Tuesday, July 26, 2005

It's All In My Mind

It seems like the Evangelical Christian world is all about finding the next big thing. We never assume that we have it figured out. If it was good enough for the people before us, it must be wrong.

Some friends and I were discussing this and decided we needed to come up with the next big movement in Evangelical Christianity. The idea we came up with is so revolutionary, so forward thinking, that it makes the Emergent church look like a bunch of regressive hacks.

We are going to push for a post-communal understanding of church. Simply put, it is a (re)turn to hyper-individualism. The mega churches of our day are too concerned with entertaining large quantities of people all at once. Being around that many people is a distraction. We need to return to heart of Christianity, because it’s all about me and Jesus.

Everybody wants to have “conversations” these days where they talk about the problems of the church. Nothing makes me laugh more than a bunch of middle-aged, white men drinking half-caff skinny lattes at Starbucks while they discuss the plight of the third world. If our conversations never lead to action, let’s drop the façade.

With a post-communal understanding of Christianity, we finally have a mechanism for taking into account the human condition as it relates to our spirituality. The basic point is this:

I don’t care about you.

It seems harsh, but we all know it’s true. My Christianity is about securing my own happiness – the “good life” if you will. Instead of wasting my time acting like I care about your life, I should be using my energy to grow closer to God. In the end, it is my personal relationship with Christ that really matters. Everything else is just a roadblock to the intimate relationship with him I really desire.

My friends and I are working on some paraphernalia that will help enhance this individualistic growth. Our first product will be the Heavenly Eyes Multimedia Helmet. They are basically recycled Blue Blockers glued to a bike helmet with built-in video screens and an .mp3 player. Now you can custom create the multimedia experience that best enhances your relationship with Jesus. Everything from PowerPoint slides set to rare U2 tracks to videos of dancing rabbits doing the Macarena – whatever it is that brings you closer to God, these glasses provide it.

(Note: Our lawyers would like us to add that any resemblance to the Oakley Thump™ is in fact coincidental. Our product fills a unique niche in the market and performs tasks that are all together different from those of the Oakley Thump™)

This is just the first push in the impending tidal wave of reform that is the post-communal understanding of church. Before you know it, we’ll have books, DVDs, plush toys – all with the express purpose of helping as many people as possible make that (re)turn to hyper-individualism as they seek to grow closer to God.


Kristofer said...

This actually is what some people seem to think will be the future. Everyone carry their own soundtrack and videoplayer and it is easy to ignore other people. Nice idea to give it an ironic twist from a christian perspective.

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David Stewart said...

I think you are emerging (if that's the correct verb) as the next H. Richard Niebuhr. His "Christ and Culture' (1951) identified various possible relationships btwn the church and the culture around it:

- Christ against culture
- Christ & culture in paradox
- Christ transforming culture
- Christ above culture
- Christ of culture

I think what you are on to is something new entirely: "Jesus and me: who NEEDS culture?"



Anonymous said...

I like this coming hype-individualist trend!

All Hail the: Me-Urgent Church!

photosteve said...

I'm sure the 'thump' in Oakley Thump refers to the bass in the music but, coming from the UK, it just makes me think of the Northern expression 'Eckey Thump!' meaning 'oh my goodness'. The idea of sunglasses/mp3 player is great but i don't think i could bring myself to wear Eckey Thumps.

From what i've read, it seems that a lot of mega churches are already teaching hyper individualism. I read an interview with the pastor of one of the bigest churches in the US who said that they didn't do much in the way of charity volunteering/soup kitchens etc. because it wasn't what people wanted to do, they just wanted to turn up and have a nice time and feel zapped by God, and since the church was providing a 'product' to 'consumers' that was what they concentrated on. Kinda like abundance theology i suppose, it's all about what YOU can get out of God.

Brandon said...

Interestingly, if you check out Greg Horton's blog:


There's some really great thoughts on this issue as it relates to 'worship music'. (Or, have I misplaced my quotes--should it have read worship "music"?)

