Monthly Archives: March 2007

senior musings

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i didn’t really want to focus my topic this much it really is more just a random entrance.  i have skittles on my breath even though i didn’t eat any.  i feel like i need to move on, out of high school.  i had a great day at uw oshkosh today on a field trip through Rennisance.  good fun with nathan, katie, celeste, alaina and others. 

so, peace,

and good night when ever you and i go to bed

s;pencer

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a new start and cultural relativisim

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i am giving this xanga thing a new start.  no longer will i include imports from blogthings or zondervan (unless i have been thinking about it and comment on it) but rather my posts will reflect my musings, happenings or more traditional journle entries.  in the mean time I am importing a musing (thought sheet for sociology that i encourge people to read and disucss) both facebookers and xangaenites (exucse my corny terms). 

Thought Sheet #1- Cultural Relativism

So basically this is going to be a not necessarily organized response to my thoughts on the sociological concept that has really become the social construct of much of U.S. cultural thinking and a foundation for much so called progressivism. 

The book defines cultural relativism as “not judging a culture but trying to understand it on its own terms.”  Cultural relativism is primarily a response to ethnocentrism.  In fact they are exact opposites in approaching to understanding society, culture and humans but both serve as vices to the people they try to understand.  Since many people were able to recognize the vice of ethnocentrism, using our culture as a measure or viewing glass in which to judge others, the natural human response is to have an opposite reaction and wala we have cultural relativism. 

Cultural relativism, as a response to a vice does give us an attempt to move in the better place.  It is wrong to assume to think that one’s culture is right over another culture just because that’s what the people of that culture is used to.  Cultural relativism allows us to look at other cultures and cross-culture apart from subjective prejudice- which is key in truly being able to understand those cultures and their interactions.  With cultural relativism, pathways of discussion are now opened up for a real coming together of many diverse peoples. 

Cultural relativism serves also as vice.  The book digests some of Robert Edgerton’s thoughts on the issue, “some cultures endanger their people’s health, happiness, or survival.  He suggests that we should develop a scale for evaluation cultures on their “quality of life” much as we do for U.S. cities.  He also asks why we should consider cultures that practice female circumcision, gang rape, wife beating, or that sell little girls into prostitution [and who practice male chauvinism I might add] as morally equivalent to those who do not.”  Cultural relativism robs us of the ability to judge.  Which may sound great, we don’t want to be judgmental do we?  I am part of a group on facebook called don’t judge.  Am I now being a hypocrite in making a judgment?  Does this mean that I can’t judge whether a friend of mine’s behavior is morally acceptable?  Absolutely not.  I am a Christian and so when Jesus says “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” (Matthew 7:1-5, MSG)  I take it seriously.  But what Jesus is talking about is about me in relationship to individuals.  He is saying not to judge the character of a person not whether or not that persons actions are wrong.  I can recognize that the lie of a friend is wrong but I don’t say, “Oh they lied to me, what a bad person, I wouldn’t do that.”  After all, in their situation I might lie too.  So what am I getting at, what does this teaching of Jesus have to do with cultural relativism?  Cultural relativism misinterprets this “judge not lest ye be judged” moral truth.  In fact, in cultural relativism there is no moral truth.  The problem with cultural relativism is there is not basis to administer justice.  And when there is no justice its always the weak and disenfranchised who feel the front of it first.  The reality of a world or society all living according to the laws of cultural relativism is a society that lives in lawlessness, chaos and injustice.  Cultural relativism in its whole is not a progression it is another vice in our human attempts to make us the judge of moral truth. It makes some sense that if humans are the author of “truth” that truth is relative to how our cultures define it but the reality is relative truth is not truth at all.  Truth is by definition absolute and universal and thus is above humans whose subjective experience can only but operate in the real reality and the real truth that that reality is apart of. As soon as humans become the author of truth we have injustice (abortion, sexual exploitation of children, genocide), lawlessness (coups, chaos, rebellion) and the suffering and pain that oozes from that. 

The truth is God is the author of truth and every time our or any culture divorcees itself from that reality there will be the suffering that relativism leads to.  When we humble ourselves to each other and forget to first humble ourselves to God things fall out of order.  As for what that truth of God is, I firmly believe that it is the Bible, the sacred revelation that has been read more and hade more impact than anything to this day.