From time to time, I hear preachers rail against “Culture”! Culture, it seems, is the great buggaboo of the day. Culture seems to take a great deal of the responsibility for our consumerism, our hedonism, our sexual promiscuity, the delinquency of our youth, and the excesses of our elders. Proof seems easy to procure, just turn on the television any evening, listen to the radio, check out the internet or social media.
“CULTURE!”… the fingers point and voices bellow. “All we need to do to garner God’s blessing and be the Christian people we’re supposed to be… is REJECT THE CULTURE of our times!”
Just listen to the “right” radio stations, watch the “right” television networks, buy the “right” kind of fried chicken, hang out with the “right” kind of people… Insulate ourselves against our Pagan Culture and everything will be fine, right?
Well, there’s good news and bad news on this. The bad news is that such a view pretends that “Culture” has an identity, a face, a voice and mind of its own. If only “Culture” were an actual THING, PERSON, BEING, that we could label, relate with, and reject, that would be one thing. BUT…
If you hark back to high school social studies, or college sociology, you may recall that “Culture is defined by the norms, values, and mores of a people in a particular place and time.” There’s “material culture”, as dug up by archaeologists… the stuff of a people, preserved over time. And there’s “non-material culture”, such as music, tales, poetry, mythologies… and the ideas passed down through time of a people.
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This has a very short and simple bottom line…
When we rant, rail and preach against our “Culture”… we try to batter upon a shadow. Culture is not a voice, but an echo of ourselves. Culture does not have a face, it is a reflection of our own projections. The values promoted through media, are the values WE PAY TO SEE AND HEAR. All media depend on money to operate, and the people paying are you, and me, and him, and her, and them. Media broadcast and print what we, as consumers, are willing to pay to see, hear, and read.
What’s the good news? The values portrayed are a critically important window to who we really are… to what we really do. That is incredibly valuable information to have and understand.
Want to change the Culture? Then change the appetites of people. Become more reflective about what amuses and entertains us. Let this not just be a matter of “image”, but a true matter of heart! Clergy, when away from home on business trips to pastoral conferences, are among the most hearty consumers of pay-per-view porn in hotel lodgings.
How do we address and improve situations we refuse to acknowledge? How to we improve a culture we refuse to take responsibility for?
I don’t offer answers, nor am I trying to change your mind or view… but I hope I encourage a new perspective and raising questions.
Ponder… is Culture an enemy’s face and voice? Or is it the reflection and echo of our own?
Grace to you, Gentle Reader.