A passage I read some time ago in Bruce Malina’s book (The Social World of Jesus and the Gospels) which considers anthropological research and its implications for New Testament hermeneutics and reading has been resurfacing on occasion over the last few weeks. I haven’t got it at hand for an exact quote, but basically it goes along with TANSTAAFL and some of the trade-offs we in our culture fail to acknowledge, in fact if correct, also points out some of the denial implicit in our coverage and reporting on Middle Eastern and, well, other cultures.

Here is the statement. Honor/Shame societies, which describe the culture in which 70% of the world exists today have a number of obvious contrasts with Western liberal societies. As we have seen in the last few centuries, market driven liberal societies have enormous capacity for economic growth when compared to honor/shame societies. However, TANSFAAFL comes into play. People in general are happier in an honor/shame environment. Suicide is markedly decreased and as well murder, rape and other such crimes of personal violence are far less common.

Our reporting today highlights and focuses on incidents of child marriage and abuse, the rapes and honor killings of close clan and family members over events which in our society be not an outrage. What they miss within our society (apparently) overall levels of murder and rape and likely even incest are far lower … as well as suicide and mental illnesses.

So, should I research this further? Find the quote, check his references, and dig for backup independent statistics? Or (what is more likely) even if true it wouldn’t matter. Well?

Filed under: CultureMark O.

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