Saturday, 14 November 2009

Individualism Vs the Need to Belong

The rise in evangelical Christianity is caused by a rise in individualist
consumer-driven culture. Discuss.
If asked what do I think about this is one thing - add the word discuss and I feel I have to write a text book essay first defining the agreed terms - analysing different general theories concerning these and extrapolating the causal links between them.... but I am going to not be contained by these expectations - whether mine or academia's. I will say what I think in note form as if in a normal conversation over a pint or a pot of tea - Here goes....
I think consumer Christianity is definitely egocentric - it is generally about what one - I - myself - get from church or faith position, although not exclusively - co-dependent worshippers dig how much they can slavishly give or masochistically suffer!?!? But ultimately it is about consuming as an individual rather than worshipping corporately. Catholics and traditional Anglicans, Methodists and Baptists tend to go to church from a sense of community, tradition, duty etc,. and (here I am generalising for the sake of non thesis proportions) less for individual satisfaction with the quality or style of service. Although, arguably people are creatures of habit and therefore often likely to prefer worship in the context of the traditions from which they originate ( I wanted to use the verb Ken?? so which word is my dysphasia groping for??? Call me Spooner and hit me with a Mallaprop) so the issue of personal preference may not be out of play as such - just operating within different expectations??
So I take this as pretty much given and directly relate it to the growth of "supermarket" churches - charismatic, evangelical, modern (ish - they wish!!) Where people drive to large places of worship often away from their geographical community.
BUT I think evangelical Christianity as a whole has grown because of separate factors - there was definitely a tangible backlash against liberal attitudes within culture and a 'call to arms' against pervasive lapses of traditional Victoriana Morals - Mary Whitehouse and others like her resounded the horn of Christian Morality to hold sway over the media and society at large rather than go gentle into that good night - less acceptance and tacit silence, more placard waving and standing outside Jerry springer on cold winter evenings.
The concept of Christians being the moral guardians of the 'lost'!?!? Forgetting that: 'He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world' and 'it is not for us to judge those who are not of the church'. The idea people needed saving from sin rather than a recognition sin was inevitable in all and irrelevant after the cross - that yes we should protect the weak but that God is bigger than sin - I believe what he wants is for Christians to glow with the healthy benefits of being in relationship with him - not try to club a heathen over the head and drag them back into the safe CONFINES of the church!!??!! Nor try, or even think it possible, to make the rest of the world morally right without that relationship with God.A fallen world - or at least a human world is going to be fallible and broken - Eden it will not be - neither is the church, we just pretend most of the time and can be worse under the surface from the pretence. Just like environmental policy people need more than fear or judgement to make them change in any way effectively. Aesop got it with the tale of the sun and the wind - ( pertinent illustration for global warming lectures!!) People respond far better to the carrot than they do the stick!!
I think the evangelical church grew because people wanted more certainty within a dramatically changing society - post modernism, mass media and massive population movement has resulted in many feeling unrooted and insecure - the evangelical church - like Islam offers far more definite certainty and rules - a line to stand one side of and feel safe and sometimes even better than those on the other side. In my mind this regional, national and global social insecurity is the bigger causal factor of both individualism, evangelical Christianity and fundamentalism as a whole - itself caused by the migratory changes in human organisation. Communities are now fluid - generally anonymous and often not geographically based - people are strange when you're a stranger -solution a new tribalism??? Essentially people want to belong and want clear identifiers of that belonging. Culturally it is a fighting battle to see worshipping locally as a viable long term option- communities are now far more about shared interests and experiences than localities - so you cannot just belong because of where you live there needs to be clearer parameters and the evangelical church where it has grown has arguably provided those. Arguably at the cost, and what a cost, of focusing less on Jesus' enigmatic uncertain parables and more on the modernity of Paul's definite teachings.

Friday, 13 November 2009

The Rise and Fall

"The rise in evangelical Christianity is caused by a rise in individualist
consumer-driven culture." Discuss. It's not often a girl gets asked that in a life time!?!
And when asked a curve ball I do as I am want to - refer to the bizarre random oddities of Google Images to answer for me. Be it planetary healing - The brothers Judd or the anti-green posy ( which is ironic since I was asked the question by an Environmental Scientist). One or two are apt but the rest - I ask you - what could possibly be in those blogs and sites to link to this search!!??!! There really are some weirder blogs than mine - you'll be scared to know!??!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Where were you at the fall?

