Notes toward an Eighth Day Definition of Culture

Feast of St Euphrosynos the Cook

CERTAIN lineaments can be identified that set the parameters for a definition of culture. ‘Culture’ seems to describe a particular way of being human shared by a society or community over time. Among others, it includes elements such as:

1. Language: a shared language with embedded perceptions and nuances unique to it.

2. Religion: a mode of relating to the transcendent or spiritual dimension.

3. History: a group story or history that expresses its origins and defining characteristics – including its relationship to the transcendent.

4. Tradition: rituals and traditions that express the above.

5. Morality: an ethic that defines relations within the society and to those without.  

6. Government: a governing structure or body politic, including various hierarchies.

7. Art: musical, poetic, and literary traditions – including oral traditions. 

8. Cuisine: customs relating to the preparation and consumption of food and beverages.

9. Adornment : traditions and taboos regarding clothing, grooming, hygiene. 

10. Economy: agriculture, industry, means of production, technology; associated rituals and hierarchies.

11. Gender & Maturation: identified roles for men, women and children, childrearing customs and coming of age rituals.

12. Sex & Reproduction: sexual ethics and mating traditions.

13. Warfare: warrior or military traditions.

A ‘culture’ would be a whole encompassing such things – a specific way of being human. 

‘Renewing culture’ in the context of Eighth Day Institute means attempting to awaken contemporary American secular culture to its original rootedness in a historic Christian cultural context – and introducing fresh elements from the historic Christian tradition to address the deviations inherent in contemporary secular culture.

An important aspect of the mission of Eighth Day Institute is to raise and place powerful voices in the public square, in order to stimulate a general public reckoning. Given where we started – how did we get here, what have we lost, what do we wish to claim anew, and what fresh elements do we wish to lay hold of?

This then is a glimpse into the Eighth Day vision for ‘renewing culture’: addressing the various lineaments of contemporary secular culture from the vantage point of historic orthodox Christianity and calling for its resourcement in that tradition.

Fr. Paul O'Callaghan is the Dean of St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Wichita, KS. He is one of the founding members of Eighth Day Institute’s Board of Directors. He is also responsible for starting the Eighth Day Symposium.

Eighth Day Institute seeks to renew culture by promoting the common heritage of the Nicene Christianity of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We are committed to facilitating a dialogue of love and truth as a step in that direction. This means we gladly allow a broad range of perspectives. But it does not mean that we agree with everything presented or published.

We hope and pray you will join the conversation. And we humbly ask you to help us continue promoting the unity of Christians for the sake of our dying culture. Our work depends on your support - 95% of our funding comes from individual donors/members. Please consider joining our growing community of Eighth Day Members today.

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