However there is a deeper side to American culture than Hollywood and Disney World.
Gregory Jensen May 20, Recently, two Christian social critics—one Roman Catholic, the other Eastern Orthodox—tackled some of the problems that emerge from individualism in American culture. While both men have done a good job in explicating the negative consequences of individualism for the life of the Church—both East and West—and the larger society, they left unexamined the opportunity for human flourishing and growth in Christian holiness, implicit in American individualism.
During my doctoral studies in the s, Robert Bellah and his colleagues helped me see the positive side of American individualism. However I do think that both men paint with an overly broad brush and so miss the convergence between American individualism and Christian anthropology in both its Catholic and Orthodox forms.
And we have done so, as both Storck and his Beatitude point out, because we have forsaken the natural and Eucharistic communion koinonia between the person and the community.
But Christian apologists and social critics would do well not simply to point out the limitations but also the strengths of individualism and so the dangers as well as the opportunities it affords the Church—and again, both East and West.
Thomas Storck and Metropolitan Jonah in their personal lives are good examples of the opportunity that American individualism affords the Gospel.
Both men are critics of individualism in light of a shared Christian tradition that emphasizes the foundationally communal nature of the human person. The irony, however, should not be lost on us that both men advocate for a tradition that they chose and which they were able to choose precisely because of the very individualism they criticize.
Looking at the persecution of the faithful, Tertullian said that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.
But now, when Christians at least in North America are not violently persecuted we find that the Church—again, East and West—often appears weak, frail; do we really think that political and economic freedom are corrosive—that the Church can thrive in all situations except liberty?
Is American culture really more destructive to the Church that the cruelties of the Roman, Ottoman, or Soviet empires? Or is it rather that we have failed to discern properly the evangelical and pastoral opportunity afforded by modernity?
Today Christians find ourselves in a highly competitive marketplace of ideas more akin to what the Apostle Paul encountered on Mars Hill Acts Our current situation requires from us, even as St. Hippolytus, a saint common to both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, offers us some insight as to what this might mean.
It is, however, what he says next that is important for those of us would preach the Gospel to individualistic Americans living in the free marketplace of ideas. Fidelity to the example of Christ means forsaking force and appealing instead to human liberty.
Yes, we must criticize when human freedom is misused and becomes the enemy of liberty—that is to say, sin. We must also, however, be ever vigilant for the ways in which our culture fosters those authentic expresses of human freedom that comprise the symphonia between rights and responsibility and the koinonia of person and society.
Doing this requires not only humility but also recapturing something of the human foundation of the Gospel in light of contemporary experience.
What modernity highlights, or so it seems to me, is that God appeals to our freedom, to our love of liberty and our desire to be creatively self-expressive. Get our book, free! Join as a member now and get a free copy of The Essential Ethika Politika.
Plus, help make EP accessible for thousands of readers every day. And receive inbox updates, get access to members-only content, and interact with other EP readers and authors!* Yet another possible reply would be that American individualism is found not in the views of its people but in its governing institutions.
Whatever Americans believe, their system, more than others, establishes freedoms of speech, privacy, enterprise, and the like. Individualist cultures are frequently compared and contrasted with the more collectivist cultures.
Where collectivism stresses the importance of the group and social cooperation, individualism prizes uniqueness, independence, and self-sufficiency. Over some of the squares, a piece of cardboard blocked the view of the director, so the subject could clearly tell what objects the director could not see.
In some cases there were two similar objects, one blocked from the director’s view and one visible to both people playing the game.
Competitiveness and Individualism-Collectivism in Bali and the U.S.
* Yet another possible reply would be that American individualism is found not in the views of its people but in its governing institutions. Whatever Americans believe, their system, more than others, establishes freedoms of speech, privacy, enterprise, and the like. The main difference is that Western cultures, such as Anglo-American ones, are individualistic, while cultures like in many Asian countries are collectivistic. In a collectivist culture, group harmony matters most: teamwork is the default, saying "no" is frowned upon, trust and shared moral values. As the book American Nations (Woodard) makes clearer, the US is not one country, but 11 separate nations, hailing originally from different places. They have interacted extensively, but .
John M. Houston Rollins College, cultural individualism-collectivism from personal individualism- individualism is very high in the United States while collectivism is very high in Indonesia.
However, a study of How Collectivist Cultures Differ From Individualist Cultures Collectivist cultures are usually contrasted with individualistic cultures.
Where collectivism stresses the importance of the community, individualism is focused on the rights and concerns of each person. As the book American Nations (Woodard) makes clearer, the US is not one country, but 11 separate nations, hailing originally from different places.
They have interacted extensively, but .