Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Culture Chaos

This post  has been in my head for over a month, but with all that has been happening it hasn't made it to the blog. Bear with me as I try and capture what's been churning in this head of mine!

Whilst still in our old house, a new neighbor moved in next door. Now as it was a semi-detached house, we could not help but embrace whoever lived next door, and over the years we lived there we made some good friends due to the nature of being so close. However, this last family, a single mom and her three kids, altered my world view.

Have you ever noticed that there's a lot you can infer about someone by what they call their children? From names like Forgotten, or Mercy, to Love, or Happiness (seriously, these are real names from students I've taught in Zim). We've certainly chosen names for our family that reflect that we believe in God, believe he gave us our children and that show we believe them to have a destiny. The two boys in this new next door family - (I use poetic license now as I don't wish to use their real names) are called Sky and Basil, and the girl is called Indigo. 

The first tell tale sign. 

Then one evening whilst cooking dinner, it became increasingly apparent by our hacking coughs that something in the air had changed - and I realized that the fragrance of incense from the house next door was so strong that it was overpowering us. Clue number #2!

I did eventually invite the mom over for tea which was, all things considered, fairly normal, but when asked to reciprocate the visit, well let's just say I was found myself completely out of my depth.

It wasn't so much the ancient Indian poster proclaiming the 10 commandments, or the colourful interior of her home, or the ostrich plumes, or the Tibetan prayer flags.....it was the enormous sense of difference. I realized that I had not the faintest clue how to really relate to this woman, or what to talk about. She is from a sub-culture of people I have never really interacted with. I had no words for a comeback when she told me how the universe was aligning so that  her life could carry on when the father of her children left her (they never married). I was confronted, with no way of escaping, with a completely different world. 

(As a humorous aside - do you know that those of us that live in the deep south are referred to as living beyond the lentil curtain? I heard that this weekend and it cracked me up! Like the boerwors curtain of the north!)

And, if I'm honest, initially it scared me. Actually it terrified me. But after a while, those emotions grew into a deep sadness. I believe, wholeheartedly, that in his day Jesus was completely relevant to all people at all times - he hung out with the outcasts of society, he spoke love to prostitutes in broad daylight. I came to realize, that whatever I have adopted as a Christian culture, is actually so irrelevant to the world in which I live today, it is sad. It deeply troubles me. I want to have a culture, a Christian underpinning, that no matter who I talk to or converse with, they sense the FREEDOM of Christ and his love. My life felt so narrow, so sheltered, so protected. And folk...all my experiences of church, this 'holy huddle' stuff, this 'brand'of  Christianity has not prepared me to be able to really love the world as I am convinced Christ did.

We are out of our depth Christians. We've lost the plot. I don't know that we are relevant to this society in which we live anymore. And that friends is sobering. And deeply troubling.

O God.

1 comment:

  1. BUT be encouraged - God is showing more and more mature christians that now is the time to shake off the constraints of our *so called christianity* and to embrace those who dont know Him as He would have. So! Exciting times - how awesome to live next door to such an interesting and clearly open/searching individual. YOu can share her life and she can share in yours. :-)