Take religion, for example, back in my 'good old days.' In the time and place where I grew up, "Christian" and "Protestant" where interchangeable terms for quite a few folks.
Then there were assumptions about religion and ethnicity. Many, if they thought about it at all, 'knew' that:
- Buddhists lived in Japan
- Hindus lived in India
- "Christians" were 'regular Americans'
- And the folks living in northwestern Europe
- Catholics lived in Italy and Ireland
But quite a few did.
Folks with a college degree under their belt, or who were college students, seemed less apt to make those assumptions about religion and ethnicity. That's the good news.
The bad news is that a fair number of the college crowd had other clinkers in their thinkers. Like confusing Christianity with racism and European imperialism. And assuming, if they thought about it at all, that Christians didn't like science and education: and of course didn't 'believe in' evolution.
No wonder I don't admit to being nostalgic very often.
WordNet) - are not, I think, a particularly good tool for understanding the real world. On the other hand, I think that stereotypes often have some basis in fact: no matter how unrealistic they become, once cut free from the space-time continuum.
Like the 'Buddhists are Japanese' thing. Turns out, a little over 71% of the folks living in Japan follow Buddhism. As of 2005, anyway. In 2001, a bit over 80% of the folks in India were Hindus. ("India" (last updated on December 9, 2010), "Japan" (updated December 7, 2010), The World Factbook, CIA)
After a little checking, I see that there are about a half-dozen or so 'world religions.'
My guess is that not everybody would agree with this list: but I think it's good enough as a 'for instance:'
EMuseum @ University of Minnesota, Mankato
The unreadably small map up there links to a discussion of religious demographics in a Wikipedia article. The point is that folks in different parts of the world do tend to follow one religion more than other faiths. Which is probably where notions like 'Buddhists live in Japan' come from.
But it's a sort of 'on average' thing. That photo shows what was left of the Urakami Cathedral in Nagasaki, after the bomb went off. Quite a few Catholics died that day.
Does that mean, by the way, that I hate America and writhe in agony that allied forces didn't invade Japan the old-fashioned way? No.
I do think that it would have been nice if what we call World War II hadn't happened. But the world is not always a nice place. I've discussed that sort of thing before (October 27, 2010, June 7, 2009; Another War-on-Terror Blog (October 16, 2009))
The Urakami Cathedral? We built another one. The bomb didn't wipe out all the Catholics, and that's another topic.
Back to assumptions about religion and region or ethnicity. One might think Judaism was an 'ethnic' thing - but there are folks like Sammy Davis Jr..
There was a time, about nine centuries back, when Europe was the world's 'cathedral central:' Gothic architecture and all that.
When folks in Europe were sorting themselves out into nations, a cross got worked into quite a few national flags.
Then there's the Holy See: in Rome, Italy. Europe again.
Two millennia back, though, Rome wasn't so much part of Europe as it was the political and economic hub of the Roman Empire. It made sense to set up headquarters there. The city's still a reasonably central location for an organization that has branches on every continent.
Except Antarctica, apparently. My guess is that there are Catholics there, too: but so far the permanent research stations are staffed by folks who are 'just visiting.' And I'm not going to get off-topic.
I've heard Christianity called an 'oriental mystery religion.' (March 17, 2009) I didn't argue the point: Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and points east are part of 'the Orient.' (Princeton's WordNet) But the Catholic Church isn't any more "Oriental" than it is "Western."
Maybe it would be more accurate to say that Catholicism is Oriental. And Western. And everything else.
That doesn't mean that Catholics aren't part of the culture we're born in. I've discussed that before. (August 26, 2010, and elsewhere)
For example, I speak English with an accent that's pretty close to the old 'broadcast standard.' That's partly due to having parents who were slightly deaf, and that's yet another topic. I also like lefse, hamburgers, and spaghetti: reflecting the regional and national dietary customs in my homeland. (Lefse? Sort of like a limp tortilla, except made from potato flour.)
None of which makes me less - or more - of a Catholic than someone whose cradle tongue is Japanese, who would just as soon not eat spaghetti, and who loves playing pachinko.
radio ranters, a half century ago, realized that their (colorful?) depictions of the Catholic Church would indirectly lead one of their listeners to become a Catholic.
I'm also fairly sure that professors who explained multiculturalism during my college years did not suspect that at least one student embraced the idea - so thoroughly that he would eventually join the Catholic Church. I've written about that before. (July 14, 2010
It's one thing to teach that the cultural preferences of 'those people over there' are no better than those of an even more distant group. When someone turns around and suggests that your own cultural preferences may not be the hub around which the world turns - that's still another topic.
- "Shop Class, Home Ec, and Being Catholic"
(December 14, 2010)
- "Unity, Diversity, and Being Catholic"
(August 26, 2010)
- "Catholics aren't Klingons"
(April 27, 2010)
- "The Catholic Church: Universal. Really "
(April 19, 2010)
- "Faith and Reason, Religion and Science"
(March 20, 2009)
- "Murderous Muslims, Catholic Extermination Camps, and Common Sense"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (February 8, 2009)
- "What is Islam? Even Muslims Don't Seem to Agree"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (February 6, 2009)
- "America, Racism, and What Didn't Happen at Virginia Tech"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (January 22, 2009)
- "All Those 'Poor, Uneducated, Minorities Being Drafted in America!' "
Another War-on-Terror Blog (January 4, 2009)
- A reality check for assumptions about America's military and
- The draft
- A reality check for assumptions about America's military and
- "Arabs, Jews, Israel, Islam, and More: 11,000 Years of History In 800 Words"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (October 8, 2007)