Sunday, October 9, 2011

Workbook Chapter 2 - Culture & Differences

I wrestled with this chapter this week. I think mostly because it only scratches at the surface of a very big subject and also because we don't have a picture of the SA culture yet. The word "culture" is a very inclusive term. It takes into account linguistic, political, economic, social, psychological, religious, national, racial, and other differences. Communication reflects all these differences - "Culture is a way of thinking, feeling, believing. It is the group's knowledge stored up for future use." (Clyde Kluckholn, Mirror for Man, p. 23)

"Let this attitude be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2: 5) I found it best to meditate on this verse after this chapter. What kind of attitude have I been developing toward others? Have I learned to regard others as more important than myself? Humility of mind is not an easy quality to develop - yet it is the only way to greatness in the kingdom of God (Chapter 1). God needs us to be "great" kingdom citizens.

Here is another quote that helped me from some supplemental reading:

"One can transport words across cultural boundaries (like bricks), but interpretation will depend on the context which their different interpreters bring to them. And that context will depend more on past experiences and present temper of the people to whom the words are addressed than on the good will of the persons who report to them." (Robert Park, Reflections on Communication and Culture)

Chapter 2 highlighted that as kingdom citizens we need to understand the culture, but also become a belonger in that culture. This is one of the greatest challenges in short term mission work - but more on that when we have Rebecca Schell come to our team meeting.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more with you Dennis this is huge thing. The culture is one of the hardest things to attempt to prepare for when going on missions (from my experience anyway)... we can read about it and study it before hand which will help but we cant understand a culture until we are in it. This chapter covers very well to me what we have to do to thrive once we arrive. We must be curious and open to the differences with in their culture.

    My favorite quote from this chapter was

    "if we do not penetrate beneath the surface to discover why people do what they do, we will forever be a foreigner, on the outside rather than on the inside of peoples lives"

    This effort is key so that we can have that penetration in the short time we are there. If we develop the desire to get into these people's lives then we can teach them and be taught by them. If we fail to do that then we may as well have sent the $ for the roof to be done and stayed home.