2.19.2010

Our Great Cultural Divide

There are many lines of division in our culture. We divide along racial lines, economic lines, educational lines, political lines, spiritual lines, and perhaps some others; but all of these divisions relate in interesting ways with what I believe is the greatest cultural divide in the American context today.

The urban/suburban* divide.

Now, this is actually a surprise to some people. People are used to thinking of the more obvious divisions, but think about it...

...if you tell someone you live in the city or suburbs, they are able to make a pretty good guess at your politics, your spirituality, your economic status, and your education. Conversely ethnicity is a fairly good indicator of where someone might live. In short, the cultural milieu within the city limits is markedly different than outside of it. In fact, changing other factors is less likely to result in as great a cultural shift as changing the geographical location. Ethnic minorities in the suburbs are much more likely to fit into stereotypical 'suburban culture' when it comes to politics, economics, even spirituality. Caucasian city dwellers are likely to look very different than their suburban counterparts when it comes to spirituality, politics, and many other aspects of culture.

My goal here is not to minimize the more obvious cultural dividing lines, but rather to elevate the geographical dividing line. Race, politics, religion, economics, etc. are legitimately significant; however, geography is at least as significant, if not more so.

*My apologies to you rural folks out there, but there really just aren't too many of you left. There are plenty of suburbanites living in the country and erecting their cultural values out there, but the true rural paradigm (farmers, ranchers, loggers, pioneers) is a very small segment of the population; small, and ever diminishing...

5 comments:

bean said...

What if we start populating other planets? What will that look like? What would People from Mars think of in terms of politics & spirituality? Hahaha. Just Kidding!!!!- but who knows. With the diminishing rural folks could the door open to the appearance of some other cultural group? I'm not saying I believe in aliens! Just pondering off of your pondering.

Steve S. said...

Be careful talking like that in SC...

You might start a whole 'nuther religion that way!

;-)

LindaFaye said...

Not to be rude, but so what? What does this mean to us, to religion, to society.... I'm not connecting the dots.

Steve S. said...

Great question!

I think the obvious answer is with respect to the future of the Church.

American culture is shifting, and that shift is happening much more rapidly in the cities...

(As I am writing this, I am realizing that SC doesn't really fit into either paradigm, although has more commonality with city culture)

While it might be easier to plant and grow a church in suburban America, the Church needs to learn to navigate the challenges of the present cultural shifts...

I think it is vital that the church learn how to handle the issue of plurality. This is difficult to engage from the homogenized suburban context, but it is the overwhelming reality of the urban context.

Love to hear more thoughts though!

LindaFaye said...

Okay, I'm trackin with you now. Gotta think about context when you church plant, and knowing these things about city vs suburb and whatnot should affect the way we approach church planting and knowing our audience... I think I get the gist. Thanks!