Colonial Mind Can’t Comprehend The Bible
The western mind is debased. The Eastern mind is enslaved.
Some songs are timeless. They evoke deep seated human sentiments in any given time or context even when one has no knowledge of the culture and the context of the songs.
However, Sam Cooke’s classic (1964), “A Change is Gonna Come” moves human emotions to pieces but becomes simply a piece of music without the knowledge of black America or the Negro-experience. This song stands on the shoulders of the painful experience of racism in a modern and civilized America; the song reaches to its highest decimal of impact when we take into account the personal experience of a young Negro man and the civil rights movement. Once we imagine the life of a black person in the America of the 19th century or prior, the song immediately becomes a personal one for anyone longing for a change in the struggles of life. The context provides the necessary force for Sam Cooke to be able to speak to us even today or any time for that matter.
In the same way, when we read the Bible, much of it is written in a given context. Yes, God’s word is timeless and has the power to speak to us anytime, anywhere, and to anyone.
But the same word would be more powerful if we had the knowledge of its context and the capacity to imagine the world of its characters.
I am of the opinion that the Middle Eastern and South Asian mind is more suited and capable of identifying with the biblical world. But the modern western missionary movement coupled with political colonization has crippled the Asian mind to such an extent that it dare not attempt to imagine a world other than the colonial interpretation.
Such a state of mental colonization is sustained by grinding poverty of the region in which church leaders, theologians and thinkers have to shape their thinking according to the condition of their livelihood. Impressing the donors becomes much more important than reading the Bible and hearing what it really wants to say.
Western mind on the other hand, riding the wave of the scientific and technological advancements, has removed itself so far from the biblical world that it can’t even have a glimpse of it. In fact, the western mind, in believing its superiority over the biblical world (rest of the world for that case), has debased itself to such a lowest level of humanity in which there is no place for a person like Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus has become so offensive in the west that his name should not even be mentioned in their prayers while humans can be murdered and body parts bought and sold with impunity in a civilized America and Europe. The west has moved so far from the biblical world that it might be impossible for it to come back while the East still has a shot or two left to get back from where we came.
Thus, for a disciple of Christ, whether in the west or east, it is so important to get hold of our spiritual heritage and read the Bible with our feet in both the worlds. An active and informed imagination will be helpful in entering the biblical world in order to bring its message with emotional relevance for contemporary audience.