This morning I was speaking at the Melbourne Welsh Church. I thought I’d post here a little of what I spoke about. I spoke about the parable of the seed, which Jesus shares with some Greek visitors at the Jewish Passover. We’ve been talking about that parable a lot at the Indigenous Hospitality House, and I’ve written about it previously here.
In our reflection on this story we’ve wondered a bit about how Jesus had become familiar enough with the Greek culture to be able to engage with their theology as he tells the parable. (I think his talk about the seed dying in order to reproduce itself might be referring to the myth of Persephone and Hades.) Jesus would have been familiar with Greek culture because his country had been part of Alexander the Great’s Greek empire, and when the Romans took over they appropriated their language and mythology. Jesus grew up close to the Greek colony of Sepphoris where there was a Greek theatre where Greek stories would have been performed. As a colonised man, Jesus would have been familiar with the culture of the colonists.
Likewise, in our own country, the European culture of Settler people like myself is familiar to our First Peoples. But as a Settler person, being ignorant of Aboriginal cultures isn’t a handicap in navigating Australian society, so many of us aren’t familiar with Aboriginal cultures. For that reason I think that if we find ourselves part of the majority culture seeking to understand another smaller cultural group we need to start by listening to the minority culture – it’s likely that they’ll have an understanding of both cultures.