Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Pop Christianity

OpEdNews has published an article by Carol Hamilton called Pop Christianity that makes some important observations. Take a look:

For Christianity has changed in America. The remote, inscrutable, and mysterious deity of the Puritans has become hands-on, accessible, transparent, and distinctly pro-American. The commentaries and interpretations of past centuries are read only in highbrow theological seminaries, which most prominent American preachers do not attend. Americans read best-sellers like The Purpose-Driven Life, which assures them that God takes a personal interest in the most trivial aspects of their lives.

I call this phenomenon "Pop Christianity." Like pop music and pop psychology, it is purged of complexities, nuance, and darkness. Pop Christianity looks relentlessly on the bright side of life. In its heaven, there are no clouds, only silver linings.

It turns a blind eye to suffering, like the mass death of the 34 people in St. Rita's Nursing Home in New Orleans-those elderly people who may well have cried out like Job, or like Christ himself, as the waters relentlessly rose around their wheel-chairs.

Like the United States, Pop Christianity claims to have a monopoly on morals and ethics. Those who do not share their beliefs are devoid of good qualities. This obliges them to ignore the misdeeds of their own flock. David Ludwig, the 18-year-old accused of killing his girlfriend's parents in the presence of their young children, was home-schooled in a Christian group. Kansas' s horrific BTK killer was active in his church.

Pop Christianity lacks poetry and emotional breadth. It wages a mindless war upon science and medicine. It reduces complex forms of causality like weather systems to what psychologists have dubbed "ideas of reference" and "magical thinking." It rejects both randomicity and statistical probabilities.
To paraphrase Jon Stewart, Pop Christianity is bad for America. Anti-intellectual, anti-traditional, and ahistorical, it is the religious equivalent of Cliff's Notes. If it were a beverage, it would be not communion wine but diet soda.

Worst of all, with the cooperation of politicians and television, it is imposing its superficial worldview on everyone in the United States.

This is certainly not the Christianity I grew up with. I was formed in a Christianity that demanded intellectual rigor and personal sacrifice. That kind of religion is not cheap. Pop Christianity is.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:51 PM

    Interesting observations, maybe, but not important observations as they are so superficial as to be ludicrous. First, the author rolls all of Christianity into one and then asserts that Christianity has evolved into something she labels "Pop Christianity". Although I do not deny the existence of this branch of Christianity, I do not believe it represents the majority of current Christianity.
    Current Christianity has not turned a blind eye to suffering--far from it. She refers to Katrina as an example. Has she not noticed that the relief groups who have hung in for the long hall in the aftermath of Katrina have been Christian groups?
    As to her idea that just because they have people within their "flock" who committ misdeeds--is there any group Christian or otherwise who is free from this occurrence? It has been my experience that there are always some bad in any group--at least any group who are made up of humans.
    Even if the political wrongs could be laid at the feet of "Pop Christianity", is it truely their fault or the fault of all Christians (and there are many), and non-Christians who refuse to speak up and get involved?
    Carolyn L.


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