You might be wondering why making people uncomfortable should be something to aspire to. But as this incisive comic from Adam4D explains upsetting people was a big part of what Jesus did:
This notion is problematic for liberal christians. Many of us profess it. For example, Giles Fraser, the progressive priest par excellence:
[t]he background default position of contemporary culture is wholly secular, and takes religion to be a dull joke. The only effective way to challenge this is for Christianity to reclaim its position as something counter-cultural, and a form of resistance to the dominant assumptions.
However, on many issues – notably human sexuality – we wind up defending the secular status quo against our co-religionists. In fact, evangelicals and Catholics often criticise liberal christians for having “nothing to say to people that they can’t already hear from Oprah, John Stewart, CNN, or the NYT.” If Christianity has no message that is not a reflection of prevailing secular values then it seems a bit pointless.
So where CAN liberal christians challenge the values of society. Besides the obvious ones like money and the environment, I’d also throw out the following suggestions:
- Though shalt not steal intellectual property. Theft generally does not pass the social acceptability test but if my friends and acquaintances are anything to this particular kind does. That doesn’t stop it being theft. Just because the marginal costs of distributing music or films online does not change the fact that creative industries still need to earn revenue somehow. So Philip Pullman is quite right to liken online piracy to ‘reaching into someone’s pocket and taking their wallet‘ and brand it online squalor. Churches ought to be challenging downloaders to contemplate how they would feel if their work was being taken without recompense.
- Clever meaness. Saying this makes me a major hypocrite because I love a good gossip and can be pretty snide. However, I’d suggest that celebrating cruelty if it’s sufficiently entertaining is a bad thing. Yet from reality TV to the performances of public intellectuals that’s what we do. Let’s aspire to fear being boring less than hurting others.
- Alcohol. Binge drinking is a very British sin which: wastes the time and money of public services, puts people in danger and makes city centres no go areas for most people for a chunk of the week. Let’s try and steer our younger adherents away from this gross pastime.
So there are my suggestions. I hope you disagree with at least one of them.
- Darkness as my constant companion | Giles Fraser (theguardian.com)