In the end he revealed that Nacirema was American spelled backward. I had been tricked into judging my own society as absurd and was forced to evaluate my culture from a more critical vantage point.
My Teacher had employed an ancient rhetorical device known as entrapment.
Entrapment is essentially framing your message in such a way that the real meaning is not revealed until the listener has engaged themselves fully. The listener is forced to render judgement on themselves when the curtain is pulled back and the subject of judgment is shown to be the hearer.
This is a somewhat frequint rhetorical device in scripture.
David is trapped by his verdict against the man who killed the lone sheep when the prophet Nathan reveals that HE himself is the man who "killed" the lone "sheep" of Uriah in 2 Samuel 12:1-13.
The prophet Amos entraps the Israelite people in his “Oracle Against the Nations” (Amos 1-2) when he reveals at the end of a list of nations upon which the wrath of God had been kindled that the people worthy of the most wrath are the listeners themselves. They are caught in a fervor of "amens" only to be confronted with their own sin.
Isaiah 5:1-7 tells a story of a classic covenant lawsuit, but spins the story at the end and condemns the judges (this very theme Jesus picks up in his own parable based about this story in Matthew 21:33-45 where he uses the expectations set up by this entrapment to condemn the people of his own time.)
This same technique is also used in a short book in the Bible called Zephaniah.
Zephaniah is one of the first prophetic voices to emerge after a period of relative prophetic silence during the reign of a kind opposed to the worship of יְהוָ֤ה called King Manasseh.
Zephaniah seems to take on the rhetorical style of his prophetic predecessor Isaiah by incorporating entrapment.
He moves from Judgment on Israel's Enemies found in 2:1-15 to the Wickedness of Jerusalem condemned in 3:1-7 without indicating he is doing so. He begins talking about Jerusalem as the הָעִ֖יר הַיּוֹנָֽה (tyrannical city) and leads the listeners to condemn the judgment against the rulers, the priests, the prophets, and even the city itself. Then in verse 5 the listener learns the city is the place where יְהוָ֤ה dwells.
Has anyone experienced entrapment in their own life as an effective way to humble you and bring you to repentance.
Part of the reason we have the season of Lent is to allow ourselves to be put in a vulnerable place so that we might become convicted of our hidden faults.
I pray that God would allow me to become entrapped this season.