30 November 2011

Follow Up Post on Sub Cultures

I suppose I should fully explain yesterday's post on "subcultures." Within the great American culture are numerous, at least 1.56 million subcultures. I am apart of many: the liberal Protestant subculture, which can be even sub divided into the liberal-evangelical social gospel variety. Then there is the whole Baptist - a rather large and sometime ubiquitous subculture. Then there are the following: the Appalachian subculture, the foodie subculture, the loves baseball but never really pays attention to September subculture, the wishes NFL offenses were not so predictable subculture, the prefers playing on Sunday afternoons rather than watching football subculture, the typewriter subculture, the cannot stop reading Roald Dahl books subculture, and so on and so on.

I have participated in each of these subcultures (still do actually) but never gave much thought about how miniscule they are in relation to the larger American culture. Then one winter night I attended my first beekeeping class in Rhode Island. There I was confronted with a whole new subculture that I never knew existed and that I could never have imagined. Beekeepers who would have thunk it.

So what was so different about the beekeepers in RI? For the record the following explanation is totally conjecture and speculation on my part, I have no physical proof to substantiate this offering. I found a group of people who were lonely & bored who found in beekeeping a supportive group of people and a hobby to devote countless hours and dollars. Spread out through southern New England you would never notice this quiet and non-threatening subculture but grouped together in a class one could not mistake them. I kid you not - Black and Gold minivans, esoteric and over the top corny beekeeping bumper stickers, black and gold flannel shirts, beekeeping t-shirts that had to be printed in small batches of no more than 15, dreams of sweet pepper bush blooming in the Spring.

My next introduction into a subculture took place a couple of years ago when I took the kids on a steam train tour. The kids loved the train, they climbed all over the outside, they pulled the chain to let the whistle blow, the ran from car to car, and rang the bell. I, however, was more interested in the conversations going on by members of the Steam Train Association. I heard one man telling onlookers about a bridge over the Mississippi with such detail and passion that I can only surmise that this man waits with great expectation every year for this one day when he has the opportunity to share his knowledge and love.

Thomas Merton, in reflecting about his vocation of prayer as a monk, once remarked that the perhaps the prayers of the monks at Gethesemani were the only act keeping the world from spinning off into madness. Now I do not think the existence of subcultures have the same impact but I do think the pleasure, sense of worth, education and relationships they build do keep the madness, somewhat, at bay. Can I get an Amen from the other 6 adult learners of the violin from RI and MA?

1 comment:

hawk said...

Good post on subcultures. It's amazing what kinds of things people enjoy. My son usually drags me into some subculture I didn't know existed. Comic books, Lego builds, local milk producers, summer camp --I had no idea. My subcultures have been narrow and I know they skew my view of the world. The whole southern Episcopal subculture is one such narrow place. The Boy Scout subculture is another. I own a Honda Element again, and there is a whole group dedicated to Element enthusiasm. I'll read anything written by Jim Harrison. My guess there is a fanboy club somewhere. Oh, and Robert Earl Keen. I have an REK bumper sticker on my car and I'll meet a fellow follower of Robert Earl about once a month because they'll notice my sticker. "The road goes on forever..."