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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Additional Commentary. . .Resources. . . Replies

  • #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...

  • 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?
  • 10103272076?profile=RESIZE_400x

    Whether we realize it or not, our pictures of God impact our worldviews, our lives, and how we view one another.

    If God is a nationalist, then anyone who isn’t a citizen of that nation can be seen as an enemy and be treated as such. If God is a nationalist, then God favors only one nation and turns a blind eye to all others. If God is a nationalist, then the country’s citizens supersede the people of God in Christ. The temptation is to reject all immigrants and embrace an elitist mentality.

    Our pictures of God matter; they affect how we live and distort (or enhance) our witness. If the people of God are to be imitators of God, then our images of God matter all the more. What image of God are we imitating?

    Tara Beth Leach

    Radiant Church
    In an era where the church has lost much of its credibility, pastor Tara Beth Leach casts a vision for Christians to rediscover a robust, attractive…
  • From "This Week" magazine - -

    10112690260?profile=RESIZE_930x

    https://storage.ning.com/topology/rest/1.0/file/get/10112690260?profile=original
  • Worldview Made Practical

     

    [Note from the author]

    Understanding the topic of worldview is more critical for Christians in our day than it has ever been before. American society used to be quite homogeneous, with Christian Theism being the dominant worldview. In that situation, understanding worldview concepts was not nearly as important. But that is not the way modern society exists. 

    One of the big problems for churches in trying to deal with this, though, is that switching gears from teaching our faith using our traditional paradigm to a worldview paradigm is difficult. It can’t really be done using sound bites. To help people grasp worldview concepts more fully, I have prepared a glossary of terms that are used in dealing with this topic. It is my prayer that as you read and study about this topic, this glossary will help you to understand more fully.

    Honestly, you need to understand worldview concepts. Understanding will not only help your personal confidence as you live out your faith in the world, but also help you as you as you seek to share your faith with those who don’t know Christ. 

     

    Worldview Glossary

    By Freddy Davis

     

    While the word “worldview” has become rather common in modern conversation, relatively few people really understand the implications of what the word means. Just looking at it, it seems that it ought to have a pretty simple meaning – one’s view of the world, right?

     

    Well, yes and no. It certainly does represent one’s view of the world, but the depth of meaning of the word goes FAR beyond that simple understanding.

     

    This glossary is not an attempt to give a full explanation of the concept of worldview. We have written scores of articles and produced many other resources to do that do that (check out http://www.marketfaith.org/worldview-resources). Hopefully what this glossary will do is to give you a better understanding of the content of those resources, as well as to help you going forward when you read other material about worldview.

     

    Worldview

    A worldview is the assumptions people hold about the nature of reality. Every person considers that the beliefs they hold at a worldview level represent reality (the way things actually exist). They also consider that every belief that sits outside of their worldview is fantasy; that is, it couldn’t possibly be true.  People’s worldview is their perspective on life that makes the world around them seem to make sense. It is important to recognize, though, that whatever that perspective is, it cannot be proven using empirical (scientific) means. Worldview beliefs are assumed by people to be true based on their faith in the validity of their perspective. Additionally, unless a person has made the effort to actually study worldview concepts, worldview beliefs are generally held unconsciously as underlying assumptions.

     

    Belief System

    A belief system is defined as a religion, cult, or philosophy. These are the beliefs that people generally hold at a conscious level. Every belief system can be identified as belonging to a particular worldview category, and has the same “essential beliefs” (see definition below) as its worldview foundation.

     

    Faith System

    The term “faith system” is a broad term that includes both worldview systems and belief systems.

     

    Biblical Worldview (or Christian Worldview)

    A biblical worldview consists of the set of assumptions about the nature of reality that corresponds to what the Bible teaches.

     

    Reality

    Reality relates to the state of things as they actually exist. Normally you would think that the concept of reality would not be that difficult to grasp. After all, anything that is not real is fantasy, and everyone knows when something is a fantasy, right? Interestingly though, for many people, it is not nearly as easy to distinguish reality from fantasy as they think it ought to be. The problem in dealing with this has to do with the definitions we use to define reality – and different worldviews define it in different ways. To be sure, there is a way reality is actually structured, and it is not structured any other way. However, human beings have an amazing ability to imagine other ways to define it, and once they do, they will live "as if" their definition is true, even though it may be contrary to the way things actually exist. 

