Tag Archives: Ethnocentric


cannanite_womanLiving in the Spirit
September 5, 2015

Scripture Reading: Mark 7:24-37

From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ But she answered him, ‘Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ Then he said to her, ‘For saying that, you may go—the demon has left your daughter.’ So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. –Mark 7:24-30

1:  centering upon race as a chief interest or end
2 a:  inclined to regard one’s own race or social group as the center of culture
   b:  exhibiting an incapacity for viewing foreign cultures dispassionately*  

Do you remember learning words when you were in school that you thought at the time you might never use again? Ethnocentric is such a word for me. I was a sociology major in college. Now, I try not to use jargon specific to a discipline only people in that field would readily understand. Recently though I have added ethnocentric back into my vocabulary for it is a word with which we all need to become acquainted.

Our scripture today tells us of an incident in Jesus’ life when he was being ethnocentric in the sense of the definition 2a above. He perceived his own race or social group as the center of culture. Was he teaching his disciples who were observing this transaction lesson about seeing the essence of God in everyone or was he, indeed, having his own Aha moment having spent his days in relative isolation from people of other countries and races. This state of being is not bad or good it just is. It is a natural response to the world until we have opportunities to share with other cultures and social groups. It becomes harmful when it results in definition 2b: the incapacity for viewing foreign cultures dispassionately.

I like to think of Jesus being as fully human as you or I and I imagine what a joy he received from having this Syrophoenician woman stand up to him basically saying “I know what you can do and my child is worthy of your love too.” In all honesty that might have been an Aha moment in his experience with women also.

Prayer: Lord bless us with the joy of experiencing your presence in the diverse people that population our world. Amen.


All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.