Soon after graduation Cornerstone had the honour of welcoming Sheryl Silzer at the college for a cultural self-discovery course which some staff members and a group of outside guests attended. Sheryl bases her teaching on the theory of culture by Mary Douglas. Though there are a variety of cultural values, many of these can be clustered together in four distinct cultural social games. The basic parameters that define each of these social games are the degree to which community determines the identity of people and in how much society is structured (this can be through rules, positions of respect through achievement or through age, gender, family/clan/caste, certain influential positions). Thus, the four cultural types are the individuating, the institutionalizing, the hierarching, and the interrelating social games.
Some of the participants had already taken an online course with Sheryl in order to get a better understanding of this theory of culture. Others read her book* to be prepared. In class there was a lot of interaction with one another as we talked about our upbringing in regard to cleaning, working, eating etc. in order to identify our own cultural type and the “culture based judging system” that goes with it and that becomes active as soon as we find things done in ways that are different from what we are used to. I recognized again how “German” I am. Rules and order were an important part of my upbringing and my “culture based judging system” is based on it.
Each social game has a typical “sin”. In the case of the institutionalizing type this is “silence” and it means that people who do not fit into predetermined categories will fall through the cracks. The interrelating type with the ideal of all being equal/egalitarian will be prone to jealousy.
It was interesting to see how the Bible addresses these four cultural types and how our “culture based judging system” can be brought more and more in line with biblical principles.
Most of the participants came from individuating or institutionalizing cultures with little emphasis on community. Yet, at the end of the course community had grown in the group. Thus was the impact of the hidden curriculum that facilitated a lot of honest sharing and community building.
*Silzer, Sheryl Takagi. 2014. Biblical Multicultural Teams. Pasadena: William Carey.