Culture defined (in the most vague of language)
So, in class last week one of the things we tried to do is come up with a definition of culture. Not such an easy task. I found myself struggling to break down “culture” into concrete ideas. Instead, I mainly offered vague phrases like “societal expectations” and “environmental rules of engagement.” In class, we discussed the various uses of culture (“high culture”, “bacteria culture”, “anthropological culture”, etc.) and the development of the term over the last two centuries.
In the mid twentieth century, Raymond Williams discussed the development of culture through the lens of the industrial revolution and the working class. The Industral Revolution caused the working class to develop a sense of identity and logic that differed greatly from the ruling elite. For the first time, they took advantage of their ability to create a space for themselves in the midst of a hectic world.
I love this idea of culture as a space. Vague, I know, but that’s what gives it so much power. Here’s another random attempt at a vague definition…culture is the space created where humanity is allowed to make the rules that govern our existence.
Culture is not limited to what was created by someone else. We, as individuals and as groups, have created/are creating/will create our own cultures and spaces. It seems that it is often in culture we find security and safety.
So where does the church missiologically intersect with culture? What did/would Christ say about the culture of His day? How can we blur the often separated barrier between the secular and sacred spaces that shape our lives?
So many questions…only 9 weeks left of class to find all the answers!