Folkways are learned customs or conventions that are passed down from one generation to the next; violation tends to be punished mildly, if at all. Each part of our own country will have never ways of doing things and deciding what is right and wrong. The use of the word sir and mam may be a good example of this.

Incarnation is the embodiment of a deity or spirit in some earthly form capitalized : the union of divinity with humanity in Jesus Christ : a concrete or actual form of a quality or concept; especially : a person showing a trait or typical character to a marked degree The missionary seeks to follow the example of Christ in becoming a learner, one of them, to the point that He was completely a Jew. Your goal will be like that of Paul to become a Jew to reach the Jews and to become weak to reach those who are weak. It takes real decision and dedication to become one of them or two become incarnate what they are.

Identification is the psychological orientation of the self in regard to something (as a person or group) with a resulting feeling of close emotional association, a largely unconscious process whereby an individual models thoughts, feelings, and actions after those attributed to an object that has been incorporated as a mental image. Identification is not so much a matter of adopting this or that kind of dress or food as it is a matter of entering into the experiences of a people with understanding. To do this, one must know what lies behind those experiences; one must take other people’s world view seriously. We take other world views seriously, in the first place, when we study them and demonstrate an understanding of them.

Laws are formal, standardized expressions of norms enacted by legislative bodies to regulate particular types of behaviors. Laws state the punishment for their violation and are enforced by a group designated for that purpose. When a law does not reflect folkways and mores, its enforcement is likely to be ignored or given low priority. Remember that a law is enacted by the country you are in. Just because it is legal or illegal where you come from does not necessarily mean that the same will be true in your new country. Abortion may be legal in the USA but it rarely is in a Catholic country. The right or wrong of it does not change based on what the country believes or practices.

Monoculturalism refers to knowing only one culture. Until you have lived some where else and actually gotten out and mixed with the people you very likely are still one cultured. This isn’t something you get from a movie, book or class. You also can only get a taste of it on a short term mission trip.
Mores : the fixed morally binding customs of a particular group, moral attitudes, HABITS, MANNERS Mos is the singular form of the word

Norms (n) norm (a standard or model or pattern regarded as typical) “the current middle-class norm of two children per family” (n) average, norm (a statistic describing the location of a distribution) “it set the norm for American homes”

Racism is a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

A SOCIAL INSTITUTION is a system of norms, values, statuses, and roles that develops around a basic social goal.

All societies have particular institutions to meet their broad goals; they form the foundation of society. Five basic social institutions are defined in the text: the family, religion, education, economic, and political.

Institutions are systems of norms; social organizations are actual groups of people deliberately organized around some common interest.

Xenocentrism: The opposite of ethnocentrism is xenocentrism which means preferring ideas and things from other cultures over ideas and things from your own culture. At the heart of xenocentrism is an assumption that other cultures are superior to your own. This is often called “going native” on the mission field. Our concern here is to learn how to reach others with the gospel of Jesus Christ. That means that we will have to study and learn their culture. We will adapt and make our own many parts of the new culture but be careful that you do not try so hard to become that you forget the good that you were taught or the good parts of your own culture. Also you do not want to get a negative attitude about the country and culture where God raised and trained you.

Are we all ethnocentric? The following quotes come from secular sources accenting the fact that we all must learn to deal with our own selfishness or the fact that we think we are the best even if we do not realize it. This attitude will greatly hinder what you are able to accomplish on the mission field in a cross cultural relationship unless you learn by the grace of God to overcome much of it.

Ken Barger of Indiana University Perdue University Indianapolis believes the following: “Ethnocentrism” is a commonly used word in circles where ethnicity, inter-ethnic relations, and similar social issues are of concern. The usual definition of the term is “thinking one’s own group’s ways are superior to others” or “judging other groups as inferior to one’s own”. “Ethnic” refers to cultural heritage, and “centrism” refers to the central starting point… so “ethnocentrism” basically refers to judging other groups from our own cultural point of view. But even this does not address the underlying issue of why people do this. Most people, thinking of the shallow definition, believe that they are not ethnocentric, but are rather “open minded” and “tolerant.” However, as explained below, everyone is ethnocentric, and there is no way not to be ethnocentric… it cannot be avoided, nor can it be willed away by a positive or well-meaning attitude.

