Monday, August 15, 2005

Christianity is dead; long live the Kingdom of God!

Christianity is not a silver-bullet solution to the anxious vertigo of slippage brought on by the disembodied place-less-ness of modernity. One shouldn't be a Christian because you are afraid of modernity and want a ticket out. Christianity is not a formaldehyde tank for the safe and nostalgic. It is not a safe-house for those fleeing the maelstrom/free-play of modernity. Indeed, in this respect the pagan is better than the Christian because the pagan openly expereriences what it means to be a human being today. Our petty fear of the Harry Potter's -- in other ages: Elvis & rock music, card-playing, role playing, the bikini, the cinema -- masks a larger attitude, somewhere between prejudice and phobia but more like stunned noncomprehension. What has the Christian to say to the Howard-Stern-approving B-culture Dollar-store culture, the gamers, to the samplers and hip-hoppers, to the hackers (and this is just a sampling of youth-culture, not to mention the larger cultures which inhabit the fragmented West)? The gospel has assumed a new shape today, a shape which we do not know. We do not know it largely because we have forgotten the wake-up-to-real-life incarnated in the poor, the outcast, and the dispossessed. We are anesthetized against all feeling, and kept safe from any possibility of cognitive and emotional revival by means of the overstock of personal calendars by multiple bureaucracies both internal and external. It is exactly our inability to discover this shape which makes our "evangelism" thud like a dead-fish against a wall of cultural miscommunication. In every one of those awful moments, we ourselves (rather than our supposed hearer) come to suspect that something has been lost. We wonder whether we even understand our own faith. Where is the power? Where is that electric and threatening power in the message which proved so explosive in the first century wherever it was preached? That message was all about the Kingdom of God. Christianity is dead - and the sooner the better, but long live the Kingdom of God!