I know this is supposed to be a theological paper of sorts, but to be completely honest, this reading was more nostalgic for me than anything. No, I was not born in Britain, but I have been there; and it was fascinating. A number of years back, I had the chance to be on Wheel of Fortune, and I actually won enough to take my wife on the trip of our dreams to England, Scotland and Ireland. We have both tracked our family heritages and discovered that we are strongly tied to that entire region; for this reason, it was more than a vacation…it was a little like going home. This week’s reading even touched on the fact by stating, “When you consider that most Australians and North Americans trace back their ancestry to the British Isles, it is not surprising that thousands of them come seeking their roots every year.” There is just something that made us feel half like a visitor, but also, half like we belonged there.
The trip was so full of excitement of seeing a country we had never seen before, but it also fascinated to see the age to things that are just not visible in the United States; after all, we have no buildings “churches and cathedrals built over a thousand years” ago. At one point we stopped in this small church not far from the Tower of London; they were in the middle of renovation, so it was a little cluttered. We showed up around the time everyone was at lunch, so it was relatively empty…fortunately. In the front of the church was the most amazing pulpit I had ever seen. Not realizing I was taking the advice of Terry Tan, I found the only worker around and asked him if I could please take a photo of me in the pulpit. Tan warned, “The architectural beauty and ecclesiastical ambience of Christian churches in Britain provoke different reactions in different people. If your inclination is to reach for your camera, check first to see if photography is allowed.” I was denied! You all know me…I can be persistent. I asked again, but this time explained that I was a preacher from America and that it would give me much joy if you would allow me to sneak behind the ropes for one quick photo. He smiled and whispered one word; “Hurry.” It was almost surreal how it felt to stand in something so old, in a building so filled with history, and just imagine the sermons that were preached from that very spot.
We have talked a lot in this class about how to adapt and assimilate when we enter a new culture; rather than force our own ways upon others, we work to understand their heritage and history. To stand in a church, walk through a battlefield, or even sing with sidewalk entertainers as they sing songs of old; it is a privilege to feel a culture take hold of your heart the way that Britain did for me. Though not everyone knows this about me, I love the stories of English history; I love the tales of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace; and I am fascinated by the history/struggle of the church through the ages; but mostly…I love wearing my kilt! Yes…I am a kilt wearing man. So, upon my journey through Edinburgh, I warned my wife that there would be a kilt bought that week. It is one of the ways I have learned to embrace that part of my heritage. The Tartan: “Really Scottish of bold checks, each design is the symbol of this clan or that. Tartan pure wool scarves, skirts and kilts have remained untouched by the flights of fashion for centuries.” It is not a costume; it is the ability to understand and connect with part of my history…and frankly…they are really comfortable.
As well as being nostalgic, this book has also reminded me just how excited I am to return to London. There are still so many things I look forward to seeing, one of which has always been Oxford. However, I am also excited to share this adventure when those of you who have not been blessed to see it yet; I truly believe it will be full of memories that you will never forget. This program has given us this exciting look into places and people that are not usually available to us, and I cannot wait for more. In fact, every time Dr. Jason comments these little teasers about our upcoming trip, I find myself talking about London with my wife almost immediately after. This trip is extra special to me, also because my oldest son is planning on coming with us; and for the computer, video-gaming man that he is, I believe he is going to be shocked by how great of an experience this will be.
So, there it is…I know it wasn’t theological this time, but this book was not really that theological; except for chapter 2 section on religion through the years…it was very interesting. I saw this read as preparatory book for those who are about to visit…and I am so ready to make that trip.
 Tan, Terry. Culture Shock! A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette: Great Britain. Tarrytown: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 2008. Kindle Edition.
Tan, Terry. Culture Shock! A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette: Great Britain. Tarrytown: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 2008. Kindle Edition.