What is culture?
If we are to be in the world, not of it, then we must consider what it is that we are “in.” It is not just the world that we are in, it is a particular culture (or multiple cultures). And therefore, we need to consider culture more deeply. (This has become more clear to me for multiple reasons including the two previous posts on this blog about 1) what do I mean to be in the world for God or in God for the world and 2) having influence not fame?)
So, developing a better understanding of culture requires a deeper look – a much deeper look. And in 2021, I will begin to dive deeper.
For now, we could say that the year 2020 has changed our culture a great deal. Certainly, people in some places in the world have worn masks for years due to pollution, and others wear them because of health reasons, but at the beginning of this year, who would have thought that masks would be ubiquitous?
But as big of a news story as COVID has been, it is not the only significant news story. Many other stories have upended people’s lives and some have transformed (or begun to transform) culture.
This blog is more about how a follower of Jesus should navigate culture in light of one’s faith, but navigation means being within the culture (or planning to be). I think too often Christians tend to isolate themselves from the culture around them rather than following Jesus’ lead to be incarnational.
As I consider last week’s post, I think of the word influence. To influence means to have an impact on others. But it is not easy to influence others if we do not know others. Knowing something (or someone) well is helpful, although maybe not required, to be an influence. For instance, those who know me best may influence me most, but I have been influenced by some I will never meet through their writings or teachings.
Let us consider the word influence. Simply looking at the word reveals two parts – “in” and “fluent.” To be fluent is to know something well. The word is often used in relation to speaking a language. But being fluent is more than that. As we consider culture, being fluent could be detrimental and make someone susceptible to what is happening in culture. That is, influence works both ways. But to affect culture means we need to know enough about it to know how to make an impact.
As we near 2021, I believe this idea is worth exploration. Thus, I will be filling up the pages of this blog with ideas about culture and prompting us to think more deeply about it in the coming year. The blog will not necessarily be a commentary on culture (plenty of blogs exist about that topic), but about what we might think of the idea of culture more generally. In doing so, I will prompt us to think about our SYSTEM (see the posts from June to October this year) and how knowing our VISION, MISSION, STRATEGY, and STEPS fits into how we might influence the culture around us.
But that is for 2021.
For the remainder of 2020, I am going to repost some of the most popular posts (as in number of views on the website) from the last two years. This will give me time to think, prepare, and outline a plan for 2021.
So, as I close the year with my final freshly written words for this year, let me encourage you to give thanks to God for seeing you through this strange year. 2020 may have been a challenging year, but if you are reading these words, you are still alive and so I want you to continue to have hope. So, thank God for seeing you through and ask Him to prepare you for whatever 2021 will bring.
I will begin with new posts again on Friday, January 8, 2021.* Until then,
Happy New Year.
*I will post my quarterly book review post on December 31 and update my 1st quarter reading list (at the link on the top of the home page) on January 1.