Most people intuitively understand what a generation gap is. We’ve all personally experience how jokes, values, musical tastes often fail to traverse the relatively brief temporal space of a few decades. There are just some things that mom and dad don’t get. And we certainly don’t see how any of their jokes are actually funny.
Somethings become lost in translation. Not irredeemably so, but effort is required to bridge this undeniable and inevitable rift. While we’re not merely the products of our times, when and where we are born (and indeed the who and what and why and how) have significant effects on our individual identities.
As a 21st century resident of Singapore, I am alienated from my parents and grandparents by more than just time. Mom and dad grew up in a poor third world country, I grew up in a modern wealthy technocracy. Grandma and grandpa can barely read English, I can barely read anything else.
Because of all these differences, there are somethings that will be difficult, perhaps even impossible for one generation to adequately represent to another. Either we have to work real hard, or we have to simply accept on faith that the other is not stark raving mad. Both are tenable and reasonable positions.
This is however not a sweeping acceptance of an absolute amoral postmodern relativistic view of the world. Rather, it is recognising that conversations sometimes have to be a little more drawn out, dialouges a little more involved. If there are few shared premises to begin with, it only makes sense that more time needs be devoted to sharing. And if there is misunderstanding, to not beat ourselves up too much for it. Misunderstanding is not unexpected.
Hence, I’m not surprised that some things in the Bible offend my 21st century Singaporean Chinese upper middle class male sensibilities. There is a multi-millennial gap, wealth gap, class gap, racial gap etc, to traverse.
It is important to recognise this as it will inform our approach towards scripture and faith. I think this will make us work harder to get things right, and yet allow us to be less hard on ourselves when we get things wrong.