Friday, January 30, 2009

Egypt for Beginners

I just got back from Egypt for my cross-cultural experience for seminary. 18 women and 4 men, now I understand the concept of fraternity! :-) It's not a mission trip, we go to get a better handle on our culture and Christianity in the larger context of the world. Food was great and I have PLENTY of stories to share.

here are my pix from the trip.. all of them, all at once.

I call Steve "Wadi" (which is a dry river bed that flash floods every now and then) cause it fits his personality. He's an all or nothing kinda guy!

the videos are here on my Youtube channel, but i will be post them on the blog with commentary that will hopefully provide even more insight to those who wanna learn about the Egyptian culture and history. here's the video from the first day:

it's interesting when one hits the ground what initial observations one makes. here i noted that it's interesting to be "different" and stared at by little kids. we were even followed! plus add in the shock of 25 million people in one city with jet lag and holy moly! but that priviledge was with me most of the trip. some people go through their whole lives like that, always in the 'other' category. i only have a vague understanding of this and am no where near understanding what people in this position go through on a regular basis, but the shock of it was interesting and eye opening.

as Peggie McIntosh stated in her article "White Priviledge: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack"
I realized that, since hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there was most likely a phenomenon of while privilege that was similarly denied and protected. As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage.

it's one thing to see it, it's a whole other thing to experience it. granted this shock wore off after the first day and once we realized that we were 'safe' and that we were also visiting and would be going back to our culture in two weeks time.

Privilege for me is a double-edged sword. some use it to get others to be aware of it for educational purposes as well as part of a good practice of citizenship. others, however, seem to use it to guilt people and gain the upper-hand. there's a fine line between awareness of privilege and white guilt and being an ex-Catholic, i'm not a believer in guilt.

needless to say i'm aware of it, this trip sure helped that. i hope to make others aware and in this awareness, make the grounds for mutually enriching dialogues. i think this will be a main part of my future ministry, awareness and radical hospitality to all 'others' and hopefully in this dialogue and hospitality we see that there is no 'other' only us and our common humanity.


Anonymous said...

Great points all around Steve - and some insight in cross cultural dynamics - which from the 'non-White side' are quite different (depending on which culture you find yourself in)...I applaude that about your discovery and time in Egypt.

I will watch the video when I get time.

On a side note, I did a project that took me about 17 hours to finish - a Power Point for my wife encapsulating our memories and her life (set to music)...labor of love really - 17 mins in length. In the process I had to scan and sort pics, develop an outline, pick music, set the timing, etc. Lots of work.

You know what - it was the best thing i have done in some time - and it put a smile on her face on a gloomy day for her. We are not together yet - but that was a good thing to do nonetheless.

I have 4 more projects planned for the future (in February)...and so far her response is very favorable.

Justin said...


Tit for Tat said...


Interesting to see you on Video. Pictures just dont capture the essence of people. You gotta see them live. Cool.


Sometimes we forget how important it is to woo our women. Good for you man.

Luke said...

John T... not sure how to take "interesting".. like "wow! i didn't know you were THAT ugly. i can't believe i've been blog'n with such a mutant."



Anonymous said...

Luke. Sorry to get in the game late. The racism issue is interesting. Yael said something to me the first time I met her on Jason's blog. I was talking about how there may be many path's to Christ which I saw as giving up a lot of ground on my part. But she was still offended because it was still all about my faith and has discredited hers. It seems to me that racism may involve some of that same interaction.

Luke said...

doug, thanks for watching all these, i'm impressed and humbled. and yeah... when we resort to an either/or, we're gonna feel victimized. but hopefully, as we spiritually mature, we find that others don't have to be wrong for us to be right. at least, that's where i'm at.

as a Sufi Muslim recently wrote to me "In the end, only God knows who actually falls into a particular group and who doesn't.... we as humans should simply strive to live together as God hates division among humanity."

that works for me! i know what i believe and won't be apologetic for it, i'll only articulate it and see what others think. when someone walks from the convo, that's their loss... and in away, humanity's loss as well.. but if a person isn't spiritually mature yet, or if it brings up feelings of victimization, than it's best they sort those out before coming back into the fray.