Category Archives: Stereotypes

A Psalmist’s Testimony of Deliverance

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The thirty- fourth psalm is an oldie but goodie.  Its introduction used at the start of countless worship services: “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (34.1).  It is truth and aspiration.  We should bless the Lord all the time but we don’t.  It’s easier to say than to do.  Our praise is also conditional and even in good times, we don’t bless the Lord.

Eugene Peterson translates the verse this way: “I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise” (MSG).  We could only wish that we were as good as his interpretation.  The fact is, we would die if our lives, our breath depended on our praise of God.  We know that every day is a chance to bless God and more often than not, we forget to mention His name among those we wish to thank for our accomplishments.  We thank our bed and the alarm clock, the shower and breakfast, our mode of transportation and our ability.  But, not God.

But, the introduction, while inspirational, is not what got my attention today.  It is the fourth verse: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.”  The psalmist reminds us that we should seek.  Though God does not hide and we have a “revealed religion,” we do have to participate.  Yes, Jesus leads us but we must choose to follow, to ask, seek and knock (cp. Matthew 7.7-8; 16.24).

The singer gives us a report.  He comes back and says, “He answered me.”  The God of the universe and all of its inhabitants responds personally.  God did not send a messenger but gave a direct response to the believer.  God did not say, “Take a number” or “Schedule an appointment.”  No, He answered the worshipper.

What did he ask for?  Deliverance.  Now, we are not certain of what he asked to be delivered from but perhaps, God decided to exceed his expectation (cp. Ephesians 3.20).  It is not necessary to name them because they are no longer relevant; they are no longer a threat.  There is no reason to record them, to repeat them because they do not matter any more.

He has been delivered from all his fears.  So, why are we so fearful?  Perhaps, it is because we are afraid to ask God for this kind of deliverance.  Instead, we would rather be afraid of all.

The rich are afraid of the poor.  The healthy are afraid of the sick.  The short are afraid of the tall.  The citizens are afraid of the immigrants.  The neighbors are afraid of the strangers.

But, we serve the God of the psalmist who can deliver us from all of our fears.  Let’s seek Him today.

 

Tiger Mom Says She’s Queen of the Jungle

She calls herself the “Tiger Mom.” Amy Chua once suggested that Chinese mothers were better than mothers of other cultures.  Now, she has raised the stakes and her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, has joined her this time in a book titled The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America.  They argue that there are some cultures that are better than others based on three markers: superiority, insecurity and impulse control.  Maureen Callahan of The New York Post  provides a review of the book and commentary.  I will provide my condolences.  Lord, have mercy on us.

Writings like these and others should cause us to lament but they also point to the pridefulness that leads many of us.  Our culture celebrates pride and encourages us to “take pride in ourselves.”  But, the Bible says, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverb 16.18).  I wonder what destruction is before us and what fall could have been avoided if we had not acted out of pride.

“The day after returning from anti-Apartheid leader Nelson Mandela’s memorial in South Africa, Israel’s first Ethiopian-born Knesset member Pnina Tamano-Shata (Yesh Atid), had her blood refused in a government donation drive because she is African. Volunteers at a Magen David Adom (Red Star of David—Israel’s Red Cross) booth set up inside of Knesset told Tamano Shata that she could not give blood because she is has ‘the special kind of Jewish-Ethiopian blood.‘”  Click here to read more.

There’s no such thing

There is no such thing as a good or true stereotype.   A stereotype is “a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.”  It is “an image perpetuated without change” that may or may not be based in an actual experience.  It is a “solid impression,” which is derived from the Greek words, στερεός- stereos and τύπος- typos).

Stereotypes attempt to confine entire cultures to one image, behavior, ability, aspiration, action and/ or experience.  The belief is that if we have seen one, met one, experienced one, then we have seen/ met and now know/ experienced all people.  They all look, think, behave alike.  They are all the same.

Stereotypes provide us with the false belief that we can know all that there is to know about a group of people.  It is an attempt at godlike power.  Strangely enough, we don’t seem to possess this same ability when it comes to knowing ourselves, our spouses or family members.  There are parts of us and those we love that we do not understand despite our attempts.  Still, we pretend that we know how they are.

The trouble with stereotypes lies in the word all.  There is no person or people group that is all of anything.  There is no cultural group that is all good or all bad, all powerful or all powerless.  Only God knows all, possesses all and is in control of all.  That word and ability is reserved for Him alone.

So, no, all Asians are not good in math and all do not own beauty stores or nail salons.

No, all Indians do not own grocery stores.

No, all socially colored black people are not good dancers or the best athletes.

No, all socially colored white people are not rich or successful.

No, not all “first people” (i.e. those indigenous to what is now the United States) are owners of casinos.

No, not all Hispanic persons are landscapers or housekeepers.

You may have seen one or two but you have not seen all people from every cultural group.  Only God has done this because only God has made them all, fearfully, wonderfully and individually (Psalm 139.14).

Dr. Silvia Mazzula in a post titled “But You Speak So Well”: How Latinos Experience Subtle Racism,” provides this noteworthy definition of microaggression: “things said or done – many times unconsciously – that reflect a person’s inner thinking, stereotypes and prejudices. They are difficult to recognize because they are brief, innocuous, and often difficult to see.”  She also shares with readers the effects of microaggressions and why we need to be conscious of their use.