In my first post about this topic (https://buildingfilipinowesternbridges.wordpress.com/2019/05/29/selective-assimilation-of-christian-values-in-the-philippines/) I quoted the following from the “Culture Shock Philippines” book by Alfredo and Grace Roces:
“Lenten rites have also been adopted in non-Christian folk rituals, borrowing the exotic features of the elaborate Spanish Catholic ceremonies to perpetuate occult beliefs”.
On page 209 it adds: “as Lenten rites demonstrate, folk Catholicism among Filipinos….reveals….a deep persistence of pre-Christian values and the ability to selectively borrow outward motifs of Christian beliefs for their own sets of beliefs and values”.
My question was: can Christian values be selectively borrowed? This actually leads to asking a more fundamental question which is: can the truth in general be selectively assimilated?
The truth is neutral, it is the way it is and it doesn’t care what you believe. It does not accomodate itself to people but rather people have to accomodate themselves to it.
For example if you want to lose weight the truth is that you have to work out and eat certain foods like plenty of vegetables. That’s the truth about losing weight the way it is and not the way you wish it to be or the way that suits you, and if it doesn’t suit you, because perhaps you love drinking plenty of alcohol or love eating plenty of rice and pork, the truth about losing weight won’t adjust itself to your eating preferences.
The truth about raising a successful family is that you need to be physically present. You can fool yourself and convince yourself that you can do it through Skype while working abroad but the truth that you’d better be physically present remains the truth and doesn’t change to suit you.
If the truth about your finances is that you have zero money in the bank and have much utang, fooling yourself and convincing yourself that you are rich because you have the latest Samsung Galaxy or drive a S.U.V. (when, in fact you have maraming utang) won’t change reality.
So the truth is the truth, and speaking of religion (if you are religious, if you are not there are still truths you have to face up to whether you like them or not) the truth is simply the way God is not the way you wish Him to be or the way that suits a particular culture.
So, selective assimilation of Christian values doesn’t make any sense. Universal truths cannot be suited to a particular culture and mentality.
In every domain of life, not just religion, if we want to have a happy life we are the ones who need to find out what truth is and accept that, because it is the way it is and not the way we wish it to be or the way our culture has taught us, we need to be the ones to adjust to it.
Yes, the truth does not and never will accomodate itself to anybody so selective assimilation of religious truths, or even truths relative to other domains of life, which are by the way always somehow interconnected with the universal truth, is completely pointless and surely doesn’t lead to any freedom.
Jesus of Nazareth said that the truth can set people free but that freedom comes with a cost and the price to pay is being willing to let go of the self-agenda and the self-bias that causes most people on this planet (not only Pinoy) to selectively borrow only the truths that fit into their bias or self-agenda.
And sometimes our self-agenda can be a very difficult beast to tame. For example a person could be the C.E.O. of a company that produces weapons or, let’s say tobacco. How easy would it be for such person to let go of his or her bias and self-agenda and let go of that position when supporting their family depends upon denying the truth that weapons are bad or that cigarettes kill?
It would be extremely difficult. So people prefer to sweep the uncomfortable truths under the rug and selectively borrow what they like.
And of course it is not easy for a Filipina or a Filipino to stick 100% to everything that the Bible teaches because the pressures to conform to the Pinoy values and the kin-group culture are very strong.
Yet the Bible teaches that husband and wife will set up their own family and become one flesh, it teaches that kaunting alak not kaunti-container is good for you hindi yun sobra.
It also teaches that parents should inculcate godly values and speak of them “when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up” not through Skype from another country.
It also teaches that God hates violence therefore it is not consistent with Christianity to rejoice while watching Manny Paquiao on TV and drinking gin or being involved in awayan, suntukan, barilan.
It teaches that the man is the head of the family and not the macho-machunuring under the saya at tigasin, tiga-salok ng tubig, tiga-saing, tiga-laba etc.
Yes, in all cultures there is a tendency to selectively borrow truths that suit that culture and dismiss anything that feels uncomfortable.
The Philippines is one of those cultures but the truth is the way it is and cannot suit anybody.