Tuesday, January 20, 2009

it can't be this long since I have posted something...

A few regulars came by the office this afternoon, and we somehow got talking about the implications of placing religion so in criticism of culture that it loses its perspective. I guess I never really thought about it quite this way, but from certain angles a prophetic model (Christ against culture) stands in opposition to a sacramental model (Christ in culture). Liturgically this model can easily end up viewing sacraments as means of “recharging” the batteries that get worn down by contact with the outside world so that we can go back out there and keep banging away at it. There is certainly something to that insofar as the gospel has both the ability and the need to stand in critique of a culture which all too often seems to have truly gone insane. On the other hand, this can end up being anti-incarnational and sectarian. A more broadly sacramental view would hold that the sacraments are not about recharging our batteries but about celebrating and bringing to conscious awareness the presence of Christ in the world. The danger is that it can lose its critical edge if it hunkers down into an “I’m ok, you’re ok” kind of relationship with the world. On the other hand, it reminds that Christ is found precisely in the messiness of the world, that grace is not a scarce commodity. It also avoids the dangerous tendency of the prophetic or “Christ against culture” model to see itself as a bastion of righteousness, holding at bay “the world” which exists out there. In a more sacramental model, just as Christ is in the world out there, so is “the world” in here, in my own self-centered and violent heart. Ironically, the inflated and twisted ego can easily enough inhabit the prophetic mind that believes that, having shunned “the world” outside the community, it has shed its own ego once and for all. That does not mean the abdication of the call to stand against a dehumanizing and self-aggrandizing culture, but to realize that saying no to the culture is not quite the same as exorcising its spirit from my heart.

No comments: