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Intercultural Communication Experience - a Christian Experience

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A Christian Experience

Finding yourself in a cultural setting you are not familiar with can be very challenging; however, in today's society it is very common to find yourself in this situation. I recently found myself in this exact situation, faced with common barriers of intercultural communication. Learning from this experience, the beliefs of Christianity differ from those of Catholicism.

For my intercultural experience I attended East Oolitic Community Church, a Christian non-denominational place of worship, for a Sunday morning service. Within the Christian community, I found myself unfamiliar with the culture, as I have always practiced Catholicism. In this experience, I faced two common barriers to communication; cultural differences and misunderstanding in terms of pragmatic rules.

In my experience, I was faced with cultural differences in religious views and beliefs. It is known that cultural differences arise because each culture has its own views and ways of looking at the world (Adler & Proctor, 2011). Although both Christianity and Catholicism believe in a higher power, there values, beliefs, and services differ greatly. In the beginning of the service at East Oolitic Community Church, I found myself becoming very confused and frustrated by what the pastor was saying. My ethnocentrism, the attitude that one's own culture is superior to others, was privately entering my thought process (Adler & Proctor, 2011). I did not understand why parishioners were saying things, why there seemed to be no structure to the service or why the songs they sing were not hymns from a book. I then realized to handle these cultural differences I needed to have a tolerance for ambiguity, the ability to accept and embrace the message, and open-mindedness (Adler & Proctor, 2011). At this point I began to not only listen to what the pastor and others were saying, but to watch how the parishioners were reacting to what he was saying. By doing this, I was able to not only understand better the message the pastor was delivering, but to see its importance within the Christian values and beliefs.

Although I was able to realize my ethnocentrism and find ways to handle the cultural differences, it did not eliminate my misunderstanding of the context. My misunderstanding in terms of pragmatic rules, which are linguistic rules that help communicators understand how messages may be used and interpreted in a given context, came from little understanding of the structure of Christian beliefs (Adler & Proctor, 2011). After speaking with other parishioners I learned that although I thought I understood the pastor's sermon, actually I had misinterpreted parts of it. My knowledge of the Roman Catholic beliefs helped me to understand most of what the pastor had said; however, the structure of Christian beliefs differ so greatly from those of Catholic beliefs that it interfered



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