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BY STUART HANOLD, Contributing Writer

First off let me thank this publication for giving me the chance to write this, and perhaps additional articles on this intriguing dynamic. Let me preface this article by saying I will intentionally do my best to provoke, stimulate and initiate meaningful dialogues and respectful interactions on these two relatively opposite (at least on the surface) concepts as they are in the 21st century.

I believe that faith and culture can coexist and in fact thrive together if any involved parties, who may champion either faith or culture, show unwavering respect and consideration for each other as part of the human race. Something we desperately need at this point in time in our nation and around the globe.

Although much of my married life happened here in the Moreno Valley, I grew up in a stereo-typical middle-class home in Albuquerque New Mexico dreaming of being a cowboy (fat chance), a professional athlete (got relatively close) or doing something with animals (still a passion). What were your dreams growing up? My dad was a doctor and my mom a nurse. They both served in the military during WWII. They adopted a selfish, self-absorbed son, me. And a “unique”, loner of a daughter. My grandfather was a Ukrainian journalist in NY City and one of my 5 degrees is in communication so I am somewhat qualified to write stuff!!

My collective life experiences have engaged in both faith and culture in organic, grass-roots, under the radar ways, as well as in ways of being in the public eye, ruffling some feathers through insensitive immaturity, and then being a responsible contributor to society on both of these fronts. Enough prattling let’s dive in together, shall we???

The definition of FAITH- Faith, derived from Latin fides and Old French feid, is confidence or trust in a person, thing, or concept. In the context of religion, one can define faith as "belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion".

The definition of CULTURE - all the ways of life including arts, beliefs and institutions of a population that are passed down from generation to generation.

Culture has been called "the way of life for an entire society." As such, it includes codes of manners, dress, language, religion, rituals, art.

Religion was never on my radar growing up. We never went to church or talked about spiritual things. But my parents did instill in us a good work ethic, and to never judge anyone based on race, religion, culture, social status or any other stereo-type we may think we find wrong with people. These were passed down from generation to generation in my family much like the definition of culture seen above.

Here's a point that will bring out some strong opinions.

There is some merit to the idea of, “Faith with free you, culture will constrict and oppress you.” Many probably believe that the opposite is true. “Faith will constrict and oppress you while culture will free you.” Which do you believe is more accurate? Are both statements both true and false simultaneously? I think it’s quite possible.

How about this statement on Faith; “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

Or this one about culture; “We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race” by Kofi Annan.

I have been deeply inspired and as well as deeply disappointed and embarrassed by both people of faith and people who beat the drum for cultural upheaval and change. In this series I will give you examples of both.

Someone very close to me has occasionally made the comment, “you give to many people the benefit of the doubt and extend grace to those who don’t deserve it.” I seem to more frequently than not exhibit both the blessing and the curse of seeing both sides of an issue almost to a fault. But hopefully it will be an unmitigated benefit in these articles.

Now that we have gotten the preliminary salvo of faith VS culture out of the way I hope and, yes pray, you will stay tuned and fasten your seatbelts. We are in for quite a ride. We will laugh together, we will cry together, we may raise our dander up together. But in the end, we are IN this together and that comradery will trump (no not Donald) our diverse opinions every time!! n

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