In two previous blog posts I examined the Christian engagement with the post-Christian culture. Those posts implied that the dominant paradigm of Evangelicals preserving our culture by “Taking back America” is wrong-headed. It is wrong-headed because it denies the moral strangeness that exists between Christianity and Secularism. In the next post I opined that the Christian efforts to preserve traditional marriage will fail. I was pretty pessimistic.
My prediction is that gay marriage is an inevitability. Eventually there will be a federal law. I predict that same-sex couples will not settle for tolerance and being left alone with their right to marry. Instead many will demand non-discrimination from religious organizations. They will insist that churches rent out their fellowship halls to same-sex weddings if they are going to do weddings for any hetero-sexual couples and will sue if they are denied. . . To be clear I don’t think there is any amount of voting or lobbying or grass roots efforts that will change this.
Christians need to shift from the dominant paradigm to something else. In this last post I want to propose what that “something else” might be. As always these ideas are mine alone and do not necessarily represent Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc.
Rodney Clapp the author and former editor of Christianity Today says that in the dominant paradigm of engagement with culture the Church sees itself as the “Sponsoring Chaplain” of society. Continue reading …
Its not often that we see a social narrative change before our eyes but I humbly submit that I think we witnessed one on May 9th. North Carolina passed a controversial measure to prohibit gay marriage and President Obama declared that he had changed his mind and gay marriage should be legal.
Just like, Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, hard facts and strong opinions spread around the world as everyone and their cousin posted meme after meme expressing their opinion in no uncertain terms. Many, many people rejoiced at the news that the President’s opinion had evolved. For North Carolina citizens, the task of defending their vote became something else: a war of sentiment and emotion. The true extent of the moral strangeness that I discussed in my last post was laid bare for all to see.
Before May 9th, there was no shortage of disagreement about gay marriage or homosexuality itself. It was passionate. Christians no less so than non-Religious people. There was nothing new about one side claiming the other was unreasonable. There was nothing particularly novel about the debate about institutions and the significance of the word “marriage” but there wasn’t a lot of talk about bigotry. After May 9th, Bigotry was the prevailing narrative.
My son, Wesley, is getting to the age where we have to talk about stranger danger. This is particularly a concern for my wife and I because Wesley is, to put it mildly, sociable. He talks to everybody. While I was waiting for my oil to be changed at Wal-Mart the other day, Wesley was carrying on a conversation with a bicycle mechanic, a 70 year old grandmother of two, and a 19 year old co-ed. While I was at the counter being told I absolutely must get that $65.00 radiator flush or else, I overheard Wes announce to his companions “My dad turned forty and has a lot of grey hair because of me and my sister.”
So obviously we need to explain that striking up conversations with complete strangers is something we only do when a parent is around. Christian bioethicst and Eastern Orthodox Christian, Tristam Englehardt Jr., writes about a different kind of strangeness. Moral strangeness:
Moral strangers are persons who do not share sufficient moral premises or rules of evidence and inference to resolve moral controversies by sound rational argument, or who do not have a common commitment to individuals or institutions in authority to resolve moral controversies.
Here’s a way to illustrate the problems with having a substantive moral debate between moral strangers. Suppose that an Evangelical Christian and an Atheist both see the following picture posted on facebook.
Bill Cosby is one of my favorite comedians. In fact, he is a favorite for many in part because his themes are exaggerations of situations which are common to more humans cross culturally. For example, his album, To Russell My Brother Whom I Slept With resonated those of us who had shared a room with our siblings as we remembered drawing an imaginary line down the center of the room to keep our brother or sister on “their side” (the door was usually on “my side). His description of “the belt” is hysterical and yet seemed to describe the implement of punishment as I sometimes thought of it myself as a child.
Bill Cosby has also been able to incorporate religious themes with equal ease into his routines. Continue reading …
Wikipedia has a short article on the February 26, 2012, Shooting of Trayvon Martin. In it they mention that Trayvon was an African-American but of the George Zimmerman, the one accused of shooting Trayvon they call him a “biracial Hispanic.” This is somewhat intriguing since they do not refer to Barack Obama as a biracial president in their piece, Barack Obama but instead describe him as “the first African American to hold the office.” Is this an attempt to create a link of racism on the part of George Zimmerman to his shooting of Trayvon Martin or an unwitting acceptance of claims of some in the media and especially of 2 religious leaders, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton? I don’t really know. Why describe George Zimmerman, whose father is White and mother is Hispanic as “biracial” and Barack Obama whose father is Kenyan (Black) and mother is white as “African American”? Perplexing. Continue reading …
I have been asked numerous times about the movement called Liberation Theology. What is it and where did it originate? Is it helpful or harmful? Or maybe somewhere in between? This movement actually sprung up in the 1960’s as some Latin American scholars attempted to address poverty and oppression perpetuated by dictatorial governments in various parts of the world especially in Roman Catholic countries in South America.. It certainly sounded like a good cause. Could social change be facilitated and people liberated out of poverty through social justice and personal empowerment helped along by Bible verses? These ideas were introduced in the United States through the writings of Gustavo Gutierrez, ( Dictionary of Christianity in America, pages 648-650). The sad fact is that Liberation Theology Continue reading …
I promised in my last post No Peaceful Option that I would offer what I think coexistence looks like apart from the bumper sticker platitude. Virtuous coexistence lives in my Facebook feed. Diversity of thought, thy name is Facebook. Here in this space something amazing happens. Good people disagree about the fundamental questions of life. Let me preface what follows by saying this is not me bragging though I am proud of how we all get along in our little arena of diverse opinion. No doubt, you too, can point to the coexistence going on in your own correspondence. This should be celebrated. Coexistence is not a bad thing at all.
Christians can coexist with other religions. Recently Sam Harris of Letter to a Christian Nation has challenged Christians that Christianity and Atheism aren’t that far apart. After all, Christians are atheists when it comes to religions like Islam and Hinduism. Christians deny the teachings of Islam just as Atheists deny the teachings of all religion, right? Well, Douglas Wilson has responded, Continue reading …