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By Carl S ~

What is the definition of "culture shock?" According to my friend, it is a reaction of an individual to a foreign culture. I argued that it could just as well be the other way around. But he maintains it means only an individual's response. Find yourself in an entirely different culture than your own? Adapt, is the answer; even if the culture's beliefs don't make sense. You're surrounded, with no backup, just as other cultures have been surrounded by inundations of missionaries or explorers, for one example. Adapt, especially if the other culture is hostile to the one you're from. This is one way religions have made "converts"- no choice. Take it or leave.

Since you're born and raised in a culture, there's an implied understanding it works for your society; otherwise it wouldn't exist. How well it works, of course, like anything in nature, has both good and not so good benefits. The system may be weighted in favor of those with power, for example. As protesters against the Vietnam war found out, the culture was shocked by their "unpatriotic" behavior. Civil rights marchers were taunted and even killed: southern culture was threatened. The eras of civil rights for African-Americans and women, worker's rights, anti-war, etc., have all been disruptive.

We live in a time when culture shock affects our nation. Powerful reactions are coming from those who consider their "traditional Christian nation culture" as being in danger of extinction. They consider every gain in upholding the civil rights of LGBT individuals a victory for the enemies of God and threats to the "sanctity" of marriage. Keeping religious instruction out of public classrooms is a rejection of the "values" (read: Christian indoctrination) of a national tradition set up by them. But some things in cultures must be changed. They are destructive and anti-human. These are shocks many are unwilling to accept. But when they become acceptable, the sky doesn't fall, the earth doesn't open up and swallow the "wicked." In time, the acceptance becomes passé. One wonders what the hell all the fuss was about.

If you find yourself in an Islamic culture, you'll be shocked. Ditto for the Moslem in New York City. Atheists in our Southern states have written of their unease in a bible-saturated society, of their experiences with out-and-out ostracism. Families of every traditional religious bias often cast out their own members when they come out as agnostics, atheists, gays, etc. (Don't Christian scriptures themselves assert: Jesus said he came to split families apart?) It works both ways: Consider the cultural shock when those raised to believe in a ten thousand year old Earth and creationism enter the real world of the secular college and evolution. Then the shit hits the fan.

Those of us married to a Christian realize that, in essential ways, we truly live in two different worlds. It's a bitch. Oh yeah, adaptation. Almost forgot that. Both of us have our humanity to overcome superstition: caring, loving, respect, give-and-take, humor. She in turn, had to adapt to my atheism. (I told some atheist friends I can't do whatever I want. I must answer to a Higher Power: my wife.) She gives me a lot to laugh about; so much of what her fellow believers take seriously is so ridiculous. (Sometimes I can't help but laugh out loud, and when she asks "What's so funny?" I say, "I can't tell you.") We mutually reject the political and militantly prejudicial activity of the Christian Righteous. American Christianity dictates religious prejudice must be a tradition, therefore it must be upheld nationally by RFRA. Christian culture wants everyone to know all about its beliefs, but rejects any effort to try and understand why anyone wouldn't accept them. Maybe all religions are just too delicate. The shock of having to face criticism might be too much for their systems.

When reality, through new discoveries and inventions, enlighten and free the minds and deep concerns of all, religion is threatened, because it is immersed in unstable, superstitious, and frightening propaganda. Scientific explanations are threats, since they clear away their fogs and reveal the truths. Only in cultures where superstition and ignorance have always been cultural are religions taken with deep seriousness. Halloween celebrations would be their culture shock. Every Halloween, where humans are enlightened, those witches, ghosts, vampires, walking dead, and other creations religions employed to terrify millions for millennia, are pleasantly cavorting about. They have become caricatures, causes for merriment. Halloween is a statement of defeat for religious paranoia culture. Take that! you clergy. Touché.