Cultural Appropriation.

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by wil, Apr 24, 2022.

  1. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    I like counting the omer.

    I like aspects of Hinduism, Buddhism, Quakers, Taoist.and even Christianity.

    Ya think it cultural appropriation to take on such?

    You think that a bad thing?

    I mean if someone takes one or more aspects of any religion or culture and uses it to improve their relationship with life our earth and others...i don't see anything wrong with that.
     
  2. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    Me neither. I am thankful for our opportunity, in this modern world, to be able to get in touch with the entire cultural heritage of all of humanity. (or at least a large part). It's a matter of respect to treat this responsibly.

    Some examples of unfortunately less than respectful ways to approach this treasure, which I've encountered, and which I think are problematic:

    Using religious icons of one tradition as garden ornaments, to be discarded when bored with them;

    Commodifying initiatory knowledge and pushing it as product;

    Watering down the ancestral drink of my people and selling it as "Bud Light" ;)
     
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  3. Ella S.

    Ella S. Utilitarian Logician

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    I've been keeping this to myself for awhile now but I keep pressing up against this topic a lot in recent discussions because it keeps coming up. I think this is the appropriate and relevant time to mention it, if ever.

    I come from Irish ancestry. It was very important to my family that we never lost ties to our home country and home culture. To this day, we still cook traditional Irish food, share Irish folklore, and the older folks in my family strictly adhere to Irish superstitions. Just today I was talking to a member of my family about how they thought they saw one of our traditional spirits in the woods.

    When I was very young, we used to go to a local convention center once a year because they would host an Irish culture festival. At the time, most of the people who went were second and third generation Irish immigrants trying to connect with their families. It wasn't just ancient Irish culture, either. It's also how I discovered some Irish and Irish American bands.

    However, I have never been to Ireland and I don't speak Irish. Most Irish people would consider me an American. Some people from Ireland have even told me that I would never be seen as truly Irish even if I immigrated there and neither would my children but my grandchildren might. Although, in my opinion, much of Ireland's contemporary culture seems more accepting than that.

    I've spoken to Irish Reconstructionists (that is, members of the Neopagan religion) from Ireland who speak Irish and study Irish history. I know quite a bit about Irish folk magic and Celtic mythology from not only being raised in it and studying it but also from seeking out these Reconstructionists and practicing with them. All of this felt very natural.

    Even being raised in a poor mostly-white suburb, it wasn't uncommon for people to identify as Italian American or French American or Anglo-Saxon. I was picked on for coming from an Irish family. I was called slurs particular to Irish people and compared to Irish stereotypes. I don't even speak with an accent, but my real name is very obviously Irish and I certainly look the part. People who think that racism against Irish Americans ended with JFK have never had to live with white supremacists who boast about how much German or Nordic blood they have. So in this sense, "Irish" is even a group that I was forced into.

    This deep into my post,you might say, "Ella, if that is your real name, (it isn't) what is your point?" Well, I'm getting there. I think this is all important background information to understand where I'm coming from.

    We stopped going to the Irish culture festival because a lot of people who had no connection to Ireland began to take part in it and shift the focus away from genuine Irish traditions. Primarily, these were local Druid and Wiccan groups, but we also had a lot of people who did some DNA test and discovered they were 8% Irish or something. The last time we went the most genuinely Irish part we could find was someone offering to find our historical tartan but we already know it, the rest felt more like a St. Patrick's Day celebration.

    Personally, I have nothing against Druids or Wiccans using Irish imagery or symbolism but a lot of people in my family vehemently hate them in large part because they make it more difficult for us to find other Irish Americans. They also see Wicca and Druidism as, well, wrong and misguided and they don't want me to have anything to do with those groups. It would be easy for them to claim cultural appropriation.

    Here's the point: don't I get a say in whether they're appropriating Irish, or at least Irish American, culture, too? What if I say, no, I don't have any problems with what they're doing? Does my voice override how it makes my family feel? What if I share my experience with my culture and its festivals with my husband (or wife or whatever) and our kids? Are they now culturally appropriating if they do things my family disapproves of despite my acceptance of it?

    I really don't know. I think, in general, one should try to be respectful of other people. I like that Wiccans and Druids don't (usually) openly claim to be truly following the authentic, ancient Irish ways. It means that I can (and have) found a lot of common ground with them and I can still search for specific things based on the few words of Irish Gaelic that I do know. As long as they don't start writing articles in Irish Gaelic, I don't care what they do because it doesn't affect me.

    However, if they did start doing those things... yeah, I wouldn't be comfortable with that but at the same time cultures aren't rigid things. They change over time and they're influenced by outside forces just as often as they're the influence. Is that really such a bad thing? Sure, Wiccans have a very different idea of who Cernunnos is, but does that mean they shouldn't be allowed to have those beliefs? I don't think so. Should they keep them to themselves? No.

    The only issue I see is when you claim or imply some sort of false authenticity. I mean, not even really authentic Irish Reconstructionists do that because to them it comes across as obnoxiously elitist and no two Irish Reconstructionists believe the same thing. It's actually quite simple; don't claim to be a part of a community you've never so much as had lunch with somebody from or whose communal rituals you don't partake in and don't lie about where you get your ideas from or present them as the "proper" interpretation of some text or another. Really, everyone should follow these rules regardless of the question of whether they're engaging in "cultural appropriation."
     
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  4. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    To echo @Ella S....

