Monday 21 January 2008

Crossing Cultures

Isn't it funny how relatively trivial thoughts can lead you into deeper areas of thinking...or is it just me?

For instance...

I ran into my local supermarket to get a couple of things. As I was checking-out there was a small group of 20-somethings in front of me speaking to the cashier in an other language. I'm pretty sure it was Polish. Now this isn't an uncommon experience. Encountering the "new Irish" in this way is a daily occurrence. Nothing particularly unusual. But I came away asking this question:

How do people of the same culture wind up finding each other when they live in another country? Am I just not very good at that or are other cultures more inclined to mono-cultural attraction?

As an Englishman living in Ireland for almost five years there aren't very many other Brits that I know really well despite the fact that the British are still the highest population of immigrants in Ireland. (Maybe it has something to do with not going to very many pubs?!)

Then I started going deeper in my thinking. If my purpose in life is to embody something of the person of Jesus and present him as the benefit for not only the life-to-come, but the life-right-now, then how do I do that with people from vastly different backgrounds to my own? How do I "incarnate the gospel"? Is it even possible to incarnate the gospel in an urban, multicultural, pluralistic society?

Let me put it this way: How would I, as a middle-class, 21st century Englishman living in Ireland, talk to a newly immigrated Nigerian woman in a relevant and understandable way about a Jewish man who lived in first century Palestine? I only ask because, living in the city, there is every chance that she will be behind me at the supermarket checkout.

I'm attending a conference next week that might help shed some light on this subject. However, I think it may just bring up more questions!

So where would you start? Perhaps you start with common ground. Perhaps you start with coffee.


Nick Coke said...

You raise some really pertinent thoughts here - it'll be interesting to hear what comes out of your conference! You may remember we started a similar discussion over at in regards to the Pulp song - Common People.

David said...

Hi Cosmo,

Nothing wrong with a question leading to more questions. I have no answers since I live in Southern California and our different cultures seem to have well established regions already.

Personally, I have a new co-worker from India. Our office has hired a great many subcontractors from India and they all live in the same apartment complex. I think their companies set them up.

I am also curious about what nick coke wrote about the Pulp song - Common People. Where can I get a listen to that song?

I am glad I stopped by tonight. It has been a while.

Cosmo said...


Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner.

The song Nick talks about can be viewed on his blog. Here's the link to the posting:

Nick always has something interesting to say about great songs that connect with life and faith.

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