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5/03/2006

BABY SITTING

Dick Staub, who for all I know is simply a journalist writing a great deal about the way he thinks Christians should respond to and create "culture", is ticked off about the way Christianity Today on-line discussed the Da Vinci Code recently.

His main beef is really with church leaders and public figures though. He supposes that whenever something in book or film form comes along that is Jesus-ish but doesn't reflect the American evangelical (there's that word again) view of Jesus perfectly the guardians come out to hold our hands through the cultural storm and make sure none of us get duped by it. These baby sitters tell us what to watch and listen to and what to think about it. They make sure we're being careful and well informed. This is his take, not my own.

I'd never really thought about this pattern of behavior before - before I read his piece on the phenomenon. And while I don't agree with it all or understand his irritation level, hidden in his angsty opinions are some good points worth considering. Here's a snippet:

"If it is true that evangelicals require somebody to tell them they should take part in the cultural conversation then evangelicals are nothing but a docile version of fundamentalism, withdrawn from culture but not feisty about it. An alternative view would say evangelicals are hopelessly conformed to culture, consuming it, marching like lemmings off the cliff, incapable of thinking independently, revealing the truth of Mark Noll's comment "the scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is so LITTLE of the evangelical mind." If either of these views is true, evangelicals may sell a lot of books and CD's and cast a lot of votes in culture, but will not ultimately "influence" culture intellectually, spiritually or artistically."

Read the rest here.

Here's some stuff I ponder often when I read anything related to Christians and "culture" (And there's plenty of pontificating on the subject): What is influence? What is culture? What would a thoroughly Christian influenced culture look like? Why is this worth pursuing?

(HT: JM)

29 Comments:

Blogger FancyPants said...

While reading this article by Staub (which I found myself liking)
I started to empathize with his annoyance with Christian sub-culture. That our reactions to issues in culture are dictated to us. I guess it is a bit embarassing that we need a consoling, it's OK, go see the movie, to shake guilty feelings of seeing a controversial film.

On the flip side, I think that Christian leaders are saying these things because of the wave of boycotting we had by evangelicals...(I'm thinking Disney...) in the past. Perhaps those voices are trying to reverse earlier persuasions, consequently attempting to encourage evangelicals to stop excluding themselves from controversial issues within America, which is pretty much what Staub would like to see as well.

What Staub seems also to be irritated at is the guy who wrote the journal in Christianity Today, using "our movies" to describe Narnia and The Passion. Which IS irritating. And the way the article is written in Christianity Today is irritating. I felt like I was watching the cartoon where the little angel and little devil pop up on opposite sides of the cartoon character...what cartoon was that? Am I crazy? (Don't have to answer that, the crazy part.)

ANYWAY, Shaun, I'm sorry, that doesn't answer any of your questions. Will need more time to think on those. Enjoyed this post.

5/03/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

You don't have to answer my questions. They're MINE. Your insights are valuable too. And well said.

SG

5/03/2006  
Blogger Kat said...

Frankly, I found Staub's article to be rather whiny (I'm a mom I KNOW whiny). I'm honestly not trying to be rude. I'm really not. Perhaps I'm completely missing something, but even if some Christians want guidance regarding how to respond to controversial things, I just don't see why that's a very big deal. I think every culture and every subculture has gatekeepers through which information flows and from whom evaluations are given. I don't imagine there is a culture or subculture that doesn't have it's own version of Barna, Dobson or Johnston. Of course, ideally, all Christians would walk out of their morning Bible reading/prayer time fully confident of the various media that they should and should not participate in. But not all believers are at that level of maturity.

Regarding culture. At first thought, I don't think I really like the idea of a Christian influenced culture. It doesn't strike me as something that we need to pursue. It seems to me that that would be akin to "top down marketing" - make it cool and then people will want Jesus. I seem to recall that the Bible says that we are to be a peculiar people. Peculiar isn't exactly synonymous with cool.

