Let's Talk About... Culture

written on 26 February 2021 by Elisabeth Hoole & Indy Hollway

Art by Brandon Heim

This article is written based on answers to an upcoming podcast. Whilst we attempt to uphold the author's opinions, bear in mind that their answers may have been interpreted by us: all the more reason to catch the interviews when they go live this spring!

Introduction by Indy Hollway:
The podcast from which this piece is taken is a deeply personal reflection of Elisabeth’s Tamil culture. All too often, those from Western cultures forget the important role that colonialism played in developing many of the sub-cultures that we identify with, including our religion. The different ways in which we interact with the Bible, and our differing views of God, still reflect some of these structures, and we should not take our understanding of religion for granted. There is so much that we can learn from other cultures, both about the world and about ourselves. What biases and prejudices do we hold against those who are different from ourselves? What assumptions do we make about God and our relationship with Jesus based on our culture? These are big questions indeed, so we asked Elisabeth if she would unpack culture a little bit for us.

What is culture?
Culture is everything of importance shared by a group. This can be material things such as clothing, music, or food, but also immaterial things such as shared knowledge. It also includes both positive and negative things, including generational trauma. Individuals may experience these groups differently, as there are multiple sub-cultures that intersect to create a person's culture.

What are the differences between culture and race?
These things are definitely interconnected, but culture goes beyond race. The intersections of all a person’s sub-cultures, including race, inform a person’s culture, which is personal to them. Where race refers to ancestry, and ethnicity refers to the cultural aspects of race, culture itself is a larger umbrella that includes these elements.

What are the differences between culture and religion?
These are also connected, and the way we understand and interact with God is influenced by our culture. Again, religion might be one of the sub-cultures that make up part of our culture.