?> Cross culture through literature | almost an M

Cross culture through literature


This week The Upstream Collective is conducting a JetSet Tour spending time in a number of places including Copenhagen, Denmark. Seeking to make a small contribution to this week’s discussion and vision trip, I suggest a little reading…

Learning the literature of another people or country is key for a couple of reasons. First, the process aids the learner in acquiring cultural insight. This, I believe, fits with 2 Timothy 2:15. We are to have some insight into how the Scriptures may be perceived by other cultures. For example, in an animistic culture where people are seeking to understand how things began, the genealogy in Luke has proved powerful in some contexts. When working in a former Communist culture, use of a text that may have been used as a tool to disprove God (e.g. John 3:16) may not be the best place to start explaining the Word.

Little-Mermaid-movie-08Second,  being a student of literature communicates to the nationals that you are entering as a learner wanting to be enriched through their heritage. At some levels, the ethnocentric tendencies are suspended. Many healthy conversations may center around their national heroes. Not only does this firmly place the foreigner in the role of the learner and the national in the role of expert, but this can also  lead to meaningful relationships and opportunities to deal with the big issues. These topics may include wisdom, social justice, love, the meaning of life, God, eternity, existentialism, hope, etc.

Thankfully, there is a rich trove of authors that are Danish and even more that are Scandinavian. Some authors to spend time reading would include:

  • Hans Christian Anderson – a Danish author that is one of the premier children’s story-tellers in all of history. Some of his famous tales include The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid.
  • Søren Kierkegaard – another Dane that was philosopher, theologian, and so much more. Exploring his frustrations with the state church among a host of other ideas may prove helpful for the individual as well as gaining insight and access to future conversations.
  • William Shakespeare – though he is a touch less Danish than the two writers above, the famous tragedy Hamlet occurs in and around the Kronberg Castle.

Happy reading!

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Categories : case study, missiology


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  3. Tim says:

    Love it! (I’m a sucker for Kierkegaard.)

    It broke my heart a few months ago when I met an American living in Russia who had never heard of Dostoevsky.

    I think the biggest question my wife and I have at the moment are “will we ALWAYS be an outsider?” We have friends here in Moscow, and a solid number that we would consider very close friends, but even then we still deal with the fact that there’s something separating us. One of the ways we are combating this is just learning as much about the culture as we can. Kind of a no-brainer, but we’ve been trying to go further. Knowing literature goes such a long way. It’s come in very handy on many occasions.

  4. almost says:

    Tim, good stuff. To get inside the mind of a crazy man, it is helpful to read Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment.” By the time I finished it, I felt like a crazy man anyway.

    You raise a great issue about being an outsider. It seems like there are always going to be times when the meeting for the real “in” crowd will always happen. However, over time, effort, and a lot of blessing from God, it is possible that people share your viewpoint during these locals-only meetings and then report back about what happened. While this is just a small example, we can move toward being this acceptable outsider. As one of these, we can be faithful in the process of seeing one or more disciples made that can then go in the name of Christ as an insider. From observation of others and my own experience, I have learned that it is best if these disciples don’t bring a lot of baggage with them. For this reason, we find the disciples in the harvest. It may take longer to get a result…but in this way there is a result…and it has potential for large future ramifications.

  5. …Cross culture through literature | almost an MThis week The Upstream Collective is conducting a JetSet Tour spending time in a number of places […]

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