Esther – The Queen of Indirect Communication

The book of Esther is a fascinating book in the Bible. It is the story of an orphaned girl from a subjugated people, who became the king of Persia’s primary wife and saves her people from destruction. If you have time, read it before continuing this article. It’s only 10 chapters long, all storytelling. For extra bonus points, read 1 Samuel 15 as well, as that is where the plot begins.

The whole story breathes a Power/Fear worldview with Honor/Shame mixed in. Yet it is the Communication Dimension we will focus on in this article, contrasting the two heroines, Queen Vashti and Queen Esther.

The story of Queen Esther (Esther 1-4)

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Does God Approve of Interracial Marriages?

Working with intercultural couples, we ask this question in the first session of each Thriving Intercultural Marriages Workshop we facilitate. Almost every cohort, one couple has faced objections by their family against the interracial or intercultural nature of their marriage.

Yes, God approves of interracial and intercultural marriages!

First off, “race” is a sociological and cultural construct not a Biblical or biological identifiable one. There is not enough genetic variation between “races” to call it that way from a biological perspective (1). Neither does the Bible (or God for that matter) use ‘race’ as a way to distinguish between people. The Bible does speak of tribes, nations, peoples (people groups) but not of 3, 5 or more major races.

Let's follow the Biblical narrative on race, distinctive groups of people, culture and marriage. 

From Adam to Noah

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The Lord's Prayer – Individual vs. Community Accountability

OUR Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

Give US today OUR daily bread.

God gives enough to all of us for all of us but this doesn't mean each one of us gets enough for him/herself. Sharing with each other is part of his plan.

And forgive US our debts,

It is not just about my sin but about our sins.
If I haven’t sinned in regard to an issue but my country/community or the church has, I still need to join them in asking for forgiveness from God (and also from those we as a community have sinned against.)

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High Performance Learning Journeys

This post is not about culture, worldviews or Inter-Cultural Intelligence. It is about the road to get there.

Last year, one of our staff members got certified as a Brinkerhoff High Performance Learning Journey Architect, and it greatly impacted how we deliver our learning journeys.

The key objective of a High Performance Learning Journey (HPLJ) is to help participants in a program successfully use and implement what they learned and impact their organization. In a traditional training program, think workshops or eLearning, about 15% of the participants has a high impact on the organization/business with their learning. In a HPLJ structured training program, this can increase to about 80%. (1)

How do we do that?

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Delving Deeper into the Innocence/Guilt Worldview

This is part three of a 4-part series on the Three Colors of Worldview. Links to the other articles are at the bottom.

In a predominant Innocence/Guilt society, people are driven by the concepts of right and wrong, rules and laws. One seeks to maintain innocence and a good reputation by aligning with accepted principles and rules: doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong. Individual accountability usually has a strong emphasis. Justice, fairness and consistency are important concepts. Right and wrong are generally defined by standards or laws and lawbreakers are dealt with by “judges” and “law enforcement”. 

Being considered innocent and right is both internal (self-esteem) as an external. Emancipation movements are an example of the latter. These movements are especially strong in societies where I/G is a significant driver - One wants to be considered innocent by the outside world.

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Delving Deeper into the Power/Fear Worldview

This is part four of a 4-part series on the Three Colors of Worldview. Links to the other articles are at the bottom.

In predominant Power/Fear societies, the focus is on quickly assessing where one fits in the hierarchy and aligning oneself with the right people to grow one’s influence and power. It is important to control one’s fear and, if needed, use fear to control others.

Power can have many faces; it can be fierce, or kind; destructive, or empowering and live-giving. When the leader of the group focuses on empowering the members rather than on instilling fear, then the sense of belonging and loyalty is a lot greater.

In some societies that are predominantly Power/Fear based, the instilling of fear happens through religion like in animistic societies, but there are many examples of non-religious societies and countries where Power/Fear is the primary driver. (Big corporations, military units, dictatorships.)

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Delving Deeper into the Honor/Shame Worldview

This is part two of a 4-part series on the Three Colors of Worldview. Links to the other articles are at the bottom.

In predominant Honor/Shame societies, the focus is on preserving and enhancing one’s honor and the honor of the group one belongs to and on avoiding to bringing shame on the group. Membership of the group can be through historical ties like being born into a tribe, clan, or by choice, e.g. by joining a fraternity, guild or brotherhood. When you bring shame on the group, the group itself will take action against you to restore its honor.

Communication, interpersonal interaction, and business dealings are very relationship-driven, with every interaction having an effect on the honor-shame status of the participants.

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eLearning options

This year we’ve worked hard to make n-Culture’s quality content available to more people through eLearning.

We developed the following core pieces:

1. Heartset and Mindset of Intercultural Interaction

Inter-Cultural Intelligence (ICI) enables individuals to understand their own cultural worldview and how it impacts their behaviors, expectations and relationships with others. Thus, learning to navigate in and out of diverse cultural contexts with flexibility and sensitivity while adapting and building a third cultural space.

In this eLearning module we explore the foundations of ICI. What is the right heartset and mindset to engage interculturally and How do we develop these? We do this using the following topics:

  • Cultural Critic and Cultural Learner - How can we be open and welcoming to others without fear and without (fear of) loosing our identity.
  • Perceptions & Patterns - What are the Perceptions and Patterns that color the lens through which we look at the world around us. We help you uncover our proneness to bias.
  • DIR - DIR is a powerful tool to deconstruct a given situation in a more unbiased way so you can base your conclusions on a more objective assessment.

