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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Thursday, March 3, 2011


The radio report about what some are calling exorbitant spending of the Toronto Housing Association referred to a “culture of entitlement.” On the same day I received my daily “Walk the Talk” message suggesting that a “culture of accountability” leads to an organization’s “greatness.” Later I found myself in conversation with someone preparing a class on scripture. We both spoke of the specific “culture of the congregation” and the “changing culture” we perceive as some Christians try to shift from reading for “proof texts” to reading as a lifetime of “soul-work” (as discussed in this commentary on Section 164)—quite a different concept.

Clearly the definition of “culture” in these instances has nothing to do with my sense of being totally out of touch with “popular culture” when I hear the nominees for various awards—the Grammys, the Junos, even the Oscars, where I hardly recognized the majority of the beautiful people on the red carpet! Sometimes I think I must be living under a rock.

No, I'm thinking more of this definition: the sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. Culture is transmitted, through language, material objects, ritual, institutions, and art, from one generation to the next.

What are the "attitudes, customs, and beliefs" that distinguish your community?

Over time we may try to influence the "shape" of our various communities. Have you heard about a "culture of generosity" or of "hospitality"? Is yours a culture that cherishes children by letting them cavort in your social functions or even your worship experiences? Or is yours a culture that prefers children who are becoming accustomed to sitting quietly for just long enough to ensure all are comfortable being together? I've known and appreciated both.

While culture may be—IS, in fact—often passed on unintentionally, it can also be shaped deliberately. The Chvala-Smith article on scripture is just one example. Here is a conversation that suggests we might consider another way of thinking about scripture than we have traditionally done.

Are there other things we’d like for our various communities? Other qualities we’d want to identify us as a community of disciples? Do we want to be known as hospitable, or generous, or welcoming, or justice-loving or studious, or whatever? Then what language, rituals, practices, objects will we adopt to create and pass on those things we value?

Can you think about your “culture” for a bit? Or is it too much like asking a fish to think about water? Is it just “what is” or can you consider shaping it to be what it could be, should be? As always, I’d love to read your ideas.

Posted by Marion

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