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Author Topic: Dominant Cultural hegemony
ed
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ATW quoth:

"christmas isn't a christian holiday."

funny; i could have sworn something about celebrating the birth of the savior who died for all sins was somehow related. guess i must have been in error... :>

"the english parliament in 1644 passed an act forbidding the observance of christmas, calling it a heathen holiday."

ah yes, when they also shut down all the theatres in england.

ed

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maniacal_engineer
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they still show frosty, and rudolph, and santa claus is coming to town, but the little drummer boy (the third of the rankin bass christmas classics, and the most religious) is long gone
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Molonel
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Christmas is certainly a Christian holiday in the broader sense of the term. One may argue that it is not a Biblically-commanded holiday, certainly, but all this soft-shoe tapdancing around the nature of the holiday is just silly. That's like saying that the Trinity isn't a Christian concept just because the actual word isn't found in the Bible.

It's not a Buddhist holiday or a Muslim holiday or even an entirely secular holiday. One may quibble about its origins, but whenever groups like the ACLU want to remove Christmas displays from government property, who is it that rises up and claims they are being abused, mistreated and persecuted?

The Christians.

Probably one of the best representations of how some Protestants viewed the "Christ Mass" I've ever seen is in Gillian Armstrong's film Oscar and Lucinda, which is based on the novel by Peter Carey.

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Everard
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"but the oppression you suggest"

Again, I am not suggesting oppression. I am suggesting subtle but powerful unconscious exculusions based upon the dominance of one culture.

And yes, I know Jews who have lost their jobs for, essentially, being Jewish and asking for time off at the holidays.

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LoverOfJoy
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I know Christians who were denied jobs or "let go" because they wouldn't work Sundays.
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The Drake
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Is it wrong to deny someone a job when they won't work Sunday, but other applicants will? Is it wrong to prefer a candidate who makes themselves available 24/7, 365 days a year? Should the person demanding their Sabbath off be treated any differently than a football fan who won't work Sundays?
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Everard
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Yeah, LOJ, and I know people who were denied jobs because they wouldn't work saturday.

But once hired, people who ask for christmas off or easter off have no problems, while people asking for passover or yom kippur off are more likely to have problems. And people who won't work sunday at least don't have to explain that, no, the sabbath is on sunday, and yes, its a holy day, unlike jews who usually do have to explain that the sabbath is on saturday, and yes, its a holy day. If you say "I can't work sundays" people are extremely likely to understand the reasons, whereas if you can't work some other day of the week, they'll be confused.

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LoverOfJoy
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quote:
people who ask for christmas off or easter off have no problems, while people asking for passover or yom kippur off are more likely to have problems.
While it may be true in some circumstances, I'm hesitant to accept your claim of "more likely".

I know for some jobs, where a significant number of people have to work on Christmas, they can't give every Christian (and nonbeliever that still likes to have Christmas) the day off. Whereas they can easily give the few jews their holidays off because there are plenty of christians able to take their place.

In fact, I know one employer in particular that preferred jews for precisely that reason. He'd gladly give them their holidays off if they promised to work on the christian holidays.

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ed
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everard quoth: "people asking for passover or yom kippur off are more likely to have problems."

ev, if that's the case, you've potentially got a HR problem brewing, assuming an office environment.

ed

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Everard
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LoJ-
How many places of business are open on christmas? My guess is that fewer then 10% of people employed work in jobs where christmas is not a holiday. On the other hand, about 95% of people work in jobs where passover is not a holiday.

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The Drake
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The places where I worked growing up, restaurants and retail, were absolutely prejudiced against anybody who wants Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays off. We didn't really care what the reasons were. The fault lies in feeling you have some kind of "right" to have your religious days off.

It's pretty easy to ask for Christmas off, since most businesses are closed anyway. I can't imagine anyone who would deny you time off on a religious day because it is a religious day, but if it is going to be one of the biggest sales days of the year, they might fight you on it. In this sense, there is a cultural bias in favor of Christmas if you celebrate it, just like there is a cultural bias in favor of the secular holidays of Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.

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LoverOfJoy
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Sure, more places are closed. But there still are quite a lot of stores open on Christmas. People can get all kinds of transportation on Christmas. I know when I worked in the credit card business, there were less people needed on Christmas, but there was still more of a need than there were workers wanting to work that day. Hospitals are open. Police/firemen still need to work.

