Saturday, November 12, 2005

Christianity: Flying in the Face of Popular Culture, Part VI

Christian Sub-Cultures

I'm not sure if I'm making my point yet that Christianity flies in the face of popular culture. But I want to digress and talk about Christian sub-cultures. Next I'm going to try to jump into: What Would A Christian Nation Look Like?

Or maybe I shall swap those two things.

When Steve Taylor wrote about a Christian Cow, it really meant something to me:

So you need a new car? Let your fingers take a walk
You'll be keeping all your money in the kingdom now
And you'll only drink milk from a Christian cow.
Don't you go casting your bread
To keep the heathen well fed
Line Christian pockets instead
Avoid temptation Guilty by association.

It meant something to me, because my parents had a Christian Yellow pages tucked away for that very reason. Thankfully they weren't nuts about it and didn't take it too seriously, but they definitely tried to "keep the money in the kingdom" - something that I felt was the height of absurdity.

So, my first point: When Christ said "you are in the world but not of the world" he didn't mean that we have to be total isolationists, keeping ourselves entirely from the secular world. I have relatives that have lived for most of my life on "Christian communes" because they didn't want to have anything to do with the secular world. They didn't celebrate Christmas, because it was heathen and secular. They didn't watch TV, and they didn't send out birthday cards, because birthdays were a secular thing, and in Christ you have no birthday.

One of the great things I love about Orthodox Christianity is the way the Church spreads itself out like leaven all over the world. Far from separate herself from the world: the Church has as one of her main goals the "restoration of the cosmos."

And then, on the other hand, you end up with your little Christian sub-cultures. There are a whole bunch of protestants that I work with. They all listen to the same radio stations, and same music (CCM). (And I'm always thankful when I mention Daniel Amos, the Seventy Sevens, Randy Stonehill, etc. to them and they've never heard of them... that reminds me that I am the one that's sane.) They all the same "straight-laced" values and narrow view of the world, and they find people like me and my Catholic friend at work to be just plain old odd-balls.

Well, okay, so I am an odd-ball. I cannot speak for my friend.

It turns out that when these guys all listen to the same radio stations, the all have pretty much the same points of view on everything. The problem is that their POV is about a Christianity that has no definitive form, and yet can somehow claim to be the moral authority on everything in the world.

In my line of thinking: if you goal in life is to secure a particular moral state for all society, then you are a Muslim, and Christ has no need of you, thank you very much, have a nice day.

Christianity is not about moralizing the world so that it will be clear cut who is on God's side and who isn't, so that he can come back from Heaven on his white horse (with robes dipped in blood) and slay all you HEATHENS.

No, on the contrary, Christianity is about restoring the world to a state of being where it is in harmony with God. If any soul is lost, it is OUR FAULT, so we have no room to rejoice in the fact that someone is condemned to hell.

You know, there have been some saints that prayed for the salvation of the Devil himself (and there have been some fathers of the Church that speculated that it was possible that the Devil might be saved.)

We weep at the fact that anyone might be punished by God. We don't rejoice in it. We sorrow at the loss and separation endured by so many people.

It is a fact of social structure (something you might learn about in a sociology class) that there will be sub-cultures, and even Christian sub-cultures - and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. We like our little Greek and Russian clubs, our strange Arab ways of doing liturgics (and of singing). And we like the fact that we are different, but we've got something in common in our differences. The Church transcends these little pockets, these little cultural groups.

The main problem I have with the Main-Stream Protestant culture is that it is a far far cry from anything even remotely resembling Christ's Church. And (as I've noted above) it more closely resembles Islam, with it's emphasis on morality.

So, my next question (because it should be clear now, I do not think THIS is it): What would a Christian nation look like?

~ basil ~

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