The thought has occurred to me often and increasingly that much of contemporary Christianity has become an elaborate system of ideas, experiences, traditions and ceremonies functioning as justification for American lifestyles and culture. In a real sense, organized religion works to shield adherents from the radical values and expressed directives of Jesus. Our lives have gone so far afield from what the founder championed and from the difficulty of real, devoted adherence to his seemingly near impossible demands.
Our response? We've fashioned a substitute or replacement religion that allows us to go on with our lives as they have been formed by our culture, while also inviting us to waiting for the next life to arrive.
An irony is that embracing the protective substitute version of the faith is not limited to the well-to-do or even the middle class, but affects the underclass as well. Media and marketing allow us all to believe that the rewards and certain outcomes of the American Dream will someday and soon be ours as well. Embracing the gospel of the status quo sets us free to compartmentalize life into manageable sectors that may or may relate to one another at all.
Countervailing voices to this mainstream, accepted accommodation get shouted down as "liberationists," "heretics," or worse. Clearly, Jesus would not be accepted by much of the contemporary Christian community, just as he was rejected by the religious of his own day.
Now comes conservative columnist, David Brooks whose words in an Op-Ed essay published on September 6, 2010 in The New York Times follow much the same train of thought.
Tell me what you think.
The Gospel of Wealth
Maybe the first decade of the 21st century will come to be known as the great age of headroom. During those years, new houses had great rooms with 20-foot ceilings and entire new art forms had to be invented to fill the acres of empty overhead wall space.
People bought bulbous vehicles like Hummers and Suburbans. The rule was, The Smaller the Woman, the Bigger the Car — so you would see a 90-pound lady in tennis whites driving a 4-ton truck with enough headroom to allow her to drive with her doubles partner perched atop her shoulders.
When future archeologists dig up the remains of that epoch, they will likely conclude that sometime around 1996, the U.S. was afflicted by a plague of claustrophobia and drove itself bankrupt in search of relief.
But that economy went poof, and social norms have since changed. The oversized now looks slightly ridiculous. Values have changed as well.
Today, savings rates are climbing and smart advertisers emphasize small-town restraint and respectability. The Tea Party movement is militantly bourgeois. It uses Abbie Hoffman means to get back to Norman Rockwell ends.
Platt earned two master’s degrees and a doctorate from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. At age 26, he was hired to lead a 4,300-person suburban church in Birmingham, Ala., and became known as the youngest megachurch leader in America.
Platt grew uneasy with the role he had fallen into and wrote about it in a recent book called “Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream.” It encapsulates many of the themes that have been floating around 20-something evangelical circles the past several years.
To read on click here.