Letters to the Editor: "Every Nation, Tribe, and Tongue"

February 21, 2013 | 11 a.m.

Evei Galaguz responds to The Clarion's recent article on diversity

Views | Evei Galaguz to The Clarion

Letters to the Editor

This letter to the editor is a response to the article "Every Nation, Tribe and Tongue" which can be read online at http://www.bethel.edu/news/clarion/articles/2013/January/diversity-focus.

The problem with diversity at Bethel is not its primarily white student body, but rather the mentality characteristic of homogenous white middle class suburbia, which many students limit themselves to. This mentality is exclusive by nature and sharply divides the world into two categories – “us” and those who are “not like you and me.” It is not necessarily equivalent to cultural ignorance, but it does usually advocate cultural indifference. 

This is manifested in many seemingly minute ways, such as not knowing the difference between Africans and African Americans, as mentioned in the article, “Every Nation, Tribe and Tongue,” or lazily referring to all descendants of formerly Soviet countries as “Russian.” Those with this mentality maintain the attitude that issues like poverty, racism and oppression exist, but not here, and not now; therefore, they are distant and do not directly influence the lives of those around “us.”

Many would argue that Bethel students have the opportunity to experience diversity by studying abroad or going on mission trips. Students live in conditions radically different from those of the local population, travel and stay with people of similar cultural backgrounds and use separate facilities in order to “feel more at home.” Are they not viewing their experiences through that same narrow lens? 

If students, after returning from these trips, continue daily life in the exact way they did beforehand, how were they really influenced by the “diversity” they were introduced to? Such experiences can be extremely powerful tools to serve God with, but would His work not be completed more effectively if we were not constantly distancing ourselves from the rest of His children?

I agree with Sam Twetan’s statement that, “there aren’t white Christians and black Christians – we’re all Christians.” However, it is important to keep in mind that different cultures often have different approaches to serving and worshipping God. While Jesus was colorblind, He was not difference-blind. On the contrary, His followers were viewed as individuals, each with a different, unique spiritual journey. Furthermore, God’s nature is diverse and is composed of infinitely many characteristics. If the “job” of Christians is to further the kingdom of God by striving to emulate His divine character, we must realize that His character is not necessarily confined to the beliefs and culture (or lack thereof) of white middle class suburbia.

The problem with diversity at Bethel is not its primarily white student body, but rather the mentality characteristic of homogenous white middle class suburbia, which many students limit themselves to. This mentality is exclusive by nature and sharply divides the world into two categories – “us” and those who are “not like you and me.” It is not necessarily equivalent to cultural ignorance, but it does usually advocate cultural indifference. 

This is manifested in many seemingly minute ways, such as not knowing the difference between Africans and African Americans, as mentioned in the article, “Every Nation, Tribe and Tongue,” or lazily referring to all descendants of formerly Soviet countries as “Russian.” Those with this mentality maintain the attitude that issues like poverty, racism and oppression exist, but not here, and not now; therefore, they are distant and do not directly influence the lives of those around “us.”

Many would argue that Bethel students have the opportunity to experience diversity by studying abroad or going on mission trips. Students live in conditions radically different from those of the local population, travel and stay with people of similar cultural backgrounds and use separate facilities in order to “feel more at home.” Are they not viewing their experiences through that same narrow lens? 

If students, after returning from these trips, continue daily life in the exact way they did beforehand, how were they really influenced by the “diversity” they were introduced to? Such experiences can be extremely powerful tools to serve God with, but would His work not be completed more effectively if we were not constantly distancing ourselves from the rest of His children?

I agree with Sam Twetan’s statement that, “there aren’t white Christians and black Christians – we’re all Christians.” However, it is important to keep in mind that different cultures often have different approaches to serving and worshipping God. While Jesus was colorblind, He was not difference-blind. On the contrary, His followers were viewed as individuals, each with a different, unique spiritual journey. Furthermore, God’s nature is diverse and is composed of infinitely many characteristics. If the “job” of Christians is to further the kingdom of God by striving to emulate His divine character, we must realize that His character is not necessarily confined to the beliefs and culture (or lack thereof) of white middle class suburbia.

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