14 May 2013

Aliens and alien cultures

After a doozy of a start, this hot season has, thankfully, fizzled into something still uncomfortably warm and lots of sweaty, drippy days... but really, on the whole, pleasantly bearable, at least compared to the usual. 

See their smiles?

I still find it amusing to skim through my Facebook feed on any given day, though, because:
  1. Friends from our part of the States are either freezing as they wait for Spring to really and truly arrive or they are jumping for joy at the warmth of a 80 plus degrees kinda day.
  2. Friends from our part of Africa are praying the electric stays on because by 9 a.m., kitchens are already hotter than 90 degrees.
Some days, it is like culture shock, the mental jumping back and forth between these two worlds....

Because in our Michigan - American world, approaching 80 (27'C) degrees is SUMMER TIME... out come the motorcycles, shorts, sandals and flip-flops, picnic baskets, sunscreen... off go the pool covers and convertible car-tops... on switch the fans and air-conditioners.

Meanwhile, in our Niamey - African world, descending near 70 (21'C) degrees is ALMOST BUT NOT QUITE FRIGID... out come the shawls, winter jackets, socks, knitted hats and scarves, sweatshirts... closed go the louvered windows and doors, all openings into huts are covered by metal pieces or plastic tarp... in go the mats, mattresses and mosquito nets as people seek warmer shelter, particularly to sleep.

All of THIS happens within the same 10 (6'C) degree temperature range.


But it also has me thinking about a same but different sorta situation.

No one adamantly says one is RIGHT (considering 70-80' warm) while the other is WRONG (considering 70-80' as too cool to be comfortable). They are just different  perspectives based on a different reality. So we just smile and  sometimes roll eyes. Usually.

So why do people so quickly label certain cultural (or church) practices that are different from their own as WRONG, or SINFUL, or GOD-DISHONORING rather than simply different?
  • Heads covered or not?
  • Music styles appreciated and enjoyed?
  • Instruments used in church?
  • Families together, sexes together or age segregation during worship?
  • Sabbath keeping... even how it is done?
  • Activities chosen for leisure?
  • Arranged marriages or not?
  • Family size?
  • Educational decisions?
  • Teaching methodology?
  • Etc...
There are some things that God's Word qualifies as non-negotiable. 

Those non-negotiables are probably a lot fewer that what some of us like to insinuate... and significantly more than a whole other group of us like to import. After all, God has given man the freedom to choose and that includes choosing how we apply His Word in our day to day lives. 

In the long run, I'm believing it is more important that someone is studying the Word , that someone is seeking to live life applying principles showcased within, and choosing to trust that the Holy Spirit can incite enough sincerity that those someones (myself included) recognize when God points out something is wrong.

The biggest question seems to be:

Who will choose humbleness, accepting both differences and correction, and then seek to change when/if God works that way?


What do you think?



  1. Thank you for this... It's a struggle not "condemning" people sometimes when living in Southern California where there is SO much diversity in people's opinions of what is right and what is wrong. This is a good application though. Thank you

    1. so... is this your subtle way of warning me to expect massive culture shock when we get to s. cal for your wedding?

      love you and miss you so much, girl! can't wait to see you.

  2. Thanks for linking to Velvet Ashes, Richelle.
    When we first arrived and I read our team documents, it read 'we endeavour to walk softly with culture'.
    I thought that was a nice sentence but didn't get it.
    Walking softly with - is different to 'striding over' 'walking on'. Sometimes my natural reaction is that, to say "this is wrong" and go my own way over the top of it. To overcome it, to stride above it. I would like to choose humbleness (with God's help) to walk softly with culture differences.
    thanks for pointing us to Jesus.
    Catherine Grace

    1. I really like that expression as well - "walking softly with" - seems like God keeps teaching me so much about gentleness, that it is godly, that gentle is something He desires us to be... and walking softly with (so different from not tip toe around - which is our other tendency) is a beautiful word picture.

      I've been enjoying Velvet Ashes... and hope to read more at the site.


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