Thursday, November 29, 2007

Multi-Cultural Growth

It is true that one of the trials of ministry is helping the institution as a whole proceed in balanced and healthy programming, and not letting tails wag dogs. For instance, here in New Mexico, where the issues of racial and cultural tension are not black and white and related to slavery, but are multi-hued and related to immigration, water rights, land grants, reservations, tribes, and other complexities. We've never done anti-racism training; it's just not culturally appropriate here. Sometimes people have been angry about that. (Not that I forbade it, you understand, I just didn't do it myself, and neither did anyone else.) There are those who would make a minister feel like a bad girl for this...that's a part of the pain. In spite of this fact, I would remark, that we have a notably multi-ethnic congregation. The reason might surprise you. We have lots of young adults. Multi-ethnic comes naturally to young adults. They've had it all their lives. When they bring their friends to church, they bring a rainbow with them. As to how we attracted the young adults, well...they are a pure gift. We watched for them, tried not to repel them, and helped them get organized so they were visible to each other and able to organize themselves.

4 comments:

Kelsey Atherton said...

As far anti-racism training is concerned, I think it has a very valid role in New Mexico, and I think the problem is more to do with the black/white emphasis of the literature that already exists. The black/white dichotomy doesn't really apply in New Mexico, but issues of race are huge. I guess the goal is to have a more appropriate curriculum.

I'll let you know about the new anti-racism curriculum being developed at the church here, and I'd greatly appreciate input you could offer that I could pass along for making this more applicable towards our church/state.

Jack Betterly said...

Racism is part and parcel of America, just as is the abuse of women, and the hatred of gays. I agree with kelsey that you are looking through rose tinted glasses. On the other hand, our church does do well in challenging these things and openly opposing them. I do not think that we can teach people to reject these things. What is required is an experiential breakthrough. In Japanese, "satori."

Christine Robinson said...

Let me clarify that it's not that I think we don't have things to learn and ways to grow in the Multi-cultural area. It's that the available trainings were not going to work for us.

Jack Betterly said...

The clarification was helpful, and caused me to reread your blog more carefully. That is always a good thing. Humans read too quickly.

Monistic faiths such as Hinduism or Buddhism approach insight differently. If "I am one with the universe" (a ghastly cliche) means anything other than fashionable garbage, it means looking at "the other" and literally experiencing (not thinking) the reality that you ARE them, and they ARE you, in the same way, and as intimately, as experiencing that my arm is "me." That is one thing to experience when watching the New Mexico Gay Men's Chorus in church; it is quite another when viewing Richard Cheney. It can be done with discipline; it is not valid until experienced without discipline.