catapult magazine

catapult magazine


Is culture a monolith, or diverse?


Sep 14 2007
11:45 am

I think the statement "culture is not optional" is just a general statement of human culture and the importance of culture in general, not just any particular culture. I think the statment applies to things like the arts, which are present (though often quite different) no matter what culture you might travel to. Humans always have some kind of culture. Different people have different cultures and subcultures. I don’t think it’s really necessary to break down the statement further and say which cultures are or are not optional.

As far as the desires and aspirations leading to faith which leads to culture and behavior, I agree to a point. However, I’d also argue that it goes both ways: Culture itself (or if you prefer, one’s own culture) can have an influence on a person’s desires and aspirations. It affects their faith and beliefs.

Regardless of the natural desires and aspirations of an individual (which we could already say is a mix of God-given personality and sin-corrupted pride), the both the faith and how those desires are pursued is likely to be shaped to a large degree on whether they grow up in Canada or Pakistan. The pre-established culture in various places is often stronger than any individual’s desires. Culture is not a blank slate subject to an individual’s whims. However, it can certainly be shaped just as it shapes those within it.

Either way you look at it, I see the statement of "culture is not optional" to mean that we can’t ignore culture, its influence, or the ways we need to interact with it and contribute to it in order to shape it as members of it. Those that do ignore it do so at their own peril. They will either unquestioningly become a product of their culture or else seperate themselves from it until they are no longer a part of it, neither of which is best for the individual or the culture.