CS Lewis (Was: Favourite books)

hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Thu Dec 30 04:51:30 EST 2004

> An associated point that worries me, though, is: at what point are you 
> obliged to interfere with another culture's practices? 
> Two cases in point.
> A lot of Africans eat by dipping their fingers into a mass of fufu or 
> rice or posho or whatever the carbohydrate of the region is, pulling out 
> a ball of the sticky stuff, swishing it through whatever sauce or soup 
> they have managed and then eating it. All this from a communal plate. 
> This horrified my father when I came home from Africa and absentmindedly 
> started to eat a curry and rice with my fingers this way, even though I 
> was being perfectly polite by African standards (didn't use my left 
> hand). Now, we wouldn't send missionaries into Africa preaching the 
> gospel of knife and fork. I don't think.
> But - a lot of Africans also practice clitoridectomy. Do we stand aside 
> there and say, "Oh, that's their culture, I mustn't interfere?" or do we 
> yell, "It's wrong to mutilate young girls!"

Side-stepping the deeper question here (though personally I don't think there is any absolute moral standard, or if there is I don't know who'd be competent to identify it, though I'd doubt very much whether respect for other cultures would in all circumstances trump any other moral consideration; and the thought that it might seems ironically to be in itself a fairly egregious example of the raising of Western liberal standards to an absolute...) I'm not so sure about those missionaries steering clear of knife-and-fork morality. Presumably the missionaries felt it their duty to explain their eponymous 'position' to the barbaric natives? How was that a moral imperative?
To us it may seem merely prurient - to them (for respect for different moral standards must of course be extended to 19th century missionaries, some of whom were my great great aunts) it formed an integral part of their Christian duty.


Whatever you Wanadoo:

This email has been checked for most known viruses - find out more at: http://www.wanadoo.co.uk/help/id/7098.htm
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://www.suberic.net/pipermail/dwj/attachments/20041230/ae4bec78/attachment.htm

More information about the Dwj mailing list