Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thursday Reflection Week 2

Another stimulating day looking at how Marxism has had a great effect on the understanding of culture. My understanding of Marx is very limited. I’ve read about him, but never his works. As I understand Marx he was still dealing with a pre-modern worldview that saw a limited amount of resources in the world. Thus, the masses would arise and overthrow their oppressors because they were not getting a fair share of the pie. He failed to see that resources, particularly wealth, were not limited in the fashion he felt. The masses did not rise against their so-called oppressors because the size of the pie continued to increase as did the amount of it they were receiving. Marx followed in a tradition as old as the world: whenever there is a large cultural shift some will rise up, bemoan the changes, and point to how the past was a better time.

This goes back to the children of Israel wandering the desert and complaining to Moses that while they were beaten, enslaved, and starved back in Egypt at least it was predictable. Ecclesiasties 7:10 reminds us that longing for the good old days does not come from a place of wisdom. Returning to the past is not only impossible, but foolish as we.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Tuesday Reflection Week 2

I really enjoyed Tuesday's class. The small group time was fruitful. It was good to hear from others and start to build some community in the class. I do believe that I learn best through hearing stories. Dialoging with my group on Claiborne's book was intriguing. It is nice to be in conversation with others who are struggling with what it means to be a Christ follower in various context and with the challenges laid out by Clarborne. The introductory lectures raise a lot of questions for me as I have not studied sociology at all. It did seem heavy on the UK side, but perhaps that is where the discussions first got started. I am hopeful that the lectures will address the American setting as well. This discussion on how the concepts of high and low culture evolved was helpful to me. One aspect that stood out to me was that the fears that arose after the dawn of the industrial revolution see to occur any time there is a cultural shift. That is true of our day and the so-called culture wars. The idealism of the 50's "Father Knows Best" of the right and the ideals of 60's by the left fall in line with this. The right longs for their ideal of the 50's when they feel things were still idyllic in America. The current cultural upheaval that we are experiences has sent the right back to a time when they felt that America had reached an ideal. The fact of the matter is that the 50's were not an idyllic time at all. The ideal is only a fantasy. The same is true of the baby boomers' idealized view of the 60's. PBS is currently running a series called "The Decade that Shaped a Generation" dealing with the 60's. It seems that many continue to view themselves as 20-somethings long after they have left their 2nd decade of life. There is an idealization of the time when they felt that their whole was ahead of them. The baby boomers do this with the 60's. I wonder if the Gen X'ers will do this with the 80's. I've run into so many boomers who love to pull out their Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young CD's and sit back and let their eyes gloss over. They seem transported back to a time when they felt that their lives had meaning. I wonder if the X'ers will sit back in 20 years listening to Gun's-n-Roses lamenting the passing of the days when music was real. Dan Kimball recently had a blog entry about this wonder if there will ever be a band like the Clash again. This has been a long way of saying that the looking back towards an idealized life goes back at least as far as the Israelites wandering in the desert longing for the ideal times of being slaves in Egypt. They feel that they have no control over their lives and so they long for a time when their felt there was some regularity, predictability, and control; even if that meant returning to slavery.