Perhaps it appears to me like an "easy way out" idea. It's easy to want to make cool movies, music, magazines and t-shirts so that people will want Jesus. But it's not easy to spend, say, 30 minutes in prayer each day for my neighbors next door. And it's even harder to GO next door and ask them if they have anything going on that I can pray for - not because it's a "line" to open discussion, but because I really am praying for them daily and because I really - truly - believe that "the effective prayer of a righteous man avails much." But I think that's the only way we're going to affect the culture - when our goal is just to help our neighbor.

That's just my initial reaction, though. Interesting topic and I hope others will post their thoughts and help me refine (or overhaul) mine.

5/03/2006  
Blogger The Cachinnator said...

I loved the Staub article. I share his annoyance. Perhaps not for the same reasons, but I find it equally lamentable as he does that evangelicals bubble themselves in these voices. Niebuhr's Christ and Culture is 50 years old now and we don't seem to have learned anything. No matter what your approach to culture, approach it for the love of cake! Don't sit back, picking your wedgie, fretting about what the "Christian" response to something should be. Why the nut should we 'respond' to anything? Why aren't we the boldest leaders and the most attractive engaging artists in the world?

I don't think it occurs to people to get their panties in a twist over everything. I think they're stirred up by little Rasputins with big microphones. (Now I'm not accusing all talking heads or pundits or scholars of playing the great and powerful Oz. I'm just saying, for example, that public schools might have a prayer, pardon the pun, if people like Dobson didn't get people all worked up talking about things he doesn't understand and frankly things which have nothing to do with the cross of Christ.)

Staub is dead on. And the Christianity Today article is inane. It is written from a winking perspective of "now we all know that this movie is pure evil, so how should we approach that evil?" Pathetic. And the Editor's Note is the most insulting part. That the editors think it is necessary only betrays their concept of their audience being a bunch of hankie-yanking sweating nervous wrecks about what the 'authorities' will advise! Aaaaaaarrrrrghhhh! *sound of head exploding*

5/04/2006  
Blogger FancyPants said...

Hi Kat. I definitely see where you're coming from in your first paragraph. I agree-every subculture has gatekeepers. I am a fan of some of ours. It's just when we start relying on them for evaluations that we could be analyzing ourselves. Granted, using those gatekeepers for help. Using each other for help. And we're talking about a cultural level here. Which brings us to define culture.

A 2002 document from the United Nations agency UNESCO states that culture is the "set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs". UNESCO, 2002

So, book and movie are symbols of a culture, as art is a symbol of its culture. And our reactions to it tie us to each other as a human race. And that human race includes Christians and non-Christians. And the thing is, Christians CAN relate to non-Christians through humanity, even though they are not "of the world." They remain in the world and so have the same canvas on which to paint, and even the same colors to paint with, I guess you could say. Meaning we work for a living, we eat basically three meals a day, we know the same family structure, etc.

Which brings me to this. I don't think that Christians being a part of and therefore influencing culture is an "easy way out." I actually think it's harder. Take for instance, the Christian goes to work as a business man, an engineer, and is surrounded by co-workers that cheat, lie, backstab, intimidate to get ahead, to make the sale. He is surrounded by world, our culture. And he loves to be a business man, an engineer because he's GOOD at it. He is battling the enemy every day, temptations to do the same, temptations to hate those that do it. What does he do? Does he quit? No. He finds a way to be in the world, but not of it. Same for musicians, same for artists, same for Christians.

That's just an example. I think that the Christian does not have to run away from culture. The Christian songwriter that has something to say could very well say it in an artistic way, culturally acceptable, meaning it is a good SONG, and hey, this one might not even be about Jesus. Does it make him any less of a Christian? No. Does it make him a good songwriter? Yes. But along the way, in his every day life, hopefully, he is loving his neighbor, he is serving his Lord IN all that he does.

AGHH! Too long. Must stop. Great discussion, Kat. I'm lovin' it!

5/04/2006  
Blogger Kat said...

