Friday, October 09, 2009

Totentanz


A powerful essay on the corruption and spiritual death overtaking a post-Christian world. I was struck by how applicable it is to The Gay Church:
Postmodernism posits the notion of “narratives”, which are an understanding of culture and society largely determined by those in power. It specifically rejects the notions of Divine lawgiver or transcendent moral absolutes as mere narratives of religious power centers whose intent is to control. For the postmodernist, all behavior will ultimately be judged against their own narrative rather than an absolute which transcends culture and time. What the religionist views as a transcendent absolute is seen as nothing more than another narrative by the postmodernist — a narrative imposed by religious and paternalistic authority solely for the purpose of controlling the flock. The intersection of these two radically different worldviews makes compromise and communication virtually impossible between them, since there is no common framework of understanding or language to bridge the gap.
Even the jargon has been imported: "narrative" is one of those soft sociology terms always creeping into Episcopalian plans and programs. And where have we heard this recently?:
Even seeming linguistic commonalities lead to confusion in the interface between these cultures. For the traditionalist, the concept of evil, for example, represents a violation of moral absolutes, by individuals ultimately held responsible for their actions. In the postmodernist vocabulary, evil is corporate, embodied in institutions and groups, and is a social construct rather than a moral one.
It's the flip side of The Madwoman of Second Avenue's claim that individual salvation is "the great Western heresy" (I strongly suspect that the dirty word in that phrase is supposed to be "Western", not "heresy".) It can be summed up as "All for the group, and nothing outside the group."

The rejection of absolute truth, and the resulting repudiation of reason as a basis for judgment, creates an exasperating comfort with contradiction, where cognitive dissonance is the norm, and that which is emotionally compelling or strongly believed becomes Truth by the mere force of conviction driven home by relentless repetition and coercive groupthink. The term “evil” thus no longer serves a universal meaning across the culture, and its use sows confusion rather than commonality. One could multiply examples without end from the linguistic miasma of politically correct speech, politics, and the mind-numbing inanity of popular culture.
This, I think, is the source of the nervous self-congratulation of modern Episcopalians on their "living into tension" - it's a way of escaping the charge of "hypocrisy" (one of the worst slurs possible today) by brutalizing their consciences into submitting to perpetual incoherence and contradiction.

There's a lot of good stuff here, and though the writer was talking about secular civic culture, not a religious denomination, it is eerily accurate as a portrait of The Gay Church, right down to "the ruthless dismissal of all moral restraints in the achievement of pursued goals " (i.e., jerry-rigged "trials" to liquidate opponents and plunder their assets), "through the erosive and relentless undermining of the traditional societal and moral constraints which oppose the desired cultural and political changes."

Read it all: it's The Picture of Dorian Gray's Church.

(Hat tip: American Digest)

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

creates an exasperating comfort with contradiction

Got to remember that one. It's like 'therapeutic moralistic deism', a succinct summary of a problem with certain forms of Christianity.

The head honcho of pomo Christianity is a fellow by the name of Brian McLaren, whose book "A Generous Orthodoxy" is subtitled:
Why I Am a Missional, Evangelical, Post/Protestant, Liberal/Conservative, Mystical/Poetic, Biblical, Charismatic/Contemplative, Fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Green, Incarnational, Depressed-yet-Hopeful, Emergent, Unfinished CHRISTIAN".

Perhaps he thinks he's being whimsical and mystical, but for many trying to dialog with these people, exasperating is far more accurate.

2:09 pm  

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