RE: Christianity Redux?

From: Lawrence deBivort (
Date: Wed 27 Apr 2005 - 00:18:34 GMT

  • Next message: Lawrence deBivort: "RE: Christianity Redux?"

    On an island in the Chesapeake Bay, there is a community of watermen. Until recently, it was a fairly isolated place, and it is said that the English spoken there resembled that of Shakespeare. It is a conservative religious community of hard-working people. But a couple that I know there are among the most open-minded, curious people, and they told me a couple of weeks ago of a local family that has recently adopted four Indian (Asian) children. The girls have been readily accepted, and now speak with the distinctive island twang.

    I see in the US two trends, marked by the language that people are using that refers to their self-identities:

    1) the 'melting pot' is still at work, as the country absorbs people from around the world, a lot of them refugees caused by our various foreign adventures. The language here has to do with unity, commonality, and the practices with inclusion around a single identity.

    2) A 'tribalization' of the society, with a growing number of people (I am guessing from my recent travels) identifying increasingly with a sub-set of the population. Thus we have Christian Evangelicals, reborn Indian tribes, the 'Reds and Blues', neocons, etc. who are defining their core values and interests as different from those of the rest of the country. I don't think the country was ever free of this, but I do guess that it is on the rise. The language here has to do with divides caused by different belief and value systems, such as creationism/"intelligent design" vs. science and evolution, and 'we-they' constructs, assertions of moral superiority for one's own group, and the practices have to do with attempts to limit the freedom of action of other groups.

    What does it look like from your perspective and regions?

    Are there similar trends in Europe, perhaps triggered by the development of the EU?

    Cheers, Lawry

    -----Original Message----- From: [] On Behalf Of Scott Chase Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2005 7:41 PM To: Subject: Re: Christianity Redux?

    --- Bill Spight <> wrote:

    > Dear Kate and Chris,
    > Chris:
    > >> I'd suggest that the persistence of many cultural
    > thingies in the
    > >> US is as a result of the slower pace of cultural
    > evolution for the
    > >> exact same reasons that genetic evolution occurs
    > more slowly (on
    > >> average) in large interbreeding populations.
    > Inertia essentially;
    > >> cf. the persistence of words like 'gotten', which
    > have died out in
    > >> British English -- a much smaller population in
    > which stochastic
    > >> effects are more pronounced and change more
    > straightforward.
    > Kate:
    > > This is a really interesting explanation for this
    > sort of example.
    > > Does it hold beyond particular words like
    > "gotten"? I know there are
    > > lots more like this, which we in the UK think of
    > as US imports but
    > > actually originated over here. But is this a
    > principle that can be
    > > extended over "bigger" meme pools like the US?
    > I think that maybe this is an example of the general
    > tendency of
    > emigrant culture to change less than the parent
    > culture. From what I
    > hear the English dialect that is the closest to
    > Elizabethan English is
    > spoken in the hills of Tennessee, which are still
    > pretty isolated.
    If the US is a "melting pot" so to speak, we should consider how much cultural cross-fertilization has occurred between the immigrant (voluntary and forced) cultures and what has resulted. We are hardly stagnant over on this side of the pond (excepting some parts of Dixie who can't forgive Sherman). We have hiphop, jazz, salsa, etc. There are Spanish only radio stations popping up all over my neck of the woods that offer a diversity of music different than your standard country and classic rock format. We have all kinds of cuisines to sample, from octopus sushi to curry. OK maybe Miami and L.A. shouldn't be extrapolated to the Midwest, but still, we are evolving at a good click nonetheless or at least hybridizing. Sure English language and Anglo culture is still a dominant norm, but within this context other stuff is making inroads.

    There seems to be an increasing number of ethnically mixed couples and more biracial and multiracial offspring too, so cultural stuff ain't all that's hybridizing. I wonder how many kids out there have a mixture of Asian, African, and European heritage, both cultural and genetic...

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