Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Six Degrees Of ?

A few years ago there was this trivia type thing going around about the actor Kevin Bacon. Kevin Bacon made a comment that he had worked with everyone in Hollywood or someone who had worked with them. Some people then had the idea that you could link anyone in Hollywood to Kevin Bacon in six steps or less. This whole idea is actually based on something called six degrees of separation or the human web that has as its main idea that each person on earth is only separated from any other person on the earth by six steps or degrees.

Well, the whole point of my blog is not to write about Kevin Bacon, statistics, or who I might know or be connected to. This idea came to me recently as I have been preparing to teach a class on the end times. I have been studying and working on my notes for a few weeks now to get myself ready for the class. What I have noticed is that in the Bible study I lead, in some conversions I have with people, and when I am watching TV over and over again I make connections back to the subject of the end times! I realized that because I have been focusing on that subject so much that it has begun to have an influence on how I view things around me.

Each person has some thing or idea that a lot of what they do and talk about can be connected to. For example, some people may be overly focused on money and everything to them somehow relates to money. Some people who have been rejected by others in the past see rejection in many of the contacts they have with people. Still other people are sports fans of some team and everyone around them knows that in a conversation eventually this person's favorite team will come up.

The things we spend our time with will have an influence on us and these things can begin to have an influence everything we do or think. By that I do not mean whether or not you are a Christian or if you love your family or something like that. But what I am talking about is how some topic or thing can have such a place in you that you see it in everything around you. Because I have been studying about the end times I have a tendency to relate everything around me back to that subject. Right now I am sure that I could connect almost anything to the end times within six steps! My question is if you look at your life, what is it that everything around you connects to in six steps or less?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Culture Shock

Depending on what information you look at, the term culture shock was introduced in the 1940s or 1950s to describe the sense a person has when they enter into a different culture and environment than what they are used to. There is also a term "reverse culture shock" that is used to describe what can happen to someone who has lived for some time in a new place. Then when that person returns to their original culture and environment they once again must make an adjustment because they have gotten used to the new culture.

Culture shock is something that I believe every missionary deals with at one point or another to one degree or another. Personally I would say that culture shock has not been such a big issue for me but from other missionaries I know personally and that I know about it can be a big problem.

There are different symptoms of culture shock such as feeling sad and lonely, insecurity, irritability, and resentment, as well as idolizing the culture and environment you came from as opposed to where you live now. Reverse culture shock can be harder to deal with because people often have an unrealistic recollection of where they came from and once they return their image and reality clash dramatically. There are different stages of culture shock ranging from the initial excitement of being in a new place to the final adjustment of learning to live and thrive in the new environment.

Is there a "cure" for culture shock? While I am certain no one would consider me an expert on culture shock I have lived outside of my home country for over 10 years. I realize that no place is perfect and there will always be some things that I would rather see done differently; that goes for Germany and the USA. Many people spend their time thinking and talking about how great it is somewhere else and why their current location is not as good. That and always longing for some type of food or dwelling on how little they may be able to see some family and friends is, in my opinion, a recipe for disaster. Every place and every people group have their positives and their negatives. Culture shock may be something that has to be dealt with but I believe that being flexible and keeping the right attitude are keys to not allowing culture shock to become a personal crisis.