This morning David Fitch tweeted this:
“The biggest task of today’s church is to undermine in its members the blase unexamined acceptance of secular assumptions for everyday life.”
I have been thinking about it all day. I’m not sure he is right on this one.
Now just to let you know where I am coming from:
- David Fitch is the author of “The End of Evangelicalism?”
- Tripp got to interview Fitch as last year’s Inhabit Conference
- John Cobb talked about secularity and secularism at the Emergent Conversation 2012
- I have been reading Madan Sarup on Identity, Culture and the Post-Modern World
- As well as reading and listening to anthropologist Saba Mahmood and her address of embodied spirituality (Islam for her) in Politics of Piety and on the Canadian show “Ideas”
When you put that all together, I am just not convinced of Fitch’s assertion. Here is why:
I am increasingly suspicious that secularism is both a consequence and a side effect of Christendom. It is the West’s Frankenstein if you will. We made it. Then it took on a life of its own – a life we don’t like very much and which damages our efforts and injures our cause. I think we have to start there.
I agree with Fitch that there is a ‘unexamined acceptance” and would go even further and say that it results in an assumption that what we see is the way it is. That our current mechanisms of organization are final forms and that the ‘as-is’ structures come with a large measure of ‘giveness’. Tripp often applies this capitalism, nation-states and democracy. I would tack on both denominations for the church and militarism for US America.
I am just not so sure that our main task is to undermine. Maybe that is where my hangup comes. I am leery of this approach because it seems like we are defaulting the ground rules in the initial move and framing the task in a conceding first move.
I might be naive here but I am just not sure that the church needs to
A) give that much ground initially
B) frame her task in the negative.
I know it’s just so much one can do with a tweet but … there is something there that gives me caution.
So what is my constructive proposal? I’m working on it.
I would want to frame it more like Stuart Murray does in the book Post-Christendom and acknowledge that initial concession was early on with Constantinian Christianity. Then Christendom. Then Modernity. With those three concessions we admit that the as-is nature of existing frameworks for both church and culture are thoroughly compromised and corrupted.
BECAUSE of that. We abandon the recuperation, rehabilitation, reclamation , and renovation projects (and mentality) all together! (all 4 faces of it).
It’s over man. Let it go.
THEN we start new and in the positive. The 21st century provides fresh possibilities and opportunities IF ONLY we will let go the idea of getting back to something or getting something back. I know we never start from scratch – we never get back to square one. But …
I don’t want to be the undermining parasite ON the big organism. That is too small a task. I want to partner with God in the healing of world (Tikkun Olum in Hebrew). I want to participate in the development cosmic good – until then at least the common good.
Help me think this through!
PostScript: now that I started down this “re” line I can’t stop coming up with words I want to flesh out further!
Resurrect: ummmm not really