You're right, a lot of businesses are closed...but then a LOT of businesses have no problem with an employee asking for a day off on a jewish holiday if warned in advance.

I don't know the numbers of either.

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flydye45
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I can think of two examples of what Everard is talking about.

Marriage, as a Christian institution for raising families (done for social good). Married people were given special benefits. Properly to in my estimation.

Boy Scouts and associated organizations. Also done to pass on the cultural values because the values were considered good.

A good rebuttal question is besides the "horror" of the occasional Christian holiday one gets to sleep late for, What exactly do you disapprove of?

Granted, I would not, in respect, invite Everard to Church, but what is he missing? I may make friends and business deals there, but the same could be said for a Hometown Softball league, GALA events, and the Goat Sacrifice at the Young Mens Pagan Association Diyonisus festival.

As atheists, if Sunday is a "understood" day off, what do they lose by having it to do with as they will?

I understand what you are saying, but since "Blue Codes" were stripped from the books, and we have woken up to a more multicultural spirit (for good and bad), the inherent problems are less then you imagine.

Or to put it another way, try the stridence of a Muslim country, or the unquestioning nature of the Middle Kingdom. Try the xenophobia of Japan. It might be drafty in Thahti, but you could be living in Antarctica.

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flydye45
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How about this? If Christmas is really a "Christian holiday" then any Jew, Atheist, Zorastarian, Hindu, Muslim etc should all have to work...

But how many have also embraced the holiday as well, regardless of it's origin?

Tom, Everard, you working? Did you volunteer to? Or do you celebrate the "holiday" in a purely secular spirit?

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Everard
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"How about this? If Christmas is really a "Christian holiday" then any Jew, Atheist, Zorastarian, Hindu, Muslim etc should all have to work..."

Only if their place of employment is open. For the vast, vast majority of americans, the place of employment is not open. Exceptions are pretty much only safety workers, such as police and firefighters, EMTs and hospitals workers. Almost everyone else has the day off, not because it is their holiday, but because their business is closed.

"Tom, Everard, you working? Did you volunteer to? Or do you celebrate the "holiday" in a purely secular spirit"

Yes, I have worked on christian holidays when my place of business was open, but this has only been the case once when the place I worked experimented with being open on easter sunday.

"A good rebuttal question is besides the "horror" of the occasional Christian holiday one gets to sleep late for, What exactly do you disapprove of?"

You still don't understand the point I'm making. Please go back to the opening posts and try to understand it.

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Richard Dey
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Paladine said:

"The Catholic Church in particular is unfairly maligned in history textbooks."

Some of us here are from Massachusetts where such malignity turned out to be absolutely true -- where the Catholic hegemony dictated morality into legislation, where the Church waltzed hand-in-hand through iniquity with the Mafia, where Catholic politics gave us Billy Bulger and Boston Waterfront, where Catholic police corruption defrauded billions from its victim (and built the Irish Riviera), wehre the Church knowingly accepted 'for charity' millions of dollars obtained from the Combat Zone, and where its priests were diddling little boys whilst hypocritically denouncing such shamelessness-- and we're talking all the way up to Cardinal Archbishops like the pederastic bishops of New Bedofrd, Worcester, and Springfield -- oh, and slamming the doors of millions of square feet of heated tax-exempt space on derelicts in subzero cold!

Are you for 1/10th of a nanosecond suggesting that Catholic hegemony wasn't working to protect the political wealth, political power, political influence, and gross corruption of the Roman Catholic Church in Massachusets ... [Eek!] ?

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Richard Dey
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Everard in Wayland:

I don't mean to replace Wm Saffire at the Times but the term "Dominant Cultural Hegemony" is a redundant redundancy ... and yes, of course, power corrupts -- and absolute power, especially that calling upon God as its witness, corrupts absolutely and all the way from hell to heaven.

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Paladine
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Richard-

No, quite the contrary. I'm agreeing that the Catholic Church, as any other large and powerful organization of people, has committed a multitude of mistakes and sins, great and small. My problem is that the negative is focused on virtually to the exclusion of the positive, and I'm not only talking about the media.

