This morning we had some time to talk through the idea of “worldview” and how it impacts our perceptions and ability to receive or accept new things, new ways and new ideas.
We started with Herodotus. He was writing a glowing report about a local custom. Here’s an excerpt:
Of their customs, whereof I shall now proceed to give an account, the following (which I now understand belongs to them in common with the Illyrian tribe of the Eneti) is the wisest in my judgment. Once a year in each village the maidens of age to marry were collected all together into one place; while the men stood round them in a circle. Then a herald called up the damsels one by one, and offered them for sale. He began with the most beautiful. When she was sold for no small sum of money, he offered for sale the one who came next to her in beauty. All of them were sold to be wives. The richest of the Babylonians who wished to wed bid against each other for the loveliest maidens, while the humbler wife-seekers, who were indifferent about beauty, took the more homely damsels with marriage-portions. For the custom was that when the herald had gone through the whole number of the beautiful damsels, he should then call up the ugliest—a cripple, if there chanced to be one—and offer her to the men, asking who would agree to take her with the smallest marriage-portion. And the man who offered to take the smallest sum had her assigned to him. The marriage-portions were furnished by the money paid for the beautiful damsels and thus, the fairer maidens portioned out the uglier. No one was allowed to give his daughter in marriage to the man of his choice, nor might any one carry away the damsel whom he had purchased without finding bail really and truly to make her his wife; if, however, it turned out that they did not agree, the money might be paid back. All who liked might come even from distant villages and bid for the women. This was the best of all their customs, but it has now fallen into disuse. They have lately hit upon a very different plan to save maidens from violence, and prevent their being torn from them and carried to distant cities, which is to bring up their daughters to be courtesans. This is now done by all the poorer of the common people, who since the conquest have been maltreated by their lords, and have had ruin brought upon their families.
I hope you react to that. But I hope you are able to take it in from both his perspective and your own. I struggled to even read it and yet, on reflection, I saw his point. Can you?
After that we read about the long struggle in medicine to convince hospitals and surgeons in particular to wash their hands before examining patients and between patients. The first proponent was rejected by the institution and couldn't find work as a doctor and ended his life in a mental institution. It took decades for this “common sense” practice to become a standard rather than an idea ridiculed by the establishment. It reminded me of the lessons in the book, “Sway”.
And the discussion ultimately came around to the question, “What are the things we ‘know’ today that will give way to better revelation in our future?” Who are the bright lights we shield our eyes against today who will be the luminaries of tomorrow?
Perspective has been a recurring theme of this module and knowing the worldview from which I'm observing the world and the church will help me be open to what God’s doing today that may not be considered “best practice” by my past.
I think elections can teach us this. I think history does too. But I'm really intrigued by the way butterflies tell this story.
Can you think of some Christian World View perspectives that have changed over the last 100 years? I'm making a list...