Friday, October 15, 2004

Water Buffalo Theology: Chapter 7

Water Buffalo Theology by Kosuke Koyama on Amazon

Chapter 7: "Neighborology"

From Kosuke Koyama,

water buffalo theology cover"How can anyone be a teacher of religion unless he is at home with the language of the people?"
"... was annoyed at me for looking at her in my own terms."
Quote from John Baillie: "Reality is…the other-than-myself which pulls me up and obliges me to reckon with it and adjust myself to it because it will not consent simply to adjust itself to me." Koyama says the missionary (that's us!) is "sandwiched between Christ's saving reality and his neighbor's "other-than-myself" reality. And, the missionary (us, again) surrenders to the Word of God in order to communicate the message of the real Christ to the real neighbors:
"[the neighbor] asks the questions and [the missionary] seeks the answers in Christ."
The law prevents us from seeing and hearing our neighbors ("the other's") real claims on us. And, "we must know the difference between the legalistic I and the missionary I." "The uncushioned neighborology of Christ cuts like a knife through the cushioned [legalistic] neighborology of the ruler of the synagogue."

Sense of God's presence / sense of the neighbor's presence

Too many times after meeting with a person or in a group I've realized what a wall my assumptions and stereotypes and history have built between us. Of course my prior life experience (and even my academic background!) can be helpful and enlightening, but the problem is the way I almost inevitably filter everything and everyone through my own experience. Ages ago I saw an ad that read, "out of a sense of self, a sense of the other," and to some extent that's true, but barriers go up when I assume I know the other because some of my experience has paralleled some of theirs.

Nevertheless, doesn't a whole lot of our identity come from our history? We can't live genuinely as "Persons of Amnesia," but my identity needs to become translucent and transparent so "I" can get out of the way and see and feel the other. I've been in the greatest danger with people whose background is similar to mine! I've tried hard to convince people with whom I have some common experience - or even shared history - to please, please see me as myself and not as mirrors of who they are and where they've been.

To help celebrate one of my birthdays, I attended Herb Gardner's play, Conversations with my Father, with a now-deceased friend. It was about three generations of a Jewish-American family: the first generation doing everything they could to relinquish old country, customs and religion; a second generation halfway in-between both places and ways of being; and finally a third generation seeking roots, trying to reclaim the history the first generation had discarded and announcing to the world a person without history is no-person.

Chapter 8 to follow! This rereading (some) and rethinking (some) is lots of fun!

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