In reading history textbooks which deal in part (as most histories must) with Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular, you wouldn't know that the Church had done a single thing right in the past 1500 years. By contrast, the virtues of Islam and Islamic culture are taught, virtually as a contrast to the cartoonish Christianity they portray.

That the Church was for centuries the only major beacon of learning in the whole of Europe is virtually ignored, and if mentioned is only credited some small role in producing the Enlightenment that supplanted the Church's antiquated thinking. The tremendous amount of charitable and humanitarian work the Church does, greater than that of any other government or organization, including the vaunted United Nations, is virtually ignored.

Yes, history is replete with examples of all powerful institutions committing great wrongs. The Church has done and still does a tremendous amount of good around the world. Most Christians of all stripes are peaceful, honest, decent people. This doesn't come across in the history books or in the media. They're portrayed as war-mongering, intolerant, hateful, narrow-minded, bigoted pedophiles and oppressors of gays, women, and other cultures. It is to this characterization that I take exception.

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ATW
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quote:
Originally posted by Molonel:
You forgot a link for the first part of your post, ATW.

I didn't forget it. I don't think providing links which no one is going to follow and read is necessary anymore. Its part of my new ethos. I'll plagarize or write whatever makes my point in the least amount of posting time.

I've renounced being Research Guy of the Unending Fount of Links. That includes both for my own posts and doing research for other people that they should be doing themselves.

If you'd like to discuss the ethics of my new ethos, I believe you already know where to go ethics discussions.

[ November 29, 2004, 09:26 PM: Message edited by: ATW ]

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Everard
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Since this is a point that I'm either not being clear on, or people can't grasp, I'll try explaining a different way.

By virtue of being a dominant sub-culture within a full culture, that sub-culture creates for itself benefits, and penalties for those that don't belong to the dominant sub-culture, that are not active attempts at oppression, usually not oppression, nor are they benefits and penalties that are easily avoidable.

These benefits and penalties, in effect, create a "bubble" into which people of other sub-cultures can't get break. Think, for example, of a french only speaker at a wedding in england. There's no conscious attempt to exclude the french speaker, but he can't participate in the festivities, because the language is a barrier to his involvement.

What I'm talking about is a more subtle form of that. Instead of a complete barrier, dominant cultural hegemony provides a hindrance, especially in certain areas. As a Jew and an atheist, I always feel "left out" around christmas time, because the whole city is involved in getting ready for a major holiday that celebrates the birth of their god. Ignoring whether or not christmas came from earlier traditions, the current incarnation, the way the culture in the US looks at christmas, it is an exclusively christian holiday. Channukah gift giving is an attempt by a Jewish sub-culture to "fit" into American Christian culture, an attempt to help secularize. It has, mostly, failed. We're still not a part of the culture that is included in the christmas festivities. Sure, we buy gifts. But we don't put up lights, we don't have trees, we don't go to church, there is no important religious story. We're not included. And if we try to include ourselves much past gift giving, we give up our OWN cultural identity.

There is NOTHING wrong with celebrating christmas. In the same way that I will not have a christmas tree in my house, because I would have to surrender a part of my identity to do so, and I should not be forced to do so in the name of cultural unity, so too christians shouldn't be asked to abandon christmas for either of those reasons.

But there IS a cultural gap, and it occurs, in my life, on a daily basis. And it occurs to other people who are not christian, on a daily basis. It occurs to a greater extent for the muslims living in Wisconsin, or the Jews living in Wyoming, or the Hindus living in Mississippi. People of all faiths live all over the place, but only christians are concentrated everywhere so that they feel the inclusiveness of religious unity no matter where they are. In order to achieve the same security and cultural inclusion that christians can feel in most towns in the United States, people of other religions are forced to move to certain places. I have a Jewish friend who isn't sure she wants to attend graduate school at 2 of her top choices, because there would be no Jewish community in the city those campuses are located at. There are maybe one or two cities in the whole country where a christian can say that.

These are, largely, psychological effects, though there are some real tangible benefits and penalties for being part, or not, of the dominant culture. Going back to my voucher hypothetical, are there enough Jews in the whole state of North Dakota to form a functional jewish private school? I seriously doubt it. If christian sects can form private schools in north dakota, and use vouchers to their benefit at those schools, but Jews cannot... they'll tangibly be penalized for being Jewish and wishing to hold that cultural identity.

