Cross culture through literatureBy
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.
Second, 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.