Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Things you Learn

Today I had a very thought provoking anthropology class. We watched a documentary that my professor told us would change our lives. It really didn't change my life, but it did give me some interesting things to think about.

It was a documentary made in 1965 that followed a few days in the life of two Indigenous Australian families. The first thing you should know is that these families wore one piece of clothing: a belt. So I saw a lot of these people.. if you know what I mean. They were also very strangely shaped. They all had distended stomachs from malnutrition, and were oddly shaped in other ways.. if you know what I mean, again. After I got over the shock of these naked aborigines they started eating weird things. A little boy cooked a lizard by putting it in the fire and then just eating the entire thing. Skin and all. Later in the film I learned that these people spend most of their spare time chasing down these lizards, catching them, and whacking them on the ground three times to kill them. Then they would stick them in their belt and walk along with that dead creature flapping all around. It was pretty gross. They ate about 20 lizards in the 50 minute film. Even the four year olds were extremely talented lizard catchers. It was actually a pretty interesting film. These people acted like you would think cavemen would act, and their lives were completely focused on survival.

The first thing that struck me about this film is that these people are naked and unashamed. On first thought it makes sense because that is just the norm of their tribe. However, I thought that us being ashamed at our nakedness was a product of the fall. I started wondering how these people thought. They seemed like naked, lizard catching machines, but they must have had the same thoughts and feelings as we do. It was just an interesting thought..

After the documentary my professor said something very interesting. He said in a sarcastic voice, "So what do you think guys? Should we send missionaries and go Christianize these people?" Everyone in my class kind of laughed and said, "No!" as if this was the obvious answer to his question. His response was, "Well sadly most of these people already have been. You can't stop it. It's like a disease!" Everyone laughed.

First of all, his idea of send missionaries and Christianize was  for Americans to go force all of these people to conform to normal social standards. This is obviously not what God has called us to do. However, as I mentioned before, if public nakedness is a sin, then sharing the love of Christ with these people might cause them to do things like.. wear clothes. All I know is that his idea of Christianize is very distorted, and I was shocked to hear that most of the people in my class also have distorted and negative views of missionaries. I have no idea whether the missionaries to the Indigenous Australians really shared Christ's love and forgiveness with these people or not, so maybe my professor was right. People like these aborigines do not need to be forced into social norms and "Christianized", but they need forgiveness and love the same as we do. Christ is the only one that offers what we need and I would like to think that is why, "You can't stop it. It's like a disease!"

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