I realize that it’s beginning to look like I’m obsessed by the issue of inculturation (well, if one is going to be obsessed by an issue, it’s not a bad one), but this article concerning Hindu’s protesting an “indigenous” representation of the Virgin and child (hat tip to Deacon Greg) raises the fascinating issue of the ways in which inculturation and inter-religious dialogue and understanding might sometimes come into conflict.
How do Christian efforts to present the Gospel in a different cultural context look to the members of that culture? In the attempt to present Christianity in the cultural clothing of a non-western culture, do we run the risk of being perceived of co-opting another religion’s symbolic universe for our own purposes? Particularly in a culture like India’s, where for most Hindu’s there is no real difference between “religion” and “culture,” can we simply borrow aspects of the culture willy nilly without showing disrespect for the integrity of Indian culture and religion?
Worries about inculturation are often couched in terms of compromising the integrity of the Gospel. This case raises a correlative issue about compromising the integrity of other religions.