In our language classes, we have been discussing reverse racism: while Tanzanians readily view their country people with suspicion, we wageni are given the benefit of the doubt. That’s not to say there aren’t negative stereotypes of foreigners: we’re rich, unused to hard work, impatient, and not well dressed. But while Tanzanians present corruption in their country as a fact, it comes as a surprise when we give examples from Australia. Read more
A quick heads up: I’m heaps excited to let you know that Tamie has an article in the latest issue of Tyndale Bulletin.
This paper argues that literary context, commonly used by evangelicals, and intertextuality, often championed by feminist scholars, are complementary tools for understanding the story of Jephthah and his daughter in Judges 11:29-40. The lack of comment from the narrator on the morality of the story has perplexed many readers but, when viewed together, these approaches build a compelling case for Jephthah’s condemnation. The literary context gives warrant to the feminist horror at the events of Judges 11:29-40. Intertextual contrast relating to gender can alert the reader to other differences between the stories which then present Jephthah as an inversion of Abraham: unfaithful and abhorrent to YHWH.
Contextualisation is big deal for those of us who live in another culture. I defined it here as the necessity and complication of putting off your own culture to live in another.
I thought we might explore the idea by taking a case study: the small group Bible study.
Let’s start with the typical elements of a ‘small group’ in Australia: 6-12 people meeting for 2-3 hours including a time for socialising and food, a Bible study, and some time to pray for one another. Maybe a worship time as well. The Bible study likely has a ‘leader’ but it’s discussion based: everyone brings their Bible and it’s the reference point as people talk about what a particular passage means or how it applies to life.
How might this be contextualised to Tanzania? Here are 8 possible considerations. Read more
In June Arthur and I are taking our first trip further afield since we arrived in Dodoma. We are off to Songea for the baptism of our friend John’s little girl. Both Arthur and I have been invited to speak. Arthur will preach at the Sunday service and I will teach some women on the Saturday. This feels like a bit of a gear shift for us. Our preference is to listen and learn before jumping in to ‘doing’.
But one thing we are learning is that sometimes the learning is in the ‘doing’. Just as everyone in town stops to watch this mzungu try to get tie the baby on her back, just as we went to the front of the line at the baby clinic, we won’t be able to fade into the background in Songea either. Relationships are built by being involved in people’s lives. To observe only is to keep people at arm’s length. So we’re going to do the teaching, approaching it as a learning experience. Read more
Jamie the Very Worst Missionary has a knack for the brutally honest. Her recent post Deciphering Missions argues that a lack of accountability in missions results in some missionaries being able to sound spiritual while doing virtually nothing. In her experience,
Every innocuous coffee date with a friend [turned] into ‘discipleship time’. Hours spent circling Facebook were important to ‘support development’ and everyday interactions with grocery store clerks and bank tellers suddenly became meaningful when referred to as ‘intentional relationships’.
Now, this problem isn’t unique to missions — lots of vocational ministry is self-directed, with the potential to sound holy while slacking off. Nor is this a problem which is true of all missionaries or mission organisations (and Jamie’s writing into an American context where missions is something of an industry).
It’s a good thing to have greater transparency in missions and more involvement on the part of supporters. But what exactly is a missionary supposed to be held accountable to? Here are two complexities of missionary ‘work’ and some suggestions. Read more
Our life in Dodoma has got a pretty good rhythm now. For the time being, I mostly know what to expect. We’re feeling pretty well together and not isolated. There’s tiredness, but no shell-shock.
I’m always casting around for new experiences; it’s part of what drives me. I’m always animated by innovation, exploration, and the possibility of discovery. And, after a couple of months living here in Tanzania, Swahili lost its newness — so I automatically started fishing for something new. I continued with my regular practice of navigating trends in Australia and USA. I continued reading a lot, mostly online, most of it funnelled through social media; most of it, in effect, headlines.
‘Your head’s not really in Tanzania,’ noticed Tamie. Read more