In the last 250 years the United States has changed drastically. This change is an antithesis what our country was founded upon. The very idea of a nation that could and did have the right to believe what they ever they like was one of the best ideas of the Bill of Rights. Our nation has changed. It has changed from the idea of freedom of religion to freedom from religion.
The very idea a nation can survive in a culture where there is a choice between religion and no religion at all was simply crazy thinking in the beginning of our nation. Our dependence upon the divine was built into every thing our nations was built upon. Belief was the basis for our total identity. It was not what was possessed it what was believed. A mandate to believe in something was required in oursociety. There were few atheists or agnostics.
There was no duality in the early years of our republic. Religion and life were inextricably tied together. It changed in small little steps. Now we live in an age that would separate Faith and life. The default mode is to see faith as simply an escape from the madness. Carl Marx is now seen as correct when he was quoted as saying, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” Christianity or any belief is seen as a crutch. And we have fallen for a dualism. The life of the everyday has been segmented from the life of faith. It is much like a plate of food where the mashed potatoes are never allowed to touch the peas.
This dualism attitude says it really doesn’t matter who is in control: Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, Communist, Secular Humanists, Green, Libertarians. The secular can go ahead and run the world. Let them run the country as long as those who believe can have their little piece of heaven. As long as Jesus is there in the believers little corner of life, all is well. Jesus can be well scheduled, secluded, private and quiet.
If one would try to invade the other’s space, whether the world into faith or faith into the world there is anger. Any attempt to join the two is seen as revolt of personal rights. Today, there is a separation worlds because there is no possibility of co-mingling of authority. The world would say the only authority is man. Faith says the only authority is God. They don’t mix well.
Christianity in the west has become like a boxing ring. Christians in one corner and the world in the other. And if each is in their respective corners all is quiet. The Faithful, if they stay in their corner they are ignored by the world. The world is equally ignored in our prayer closets and our pulpits. Until one or the other makes a step to meet in the middle there is no reaction.
This duality of life is almost satisfying. There is little motivation to step out to the middle of the ring. To enter the battle place to fight the good fight.
A Christian nation is a good thought. It gives the average churchman solace of purpose. It is an acknowledgement of rightness of God. It is good to be a part of something that is well accepted. There is even a group called the Religious Right that has influence on the culture of the West. They have made an imperceptibly small nudge toward the center and the other corner calls foul. Foul because the world not only wants its corner but the middle too.
Those in the corner act Christian. As long as our corner is not invaded by the world, if the world does not take our tax deductions, If the world allows us to occupy a corner or two, then it is good. And this corner keeping attitude brings with it an expectation. Not a faith expectation to change the world, but an expectation of something in this life. It is an expectation in which each generation will have it a little better off. We will live longer. We will have all the food we need. We will be able to go wherever we want. To be treated fairly. In a Godly nation we will have the best healthcare, the best lifestyle, the best leisure opportunities. This Nation which stamps on their money, “IN GOD WE TRUST”, comes with it an expectation of being better off than the ungodly nations. In doing so we have lost the bigger viewpoint. It is all about the battle.
We have developed a form of Christianity to support this concept of prosperity. It has become a Christianity which is acceptable, comfortable, secure, and prosperous as seen by the other corner. This corner Christianity that looks at our uniqueness, our personal goals, our own needs, our own wants, our own preferences, our own prosperity. We have nice churches, nice chairs, nice heating and cooling, good lighting, the best music, and short messages about other people.
There is no call to be an alien, a traveler, or a selfless soul on a journey. It is an attitude of arrival. Heaven on earth. And we are good with that.
We get angry if the world doesn’t treat Christianity as something that is not normal. The church has become comfortable. And all this normalcy, this duality is destroying our relationship to the real Jesus. The world has domesticated the church. I don’t want to be a comfort seeking, entertainment addicted, survey craving, approval desiring Christian. I can not stay in my corner. I don’t want to waste my life just fitting in. I want God. And I want God to be the authority. I want God to rule my life. No duality. Just primary. I want God in the whole ring.