homogeneity of the majority-culture (whites or persons wholly assimilated to white culture). Reviewing and revising our view of national history must not be considered an assault on Christianity when it is actually an honest attempt to correct a false description or definition of what actually took place.

The resistance to change that may result in loss of control over cultural forms and functionstifles the work of the Holy Spirit to convict us of national sin, God's definition of a  righteous nation, and deadens the fear of God judging that sin. Recently, I had the privilege of contributing to a book of daly prayers prompted by Jesus' prayer in John 17. A biblical, Christian response to the issue of racism, it is designed to open the heart of the reader to experience inner healing, repent, where needed, and move toward heart-transformation ... but also a cry for God to bring healing over the evil of racism in our nation ... a prophetic voice declaring we cannot turn a blind eye to this issue any longer ... includes short stories by people of color ... written by national leaders of multiple ethnicities. The book was ignored by the largely majority-culture customer base of the publisher because it was clearly dealing with a view of social justice that, though thoroughly biblical, was outside the scope of their homogeneous sensibilities. The  homogeneity of majority-culture American evangelical congregations is a breeding ground for prejudice (stereotyping, discriminating), as unintentional as it may be.
 
NOW WHAT...?
 
Let's pray daring prayers...for ourselves ... for our leaders ...for our congregations...
  • ASK...the Holy Spirit to reveal our blindspots and convict us of any sin associated with our limited perspective
  • SEEK...the leading of our Lord Jesus to a new, biblical-sized, perspective on God's Kingdom
  • KNOCK...carefully and prayerfully on closed doors: explore different perspectives, extend grace to people you've avoided or feared, expect to be changed for good and for God (Romans 12:2)
  • CONFESS...any mis-take or sin the Spirit brings to mind
    • Contrition is the recognition of the need for change (Romans 12:2)
    • Convince yourself you need to reassess
    • Confess ("say the same thing") to God
    • Confess to others you can trust to help you into a Spirit-led, Scripture-fed reassessment
    • Continue to Ask - Seek - Knock...
Scripture is infallible. I am not.
 
Phil Miglioratti @ The http://Reimagne.Network
 
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Replies

  • These five realities influence and impact how we construct our homogeneous worldview.

    Genetics

    Upbringing

    Culture

    Technology

    Unexoexted Events

    Read more here>>>

    Five Powerful Forces That Shape Our Lives
    Part I: Do we actually possess free will?
  • #ItSeemsToMe...leaders who do not know the difference between teachering (explaning a concept or content) and indoctrinating (expecting strict adherence to a specific interpretation and /or application of a concept or content) are unaware of their homoegenous blindspot ... which puts their listeners in danger of being unable todiscern and decide for themselves. This results in disciples who know what their leader, church or denomination believe without the personal experience of thinking, assessing, committing.

     

    #ReimagineDISCIPLESHP...

  • "While on the right side of the political spectrum we see calls to nationalism as religion fades, on the left we see ever more fervent appeals to the religion of “wokeness.” Though, as Biggar noted, wokeness also comes to resemble a form of heretical Christianity itself, and so we’re left with a doubly undesirable dichotomy in the wake of declining organized religion."

    From: >>>

  • Christianity seems to require homogeneous thinking, at least denominationally.  What, if anything, does that breed?
    .  
    Network Creator / Coordinator said:

    P.S. to my commentary-

    Homogeneous thinking breeds pre-judging, stereotyping, and racism. Each can exist unknown to the person if they fail to interact with persons or ideas outside of their homogeneous context.

    Many majority-culture individuals react strongly to the designation/accusation of white supremacy because they are unable to comprehend how outsiders would not want to be inside their culture club.

  • True.  But what was God's Conception?

    How patient is God in Realizing His Conception?

    What Process, uncomfortable to humans, would He Use?

    .  

    Network Creator / Coordinator said:

    IMHO, the actual intent of the originators concept of America was life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the a predominately white-male culture.