Anyway, check out his post on 'personal versus individual' worship. Good schtuff, as always, Ben.

Melissa Providence, RI said...

Well, well, well...
If it isn't Ben. I was just introduced to your blog by one of our friends, and I must say that I am completely inpressed. I am also proud to say that I know you. Who would have thought you had all of these thoughts running through that head of yours. As I read through the months and your entries, memories flooded back to the good ole days of working at the bookstore. One particular memorie comes to mind dealing with a bowl of jello and a name tag. Every time I see jello commercials or see the jello packets in the grocery store, I must say, you come to mind. I also remember that there was going to be some kind of revenge taking place on your part, but I guess you are still in shock seeing your name tag stuck in a middle of lemon jello. Oh...good times, good times.
I enjoy reading your entries, and I look forward to visiting this site in the future.
Fella Christian Retail employee

The Accidental Housekeeper said...

I would really like your opionion on what I posted to my blog. I should clarify that I identify myself as a Christian, because I believe in the humanity of Christ, but I just don't jive with modern "CHRISTIANITY" in it's exclusive, commercial form. Funny I should happen upon this post of yours tonight.

Check it out at accidentalhousekeeper.blogspot.com

Sue said...

I apologize in advance for not having the time right now to read many of your posts (so I hope I'm not off-track or out of line), but I wanted to make a comment anyway. On behalf of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I would like to apologize to anyone who has been offended by the people of the Church. Unfortunately, the church is made up of people - fallen and flawed - so it will be, by definition, a mess. I mourn at the thought that anyone might have been hurt or offended. However, I would like to ask that Jesus not be blamed for that. Our human failures are not His fault, and do not reflect who He is. For those of you who have seen the darker side of Christianity, please find Jesus in the pages of the Bible and find it in your hearts to forgive those of us who don't have it right yet. God bless all of you.

Stephen said...

Mmm, that's funny...and true. We are too inwardly focused. Good way of putting it.

naomi said...

You know, I think this was a concept of the 80's. You know, the Me Decade. You're rehashing old ideas, man!

Seriously though, and I know you can be, there is something to be said about action balancing all the introspection. We talk a lot but what do we do? I know my actions often call me out and make me question what I think I believe because if I really believed it, I would be acting differently. Make sense?

Still, I have to say I'm comfortable with the isolationism you're touting. Scary, but true.

Levi Nunnink said...

Point taken, but God unites the particulars with the universals. The church is an individual experience as well as a universal duty/bond. You can't separate one from the other without falling below the line of dispair.

Searchig for His Truth said...

I am very sadden to hear we as a church have become so very divided. I also, with Sue, have to say....Do not blame Jesus for the lack of faith and love that some who claim to be Christains can display.
Jesus wants us to care and love one another. I agree that it is no way effective to talk about the problems of our churched over half-caf. We are to be Christ like, and He also said to walk 2 miles if someone asks you to walk 1, also to LOVE your neighbor as yourself.
Sometimes we are preached to "religon", and not shown faith in action. HUGE difference. One can turn our tastes bitter, while the other explodes joy and love!
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high!" Eph.6:12

Sam said...

It's the state of the world, sadly. We are all products of our culture and society - and our culture and society today is post-modernist; that is everyone's truth is valid.

I'm afraid people who think that nothing matters except their relationship with God have got it inherently wrong somewhere...Jesus requires us to care about other people.

Änna said...

I actually heard a guy on the radio saying something like this (sometimes I listen to Christian radio just to see when it makes me mad...it's a strange addiction).

He said the Bible says that the church age is now coming to an end, and we should NOT join churches, because the only thing that matters is our personal relationships with Jesus.

He also said the earth will end in 2011.

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off shore fisherman said...

Ddon miller has a great quote..."The greatest lie I have ever had to contend with is that life is a story about me."

Maybe someday we'll get it.
love your blog.