I was impressed with the depth of insight into the cultures of Britain and London offered by Tan and Hargraves, respectively. My anticipation for our advance has certainly been stoked from the CultureShock! books. I have visited London previously as a tourist and am ready to visit as a student. This part of the world is easy for me to love and appreciate, the little I know of it.
My mind reached for Meyer’s Culture Map for a quick reference guide and generalizations to understand the similarities and differences our cultures hold. The map below is the cleanest I could find that had all eight scales with the US and UK represented.
It is interesting to note the areas we are most similar and where there is the most distance, or difference. In general, the US has more extremes and Great Britain’s line is more moderate – almost via media,one could say. The US and UK share a strong preference for “applications first” on the Persuading scale, a kind of bias toward action. But after last week’s reading on the Anglican emphasis of holding tension in the middle, I realize this is something I am drawn to in their culture. To see moderation represented in business culture, at least more so than in the US, deepens my opinion that the British are reasonable people in general.
So in the spirit of British culture love, I will offer an abbreviated list of my current British appreciations:
Of course, England has produced many important writers through the centuries, but as this is a personal reflection, I choose to highlight Lewis and Austen. C.S. Lewis’ writings have spiritually formed me over the last two decades and I wonder if there is an author that has impacted me more.
Can I honestly write about London and Britain without mentioning Jane Austen’s name? It seems I would be lying if I were to not mention her. Indeed, she has provided hours upon hours of smart, low-tension, 18thcentury English stories. Her humor and estimation of women in society at that time is brilliant, in my opinion.
Reserve & Moderation
While I am grateful for the strengths that come from the American emotive, “express yourself” culture, I am intrigued with Britain’s more reserved air. I have often thought that just by saying fewer words one can appear more intelligent – definitely more mysterious, if nothing else.
Self-deprecating, dry observational humor is our favorite style in our home and I think the British do this best. Tan observes:
Fundamentally, all have a similar self-deprecating sense of humour that is refreshing. It’s often bandied about that if Americans laughed at themselves more often, they wouldn’t spend so much time on a psychiatrist’s couch.
This important tradition in English culture is something I admire. Although I do not practice it myself, I wish to and if someone would prepare it for me, along with scones and cream, I would participate without hesitation. Tan shares that Britain consumes 120 million cups of tea a day, which is the most in the world.
On a more serious note, I am intrigued by the centuries-long church history in England. Tan gives an overview and it is quite dramatic. With all it has been through to survive, I look forward to learning from and listening to the Church in England.
I am open. I know there will be a great spiritual deposit made in all of our lives. I am open to what London and Britain have to teach me. Hopefully, over some tea and scones?
Ian S. Markham and Joshua Daniels eds., Reasonable Radical? Reading the Writings of Martyn Percy (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2018), Kindle Loc. 183.
Terry Tan, Culture Shock! A Survival Guide to Custom and Etiquette Great Britain (Tarrytown, New York: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 2008), 57.