2. Three Colors of Worldview

Three Colors of Worldview© is about our motivators and demotivators at the deepest level of culture, the drivers of a lot of our actions. It is an easy, yet powerful tool that helps you understand your own drivers, motivators and demotivators and helps you quickly assess the drivers, motivators and demotivators of other individuals and groups. It’s a great tool to improve intercultural teamwork, communication and relations.

The Three Colors of Worldview (Guilt/Innocence, Honor/Shame, Power/Fear) sits below the 12 Dimensions of Color in the Iceberg model of Culture. It’s tied into our belief-system, rather than our norms and values.

You will first discover your own worldview through the Three Colors of Worldview Discovery Tool, and then in the eLearning you will uncover what these worldviews are and why they are so important. We’ll learn how to adapt our behavior to better relate to people with a different worldview.

3. Worldviews in the Bible, Worldviews and Salvation

In this module, we’ll link the Three Colors of Worldview to the Bible. We'll discover Bible stories that emphasize each of the three primary worldviews and we'll uncover how people explain and apply Bible passges differently depending on their worldview. This will help you understand why and how Christian cultures differ across the world and helps you understand how your culture shaped your Christianity.

Worldviews and Salvation takes us from creation to the cross. This module helps you discover how different cultures experience the results of sin in different ways and how they experience Jesus' salvation in different ways. It enriches your own understanding of salvation and prepares you for intercultural evangelism.

4. Intercultural Evangelism & Holistic Discipling (Sep 2019)

Intercultural Evangelism challenges you to tailor your message to the culture and worldview of your audience and hands you tools to do so.

Contextualizing the salvation message (telling it in such a way that your message resonates with the hearer) should be combined with holistic discipling.

Holistic Discipling is about communicating the full truth of the Bible through the cultural lens of the hearer.

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On Palm Sunday an ISIS attack on two Coptic Churches in Egypt, killed 45 worshippers. Two weeks later, the Egyptian television aired an interview with the widow of a guard of St. Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria who was murdered in the suicide bombing.

She left the celebrity TV host speechless by expressing and extending forgiveness towards the suicide bomber. Christianity Today wrote a great article about it. (CT Article and Video). It gives some excellent insights in how forgiveness plays out in a society where Honor/Shame is the primary worldview driver and Power/Fear is a significant contributor to people’s worldview.

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Countercultural Living

My wife and I were visiting family and got a question about how we live counterculturally in Southern California (SoCal). They knew we’d been through a rough time adjusting to life in SoCal after 9 years in the Arab world. I couldn't readily answer the question from my in-laws, but it got me thinking about the concept of living counterculturally.

What is living counterculturally?

"Counterculture" is a sociological term that refers to a cultural group or subculture whose values and norms of behavior run counter to those of the region's social mainstream; it can be considered the cultural equivalent of political opposition. (

Living counterculturally could be understood as living in a way that demonstrates your own beliefs, values and norms of behavior that are different from the society around you. Or it could be defying the values of the society around you that you feel are too restrictive. For most Christians, living counterculturally has the connotation of displaying their faith in a non-Christian society.

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Inter-Cultural Intelligence and Faith

What is the place of my faith when looking at worldviews? Why is it important to look at worldviews from a faith-based perspective?

Roland Muller in his book The Messenger, The Message and the Community (2013) established a simple and profound rule. For a worldview to be truly called a worldview it must explain why people think the way they think, speak the way they speak and act the way they act, and it must also explain why people who are from different cultures but adhere to the same philosophy, faith or religion think, speak and act differently (See: What are the Three Colors of Worldview?)

Why does a typical Christian from the Midwest of the USA behave different from say a Christian from South-East Asia?

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Inter-Cultural Intelligence and Race

About a month ago I was talking with a friend and Intercultural facilitator in Atlanta. While discussing the definition of culture, the topic of race came up and how race fits into the culture paradigm.

I am white, a recent immigrant to the USA and live in the suburbs of San Diego in a city that is predominantly white and Hispanic. Because of that, the whole racial tension between Caucasian and African Americans is not so much in my face. I’m an expert in intercultural interactions, but obviously not in inter-racial interactions.

The few African Americans friends and neighbors that I do have, do feel the tension and it is in their face. The tension between black and white is a real problem that needs a real solution.

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Inter-Cultural Intelligence and Education

Our societies have become increasingly multi-cultural with the influx of immigrants, refugees and expatriates from so many countries. This means that our classrooms are also becoming more and more multi-cultural.

It’s a welcome diversity, but it also brings its challenges to classroom dynamics and making sure that every student learns at his/her best abilities.

As educators, we do our best to understand our students (their learning styles, academic abilities, personality, etc), and we try our best to address these in our curriculum and delivery of the curriculum.

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What are the Three Colors of Worldview?

Culture is like an iceberg and our worldview is the bottom layer of the iceberg and influences everything that sits on top of it. Many times without us being aware of it! A good understanding of your own worldview and what drives you as well as a good understanding of the other person’s worldview and what drives him/her is the starting point and foundation of intercultural understanding and effective intercultural interaction.

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What is ICI and how does n-Culture use it?

Inter-Cultural Intelligence enables individuals to understand their own cultural worldview and how it impacts their behaviors, expectations and relationships with others. It helps them assess and understand the cultural drivers of the other person and enables them to adapt their behavior and communication to bring about more effective and winsome interactions.

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