This week has seen the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. So where were you and what were you doing when you heard about, and probably witnessed via the media, this momentous occasion? I was 14 starting on my GCSE's having been unable to walk for several months- It was probably one of the first times other than the Falklands war, Royal Wedding, IRA bombs, chernobyl, football riots or Miner's strikes that I was truly aware of more than Newsround news.
It seemed to be an amazing thing that sister was reunited with sister - that people were tearing it down with their bare hands. It was probably at a time of awakening for me - exciting texts in English, advanced algebraic equations, teachers who talked to you like near equals and were interested in your opinion. So to be becoming aware of the world at a time of such tumoltuous (sp?) change was exciting - it is probably when I became aware of politics being a positive thing not just tyranny and backlash - although China was to soon make us aware that tyranny was still live and kicking.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

We Shall Remember Them

The Ambient Wonder Rememberance event went really well!! It was Multi-sensory with a capital M. Rosemary to crush and sniff, poppy seeds to dip and grind your "french bread" into, fantastic soundtrack and the images projected onto a sheet hanging in the room were powerful.
An activity with poppy seeds representing the number of war deaths was profound - so many running through your finger tips - and it did not include the 140 million estimated deaths from democide and genocide that occurred during the context of military conflicts!??!? I was moved by the war poems that were scattered around the room.I also loved the response where you reflected as the crepe paper petal melted into the water and then lay it bleeding onto the canvas.

Rosemary for Remembrance.

Rosemary, an ancient symbol of remembrance, the rich oil and perfume derived from the plant have been used for centuries. The ancients believed it strengthened the memory, and on this account it became an emblem of fidelity and a symbol of remembrance.

Rosemary has particular significance for Australians as it can be found growing on the wild slopes of Gallipoli. It has been associated with the ANZAC tradition of being loyal to one's mates and active in honouring the memory of fallen and departed comrades. Sprigs of Rosemary are worn on ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day, by veterans and others attending services and parades in Australia.

Pick a sprig of rosemary and hold it tightly between your fingers, as its leaves release their strong fragrance think of the 35 million servicemen who died in Wars and Military conflict in the Twentieth Century alone and then of the nearer 150 million civilians who died as a result of democide and genocide in the context of these conflicts. Currently 4,677 and 1513 Servicemen and women have died in the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan respectively, with potentially 100,000s of civilian losing their lives as a consequence of the lawlessness and social breakdown.

As you go through this space and see the faces of just a few of those lost remember that these individuals were fathers, sons, husbands,friends, neighbours, colleagues, lovers, partners. They were somebody - and they died fighting a war they were told was just.

Smell the essential oil warming within your palm and think that each one of those lost had dreams and thoughts and feelings - unique fingerprints, shoes worn to the imprint of their soles, treasured creased letters and photos - grubby from repeated readings slipped in their jacket pockets.

"Remember me when I am gone" Do you believe that God knew each one of them and does not forget them?

Friday, 6 November 2009

Allowing the Majority to Determine Minority Civil Rights

In Maine the voters have voted No to allow gay marriage in their state. "The question hanging over this is how to decide which questions are matters of right and which can be left to the democratic process?" Would equal rights have been afforded to the black minority in the southern states in the 1960s? Andrew B wrote this comment in response:
"There is a principled argument to the conclusion that civil rights should not be submitted to the democratic process. Rights protect citizens against a tyranny of the majority. In a democracy they are the only such protection. Even if the majority is willing to ratify a right at the time it’s asked, that does not grant sufficient protection. If the majority turns tyrannical later, it can simply repeal the law that once protected the right. And if the majority is tyrannically inclined when it’s first asked to vote on the right, then the vote places a veneer of democratic legitimacy over what is really tyranny.
The idea that there are rights which can override the democratic process is very widespread. It’s advocated by everyone from union busters to abortion rights advocates to the gun nuts, among many others.
Again "The question hanging over this is how to decide which questions are matters of right and which can be left to the democratic process?" Is one I ask you.

I also agree with Virago on the same post: “If voters in Maine had voted yes for gay marriage, would bringing civil rights to a vote been an okay idea?” — I would still say “no.” Allowing the majority to determine whether a minority is afforded its civil rights is grossly incongruous, and I can’t support it."
I say minorities should have them same rights as majorities - and neither should be able to restrict the rights of others. The problem is when you are inside a system benefiting from it you can rarely see the incongruity or unfairness of it - the "I'm all right" mentality is far too much of an opiate.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Casualties of War