     

    The Faith Nature of Worldview Beliefs

    A worldview is the assumptions people make about the nature of reality. Assumptions are beliefs that seem so obvious that they are not even questioned. As such, people believe their worldview assumptions based on faith. There is no way to devise empirical proofs for them. A worldview is expressed by how it answers the three “essential worldview questions” (see below), and those questions are not subject to empirical inquiry.

     

    The Exclusive Nature of Worldview Beliefs

    A worldview defines what a person considers to be reality. Correspondingly, everything that is outside of a person’s worldview beliefs are understood to be fantasy. As such every worldview is exclusive by categorizing any contrary beliefs as false.

     

    Worldview Essentials

    Worldview essentials define the boundaries around a particular worldview. We are able to get at these beliefs by asking three specific questions and getting the answers to those questions based on the way a particular worldview answers them. (Note: These questions are referred to as “essential worldview questions,” but can also be answered by any belief system, as each one of them is based on some particular worldview platform.) Each worldview answers the three worldview questions in its own unique way. Any answer that deviates is considered outside of that worldview. The three questions are:

    1. What Is the Nature of Ultimate Reality? (Belief about God)

    2. What Is a Human Being? (Belief about the nature of humanity)

    3. What Is the Ultimate Human's Can Achieve in Life? (Belief about salvation)

     

    Authority Source

    Every faith system in existence has some means that it uses to justify its point of view. Whatever that is, it is its authority source. There are four authority source categories. In some way, all worldviews (and belief systems) depend on all four, but each one has one primary authority source.

    1. Human Reason - Naturalism’s primary authority source

    2. Tradition - Animism’s primary authority source

    3. Human Experience - Far Eastern Thought’s primary authority source

    4. Revelation - Theism’s primary authority source

     

    Worldview Categories

    There are four worldview categories. Each of these worldviews represents a unique way of understanding the structure of reality. Every religion, cult, and philosophy in existence is based on one of these four.

    1. Theism - Theism is the belief that there exists a transcendent God who is the creator and sustainer of the natural universe.

    2. Naturalism - Naturalism is the belief that the natural universe, operating by natural laws, is all that exists.

    3. Far Eastern Thought - Far Eastern thought is the belief that ultimate reality consists of a transcendent, impersonal, and immaterial life force. The natural universe is seen to be an illusory expression of that life force.

    4. Animism - Animism is the belief that there is a single ultimate reality, but that it is divided into two parts – material and spiritual. It asserts that the two parts are dependent upon each other, and they interact in a symbiotic relationship.

     

    Hybrids

    Hybrid belief systems are an anomaly in that they are attempts to create a belief system using essential elements from two or more worldviews. Every hybrid belief system falls apart because of this, as every worldview belief contradicts the beliefs of every other worldview. As such, every hybrid belief system contains irreconcilable internal contradictions.

     

    Non-Christian Theism

    Theism is unique among the worldview categories in that it is the one that corresponds most closely to the way human beings experience reality. That said, every theistic belief system holds incompatibilities with every other theistic belief system. Each one has its own understanding of who God is and what He is like. It is only possible for one theistic belief system to be true. Christians firmly believe that the God revealed in the Bible is the only true God. Thus, in studying this topic, it is important to distinguish between Christian Theism and non-Christian Theism. Non-Christian Theism is represented by every theistic belief system that is not Christian. Non-Christian theistic belief systems include such beliefs as: Judaism, Islam, Mormonism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

     

    Apologetics

    The art of defending one's beliefs. While most Christians associate apologetics specifically with defending the Christian faith, the word itself has more general application, as well. It can apply to attempts to justify any theory or religious doctrine using reasoned arguments.

    Christian Apologetics - The art of defending the Christian faith using reasoned arguments.

    Defensive Apologetics - The art of providing logical answers to questions about, and objections to, the Christian faith. This is the approach to providing logical arguments to support or defend the Christian faith that is commonly thought of when dealing with this topic.

    Offensive Apologetics - The art of forcing those who are antagonistic toward the Christian faith to justify their own faith. Those who attack the Christian faith do so based on their own worldview beliefs. It is not unreasonable to require an attacker to give evidence that their faith is true before feeling obligated to justify one's own. In our material we refer to this as Incursion Apologetics.

