How does contemporary American culture understand and portray what it means to be a human person?

How does contemporary American culture understand and portray what it means to be a human person? Mark L. Taylor posed this question to his students in a Christian Anthropology course at Seattle University asking them to collect portrayals of the human person found ads, music lyrics, interviews, sermons, novels, movie scenes, TV shows, websites, lectures, social media, etc. I posed the same question to my graduate students in a Theological Anthropology course at Wheaton College.  I challenged them to reflect on how society is presenting human persons and what is your personal response to these portrayals. Below are some questions that helped guide their search for portrayals:

  • How does contemporary culture portray the human body?
  • How is sex/gender portrayed?
  • How does culture portray the person as an intellectual, psychological, material, emotional, or spiritual being?
  • How does culture portray persons as creators, consumers, and caretakers?
  • How are human persons presented as social, political, economic beings—how humans are involved in systems of wealth and poverty, power and marginality, justice and oppression?
  • What does it mean for a person to be healthy in our contemporary culture- mental health, spiritual health, physical health, and relational health?

In the next few weeks I post some of their findings.

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