Cultural values are more important than most people would acknowledge.
Cultural values are expressions of the collective consciousness of a
society. This is a major formative force, forming the minds of children even
before they set foot out of mother's house. Cultural values continue to form
a child=s mind at school where the child spends 2 of his/her waking day. The
rest of the day is spent absorbing information from the media (television,
radio, music, magazines) and listening to elders discussing current issues.
It is here that a person's sense of justice is formed along with his/her
sense of duty, responsibility, social awareness, and group identity.
If these values are good then the child's mind-set is well formed. If
these values are bad, the child is being programmed to continue the 'sins of
the fathers to the 4th and 5th generation', so to speak. If a culture has
improper values ingrained in it the child is programmed to use these
improper values as a yardstick.
The teaching of Yesu is very explicit in this regard. We are not allowed
to function as culturally programmed beings - we are called to be free. We
are told in no uncertain terms, and more than a few times, to break out and
judge our cultural norms. We should prove all things and hold on to the
good. Yesu knows that this will bring about strife in families and he
reminds us that father and son, and daughter and mother, will rise up
against one another in the same household.
As devotees of The Way we are not allowed to hide behind 'cultural
values' when they are sinful. We are called to challenge the establishment
and its elders if they teach children sinfully. This had to happen in South
Africa during the apartheid era and it must again happen to the current
(1999) banal and wasteful government. It happened in the South of North
America some 150 years ago but it must happen again in the current
materialistic obese regime of individuation.
Church of the East is a culturally sensitive movement. We take this cue
from the Saviour as we witness how he moved from one culture to the other,
taking care to respect their good values, to address people in their
context, and to find beauty in each culture. Never did the Saviour preach
another culture but he always preached continual reformation of the present
culture while maintaining its unique beauty. The same Church of the East
looks and feels different in India, Africa, Europe and America. The
prevailing culture of the people is respected and is allowed to assimilate
the Church and give a unique expression to it in its own milieu.