False European Culture?

Discussion in 'History & Past Politicians' started by upside-down cake, Jun 15, 2015.

  1. upside-down cake

    upside-down cake Well-Known Member

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    Christianity is one of the wonders I consider because it's a really big part of Europe's history and culture, but it's basically a Middle-Eastern religion based off a Middle-Eastern prophet. Yet many European's swear by this God. The President of the United States is sworn into office on the Bible. If you asked them, they would say it's a large part of their history and culture, but this isn't true.

    Before Rome, the peoples of North-Western Europe were Pagans. They had their own distinct and myriad cultures. They had their own Gods. Rome swept through and changed all that. After Rome, these European countries began to gravitate more towards their Mediterranean conquerors (who were dominantly Romans or Muslims). Brtiain and London are Roman names. Ironically, the most popular names used in Europe can be traced to the Bible.

    And I found it a little sad because the people that came before were like the Native Americans of Europe who had their real culture erased for the most part, and replaced with the policial-theistic amalgam of Meditteranean superpowers. In essense, modern European culture is the bastard offspring of Roman imperialism, and American culture, Australian culture, and such are the offsprings of that European culture.

    I guess you can't really call it a false culture, but how many Europeans realize that their culture is based more on the culture of foreign conquerors than any personal heritage or lineage?

    (of course, this is just my outlook and I could be wrong so I'm not suggesting this is indisputable fact)
     
  2. AR4137

    AR4137 New Member

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    You seem well-intentioned, but a bit misinformed, so I'll try my best to explain a few things about culture first:

    There is no such thing as a false culture. Here's why:

    By definition, culture is a set of learned behaviors that humans, as a society, adopt. Because it is learned, this means that it transverses ethnic or racial boundaries. So you could be Chinese by birth, for example, but raised in America. American culture would be, in part, your culture. Chinese culture may be as well, because you can also be part of more than one culture. So, to say that it "isn't true" that a person identifies with a culture that had its original roots among a different ethnic, racial, or social group is simply false. Another example: My ancestors were German, Irish, Scandinavian, and Cherokee. However, I was born and raised in the southern U.S. and it is the culture I identify with. I could not go to Germany, Ireland, etc. and expect to immediately fit into the culture, even if my family's bloodlines came from these areas. Sure, my family kept some traditional Irish and German customs alive, but I was raised in a pretty average southern-American way.

    Culture, by its very nature, is always blending and changing. 1960s culture differs from today's. Southern US culture differs from Northeastern US culture. In the case of Europe, I should also add that there is no collective European culture (or Western culture, or Middle Eastern culture, or whatever- though geographically close cultures often tend to share characteristics). A lot of people complain about the use of the term "African culture" as well. This is because within these regions, there are hundreds of different cultures and subcultures. Lumping them together in such a way is ethnocentric, although most people don't intend to be.

    Cultures continually adopt from other cultures, and develop constantly over the years. Even Christianity has its roots elsewhere- think of all the prior groups and cultures that led up to the birth of Christianity: the Babylonians, the Sumerians, the Jews, the Phoenecians, the Egyptians...these are some of the more famous ones that most people are familiar with. Certain elements of these cultures are reflected in religion (which is only a single aspect of a culture, anyway). And before them, cultures probably existed that conquered, combined, and blended with these to create new societies, and thus, new cultures.

    Technically speaking, we could go all the way back to thousands of years ago to discern where this "Middle Eastern culture" came from. But it follows much of the same patterns of borrowing, changing, disappearing and reappearing as any culture anywhere has done. Civilizations have grown there, were conquered, reformed, and were conquered again. It's the same for any other culture. Every culture, including all of those in the Middle East, is the "bastard offspring" of another culture.

    Even Christianity and modern Middle Eastern culture (which I'll continue to use, for lack of a more concise term) have drastically changed (and continue to do so). The Christianity practiced in modern day Israel, for example, is dramatically different from what was practiced in the same area even a hundred years ago, never mind ~2000.

    A note on Paganism, since you mentioned it and it happens to be my area of expertise:
    Paganism is essentially a blanket term for any nature based religion, though in ancient times (and still today, in some areas) it was used to describe non-Christian religion. It's worth noting, also, that these pagan cultures often borrowed from each other. The most famous example is Roman paganism, which pulled from Greek religion, Christianity, Persian mythology, and several others. In Northern Europe, different cults and religions centered around the same or similar gods varied tremendously. The Norse, Saxons, Angles, Jutes, Goths, etc. all blended religious and cultural elements as they pleased. Many have drawn links between the Norse and Celtic gods and ancient Indo-European heroes or deities, or the Greek gods, or Christianity.

