"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Arab Culture -- Community & Shame

The other day I mentioned Christine Mallouhi's book, Miniskirts, Mothers & Muslims, and how she talks to western Christians about understanding the Arab culture. In one chapter she discusses the idea of individualism which is popular in western culture vs. community which is the norm in eastern cultures. One example she gave is lying. I was particularly interested in the part after that however. Read on.

The individual conscience is not an internalised norm. Parents teach children how to behave by using shame. They don't usually say, "Don't lie because it's wrong." It is considered wrong, but they are more likely to emphasise that it's "shameful." This reflects the same understanding of sin that Adam displays in the story of the Fall. He hid from God because he was ashamed and he was subsequently put out of his "home." In Arab society the consequences of sin are shaming your father and family, and being put out of the house. The only way you get back into the house is when an intermediary comes and takes you home to reconcile you with your father. The Gospel story directly speaks to these societies and the good news is that Christ took our blame and shame and is the intermediary taking us back to the Father's house. (pg. 134)

I just found that kind of neat. I recently bought a book about seeing Jesus through Middle Eastern eyes. I look forward to "seeing" him like nonwesterners would when I read it.


Stacy K. said...

Isn't that book great!

Susanne said...

Yes, thank you so much for recommending it to me. I've greatly enjoyed it and learned a lot. I'm going to have my husband read it. :)

Achelois said...

What a wonderful theory! I guess since all Abrahamic religions started in the ME, each has its own intermediary which in the polytheistic Arabia were the many gods and goddesses.

Amber said...

Interesting. We don't really do the 'shame on your family/house' thing in the West anymore, do we? It's all personal responsibility, and we've lost our sense of shame even on that level. But I know, at least around here, the Southern families, you *can* still bring shame on the family.

Susanne said...

Achelois, yes, that seems likely that each religion has its own intermediary. Do you think the offering of a child to the gods is one way? Like the child is the intermediary to appease the gods?

Amber, I totally agree. Although we've lost a lot of it, I do still sense that shame thing as you said. I've heard people talk about not bringing shame on the family name, but they will also use that verse from Proverbs about a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches to justify it. :) Thanks for pointing that out. I think Southerners are more Middle Eastern than other areas of the country. :-D