I believe that the conversation matters. If in the attempt to realize the reign of God on earth, we cannot engage one another in respectful and grace-filled dialogue, we might as well not even try.
Friday, April 21, 2006
Cultural Erosion from Within
A bit more thought about the erosion of culture, from my perspective, drawing from the ideas of President Jimmy Carter:
In his book Our Endangered Values, Carter describes American culture, writing that “our people have been justifiably proud to see America’s power and influence used to preserve peace for ourselves and others, to promote economic and social justice, to raise high the banner of freedom and human rights, to protect the quality of our environment, to alleviate human suffering, to enhance the rule of law, and to cooperate with other peoples to reach these common goals.”
The premise of his book is that all this has been and is being threatened by the rise of conservative fundamentalism in religion and government. These neo-fundamentalists (my term) have some dominant characteristics, according to Carter: 1 - Led mostly by “authoritarian males who consider themselves to be superior to others.” 2 - Generally believe that “the past is better than the present” but are not averse to embracing aspects of the modern world as long as they help the cause. 3 - Distinguish themselves from others by claiming “they are right and that anyone who contradicts them is ignorant or possibly evil.” 4 - Militantly, angrily, and sometimes violently protect their beliefs and agenda. 5 - Define themselves narrowly, isolate themselves, and “view change, cooperation, negotiation, and other efforts to resolve differences as signs of weakness.”
It is funny how this list is equally applicable to church people as well as government people. Picture Donald Rumsfeld and then go back and read the list again. To a tee! Now try it with James Dobson. … see what I mean? This fact illuminates the alarming blurring of the boundary between the church and the government in our country. (And by the way, I wonder if this makes things worse for the church or for the government.)
As an American, I want my country to be the way President Carter describes it above – peace, justice, freedom, and all that.
As a Christian, I want my church to be the body of Christ, the cosmic expression of the love and grace of God – unity, acceptance, liberation, and all that.
I have neither one.
In short, I’m not so much worried about immigrants eroding away the American culture; I am worried about my fellow Americans doing so. And so, I would kindly request that all you fundamentalists out there who are ever so subtly stealing away both my country and my church please return them. (I'll start checking area "Lost and Found" booths this weekend.)