Text of Habits of the Heart: The Habit of Cultural Critique Michael Goheen Vancouver, B.C
Habits of the Heart: The Habit of Cultural Critique Michael Goheen Vancouver, B.C.
Tracing the Phrase Theme: Habits of the heart Made popular by Robert Bellahs book (Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life) Bellah borrows phrase from Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville Habits of the heart in Democracy in America Habitual social, economic, and political practices and customs that flowed, often unconsciously, from hidden beliefs, assumptions, and commitments.
Tracing the Phrase Theme: Habits of the heart Made popular by Bellahs book Bellah borrows from de Tocqueville Tocqueville indebted to Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Blaise Pascal
Rousseau and Pascal Habits of the heart: Laws of behaviour and habitual practices are not inscribed on brass or marble, but in the hearts of citizens (Rousseau in Social Contract). We know the truth, not only by reason, but also by the heart, and it is in this last way that we know first principles; and reason which has no part in it, tries in vain to impugn them (Pascal in Penses).
Psalm 119 Pascals comments are based on Psalm 119 Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. v.2 I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. v.30 I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. v. 32 Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. v.36 My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end. v.112
Summary: Historical Review Human behaviour (social, political, economic, educational, etc.) is a matter of habit and custom Habits and customs are rooted in heart What is the heart?
Heart in Scripture Most popular anthropological term: 1000 times in Scripture Deepest core and centre of our being All human life flows from heart Religious: directed toward God or idol (God-substitute)
Religious Nature of Human Beings Idol God Humankind
Heart in Biblical Perspective Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the well- spring of life (Proverbs 4:23). ... the heart is the person concentrated in religious unity; the many functions and activities by which we come to know a person are the expressions of this religious unity (Stuart Fowler).
Nature of Humanity Heart: religious core economic rational political etc. lingual social
Religious Beliefs Embodied Communally Humanity created to live in community Religious beliefs are communally held Religious beliefs find expression in communal life The ideas and values of the modern age are not only intellectualized but they are embedded in powerful institutions, arguably the most powerful institutions that have ever existed.... the key ideas, values, and characteristics of modernity are carried by specific institutions... (John Davison Hunter).
Culture: Common way of life rooted in shared religious commitments Heart: religious core economic rational political etc. lingual social customs institutions patterns of thinking economic system state families, schools, etc. language
Two Illustrations Habits of the heart Medicine Housing Education All: Shaped by underlying religious beliefs about human being Lack of awareness of foundational beliefs
Unaware of Foundational Beliefs If you want to know about water, dont ask a fish (Chinese proverb). Initially I am not aware of [my cultural worldview]. As long as I retain the innocence of a thoroughly indigenous western man, unshaken by serious involvement in another culture, I am not aware of [my cultural worldview]. It is simply how things are... No [worldview] is seen as a [worldview] by those who inhabit it: it is simply the way things are (Newbigin).
Problem: Cultural habits of heart shaped to some degree by idolatry! Heart: religious Core Idolatry economic rational political etc. lingual social customs institutions patterns of thinking economic system state families, schools, etc. language
Habit of Cultural Critique If: our core beliefs and social habits incompatible with gospel Then: we need to develop habit of cultural critique Not easy: Lack of critical distance Myth of a Christian culture Myth of secular, neutral culture
Uncovering the Hidden Credo Incomparably the most urgent missionary task for the next few decades is the mission to modernity... It calls for the use of sharp intellectual tools to probe behind the unquestioned assumptions of modernity and uncover the hidden credo which supports them (Newbigin).
CULTURE (patterns of life together) Marriage Family Economic Political Education Media Sports Entertainment Art Architecture Customs etc. etc. ______________________________________________ ShapesGives meaning RELIGIOUS BELIEFS (Credo)
Our religious beliefs are embedded in a story about the whole world. All of our lives will be shaped by some story either the story of Scripture or the story of our culture.
Six Important Elements of Cultural Critique First, developing a habit of cultural critique will mean fostering the tension between the Biblical story and our cultural story.
Tension Between Gospel and Culture The deeper the consciousness of the tension and the urge to take this yoke upon itself are felt, the healthier the Church is. The more oblivious of this tension the Church is, the more well established and at home in this world it feels, the more it is in deadly danger of being the salt that has lost its savour. - Hendrik Kraemer
I didnt realize until I took INT, and now this course how much I try to make Western culture and the Biblical worldview fit together. I realize more and more that they are actually opposite and against each other. Yet I must live in this culture because I am a part of it. - Redeemer Student 2001
Six Important Elements of Cultural Critique Second, developing a habit of cultural critique will mean knowing our cultural story.
Knowing Our History First item on agenda of revolutionary curriculum in history because history is our most potent intellectual means of achieving a raised consciousness (Neal Postman).
Six Important Elements of Cultural Critique Third, developing a habit of cultural critique will mean discerning the religious foundation of our cultural story.
Historical Development Who named these anyway? Middle Ages Renaissance Enlightenment What is the hero of the story?
Renaissance hero born again Enlightenment hero becomes light of the world Middle Ages hero suppressed 13501750 What? Rationalistic humanism
Modern Western Confession of Faith I believe in Man. I believe in the ability of man apart from God to define the world and solve the problems of the world. I believe in Science Almighty. I believe in the power of human reason disciplined by the scientific method to understand, control, and change our world.
Modern Western Confession of Faith I believe in Technology and a Rational Society, its only begotten sons which have the power to redeem our world. I believe in the Spirit of Progress. I believe that a science-based technology and a rationally organised society will enable me to realise my ultimate human goal freedom, happiness and comforts of material abundance. To this I commit myself with all my resources, time and money. Amen.
Western Faith: Rationalistic Humanism Rationalistic humanism: Autonomous man is capable of defining the world (Creator) and solving problems of world bringing about a new world with science and technology (Redeemer).
What are dominant religious spirits today? Postmodernity (attack on rationalistic humanism) Economic globalisation (global spread of economic form of rationalistic humanism) Consumerism (result of both)
Six Important Elements of Cultural Critique Fourth, developing a habit of cultural critique will mean identifying and understanding the most powerful institutional carriers or embodiments of our story.
Three Carriers of Modern Story According to J.D. Hunter Political: nation state Economic: industrial capitalism Cultural: school, media
Powerful Embodiments Today Global, consumer capitalism Proliferation of new technologies Media School City
Six Important Elements of Cultural Critique Fifth, developing a habit of cultural critique will mean reading and communal dialogue.
Communal Dialogue Need for communal dialogue I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the lov