What is Culture?
“I take this loose but important word to denote those aspects of shared human life which draw together narrative, praxis and symbol in particular patterns, often forming new stories which reflect parts of the underlying ones (as in many plays, novels, movies, soap operas and so on), often producing artefacts which themselves become symbols of a certain way of life (the fish-knife, the credit card, the iPhone), and often producing works of art and music which live in the spaces between story, praxis and symbol and which, as though from a different dimension, give people both a sense of the overall worldview and, quite often, a sense of its own deep internal problems and difficulties. That, perhaps, is one of the most important features of culture: to bring to expression beliefs and perceptions which are either reinforcements of the prevailing worldview or questions and challenges from within it, in a language which is precisely not that of articulate speech. Even when words are set to music, the music normally makes them ‘say’ and ‘mean’ something much more than they say and mean by themselves, whether these words are ‘There were shepherds abiding in the field’ or ‘Can’t take my eyes off of you’. ‘Culture’ thus nests within the worldview model in another dimension which draws together story, praxis and symbol in particular.”