the complex ocean of culture | raymond williams, scott moreau

Seeking to study the intersection of theology with communications and culture has been a deeper sea than I imagined. I'm starting to realize that only two years of formal study can barely scratch the surface, and the overwhelming nature (plus my insatiable curiosity), means that I sometimes find myself out of intellectual oxygen and gasping for shore. It's been helpful to understand that part of the dilemma is the number of academic approaches that can be taken. It's this interdisciplinary synthesis that I'm sure is so attractive to me, but also makes me feel like I need to be an expert in all of these areas: which of course is impossible?

I know that I've pushed myself toward Communication Studies—and possibly more specifically media studies—as an approach, but this is interdisciplinary as well. Phew.

So approaching my thesis... argh! I'm so wrapped up in grasping an approach, that a specific topic still feels miles away.

From a missiological article:

Comprehensive contextualization is interdisciplinary in its approach to culture. While contextualization is anchored in the Bible, it brings to bear a number of disciplines, each of which has a distinct contribution to make. For example, history enables us to see how faithful Christian communities (and perhaps unfaithful ones as well) have dealt with similar or parallel issues that we face today. Theology helps us to think in biblical ways about a variety of issues being faced. Anthropology offers insights into societies and cultural values, symbols and artifacts that need to be brought into focus through the lens of Scripture. Sociology enables insight into social networks and associations and helps us understand church structures and polity. Linguistics gives insight into the word forms and language issues that are so crucial to communication of the faith. Communication studies offer tools for analysis of persuasion and methods of communication. Psychology helps us understand human dynamics — especially such things as motivations and decision-making — as they are played out in faith settings. Economics helps us understand exchange processes that are essential to the survival of institutionalized faith structures, and politics helps us understand political and legal processes both in and out of the church.
~ Scott Moreau

Sigh. Oh good, I'm not crazy when my brain flips between these things as quickly as changing lanes.

And the most helpful:

Culture is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language. ~ Raymond Williams