This theory pretty much applies to any dominant sub-culture, within any larger culture. It holds in Japan, Germany, India, and Brazil. We talk about some of the effects on this forum a lot, when we talk about international relations.

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flydye45
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Everard,

I understood exactly what you meant.

Your talk of school is totally at odds with what I learned in high school.

Your talk of Christmas is true, but for the great majority of our culture, here and now, Christmas is a shadow of the "religious advertising" that you claim.

In times past, you would be more correct. If you don't like Christian holidays, when they are practiced, as you say, by 90% of the public (the number is much lower, closer to 60%) then I am sorry, but there is no remedy except moving. Businesses exist to supply a need. They sell stuff and will huckster religion to sell their product (don't ask me how that makes me feel).

The ACLU has seen to it you experience the bare minimum of "religious indoctrination". I remember as a kid dozens of programs with religious themes, derivations, and homilies. Today, "Touched by an Angel" is controversial. There are enough alternatives out there that you shouldn't be troubled by more then a few extra days off.

What you are asking, to borrow your analogy and to steal another, is a "Star" planting machine, so all the Sneetches look the same. So much for diversity. I also think that if one chooses the road of contrarian, it wouldn't be as much fun if there wasn't a big hegemony to kick against, even a benign one like ours.

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flydye45
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Having read your current post, which you injected while I was writing mine, I have a better idea of where you are going. I understand a great deal, but I am less sympathetic, and not just because I am a Christian.

If I go to live and teach in China, I would be expected to speak Mandarin. I would not have a gripe about Chinese New Year, and would be considered an unmannerly barbarian if I didn't make an attempt to participate to my barbarian best.

Part of the assimilation process is to take on some of the characteristics of your home culture. Some, such as some Chinese, refuse, and are quite happy to ghettoize themselves, living in their own little faux China.

That is the crux of a number of arguments on the site; should the Hispanics have to learn english, how much should we celebrate alternative lifestyles such as gay pair-bonding, Muslims who want to live in chador and not "join" America.

The Jews are a curious sub-culture, because save for one medieval kingdom, they have always been a sub-culture since A.D. 70. Their role in Europe has been of selective assimilation. Did Josephus eat potato pancakes? What is Yiddish, except a dialect of German? But because of religious atrocities by Christians (I empathize for things not done by me to people who are not you), they maintained their cultural definition by being the un-Christian. Understandable.

This strategy has been successful, for who else has kept a mostly intact culture for 2 Exiles, a Diasphora, 10 Lost tribes, and about four thousand years of history?

But the cost of such a choice IS some alienation. Self imposed and chosen. And the cost isn't so high. One of the Founding Fathers was Jewish, if I recall correctly. Joe Lieberman has been able to swing a stricter form of Judaism then most and still been wildly successful AND sees himself as an American. (He also holds the title of the Smartest Honest Democrat I can think of, and the only one I'd vote for so far).

Part of the complaint in America for the Jews is that they are losing their cultural identity. Because of the lack of pogroms (nothing says unity like a thousand Cossacks), avid inter-cultural dating, and goy marriages, the American Jew seems to be in a bind. But that is for another post.

Atheism is a choice. Strict Christianity is a choice. Being a hard body is a choice. All of them require sacrifices, but all are self imposed. Sure, you don't have to sacrifice to Caeser, but be willing to pay the cost (very light in America).

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Molonel
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quote:
Originally posted by ATW:
I didn't forget it. I don't think providing links which no one is going to follow and read is necessary anymore. Its part of my new ethos. I'll plagarize or write whatever makes my point in the least amount of posting time. I've renounced being Research Guy of the Unending Fount of Links. That includes both for my own posts and doing research for other people that they should be doing themselves. If you'd like to discuss the ethics of my new ethos, I believe you already know where to go ethics discussions.

Indeed. And you've just provided me with my new sig, there.

[Big Grin]

Cheers.

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Animist
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Paladine....

