Essay: My Culture

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My culture background and the groups that I am part of can be divided in to four categories: educational, religious and political, occupational, and general demographic.

My family put a high value on education and most members would be considered highly educated. My dad and his brother, along with other members of my extended family, have completed graduate school, and two of three of my siblings who are college age have gone to college and the younger ones intend to. My siblings and I have a tendency to strive for excellence and typically make good grades.

Part of the education emphasis in our family has been a commitment to home schooling. Home schooling has allowed us to learn at our own pace which has typically been a much faster pace than is pursued at most public and private schools. This has allowed me to avoid being part of one group that seems to be one of the most destructive groups in America – institutional education.

Being home schooled allowed me to quickly complete the required core curriculum and pursue the study of many areas of knowledge that fascinated me. Two such areas are history and heraldry. These were an important part of my teenage years. I have spent a significant amount of time reading about these two subjects and discussing them with people who have common interests.

Many authors have had an impact on my life and culture either directly or through my parents. My parents teaching techniques were greatly influenced by James Dobson, Kevin Leman, and somewhat by Bill Gothard. I have read several books by C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Kevin Leman, and James Dobson. These authors, especially C. S. Lewis, have had a great influence on me.

Another major influence in my life has been the two colleges I have attended. I felt quite comfortable at Bob Jones University. Its high academic standards and strict conservatism were quite familiar, but God had different plans. So, I became part of a student body that expects class to get out early, prefers to think as little as possible and thinks that the only purpose for rules is so they will have something to break. The teachers, on the other hand, have been great. Almost all glow with love for Christ. Over all I am glad for the opportunity to go to a school with a biblical viewpoint similar to my own.

The second major category of groups that are a part of my culture is religious and political groups. The most important of these groups and the most directly influential is my family. My father was saved after my parents were married, and my mother rededicated her life somewhere around that time. Their youth in Christ and experience with seeing how awful sin can be, caused them to be zealously conservative, but it was a conservatism of the heart, not just form and tradition which is unfortunately associated more with second generation Christians like myself. I am very thankful for my parent’s influence and encouragement to love God and do what He says because I want to. They did not force me to do what is right but gave me plenty of good reasons to want to. They have been very effective at preventing the apathy that typically settles in after several generations of Christianity. I hope that I can be as successful with my children.

I am both a protestant and a religious conservative not just because my parents were, but also because I have done a great deal of research and thinking on my own and feel that this is the best perspective. I am, in contrast to my parents, an economic liberal. By calling my self a liberal I mean that I believe that traditional economic policy needs to be changed in order to give greater opportunity to those who are born to poor parents. I am not blindly conservative thinking that everything that is traditional is worth preserving. I stand in opposition of the position of both major political parties but tend to vote for republican candidates because of their general support for the life of the unborn, which in my thinking is one of the most important political issues at this time.

Another group that I have been a part of and enjoyed greatly is AWANA. The scripture memory and bible lessons that I learned while I was part of AWANA has stuck with me ever since.

I have been a member of both large and small churches. For five years I attended a church with an attendance of about 5,000, and for another five years I attended churches with attendance of less than 50. The rest of the churches I have attended have had attendance between 150 and 500. I feel comfortable in both small and large churches, but I think my preference is for larger churches.

I have been both a preacher’s kid and a missionary kid for part of my life, but this did not have a whole lot of impact on my personality since my father was only a pastor for three years. Also, my parents did not actually make it to the mission field because after one year of deputation, their fifth child was born, and the mission board decided that was too many kids, and it might not be safe to take a newborn into a third world country.

The companies I have worked for make up a third category of groups that make up my cultural background. My first job was at Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A was, for me, more than just where I worked. For several years it was my life. My brother and sisters worked there, and I was close friends with most of the employees. I typically spent 60 or more hours per week there. I would stay and talk and help out even after my shift was over. I learned a lot about how to interact with others and how to lead while I was there.

I have worked with computers since I was thirteen years old and have become quite knowledgeable in both hardware and software. I have been influenced greatly by the computer programmer’s sub-culture.

I have worked at Thomas Nelson for 3 years. I do not feel that I fit in perfectly, but I do enjoy my work. Most people in the corporate world seem to see their job as a destination, as a career. I have much higher goals and so I have not been fully assimilated.

The last category I will mention, although it was the first, chronologically is my general demographic background.

I was born into the working class, a group of people who would go broke if they went a month without a job, but as long as work is available they are able to pay the bills. Not quite middle class but not poor either, my family rarely missed a meal but seldom had the money to buy the extras.

