Thursday, September 30, 2010

the emergent buffet

Spiritual bricolage is the mining of ideas and concepts about God that already exist in the world and creating a whole new vocabulary, as well as new concepts and understandings of what it means to have a spiritual life.
Burke and Taylor, A Heretic's Guide to Eternity, p 143

What a perfect way to view the emergent and progressive 'religion' that people like Burke and Taylor are wanting to create--religion as buffet. Your first trip through, maybe you get a main course of materialistic atheism seasoned with a bit of something that's like Christianity but isn't (remember No-Salt?) Go over to another table and get a spoonful or two of eastern mysticism, maybe a bit of hot-and-sour new-agey gunk, and a touch of Islamic garnish on the sides just to be religiously correct. Some things in the Judaism section may be safe, though one can have such awful heartburn when it's combined with the Islamic garnish.

Oh, and for dessert--a heaping helping of marxist-socialist social-justice pudding sweetened with artificial Jesus-talk (remember Sweet-and-Low?) with chunks of all the above mixed in.

Yeah, I did use the word "chunks" intentionally.

But don't bother about the Orthodox Christianity table. It's old hat stuff. Sure, it's got all the necessary vitamins and minerals, but it's all so...unexciting. Who wants plain oatmeal with berries when you can have superultramega oats with chocolate sprinkles? How do you know your apples are natural if the proper authorities have not labeled them as organic? Do you really want your grandma's cookies, or cookies baked in all-natural cookie-stuff and filled with raisins certified to have had bugs all around them because no pesticides were used, were hand-picked by illegal immigrants who were paid a wage someone arbitrarily decided was fair, and no puppies were harmed in their making? Can your granny honestly say her cookies never harmed a puppy? I didn't think so.

Oh, sure, Orthodox Christianity was good enough for your grandparent. It helped them through a couple of world wars and severe financial depression, not to mention the other things they went through. And, yes, they're old and going to kick the bucket soon, so you really don't want to tell them that Heaven is just a myth--let them have their comforting lies, just like kids and Santa.

But you! You're young! You're different! You're special!!! You have the internet, Google, television, channel after channel of ESPN, coffeehouses on every corner! You're postreligious postchristian postright-and-wrong postmodern postmoral postcapitalism postElvis posteverything!!! You don't want plain food, you want super-foods! You want postfood foods!!

lib fun time

In short, were Jesus to to return in the flesh, he would be executed again, not by the world but by the church. Or left by the church to die in the cold, like Sheldon's character, or to be shot down in the nightmare urban violence of America's urban warfare because Christian's support right-wing extremists opposed to gun control, or excluded as an illegal immigrant.
John Caputo, What Would Jesus Deconstruct, p 32

Oh, joy, a favorite fun exercise of the left, "What outrageous and ridiculous things can we accuse the church of today!". Caputo's version seems to be "How the church would mistreat Jesus!"

Can I play, too?

Were Jesus to return in the flesh today...

The liberal media would write nasty things about Him, because He wasn't an evolutionist, but rather talked about Adam and Noah as if they had been real people.

Oh, and He would be pro-Israel, even as He would say some hard things about them.

Progressive churches would deny him a place in their pulpits, because He would insist on taking biblical moral teachings seriously, and spoke strongly against their attempts to say all religions lead to God. He would insist that only belief in Himself was the way to God.

Emergents would not invite Him to their conferences, because He would tell them that attempts to rethink and reimagine Christianity are misleading and wrong.

Muslims wouldn't like Him, because He'd tell them that Mohammed was wrong.

He'd tick off the Buddhists and Hindus and Mormons, too.

The political liberals (and no doubt the materialistic religious liberals) would be less than happy with Him, because He'd tell them to not love the world, He'd speak about His Father as if He is a real being and some kind of nonperson that runs around in men's minds. Plus, He'd work miracles, which would make those liberals scurry to explain them away.

Mostly, they'd get ticked off because He just wouldn't stand with them on things like global warming, robbing the rich to give to the deadbeats, homosexual rights, the right to abortion, anti-globalism, anti-imperialism, anti-this and that. He would not follow Alinsky's rules for radicals, wouldn't join in protests against police, wouldn't come down on the side of illegal immigrants.

Oh, no doubt, he would have some things to say to conservatives, too, and not all would be complimentary. He'd probably warn them about compromise with those of similar political ideas but seriously different religious beliefs. He'd probably tell conservative Christians to stop trying to appear nice to the world. He'd likely say that there's too little difference between the progressive who blatantly abuse and mishandle His Word, and evangelicals who water it down and make the Gospel the ultimate self-help method and God a perveyor of good feelins. And I'd hate to think what He'd say to the Word of Faith crowd. He'd probably say some things about speaking the right things but not living by them.

Which side would attempt to kill Him? Oh, certainly those of other religions have killed many Christians, so there's that to consider. I think progressives and emergents would, like the Jewish religious leaders of old, be so disappointed with the real Jesus over the one they've tried to imagine and deconstruct that, in order to preserve those imagined and deconstructed Jesus', they'd have to do away with the real one.

And I think there would be conservative Judas' who would be more than willing to sell Him out.


Spirituality begins its discussion of the sacred from the desire for an integrated life. Religions often operate on a sin-redemption paradigm, which has little resonance in today's society.
Burke and Taylor, A Heretic's Guide to Eternity, p. 60

"...little resonance in today's society". Well, maybe. So?

When has man wanted to know that he is a sinner in need of redemption? Yes, it doesn't resonate in society--any society. The Pharisees in Jesus' day seemed to not mind calling other's sinners, but were not so happy when Jesus did it to them. As they write a few pages later...

Although the link between grace and sin has driven Christianity for centuries, it just doesn't resonate in our culture anymore. It repulses rather than attracts. People are becoming much less inclined to acknowledge themselves as "sinners in need of a Savior." It's not that people view themselves as perfect; it that the language they use to describe themselves has changed. "Broken", "fragmented", and "lacking wholeness"--these are some of the new ways people describe their spiritual need.
p 64

So, people don't want to think of themselves as sinners, we shouldn't deal with sin? If a person has a serious illness, are doctors not allowed to deal with that illness or call it by name if it "just doesn't resonate in our culture anymore"? If a patient has cancer, is the doctor not allowed to use the word 'cancer' because "it repulses rather than attracts"?

As the Scriptures say, Christ died for our sin. If Christ died for our sin, then our sin is a serious issue, and should not be shunted aside because it "just doesn't resonate in our culture anymore", or it "repulses rather than attracts"; indeed, it could be said that we should stress it even more strongly when among people to whom it doesn't resonate and for whom it repulses rather than attracts.

It is not our job to rethink, redesign, reimagine, rewhatever the message God has given us, especially if the message is not well-received. Trust me, if all we have to deal with are people saying it "just doesn't resonate", well, that's rather mild compared with the tortures and persecutions and martyrdoms Christians have suffered and still suffer. Some people have given the "It's not relevant and it's repulsive" in rather definite, strong, and (for the Christians) painful ways.

Monday, September 6, 2010

one thing i've been working on

My postings here have been rather infrequent for a while. There have been reasons for that. Work was busy for a while, for one thing.

Here is another reason, a bit of something I've working on.

En Passant

It's a bit of work about things that are of concern to me that I see and hear about in the church. I'm not going to say it's overly deep, it's certainly on the popular level. Much of it is non-fiction, except for some chapters about a fictional 'dream', which are my attempts at fiction and biting humor. It does deal with some emergent stuff, though is not confined to those issues.

So, it's up for anyone to read. Do so, please, and address whatever in it is of interest to you.