If you're going to continue to make statements like

quote:
In reading history textbooks which deal in part (as most histories must) with Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular, you wouldn't know that the Church had done a single thing right in the past 1500 years. By contrast, the virtues of Islam and Islamic culture are taught, virtually as a contrast to the cartoonish Christianity they portray.
Don't you think you should provide at least one citation? Show us at least one textbook - and better yet, a decent-sized sample of widely-used textbooks from various parts of the country, in various academic settings - which confirm what you say, otherwise your points are meaningless.
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Slander Monkey
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Flydye45 said:
"If I go to live and teach in China, I would be expected to speak Mandarin. I would not have a gripe about Chinese New Year, and would be considered an unmannerly barbarian if I didn't make an attempt to participate to my barbarian best."

Perhaps surprisingly, both of these are mostly false. Most folks in China don't expect foreigners in China (even those who work and live there) to speak Chinese. In fact, you would probably blow their minds if you did speak Chinese.

As for Chinese New Year, I don't know that there is much to gripe about. It is a time for visiting family, and from what I can tell, aside from having a variety of temple festivals and sub-holiday activities, most things are the same as always -- i.e. if you were a scrooge and stayed home, and didn't decorate, wear red or othewise participate, no one would likely notice or care. Though the same could be said about people who don't celebrate Christmas in America. You probably would be seen as a barbarian, however, if you were invited to participate in some event, and upon doing so acted like a barbarian.

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Zyne
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quote:
There are enough alternatives out there that you shouldn't be troubled by more then a few extra days off.
That's, well, crap beyond belief. Here, Monkey, you say, take the biscuit, and never mind why we give it to you, just enjoy.
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The Drake
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I just don't see much scope of the "cultural bias" that is being expressed here. While some atheists might feel left out at Christmas, I feel pretty darn smug. I watch everyone else running around buying gifts, tablecloths, preparing their pomp and good cheer. And in the process, utterly wear themselves out, get angry as they wait in unfathomable lines at the mall, and take on debt to outdo one another, or prove that they love their kids with showers of toys.

Far from feeling left out, I feel great sitting at home watching a movie and calling family who still celebrate the holiday. Then shop during the big sales in January and February. Some might call it a blessing in disguise.

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Slander Monkey
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I think what Everard is getting at is that the influence of the dominant culture is often times too subtle to really notice unless you are directly affected by it. In that regard, the benefits received and disadvantages imparted are mostly a matter of perspective. It would help if there were better concrete examples than Christmas, but I think that inherent in this issue is fact that what is subtle and unimportant to one side may be obvious and hugely important to the other... so I don't think that there are really good examples -- can anyone think of any more obvious examples than those mentioned already in this thread?

If you think about it, without a great deal of effort to prevent it, pretty much all small subcultures will be assimilated into the dominant subculture... this is pretty much a benefit for the dominant culture, isn't it?

Some people, including myself, believe that what we know of as American culture is not and should not be defined as Christian first, and everything else second, but rather it is and should be defined as a culture that is willing to make room for everyone. This issue goes beyond Christianity -- for example, as a country that has been built, to a large extent, on the backs of slaves and immigrants, it's snobbery to subject those of us who can't trace our family trees back to the Mayflower to a second class status and deem the related subcultures quaint but foreign and unrepresentative of America -- I don't think that anyone has ever had to agree to the condition of "assimilate or go home," and I don't think this condition can be applied retroactively. So are we less American than the WASPs? Or less so than just the Ps for that matter?

Somewhat back to the main issue. I'm not the least bit bothered by the fact that our culture is most greatly influenced by Christianity and Christian values, forcing it to be otherwise would require a double standard I think -- though, I don't think that this specific issue is really at the heart of Everard's concerns. I do get bothered when the dominant group tries to claim its culture as the One True American Culture. We are far too heterogeneous as a nation to make such claims, and it seems a bit pompous and maybe a little bit ignorant to say otherwise. Similarly, it is a bit pompous to just laugh off or downplay the assimilating force of a dominant culture. You may consider it a small and irrelevant issue and not care about it, but that probably just means that it's not your children or children's children who will have forgotten your mother languange and culture in a matter of one or two generations.

As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that religion (specifically Christianity) is moderated much more than other aspects of culture in America via active enforcement of our right to freedom from the establishment of an official religion (and similarly freedom to practice religion), and thus I'm inclined to believe that Christians receive fewer of these natural benefits of cultural dominance than Everard implies... but I might very well be convinced if someone can come up with some good examples.

