“Tradition Vs. Modernity: ‘In All Things Charity’”
What is tradition? What is modernity? Are tradition and modernity contradictory or mutually exclusive? Or can they co-exist in our thinking and practice? Is tradition obsolete or outdated? Is modernity our only way forward?
A clash between tradition and modernity is real. We know it because we encounter it every day. Whether it is in relation to technology, culture or morality, we observe and experience the clash frequently.
With the beginning of the era of “contemporary worship and music” in the 1970s, many churches experienced divisions and conflicts over tradition vs. modernity. Today, many churches have separate “traditional” and “contemporary” worship services. It does not, however, mean that the debate is settled.
As an ethnic church that is proud of our heritage, every year we engage in a series of cultural or traditional related activities such as Hina-Matsuri, Asian Food Bazaar, mochi-making, etc. Why do we do what we do? What’s the purpose of doing all these? Do we do or see traditional event as an end in itself? Or do we do it as a means to an end?
Like most churches, we do have a problem between “traditional worldview” vs. “modern worldview”? How does a clash between the two effects the functioning of our church? When the older folks want to do things the old way and the younger folks want to do things the new way, what do we do? How do we work things out, making everyone feel blessed and informed? How do we celebrate our heritage without being tied down by tradition? How do we allow our heritage to inform our vision, but not let our past, our traditions, determine our vision for the future?
Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church