Follow Up to Spiritual Warfare Essay: What about True Multiculturalism?

Follow Up to Spiritual Warfare Essay: What about True Multiculturalism? February 23, 2019

Follow Up to Spiritual Warfare Essay: What about True Multiculturalism?

Two brief explanations:

First, for most of my thirty-seven years teaching career in American Christian higher education I have heard much about the need for multiculturalism, cultural engagement, diversity, and acceptance of non-western ways of life. A great deal of pressure is exerted on faculty members of institutions of higher education, both religious and secular, to draw on “two thirds world” cultures (as well as women’s experience and African-American and Latino experience).

Second, for most of my thirty-seven years teaching career…I have had “international students” from Africa and Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean in my classes—scores if not hundreds of them. I have gone out of my way to learn from them—about their home cultures, worldviews, religious forms of life, and perspectives on America.

What I have come to wonder is this: How much of those real two-thirds world cultures and especially religious worldviews do the “pressure-creators” of multiculturalism really want incorporated into our curricula, pedagogy, and (in Christian institutions) worship styles?

*Sidebar: The opinions expressed here are my own (or those of the guest writer); I do not speak for any other person, group or organization; nor do I imply that the opinions expressed here reflect those of any other person, group or organization unless I say so specifically. Before commenting read the entire post and the “Note to commenters” at its end.*

One thing almost all of my two-thirds world Christian students tell me is that in their home countries (some say “tribes” or “kingdoms”) belief in supernatural spiritual powers and what I have here called “spiritual warfare” is absolutely crucial and central to their everyday lives.

Yet, it seems to me that most of the “pressurizers” of multiculturalism do not intend for us to adopt and incorporate into our curricula (broadly defined) that particular aspect of two-thirds world cultures. And yet, it seems to me, this is inseparable from those cultures. A supernatural worldview and strong belief in invisible, spiritual powers and principalities that really interfere in daily life is intrinsic to those cultures.

I consider myself an advocate for multiculturalism, but not of a selective kind that filters out religions and spiritualities and worldviews.

For example, I have often heard the promoters of multiculturalism talk about two-thirds world cultures helping us—in the West—overcome our individualism. But I believe their communitarianism is inseparably linked with their religious-spiritual worldview.

The same irony goes for morality and ethics. We are told to incorporate literature and history and cultural experiences from non-western cultures, but that definitely does not apply to the generally very conservative or just radically different (from the West’s) permissive attitudes towards sex or to our western attitudes toward gender roles (as promoted by intellectuals in the academy).

It feels to me as if the “multiculturalism” we are encouraged, even pressured, to create within our western academy is artificial. It means whatever does not radically conflict with our secularism, permissiveness, and liberationist ways of thinking about gender roles.

This is my “open letter” to my colleagues in the American academy who talk endlessly about multiculturalism and cultural engagement and diversity. Please consider whether you really want non-western cultures to be incorporated, taught, adopted., etc., in your/our institutions of higher education or whether you only want those aspects incorporated that fit with your modern, liberal, western sensitivities.

My international students tell me that if they were to speak and write openly and without restraint about their cultures they would have to include the roles of spirits, good and bad, ancestors, friendly and hostile, spiritual warfare, traditional sex and marriage arrangements, etc., into their presentations. And if we are to be truly open to their forms of life we have to be open to such.

*Note to commenters: This blog is not a discussion board; please respond with a question or comment only to me. If you do not share my evangelical Christian perspective (very broadly defined), feel free to ask a question for clarification, but know that this is not a space for debating incommensurate perspectives/worldviews. In any case, know that there is no guarantee that your question or comment will be posted by the moderator or answered by the writer. If you hope for your question or comment to appear here and be answered or responded to, make sure it is civil, respectful, and “on topic.” Do not comment if you have not read the entire post and do not misrepresent what it says. Keep any comment (including questions) to minimal length; do not post essays, sermons or testimonies here. Do not post links to internet sites here. This is a space for expressions of the blogger’s (or guest writers’) opinions and constructive dialogue among evangelical Christians (very broadly defined).

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