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Hallo again to all.

Last week at a nearby market town we saw a merchant setting up a Christmas merchandising display that included a snowman, a reindeer, and an angel. Simultaneously, a nearby merchant was putting the finishing touches on his Dias de Los Muertos (Days of the Dead) decorations, in preparation for that festival beginning November 1. At the time, we expressed dismay that the commercialization of Christmas seems to begin earlier each year and was now even before All Saints Day. But we were intrigued at the influence that the Dias de Los Muertos festival, Mexican in origin, was having on the quite un-Mexican residents of that town. It felt at first that nothing was as it was 'supposed' to be.

After a few minutes of thought, we recalled that several times in past years, we've written about the feeling of Advent coming upon us before we were ready, wishing that we had taken the time to prepare for Advent in the way that Advent helped us prepare for Christmas. Quickly consulting a calendar, we noted that Advent begins in four weeks, so if there were to be a time to prepare for Advent, it would begin, well, now.

Still later we were dining with some friends at a restaurant that described its fare as 'fusion', which is to say a blend of two different cultures. This particular restaurant fused Vietnamese and Italian foods, but we've seen many different combinations. In that context, we completely lost the ability to have raised eyebrows over the juxtaposition of Frosty the Snowman decor with Dias de Los Muertos tableaux. We live in a multicultural world, and those cultures mix, blend, and evolve.

We've often taken the position that modern communication is a root cause of culture conflict, because people are now more aware of events half a planet away that are alien to their own culture. But this juxtaposition can't be blamed on communication. It came from migration. Communities of immigrants from a dozen countries live close to one another, walk the same streets, ride the same buses, and shop in the same markets. Yes, there are sometimes tensions and disagreements and arguments amongst members of those different cultures. But in time, immigrants from Central America internalise the reality that they are part of the same one holy, catholic, and apostolic church as immigrants from England or Nigeria, even if their cultures are otherwise quite different. Most remember the exhortation to love your neighbour as yourself, and, through the combined miracles of aeroplanes, passports, visas, and global commerce, all are neighbours now.

This past week in Egypt, the Third Anglican Global South to South Encounter has been meeting near the Red Sea. Various press releases and public statements issued before that meeting noted that a major topic was the possibility of schism over issues of sexuality. While few press reports have emerged, Reuters reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury, invited to speak at that meeting, urged everyone to 'keep talking'.

Talking works. But we talk to our neighbours much more often than to strangers ten time zones away. Whilst Jesus was quite clear in his exhortation to 'love your neighbour as yourself', his explanation of who might be our neighbour was to our mind less clear.

In the fullness of time, it might seem that more migration and immigration would help this problem. Until then, we plan to follow +Cantuar's advice and keep talking — whilst we remember the dead and prepare for Advent.

See you next week.

All of us here at Anglicans Online

Last updated: 30 October 2005

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