The Spirit of Our Age – 04.24.2015

As this writer contemplates the state of American affairs, he wonders aloud to himself about how one grades the “culture” that one finds themselves living in.

Perhaps a good starting point might be to define what the word culture means.

The word culture is a noun.

According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, this term can be understood in a number of different ways:

First and foremost, the word “culture” refers to the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society [or] group [at a particular] place, or time

Secondly, it is of a unique emphasis that a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc. That is to say a society has its own specific outlook on life and “the habits of the heart” [Bellah, Robert, The Habits of The Heart: Individualism And Commitment In American Life. The University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA 1985/2007).

Finally, culture pertains to a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business).

It is in the third definition of culture – the explanation that deals with “a way of thinking, behaving, or working” – that continues to captivate this writer’s heart and mind.

How do we assess the state of the culture within the United States at this time?

Is it possible to “objectively” evaluate the health and climate of our nation or is any method of assessment doomed to be labeled an exercise in futility?

In Economics, men and women often refer to an index that they use to assess the health of the economy as “The Leading Economic Indicators.”

My Friend, what are the Leading Cultural Indicators that we could use for analysis to see how healthy we are as a nation?

Historically within America, we have attempted to look at variables such as the –

(1.) The Economy: Employment & Inflation;

(2.) Family harmony & stability;

(3.) The Educational Quality and Attainment of our young people.

Let us discuss a brief word about educational quality.

This writer lives in Atlanta, Georgia and unfortunately the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) just experienced one of the worst cheating scandals in the history of the Public School Movement.

Scores of Atlanta teachers and administrators administered tests in which they doctored the results to make it appear that students were scoring high and achieving stellar academic results.

Quite a few of our young people received fraudulent diplomas from our High Schools and now many of our students in college are struggling because they were not properly prepared for the rigors of college work.

A disproportionate percentage of the students within the (APS) are Black and other Minority students of color.

It is bad enough that many young Black men and women do not receive an education commensurate with their Asian-American, Jewish, and Upper Middle Class peers, but when you add a “cheating scandal” to the mix that was led by teachers and administrators, then you have poured gasoline on to an already raging fire!

Minority students do not need to be handicapped any more than they already are as this writer has written before, nearly 71 to 73% of Black children are being raised in Single-Parent households.

Please let me be clear: Many, many, many Single-Parents do an exceptional job of raising their children in an atmosphere of tremendous love and support.

Unfortunately, many times young boys lose out on the influence of a positive male role model because so many of their fathers are “Missing-In-Action” (MIAs) when a husband and wife separate.

The lies and deceptions that took place from the office of the late (APS) school Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall were shameful and inexcusable!

There was a time 30, 40, 50 years ago when Teachers and Administrators understood that the teaching profession was a “noble calling” to ensure that the hearts and minds of our nation’s young were being adequately prepared to assume their roles as honorable citizens within the body politic.

How many educators today see teaching as both a “noble” and a “sacred trust?”

As men and women who embrace a “Judeo-Christian belief system,” we must realize that if we are going to bring aid, assistance, and comfort to a culture in distress that we MUST first take time to pray and ask the right questions regarding the state of affairs within our nation.

One will never come to the right conclusions if one does not ask the right questions (Aristotle).

The Old Testament Jewish exiles in the country of Babylon were exhorted by the prophet Jeremiah to hear and obey the Word of The LORD:

This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:

Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.

Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage so that they may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.

Also seek the peace and prosperity of the city [nation?] to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD of it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper…” [JEREMIAH 29:4-7].

Many men and women who embrace traditional values based on a Judeo-Christian worldview may feel as if they are banished and in “exile.

Nevertheless, we need to take an “eternal perspective” as we view the problems and decay in our country.

We MUST always remember that the GOD that we serve has a better understanding of the “culture of our land” than we possess.

Our GOD knows how to preserve, keep, and lead His children “out of darkness and into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).