    Arguably, many of these traditional elements never died (religious or otherwise, such as in language, behaviors, food, art, etc.). Even with the introduction of Christianity, these things remained intact. Even the pagan elements in some areas, such as the British Isles, Scandinavia, and parts of Germany. For some of these elements, they were already so much a part of the way of life, that not even the eradication of the religion itself could erase them. You mentioned European place names and personal names- true, many Biblical or Latin names are present, but plenty of others as well. In Scandinavia, for example, place names have been linked to Thor, Odin, Frey, etc. Personal names often draw from the same linguistic origins in these areas as well. I speak German and some Icelandic, so I hear them all the time (Personally, I get a little jealous that some people are named for gods and goddesses- my name isn't half as interesting).

    Some might argue that some pagan religions never truly died out, and many are still practiced today. In my personal opinion, I believe that these are mostly revivalist movements that are reformed to fit modern lifestyles and standards of morality, since there is so much we don't know about historical pagan religions (or the rest of the cultures, for that matter). However, there are plenty of debates on the matter, and its an entirely separate topic altogether...

    You seem to imply that there is "purity", in some sense, to certain cultures. Given all that I've already explained, it stands to reason that in order to discover a "pure" culture, you'd have to go thousands and thousands of years back into pre-history to Neanderthals and anatomically modern H. sapiens. As mentioned before, culture is learned behavior that is taught and passed on to others in a species- therefore, tool making, clothing, cave art drawings, burial rites, etc. are all evidence of culture among ancient humans. The middle eastern cultures and Christianity didn't develop until thousands of years later. Such evidence has been found in Western Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas.

    Paleoanthropology is not a topic I'm as well versed in. I've never done independent research on subjects falling under that category of anthropology, so I can't describe a lot of specifics. However, the point is that we don't know how these cultures began to develop, or why, or even precisely when. We don't know how they interacted, or if they did. Many cultures have developed independently, and then blended. Many others became isolated and developed on their own until modern times. The point is that it varies immensely, and at the core of everything, there is no single pure or true culture that a person can (or should) identify with.

    I study anthropology and most of my research has been on religion and magic. I do not claim to be an expert specifically in Biblical or Middle Eastern anthropology/archaeology topics, mainly because a) my interest in magic/religion is relatively recent and I have spent more time focusing on conceptual analyses rather than cross-cultural applications and b) even so, my interest is in ancient Scandinavian studies. Even so, I hope this clears up some of your questions. I apologize if this got lengthy, or if it seems scattered- I tend to type and talk in a stream of consciousness, and I still have a lot to say on the topic.
     
  3. upside-down cake

    upside-down cake Well-Known Member

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    The point wasn't to imply a pure culture from which they came, but to state that Europeans identify themselves so deeply with things like Christianity- but don't seem to realize that this is just an imported idea from another land largely forced on them by their conquerors. I understand neither culture...nor people...are pure in any sense. But it is the perception that they are that I am addressing.

    Paganism, if practiced, is largely fringe in modern society. I didn't say the old culture was totally gone or wiped out, but that the majority of Europeans now identify themselves with cultural icons not of their own making.

    I do not mind lengthy responses- I make them myself. My question might have been worded poorly and I made a comment toward the end of my post saying that "false culture" is not an accurate term for what I was trying to get at. The question I was trying to ask was probably more along the lines of why Europeans act so strongly based on cultural ideas that are not really of their own. Most of their ideas about themselves and others in the world, and they way they have treated themselves and others based in the world, stem from these adopted cultural ideas. Culture is like fashion in that it can change through time, but instead of recognizing these ideas as foreign to oneself, people so ingrain culture into them that it becomes a part of their identity and I guess this post was my roundabout way of trying to say "your acting on ideals that are not really you" Their just clothes you let decide who you are, or perhaps they are the excuse for acting out in the typical fashion. There's so much wiggle room with these things it almost serves no point.

    Sorry for the confusion, but I really would like to hear more of your ideas on the issue. For instance, since you are an anthropolgist, you can see how people identify themselves according to the traditions they grew up in. I'd like to ask are you a Christian or do you participate in some of the cultural things dating from after the Roman conquest and if so, is it more just a social thing for you or do you really believe in the cultural lore. Does seeing the shifting ideologies and loyalties to certain people and ideas overtime ever disengage you from the conflict? Kind of like seeing Republicans and Democrats whine at each other when both have been flawed, far from perfect, corrupt, and basically undeserving of patronage.
     
  4. perdidochas

    perdidochas Well-Known Member

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    Christianity succeeded in Europe because it adopted a lot of the previous pagan ideas. Most of the current Christian holidays are an amalgamation of northern pagan and Jewish customs.
     
