Wednesday, 30 July 2008

More on Dr Jenny Te Paa

Jenny Te Paa, Caro Hall, Neil, Bob, in the nave of St Stephen's, Canterbury

The 4pm "Alongside at Lambeth" presentations (as organised by the Inclusive Church chaplain, Caro Hall of Integrity USA) in St Stephen's have been one of the best events for those of us on the Lambeth fringes. There's usually ten or so people at 4pm, but the numbers tend to grow in the next few minutes, and today we ended up with just under 30 people for Dr Jenny Te Paa.

Neil has already summarised a lot of what was good in Jenny's presentation. I wanted to add (along with the photo) my favourite line from her this afternoon: "we need to get rid of the cultural cringe". This is where one individual is talking to someone from a different culture, and they say something that you find outrageous, or just plain wrong. There is a certain tendency to cringe away from calling their statement for what they are, and just make non-committal conversational noises, "oh how interesting" or something like that. She urged us, if we hear something that is at odds with our perception of the world, to call the statement for what it is, and not cringe away. "That is your truth", she said. "You don't want to be nasty or hurtful or boorish, but do speak from your own perceptions, and don't be afraid to contradict people." Cultural cringe has certainly happened in the West with some vociferous bishops, and we need to stop it.

Or to quote Stephen Bates from a couple of years ago, at that point Religion Editor of the Guardian: "why is it that no-one has told Peter Akinola that he's a bigot. Is it because he's black?"

So: No.More.Cultural.Cringing.

Chris Ambidge


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