Today as I waited for the shower stream to heat up, I squinted at my 50-year old body in the mirror and heard myself mutter, "Well, if you're what I am then I'd better start exercising." As I did so, I was struck by the thought that this is exactly the attitude that has captured the minds and wallets of modern men and women across the West, who swell the membership of the Gold's Gyms and jog through our neighborhoods. This thought: this body is me--if it's beautiful and desirable, then I'm beautiful and desirable--if it's ugly then I'm ugly--underlies the eating disorders that stress our young women (and that killed Terry Schiavo, in one way of thinking). Our whole culture is body-centered. "Look Better Naked" is the billboard for Gold's Gyms in York, PA. The thought that, perhaps, I fundamentally am a body, rather than someone that has a body, had suggested to me the same body-centric self image that drives a huge portion of our consumer industry and that is clearly an aspect of the current "spirit of the age".
This was alarming, and I immediately felt several related thoughts snap into alignment in the back of my head. I heard John Lennon's "Imagine There's No Heaven" transposed upon a comment I have heard several times recently, that "the Bible is not about going to heaven, but about living on earth." Sooooo....this emerging concept also just happens to line up with what romantic materialists have been saying for the past 40 years. "It's not about saving souls, but about building the Kingdom (on Earth, by the way)" Hmmmm.
The Creation mandate directs us to become much more environmentally conscious and join the environmentalists who have, ironically, understood this truth all along. One of Jubillee's keynote speakers urges the youth to take up global warming as a Christian cause. The Gaian's are (practically, anyway) right after all.
We have recently discovered that the past 2000 years of Christian scholarship and exegesis has been terribly corrupted by ancient Greek rationalism and dualism, so we are busily exploring our ancient roots and trying to understand our scriptures from the point of view of our ancient, pre-industrial, agrarian forebears. Has anyone else noticed that this is precisely what pop religion has been doing for the past twenty years? "Rediscovering" primitive spirituality, whether it be Native American, Aboriginal or Wiccan, and rejecting philosophies based on reason and categorical thinking?
We are all about rediscovering "community" and the urban. Hello? These have been "Bobo" concerns for the past twenty-plus years.
So what am I suggesting? At this point, I am merely alarmed at the striking alignment of many of these Christian "hot topics" with the spirit of this age. An emphasis on the physicality of life, the goodness of this material world, a preference for the ancient and non-rational, urbanism and an emphasis on community, and a rejection of grand metanarratives are not only shared by the current culture, but the elites of that culture emphasized these things first. Is there any chance that we are simply assimilating, that we are seeking to rejoin the intellectual elites by aping their agenda, with a Christian twist to preserve the illusion that we are countercultural?