From the Pastor
Following trends in society is big business. Most of us will have noticed the summer marketing strategy of Coca-Cola over the past two summers – personalised cans. Cans have names on them like Tom and Sarah. And the Tom’s and Sarah’s loved to take a photo of themselves last summer, with their can, and post it on social media. This summer names like Hassan, Zhang and Paolo have been added to list, positioning C-C as an inclusive multi-national who celebrates diversity.
I was fascinated to notice that in Turkey coke cans had written on them Istanbul, Ankara, or Izmir. City names, not individuals. C-C will have done market research. Australians understand themselves first and foremost as individuals, whereas Turks do not. Collectivist cultures like Turkey tend to value putting the community needs ahead of individual needs, working as a group, doing what’s best for society, and family. Individualistic cultures value independence, assertiveness, self-identity, and rights.
Do you ever wonder why the Chinese people accept their government implementing a nation-wide social credit system where people are tracked by a network of cameras? China is a collectivist culture, whereas we are not. They have a different mindset, one we may misunderstand.
Individualistic cultures are relatively young. Individualism has arisen in the last few centuries. In the past everyone was collectivist, including all the writers and recipients of the Bible. Matthew and Luke both give us Jesus’ genealogy, because persons are defined by their family and tribe. Paul understands individuals to be like arms and legs of the greater body.
When we read scripture, or think about God’s purposes, what individualistic assumptions do we bring? How might our lenses cause us to see things, miss things, or misunderstand them?