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The article to which this piece is linked was published in Volume 24 of The Ark, published by the American Association of Interchurch Families.

The Children of Bi-Cultural Interchurch Families

Art Markman, Ph.D. wrote

“Becoming Bi-Cultural Makes You More Creative, The Value of Living in More Than One Culture.” I found his article in Psychology Today.

Dr. Markman observes that “ Innovation provides a key path to business success.” He observes how creativity helped companies like Apple to succeed in a very competitive market. Apple had taken a different approach from its competitors. Dr. Markham observes that “Companies that bring out new and exciting projects capture people’s imaginations and ultimately people are willing to pay a premium for their new products.”

Dr. Markham observes that “ Because of the key role of innovation in generating new business, companies are on the lookout for people who are likely to bring a creative spirit to their work. A paper by Carmit Tadmor, Adam Galinsky, and William Maddux in the September, 2012 issue of theJournal of Personality and Social Psychology explores how living abroad can influence people’s creativity.”

How can living abroad in another culture influence people’s creativity?

Dr. Markham observes that
“ When people live abroad for an extended period of time, there are three possibilities for their relationship to their host culture.

1. One possibility is that they will retain their original cultural identity and keep themselves separate from their host culture.

2. A second possibility is that they will assimilate to the host culture and lose their original cultural identity.

3. A third possibility is that they will become bicultural, and will retain a strong tie both to their original culture and to the host culture.”

I focused on the use of the term “Possibility” that Dr. Markham had examined. I immediately saw a similarity with the three possible options for those who are immersed in another culture with the potential that we observe when a couple, coming from two different Christian traditions, marries. Some simply drop out, some convert to their spouse’s faith and some become interchurch marriages. We have no statistics from which we can determine how many potential interchurch marriages are for whatever reason not becoming interchurch marriages. Converting the spouse may sound like a good option, but I have observed that frequently the spouse who has converted is absent regarding their new church. This, of course, isn’t always the case. The drop outs seem to be gaining ground in our society according to a recent Pew Study on church attendance.

Dr. Markham observes that “The researchers suggest that when people become bicultural, it helps them to see many sides to an issue. This integrative complexity allows them to be more creative. After all, being creative often involves seeing things in more than one way.” 

Dr. Markham observes that Carmit Tadmor, Adam Galinsky, and William Maddux in the September, 2012 issue of theJournal of Personality and Social Psychology explores how living abroad can influence people’s creativity. To do this study, “they tested this prospect in a series of studies using people who had lived abroad.”

“In each study, the researchers measured whether people were separate from their host culture, assimilated to it, or bicultural. They also assessed a variety of personality characteristics to ensure that the findings were based on the degree to which people became bicultural and not because of a basic personality variable that leads people to be more accepting of a new culture.”

“They also measured people’s tendency toward integrative complexity by having them write essays about a dilemma. Essays displaying integrative complexity were ones that acknowledge both sides of the dilemma and talked about the relationship between the opposing sides.”

Dr. Markham observes that “In one simple study, participants were asked to list as many functions as possible for a brick. Previous research suggests that creative people are more likely to find many uses for a brick than those who are not that creative.”

“Participants who were bicultural typically found more uses for a brick than either those who were separate or assimilated to the host culture. Statistical analyses suggested that the best explanation for this difference was that the bicultural participants also displayed more integrative complexity in their essays.”

Dr. Markham notes that “Two other studies explored the workplace. One study found that bicultural individuals were more likely than separated and assimilated individuals to start new companies based on new ideas and to generate new ideas that were successfully implemented in their companies. A second study found that bicultural individuals were also more likely than separated and assimilated individuals to be promoted and to achieve high levels of status in their company. In both cases, the degree of integrative complexity supported by being bicultural was the best statistical explanation for these findings.”

This is a short article based on lengthier reports that examine in greater detail the positive aspects of biculturalism. We think of children who are raised in two church homes, those homes that are truly interchurch homes where the children are exposed in an intimate way to the two churches of their parents as being a form of bi-cultural experience. Dr. Markham observes, “Putting all of this together, the value of living abroad comes from putting in effort to understand the new culture while at the same time retaining an original cultural identity. Truly understanding and identifying with two cultures allows people to see the same issue from multiple perspectives. In real world settings, this ability to consider different sides of a situation allows people to generate new ideas and to innovate. These findings suggest that companies would do well to find employees with experience in more than one culture.” Dr. Markham has applied his findings to corporations seeking innovative solutions.

We are seeking a way forward toward Christian Unity. The task may seem overwhelming at times.

For interchurch families, where the parents both retain their own denominational identity, but who allow their children to become involved in the church of their spouse as well as in their own church, we have observed that the children have a deeper understanding of the nuanced differences in practices found in each church.

In our lived experience, they have been the ones who have been able to clearly articulate and explain those differences in practices and also relate how they are the same.

I have also observed that they have a greater depth of understanding of the potential and possibility for Interchurch Families which they are able to articulate quite clearly to both communities.

Among their peers, they are quickly able to dispel misunderstandings both about their peers’ home church and any misunderstandings or myths about the other church. These bi-cultural interchurch children provide great hope for those who are seeking Christian Unity.

Is this a resource to be found in the wisdom of our own interchurch families’ children that has been largely over- looked for the wisdom they have?

At times, we may even become discouraged as we seek a pathway toward Christian Unity. Sometimes, we perceived roadblocks of sorts that stop us from seeking that pathway forward toward Christian Unity.

“Miracles”

Please take a moment to consider quietly the following quotes:

Willa Cather said, "Where there is great love there are always miracles."

Marianne Williamson said, "Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle." - Marianne Williamson

C.S. Lewis said, "Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see."

Saint Augustine said "Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature."

Ann Voskamp said, ”Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant -- a seed --this plants the giant miracle.”

These quotes indicate to me that miracles, hope, and possibility may exist all around us, not just for the select few, but for all of us, if we are open to them. Love and gratitude seem to be at least some of the key components needed to be able to move us forward toward what Christ wished for all of us as written in are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

It is God’s wish for us to work for Unity. Love is the beacon that must guide us toward that Unity. We also must be able to consider all the possibilities that already exist among us; in a culturally diverse world, there is great potential for being able to find creative solutions that will help us to find the Unity we have been seeking for a very long time. by M.J. Glauber

Dr. Marham’s original article can be found at http:// www.psychologytoday.com/ collections/201208/your- creative-flow/becoming-bi- cultural-makes-you-more- creative

Art Markman, Ph.D., is Annabel Irion Worsham Centennial Professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas at Austin.

He got his Sc.B. in Cognitive Science from Brown and his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Illinois.

He has published over 125 scholarly works on topics in higher-level thinking including the effects of motivation on learning and performance, analogical reasoning, categorization, decision making, and creativity.

Art serves as the director of the program in the Human Dimensions of Organizations at the University of Texas.

He is currently executive editor of the journal Cognitive Science and a member of the editorial board of Cognitive Psychology.

 
from "The Children of Bi-Cultural Interchurch Families" by M.J. Glauber, The ARK volume 24, Edition 2, 2013