Saturday, August 27, 2016

Living robustly in a flattened world

Commenting on Romans 8:31-35 Eugene Peterson writes: The seven questions here thrust us into recognizing a resurrection defined life, the whole world robust with God's eternal, embracing love. Hard as it is for minds flattened by secularism to imagine, this is the resurrection world in which the followers of Jesus live.

Charles Taylor, the author of A Secular Age, says there has been a shift today from God in the center of life to us in the center, an anthropocentric shift is what he calls it. To the modern self there is no greater good than human flourishing. In the past, Christians talked about their ultimate goal as glorifying God. Now it's human flourishing or seeing how God's goals fit into a human centered groove. Faith is more about fulfilling our own potential than what God is doing. God may have a plan for me but for the world - not so much or at least I don't think about it as much as my plan. Second, there is no need for day to day grace in a secular world.  We don't live like that. Grace initially is good but after that we make our own grace. Third, the mystery has faded. The mystery of God, the universe, human life, everyday living. We are confident we can figure life out. From DNA to space exploration, we have this under control. We go to church to find out "how to" do stuff as Christians. There is no mystery there either. God is the architect but we have lost a sense of the incarnation. So, even our relationship with God is impersonal. There are no miracles day to day, God is silent, God does not guide us. Fourth, God is not transforming us. Spiritual formation is less God's work and more our own. We are not so much transformed as evolved. Religion is about an interior life, fulfilling my purpose. The big picture is us not what God is doing cosmically

Modern life is flattened by individualism. We make our own meaning. "I can fix this..." "I advise myself" "I don't really need anybody else"

Modern life is flattened by efficiency. The best thing is the most efficient. It doesn't matter how it affects people. EpiPens increase in price by 600% because it's a business and businesses exist to make a profit. We build bigger churches with more parking and pastors and bigger budgets because we can do more if we have more people. We plug into the latest technology because it makes us more productive even if we have less face to face time. If it's more efficient and more profitable what's to question.

Modern life is flattened by all our choices. I can choose my future and that choice does not have to have a thing to do with the common good. I can vote or not. I can choose a companion on e-harmony. I can choose a college. I can choose another church if I don't like the one I'm going to.

How do we get back to the Resurrection world of glory, grace and mystery? Unplug, unprogram, unwind; quiet down, slow down, simplify; connect with people: feed the hungry, harbor the homeless, visit the sick, comfort the sorrowing, forgive, bear with others who get on our nerves, pray for all.

Note: Charles Taylor's ideas were found in How to Survive the Apocalypse by R. Joustra and A. Wilkinson. The list at the end is a paraphrase of the "alms deeds" by St Thomas Aquinas

No comments:

Post a Comment