Two Observations About American Culture

5 Jan

I know it is a generalization to talk about “American culture.” Yet I do think, in spite of our diversity, that we have something which could be called culture. And in this culture I observe two trends.

  1. We are more connected than ever but have less community than ever.

2. We have more information than ever but are less inclined to careful thought than          ever.

Now these are observations, assertions. I may be wrong. But if I am right, what can be done? To be sure, if we just ride the waves of culture we will continue to be disconnected and unthinking. We must be intentional in this day and age if we are to have community and depth of thought. The first step is a real assessment of time and how we are spending it. Most people think money is their most precious resource. But I believe time may be even more valuable. There is a limited amount for each of us and each day holds only 24 hours. What will we do with that time? I believe all too often we are trying to do things rather than trying to know people. Tasks take priority over relationships. The Mary-Martha situation hits. We want to accomplish things. We can measure it. Makes us feel like we’ve done something. But people? Too messy. Too inconvenient. Too difficult. Yet, most of us can’t deny that deep within us there is a longing for personal connection. Unless we are willing to adjust our thinking about productivity, we may miss the most productive thing of all; cultivating relationships.

The same necessity is there for us with thinking. While all of us could probably benefit from a course in logic, far beyond the academic discipline of thinking there is simply the discipline of carving out time to think. Again, there must be an intentional pushing aside of much information in order to thoughtfully digest ideas.

We are not reflective as a people, and even when we are, we tend to turn our reflection inward, to gaze at our inward emotional state or our place in life. So even when we do think, we normally think about ourselves, and this self-focus undercuts both quality of relationships and substantive reflection. Somehow we must not become casualties of a culture that values both achievement and leisure. Both are potential soul-crushers. We must find a way to live in the world that values relationships and reflection, for these are the things that will lead us to strength of life and the ability to do things of real value to others.

I am intrigued that when we come to the Bible we see from the beginning the key truths that God is personal and that God is a communicator. It seems to me that relationships and careful thinking reflect the image of God very well. I believe we tend to understand in our depths, even in spite of our fallen nature, that things which mark us as image-bearers are actually the best things in life.

I am still thinking through all of this, but that is where my thoughts are now. I want to be more deliberate in 2017 when it comes to people and when it comes to truth.

 

 

2 Responses to “Two Observations About American Culture”

  1. LynnD January 5, 2017 at 10:35 am #

    Agreed.

    • jsf08 January 5, 2017 at 10:36 am #

      Just wrote more. Unintentionally hit post too early.

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