May 5 2004 at 2:39 PM Johan (no login)
"What was 'sold out' in Seattle, and in every other subculture that has had the misfortune of being spotlighted by the cool hunters, was some pure idea about doing it yourself, about independent labels versus the big corporations, about not buying in to the capitalist machine. But few in that scene bothered to articulate these ideas out loud, and Seattle - long dead and forgotten as anything but a rather derivative fad - now serves as a cautionary tale about why so little opposition to the theft of cultural space took place in the early to mid-nineties. Trapped in the headlights of irony and carrying too much pop-culture baggage, not one of its antiheroes could commit to a single, solid political position." (Naomi Klein, No Logo, p. 83.)
Naomi Klein's fascinating book about marketing, culture and the cooptation of public space has immediate application to evangelism. When there are no more unexploited ways to be cool, to belong, to arrange one's inward and outward selves in some sort of congruence, Jesus awaits us to meet our real needs for belonging (and for showing that we belong) WITHOUT the psychic overhead of irony or the pop-culture baggage.
This doesn't mean that there are no fashions and brands in the world of evangelism!! (It would be easy and fun ... TOO fun ... to write an expose of all the ways this is true, from the corporate world of Christian publishing and music to the fads and fashions of spirituality.) But in the relationship with Jesus, and in the relationship we have with each other as we seek to keep him in the center with each other's help, there is a glorious freedom, a deep congruence, and the potential for very solid, urgent political positions.
Concerning that last point: We may not agree on those political positions. I am saddened by how little outrage is being exhibited by churches against the unrighteousness of the US-British campaign in Iraq. The point is that, in the body of Christ there is wonderful freedom to debate and hammer out the application of our faith to concrete political challenges. We have not been put to sleep by affluence, hypnotized by multimedia gratifications, paralyzed by the poison of cynicism, compromised by unworthy allegiances, or cut off from the rest of the world by idolatrous nationalism. (That's right, isn't it?)
political evangelism January 22 2005, 1:00 PM
I'm one kind of a Quaker -- the kind that soft-pedals the divisive and usually aggressive "I'm right, you're wrong" brand of trying to convert the world to my way of thinking. I believe we are in the midst of a very dangerous popular movement toward intolerance caused by our fear of "the other." That fear is being exploited by our government, which no longer cares a whit about the separation of church and state which was so important to the original patriots of this country. We are a near-theocracy, and like all the rest of them in history we are becoming more and more murderous in our zeal to conquer the world.
We are matched, unfortunately, on the other side of the globe by certain intolerant segments of Islam who also believe they are right and it is their duty to bring everyone else in the world under their religious banner. Their fears are also being exploited as they see the U.S. military power trying to take over countries at the heart of their history and culture.
I am so thankful that there is such a thing as Buddhism to stand between these two maniacal forces and hope and pray that their moderation and long historical perspective will be able to intercede oon the side of reasonable education and a calming of the present hysteria. But again, many of them are not very interested in politics as such, or in evangelism either, for that matter. I am hoping they will not stand off at the side in this struggle but will intervene peaceably for saner attitudes toward the world and the Infinite. Jean Gerard