So a friend of mine needed to interview me for her anthropology class project. Whatever. Waste not want not. Here’s the interview:

Secret Interviewing Friend: Although the first one is just asking what you define your culture, and how is your religion integrated into that. What you define as your culture.

Maurice: Culture for me is a multi-layered thing. I have my black culture, the
rich cultural heritage of being African-American. As part and parcel
of this culture, we have a sense of history, art, stories, practices,
and traditions that form us. I have my national cultures that inform
me and my family also. As a product of a cross-cultural family, and
having dual citizenship, I have a heritage that is Jamaican, American,
and British. And then I have the culture that most immediately
defines me, that of being a Broaddus. I have always maintained that
my marriage would have been an inter-cultural marriage, regardless of
the race of my wife, because the Broaddus culture (with its mixed
cultural bag) is distinct enough that anyone would have to adapt to
us.

Religion is interwoven within the culture, part of my cultural fabric.
My own spiritual journey has taken me though many religious
traditions, both Christian (from fundamentalist background to tapping
into the historic black church to the emergent church) and not (from
far Eastern practices to Islam) – all of which inform where I am
spiritually. My religion shapes how we live our lives, its values and
practices shaping how we arrange and live our lives.

Secret Interviewing Friend: When I say the word “family”, what’s your first reaction? What does that mean for you, and how do you think your “mixed cultural bag”, as it were, influences that? How does your involvement in “emergent Christian” culture influence that?

Maurice: My first reaction? Yay!/Ugh.

Family for me is blood and spirit. When growing up, I had a step sister and a half sister and we adopted our cousin to be raised along side us as a sibling. My parents instilled the mantra “we don’t have steps”. Either they were my sisters or they were nothing. So they were my sisters. I never refer to them as anything other than my sisters. Just like we are big on extended family. First, because when my father grew up, he didn’t have friends. His cousins were his friends, so friends were synonymous with family. Second, my mother was one of 13, so the older siblings were raised by aunts or uncles and then later raised the younger ones. It was nothing for three generations to be living under one roof.

So that translated into how I view family. I have biological family and I have “spiritual” family, but I make no distinctions between the two. For example, I have several people who are like adopted children (though I loathe to be called dad by them since they only remind me how old I’m getting). I have people who are like brothers and sisters to me. My boys are taught to refer to our close friends as “aunt” and “uncle”. We have a friends/family wall of photos. It is a visual reminder that our family is large and varied. It tells the story of our lives, the people who have been a part of our lives, and every time we walk by, we are reminded of the people whom are our loved ones. And of just how blessed we have been.

My faith gives spiritual weight to what we were already doing. In addition, it helped us look at the church as a type of extended family. So, we have the family we’re born into and the family we choose. That doesn’t make them any less family, for good (yay!) or ill (ugh!).

Secret Interviewing Friend: You’ve talked a lot about a man that you consider “like a father” to you. Can you tell me a little about how that relationship came about? How did the two of you meet? What is it that drew you to him as a father figure? Does he view “extended family” (spiritual and biological) in the same way you do or does he make a differentiation between you and his biological kids? (if any of this is, at any time, too personal, feel free to opt out of answering)

Maurice: What personal? I blogged about it. He “adopted” me and two other guys who would become my friends/brothers. Once we left the roost, he adopted two brothers “for real.”

Secret Interviewing Friend: I don’t think you ever did tell me exactly where you met him.

Maurice: Church. Eagle Creek Grace Brethren. Same place I met my future wife.

Secret Interviewing Friend: Really??

Maurice: Yup

Secret Interviewing Friend: Is that where your family went?

Maurice: It’s where me and my siblings went.

Secret Interviewing Friend: What got you and your siblings going to church without your parents?

Maurice: They made us go. They didn’t go to church, my dad still doesn’t.

Secret Interviewing Friend: That’s a little ironic. You mean they sent you guys off to church but they didn’t want to?

Maurice: exactly.

Secret Interviewing Friend: Do/did your parents know about your relationship with your adopted dad, and how does it affect them?

Maurice: Yes and no, respectively. My parents love him. My dad did offer to sell me to him (offered him a good deal, too. Well, not that good a deal: my dad wanted to dump me before the college bills started coming in). He was my Sunday School teacher. When me and my folks moved, we quit going to church for about a year. Then I called my adopted dad who offered to pick us up every Sunday. and did for a year or so. He was in the hospital when I had my surgery. When I got married, it was him that came back and had the “man-to-man” talk with me about marriage. And when my firstborn hit the scene, it was he that had the man-to-man talk with me about fatherhood.

Secret Interviewing Friend: So in a way it was kind of a deficiency that Mark fulfilled, but it wasn’t like your Dad was
absentee.

Maurice: Exactly.

Secret Interviewing Friend: I think I’m all out of questions. Do you have any other thoughts on the topic?

Maurice: Family rocks. When they don’t suck. Sometimes you have to find your family. Or create one. That’s all I got. And I’ll probably blog this.

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