Some Thoughts About Culture

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Ray and I are taking baby steps toward our next writing project. As part of that process, we have been thinking about other cultures. I have always enjoyed learning about food, holiday traditions, folk dances, and other customs of people who live in different parts of the world. When our daughters were still at home, they and I took an international dance class together. It was so fun to learn dances that women do together in Eastern Europe. It was one of my favorite classes ever.

Between that class and our years of English country dancing, I have especially enjoyed learning the Swedish Weaving Dance, the Irish Washerwoman, the Scottish dance called Gay Gordons, a wonderful Greek dance (the name of which I don’t remember), and many English dances, including Duke of Kent’s Waltz and Jamaica (a particular favorite of mine). Once Ray and I and our girls got to perform a German folk dance to wonderful German oompah music. It was so fun.

At an English country dance ball

Learning from other cultures helps us to appreciate and to understand other people and to love them better as God wants us to do. The definition of culture includes: the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time. Sadly, the characteristic features of everyday existence and ways of life are not always good. Learning some aspects of culture can have devastating effects on our hearts and the hearts of our children.

When you spend time with older people, conversation often turns to bad influences in our culture. Older people are often particularly troubled about the youngest people in their families. Their specific concern is that their younger loved ones don’t think that things God says are wrong are actually wrong. Those older people are right to be troubled.

It is hard to point to one major bad influence in our culture. There are many. One particular bad influence that concerns many people is television commercials. What I am about to say I say with humility and respect for everyone reading this post today. I do not mean it disrespectfully. I only write it with love and as a warning. Here goes:

Every television remote that I have ever used has had a button that turns the television off. Everyone who has concerns about what is on television needs to use that button.

We are not victims of what is on a screen of any kind. I know that things pop up before we know it sometimes and suddenly we have seen something we wish we had not seen. That happens occasionally on my phone, but when that happens, it is then my choice whether to linger there or to click away as fast as I can.

It is crucial that we protect children. We teach them to cross the street safely. We teach them to eat healthy. We must teach them right from wrong, and we must protect them from things that are eternally dangerous.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
And clever in their own sight!
Isaiah 5:20-21

And do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
so that you may prove what the will of God is,
that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2

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