Carrying on with the thoughts of the previous post, the participation by Christians in the “lexicon” of the patriotic piety, whether it be from the left or the right, is increasingly disturbing to me. I have been noticing more and more of that as I read Hauerwas and the RO writers (JKA Smith, William Cavanaugh, Daniel Bell, John Milbank, Graham Ward, etc.). I also was struck by the almost “worshipful” approach that is expressed for “The founders” and “The Constitution”, as in the popular movie National Treasure , where Nicolas Cage shudders with awe at the realization that he is “in the very room where they signed the Declaration of Independence”. “Holy Ground”, even? One got that impression. One might imagine a scene from a movie like “Epic Movie” (that lampoons various “Epics” in the same manner they did for slasher films in the “Scary Movie” series) where this scene is combined with the burning bush scene in The Ten Commandments, and the Cage character is instructed to “Take off your shoes”.
And so, yeah, all of this sort of thing has been growing increasingly grating on me, and my concern that the church in America becoming more of a meetup of cultural viewpoints and those who share similar stations in life. It has caused me to ask why Jim Wallis sounds much less “church centered” these days; why “God’s Politics” talks about church less and democracy more; why Sojourners is moving further and further from the sense captured by their original name , “The Post-American”. Not that they don’t continue to have various articles and reviews that may well ask some similar questions of American Christianity. But I have more than a few say that the early Jim Wallis speaks to them much more effectively than the Wallis of God’s Politics.
I continue to find much valuable conversation happening on the God’s Politics blog. Maybe some of these questions will find their way in. I still can’t help but think that the basic thrust of a “revived” Progressive Christianity in the face of the abominable policies of the Bush administration is a good thing. In that there is less of a secular wall blocking the God-talk options; perhaps the waters should be more directly tested for the ecclesia/church talk as an alternative to politics as usual; and on that point, is a “Christian-left” that much of an “alternative” or a reformation or a revolution? How do we proclaim a proper allegiance that better articulates “life as God meant it” without “using” talk that carries with it “state-allegiance”-rendering language, or as Derek Webb puts it “My first allegiance is not to democracy or blood” , “but to a King and a Kingdom”? The effects of God’s Politics has some benefit to “re-ordering” of the questions around church and state; of the city of man and the city of God; as long as we don’t lose the sense of its proper locality in the church. I much prefer the effect and message of an “Agenda for a Biblical People*” than “God’s Politics”. The first is no doubt a politic, but a much more robustly identified politic as to its source. “A Biblical People” immediately identifies the source, even though it may well also challenge the politic of others who put forth their own “Biblical” agenda. There remains a host of arguments about “Who Gets it Right” and “Who Doesn’t Get it”, but the thrust of my quest for an “authentic church” is that we can’t “get it” at all without being formed in the company of those called to be so formed to “get it” by making a serious go at “being it”.
(* Agenda For a Biblical People is one of Jim Wallis’ earlier books, 1984)