Friday, February 29, 2008


I am trying to clarify something for myself and would like some help.

Please respond with your thoughts on either/both of these questions if you get a chance. Your answer can be a simple one word answer, or a longer explanation (specific examples would be nice :)

1) What do you think our culture values? By this I mean, the US culture, maybe even our local Raleigh area culture. What are the things that we orient our lives around?

2) What do you think are kingdom values? By this I mean, God's kingdom, the one that Jesus talks about in the scriptures.

Thanks so much for your help.


Shannon Smith said...

This is hard to put into a few words without over generalizing. There obvious are exceptions to each of my points.

1) Education, Relationships, Wealth, Security, Self

2) Education, Relationships, Equality, Sacrifice, Others

Kim Smith said...

1) Beauty, Education, Wealth, Security, Relationships, Fun, Material Possessions, Individualism

2) Love, Humility, Compassion, Sacrifice, Education, Relationships, Equality, Honesty, Joy

Anonymous said...

cultural values
1)"Looking" like we care about helping others but not like we need help ourselves
2)looking like we are self sufficient and STRONG and important
3)looking good and smart and sucessful without acting like you really care that others think you are good looking, smart abd successful

kingdom values
1)accepting that we NEED the Holy Spirit to be authentic and whole himan beings
2)really caring about others AND allowing others to care for you
3)caring more about what God thinks than what people think
4) accepting that God thinks you ARE important enough to die for.

Jeramie Mullis said...

1. Upward mobility. Appearances. Wanting more even at the expense of others. Self.

2. First and foremost, love. Humility. Sacrifice. Recognizing people's innate dignity and not seeing them as a hinderance or a means toward your own end.

george said...


Thanks for asking this question - I've had a rather difficult time with it.

My initial reaction was pretty negative - materialism, self, "getting ahead," entertainment.

But then I started thinking about why I was thinking that way, how I was defining "our culture," and how I was measuring what "our culture" values. I realized that it depends very much on the lens through which I examine the question. My negative intial reaction was largely a result of the media lens and looking around at what I see people do and spend money and time on. Everywhere I look in Wake County, for example - everything from $1M homes to trailer parks and apartments - I see cable boxes and satellite dishes. A large part of every newspaper is devoted to sports, and people talk about sports a lot. So I take that as a sign the people value entertainment quite a bit, even when their money might be better spent on other things (only my opinion, of course). And because I think, personally, that nobody has a use for a 7,000 square foot home other than to show off, I feel people are valuing appearances.

Yet, this is a biased view, because my experience is narrow and incomplete, and I'm tossing some "judgemental" into my assessment.

If I think of a culture as the creation of a group of people with common aspirations and values, another way to measure it might be to look at government budgets at all scales. So I followed this path and looked at the budget of governments at all the scales we live - city, county, state, federal - and picked out all the items that comprise more than 10% of those budgets. Here's how we stack up.

City of Raleigh

25% public safety - police, fire, emergency communications
15% debt
14% utilities - water and sewer
11% leisure services - parks & recreation, convention center

Wake County

40% education - Wake County Public Schools, WakeTech Community College
18% human service - a range of programs to help people in need
11% debt
10% public safety - Emergency Medical & Fire/Rescue Services

State of NC

37% education - public schools, community colleges, univeristy system
37% health & human services - a range of programs to help people in need

United States

Defense - 23%
Social Security - 22%
Medicare & Medicaid - 19%

I recognize that this is an imperfect measure, but it says some interesting things about what "our culture" values, if you'll allow that these budgets are a representation of an often hard-fought-for consensus about where "our culture" chooses to apply it's resources (as represented by money).

Education and helping people are quite well placed - in fact, you could argue that 41% of our federal budget (SS, M&M combined) are for helping people. Public safety and defense are a bit hard for me to categorize. To some degree, it's helping people. But to some degree it's also an infrastructure - from the local police to armies - to keep others from "taking what's ours." Is that selfishness, security, or a little of each?

In any event, these budgets provided me a much different perspective than my personal experience and my initial reaction. I'm not sure it's a good way to answer the question, but the main thing I learned is that I don't really have the insight or tools to answer it for "our culture."

And I have no standing whatsoever to answer for kingdom values.

Yes, that was a rather long non-answer ...

traci said...

Geroge, Very interesting...

I would say that the public safety and national defense and such have to do with valuing security. We want to be safe and have faith in our ability to maintain order and control over at least some aspects of our lives.

Its also good that you point out how we go about defining what the culture values. For me a lot of what I look at is through the lens of the media, and as you point out, that gives an imperfect picture of the reality we live in.