A Specific Culture

In thinking of the issues discussed in my last post, I remembered this Neal Stephenson quote from In the Beginning Was the Command Line:

The only real problem is that anyone who has no culture, other than this global monoculture, is completely screwed. Anyone who grows up watching TV, never sees any religion or philosophy, is raised in an atmosphere of moral relativism, learns about civics from watching bimbo eruptions on network TV news, and attends a university where postmodernists vie to outdo each other in demolishing traditional notions of truth and quality, is going to come out into the world as one pretty feckless human being. And–again–perhaps the goal of all this is to make us feckless so we won’t nuke each other.

On the other hand, if you are raised within some specific culture, you end up with a basic set of tools that you can use to think about and understand the world. You might use those tools to reject the culture you were raised in, but at least you’ve got some tools.

[emphasis added] It is true that one of the things that religion gives us is a specific way of looking at and understanding the world. Further, it gives people a certain sense of belonging that is so important to us as social beings. Even if someone ends up rejecting the tenets of their faith, they have benefitted from the sense of community and gained a certain way of looking at the world that won’t entirely go away.

2 thoughts on “A Specific Culture”

  1. I definitely agree. I grew up in a Protestant Christian education system all the way through college, and while most of the theological finer points are things I question now, learning to approach things through a consistent world-view was (and is) an invaluable tool.

  2. Hmmm….so my tools are: don’t take shit from anybody, don’t trust anyone, always keep jumper cables in the trunk.


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