Thursday, September 30, 2010
Fifty years ago today The Flintstones aired for the first time. The Süddeutsche Zeitung in Munich decided to use the opportunity to bemoan the way it and other Hanna Barbara cartoons continue to encourage mistreatment of animals. My wife would look at it as simply another one of those “stupid man” shows that all play on the misunderstanding between the sexes. It wasn’t the first (The Honeymooners), and wouldn’t be the last of such shows (Home Improvement, According to Jim), but it was a prime example of it.
NonModernBlog would like to take this opportunity to stretch at least as far as that Bavarian newspaper, and use The Flintstones as an opportunity to discuss missions and the missional lifestyle. It is not as farfetched as you might think.
The Flintstones was entirely constructed on the premise of cavemen living precisely as 1950s American culture did. The whole gimmick was presenting the current culture through a caveman lens. In doing so, it caused people to laugh at themselves through a prism that gave them enough distance to be able to see where they were silly or even wrong. Nothing exposes the core of a culture or philosophy as when it is lived out outside its context.
That is where The Flintstones is relevant to cross-cultural living. Many times in the past and even today, missionaries move halfway around the world to a different culture and then proceed—not to adapt to that culture—but to find ways to live out their own culture in the new context. They come across as silly, just as the Flintstone characters looked silly living as 1950s American in the stone-age. Their message is lost in the cloud of Americanism that they can’t escape because they carry it everywhere they go.
At the same time, it IS the job of the cross-cultural witness to live out their alien Christian worldview in the world. The challenge is letting the Christian perspective on the world emerge; all the while filtering out our cultural biases that get in the way. We want to be different, but in the right way.