So we’ve come to our last of the quadrilateral, activism.
Bebbington defines it as: the belief that the gospel needs to expressed in effort. I define it as: the belief that the gospel needs to be expressed in effort to make Christianity the predominant Culture, ridding the evils of any one else’s point-of-view.
Out of all 4 points of the quadrilateral, this one is probably the one that would brand me a liberal by our more conservative brothers and sisters, but I feel this needs to be said: We do not live in a Christian culture, and the former ‘Christian’ culture of Canada was of face-value at best. A culture war is an exercise in futility.
And there you have it. North-American Christianity, though far more prominent south of the border (though that seems to be changing), seems to be deadset on winning some cultural war against sex, homosexuality, postmodernism, religious plurality, and, it seems, the political left. All of these contribute to the downfall of society, or so I was to believe, had I listened to the late Jerry Falwell, or even Pat “Assassination’s cool with God” Robertson.
Don’t get me wrong. Some of these things are wrong. Some of these things aren’t bad, they are just reality. I’m not going to tell you which, but I am going to say what I think are the two things Christians do in response to culture that is bogus: wholesale condemnation, followed by a really crappy, ‘cleansed’ copy.
First off, the condemnation. I don’t understand how we can condemn a culture that is devoid of the Word for doing things against the Word? Yes, there are things that are bad that need to be brought to justice and renewed (television standards and practices), and there are things beyond redemption that we need to just condemn outrightly (abortion), but we are doing it in just the dumbest way possible. Scare tactics, guilt, and even outright hatred are not the ways of how Christians are to respond, let alone how Christ responded to things he that were wrong. Where is the love for our fellow man in saying “God hates Fags,” or “Abortionists are Murderers?”
Secondly, we really suck at creating an alternative. Contemporary Christian Music tends to be about 4 years behind realities tastes and flavours, not even mentioning how mediocre most of the talent is, and don’t even get me started on Kirk Cameron and his Left Behind movies (or for that matter, Tim Le Haye and Jerry Jenkins for coming up with those pieces of trash). We North-American Christians, by and large, seem to hate to be innovative or creative. What happened to 2000 years of Art History centred around Jesus? What made Christians hate good art so much that they would create all this garbage? For the sake of the Lord, make something decent.
Solutions: First of all, I think we need to cast off the ‘Christian’ label we have attached to everything in our God-fearing households, and replace them with socially-responsible products (which I’m pretty sure Jesus would appreciate it more than you may think). Second, we to interact and dialogue with our communities, to not feel better abour oursevles, but to serve the needs of those seeking out the kingdom, wherever they may be.
So that ends this cycle on Evangelicalism. I think I may write one more post on implicatiions, but we’ll have to see. I hope you’ve gotten something out of thise.
I really love Christmas. Unlike many of my Christmas-loving friends, however, I try to be really strict on when I start decorating/celebrating – I like to start with Advent, the first event of the Church’s liturgical Calendar.
We have one of those?
For those of us outside of the mainline churches (which is most of you who read this), the liturgical calendar is the ordering of the holidays, big and small, important to the Church that happen throughout the year. It starts in December with Advent. The Church starts then, and as a (albeit small) measure of discipline, I’m not starting to celebrate or blog about it til then. But, like in years of steady-blogging past, I will be commenting on Christmas steadily throughout the season.
As a preview, here’s something I picked up off of Jeff Smyth’s blog, Paradox of Living, about something I seriously think about every year:
Charities seem to be different these days.
I mean, I think about charities that have been around forever (relative to my 20-some years of awareness outside of my own family) like United Way, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Christian Children’s Fund, and Worldvision, and I think about rocks within my community – stable, unobtrusive, and fairly low-key. I see them as the charities of my parents: heirarchical, top-down, Modernist, and somewhat outdated. First, let me say that I’m not trying to put down any of these organizations – I’ve donated to almost all of the above charitable organizations without regret – but I don’t see a spread, a growth, or a story.
Each one of the above have pretty much done things the same way, organizationally and communicatively, for as long as I can remember. If something isn’t broke, don’t fix it, right? This worries me because as we move into an ever-evolving post-modern internet culture where information is in excess and meaning is in short supply, I’m not sure these organizations know how to tell their stories to a new generation.
The reason I’ve been thinking about this is because I’ve been thinking about a few charities of late that have really touched me. Let me outline a few:
I think what’s different about these charities is not that they are hip, attractive, and cutting-edge in website design (though that helps), but I think its because they have all centered themselves around, and deeply invested themselves in, meaningful stories. Meaning and purpose drip from these charities, and catch my eye because they speak my language.
The vet charities will hopefully be around forever because of the need they fill, and people fill that need because of what they know it does good, but it seems that they are organizations and not people; faceless constructs intent on supplying the world with good. My fear is that without change, these might indeed become relics in history.
Luckily there are a few that have picked up on this for the vets too and have done something about it. My friend, Tim Bailey, decided to see for himself what Compassion does with the money he donates to sponsor a young one, and he went to Haiti and made a movie about it. The movie is great. It connected with me and gave meaning to sponsoring children. I hope to do the same in a few years in Thailand with Isaiah 61 Project.
Where do we go from here? Well we need to find our way into these giants of charity work in North America (primarily) and help them regain a story and a meaning that will connect themselves with the generation at hand.
This entry was written by Activism, Culture and tagged Charity, Christian Children's Fund, Compassion, Goodwill, Isaiah 61 Project, Love Knits, Meaning, Millenials, Salvation Army, Treasures, TWLOHA, United Way, Worldvision. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink., posted on November 15, 2008 at 2:58 am, filed under