To address the deeper issues involved in ethnocentrism calls for a more explicit definition. In this sense, ethnocentrism can be defined as: making false assumptions about others’ ways based on our own limited experience. The key word is assumptions, because we are not even aware that we are being ethnocentric… we don’t understand that we don’t understand.

Michael Harris Bond states: The conclusion is that we are all ethnocentric to varying degrees because “we are born into a culture at birth and we cling to that culture as a bulwark against chaos and the terror of death.”

Alexander Benveniste states: Culture shock can be an excellent lesson in relative values and in understanding human differences. The reason culture shock occurs is that we are not prepared for these differences. Because of the way we are taught our culture, we are all ethnocentric. This term comes from the Greek root ethnos, meaning a people or group. Thus, it refers to the fact that our outlook or world view is centered on our own way of life. Ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s own patterns of behavior are the best: the most nature, beautiful, right, or important. Therefore, other people, to the extent that they live differently, live by standards that are inhuman, irrational, unnatural, or wrong.

Ethnocentrism is the view that one’s own culture is better than all others; it is the way all people feel about themselves as compared to outsiders. There is no one in our society who is not ethnocentric to some degree, no matter how liberal ad open-minded he or she might claim to be. People will always find some aspect of another culture distasteful, be it sexual practices, a way of treating friends or relatives, or simply a food that they cannot manage to get down with a smile. This is not something we should be ashamed of, because it is a natural outcome of growing up in any society. However, as anthropologists who study other cultures, it is something we should constantly be aware of, so that when we are tempted to make value judgments about another way of life, we can look at the situation objectively and take our bias into account.

What is the difference between Racism and Ehnocentric Monoculturalism? The following is just the opinion of one writer but I believe that it can help you to see and understand what you are up against as missionaries. The bold text was put there by me to add emphasis to what I consider to be the important parts. I left the misspellings etc as they were when I copied the material.

A quick outline of how Racism differs from Ethnocentric Monoculturalism.
-Racism is conscious. One does not even want to speculate on why an individual feels so traumatized about oneself as to feel the need to boost one’s own self-worth by denigrating a person of differing skin color or different cultural practices. Racial discrimination is generally forbidden by laws. 

-Ethnocentric Monoculturalism as defined by two of its most coherent authors (Gerald Wing Sue & David Sue in “Counseling the Culturally Different”, 3rd. Edition, John Wiley & Sons, 1999) is unconscious. It is predominently a product of enculturation. Many people of an Ethnocentric Monocultural bent are well meaning.

Five aspects of this unconscious belief system can be particularly damaging to ethnic minorities. These are: (Quoting & paraphasing from Sue & Sue)

1) A strong belief in the surperiority of all other group’s cultural heritage (history, values, language, traditions, arts/crafts, etc

2) There is a belief in the inferiority of all other groups cultural heritage that extends to their customs, values, traditions and language. (Others considered pagan, primitive, uncivilized, etc.)

3) Power to impose standards.

4) Manifestation in Institutions. For example, education systems, management systems.

5) The Invisible Veil. “Since people are all products of cultural conditioning, their values and beliefs (world view) represent an invisible veil that operates outside the level of conscious awareness. As a result people assume universality: that the nature of reality and truth are shared by everyone regardless of race, culture, ethnicity or gender.” 

It’s not hard to see how these unconscious belief systems result in two divided groups of people who do not understand each other at all. On the one hand, the dominent group presumes that everybody thinks like them and that they are pretty great and on the other hand, an oppressed group who thinks the dominant culture people are arrogant, viscious and must hate them which often leads to the conclusion on their part that the dominant group are beyond redemption

  • Posted November 10, 2014 11:32 am
    by Eric Elrod

    Understanding that our goal isn’t to change their culture or norms, but to preach the gospel, when do you address norms that are not necessarily cultural, but that need to be discussed if those men are to become leaders? Being on time for example. What things are noteworthy to address or should things like that even be addressed until later on? What is the balance between understanding cultural norms versus instilling things into them (not necessarily American, but qualities that a leader should have) that will benefit them in ministry?

  • Posted December 2, 2014 2:47 pm
    by Tim Kelly

    How should we adapt to the culture and the norms?

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