Give Me that Old Time Religion

10 06 2008

So I spend a lot of time browsing the interweb and reading various articles, blogs, just about anything that might catch my interest. I spend a consider amount of time reading various blogs and articles which are influenced or are part of the Emergent movement. Sometimes–even usually–I really like what is said. I also really enjoy reading and engaging material dealing with the Christian peace movement as I’m a committed pacifist who believes–quite strongly–that to follow Jesus means (without exception) refusing to take up the sword or my fists.

Some might dub me a “liberal” in some kind of political sense because of my fairly strong dislike for the Religious Right, “conservative politics” and all that jazz.

But there’s also something that sometimes sticks like a pin prick on occasion, because sometimes I get the sense that for many who might describe themselves as “Emergent” or “Progressively Evangelical” or similar self denominating titles is that it still feels like the kind of hip, cool dreads and tattoo Evangelicalism that I once knew. While it’s not hippsters talking hellfire and brimstone, it still seems so “boringly radical”. Radical for the sake of radicality utterly bores me. I love beer, tobacco, tattoos, rock music and curse as much as the next post-post-post-whatever person. But that in itself is just boring and unimpressive, as unimpressive as that is what I feel is sometimes a lack of appreciation for the radicality of traditional–ordinary–Christianity.

I dislike trying to make Christianity cool. No. Let me rephrase that, I despise trying to make Christianity cool. Christianity isn’t cool, it never was cool, and it never will be cool. Jesus isn’t cool.

I’m reminded of a bumper sticker recently, “I was uncool before being uncool was cool.”

Over the last few years I’ve seen “being geek” become trendy, suddenly wearing glasses, playing video games and liking Star Wars went from being an offense punishable from the local school bully to making you a rock star. Hey, I’ve been a video game playing loser since I was five, so the fact that now chicks dig guys who play Xbox makes me feel sexy. Problem is, it’s suddenly “cool” to be “uncool”.

Jesus shouldn’t be cool, even by making Him “uncool” in order to do so. Being “liberal” or opposing institutionalized Evangelicalism doesn’t really mean shit.

“Give me that old time religion” is a phrase that comes to mind here. I like traditional, boring, regular Christianity. It is Christianity. I’m not saying we should all be doing a Tridentine Mass, but without the substance of tradition it’s just being trendy for the sake of being trendy. Feel free to challenge the tradition, but we can’t simply be reinventing the wheel every twenty or thirty years.

All I’m really saying, and I realize this is kind of a rather aimless, meandering rant, is that Christianity is just Christianity, we should let it be what it is.

Insofar as the various forms of the “Emergent Movement” challenges modern Evangelicals to rethink their assumptions and invites us to look openly and honestly at our ancient tradition and theological heritage and at the broader Christian tradition as a whole I think it’s a good thing. Where it starts to make me feel a little queasy is when it starts to look like an outer shell of “radness” without the real radicality of the Christian Gospel.

Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again.

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3 responses

20 07 2008
Art

“Jesus shouldn’t be cool, even by making Him “uncool” in order to do so. Being “liberal” or opposing institutionalized Evangelicalism doesn’t really mean shit.”

Amen.

16 08 2008
dcrowe

“I dislike trying to make Christianity cool. No. Let me rephrase that, I despise trying to make Christianity cool. Christianity isn’t cool, it never was cool, and it never will be cool. Jesus isn’t cool.”

Well said. I’m adding a link to your blog on my blog, returngood.com, and I’d love it if you did the same.

5 09 2008
christianliberal

“Christian Liberal.”
“Isn’t that an oxymoron?” they ask? Is it possible to be Christian AND liberal?”
“What are you doing this for?” “Are you being sarcastic? Cynical?”

Yes, I have to agree there is an element of satire, even cynicism, in my posts, but I AM serious about being a liberal Christian.

I guess getting right down to the core, the rant comes down to exposing the rampant hypocrisy of self-appointed Christians, who distort Christ’s teaching for the purposes of justifying their desire to murder people in cultures they don’t agree with, protect their own financial assets at the expense of the environment and the working standards of people in other countries, and to segregate and dehumanize anyone of lower class status or non-traditional lifestyles.

This can be seen even in several responses, which seem to suggest that money going into the war machine somehow actually helps Americans. The argument completely ignoring the fact that the output of such production goes to bombing houses in other countries, “peacekeeper” missiles, billion-dollar bombers, and occupying other lands half-way round the world. What a disgrace!
We could really do good for the American workers and world by putting that cash into health care, infrastructure, science, and research.

There’s a favorite hymn here in California . . . “They will know we are Christian by our love, by our love . . .” But there’s no love in a B-1 bomber, no love in a nuclear bunker-buster bomb, or remote drone that rains death down from the sky.
Oh, is that too cynical for you?

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