August 17, 2018

Cricket Matches, Texas and Culture Crossing

Did you know that the largest cricket complex in America is being built just outside of Houston?

Texas lives up to all the stereotypes about it and, yet, it is much more than the trite assumptions made of the state and its people. The nations largest cricket complex is a perfect example. If you were to imagine the type of American who was clueless about a sport called “cricket” and would assume you were talking about a chirping bug ... well, let's be honest, its easy to imagine that person being from Texas.

Nevertheless, there are enough cricket players in Texas to warrant building a massive facility for the sport to continue growing. The “biggest in the country” schtick is quite Texan, of course, but these cricket fields outside of Houston point out something else: Texas is much more than the clich├ęs.

Sociologist Dr. Stephen Klineberg at Rice University is fond of saying that as Houston goes, so goes the nation. This is exactly the kind of thing you’d expect a Texan to say but he may be right. The creative innovations that are generated when a diverse group of people come together is a thing!

Houston is now the fourth largest city in the nation and increasingly diverse (though, not as diverse as some have toted). Lean regulations on development allow the city’s growth and influence to spread across the region. This has contributed to the creation of a place that is primed for innovation. Chef David Chang put it this way in an episode of his show Ugly Delicious, "I hate the weather. I hate the way it looks but the city of Houston is sort of perfectly set for people to take a chance on the new.”

A large cricket field, in and of itself may not seem that innovative. It's not the field itself that is innovative but the possibilities something like this permits. It's the potential hybridity that is exciting; the result of various perspectives, expressions and cultural backgrounds coming together and creating something new. As missiologist Steve Taylor writes, "We need ways to escape binary worlds and to name the fluid patterns of migration and cultural exchange which have always categorised human identity. This is what make notions of hybridity so generative." Imagine what strangeness might happen when Texas sports fandom and the sport of cricket come together!!

I'm not a sports fan but when I consider the leaps cross-cultural processes have brought to music, I get super excited. It brings to mind musical groups like Nortec Collective, A Tribe Called Red, The Kominas or even Bad Brains. All of these artists, while certainly not mainstream bridged a gap for the further creative expression of others by fusing genres that seemed previously to others an implausible mix. Innovation always paves the way for others, for the rest of us.

When hybridity is considered in the realm of religion, we see all too well in the history of the Church the results of our inability to engage in the cross cultural process in generative ways. Religious colonialism. In contrast to such violence, hybridity embodies the process of seeing the gospel taking root in a particular culture, contextualized. George G. Hunter III demonstrates this approach in is book, The Celtic Way of Evangelism. Explaining the hybridity that St. Patrick innovated when working in Ireland and resisted Rome's colonizing methodology, Hunter notes that a visitor from Rome at the time would have noted "a new kind of church, one which broke the Roman imperial mould and was both catholic and barbarian."

Diversity and difference is not to be feared. It is always an opportunity for something new. Progress.

For further reading: The Cross-Cultural Process in Christian History by Andrew F. Walls

Photo: NYPL (this photo was not taken in Texas)

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