Fancypants (Btw, I just love your name - ),

I hear you on all points. I'm all for Christians thinking for themselves and being immersed in the culture in which we live.

When I wrote my comment, I was thinking of culture in a more media/pop culture sense in which case I'm leery of Christians TRYING to make Jesus popular and palatable to the masses RATHER helping our neighbors and the "least of these".

I would love for believers to emerge from our safe little subculture and affect the culture at large.

5/04/2006  
Anonymous jwise said...

It seems to me that unless one knows the Word very intimately, we wander around following anyone who says, "Hey! Follow me! I know the way!"

Someone once called us "sheep without a shepherd". I don't think there's an intentional ignorance among Christians today so much as a lack of intimate knowledge of God and His Word. We're stuck in the fast-paced life just like anyone else. But One has come who can set us free. We need to learn His voice and follow Him.

5/04/2006  
Anonymous jwise said...

A P.S... Kat, very well put. Jesus said we'll be known by our love, not by our coolness. But this is because love stops to help the downtrodden and set the captive free, whereas cool just goes looking for more cool... and downtroddenness (new word) isn't cool!

Good discussion.

5/04/2006  
Blogger FancyPants said...

"Why aren't we the boldest leaders and the most attractive engaging artists in the world?"

Right on, Cach!

5/04/2006  
Blogger Seth Ward said...

Niebuhr's Christ and Culture-

Love that book.

5/04/2006  
Blogger introriff said...

I'm going to see the movie, eat popcorn and wash it all down with a large caffeinated beverage. If it offends me enough, I will leave. I want to see it so I can converse with others when they ask me what I think, or how it affected me. I could also accomplish the same if I didn't go and offered an explaination as to why I chose not to.

When all is said and done, my foundation will still be the same. Others, however, may not be affected the same way, which is concerning to me. I also understand why such shows are a concern to some of my peers (they are not so concerned about me seeing it as others that may be misled).

Historically, when a group steps in and says "don't participate in it", tends to spark more interest in answering the inner question "why not?".


-ike

5/04/2006  
Anonymous Stephen said...

Is no one else seeing the Christianity Today article as a little tongue-in-cheek? That is how I read it when they published it two weeks ago, and it still looks that way to me.

The main point of the article is the quotation of 1 Peter 3:15 ~ Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

5/04/2006  
Blogger The Cachinnator said...

It's tongue-in-check, of course. I don't think anyone missed that. But it's also poorly written and it betrays the fact that the magazine knows its audience is much more likely to join a protest than to engage the film and the cultural reaction to it. It has a very patronistic tone that is a huge turn off.

5/04/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Niebuhr's Christ and Culture

Dislike that book.



Better book on the same subject, IMO: Resident Aliens

Where else can we be but in the world? There's no joining culture or not. This in or out business is an illusion. No one has ever been out of the world/culture. No one. Isn't the real debate whether or not to be accepted by this or that group within culture? The majority? The religious? The wealthy? The artistic? What do you think?

SG

5/04/2006  
Blogger Chaotic Hammer said...

There is a distinctive American culture, and Christians are unavoidably very much a part of that culture (unless they are strict separatists like the Amish or something). Go to the Wal-Mart, a restaurant, a school, a church, a shopping mall, an airport, and look around. You're seeing our culture there. Go to an art gallery, turn on the TV, go to a movie, go to a concert, turn on the radio -- and it's there too. There are people at all levels of business, government, arts, and entertainment who claim to have a personal faith in Jesus Christ. It seems to me that Christians are hearing viewpoints that are all over the place on what we are and are not doing, and what we should or should not be doing in relation to that culture, and Dick Staub sounds like one of the more harshly toned and critical among those voices.