  5. phil white

    phil white Member Past Donor

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    I'm told that Dec 25 was chosen as Christ birth date because there was a Jewish custom/tradition that a prophet died on the same day as his conception. So as Jesus was crucified in the spring they just counted back 90 days and came up with Dec 25.
    The recent idea (probably put out by Cultural Marxist) that scheming bishops just picked Dec 25 to be close to the pagan winter solstice celebration is wrong.
    Currently Christian (European culture) has been under attack by Cultural Marxist for 90 years.
    In America CM was established by the Frankfurt School. In Britain I understand it was the Tavistock Institute.:salute:

    I meant to quote post #4. Sorry
     
  6. upside-down cake

    upside-down cake Well-Known Member

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    True, it wasn't a smooth transiition from the older cultures to Christianity, but most of the early, I guess I would call transitionary forms of Christianity that were compromises for the sake of convergence melted away as time went by and began a slow convergence to a uniform center- or atleast making the dominant religions of the time.

    At the moment, there is plenty of pagan things in the Bible, but they are Egyptian, Babylonian, Hebrew, and the like- not Gaulic, Druidic, and such. (i could be wrong though. How many examples do you know of in the bible with northwestern paganism?)
     
  7. AR4137

    AR4137 New Member

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    Ok, let's see if I can answer this a bit better:

    However, those cultural ideas are their own now. They may have originated somewhere else ~2000, but you have generations upon generations that have grown up with that religion. A European who practices some form of Christianity still falls more or less within the (imaginary) boundaries of their own culture.

    "Most of their ideas about themselves and others in the world, and they way they have treated themselves and others based in the world, stem from these adopted cultural ideas. Culture is like fashion in that it can change through time, but instead of recognizing these ideas as foreign to oneself, people so ingrain culture into them that it becomes a part of their identity and I guess this post was my roundabout way of trying to say "your acting on ideals that are not really you" Their just clothes you let decide who you are, or perhaps they are the excuse for acting out in the typical fashion. There's so much wiggle room with these things it almost serves no point"

    I think I might not have made clear the point I was trying to get at. I said before that culture is dynamic, adaptable, and ever-changing. People live short lives compared to the main cultures they live in. A person born into a culture, one that has already been largely influenced by outside forces, will identify most with whatever they are raised in (most likely, at any rate). I think I understand what you mean by calling some ideas "foreign", but to anyone in Europe born in the midst of a Christian culture, it is not.

    To be fair, would you be able to say the same about someone was born and raised in America and identifies with American culture, but their parents or grandparents were born in another country? Conceptually, its a similar situation. Perhaps they were never raised with any attachments to their family's original culture. It wouldn't make American culture any less theirs, or whatever foreign culture their ancestors came from any more theirs.

    As for what you mean by a "typical fashion", well, there really isn't any such thing. Not even in Europe. Like I mentioned before, there were a lot of different Germanic, Slavic, and Celtic groups with their own distinct cultures. Many are forever lost to us today, but many survived. But even these borrowed from, conquered, blended, and warped one another.

    You mentioned that there's a perception that a culture is "pure." Honestly, it's kind of a weird thing for me to think about now, probably because I'm so used to thinking that it's not. I think more people are at least subconsciously aware (especially in America) that culture is influenced by a number of outside forces. The best way to deal with that is to help people understand that purity isn't really a thing in terms of culture. I wouldn't consider it a bad thing that cultures have imported ideas. It's a very natural thing. But to people who were born well after these ideas were imported, it is basically as much their own culture as anyone else's.

    And yes, Paganism is very much a minority practice. It's gained popularity, yes, but it's not something you hear about often. Actually, it's something I'm rather interested in, though I've never done any formal research into it. A lot of people share a similar sentiment, not only in Europe, but in a number of places around the world- they want to go "back to their roots" or the "old ways". In Europe, this translates to some variety of Paganism (Hellenic, Celtic, or Norse seem most popular). In others, it's a return to traditional faiths (which may or may not be Pagan in nature).

    I bring this up because I used to have the same ideas. You asked about my religious beliefs- I was raised in a Christian family, but we were never very religious (we were more Christian in name than anything else). I also grew up learning about languages and reading mythology, particularly Germanic. Also, I was always kind of an eccentric kid- by the time I was a young teenager, I learned a lot about smaller communities of Wiccans, pagans, etc. Without a strong connection to conventional religion, I dabbled in some of these things and began to identify as pagan, though I still felt some ties to Lutheranism. All of this is because I was interested in such things from a young age. No one taught it to me, and much of what I liked to learn about had nothing to do with my own ancestry. I liked the idea of multiple Gods, magic, and heroic tales that took place in far-off lands. It might have been that I just had too much of an imagination, but the more I read about these things, the more they influenced my interests and ways of looking at the world.
    So in a nutshell, I was just kind of a weird kid. Even today, I still haven't met a lot of people that had that same kind of interest when they were that age.
    By college, I studied culture and religion more formally, and it influenced my way of examining my own cultural and religious background. One of the cool things about religion (although people will debate this until they're blue in the face) is that you can have more than one- even if they contradict one another, people have a subconscious tendency to believe whatever they want, regardless of whatever rules are in place. So, as another long answer to a simple question, I'm a little bit of both. I recognize my own individual background, but I'm most comfortable blending in bits and pieces of what I've studied throughout my life.

