Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Know Your Onions

Written by: on June 12, 2019

Orin Hargraves CultureShock! London and Terry Tan’s CultureShock! Great Britain are a great pair of pre-travel books intended to prime LGP8 for the 2019 George Fox University LGP Advance in London, England. These are great sources to help prepare and set some initial expectations when adventuring into the British culture. Right off I asked myself, how do I connect these works to my dissertation on spiritual warfare? Well, because I have had the LGP journey I know nothing goes to waste in the book selections in preparing us to be global ministry leaders. I will apply some lessons learned about reading from Mortimer Alder[1] and Pierre Bayard.[2] They are my oil and vinegar for reviewing and analyzing books. As such, I think this week’s books will help me see and understand the basics of what the British demographics and culture should look like. In turn, having a better understanding of the Great Britain-London cultures will help me see the non-cultural things that do not look right. It is in this type of spiritual-secular space, between a healthy culture and the unhealthy influences from principalities and powers that these guides will add value and insights into my dissertation research.

First, when I scanned the cover of Tan’s Great Britain book I noticed the London Eye observation wheel, Big Ben clock tower, and the subtitle saying “survival guide”.[3]  When I think of riding a ferris wheel as a young boy I remember a queasy stomach and apprehension while going up the ride, excitement at the top of the ride when I could see from a bird’s eye perspective, and then the nervous rush of going down the ride. I imagine what the author is saying, ethnographically speaking (thanks Sarah Pink), that traveling to Great Britain will have some highs and lows with an occasional upset stomach![4]

CultureShock! is a series of global travel guides to help orient people to new cultures and minimize the initial confusion and disorientation that might be experienced in a new time zone and new environment. These books provide insights on etiquette, customs, greetings, and more.

Second, I spent the first 4 years of my life in the Scottish Lowlands of the Ayrshire council in the settlement of Ayr. My parents used to take me on walks on the beach and travel by car into the Highlands. They have pictures of me climbing on a stack of cannon balls at Edinburgh Castle. My younger sister was born in Scotland and our family has always maintained connections to that region of Britain. My 23andMe ancestry profile shows me as 99.8% Northwestern European of which 71% is British from Greater London, United Kingdom. So, for me, the upcoming LGP Advance is my trip home to my ancestor’s birthplace.

According to Tan, recent religious estimates for the United Kingdom show Christians at approximately 72%, Muslims at 3%, and another 3% of Sikhs, Jews, and Buddhists.[5] The other 22% are not accounted for by the author! I reviewed the cultural Do’s and Don’ts and did not find anything unusual or unexpected. The Londoners, like the Hongkongers, stand on the right and walk on the left when riding on escalators.[6]

The most interesting demographic I saw is how culturally diverse Great Britain and London really are. For example, the author Tan is part of an eclectic mix of people groups living in Britain. Tan was born in Singapore and moved to England in 1983 where he serves as a consultant for Heinz UK and a popular TV food personality and entrepreneur.[7] 

When I looked at the cover of Hargraves London book I immediately thought of the Austin Power’s movies and their dramatic comic approach to the British spy-net after Powers was brought back after being cryogenically frozen to battle Dr. Evil.  Here is a short and clean clip on how to prepare and pack for our upcoming advance:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66tNWd-Xwlk

Third, left-side driving, high-tea time, saying sorry when you bump into someone instead of excuse-me, boxing day, and the line-up in the que etiquette are noteworthy. JoAnne and I learned about and experienced all these customs while serving in what was a British colony Botswana, which gained independence in 1966, but still maintains their British cultural practices today.[8]  The day after Christmas, Boxing Day, we handed out Bibles, as gifts,  to patients at the public hospitals.[9] This book gave a lot of good insights into British-Londoner custom and practice. However, I was surprised the book did not highlight a fork in the left hand and knife in the right hand as part of the proper eating etiquette.

The slang term you have heard for police in the U.S. is 5-0 nick-named after the TV Police Drama Hawaii Five-0. In London, locals call the police “The Bill” named after a “cop drama” set in a fictional “Sun Hill” London Police Station.[10]  In all my travels to foreign countries and cultures I have been blessed with the ability to connect and build relationships with the local public safety officers.

Overall, I enjoyed the two books and value the author’s insights into the cultures of these brilliant people groups and my DNA family in Great Britain and London.

Stand firm,


[1] Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren. How to read a book: The classic guide to intelligent reading. (Simon and Schuster, 2014) 336.
[2] Pierre Bayard. How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read. (Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2007) 245.
[3] Terry Tan. CultureShock! Great Britain. (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2008) Location 10.
[4] Sarah Pink. Doing Visual Ethnography. (London: Sage Publications, 2013) 18.
[5] Ibid., 709.
[6] Ibid., 4892.
[7] Ibid., 5950.
[8] Orin Hargraves. CultureShock! London. (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2010) Location 230.
[9] Ibid., 3743.
[10] Ibid., 4313.

About the Author


6 responses to “Know Your Onions”

  1. Great post, Mike!

    Ok. I have to admit. When I skimmed your post, I was shocked to see all the images dedicated to Austin Powers. Lol It definitely caught my eye.

    You mentioned that you “…spent the first 4 years of your life in the Scottish Lowlands of the Ayrshire council in the settlement of Ayr.” Were your parents stationed there because of the military or were they natives of Ayr? What do you think will be the biggest culture shock for you in London and Oxford?

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for the review and comments. Yes, my Dad was stationed at Ayr 1958 to 1962.

      I doubt I will be shocked, I know how “stiff” they can be. I will keep my eyes open for sure. I’ve been to London before, rode the train and the tube and rented a car and drove in the town. I served with British expats in the mission bases in several African countries that were British colonies. I am excited to embrace and immerse into the London-Oxford contexts. See you there! Once they do make friends with you, it is for life!

  2. Jay Forseth says:


    You are cracking me up with your Blog comments. Keep the funny British words coming! I love it.

    No fair that you have a big head start on me with the culture of the UK. You can probably drive on either side of the road, too. Not me!

    Can hardly wait to see you again in the UK. From Boise to the big island across the pond…There will of course be spiritual warfare there as well. Please keep reminding us.


  3. Jean Ollis says:

    Hi Mike! Great blog – and a bit light hearted which is fun to read. You will breeze through your “native” land without a culture shock for sure! I often think it would be interesting and helpful to find an advance location that is not impacted by colonization. While writing my blog and looking at the British influence around the globe, it has for sure been pervasive. The stat you provided (22%) non accounted for as claiming a faith…what do you make of it? Atheist, non-declared? A mission field?

  4. Jason Turbeville says:

    Love the Austin Powers clip, the part that got me was how he pronounced England, I think there was an extra syllable thrown in. Do you think the religious percentages in our reading still hold up a decade later? It will be fun finding out.


  5. Dan Kreiss says:

    Yep it’s happening! In many ways this will be the most similar context to our own but therein lies the danger. It is important to not assume or miss things because we think we understand. I believe that this advance of all has the potential to be most challenging to our understanding and insight into faith issues and concerns. I think that because this is our last we will likely be hyper aware to take everything in not to miss the key elements of our time.

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