This week over at http://lovegodwithallyourmind.wordpress.com/:
James Sire presents an interesting concept in chapter six; he mentions in passing, the effects of a worldview on a people group. He illustrates a Hindu family from India vs. that same family in America and presents the possibilities of many “rebellions” against the family’s cultural worldview. In my opinion, Sire left open-ended what would be a worthwhile to parse out in this chapter, that is the role of culture on ones worldview. The culture of a family, the culture of a country, and the culture of a religion all shape an individual’s worldview. Ultimately, why do you believe what you do? Are you thinking freely, or are you being molded by culture?
Let’s examine the culture of a family first; I was raised as a Christian, from the earliest memories I can only recall being a Christian, or at least having a Christian worldview. My mom’s side of the family is traditional Mennonite Brethren, and is very devout. In fact, if I go to a family get together, there will likely be 90 year old women who will still wear an apron and a bonnet, and men with the half beard. We begin every family meal by singing a doxology, and usually led in prayer by one of the uncles. This side of the family is very proper, they keep the top button done up all the time. On the other hand, my dad is the son of Christian & Missionary Alliance missionaries. My dad grew up on the mission field, and my grandparents continued to be full-time missionaries to South East Asia until about the year 2000, and still reflect much of the culture they lived in for some 40+ years. As you can see, from the beginning I was going to be influenced in the way of some evangelical faith system. For me, I grew up with a presupposed position of there being a God, and the God was the God of the Bible. This was never questioned by me as I formed my worldview. That is, until my early 20’s when in rebellion I began questioning the validity of this system. Through my questioning I became convinced I was always on the right track, and held firm to my conservative evangelical beliefs. I say this to demonstrate the role of the family’s culture has on an individual’s worldview.
Next, allow me to address the culture of a country (or nationality); the culture of a people group tends to dictate the worldview of that people group, this is a major thrust of anthropology. Examine much of Africa, the Middle East, and Indonesia and you will find these areas dominated by worldviews that hold to Islamic leanings. A look at South East Asia will provide worldviews dominated by Buddhism, among other eastern mystical teachings. A glance at Russia and much of Europe will provide worldviews dominated by atheistic thought (naturalism). A look at the western world will show a worldview that can be argued is more evangelical (unfortunately a convincing argument can be made this is quickly changing). My point is a worldview is dictated by the geographical location and culture of that location.
Lastly, and as a conclusion to this progression, the culture of a religion; I just briefly presented two different cultural paradigms that form a worldview, that of the family and the country. In pointing these out I hope you will notice the progression this makes, the family is located in the country, and the country typically is a hub of a specific religion, therefore the countries predominate religion tends to be the religion of the family. This can have a profound impact on the people of each of these sub cultures. Take for example, a 19 Muslim female who lives in a traditional Muslim family who reside in New York City. This young lady has been brought up in the religious/family culture of Islam, and this has shaped her worldview for her 19 years of life, but she lives in America; the land of the free and the home of the brave. She begins to desire an education, she desires to live a life like the girls she sees riding the subway, and she desires a little freedom to ask questions about her religion. Sadly, all these things are fiercely forbidden, and are grounds for execution via Sharia Law in the Muslim countries; but in America these things will result in her being disowned and abandoned by her family.
So here is the question worth asking; what do you believe and why do you believe it? Are you dictated by any of the three sub-cultures I present? Have you actually sat down and processed your beliefs? Have you challenged them, scrutinized them, been open to others? Or, have you blindly walked behind those who went before you? From experience, it is in examining ones worldview that you can take ownership in it and in taking ownership in your worldview you can pave the way for others following you to do the same. The best part of this process for me is that I have become more convinced than ever before that my Christian worldview is the true worldview, and would challenge anyone to disprove me.