Many cultural influences have shaped my character, and two of the strongest are capitalism and Christianity. It is not surprising or unusual. If you live in the United States, were raised in an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and over sixty, chances are that capitalism and Christianity have shaped your character as well. As a child, my family was active in a small Presbyterian Church in a rural town where the railroad was the largest employer. My home town was also an agricultural hub, one of the three communities defining the golden wheat triangle of Montana.
My paternal grandfather worked for the Great Northern railroad. My maternal grandfather was a self-employed bookkeeper. My father was the first in his family to have the opportunity to attend college, and he continued his education with a Juris Doctorate. He was a self-employed attorney who also served our rural County as County Attorney. My mom wanted to be a Registered Nurse, but during the 1950s, men discouraged their wives from working outside the home. Being a successful provider for a family meant your wife did not have to work (and public policy discouraged working mothers).
During my formative years, most of my friends and the other kids in the neighborhood attended church regularly, and most also attended their church youth group. Christianity was the water we were swimming in or the air we were breathing. The same was true for capitalism. We did not question the dominant culture, a culture that valued financial success over other forms of self-expression.
I married for the first time at age 19, and I had two children by the time I was twenty-five. I had imagined a handful of different career paths, but my imagination was impaired because there were so many careers for men only. I was not interested in becoming a public school teacher or a nurse. I loved music and drama and had some big dreams about being a performer, but getting married young got in my way. I was very active in my church, but the “ministers” were all men. Women held few leadership positions within my church. Women did the more practical, mundane work that kept the church running.
When I decided to change my college major from Interpersonal Communications to Business Administration/Accounting, it was purely practical. My husband was in law school, and I felt my…