Do we have examples in the Bible of how Christians should relate to the world around us? The early church was passionate about spreading the Gospel, and seems to have done so uncompromisingly, even when it meant harsh persecution and death. I don't see any signs from scripture (someone please correct me if you have examples to the contrary) that they tried to move stealthily into "mainstream culture" and "influence" it. I would say they lived completely separate from the negative influences in their culture in some ways -- for example when they gathered together to pray, study scripture, and teach and encourage one another, they were engaging in a very peculiar activity that has no comparable "secular equivalent". But they still held jobs, raised families, interacted with their neighbors, etc. and apparently had something quite infectious about their lives, because the Gospel spread like wildfire in a dry forest, despite all the persecution and hatred they endured.

I can see by looking around his site that Dick Staub believes that evangelical subculture today has marginalized itself by putting the "Christian" label on everything. He'd like to see Christians influence culture by being relevant, and being cultural leaders who innovate rather than copy. On its face, that sounds like a noble ideal.

But I'm not sure I see the use of railing against the evangelical subculture in such general terms, because to do so has no practical application to the real, daily lives of believers. What specific action should I, as a believer in Jesus, take as a result of what Dick Staub wrote? Folks like McDowell and Dobson believe they have God's calling in their lives to teach, encourage, and instruct members of the Body. Why be harsh and critical about it when they actually fulfill that calling by trying to apply scripture to practical matters of daily living? If you don't need to hear their messages, and already know by direct Divine guidance that you are free in Christ to go see a certain movie, then go see that movie and don't criticize those who choose not to see it. (Something about meat, idols, and others weaker in the faith comes to mind at this point...)

Maybe there are some Christians who can't engage in certain decision-making without careful guidance from pastors and teachers. Maybe there are Christians who were recently delivered from certain worldly vices or mindsets, and need to be surrounded for a season with practical, edifying, and scriptural information, so that they can deepen their faith in Jesus. Only God can transform hearts, and prepare us to go out into the thick of "the culture" to glorify and proclaim Him, in our businesses, art, personal relationships, etc.

I'd argue that personal one-on-one relationships are where the bulk of real spiritual transactions occur anyway -- not from seeing a first-rate original play by an influential Christian writer, or hearing a truly original and creative song by an influential Christian musician, or seeing a beautiful and dynamic painting by a Christian artist, or hearing a moving speech by an important Christian politician. Is Staub saying that we should drop the "Christian" label and just be excellent in our endeavors? Or instead, that we should boldly proclaim Christ in the marketplace of ideas by doing our crafts better than non-Christians do? If we're not doing that, could it just be that Christians are outnumbered by non-Christians, and have a smaller pool from which to draw talent? Or that just being a Christian doesn't necessarily mean that you are automatically more creative and expressive than a non-Christian? And again, is his a practical exhortation, or just general complaining about "the way things ought to be"?

Sorry, this comment is way too long, and SG is the one who is supposed to ask the questions here. Mine are sort of rhetorical anyway, because I'm not sure I "get it" with what Dick Staub is trying to say.

5/04/2006  
Blogger Kat said...

Well said Hammer.

5/04/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

ANyone can and should ask questions here. My job is to provoke conversation. Once provoked, asked and answer at will. Please!

hammer, I can't give an example of stealthy moves into culture from scripture (except is you count Paul at Mars Hill - a flop of an evangelistic attempt actually - Acts 17 I think). I CAN, however, give an example from early Christian history:

Mithraism was Christianity's main "competition" in the first and second centuries. It was the pagan religion favored by the military of Rome, Emperors and the upper crust of society. Christianity was primarily a religion for slaves and the poor uneducated cobblers, launderers and carpenters of the day - blue collar religion. Christians got it in their heads to be stealthy and launch a sort of PR campaign. So, Christian artists were summoned to create artistic works that melded Mithraic symbols with Christian symbols. For instance, Mithra was often pictured riding a bull and cutting it's throat in the process. So, a Christian artifact exists that pictures Jesus riding a bull and cutting it's throat. They melded the two together as a bizarre statement that "Our God can do what your god can do."

Of course, we don't have a lot of records, if any, describing why this movement happened. We only know that it apparently did, based on artifacts.

Fast forward 2000 years and now the Jesus Seminar folks and others point to these artifacts and interpret them differently: Christianity copied Mithraic symbols AND beliefs - Jesus isn't real; He's Mithra ripped off.

