12 September 2006 

Subversive Christianity

This week there is a camp of older couples called "Empty Nesters," the idea being that its a time for married people whose children have left home to fellowship and relive the days of their youth up here. It quite inspiring actually, to see so many of these people who have been exactly where I am and to see what the fruit of their lives and work with the gospel has brought to pass. But at the same time, the nature of the generation that is here is such that I can get quite exasperated. The 50+ something generation makes up half or more of the Christian population in the United States, and aside from handfuls here and there, they are growing increasingly unable to adapt to the post modern world. For example. The other day the Empty Nesters camp was praying for the IFES movements in Europe, and the MC said something like, "Europe, of course, is postmodern now, Christianity is nearly dead there." And I was slightly shocked. True, the church in America has a little more life left in it than Europe does, but even the church here is incredibly marginalized by post-modernism. And that statement just irked me, what do they think the culture in America is? America is as post-modern as Europe, and sadly, I think the only reason that the church here is not in the same place as the European church is the political agenda of the religious right.

But it just underlies the point that the patriarchs and matriarchs of the church today are still largely concerned with relating to a world that they view as modern. A world where reason and logic are prominent, and its not a question of which God, but is there a God, questions that the world as a whole has moved beyond. What is sadder to me, is that I am a victim of this thinking as much as anyone. Until the last couple years when I've actually engaged with people and talked with them about who God is and who they think Christ is I just assumed that you were either a Christian or you didn't believe in God, largely because I was raised in churches that believed and continue to believe that. The church needs to understand that we are not God's keepers anymore and that those seeking God will automatically seek us out. The church must reexamine its self image and see itself as God's people, in competition with the concepts of God that the rest of the world carries around with it. The church no longer has a monopoly on God, and has not for 50 years. The world today is not agnostic, its pluralistic, not "if there's a God, but why not this god?"

In many ways I find it fascinating, Christianity has so long ruled the West as the only religion that it has forgotten its roots as a marginalized religion growing in the midst of Judiasm, and countless pagan gods. I've been studying Deuteronmy recently and one thing that has stuck out to me is the degree to which so many of the rules God gave Israel in the desert were meant to set them apart from the cultures around them which worshipped any number of other gods. God's covenant with Israel that "I will be your God and you will be my people," was played out in the ways Israel was meant to be radically different than the cultures around them. We have the same commission from Jesus. We are his people and we are meant to be radically different, to worship in a way that is radically different from the ways the culture around us worships. Its no longer a question of worshippers vs. non-worshippers, we can't peddle God as once the church did. Relationships, living lives changed completely by Christ, walking in the mist of this world and staying close to Christ, those are the ways that Christians are called to bear witness. In the beginning it was such, and now 2000 years later, it has come full circle. Let us embrace the subversive position that we now find ourselves in. I compare it to the movie Fight Club. There is something wrong about the way the world works, you are not your job, you are not your clothes, you are not your things... and people know it, they know that material wealth is empty, they are just looking for an alternative.

I enjoy the idea of a Christian fight club... the idea that there is a more basic need to be met than what the world feeds us, but people need to be shown what that need is, which is why the church can't trade the Gospel of Grace for a gospel of tolerance, or prosperity, or social justice. Those things can all be good, but the Good News of the Gospel is only good if people realize that there is bad news to be saved from. Sin is a dirty world, hell is a dirty word, intolerance is a dirty word, but without them how will people understand what is being offered them. A blind man doesn't know that he must be pulled back from the cliff or pushed out of the way of an oncoming car. We need to view the culture and world around us in that way, that they are blind and are as likely to punch us as thank us for pushing them out of the way of the car, but just as you wouldn't worry what the blind man thought of what you were doing when you pushed him out of the way, we can't worry what people will think of us afterwards when we are trying to save them.

08 September 2006 

A Slow News Day

Finding subjects worth writing on has been an interesting if futile exercise these last few weeks. My mind has been active, but mostly it is filled with things of a highly personal nature that I don't plan on sharing here. Cedar Campus is an amazing place, and just as beautiful in the fall as in the summer. So far, aside from the nights, it still feels like summer here. It's in the seventies most days, and only at night does it feel colder than it should for early September, but I'm told by the staff here that what we are experiencing now is a bit of an anomoly.

The work here has been largely interesting and engaging. I spent much of the first week fully emmercing myself in the tech system here, learning its ins and outs and the first weekend spent many hours working on a massive hardware upgrade to our wifi system and private lan. It was very exciting for me, not only because I learned so much, but because I found that I had a very solid base of skills for that sort of work. It was more natural than I expected, and I could feel my role expanding as we worked on it longer and longer. This past week, however, has been a little different. Because almost all of the fortysome crew that were here when I arrived have know left, feeding the camps staff and guests has become a critical operation, and everyone not tied down to something is being taken to the kitchen for help. So the last week I have spent it cooking and cleaning, making bread and pancakes and setting buffet lines. Not exactly what I had envisioned, but not disagreeable work either. It's a highly social atmosphere in the kitchen, which I enjoy, but the day stretches out much more than anywhere else, often working from 7am until 8pm with a few hours off between meals. It's nice reading time, but I would rather have my work be work and my time be my own.

I've been doing a lot of work on my life recently, mostly in the architectural stages, but I've spent several hours the last week in thinking through, praying over, and writing out a life plan. Committing to paper my priorities, goals, ambitions, and plans to achieve all those things. It's not close to done yet, as it seems to take quite as long just to think through each item as type it out, but I feel very good having started on it. It is starting to rain here, which means I had better post this before we lose the satellite feed. Maybe too late already. Peace.