Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Something to ponder

One of my former students who is very bright and a deep thinker pointed me in the direction of an article on the website "Big Questions Online." It's a rather fascinating but theologically deep article. What really struck me was this...

It's important to understand the point I'm making here. I'm not mounting (in this post) an argument against gay marriage. I'm saying that it's inevitable, given that the deep culture-shaping power of Christianity has been shattered, and the only religion people are coming to understand is one that has no real power to bind, only to be therapeutically useful. (There's a reason that Rick Warren's model of church is doing so well -- it offers the simulacrum of traditional Evangelicalism, while focusing heavily on practical therapy). In large numbers, we are seeing those 30 and under walking away from the churches -- both liberal and conservative churches -- and not into atheism, but into an unaffiliated, "spiritual but not religious" category. They want to feel some nominal sense of spiritual connectedness, but only insofar as it ratifies their feelings. They could have formal religion that embraced their views on sexuality by becoming Episcopalian, or joining one of the other liberal Protestant churches -- but they're not. Though they still profess a preference for God, they don't want religious institution, or authority. Rieff saw this coming, and indeed said consumerist religion was the logical fallout from the eclipse of Christianity and its teachings as authoritative in the psychological life of Western man.

A religion that "ratifies the feelings" of her followers...very profound. I wonder if this is why people drop out of religion when they suffer hardship and death and why so many people want to get the crucifix out of churches. It doesn't validate feelings to think that Jesus suffered. We can accept a God who wants to hug us and love us. We can accept a Christ who offers sage advice about good living. But, we can't accept a God who calls us to put aside our feelings of personal satisfaction and comfort. Give me salvation because it will make me happy.


EyeAwa said...

In my opinion...to many people are to lazy. It's easy to just love Jesus when you have time. The internet is great...but it also drives people down the wrong road. Here is one link to the some of the problems.


I could talk for hours about this. We keep trying.


Jeb said...

I think one of the things that struck me the most regarding the love of God, was something we were told at a retreat at the Community of St. John.

It's a question, really. Do we love the God of consolations, or the consolations of God?

It was a revelation to me: God desires to be loved in himself, for himself, period, end of sentence/paragraph/story. Here we are, whining for people to take us as we are, to love us for who we are, not realizing that that is all that He is asking from us.

Of course, to love Him we must learn who he is, and as you say, Him Crucified is a discomfiting image.

What was He called? A stumbling block and a folly? I suppose that's bound to stay the same until the fulness of time.