“Enculturation”, My Personal Journey. Do You Know Yours?

I would like to take you on a “heady” journey with me in this writing. I have become quite intrigued of late with the concept of enculturation.  Do you know what that is?

Wikipedia defines enculturation as the “process by which people learn the requirements of their surrounding culture and acquire values and behaviors appropriate or necessary in that culture. As part of this process, the influences that limit, direct, or shape the individual include parents, other adults, and peers.”

May I share my personal journey of enculturation and its expansion elements.  I was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin – “Cheesehead Country”. When I was growing up nearly everybody was Caucasion and Catholic. The “culture” was the Packers. If you wanted to be “somebody” you were either a Packer or a priest. (I didn’t make the team so I became a priest!).

After twelve years of Catholic schooling  I went to the University of Wisconsin – Madison. This began the expansion of my narrow enculturation. People of different races, religions, cultures, life styles, and belief systems bombarded my limited world view. Then when I was twenty one, between my Junior and Senior years, I spent three months traveling through thirteen countries. I travelled and slept in a VW Beetle, except when in Israel, where I slept in cemeteries. Wow, a further enriching of my worldview. I saw many different ways of living based on belief systems and style of their particular enculturation.

After finishing my degree in Economics (what was I thinking?) my roots’ enculturation took me to the seminary to become a Catholic priest. It was here that I studied philosophy and theology.  These studies taught me about Church History, with its changing dogmas, practices, and “spin offs”.  I learned how the Bible was put together over time with differing numbers of books of the Bible among different Christian sects.  (Catholics have fifteen more books than Protestants). The first “Canon” of the Bible was put together in the Fourth century by “inspired” bishops. Fascinating  stuff.  Most people don’t know these things and only know what they are told in this day and time. How unfortunate.

Further travels, research, and clinical experiences with patients/clients have continued to open my eyes to the mighty big world that I live in. As a result many of my previous beliefs and biases have changed from the enculturation of my childhood.

So, Respected Reader, you may be wondering why I have chosen to write about this topic and my personal experience with enculturation. The answer is that I am committed to growing as a person and inviting you and others to look at how you have become the person that you are. Where did you grow up?  Who and what were the factors that developed you beliefs and practices? Are you stuck in your narrow mindedness?  Do you have “hardening of the categories” that keeps you locked in archaic understandings?  Do you stereotype people rather than getting to know the individual?

A book that has helped to open me up to the reality of human consciousness capacity is Power vs. Force by David Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D.  He writes of the “hidden determinants of human behavior”. Your enculturation can either expand your capacity to rise to a higher consciousness level or limit your growth and keep you stunted in ignorance and unhealthy prejudices.

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