    Minorities have had to fight to be heard and have access to positions of power.

    Richard H. Skiba, Jr. said:

    These problems also involve how a society treats diversity.

     

    There are many who want society to embrace diversity.

     

    There are many in society who are willing to tolerate diversity.

     

    Those who want society to embrace diversity tolerate nothing less.

     

    Those who are willing to tolerate diversity embrace nothing more.

     

    #ItSeemsToMe that this is more than a blind spot in the eye.

     

    American society has turned a blind eye on God's concept of America.

     

  • P.S. to my commentary-

    Homogeneous thinking breeds pre-judging, stereotyping, and racism. Each can exist unknown to the person if they fail to interact with persons or ideas outside of their homogeneous context.

    Many majority-culture individuals react strongly to the designation/accusation of white supremacy because they are unable to comprehend how outsiders would not want to be inside their culture club.

  • IMHO, the actual intent of the originators concept of America was life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the a predominately white-male culture.

    Minorities have had to fight to be heard and have access to positions of power.

    Richard H. Skiba, Jr. said:

    These problems also involve how a society treats diversity.

     

    There are many who want society to embrace diversity.

     

    There are many in society who are willing to tolerate diversity.

     

    Those who want society to embrace diversity tolerate nothing less.

     

    Those who are willing to tolerate diversity embrace nothing more.

     

    #ItSeemsToMe that this is more than a blind spot in the eye.

     

    American society has turned a blind eye on God's concept of America.

     

  • These problems also involve how a society treats diversity.

     

    There are many who want society to embrace diversity.

     

    There are many in society who are willing to tolerate diversity.

     

    Those who want society to embrace diversity tolerate nothing less.

     

    Those who are willing to tolerate diversity embrace nothing more.

     

    #ItSeemsToMe that this is more than a blind spot in the eye.

     

    American society has turned a blind eye on God's concept of America.

     

    • As the speed of life accelerates, not unlike Nascar drivers, we ALL need Spotters in our lives... who have a good vantage point from which to communicate to us our blindspots.  That is, to help us “sharpen one another”.
    • I give minority groups more leeway in the homogeneous principle than my majority friends. Given the pressures by the majority, I realize the need for some ‘safe’ spheres, for example the black church.  But at the same time, I exhort our majority churches to help rid the world of those pressures.
    • In fact, let me extend that a bit further and paraphrase an African American pastor friend:  “If majority folks truly want a multi-cultural church, the math says that really isn’t possible but inviting minorities to come join your majority churches. There’s simply not enough of us.  Instead, come be a part of a minority church.”
    • Homogeneity, in my opinion, is part of OT Israel’s failure to carry out the Great Commission/Commandment seen in the promise to Abraham to impact the whole world.  And closely related, our NT reading of OT ‘Israel’ as just the homogeneous Jewish group primarily holed-up in the recognized country/nation of ‘Israel’... it doubles-down on a short-sighted nationalistic view of God’s people.
    • Hospitality is a very opposite concept, one demanded of TheChurch -- not only in Romans12 where we’re all called to practice hospitality, but importantly, an identifiable hallmark of those who would serve as Elders.
    • Paul called out Peter for his homogeneous practice at one point, calling it “not in conformity with the gospel”. (Gal.2) 
    • Giftedness within the Church is an asset -- ie, a Holy Spirit gifted ability to impact one another, coming from very different ways of seeing the world, God’s mission in it, and our particular perspective.  It’s trinitarian-like unity and diversity together.
    • Bottom line:  #preference vs. #deference -- it’s the counter-intuitive essence of the Good News message:  That the Almighty God in Jesus deferred His power and riches, to be incarnate in our world, in a manger no less, and consummately demonstrated as self-sacrifice on the cross... on our behalf.  Inviting us into His peace, eternally.
    • I fully recommend reading "Divided by Faith", a classic by Michael Emerson.  Then its sequel:  "United by Faith".  You'll be glad you did.  I was.
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