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Culture – Challenge – Change – Conform

Culture – Challenge – Change – Conform

Culture – challenge – change – conform

One of the things that I ask audiences who say that they are Christians is, if you are one have you changed and what methodology do you think, you or God uses to change you.

I get lots of answers usually things like:

  • ·         The Bible
  • ·         Prayer
  • ·         The Holy Spirit
  • ·         Meeting with other Christians
  • ·         Love
  • ·         And others sometime a bit more obscure

Of course all of those things have a bearing on change, if change is necessary, however that is not actually how we change. In fact the funny thing is that the Bible does tell us what the method of change is, and more than that it tells us how to maintain and continue with the relevant and vital changes that are needed to become a new kind of person. The Book of Romans starts us off…12:2  Don’t be conformed to this world (allow the world to squeeze you into its mould), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.


Thinking is what changes us, what we think.  So often we don’t, think that is.  When I was a teenager I used to hang out in what was euphemistically called coffee bars, the place where young people could legitimately go. You went there before you went out, and came back there after you had been out, if you see what I mean.  It was the place you met your date before you went on the date… Bit more like a house front room with frothy coffee and the very required juke box.


One of the things I noticed is, and that hasn’t changed much in 50 years is that the music had to be very, very loud. In fact so loud that you couldn’t think, I asked a few of my friends back then why they like the music so loud? Most of them answered the same, well they said “It saves me from having to think”!

The trouble is there are many times that we think we are thinking but we are not; rather I would say we are conforming.  We conform to our culture our peers, those we feel we need to impress, be the same as, want them to like us, feel part of the crowd, and be accepted.  All of those things going on inside of us but often without much thought.


I have been to a lot of parties of late, most of which I have to say not my age group, but even when occasionally it was my age group I note the attempt to conform to the group is very strong.  Our cultures, that we don’t think about puts us into a box where we act, do, be, just like everyone else but without much thinking.


Let’s be honest it’s hard to change culture, not that we shouldn’t try particularly when culture has it wrong, which often it has.  When you change your thinking you can change your behavior, but changing others thinking is not that easy, even if your thinking is right and their’s is wrong.  Think about Ignaz Semmelweiss, don’t know him, well in 1847 he discovered that if doctors washed their hands before attending women in childbirth it dramatically reduced deaths from puerperal fever.  His views were ridiculed and eventually drove him insane – not that he was wrong but it took some 15 years for Pasteur and Lister to develop their germ theory of disease which explained why Semmelweiss was right.


Going back to those parties, why is it that we have to have so much Alcohol, so much ‘same’ music, so much ‘same dress style’ so much conformity.  Are we thinking or just culturally conforming, and if we are just peer pressure conforming, are we right to do so? Are we that different to my coffee bar era, ‘well it saves me from having to think?’


To quote Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett in ‘The Spirit level’ they said, It is a remarkable paradox that, at the pinnacle of human material and technical achievement, we find ourselves anxiety-ridden, prone to depression, worried about how others  see us, unsure of our friendships, driven to consume and with little or no community life.  Lacking the relaxed social contact and emotional satisfaction we all need we seek comfort in over-eating, obsessive shopping and spending, or becoming prey to excessive alcohol, psychoactive medicines and illegal drugs.

So why am I going on.  Well because I want to provoke you to THINK!  Think what about?

Well:

  • ·         Why are you here in this world?
  • ·         What is it that needs changing?
  • ·         What is it that you could do to effect change?
  • ·         Why are you just being one of the crowd?
  • ·         Where are you going anyway?
  • ·         When are you going to do something constructive?

Sometime the problem starts by what you think about yourself, again to quote the Bible it says in Proverbs 23:7 Paraphrasing “as you think in your heart so you are”  So what do you think about you, are you insecure, unsure, do you think of yourself as not so good.  Well to start with that would need to change if you are to tackle the thinking above.  And of course it can and should change.


 What should you be doing?  Shouldn’t you be the person to change things, by first of all changing your own thinking?  Why be a ‘samee’ why not be a change agent? You could be a world changer, but first you probably have to change, personally I do that by firstly becoming a follower of Jesus, then trying hard to ‘not conform’ and putting on the mind of Christ, thinking about good things rather than bad, in fact seeking to renew my mind.  Not got there yet, but trying and on the way.


How about you, wouldn’t you rather be here to change things rather than just be one of the crowd?  Think about it!  There’s a challenge!

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Politics

POLITICS

I don’t usually write anything about Politics, but the recent elections at which I did vote, seem to me to be setting a trend that require lots of us who, maybe think differently, to say something.

An Iraqi friend of mine recently said to me, maybe there is a problem with democracy in that stupid people get to vote; perhaps we should have an exam before people are given the franchise?