I am part of a group that, according to Kevin Leman and others who have studied the effects of birth order, has a strong tendency to be leaders in most organizations. The firstborns of two families will often have more in common with each other than they will with their own siblings. I am a fairly typical firstborn. I like to have control and make sure things get done right. I have an innate belief that anyone can achieve anything if they try hard enough. In contrast, I have much of the sanguinity of a middle child because of the influence of a father and a sister who are both radically choleric.

I am completely comfortable with my ethnic origin; however, I am amazed at the horribleness of the racist attitudes of many others who are white Anglo-Saxons. Part of my disdain of racism comes from my belonging to two other groups. The first group is my parents and extended family who are from the North. The North has had a much better record on accepting people from other cultures. The other influence is the fact that I personally lived in the North for the five most formative years of my childhood.

I have lived in the South for nineteen years but have resisted enculturation mostly because of my parents not accepting certain aspects of southern culture.

And I am proud to be an American where at least I think I am free. I am thankful to live in a country where I have a great deal of religious freedom; however, I am not proud of the fact that many Americans are abusing that freedom and trying to restrict the religious rights of fellow citizens. Much of what I am and what I think is either directly or indirectly affected by the country in which I was born. I cannot help but imagine that my opinions and perspectives on life would be quite different if I had been born in another country, if for no other reason, because of the groups that I would not have been part of and some other groups that I would have been part of.

6 responses to “Essay: My Culture

  1. Wow! I read your whole article in one single breath because it was so very well written and really interesting. Adding something to the article, I’d say that wherever there’s religious freedom, there had always been people trying to restrict religious rights! It’s almost like two sides of the same coin.

    Cheers.

  2. Awesome. Simply awesome. One of the best write ups I’ve come across in a lot of time. And I mean a lot. And I somewhat agree on your point regarding home schooling. Anyway, great article. Keep it up

  3. Cufflinks and VSA,

    Thanks for the swell complements. I would encourage you however, to use your real name when commenting. One of the things that really makes blogging great is the chance to connect personally.

    Comments that link only to your business lack the human element and really miss the point of blogging. It might help your page rank a bit, but not nearly as much if you really connect with people.

  4. Well, that was one of the reasons why Collin Powell (or is it Colin Powell?) voted for Obama. Even though he himself is a repubican, he voted democrat because the USA was “way too far to the right” in his own words. I myself am a republican too but I 100% agree with Mr. Powell.

    The thing is, since we elected Obama at the time of this writing, we should hopefully be swinging more to the left. Which means there should be more influence of freedom to practice religion or say what you want to say, even though many people may not like it. Before, we would just restrict everything (like slanderous statements about the USA). While before people will get boo’d and kicked out of places, I’m hoping now this can stop. This is what made America great in the first place, to say and do what you want (within reason) and not have to worry about the government or other people trying to stifle you. I mean, what’s the point of being in a free country if you can’t practice freedom?

  5. Jerimiah,

    Unfortunately it is not a simple as left and right. The left and right both have their share of nuts. Obama’s big talk when turned into actions will lead to some very serious consequences.

    Freedom of Speech is one thing. Freedom to *do* anything you want is another thing entirely. Civil discussion can lead to some really great action. My freedom of speech does not keep you from speaking, my freedom of action frequently could. Should I have the right to shoot you? Should I have the right to play music as loudly as I want at any hour that I want, any place that I want? In your bedroom?

    The Republicans, the Right, and Conservatives (3 overlapping but distinct groups all have very valid useful input into the discussion unfortunately everything has gotten squashed into a left versus right argument and we were quite frankly stuck between two very poor choices this time around.

  6. It’s really great that you are able to view yourself from a 3rd person perspective – that is the ability to know who you have become based on the multitude of influences that have impacted your life.

    As you say – “My father was saved after my parents were married, and my mother rededicated her life somewhere around that time. Their youth in Christ and experience with seeing how awful sin can be, caused them to be zealously conservative, but it was a conservatism of the heart, not just form and tradition which is unfortunately associated more with second generation Christians like myself. I am very thankful for my parent’s influence and encouragement to love God and do what He says because I want to. They did not force me to do what is right but gave me plenty of good reasons to want to. They have been very effective at preventing the apathy that typically settles in after several generations of Christianity. I hope that I can be as successful with my children.”

    How nice to see the influences as a positive force rather than something to overcome as many people struggle with their identity.

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