culture

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I want to be passionate about my city because my God is passionate about people.”

On August 25th, Our church will be hosting an event that will bring people from all over the Southeast. The Chick-fil-A® 3on3 Basketball Tournament and Family FunZone is a premiere event which provides a 3on3 basketball competition for communities. As well as the basketball tournament, the event holds a Family FunZone for families who are just looking for something fun and exciting to do on a weekend.

Probably the most exciting part about this event for our church is that the event is in Downtown Athens. Our backyard! 

People from all different backgrounds, different lifestyles, and different seasons of life will be coming to this event. 

So…you are asking yourself…Why should I care? I don’t play basketball. I don’t have kids.

Those may be true, but you still live in Athens. You still may work with some guys who love basketball, you may be in a bookclub with some girls who have young children, you still may have classes with people who are just searching for something to do.

We are all surrounded by someone who could be affected by this event. Not because basketball is so great, or the Family FunZone is extremely FUN! 

But, because when all the programs and funzones and basketball courts have come and gone, the greatest means of compelling people to come into the kingdom of Christ will remain your personal witness to the truth and greatness of Jesus and how he meets your needs. YOU are the salt of the earth. YOU are the light of the world.

Now, how do we get connected? How do we put ourselves in a spot where we can start or continue relationships with people we encounter?

The biggest way is by volunteering for the event on August 25th. To register to be a volunteer, follow this link—-> http://bit.ly/NKaVF2. At the top of the page, above the video, you will see a tab for Volunteer Registration. This tab will take you to a secure site in which you can register to become a volunteer.

Another way is by inviting people to the event. This event will be a great starting point for inviting friends to your community group or church.

As always, what we truly ask for you to do is pray. Pray for Athens. Pray that this event will be a big step towards redeeming our city. Pray for the people, the families, the friends that will be attending. 


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Mission Context: When Work Disappears

Ben Sheppard is a member of Christ Community and a senior at UGA. He wants to serve the church by encouraging Christians not to just consume, condemn, critique or copy culture — but to continually create a culture that testifies to the reality of the gospel. More specifically, Ben is taking a look at the places, practices, institutions, events, and cultural patterns that contribute to our cultural context in the American South, the city of Athens, the UGA campus, and the surrounding communities. 

Check out this post for an explanation of what he’s doing, why he’s doing it, and where he got the idea.


The book above was one of the required texts for my Communities & Crime class this semester. Wilson is a sociologist whose work focuses on urban poverty. While our entire nation is experiencing a crisis of unemployment, Wilson wrote this book in 1996 to describe a more severe and persistent problem: the extreme scarcity of jobs in inner-city neighborhoods. 

 

According to Wilson, the disappearance of blue-collar jobs and the movement of entry-level service-sector jobs from the cities to the suburbs have created ghettos that are not isolated because of cultural or racial factors but for economic reasons. The prevalence of “ghetto-related behaviors” like drug dealing, violence, and high teenage pregnancy rates can at least be partially attributed to persistent, intractable poverty, which results from severe joblessness.

  

Since we’re talking about a book here, the answers to our cultural analysis questions are pretty easy. Wilson’s book assumes that the problem (“the way the world is”) is that ghetto neighborhoods are economically and socially depressed because work is not readily available, and it assumes that the solution (“the way the world should be”) should be policy changes at the national level, including school performance standards and an extensive public works program. 

  

But how do we approach the issue through the framework of the gospel — the announcement of God’s power to save people through Jesus? There is a laundry list of potential answers to that question, so here’s one angle, from Old Testament scholar Chris Wright:

 

“The jubilee law pursued this objective [family viability], not by merely moral means, that is, appealing for greater family cohesion or admonishing parents and children to greater exercise of discipline and obedience respectively. Rather, the jubliee approach was immensely practical and fundamentally socioeconomic… . Family morality was meaningless if families were being split up and dispossessed by economic forces that rendered them powerless” (Christopher J.H. Wright, The Mission of God, p. 297).  

 

The jubilee laws, which concerned the canceling of debts and the redistribution of property to its original owners, were expressions of God’s desire to save whole people, whole families, and whole communities. Wilson’s contention is that while personal character determines the choices people make, larger structural factors determine what kind of choices they are given. In the jubilee laws, we see that God isn’t just interested in making better people; God is interested in creating a culture that gives people better opportunities to make choices for their own good and the good of their communities.

 

What do you think about the idea of jubilee and the job problem in inner-city neighborhoods?


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Mission Context: The Arch

Ben Sheppard is a member of Christ Community and a senior at UGA. He wants to serve the church by encouraging Christians not to just consume, condemn, critique or copy culture — but to continually create a culture that testifies to the reality of the gospel. More specifically, Ben is taking a look at the places, practices, institutions, events, and cultural patterns that contribute to our cultural context in the American South, the city of Athens, the UGA campus, and the surrounding communities. 

Check out this post for an explanation of what he’s doing, why he’s doing it, and where he got the idea.

Today’s mission context: The Arch

Photo credit Josh Hallett

As one of the traditional symbols of the University of Georgia, the Arch is already interesting enough as a cultural object in itself. For instance, did you know that the three pillars are intended to represent wisdom, justice, and moderation? (We might need to replace that last one if we want to get this dubious title back). Today, however, I’m interested less in the Arch itself and more interested in what kind of culture exists because of it – what kind of culture do people create in response to the Arch?

Culture, of course, doesn’t have to be big and flashy.  It’s just what we make of the world and the things in it. Tourists come and take pictures by the Arch; so do recent graduates and wedding parties. In each case, they’re creating meaning and associating it with this physical object. When the Redcoat Band lines up in the “Arch” before a Georgia football game, they’re creating something completely new (a marching band show) in response to something fairly ordinary (a cast-iron arch).

 

Because of the space and its prominent position on Broad Street between the UGA campus and downtown, the Arch is a favorite spot for protests and demonstrations. For instance, the members of the Jubilee Partners community regularly stage silent protests against the death penalty there. Recently, others joined them there to advocate on behalf of Troy Davis during the last days of his life. Just this week, taking their cue from Occupy Wall Street and We Are the 99 Percent, protesters have demonstrated by “occupying” the space in front of the Arch. 

 

On the lighter side, student lore says that if a student walks under the Arch, he or she will never graduate. That’s actually not so bad, especially compared to a similar superstition concerning the seal in front of Langdon Hall at Auburn University: if you step on it, not only will you never graduate and never find true love, you’ll also be a student at Auburn. 

 

What do you think? Are there other examples of culture created in response to the Arch that I missed?


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