Wednesday, July 25, 2012

To Hell in a Handbasket...

From our “to-hell-in-a-handbasket” department... It was reported today that the Damson Dene Hotel in England’s picturesque Lake District was replacing its traditional Gideon Bibles in each room with a copy of the popular “adult” (“adult” as in “pornographic”) novel Fifty Shades of Grey.”  The hotel, which was ironically bought from a Methodist group several years ago, decided that having Gideon Bibles around was “wholly inappropriate” in our postmodern, secular society.  What better way to be “appropriate” than to provide free of charge a widely popular smut novel?  Jonathan Denby (not Denbigh), the hotel’s owner remarked, “Everybody is reading ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ we thought it would be a hospitable thing to do, to have this available for our guests, especially if some of them were a little bit shy about buying it because of its reputation.”  But then Denby quickly added that he himself had not read the book.  Well, maybe now he can get a room and read it.

We do live in a postmodern, post-Christian, secular society.  One of the things that means is that we can forget the nod and special treatment that our culture once gave the church.  When I was a kid (granted, a long time ago), we didn't have school events on Wednesday nights because that was church night for many of the students and the school didn't want to interfere.  Well that has gone the way of the dodo bird, hasn't it.  People in our culture no longer just accept the Bible as the “The Good Book.” It is just one book among many.  People no longer describe good manners and helpfulness as “the Christian thing to do.”  In fact, they may be more likely to see waving a hateful sign and telling people they are going to hell as “the Christian thing to do.”  The Christian faith is going to have to compete in the marketplace of ideas with a host of other and conflicting ideas.  And in that marketplace, putting a pornographic novel in the nightstands of hotels is just as likely as putting a Bible there.

So how are we going to get people to take the Christian faith seriously today?  There is only one way.  And it’s not wringing our hands and shouting “Woe is we” as we complain about how our society is going to hell in a handbasket.  No, what Christians have to do today is to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and go out and live the joyous, triumphant, expectant and praise-filled life that Christianity was and is designed to be.  We are to reflect and replicate as best we can the life and teaching of the most amazing, gracious, loving, accepting and positive person the world has ever produced… because He was the power that produced the world.  The way we get people to take faith seriously today is to live it as it was meant to be lived. 

Oh sure, people died in the arena for doing that in the first century.  So what’s your point?

1 comment:

Den said...

The unasked question is why did the Christian message get subverted and ultimately ignored by our modern society. I'll give you my thoughts, based on over 60 years of observing the way people behave in all sorts of environments.

You cite the display of hateful signs as a popular notion of what Christians do. And I think you have a large part of the problem there. We Christians, in an effort to tell the world what was WRONG so we could show it what was RIGHT with the Gospel, gave too much emphasis to the WRONG part. Once we beat people senseless telling them how evil they were, we lost any chance of giving them a chance to experience something RIGHT. If the message is all vinegar, you're not likely to get a chance to say, "But wait! There's sweet water here." You've lost your receptive audience.

Another component is that the Christian message stopped WORKING. I don't mean that it was no longer true, but that people didn't see that it worked in the lives they were leading. The leaders of the church were revealed to be just as venal and sinful as the people they preached to. The fact that we Christians somehow expect this to be the case - the church, after all, is a hospital for sinners - was lost on the sinners who were tired of hearing about what they did wrong and what the church did right. Once again, there weren't any receptive ears to hear the Good News.

A better way? Sure, let me know when that works out. Good news? No, you can keep that; I'm up to my ears in bills, job pressures, and the guy next door who killed my dog. A better world? Yeah, sure - what are you, some kinda Commie?

We ourselves have most of the responsibility for having lost the battle. We were the ones charged with the job, and if the buck stops anywhere, it stops in front of me and all my fellow believers.

Look - I know things aren't really that dire, but this is a somewhat extreme statement of what I think has happened over the years to drain the attraction from following Jesus. After all, look how successful he was getting people to go his way during his life...