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flydye45
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Saving Christmas and a few other religious holidays (BTW love and kisses back at you Zyne)I haven't HEARD any examples. And we've had one atheist say that he appreciates the Monkey Biscuits, thank you very much.

I understand what Everard is saying, but the Law has no remedy for someone feeling a little bad or out of the mainstream. It is what it is.

It's like the "Goths" of high school. They want to wear black, pierce body parts, have graphic t-shirts, and then whine because they are rejected by society. No "oppression" but people stare, and are hesitant.

Or perhaps the Goths already feel a little out of the mainstream and would rather curse the darkness then light a candle. In any event, it's a choice. Adapt or don't, but pay the price either way.

Where I live, we have a noticable Hindu and Sikh population. They are culturally secure enough to understand that they will run into this elusive sense of being out of sync, yet don't care and take it in stride as the price of their beliefs. Way to go, Sikhs! And that's true of every minority group that has willingly entered the country. And, admissabley, some of the cultural baggage gets shorn off, but that is because they are buying into the Dominant Cultural Deal, because, strange as it may seem, a bunch of foreigners see great value in this "oppressive" culture and would be happy to adapt.

I never felt more proud or humbled as an American when I saw the line in front of the Immigration building. A hundred yards of people dying to assimilate, at least partly.

Coming soon, a crass cutting remark from Zyne.

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JLMyers
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quote:
Adapt or don't, but pay the price either way.--flydye45


[ November 30, 2004, 11:29 AM: Message edited by: JLMyers ]

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TomDavidson
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"Where I live, we have a noticable Hindu and Sikh population. They are culturally secure enough to understand that they will run into this elusive sense of being out of sync, yet don't care and take it in stride as the price of their beliefs."

I suspect this is easier for them precisely because there is a noticeable Sikh population in your area, natch. [Smile]

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Robertson, Ugly and Nohow
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Everard, you've done a fine job of explaining that there is a preponderant christian influence in our society. Do you propose that anything be done about it?
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Molonel
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I think he's proposing, in a very calm and rational way, that the pogroms and persecution should begin immediately.

[Big Grin]

Why do you ask?

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Robertson, Ugly and Nohow
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quote:

Why do you ask?

I'm sure many of us have ideals that differ from the majority enough that we feel like we don't fit in.

For instance, I live in a town where almost all residents would love to make the whole town a covenant neighborhood with identical vinyl fences and manicured lawns. My hobby of car repair, makes for an unseemly blight in the town. I (and those like me) have been the target of not only subconscious sneers, but conscious oppression in the form of legislation against disturbing the barbie-doll pristineness of my yard.

I would love to see if Everard has any suggestions to deal with his feelings of being picked-on that I might apply to mine.

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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by Paladine:
In reading history textbooks which deal in part (as most histories must) with Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular, you wouldn't know that the Church had done a single thing right in the past 1500 years. By contrast, the virtues of Islam and Islamic culture are taught, virtually as a contrast to the cartoonish Christianity they portray.

Paladine: You and I read the same history textbooks, and I don't recall this at all. I remember with clarity Mr. Swain describing the barbarianism of the Ottoman Empire. He also discussed how most of the great thinkers of the renissance were christians, and never with a negativism.

It seems to me that he was careful to portray these empires (the church included) from a number of different angles, creating what I believe to be a pretty accurate depicition of what we were learning.

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potemkyn
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Ev,

I get what you are saying, but I don't know where you are going with this. Are you asking for commiserating? a change to the system? Are you only looking to talk about this?

I don't really know what to tell you except that I'm sorry you feel so left out of American culture. I'm sure I contribute to this feeling, if not to you then to others, and I apologize for doing so.

Potemkyn

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Doug64
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quote:
Some people, including myself, believe that what we know of as American culture is not and should not be defined as Christian first, and everything else second, but rather it is and should be defined as a culture that is willing to make room for everyone.
Partly. There have always been two threads to the American Dream, as far back as Plymouth and Jamestown. The Jamestown thread is primarily economic - the American Dream of the house and car, and material prosperity. The Plymouth thread is the dream of creating your own society with like-minded people, free from outside interference, hand in hand with a belief in the moral superiority of your dreamed society.
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Everard
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I don't propose we do anything about this. I offer it as a method of understanding. I forget the exact context this came up in, but the point isn't to change anything, but rather, to understand that when one culture is dominant, it creates for itself benefits, and excludes people not of that culture from those benefits. (Church tends to be a networking place, whether for business, social work, providing comfort to those who need it, or romantic relationships, as another example).