Recently listening to the debate in a ladies’ hairdressers, waiting for my wife, who had just commented on the problems for the kidnapped girls in Nigeria, I was staggered to discover from about 10 plus people there, she was the only one who knew that girls had been kidnapped.  They moved on in conversation to various other world shattering events, but it seemed to me that my wife was the only one who had a TV that showed any news programmes.  The world affairs, local and national politics seemed at such a low level of interest to them I wanted to scream argh…

It isn’t that this stuff isn’t out there it is, but as most of the main three political parties are saying the message has not got through, perhaps that is because they shy away from the real facts to try and be popular to those who don’t listen to them anyway.

Negative – Lukewarm – Self Obsessed

Negative – Lukewarm – Self Obsessed

I don’t like to be negative but it is my imagination that in the UK there are lots of people who are living in a small bubble.

Isn’t it great to be with passionate people? People who have vision, enthusiasm, Mission, concern for the big things?  Such people are attractive to be around, they draw like magnets they are not boring they are challenging, inspiring, and usually ‘life full’ and often fulfilled people. None of that is negative is it?

Yet around me I see lots of the alternative. Conversation, both in person and of FB is of the small talk kind. Latest dress, shoes, entertainment; usually fairly inconsequential, never going to change the world much less the small space where they dwell.  Often the pressure of life is the things that affect them personally, the things that they believe will bring them happiness.  Joy would not be something understood here.  Sadly the things they want are usually the ‘me’ kind I guess that is the spirit of the age ‘you are number one’!

Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist


I have thought about this a lot. It is one of those words that the English have borrowed from the German, but which in its usual dictionary explanation does not express all that the word implies. Some words are just like that, aren’t they?

The dictionary definition of the term is; “the spirit of the time and general trend of thought or feeling characteristic of a particular period of time”.  Well yes, but the thing is when you go into the background of the word from a German perspective, it has many layers to it.  This is perhaps why we don’t have a good feel of its translation or its common English usage. The word in German carries the idea of being in a fog, so the ‘spirit of the age’ is not recognised by you or me, because we are so influenced, affected, controlled by, engulfed by, our eyes covered by the fog of the spirit of the age that we do not know there is such a spirit nor can we see any alternative.  From a German perspective you can only assess zeitgeist in retrospect; looking back or, better translated, the ghost of the past age.  Then we can see what it was and know where they went wrong or how they could have done better.  Hind sight is a wonderful thing.

Nutty Newspaper Nonsense

Nutty Newspaper Nonsense


I reached the ultimate in surprise this week when I was asked if I knew that black people are able to receive a free oyster (bus and tube pass) if they live in London.  Come on all my black friends if you did not know this – get one – problem is I do not know where from.


The young lady who was telling me this story went on to tell me that the person who had told her this great piece of news, when told, “No, that is not true”, looked at her with that knowing look that says “Oh, that’s what you think”.


It really is nutty nonsense from people who read certain types of newspapers that come out with this stuff, and then when you tell them no it’s not true, prefer to believe their fairy tale rubbish rather than any real facts.

Some of the other apocryphal stories I have been told are as follows, usually by wide eyed people who when, like my friend who told me the story of free travel, are told “no, it’s nonsense”, look at you as though you are the stupid one.  Here are just some of them.  ‘Did you know that they now give foreigner’s free cars’ ‘It’s terrible that you can only get a house on the council if you are not English’  ‘Did you know that immigrants get £120.00 per week unemployment allowances’ and so on, I have heard lots more, I must admit that I had not heard the one about black people getting free travel until this weekend.  Nutty stuff or what?


Pick and Mix

Pick and Mix


Follower of Jesus


I am slightly puzzled by various people I meet up with of late, and some I hear speaking publically, who seem to want to stress to me that they are ‘people of faith’, that they ‘love God’, that they ‘are Christians’ or that they ‘are followers of Jesus’.  I suppose some of those statements could be understandable, but ‘follower of Jesus’, seems a bit harder for me to swallow.
Is it the Jesus who says ‘do whatever you like as I don’t mind’? I don’t know that one.  Is it the Jesus who says ‘whatever values you think fit you, that’sok, as long as you say you are following me, that’s fine’?  I don’t know him either.  Is it the one who says ‘we are all going in the same direction and it does not matter what you believe’? I’ve never met him.

Yes or No?

YES OR NO?
Our sound bite age is impatient with answers that take more than two minutes.  We want it simple and we want it quick and we want it to be correct and all encompassing.  Our culture may be in that ‘want’ position, but it’s unrealistic, unhelpful, untruthful, unfulfilling and just does not work.
I am reminded of the story of the old farmer, with a horse and cart riding through the country lanes with his dog by his side and a load of hay on the back.  A sports car came around a bed far too fast and crashed into the old farmer causing considerable damage an loss.  Eventually the farmer and the driver had their day in court and of course the farmer was trying to get compensation for his loss; on the other side the defence for the insurance company were trying to settle for as little as possible.

Sex

SexSex and the Robbery that takes place in our CultureHow to write this? It’s not an easy one; realising as I write that to say what I believe to be going on, in terms of robbery, will be both...