     

    Reprinted from Worldview Made Practical; a free e-zine produced by MarketFaith Ministries featuring practical teaching and life tools to help Christians become more effective in their faith life. Discover MarketFaith Ministries at www.marketfaith.org.

    321 Anton Dr., Tallahassee, FL 32312

    info@marketfaith.org

    850-383-9756 / 850-514-4571

    © 2022. All rights reserved.

  • GUEST POST ~ Scot McKnight

    Everyone reads the Bible from a location, a context. And everyone reads that Bible for their own context. It’s impossible not to. It’s just as impossible not to know these truths.

    The ones who don’t know these truths are the ones most dangerous to church and society. To think we are unimpacted by location and that our location does not preform our eyes to see one thing and not another weaponizes the Bible on behalf of one location.

    The first major book I read using an African American perspective on the NT was by Brian Blount, Then the Whisper Put on Flesh. It changed me. And even more than that. He is my favorite African American writer, and his commentary on Revelation is a gem of wisdom and courage.

    But perhaps the lightning rod of all such books was edited by Cain Hope Felder, Stony the Road We Trod, published in 1991 and now updated with new chapters and a new introduction by – yea! – Brian Blount. The book should be come mandatory reading in a seminary curriculum.

    The new edition for some observations today.

    First, most biblical interpretation, especially of a conservative and evangelical sort, is Eurocentric interpretation. It may have theological roots in the Cappadocians of Asia Minor or Augustine of North Africa, but it is far more shaped by the Reformation and post Reformation European categories and concerns.

    Second, which will mean it is white, it is male, it is Enlightenment or reacting to Enlightenment, and it is therefore blinkered and exclusive. Which means it excludes African American, Latin American, Asian American voices, not to ignore Asian and African and South American voices, and there are others. Eurocentric interpretation, in other words, works for Eurocentric people groups. It doesn’t make it wrong. It makes it limited.

    Third, African American Bible scholars – and this book is about the African American approach – either learned to fit into the Eurocentric way or they were excluded. The rise of the Black Church and Black Theology, however, challenged this restrictiveness and began to develop a Black approach to biblical studies, and Stony the Road We Trod was and now is all over again a revolution.

    Fourth, African Americans, and we have seen a powerful vision of this in Lisa Bowens’ book African American Readings of Paul, have their own history of New Testament readings, those readings were and remain shaped in and by and for the church, and their readings have not been given the platform and the money that white studies have been given. But there is a history there that Black scholars have reawakened.

    Fifth, the African American approach to the NT is aimed at liberation, not at a better historical understanding of 1st Century Johannine or Pauline theology. 

    Sixth, the hermeneutic was a text and context shaped reading. Their reading, Blount says in his introduction to the 30th anniversary edition, was a compositional reading: they composed a biblical witness and a theology of Bible and Jesus that was shaped by and formed for their context that countered the Bible and Jesus of the white church. Their Bible was read through the biblical lens of liberation.

    Seventh, the road remains stony.

    Scot's Blog

  • "Quote/Unquote" - - Worldview

    from Uncommon Church by Alvin Sanders (p.15-16)

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  • From Mark A.Baker in Centered-Set Church:

    "Newbigin argues that for far too long we have the Bible through the lens of Western culture, but now we need to look at Western culture through the lens of the Bible because Jesus has something to say to our particular cultural moment."

     

  • From Barbara Bucklin - 

    A MIndShift on Worldview 

    Here’s a quote to ponder, “People may not live what they profess, but they will always live what they believe.” The implication is that if you want to change the way a person lives, you must first change the way he/she believes. Worldview is like a filter or set of filters through which we see the world.

    A worldview is a set of presuppositions or assumptions which we hold (consciously or subconsciously) about the basic makeup of our world. Worldview is what you really believe as opposed to what one may profess to believe.

    Worldview is essential for understanding any culture because elements in the culture find their explanation in the worldview of the entire group. A worldview would be monism vs. pantheism; animism, and western mindsets.

    A mindshift occurs when our belief system changes.   It has everything to do with our worldview and our identity.   When we align with the King and have the mind of Christ, our spirit agrees with Him and His Word.  When that happens our spirit shifts our mind which will then shift our emotions and will.   We will act on the basis of what we truly believe, not just what we profess to believe. 

     

    Barbara Bucklin

  • #ReimagineCHURCH... Prayer... Discipleship... Evangelism...

    Because "We can't fix what we refuse to face." 

              Ruth Haley Barton

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