Connecting with Culture
Our blog reflecting on weekly news, trends, innovation, and the arts...
There’s one conversation to expect at this time of year – ‘any New Year’s resolutions?’ According to one magazine, these often include losing weight, eating healthily, or changing your job. Stereotypes, no doubt.
But life is full of stereotypes: ways of simplifying the world, enabling us to respond quickly to situations based on prior experience. For the mentally lazy, perhaps.
And yet, there are positive as well as negative stereotypes. The expression as sober as a judge, for example, implies that judges are trustworthy people. As a teacher, married to a minister, people ‘of good standing’, we have signed countless passport applications.
Stereotypes can change over time. As a young woman, I assumed that policemen were safe and supportive. My daughter, living in Streatham when Sarah Everard was abducted and killed by a police officer, has no such assumptions. What changed? Sadly, there are now enough examples of policemen who are neither safe nor trustworthy.
Christians have long been stereotyped in the media. They come across as weak (Hugo – The Vicar of Dibley), ridiculous (Mrs Doyle – Father Ted), repressed (Edgar Hopperwood – Inside Man), or dangerous (Margaret – Carrie). Why is this? Is it that traditional Christian views are at odds with social change? Or because too often, Christians have been critical and unkind, failing to live with love as Jesus did? Maybe we’ve helped create the stereotype.
If perceptions can change negatively over time, though, the reverse must be true. But it takes commitment and resilience, evidenced by the painstakingly slow shift in attitudes towards marginalised groups, such as people of colour and the disabled.
As believers, we’re called to live like Jesus wherever we are: forgiving a friend who lied, going the extra mile at work, inviting a basket-carrying shopper to queue-jump my trolley (a simple act which always prompts incredulity). I can stick up for a person being criticised; admit I last used the broken photocopier.
I was recently introduced to the 6Ms of fruitfulness. If all believers embraced these, it would have a massive impact. Individuals, families, organisations and, in time, society at large, would bear the imprint of bold, authentic Christian living. Stereotypes would change too because – in time – there would be enough examples of Christians who are honest, loyal, and kind.
How about a different kind of New Year’s resolution, focusing on how we live for Christ in the everyday? Let’s pray and look for ways to be fruitful right where we are. With God, all things are possible.