. . . The concept undeniably has a certain appeal, and few slogans are better calculated to capture the imaginations of the young and disaffected than “Towards eucharistic anarchism” (Bill Cavanaugh’s phrase in Radical Orthodoxy) and other such brazen assertions of liturgical politics. But in all the talk of eucharistic politics, a surfeit of aesthetic appeal seems to have usually compensated for a shortfall of logical clarity.
The Catholic Church in the United States is in decline because its public theology, on both the left and the right, is primarily focused on gaining influence over the state. As theologian Michael Baxter has argued, the church’s first priority should be on living as a community of faith and serving as a public witness.
Marriage equality is a hot topic in Christian communities. Recently, Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop, came to Fuller to talk about the freedom to love. As a result, many students at Fuller are beginning to rethink their heteronormative understandings of marriage. While I am all for LGBTQ equality in all arenas (anything else is shenanigans), the resurgence about the right to marry and marriage as an existentially important institution worries me […]
I have met some born-again Christians who act as if, in order for the modern Church to be given new life, we need only to recover the passion, vibrancy and hope of the Acts of the Apostles. That, if only we could live as those first disciples and apostles lived –selling our goods, holding everything in common, praying constantly – we would truly be welcoming the Kingdom. For, if we could only live thus, we would be Spirit-filled faith heroes, propagating the faith with the courage and energy of Paul. Beguiling as this way of thinking might be, it is ultimately open to serious question: it imagines that the Book of Acts is straight history rather than – at one level – propaganda. The growth of Christianity in the Mediterranean Basin was slower, patchier and more interesting than the propaganda would have us think. Nonetheless, I genuinely understand the enthusiasm for the born-again way of thinking because I’ve lived it. In my mid-twenties, in the first wild months of a newly-received faith, I felt those possibilities….
The original unifying function of liturgy becomes lost if we begin to dehistoricize liturgy by shopping among the traditions. Like consumerist postmodern culture, the Emergent Church shops among traditions for forms of spirituality that are useful and pleasurable and incorporates them into general western, melange of religious items….
The state is in crisis in an increasingly globalized world. Christians are called to a post-Constantinian engagement with the political order, embodying an incarnational practice that engages with the local context of believers and an eschatological vision focused on the full flourishing of all humanity and all of creation.
It seems easy. So easy we can almost brush it off. Smile approvingly at the Sunday School teacher seated across the aisle from us in worship, and check one more thing off our spiritual to-do-list. Welcome little children? Done. We might ask ourselves, “How dense could these power grubbing disciples have been to miss so simple a point as this?”
But take a look across that same aisle once again… If your church is like many, there may be an usher giving a mother a dirty look as she walks her small child to the bathroom. Or a father putting his finger to his lip, afraid that his toddler’s whispers might disrupt someone. Or maybe a middle-aged gentleman checking the church’s giving record, calculating in his head what percent of the church’s income comes from his check. Or a young woman dressed just so, glancing at a hand mirror to check her make up….