My Cultural Context

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M. Bryan Strain

Nathan Straight, PhD

English 3520

1 September 2012

My Cultural Context

            When I hear the word culture, I immediately start thinking of labels that effectively group people in to nice and neat categories. I also recall how angry people often get when they are placed within those groups by others. I find it’s an endeavor to label myself and name the culture that is Bryan Strain. The more I think, the more I realize that people don’t belong to a culture. People are instead influenced by stereotypical behaviors of culture.

I have been taught by my parents to value the lives of my progenitors.  We’ve spent large amounts of money and time researching and publishing journals and genealogy of our forefathers and foremothers.  I grew up with faith building stories of pioneer ancestors giving up all they had to risk ocean crossing and a perilous march across the American plains to reach their own holy land.

The homeland of my mother’s family was Norway.  They were hard working farmers who were staunch in their religious beliefs and there was no tolerance for believing one way and living another.  They were artists rich in tradition, especially in poetry.  We have preserved their words for over a century.

The homeland of my father’s family was Scotland.  My father served a church mission there, when he was 19 years old. Because my father was adopted he took the surname of Strain from his step father, but he was born a McKellar and we feel the McKellar blood flowing in our veins.  While in Scotland my dad learned about the early battles for freedom from both French and English rule.  He saw the language of heroes in Scotland that influenced the writings of our own Bill of Rights, and the American Constitution. He learned the McKellar clansmen were Mac Killers, proud warriors who would both kill and die for their freedom.

These cultural influences are certainly a part of my family today. I am the oldest of six children. Three of us followed our religious pioneer heritage and left home to teach our faith abroad. The other three followed our warrior heritage and left home to join the cause of freedom in the military. We believe that war is almost always a precursor to religious freedom and it is ultimately worth the cost.

When I think of the cultural influence I want to pass on to my posterity, it includes another more modern component of science. Being the oldest child, grandchild, and great grandchild on both sides of my family, I was the first born into an explosion of new scientific truths and applications. I am a self-described geek with a love of astrophysics, archaeology, quantum physics, biology, and everything else you think a geek might love. I was happy to pass the geek test at innergeek.com as an uber geek. While many would say a religious scientist is an oxymoron, I believe truth can be found everywhere and anywhere. I think of myself as a truth seeker. I want this to be a big part of the cultural influence I pass on to my children.

In trying to label the many varied cultures that I identify with, I had to make up a new word. I am Ameriscandinavianscottishchristianscientificpeacelovingwarriortruthseeker. I wouldn’t look it up in the dictionary anytime soon, but you will likely see these influences and others in my writing.

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