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VOL. 15, NO. 3 • FALL 2009

The holistic ministries of The Salvation Army

Human disaster spurs Army to action Dealing with gender violence in Pakistan


PERSPECTIVE

Valuing multiculturalism Christin Davis: Female. European BY roots. Oldest child. American. College CHRISTIN graduate. Californian. Under 30. DAVIS Christian. Not entirely Republican or

Democrat. Pyrophobic. Employed. Based solely on who I am by nature, a number of labels automatically apply to me, and I’m assuming the same goes for you. Each of our individual labels points to a variety of corresponding group associations, which often take on their own culture. Our society is abounding with these culture groups —liberal, conservative, African-American, academic, working-class, east/west coast, elderly, veteran, immigrant, etc. These connections are deemed acceptable, but what about the factions whose members raise eyebrows? Ever avoided eye contact with someone because of his or her surface labels? Our basic freedom in “the land of the free” is based on the notion that several different cultures can coexist peacefully and equitably in a single country. In theory—understanding that unfortunately not all people subscribe to the idea of inclusion—we are structured around a fundamental acceptance. Thousands of people have come to America seeking freedom from some form of oppression. Can our churches say the same? In the heart We don’t have to agree with every life choice that people make. Yes, people are vastly different and those differences often make us uncomfortable, but having a multicultural understanding does not equate with cultural relativism. Jonah, an Israeli prophet, attempted avoiding his adversaries when God commanded him to go to the city of Nineveh in Assyria, Israel’s enemy. The Assyrians were violent and cruel, known for impaling live victims on sharp poles and leaving them to roast to death in the desert. Jonah openly preferred that the city be destroyed

rather than have the opportunity to repent. Instead of warning the Assyrians of the impending judgment, he fled in the opposite direction. When he finally arrived in Nineveh, Jonah had been swallowed and vomited onto shore by a giant fish. With this story and most likely bleached and deteriorating skin, the people in Nineveh—literally meaning “fish” and supposedly founded by the fish goddess Nanshe—paid attention to this strange man and his warnings to them. Even after the society of 120,000 people fasted and wore sackcloth (representing a humiliation over evils), Jonah still had an angry heart. He even asked God to take his life so that he would not have to watch his enemies be saved; he had no compassion for these people who were different from him. Respect for humanity This issue, “Caring and Compassion,” addresses multiculturalism in all senses of the word—from differences of ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, political party, etc. I couldn’t agree more with Eric Bryant, pastor at Mosaic in Los Angeles, who writes in his article (p. 6), “We need to allow people the opportunity to belong to our communities before they believe.” If we value the concept of multiculturalism, we acknowledge our differences with a sense of respect for the other person’s humanity. We aren’t required to like people before we take the word to them, but our kindness and acceptance should help people find Christ. n Christin Davis is the managing editor of Caring. You can now become a fan of Caring on Facebook. Keep up with our current news, highlights and discussion board at facebook.com/CaringMagazine.

DOING THE MOST GOOD

FALL 2009 CARING PAGE 3


Valuing multiculturalism - Perspective column