I'm not making a point with this tale. Just reporting the facts. Our ancestors were stealthy and DID try to use art/imagery to boost sales of the Gospel. I have no idea what the modern day equivalent of this would be. Do you?

SG

5/04/2006  
Blogger The Cachinnator said...

Oh, there have been many books over the past 50 years that are probably better and more contemporary than Niebuhr.s. I simply mean that this discussion about modern American culture and Christianity has been dragging on with little progression for half a century now. Niebuhr's conclusion, I think, is a pretty good one: that Christ and Christians should transform culture. This bears the obvious burden of being a part of the culture but also allows for us to be different.

The problem with the guru system is that it encourages the ingraining of the subculture. It is one thing to seek counsel, ask advice, get guidance on things. But these talking heads set themselves up so that people begin to think they can't make a decision without Dobson. (When personally, I think we'd all be better off making decisions without him. But that's another discussion I think.) And there is a very excellent reason to rail against the evangelical subculture: the existence and fostering of this mindset only furthers the 'insider vs. outsider' mentality too many American Christians have today. It only deepens a false sense of us vs. them. And when we have 'our' own radio, tv, movies, restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, banks, websites, designers, and even friggin' mortgage lenders, at what point do we engage the world? We're not even part of it anymore!

Among the more mind-numbing trends of the past decade is making the church your one-stop shopping trip. Pastors found out that people like coffee shops. So rather than encourage their congregants to go out to coffee shops together, hold Bible studies there, engage in conversation about Christ, they instead built coffee shops inside their churches!! They have removed even the possibility of engaging culture. And that is a microcosm of what we're talking about here: The subculture becoming a bunker.

I also think, not to be critical specifically of what you said, Hammer, because I've been hearing this more and more lately, it is a bit off base to compare the activities of the early church and us today on a one-to-one basis. I hear this argument frequently about evangelism. People want to get on street corners and yell about Jesus. Well just because the early church engaged in public street corner debates does not mean we should. In Christ's time, it was considered popular entertainment to attend the law courts or hear the street corner philosophers debate the topic of the day. Not so much today. Today the mindset is that people who talk out loud on street corners are nut jobs and whatever they say should be immediately discounted. Why then would we adopt that method? Similarly, our non-religious pluralistic society today is not receptive to bold in-your-face preaching or conversion attempts. In fact, it is the fastest way to make sure that people don't listen to you at all. Hammer, you said later that one-on-one was the way to go. In today's society, I'd tend to agree. So it's not necessarily the work that the Christian writer or singer or artist or politician does. It is the degree of excellence with which they work. That draws people to them and gives them the opportunity to share the message behind the art. Then we have relational evangelism. Street corners aren't popular entertainment today... but what is?

Staub's not really an angry bitter guy. He just feels strongly that drawing lines and creating bubbles by fostering a subculture mentality is detrimental to our commission and charge as Christians in the world today.

Great, fun, discussion.

5/04/2006  
Blogger Seth Ward said...

If memory serves me correctly, Niebuhr's book outlined five positions Christians hold on their surronding culture. He tried to answer questions like: Are we at odds with culture? (Southern Baptust Convention) Do we go to war with culture?( James Dobson and the Disney Boycott.) Do we insist that it be "Christianized"? (Christian Coalition, Prayer in Schools) OR do we live an uneasy co-exsistence with it while slowly, through love and patience transform it? (this one works the best for me in terms of In the Wolrd but not of it) I found at the time of reading this book, and still do, that these are pretty darn good questions and it was a bold and revolutionary move to write it. There are parts that I disagree with like Niebuhr's belief that the Catholic Church believes they are above culture when the Catholic Church has been one of the most cultural-transforming machines, if not THE great transformer of culture in the History of Western Civ. They went into countries and Christianized pagan holidays. In fact just about all of our Christian Holidays are recycled Pagan days. I disagree with you in that I do think that you can be outside of culture. however once you encouter it you quickly become a part of it, i.e. Militant fundamental Islam meets American Capitolism.

