You and those who lead you have spent the last year in vile character assassinations (a form of murder, but who knew?) in an attempt to convince me (and other “friends”) of the righteousness of your worldview. To those of us who’ve had to endure this bombardment, the relentless hostility of the cartoons, clever images and commentary came off as a haughty justification of your superiority by painting your political enemy as something less than human. This is called “demonizing,” something that your spiritual taproot probably condemns.
I cannot count the number of times I came across the theme “I’m a Christian; I’m voting for Romney,” spoken with certainty, as if a vote for “that other man” was a vote for evil personified. I’m serious. It was that bad. And this thought did not originate with you; you were simply parroting what others inside your bubble were saying. What is it about politics that turns a certain group of Christians into ignorant, raving maniacs?
If your God needs you to participate in the process in this manner then, I’m sorry, but you need a bigger God!
The latest report from the PEW Forum on Religion & Public Life a few weeks ago has many loud messages for those who have ears to hear. Here are three specific findings.
- The numbers of people who say they are unaffiliated with any religion jumped to almost one in five (19.6%), and those are more likely younger adults.
- Protestantism fell below the 50% threshold for the first time. Just 48% of Americans call themselves Protestants today, down 5% in just one year. This Protestant decline goes back many years, which leads us to the third finding.
- When the unaffiliateds were asked for their views about religious institutions, 70% said such institutions are too interested in money and power; focus too much on rules; and are too involved in politics.
So let’s summarize: Protestant Christianity is not only in a significant decline, but it’s pushing its future out the door by an overemphasis on money, power, rules and politics.
The problem, according to Pew, is that the flock sees through these behaviors and is pulling away, and as Stephen Covey once wrote, “You can’t talk your way out of something you behaved your way into.”
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves.
Because I used to live inside this bubble myself, I know the automatic retort — that an increasingly immoral culture is trying to pull you into the gutter with it, and that voting in “righteous” representatives is your duty as citizens. Let me repeat, you need a bigger God. When in history has “the culture” not tried to pull you into the abyss? No, it’s not the culture; it’s your reaction.
It’s my prayer that over the next four years, you’ll begin the important journey of reading the work of those outside your bubble, because the reflection from inside your dwelling place has blinded you, or at least colored your view of truth. I’m as Bible-aware as any of you, but I’ve matured over the years and am now influenced by many other people, views and philosophies. The view from here is much more inclusive but not any easier, and I don’t find any evidence either of a world that’s conveniently just black or white. If it were so, life would be so much simpler. The gray confounds, but that’s where you’ll find God’s spirit most at work.
In the postmodern era about which I write (which some call “postChristian”), the days of automatic, lock-step, Caucasian hierarchical acceptance are on the wane. God in the postmodern world is a participatory god, God, the Holy Spirit, and He is not concerned with a specific “type” of human being only.
If history is any judge, it’s very likely there will be revivals of religion in the 21st Century. Don’t count on them to look like those from the past, however, because the past has, well, passed.
And let’s all consider the old admonition, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”