Good Grief, I Just Like Culture

Isn’t there an irony in the fact that I am a communications major, and I’ve been a blogger for ten years, yet I can’t seem to adequately communicate a simple concept on my blog?

Friday night I posted about hipster Mennonites. I knew it was likely to go Menno-viral, with that picture and that headline, so I was expecting a little misunderstanding. Maybe some hipster-ish Mennos would feel a bit attacked. However, I was completely unprepared for the odd off-topic comments that poured in when I shared it on Facebook.

Which, for me, raised a question I’ve never thought of before:

Are we incapable of noticing interesting and/or humorous things about a culture without condemning, passing judgement, or idolizing that culture?

Exhibit A: This is exactly the reason I left the Mennonite thing it is not about Christianity it’s about being a Mennonite.”

With all the likes and replies this comment received it seemed to strike a nerve, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how it related to my post. The hipsters put their Mennonite-ness over Christ? I’m putting my Mennonite-ness over Christ by “judging” the hipsters?

I just…what?

Exhibit B: Present day mennonites now wearing all the latest name brands now say….it matters whats on the inside….bunch of wackos with one foot on either side of the fence.

Yeah but…do you know anything about hipsters? Brand names aren’t really a thing. If you’re concerned about it, perhaps you should explore the topic in a blog post of your own.

Exhibit C: It’s pretty easy to point out all the inconsistencies in any group’s doctrine and practice.

Maybe so. But, I promise, I wasn’t trying to point out anyone’s inconsistencies in that post.

Honestly, I just like noticing the odd/funny/unique things about cultures.

I know that Mennonites can get religion and culture mixed up a bit, and it may seem unique in the individualistic western world we live in, but it’s really a universal problem. Similarly, I know that Mennonites steal some of their trends and ideas from the greater American population, but really, as a whole, we are extraordinarily good at nonconformity.

You may have a lot you want to say about the above topics, and if you do, I encourage you to write up your own blog post/Facebook post about it. My own post was about neither of those things. Not even close.

I just like thinking about culture.

It fascinated me when all the fashionable celebrities began wearing the poofed hair that was Menno-fashionable in my mother’s day. I roared with laughter when culottes (briefly) came in style again. I made a friend from Germany recently, and we spent a long and wonderful afternoon discussing cultural differences between America and Germany.

Apparently she came here and was highly amused to see that our world was, indeed, full of giant yellow school buses and to-go coffee cups, just like in the movies.

To me, seeing hipster Mennonites is odd, funny, and interesting, like the culture of to-go coffee is to Germans.

That’s all.

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11 responses to “Good Grief, I Just Like Culture

  1. “Keep Calm and Write On” says my current favorite fridge magnet. Well done. Here’s an empathetic crooked grin. :\ .

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  2. I read every one of those comments and was just as confused as you. Did they read the post? Or were they just reacting to the keywords “Mennonite” and “Culture” and decided to air their own personal grievances.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Haha. The non-sequitur responses are some of the most impressive I’ve seen. I read somewhere that good writing provokes a reaction of some sort, so consider your post a success. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I don’t think you have a problem communicating. I think we all have baggage and lenses. Something touches our baggage and we interpret it through the distortion of our lenses, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this! And I’m so glad you responded to those comments!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Keep Writing! I am with you, that cultures are fun to observe!

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  7. I love “people watching” and have pulled my kids into it too. We live in a very small, very “white” town, so when we went to bigger places, I encouraged my kids to look around. Noticing differences, including “quirks”, is not the same as judging. It is like enjoying someone else’s decor without needing to redecorate your house. Keep observing, and sharing you unique perspective. It is good for all of us.

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  8. Don’t forget that Mandarin collar “Menno” suits are considered high fashion–at least, I found lots of images of Mennonite style suits by googling “Men’s mandarin collar high fashion suit coat”–and are used in Japan as school uniforms.

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  9. It’s not that you are a poor communicator. It’s that some of us aren’t very good conversationalists. We comment with some connected but off topic thought that comes into our minds while reading or hearing another person’s words. I did this, on your post, as your post reminded me of how much I am enjoying the food of the Seattle hipster culture. Off topic, because you were talking about Mennonites in the East adopting hipster trends. Personally I wouldn’t mind at all to experience more hipster culture in the PA Anabaptist community. Most of my hipster hippy friends are most definitely not Mennonite.

    We had a great hour of communication exercises at school today, led by two performers who major in teaching communication.
    Communication Levels
    1. Stake territory. No listening just talking.
    2. Debate. Waiting for a break, only to insert your counter argument. listening only to find flaws in their argument.
    3. Dialogogue. Inquiry, real curiosity in understanding the others ideas and/or position.
    4. Improvisation. Conversation as collaboration, mutual building. New ideas and thoughts emerge as we say Yes, and. . . .

    and the quote of the day “self-awareness is fundamental to effective communication”

    All this to say the comments had little or nothing to do with your ability to communicate and quite a lot about other people’s ability to engage in the conversation that you brought to the table.

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