Sunday, August 4, 2013
Sick Burn Theology
Its something we're all guilty of, especially in the age of faceless opponents. Often, in my case, its very easy to dismiss and condescend to someone you don't know. Rendered in pixels and imager instant backhands, its become sort of a phenomenon. This isn't hindered by Twitter which reduces complexities to something the length of a single sentence.
This can include everyone from myself to you to Mark Driscoll to Brian McLaren. This generally isn't regulated to a single group or tribe. You can sense simmering piety in the words of emergent leaders who talk beyond the fundamentalists, and you would be hard pressed to find a fundamentalist who genuinely cares to listen.
Part of the issue could be accounted for in the millennial controversy (Rachel Held Evans for instance; see Greg Boyd for the general debate). For instance, one wonders if millennials are vindicated in leaving the church, especially when the church is only just beginning to emerge from a post-fundamentalist era. Do we change or die? Or do we just keep things static and horizontal? The answer is elusive and beyond the confines of my research so I will just leave this here to extrapolate later.
Millennials, in reduction, are a generation home-grown on social-interactive media, pixels and sarcasm. Its no secret that twitter is far more popular amongst us and we are singularly the one group that feels the most isolated. What does this have to do with theology, especially the kind I alluded to in the title?
Simply, I do worry that my generation is part of the problem. We've reduced interactions, in some significant part, to putting down the established church. For example, you find fundamentalist pastors who enjoy putting down opponents in their sermons while never actually engaging with their concerns. You also have a decentralized network of post-emergent leaders who thrive off the same sort of condescension, equating cultural shifts with theological necessity.
It is difficult to tell the church why you are leaving when you only have 140 characters. Many of us are at least two characters, maybe more.
So what do we do?
Its easy for those of us not in the neo-puritan movement to write blog posts about Mark Driscoll and John Piper, and it is just as easy for them to throw off some 'sick burns' from the pulpit at unnamed (but obvious) opponents.
So we need a Pope.
But I do wonder if "sick burn theology" is simply a fad -- or worse -- a reduction of my generation. Since we tend to proclaim openness and inclusivism and dialogue as major tenants of our faith, why then are we so fractured? Its no secret that I tend to be theological conservative, but most of my conservative friends consider me liberal.
In a polarized culture torn between two extremes, I don't see millennials getting any better at bridging this gap simply because we have no sense of history. We could simply change and be perfect, but in some sense, we might like the conflict. In some ways, it may make us 'morally superior.' In other ways, it just makes us petty. Personally, I've been guilty of both so this is something more for us to reconsider.
Consider this a plea: continue to dialogue in humility with your brothers and sisters within the church. The church has gone from radical abolitionism to Jim Crow to wherever we are now. The church, she is flexible. Us, on the other hand, should drop the 'sick burn' mentality and practice some more yoga.
In short, stop. Just stop. Listen. Breathe. Take a chill pill. Step away from twitter, Facebook and instagram. Avoid reduction and embrace the complexities of life.
And we really need a Pope.