Sunday, December 09, 2012

Old Life: When Transformation Transforms the Transformers

... the example of the Amish (as Berry understands them) may also be instructive for those wanting to transform out culture. Instead of infiltrating the city to redeem it, the Amish have fled the dominant culture to cultivate a Christian culture (as they understand it). In so doing, they have avoided the problem that generally afflicts the infiltrators — that they become like the culture they inhabit, that is, in the case of city transformers, they become as urban and hip as they are Christian. The Amish are also apparently free from the self-delusion that often infects the transformationalists, then one where to justify redeeming the culture the cult loses what makes it distinct (the salt is no longer salt).

... This is not, by the way, an endorsement of either the Amish (whom I admire) or the project of Christian culture. I am more and more persuaded that the longing for a Christian culture is illegitimate and whets the soul’s appetite for something we cannot have in this world. But if you are going to look for examples of Christian culture, the Amish may have unwittingly outscored the neo-Calvinists. ...

A surprisingly sloppy post not so much in the ideas presented, which are clear enough, but in the word choice.  Maybe the post was published using a mobile device that kicked in with auto-correct.  The thoughts are, however, interesting enough that some obviously off-kilter words don't keep the idea from coming across.  The Amish have cultivated a Christian culture that is robust and recognizable by not being in the culture around them.  Neo-Calvinists, as yet, have not produced a culture that has become so recognizable or long-lasting and this "may" be because they haven't had time or, as Hart implies, they will always lack the foundation form which to build a "Christian culture" because the enterprise itself is dubious.  Whether or not you agree with Hart on that is a matter all its own. 

Having seen the earnestness with which some pastors in this area have said they want to win people to Jesus, people who will "move upstream" and "shape culture" I've also seen what can happen when people realize they are probably never going to move upstream and shape culture.  They despair, they give up, they get resentful, and in some cases bail on church altogether.  When a goal of Christian living is to "redeem culture" it may happen to happen but it ends up putting the cart before the horse.

I suppose I could write more on the matter but I don't feel like doing so. 

No comments: