But times change. I grew up, moved away to university, moved again even farther away to my first teaching job, and married a young man in that community. We moved again, and again, and again, as the economy dictated, and as my husband's cultural roots keep drawing him back to his islands. In these various communities there were not any of my childhood denomination's churches, and we moved through an amazing variety of denominations with a sometimes dizzying variety of "doctrinal distinctives" and a variety of worship styles and rituals. Some of those differences would have severely rattled a lot of folks, I'm sure, but I managed fine since the "culture" of "big tent evangelicalism" covered them all to some degree (some less than others, of course).
Sometimes I look back and wonder if the church culture was more important than the belief system. Of course, belief system was part of the culture, come to think of it. System, denomination, institution... They all fit in there, didn't they?
Now as anyone who has read some of my ramblings on this blog will attest, in the past few years I've been increasingly drawn out of the comfort and identity of church culture. Even the street ministry I gather with these days has been less churchy lately, it seems. Though, I'm pretty sure, not less Jesus-focused. Hmmm... Maybe more Jesus-focused, with the demise of the programming that for a time tried to seep in? Interesting...
Consequently, I've been feeling culture-less again. More. It is hard enough not having an "ethic" culture to identify with - a struggle that increased when I married a First Nations man, and watched the regrowth of his people's pride of culture, and their increasing relationship with God in ways that involve some of those cultural ways. At the same time, I've experienced the loss of other personal identifiers - other "cultures" that took the place, in my life, of an ethnic cultural identity and pride that seemed not to exist. Like the church culture I have already described. And the "family disease" in which parents, aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings, nephews and nieces, have almost all been public school teachers. Somewhere along the line, though, I became increasingly disillusioned with the educational system. I tried alternatives like teaching at a Christian School, and home-schooling (very eclectically). Then a planned move ended my last teaching job. And I haven't gone back. And at the same time, my parents died, and my five close-in-age children grew up and moved out and started families of their own. So much for my teacher identity, and my mommy identity.