Ethnophilia and Holy Week

Photo by  Markus Spiske  on  Unsplash

Often racism is thought about in terms of what it hates. Speaking to, acting toward and building structures against others on the basis race are among the different ways racism is discussed. Racism is an evil that needs everyone to work to eradicate, but racism is like many things: it evolves.

Of course it does not evolve like an animal might evolve to keep feathers, but it does evolve in the way ideas develop and change in order to be more palatable to society. Hard forms or racism are quickly called out, as they should be; however, there are softer forms of racism that are just as toxic. The problem is this toxicity, at first glance, sounds like a good. It is called ethnophilia.

An ethnophile is someone who loves and admires their own ethnic group, nation, or culture. This sounds like a good thing. Who would not desire to love their own? But love of own group has the dark side of hostility toward those not in the group.

So the ethnophile can talk about how wonderful their group is and even say things that sound loving but in fact are anything but. “Love the sinner and hate the sin” might be a classic example. The expression indicates that there is love for the other but really the love for the other comes at the cost of hating. When love and hate mingle there should be concern because I don’t have that high of a view of humanity. I think humans will err on the side of hate over love.

It might be argued that Holy Week was set in motion by the ethnophile, Judas. Who loved his own kind so much that he betrayed the savior of the world. Holy week was propelled by a people who loved their own kind so much they called for the crucifiction of Jesus.

If love for your own comes at the cost of hurting, killing or otherwise enslaving those out of your group, then we may be under the sin of ethnophilia. Or as Jesus said on the sermon on the mount: “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same?And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Racism - "My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them..."

Princeton professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr. gave an interview to Krys Boyd of KERA Think on February 6, 2017 that was worth listening to for a number of reasons. Within in the interview was a metaphor offered up by Dr. Glaude that struck a chord with me about racism. 

Dr. Glaude stated that he was not a climate change denier and he believes that the climate is warming and that we are in a climate crisis. However, he notes, that if you look at the actions of his life, you might think otherwise. He lives his life as though he believes the world's climate is just fine although he intellectually believes otherwise. 

I do not think that I am a racist. I firmly believe in equality and I abhor acts of hate and injustice between people. However, if you look at the actions of my life you could string together a case that I don't care that much about injustice. For instance, I purchase things that I know are built by people living in inhumane conditions.

I do not believe that I am a racist, however (as this little video highlights) not being racist is different from being anti-racist.

I am beginning to come to terms that just because I do not believe that I am a racist or do things that are traditionally thought of as racists actions, I unknowingly do things that cause harm. I am reminded of the great story of Abba Moses that goes like this:

One of the brothers committed a sin. Moses was invited to attend a council about this, but he refused to go. Then a priest sent someone to say to him, “Come, for everyone is waiting for you.” So he got up and went. He took a leaking jug, filled it with water and carried it with him. The others came out to meet him and said to him, “What is this, Father?” The old man said to them, “My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and today I am coming to judge the errors of another.” When they heard that they said no more to the brother, but forgave him.

I live unaware of the sin that runs out behind me. I am unaware of the messes that I make. This does not mean I am an evil person only that I am human and ought to strike a more humble posture in my life.

Confusing Harmonious with Homogeneous

You may have seen this image floating around the internet the past month or so. 

As you can see it visually depicts the difference between inclusion, exclusion, segregation and integration. Perhaps the most helpful aspect of this image for those of us in the dominate culture is the difference between integration and inclusion. While integration brings others into the majority there is still a resistance to include the other into the larger group.

From what I understand it is difficult for the blue dot to move freely in the sea of green dots for there is a concern that the blue dot will loose their blueness and identity and become more blue-green and then ultimately be seen as green and not blue. It is difficult for the blue to remain blue when they are surrounded by green, so the blue might want to stay closer to other non-green dots. 

For those in the dominate culture, it is upon them to help move from integration to inclusion. It is upon the to foster a space where "greenness" is not forced upon the non-green. It is upon the  dominate culture to protect the variety of colors/ideas/beliefs/religions/etc. Which means that the green dots must also come to see that creating a harmonious group does not mean creating a homogeneous group.

There is a lie operating in our world that conflict will go away if we all were more similar than different. That is just a lie. I don't know about you, but I am at times in conflict with my own self - I want a cookie but I don't want a cookie, I want to run away but I don't want to run away, I want to yell but I don't want to yell. Harmonious living does not mean homogeneous living. Harmonious living is learning to respect the differences.

Is our biology contributing to Church segregation?

Invisibilia is a podcast that explores the "invisible" forces that affect life. In a recent episode the reporters explore "The Power of Categories" and second half of the episode talks about a retirement community. 

If you don't want to take time to listen to the episode, or at least the second half, here is the setup. 

Man from India (Iggy) sets up a retirement community (Shantiniketan) that feels more like his native country. Other retiring people from India are attracted to  being a part of a community where they are no longer an outsider. While the community does not turn non-India people away it is still a community that can feel rather exclusive. The original founder does not want his children to live in a community like this - too insular - but he also feels that people are like salmon and as we get closer to death we desire to return back to what is most comfortable or familiar. And according to Jeff Greenburn, a psychology professor at the University of Arizona, humans get just a little bit more racist as we move closer to death. Here is the transcript from this point:

GREENBERG: I am a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona.

MILLER: And for the last 30 years, he's been studying how we behave when death is on the mind.

GREENBERG: That realization that, someday, we're not going to exist.

MILLER: And Iggy is absolutely right. If you raise the specter of death in a person's mind, which you can do experimentally, by the way, by simply asking a question like...

GREENBERG: ...What do you think happens to you as you physically die and once you're dead?

MILLER: People like people in their own group way better than they do when they're not thinking about death.

GREENBERG: So we had them rate them on, you know, traits like, you know, honesty, kindness, intelligence.

MILLER: Christians like Christians better. Italians like Italians better. And Germans, who most of the time are actually pretty lukewarm on other Germans...

GREENBERG: I think it's still - it's lingering, you know, guilt.

MILLER: ...If you get them to contemplate their own mortality, suddenly they really like Germans.

GREENBERG: So if you interview Germans near funeral home, they're much more nationalistic.


MILLER: But it's not just that we like our own more. Its reverse imprint is also true. We like people outside of our group much, much less.

GREENBERG: People become more negative toward other cultures.

MILLER: So why? Why might we do this?

GREENBERG: Well, because death haunts us as it does. We have to do something about it.

MILLER: Greenberg thinks it's this strange way that we try to fend off death. His thinking goes that people who are not like you, who do not share your language or your values or your beliefs, well, in some very primal way, it's like they can't see you.

GREENBERG: And so to manage the terror that we're just these transient creatures...

MILLER: ...We shoo those people who make us disappear away.


MILLER: That is, when you dive deep into your own category, what you're actually getting is the illusion...

GREENBERG: ...That we're significant and we're enduringly significant.

And so if it is true that human individuals become more concerned with surrounding themselves with their own when they are thinking about their own death, is is also true that human institutions become more concerned with surrounding themselves with their own when the institution is thinking about it's death? Does the chatter of the "death of the Church" and the Church's inability to draw in new Christians create a feedback loop where the Church is only able (or willing) to drawn in others who look/act/feel like us?