Culture, Counterculture & Kingdom ~ BitterSweetLife

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Culture, Counterculture & Kingdom

What Kind of Music Would Jesus Dance To?

Last night, Lindsay and I pulled off another
escape date night, probably one of the last we'll get before # 2, the little man known to the world only by his mysterious numeral, arrives. We met our friends Brian and Kelly at the Plaza to drink coffee and smoothies and banter about church planting and stuff, and the Plaza forced me to think.

I was provoked by the Plaza's shiny, high-end store fronts and cocky materialism to think about culture. When I walk around in the Plaza, surrounded by people wearing $100 jeans, hand-sewn shirts and vogue hair cuts, I think, I need more money. Lots more.

But then the counterculture strikes back, because, about five seconds later, I think, I don't need more money. I just need to go back to Westport, where you can be poor and swank while drinking really good espresso. This materialism is sick.

Then, about five hours later, I think, Wait, is that really the answer?

We are steeped in commercialism and materialism and designer everything--so can we redeem ourselves by avoiding conspicuous consumption and reveling in indie music and cultivating down-to-earth sensibilities? It's fun to try. But I don't think it's that simple.

What we see around us is merely a game between culture and counterculture. The game is tag. The culture tags the counterculture--who then becomes the culture--and who then tags the counterculture (who was previously the culture, but has since become the counterculture, while absorbing a few themes of the previous counterculture, just in time to rise again...) And so on and so forth. I trust I make myself obscure.

But honestly, what's going on in these society games is not so much enlightenment as the pursuit of hip authenticity, or the new cool. The raw and avant garde sometimes has a more unassuming demeanor, but it's actually just as cocky as the moneyed establishment. Neither would make Jesus laugh with delight.

However. If I am any kind of a representative test case, I suspect that many Christians are overly ready to dive into the earnest, mouthy, ragged-pantsed counterculture--and assume they are walking like Jesus. But when it comes to big clumps of people, Jesus doesn't really have a favorite flavor. He's not looking to endorse the predominant, polished culture or the edgy, rising underdogs. What he wants to see affirmed and fought for is something entirely different and more elusive than anything we can capture in any brand, hair style, or genre of music.

Jesus loves his kingdom.

Bluntly: He's not an indie rocker and he's not an Enya fan. He just loves good music.

So...what does a kingdom culture look like? Probably not merely like the Plaza. And probably not just like Westport. Thoughts?

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k.murphy said...

wow...well put! my hubby and i are often discussing the 'reverse pride' thing that we christians go thru...seeing others living it out a certain way and deciding that WE are doing it right. hmmmmm. i just keep going back to blue like jazz and the way he talked about Jesus at a campfire saying "come on over and sit, tell me your story" and we could add..."regardless of what kind of jeans you have on" right?

thanks for your thoughts...

Lauren said...

Your post made me think of Leviticus 19:15 - 'You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.' Judgment belongs to God only.

I think the closest picture we have of a kingdom culture comes from Acts. The church was of one heart and soul. They shared everything they had out of love for each other, and the unsaved. The sick were healed. The gospel was preached in power and authority.

I imagine, also, the sermon on the mount provides a good picture as well.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife