It has been quite a while since I've recorded a new podcast, and I hope that you haven't fallen into despair while waiting for this episode. This time we are focusing on culture, something that we think about often, and something that I think is very important. I hope this episode is useful and helpful as you think about your own culture and how you can be a positive influence on those in your community.

Notes: many thoughts were influenced by Dr. Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, NY, USA. To see what he had to say about this same idea, you can view his talk at the Q Ideas conference on YouTube.


Podcast Transcript:

This is Jonathan, and this is The Bosnia Project Podcast. We have taken quite a while to get back into recording podcasts — last time I spoke to you, I was in the US, it was July, and I was in the middle of a long visit to my home country, enjoying time with family and with all of you. We are going to try to make podcasts a more regular thing, but it has been busy.

The team has arrived, and the new ministry year has begun.

We have a new team of six women and myself, kicking off the year now. We are getting ready, making plans, and putting things together for a great year of work with young people here in Mostar. We have English classes slated for the month of October, there is a new church in town that we are working with, we will have a big academic seminar at the end of the month, and a service project. There is a lot going on, and having a team of seven is a lot different than having two or three, which is what we had the past two years here.

All of this we are planning, always mindful of the fact that we are all foreigners reaching out to people who are part of another culture. And because of this reality, I think about this thing called culture a lot. And that’s what we are going to talk about today in this podcast.

What is culture and how does it affect us, and why should we care about it, why should we think about it, especially if we are people who want to impact the world and the culture around us, for good.

The big question: how does culture affect us?

Doing what I do, culture affects me all the time. I live in a culture where I am the foreigner. Every day, there’s a reminder that I don’t really belong, or that I do things differently. Different things are important to me.

Being present in a foreign culture has helped me see my own culture more clearly. I can see how the things I believe are heavily influenced by the culture I grew up in. And as I talk with people every day about eternity and the meaning of life in general, it is very clear that our opinions are all shaped by the cultures we know.

The big idea: It is necessary to understand culture in order to be a productive and effective citizen of this earth.

You could say that trying to observe your own culture is like a fish trying to observe water. You’re always in it so it can be hard to see it.

The purpose of this is to show why someone should care about culture, and to show why it is something we should be thinking about as we go through life on this earth.

How do we observe culture? How do we say “this is an example of my culture?”

Culture is a set of obligations, expectations, and customs that gives a group of people purpose and meaning. It is a set of judgments about the world, judgments about what is good and what is bad.

That’s a definition that can seem really dense or hard to unpack. What are our expectations? What are our customs? We just sort of do things. We don’t really think about what they are. We just say things — we don’t think about how we say them.

One of the easiest ways to think about is to think about the things you do to spend time with someone.

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