Monday, August 17, 2015

God, beauty, the pygmies and me


God is so unlike what we have imagined him to be..and sometimes when we get a gimpse of how God thinks, we are flummoxed for a while and confused. Because God's ways are not our ways.

This post will be about beauty. And about the broadening of my mind.

I like to think I'm clear-thinking and not encumbered by culture. But recently something made me think. It involved the pygmies.

It turns out that there are many evolutionary DNA mitochondrial genome alleles in the world. Certain pygymy populations have an abundance of alleles..more so than other genetic groups. The implication is that the riches of all this genetic material in one group of people may indicate that the pygmies were the first people from whom we all are descended. My crappy description of this evolutionary discipline aside, let's just take a moment to let that settle in.  The pygmies are probably the nearest to the image of Lucy/Eve. Again, let that settle in. But even if I'm not quite understanding what all this is about, and if we ignore the pygmy research....let's pause a moment.

What did Lucy (the evolutionary first mother of us all) look like? What did Eve look like?

Now, I didn't think of myself as racist or even affected by the thinking of European evolutionary types. But as i looked at the pics of pygmies, I actually found myself thinking that God's idea of beauty was seriously wrong. It became clear to me that I believed Adam looked like Will Smith or young Denzel or even Amir Khan.  (I was at least advanced enough to know that Adam would be dark-skinned. After all, his name means "Red" like the earth he was taken from. ) But apparently, I still had the European model. In my mind, Adam had to be 6 feet tall, with mega Abs, etc.  In short, I had this western idea of beauty and the historical Adam did not seem perfect to my narrow cultural mindset.

I found this hard to wrap my mind around. For a while, it seemed to me that God didn't know what he was doing. Why would a perfect God's ideal perfect first human being look like a pygymy and not "a body like Arnold's with a Denzel base"? Why wasn't God's idea of beauty like mine (which was obviousy the truest best idea)? Yes, I was judging God by my limited mind and by my cultural norms and brainwashing. But the entire concept seemed so weird to me it took a while to get over it. But I at last learned how mired I was in my own mindset..so mired that God's ways just seemed wrong.

I got to thinking about this when someone on Facebook posted yet another meme about Michelle Obama's butt and Michelle being fat. I understand that the default of many white Americans is that their culture is the best, the superior, the perfect. I've seen racist white guys with big noses, guys covered with hair all over their arms, necks, chest, and back, who thought they were superior to black folks because black folks have big lips and dark skins. It's as if their minds are so stuck in their paradigm that someone big lips imply racial inferiority while big noses do not. Or dark skin imply stupidity while a body covered with hair does not.

I have had to remind some racist folks that the way we look is merely a genetic thing and that God does go around rating external beauty. He doesn't have the Hollywood or Aryan standard. It is often very difficult for white Christians to imagine Adam and Eve being dark-skinned with big butts. As part of the Euro-mindset, even if everyone says "man first came out of Africa" ..the average white Christian has an idea of what Adam and Eve's butt would look like...and any bigger or higher the butt would be deemed wrong or somehow made by an incompetent God who did not understand beauty. I'm just saying that the American idea of what is beautiful or fat is not something God even gets into. And his idea of beautiful has to deal with the heart. God made a variety of genetics and all are perfect. Man looks at appearances but God, the angels, the whole host of heaven only see the heart.

God hates racism. There are two times in which God lost his patience where racism was concerned. One was when Jesus turned over the money changers table. The Jewish moneylenders were cheating the proselytes. God's house was to be called a house of prayer for all people, but the money changers were taking advantage of non-Jewish beievers from all nations. The other time was when Miriam was prejudiced against Moses Ethiopian wife. And God symbolically spat in her face.

Sadly, there are many Christians -- good people who believe in their Bible-- who are prejudiced. They don't realize their prejudices are preventing their prayers from being answered. God has said we must love everyone, and he who hates his brother without a cause is a murderer. When I'm on facebook and some cultural issue comes up and good Christians show their hateful racial sides, I often wonder what we wil do with so many good but hateful Christians. It's hard for them to see past their cultural assumptions.

Lord, thank you for challenging my infantility. Save me from cultural prejudice. Save me from stupid assumptions.

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