We lost the culture wars because we lost our moral authority. We Christians have behaved badly. We have strong-armed money from the weak and elderly to build media empires. We have abandoned our own standards of sexual propriety, but publicly insisted that others abide by them. We’ve abused children in the worst ways, and then covered up our shame with deceit and guile. We’ve drifted away from the love and grace that is at the core of Jesus’ message – and somewhere along the way, we stopped being good neighbors, stopped being helpers to our society, and became harsh critics.
We didn’t set out to do these things… but we did them.
How did this happen? How could we have drifted so far from the things we hold dear? How could our leaders have led us this way, and we have allowed ourselves to go along for the ride? How did we go from being the driving force behind abolition, universal education, health care, community, and the many, many good things we brought to Western society… to where we are today?
That is the question!
And we can’t answer that question, unless we do what the defeated do. We have needed for some time, to withdraw to the hills and reflect. We have needed for some time, to admit that we lost the culture wars… and quit fighting. We have needed to go away to the stillness, and ask this really important question… “How did this happen?”
We need to do what the Chinese did in 1933; find a quiet place, quiet our souls, and seek out a superior truth. We need to sorrowfully, apologetically, answer that question. Not only do we need to have another Reformation to update how we tell our Christian Story for the Quantum Era, we also need our souls to be healed. We need to excise the narrative that feeds these instincts that have gotten us into so much trouble.
It’s a tough road before us. But it starts with admitting our failure, humbling ourselves, and shutting up!
A good place to start: recovering the contemplative practices of our tradition. A good place to start: the spiritual discipline of silence. As things have gone badly, we’ve become anxious. In our anxiety, our tone has become loud, shrill, and brittle. An extended season of silence would be good for us.
In silence, we listen for the Inner Voice. In silence we discern the Truth that sets us free. In silence, we rediscover our superior truths. This shouldn’t surprise us. It’s our way. We could call it “the way of the wilderness.” Everybody who is anybody in our ancient texts got a trip to the wilderness. Away from power, away from supremacy and authority, this is where the vanquished hammer out a new, truer, and more authentic spirituality.
The good news is that some of us have already started the journey.
These three posts were very stimulating…. to me. I am getting a better idea who your audience is. Its not the preacher with the tattoes unless he burns out doing it. Ummmm. There are some “relevant pop” churches with rock music that are doing very well in this town with younger people. Five services to fit the crowd. Its a factory. Its scary. Reminds me of the movie about the sinking ship and the crowd following a professor to their doom going to the ships bow insterad of the stern..
i’m friends w/ some of the folks who lead those churches. i like them. they have an important mission.
my hope is to be one more voice in our christian community helping us navigate the religious reformation that the quantum era is requiring of us.
people with energy and creativity create interesting things – it’s what we do. and good, good, good for them.
but i’ve been part of creative, energetic enterprises like that in the past. it was a blessing… and a curse. my hope is to help people maintain the blessing of their gifts and energies, and avoid the curse. my hope is that we don’t continue falling into the trap jesus warned the pharisees about – moving heaven and earth to make converts, but then turning them into religious automatons (sons of perdition was his word – but that sounded harsh).
we christians tend to do that.
and thanks, robert, for the posts.
Like Robert, it occurs to me to wonder about your audience. In this series, I felt a little defensive at first (it was better once you identified the enemy) and then I wondered about who you hoped would be reading your words.
the folks i hope have these discussions are those who have come to believe that becoming christian would make their lives worse – burned out, keeping up the form of the faith, but having it silently erode under them.
or… the faithful, who are insulated enough from the facts on the ground, that they don’t know the toxic and desperate state the church is in these days.
defensiveness is a passing state once people realize we’re not fighting… we’re simply stating what is. unfortunately, in as our generation does church, there are a lot of “the emperor has no clothes” kinds of things we have to admit.
but acknowledging the problem is always the first step to fixing the problem.