    I think 'appropriation' comes into play when there's a lack of respect with regard to the culture being appropriated – if you want to self-identify with something, then at least take the trouble to find out about it. It is what it is, not what you might want it to be ...

    There's a passage in a book:
    An English gentleman is being driven on a horse and buggy to his country seat in Ireland. They go through the gates, and up the drive to the house. "Good Lord," says the Englishman, "This is a really long drive, isn't it?" "Well, to be sure, if it were any shorter it wouldn't reach the house," comes the reply.

    This was explained to me as an example of how stupid the Irish are. I felt sympathy towards the explainer, for his ignorance and lack of insight into the nuances of the Irish insight into the English character.
     
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  5. Ella S.

    Ella S. Utilitarian Logician

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    Right, and part of that respect is not lying about what other people believe and think. Don't tell other people that I believe that Cernunnos was a dying-and-rising god and especially don't imply that, if I don't believe that, I'm some sort of poseur. I don't care what you believe just leave me out of it.

    This sounds like the sort of sarcastic observational humor my immediate family thrives on.
     
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  6. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    Englishman goes into an Irish pub and asks: What's the quickest way to Dublin?

    Pub owner: Are you walking?

    Eng: Oh no, I'm driving a car

    PO: Right then, that'd be the quickest way
     
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  7. Unveiled artist

    Unveiled artist Real life Dolls

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    I think the difference is not incorporating and participating in the culture in which these religions derive.

    I've spoken to Hindus and some are vary strong minded on cultural appropriation. Buddhist, I don't think so. Christians, no hence evangelization. I'm not sure of taoist. It's more respecting their culture but in many cases practices are private so there is no context.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2022
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  8. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    The Buddhists I know tend to be very unhappy about the way Buddha's image is treated in the West - as a garden ornament, sometimes mutilated (beheaded), as a doorstop (at foot level, very disrespectful), as a bathroom prop (not a respectful setting)... you get the drift. For analogy, imagine a crucifix used to dry one's socks and underwear, or a bible next to the toilet seat.
     
  9. RJM

    RJM God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    May be the only time some folks ever got to read any of it, lol
     
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  10. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    The Seat of Enlightenment. Or the Siege Perilous? Can never tell the difference ;)
     
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  11. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Moderator

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    For myself, though I'm Christian I do participate in various Hindu rituals and have even conducted a few. Not so much incorporating them into my faith, but out of respect for my wife and her family's religious beliefs and traditions. Just as my mother-in-law and sister-in-law took communion with me when they came for a visit a few years ago.

    Now there is a portrait of Jesus in out Mandir. That's there not as part of the Hindu faith exactly, but out of respect for my religious beliefs and traditions. Mind you, just as with Christianity, there are many different Hindu sects and not all would allow elements of another religion into the mix. Just so happens my wife's tradition is very accepting of other faiths as is mine. So, this guy slips off his shoes and rings the bell before entering the Temple, then proceeds to recite the Lord's Prayer on bended knee. Om Shanti, y'all. :cool:
     
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  12. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    The first is a standard clothesline, the latter absolutely common.

    Never considered the Buddha statues...Mary ends up in alot of gardens.

    I've seen that in a couple of temples... In a picture gallery of gurus.
     
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  13. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Moderator

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    Aussie posted one time about seeing a Crucifix around the neck of a Shiva statue in a temple he and his crew had visited in India.
     
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  14. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    Lol... I have seen them around the Hindu priests! And a "I heart Jesus" lanyard
     
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  15. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Moderator

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    It all depends what Hindu sect you're dealing with. Aussie also posted about a colleague being asked to leave a temple because of a tattoo of a cross on his arm. Works both ways. When I first got married, my in-laws were somewhat taken aback when I a Christian partook of the fruit and sweets they had used for prayer. Apparently, the Fiji Methodist church teaches against this and Hindus that have converted will no longer do so.
     
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  16. Modesty

    Modesty Active Member

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    I see these decorative Buddha statues in my local dollar store all the time, and I find them so puzzling. I wonder what created the secular market for such items? You don't get the same treatment of statues of Krishna, for example, or Jesus; I can't imagine many secular people or non-adherents putting them in their garden, but yet it appears to be a thing with the Buddha.
     
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  17. Ella S.

    Ella S. Utilitarian Logician

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    I have had various sacred scriptures as "bathroom literature" and I'm only now realizing how this could be unintentionally taken the wrong way. I'm glad that I never have any visitors.
     
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  18. Ella S.

    Ella S. Utilitarian Logician

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    I know quite a few places where one can buy similar items using the statues of Jesus or Mary, as well as some Saints. This includes a few objects meant to be used intimately, which I think would probably be regarded as deeply blasphemous.

    As far as I can tell, the buyers usually actually are religious, as strange as that may seem. Sometimes they're new converts that just don't quite understand how these things might be seen as a little borderline
     
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  19. Modesty

    Modesty Active Member

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    That makes sense! These statues seem to be a fixture at every chain dollar store I've been to though, so they must be selling well; I wonder if its because of how popular Buddhism has become in the mainstream modern West? I know of non-Buddhists who would display a statue of Buddha in their house just because its 'exotic' to them, but probably would never do the same thing with a Marian statue, for example.
     
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  20. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    I think much of the enlightened west barely does lip service to Buddhism....but also that as the door opens thru crass commercialization it exposes more folks who would not have otherwise dabbled into interest.
     

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