18 December 2010

Fight or Flight? How About Hijack?

In nature, when one is confronted with a threat, there are two possible responses. Fight or flight. Stand one's ground or run as fast as one can.

I've been considering this as I think about the latent debate in churches about participating in (and therefore implicitly endorsing) mainstream culture.

There are folks in Christianity who fight culture vociferously. They hold placards and signs denouncing whatever segment of the larger culture they have they have deemed to be Hell-worthy for that season. This is most obviously seen in examples like Westboro, where fringe lunatics pick a fight with culture and things get ugly quickly.

There is also the flight group. These folks aggressively run from culture. Listening to "non-Christian" music is not even a consideration, watching "secular" movies is taboo, and exposing kids to anything that could be construed as cultural in origin in strongly looked down upon. As opposed to the Westboro folks, this group wants no part of the fight, preferring instead to try to find more insulation for their Christian bubble whenever possible.

Might I suggest we employ the Latin concept of "Tertium Quid"? Translated, the "third way" is a common refrain with a few friends. It is a way to end the polarizing debate that seems deadlocked or the ideation session that has gotten stale. Whenever there are two sides to an issue (or, in this case, to dominant norms) it is a good time to pull out and utilize TQ.

So, rather than fight or flight, what would happen if we hijacked culture? Literally used culture for the purpose of God? What would that look like?

It might look like this past weekend at Grace Point Church. Knowing that I was about to preach against the consumerism and consumptionism rampant in the American church, I asked the band to play "Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve as the opener to the service. We didn't show the words of the song or make some cheesy pseudo-Christian video with slightly augmented lyrics. We just played it straight, let it set the tone, and let it speak for itself.

The line that hooked me, "We're a slave to money then we die..."

Sounds a lot like Solomon's wisdom from Ecclesiastes 5:
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them?
Hijacked, a pop song lent cultural credibility to something we all know to be true. Money doesn't buy happiness and love of money can buy a whole lot of trouble.

We didn't run to our bubble or draw our swords. We embraced the creative beauty of culture, used it for our designs, and then let the day rest. And, if I might add, we enjoyed how great it sounded to allow a bit of pop brilliance into God's house.

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