By trying to look for these "hidden" benefits and hindrances, we can better understand how our society works. In some cases of dominant culture hegemony, something needs to be done... normally changing our attitudes. In others, its simply a case of recognizing that a bias exists, and seeking to make sure that we don't let unnecessary bias enter our lives. In other sorts of cases, and I consider these the majority, we simply recognize the fact, and take it into account in order to understand society more fully.

An example of something needing to be done is the case that a black family has fewer communities to choose from where they are welcomed then a white family. OUr attitudes towards race need to change so that we don't react less positely to black people then white people.

An example of noting bias, and taking it into account, is in recognizing that a hindu child in school may not understand the culture of his school as well as the christian girl at the next desk, because the christian girl has grown up with the mores, philosophy, and culture of the school, whereas the hindu boy has not.

An example of simply noting how society works is recognizing that christians have an easier time finding a spouse in most places in the country then non-christians, because there is a wider pool of people available. (assuming people from different religiosn are equally likely to marry within their own religion)

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Slander Monkey
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quote:
Originally posted by Doug64:
quote:
Some people, including myself, believe that what we know of as American culture is not and should not be defined as Christian first, and everything else second, but rather it is and should be defined as a culture that is willing to make room for everyone.
Partly. There have always been two threads to the American Dream, as far back as Plymouth and Jamestown. The Jamestown thread is primarily economic - the American Dream of the house and car, and material prosperity. The Plymouth thread is the dream of creating your own society with like-minded people, free from outside interference, hand in hand with a belief in the moral superiority of your dreamed society.
PLYMOUTH?! JAMESTOWN?!! Snobbery I say! (If you're not hearing the accent, I would suggest ignoring this part)

Although the American Dream is a defining attribute of American culture, it doesn't nearly tell the whole story. My point (not that you missed it, or that I need to say it, but I want to so I will) was more that in America, we have essentially 4 distinct (or at least at one point were distinct) cultural ingredients: 1) Original Settlers, 2) Slaves, 3) Native Americans, 4) Immigrants. These ingredients came together (and continue to come together) with the binder of the American Dream (as well as herbs, spices and so forth) over time to form modern American culture. To pick any one group, and call their culture American culture is, in my opinion, to marginalize the rest and miss the point.

Now that that's out of my system... let me just address the Plymouth and Jamestown ideals, right quick. I agree that we see these threads of the American Dream in today's society, however, there is an anoying little bug in the Plymouth ideal, namely it is inherently exclusionary. This is not bad by itself, and it exists in many communities around the country, however, it can't be scaled to the entire country without completely pooing on every one who doesn't fit in with that community. I also think that such a society is inherently unstable and unsustainable... but that's another story.

To tie this back in with the topic of the thread and perhaps reinforce everard's point -- basically the dominant sub-culture has nearly total control over whether the lesser sub-cultures have a place at the "table" in American society. Our government basically assures us that everyone (well pretty much everyone, anyway) will have a spot at the "table" with regards to the biggest and most important issues. However, it is left to the members of the dominant sub-culture to steamroll or not to steamroll the less well represented cultures on the more minor issues.

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Doug64
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quote:
I agree that we see these threads of the American Dream in today's society, however, there is an anoying little bug in the Plymouth ideal, namely it is inherently exclusionary. This is not bad by itself, and it exists in many communities around the country, however, it can't be scaled to the entire country without completely pooing on every one who doesn't fit in with that community.
True enough, which is one reason I'm a big supporter of federalism.
quote:
I also think that such a society is inherently unstable and unsustainable... but that's another story.
I have to disagree with you on this one - it seems to me that the societies that prove inherently unstable tend to be the ones that are wide open, without strong ground rules. The Mormons have done just fine in Utah for over 150 years (when they weren't unofficially at war with the dominant culture, that is).

[ December 01, 2004, 10:02 AM: Message edited by: Doug64 ]

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