Even though i may disagree with some things in it, I still think it is a good book. You can do both. I will check out the Resident Aliens book maybe tonight or tomorrow on our weekly B & Noble trip, thanks for the suggested read.

I think these are the five laid out in the book. To lazy to go drag it out so help me if I am wrong Cach or Shaun or someone else more current with it. Mind you, these are 5 ways Niebuhr believes that Christians see or view Christ in culture.

1.Christ against culture
2.The Christ of culture
3.Christ above culture
4.Christ and culture in paradox
5.Christ, the transformer of culture

5/04/2006  
Blogger FancyPants said...

True, people have not ever been out of the world/culture. But they can definitely ignore it. They can find security in knowing only what is in their comfortable places.

5/04/2006  
Blogger FancyPants said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/04/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

No they can't even ignore it.

Of course all of this depends on how we define "culture".

CUlture, as I'm thinking about it, is everything that makes up human civilization. Things like:

Where we live, how, in what...
The language we use, why, when...
The things we make, buy, eat...
Places we go, what we do when we get there...

Everything!

The Western mind has thought, since at least Pythagorus, that the realm of expertise was "culture" - which was divided neatly into the categories art and science. (Music was a science back then - see why I say art is a man made concept - that's another post).

So in places like Africa,for instance, there was no cultured and uncultured...until the West collided with it. There were no paid musicians, no experts in the arts. (This was not true of science, however.) Nope, the West dreamt up this idea of culture, high culture, low culture, no culture. And it persists today.

So when I speak of culture I'm thinking broadly and perhaps that's where the disconnect is for me when it comes to Niebhur and some of the comments here. THis broad definition of culture causes me to believe that no, no one can exist outside of culture.

Reminds me of when Paul said to the Corinthians in chapter 5 verse 10 that they would have to leave this world to get away from imperfect people. he was mocking them in a sense: If you want to get away from the dirty folks, good luck! You'll have to invent space travel first.

So IF culture is a synonym for "world" in this passage - and might not be - then Paul and I are tracking together: no one is outside of the world/culture. They may, however, not be in Western culture/arts and sciences.

5/04/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Fancypants, we can perhaps choose to ignore culture but culture will never ignore us.

Take the Amish for example. Have they chosen to ignore the bulk of the world "out there"? Maybe. Probably. BUt then how do we still know they exist and know so much about them?

They've ignored you but you have still noticed them.

Again, it is impossible to be out of culture.

5/04/2006  
Blogger The Cachinnator said...

I totally agree. The Amish are absolutely a part of culture. In fact, they are a part of our culture as evidenced here in this discussion. They are also a part of their own view of culture. That view just happens to be one that accepts all science and technology up to the late 17th Century and no further. But that is still culture! There is no escaping the societal norms and variants that are culture.

I think there's more to this discussion and I'll only touch on it briefly. In reference to why there's a 'Black History Month' and 'Black Culture,' a white friend of mine was having a conversation with an African American who told him that the reason we have a problem with the concepts of 'Black History Month' and 'Black Culture' is that we don't think we have a culture. (We being white America.) But the truth is that we have a very distinct and prevalant culture, we just view it as the 'normal' world.

I think there's a lot of truth in that. And maybe I misread Niebuhr, but I understood him to be framing his argument in terms of culture vs. subculture, not Christianity vs. pop culture. I can see where this discussion gets muddy if we're not clear about what culture is. For so many in 'normal white America' culture represents anything different from our norm. We need to recognize that we have a culture before we can be on the same page about its interplay with Christianity. Is that what you've been prodding at, Shaun? Perhaps Fancypants was implying that broader culture could be ignored in favor of focus on subculture. I could go along with that. But I'd have to agree that there is no escape from culture.

So the question becomes, how do we function and exist in our culture? What is Christianity's role? (Not, does Christianity have a role.)

