Friday, May 20, 2011

Arthur C. Repp on how not to stereotype

I was studying the July 1948 issue of Concordia Theological Monthly recently when something struck me as kind of funny.  Arthur C. Repp's article, "Objectives in Parish Education," contains some worthy thoughts, upon which I ought to comment, but for now I wish simply to point out the manner in which he calls for a Christian and loving and open minded approach to those in society who are different.  Perhaps this is just partly reflective of how men wrote, and spoke, and thought, in those days.  But it seems to me that if one's aim is to get people to see beyond stereotype, and to be more loving and sensitive, then maybe it would be better if in the process the writer wouldn't make such a point of repeating all those stereotypes.  Wouldn't it be better, in making such an argument, to expend more words describing the praiseworthy qualities of the race or group in question, and to make a good argument for the virtues of a colorblind approach to ministry?  Not that I'm out to beat up on the professor.  I hope, however, that we are now beyond both these stereotypes and even some of the labels, which you find below.

The stereotypes of our literature, movies, and radios which make every Negro either a shuffling, drawling lackey or a dangerous rapist; every Italian a fruit peddler or a thug; every Irishman a policeman or a ward heeler; every German a jolly fool or a cold, cruel, calculating sadist; every Chinaman a laundryman or a knife-wielding tong leader; every Mexican a gay Don Juan or a sneak thief; every Jew a cheat or an international banker, and so ad nauseam, all these feed our prejudices and prevent us from exercising our love and from having a sympathetic understanding of their problems and obstacles. 

2 comments:

Rev. David M. Juhl said...

You might be curious to know that Dr. Repp's grandson is an ELCA pastor not far from my hometown.

Dcn Latif Haki Gaba SSP said...

I guess theology sometimes runs in the family.