Being Evangelical in a Multicultural Society
Multicultural can be simplistic
By Michael Nuchtern
[This short article from the Evangelical central office for world-view questions is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, www.edk.de.]
The term multiculturality for the partnership of the evangelical church and the present spiritual situation implies the diversity of partnership. As a diagnosis, this is vague, too simple and intensely judgmental. Multiculturality is treated either as a dreadful vision or an ideal. On one side we have a diversity of religions, cultures, lifestyles and milieus in our society. On the other side, (1) the diversity of cultures is regionally very differently distributed. The elementary schools in Berlin and Wertheim look very different. (2) We live in a global village in which fashion-, eating- and drinking habits created by Nike, McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Coca Cola have developed worldwide banal cultures. Where the differences of traditions disappear, the differences of milieu appear. (3) Within the diversity, the generalized term "multicultural" is blind to larger and smaller intersections and larger and smaller differences. The Christian West has not given way to a religious pluralism. (4) The simultaneity of the unsimultaneous prevails and creates conflicts. There are not only people who wear head scarfs and people who do not wear head scarfs. That head scarfs can be interpreted very differently is confusing and typical for our situation. No unequivocal meaning of wearing head scarfs exists.
A phenomenon like globalization triggers an opposite, regionalizing effect. A new longing for security and home grows worldwide. The experience of the worldwide Whopper can be questioned according to grandmother's recipes for Sunday roast. Only in the mass society does individuality become a goal. The modern age sweeps away traditions and old certainties in a leveling and destructive way while provoking fundamentalism as a counter-movement resisting the new age and its changes with radicalism and violence.
Our question about the evangelical shows how the experience of plurality evokes a new interest in particulars. The evangelical does not need to be sought when it goes without saying. The experienced diversity searches for its own profile.