    I think this is just part of my personality, but I've always been somewhat disengaged from conflict- I usually look at things pretty objectively. It's funny you mention political parties, because I've never aligned with those (or any third parties) either. It's hard to objectively examine one's own head, so I don't know if that's just another quirk of mine. In the case of religion and ideology, I tend to fall into the belief that major religions worship the same supernatural force, but we just have different ways of going about it, or different names. Whether we call it God, Allah, Odin, Zeus, Fate, or one of our ancestors, it's all the same thing. Or maybe they're all different and coexist. Who knows?
    A lot of cultural lore I view as more metaphorical in nature, though it depends. They are filled with symbols and "truths", but not the kind of concrete, scientific truths that we think of today. So a lot of messages and images I get from the Bible and mythology, but I do not believe that some of these events are to be taken literally.
    Again, that's my personal belief.

    A lot of what you're saying isn't an unpopular opinion, at least not when you get to the core of it. And I'd hesitate to call anything "right" or "wrong"- there's no fault in trying to understand one's own cultural heritage, even if you have to look back several thousand years. But then there's the question of at what point in history do we stop digging for our own roots? Theoretically, we could go all the way back to the Stone Age to try and answer that.

    Hope that clears up some things. Sorry if I sound like a broken record- I've never had much skill for explaining things well.
     
  8. mihapiha

    mihapiha Active Member

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    If you look at it that way, you grossly oversimplify the complexity of any culture.

    Christianity didn't spread into most European areas after the fall of the Roman Empire (- or to be more exact, after the fall of the East Roman Empire). It's cultural impact was big undeniably, but I would propose there is no such thing as a European culture. There are usually in any given region about five or six major influences, and I'm not sure if Christianity is one of them. It is after all "only" a religion and the days of worship didn't change from pagan days. Often they would even "recycle" the buildings/places of worship according to the new religion.

    The pagan influences run deep. Think of Christmas on December 25th. That date signifies the lowest point of the sun (in the Northern hemisphere). The sun then remains for 3 days and rises again starting with the 28th. The naming of the months July and August came off "Julius" and "Augustus"; pagan emperors of Rome. I don't think I should go into other examples because the response will just get unnecessarily long.

    The names we use of cities, mountains, rivers, etc. typically date back to the people who settled there first and named them in their language. In Austria you can see the heritage quite obviously in names. If names end with "itz" it refers to a slavic heritage, and you can date back the founding of a town to roughly when the Slavs would settle in this area. Roman names stood too. "Poetovio" in Roman times just went to "Pettau" after a predominantly German rulers until the end of WW1 and then moved to Slovene into "Ptuj".

    Same thing is true for the US, hence you see often times the names already used somewhere else in the US. Sometimes the even ad "New" to the names, but often you can find a lot of Londons and Berlins throughout the US. People are far less creative than it seems. Very popular is also the translation of the name if it happens to have a meaning. For centuries there was a town settled primarily by Italiens in todays Croatia called "Fiume". Today "Rijeka" which basically only means "river" in English.

    Most of the names therefore don't date back to the Bible but rather to the first settlers.

    In my opinion there is not really such thing as a European culture. It's basically a combination of Celtic, Gaelic, Roman, Greek, Slavic, Germanic, Arabic, and a few others, however in different relations to one and another...
     
  9. lizarddust

    lizarddust Well-Known Member

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    The term Pagan comes from the Roman or Latin paganus meaning rural dweller. The term actually predates Christianity. During Roman times, Rome had many religions. City people for example had different religions to say rural people. Mithras was the soldier's religion. You can't call pre-Christian Romans Pagans especially those living in cities.

    Today, as you mentioned, Paganism can be the umbrella term for tribal or folk religions.
     
  10. lizarddust

    lizarddust Well-Known Member

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    22nd of December is the winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. It was celebrated by nearly every culture in Europe. From around 800 AD (I think) the Christ Mass was celebrated on the 25th December to honour the birth of Christ and not his birthday. His birthday hasn't been recorded. Depending what brand of Christianity you worshipped and what calendar format you followed, the Christ Mass was celebrated on a different date. That's why today Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate 'their' Christmas in early January.
     

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