Yesterday’s post on the question Is the habit the answer to vocations recruitment? drew a lot of discussion and perspectives. I want to pull out of there an interesting sub-conversation about what it means to be counter-cultural. In context, the comments are about the extent to which clothing/accessories of nuns are counter-cultural.

But the very concept of “counter-cultural” is understood in many different ways — as in what and which cultures one seeks to counter! My first stop, as always, is a dictionary or encyclopedia, just to get the basic meaning of the word.

Counterculture is a sociological term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group, or subculture, that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day, the cultural equivalent of political opposition. A general example would be a competing, dissenting culture that wishes to change the nature of, or at least the dominance of, a predominant culture in a particular society. (Wikipedia)

Now I’ve mentioned in past posts that being a nun is being counter-cultural. But I don’t spend a lot of time consciously thinking about the link between the two. I don’t think that one is a nun in order to be counter-cultural. The counter-cultural part is a kind of by-product of the fundamental desire to serve God and live the Gospel. I don’t wake up in the morning and say, “I wonder how I can subvert mainstream culture today” rather, I wake up and say “Thanks be to God” (… and shortly thereafter, “I need coffee.”) 

So say more about this counter-cultural thing … doesn’t necessarily have to be in regard to nuns’ clothing/accessories … but what does it mean to be counter-cultural? Does it always have to be publicly displayed? Does it reside in a single act or belief or is it more of a collective thing? Would you describe yourself as counter-cultural? Why or why not?