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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?"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Culture

Let’s talk about culture. Not culture in the sense of elite, hoity-toity, ballet and opera culture, but culture in the sense of “how we do things around here.” There are just so many ways culture impacts me and us and doing business that I think we need to chat about it a little. OK?

There’s culture in a very big way. We speak of our “Western culture.” That’s a very broad brush that might mean rational, or scientific, or capitalist, or individual (to the point of ego-centric). All those things can be gathered up and tossed into a single box labeled “culture.”

The church has a culture too. In your Sharing in Community of Christ booklet, you’ll definitely find some things that are part of our culture. Some things connect us with folks from the other side of the globe, who are different and yet in some special ways the same.

Some things we do and perspectives we hold just because we are Canadian. I could list a few of those national cultural things, but you know them and I don’t have the space. Mainly because I want to talk about the much smaller definitions of culture that have impact way beyond the size of them!

There’s family culture. My family has one and so does yours. Attitudes and practices and stories are very particular to our family. There are things we say to each other that we alone understand. How we do the dishes or who gets the last piece of pie or what time is bedtime all get determined by our family culture.

Congregations have culture. Oh my! This is a big one. Just as it is difficult for the fish to discuss the water they’re swimming in, it can be just oh so hard for us to be aware of our congregation’s culture or to consider ways it may be creating problems for us, for each other and, in a very big way, for our visitors. Some of the ways our congregational cultures differ are just fun. It really doesn’t matter who leads the way in line at the potluck. Maybe it’s the children (feed the kids first and get them settled and out of the way of the adults…) or the guest ministry (because after all you are the honoured guest and should go first…) or families stay together (so parents can monitor the kids’ plates and ensure there is still enough for everyone….). I’m sure someone, sometime had good reasons for offering the prayer over the offering before it’s collected just as someone else understands very clearly why the prayer should come after it’s collected.

Those of us who routinely visit many congregations observe these peculiarities of culture much more than those of you who live in the midst of them. After all, the fish don’t notice the water. Until, or unless something stirs it up! Can we please think about our own special cultural distinctives for a bit? Because it’s not thinking about them that can create problems for us and make us feel inhospitable to visitors.

What have you noticed about culture?

Posted by Marion

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