5/04/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Exactly, cach - Can I call you cach? Much easier to type.

You said something brilliant here - maybe unintentionally ; )

"But the truth is that we have a very distinct and prevalant culture, we just view it as the 'normal' world."

We Christains in America also view our subculture and/or our Constantinian way of relating to the larger culture (especially government and popular culture: music, books, television etc) as the norm. This belief that we are more important to THEM than we actually are, that we are to dominate THEM (so to speak) has a name even: Christendom.

Christendom is dead.

Let that sink in.

Dead.

We are not in control. Nor can we be. And this powerlessness is the greatest thing that's happened to Christainity in the West ever perhaps. Now being "the best" at our "craft" won't do jack. The only option we're left with then is being the Church. And we're beginning to realize this. We're seeing the power in being school teachers and parents and friends and house painters who adopt the ethic and priorities of Christ - who make invisible God visible by adopting His character as our own here and now. We're seeing a renewed interest in discipleship, which is slow burn evangelism more steadfast and root-giving than the old big bang revival meetings, movies, crusades, event-driven church etc. I'm personally seeing college students dedicated to making money not for flat screens and SUVs but to rescue the dying. We're getting it. But the old guard is still alive and preaching, "Be the best, the biggest, climb the cultural mountain and then when on top raise your Jesus flag. Then the world will notice and bow the knee."

The reality we're waking up to is that we're not alone on that mountain top anymore. And it's gotten harder and harder to pick us out in the crowd up there.

5/04/2006  
Blogger FancyPants said...

Yes, agreed, there is no escape from culture, as defined in Shaun's comment, or in my very long previous comment. And yes, I was implying that broader culture could be ignored in favor of subculture.

Wait, I just thought of people that might be considered exempt from culture. The bad guys in Superman, you know, the ones that get banned from Krypton at the beginning of the movie, in the glass, floating in space....Now THAT is escape from culture.

5/05/2006  
Blogger The Cachinnator said...

I'm not sure if you could hear me down here in TX, Shaun, but there was a little Amen chorus going on. I like to refer to this era, (perhaps as much for the shock value as anything), as a post-Christian era. The old 'normal' isn't anymore. And PRAISE GOD! I have found it especially difficult to explain this to people in our parents' generation, but the eradication of the 'cultural Christianity,' and by that I mean our collective delusion of what the 1950's was and such, is the best thing that ever happened to the church. We are finally moving towards a time when you can't be a Christian by default.

And please, feel free to call me Cach... or any other four-letter word that springs to mind at any given moment.

5/05/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Can I retype the last paragraph of my last comment here? Pretty please? It was late and I've got better...

I said, "The reality we're waking up to is that we're not alone on that mountain top anymore. And it's gotten harder and harder to pick us out in the crowd up there."

I think many of my boomer friends are having this realization that there's a big crowd on top of the mountain and they just aren't sticking out like they'd like to - no matter how "excellent."

I ON THE OTHER HAND, am having THIS realization:

The reality I'M waking up to is that there are no mountains - or, perhaps, that there are a plethora of mountains and that their altitude and therefore significance) cannot be measured by audience size, popularity, cool factor etc. What we define as short (small churches, traditional churches, house painters, school teachers, stay at home moms, etc etc) may actually be massive in the topography of God's agenda. And what we've always deemed mammoth (rock stars, best selling authors, contemporary church, mega church, CEOs, etc etc etc) may or may not be as influential eternally as we once thought.

My point then isn't that the cool or the uncool rule. But the landscape is more even than we may have realized before. The real agenda I'm adopting is to represent Christ well - popular or not, bid deal or ignorable peon. My life wasn't changed by a rock star or a successful industrialist or visionary. It was changed by a man who bought me pizza every Sunday night and talked about life with me. I didn't care how loved he was by the masses - only that he loved me.

5/05/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Descipleship. That's what it's all about. Never mind trying to change the whole world. Start with ourselves (especially me!) and then with one other. It will spread, trust me.
Beth

5/05/2006  

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