Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Finger Wagging and Trite Morality
I've been thinking a lot lately about how Christians interact with culture. Two of my favorite movies are Love Actually, and Saved - both have been hammered by Christians. Why? Because Saved makes fun of the whole "Jesus is my personal savior" shallow, and, ironically, judgmental evangelical culture, while Love Actually is replete with bad language and some nudity. These same people will watch Facing the Giants and tell all their friends to do the same. That's odd because the message of Facing the Giants is unChristian! One Christian review site site this: "I saw absolutely nothing offensive to mention. There is no violence at all, other than normal football play. I saw nothing of concern in that. One player was hurt in a game and helped off the field. There is no profanity, no sexual situations, and no scantily-clad or half-dressed people in the movie. It was a good, clean family film; and I recommend it for viewers of all ages." So, Christian theology holds that if you pray hard God will let your football team win and you'll make more money and everyone will love and respect you? Where? In what gospel? Meanwhile, Love Actually presents a profoundly Christian message about the primacy of love - and the many expressions of love.
So, in this context I found this quote from ethicist Christian Smith: "When it comes to the relatively important things in life – basic values and behaviors concerning power, prestige, justice, peace, security, work – most Christians are indistinguishable from the world. Still, Christians know that they should be different from the world in some way, and so in an effort to establish some kind of Christian distinctiveness, attention is focused on the trivial, which by it’s very nature does not require us to make difficult changes in our lives. In the end, it’s entirely okay to be captive to the idols of mass consumerism, as long as we don’t watch R-rated movies; it’s perfectly acceptable to spend our lives pursuing a cozy affluence, as long as we don’t mow our lawn on a Sunday; it’s just fine to live a life completely indifferent to systematic starvation around the world, as long as we don’t drink a beer. We, like the Pharisees, strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel." I tend to agree. How about you?