Communications and Cultural Analysis: A Religious View

By Michael Warren | Go to book overview

repeat that word week after week, the meaning of "one" with the deepest hold on their spirits is not "one" as in a unity with sisters and brothers throughout the world but "one" as in a progression, as in "We're number one." The unitive "one" of the Eucharist is at fundamental odds with the competitive "one" of domination. Unfortunately, the Eucharistic "one" can be overridden by dominative images of winning, of getting ahead, of success, of having more, and so forth. Jesus is meant to be the bond of unity, not the point of domination. On the contrary, Jesus bonded with the victims. Yet for many persons living in a culture of competition and domination, the competitive "one" so overrides the unitive "one" that it almost disappears, and with it the deepest call of the Gospel. Though it may be on the lips, the human unity proclaimed by Jesus does not affect the heart.

The rest of this book will deal with how culture functions and its relationship to religious groups, including groups of Christians seeking to follow Jesus in a time of electronic amplification. Up to this point, for those who wish to begin developing the skills of cultural analysis, I have suggested the following: (1) pay attention to the images that support culture; (2) examine the life structures that support culture, particularly the commitments hidden in life structure; (3) pay attention to how any particular aspect of culture is produced, trying to name the process and to find the persons who have a part in any point in that process. However, beyond all of these, a stance of resistance to all that is inhuman, to all that violates human unity and human dignity, will help one to see clearly what a religious person cannot accept in the wider culture. Like all the great religious leaders, Jesus lived such a stance, and that is why for his disciples Jesus is the touchstone of cultural analysis.

In Chapter 2, I wish to deal with the concept of culture in greater detail, first in regard to the history of the concept and then in regard to its relationship to religious groups and, in Chapter 3, its relationship to schools. A grasp of the idea of culture is the foundation of the ability to see how culture actually functions.


NOTES
1.
Henri Marrou, A History of Education in Antiquity, trans. George Lamb ( Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982), p. 147.
2.
George Gerbner, "The Challenge of Television," unpublished paper, Annenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania, p. 8.
3.
Raymond Williams, The Sociology of Culture ( New York: Schocken, 1982), p. 13.

-19-

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