Many believed that Christianity (and religion) would die in the West but that is not happening. That said, the Christianity that is emerging is not the same Christianity that came into liberalism or even the most recent stages of liberalism. Neither version of Christianity had much to do with the message or tradition founded in 1st century Roman Judea by a carpenter turned street preacher. I am not mostly focussing on the rise in Christian nationalism but the broader religion of America and the West which is nowhere close to dying.
Their Christianity, however devoid of the worst elements of Christian nationalism it is, is still not a Christianity that would hold its own against the Dalai Lama, Carl Sagan, or Bertrand Russell. Christianity has a lot going for it, I converted back from a period of atheism and being spiritual-but-not-religious. Yet, the love, mercy, grace, and fraternity that made me choose it over my next favorite choice, Buddhism, is not represented in almost any form by almost any significant representative of the Christian religion in the culture.
In an earlier article I used the example of Carrie Underwood, being an A-list celebrity, she is an accessible example. The same album on which she released “Jesus Take the Wheel”, she released “Before He Cheats”. It is one thing to have revenge fantasies, it is another to write revenge anthems to inspire others to the same sin of hatred. While some people can forgive murderers and rapists, she never made an attempt at forgiving her unfaithful but non-abusive ex-boyfriend suggesting she was not making the slightest effort and while Jesus may be a source of hope in trying times for her, he is not a source of moral courage.
Perhaps, more to the point, a million Iraqi civilians were dying with countless more orphaned and disabled by the conflict, there was a genocide happening in Sudan, New Orleans was in ruins from a hurricane, southeast Asia from a tsunami, and not a song on that album shed a tear for any of them. What a point would have been made had Carly Pearce brought an orphan from the Tigray region onto the stage at the CMAs, placed her hand on their head, and prayed for them. Most majorly openly Christian artists are just as hateful in their interpersonal relations and callous to the weakest on Earth and, honestly, listening to Christian hollywood makes me want to convert to Buddhism.
Even if you leave metonymic LA, New York, and Nashville and head to the more explicitly Christian artists like in the Christian Rock, Christian Country, and Christian Rap genres the art is about worshiping Jesus and occasionally about living a broken or hedonistic life and finding Jesus. Mostly, they are excited fans about Jesus as a superstar and, on occasion, using him as a crutch in rehab. Over the 2010s decade, as Syria, Libya, and Yemen burned you would be hard pressed to find a Christian artist who gave those miserable children of God a shout-out. Most megachurch parishoners weren’t praying for Syria and couldn’t even find it on a map.
Jesus is, to those people and the Christian celebrities who represent the religion to the world, a mix of Dr. Phil and Beyonce. The Buddhists would win any debate with them. A Buddhist monk would say “Our religion is about compassion, peace, and the minimizing of human suffering and not a syllable you utter has anything to do with those things” and that Buddhist monk would be right. Christianity doesn’t attempt to make much of a case for itself. And, yet, that is a long tangent on Christianity after liberalism. The point of the tangent is that popular Christianity has nothing to do with the philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth.
To a degree, that has always been true. What is different is that the inmates run the asylum, now. I emphasized Christian hollywood because celebrities increasingly run society, including religion. The metonymic Vatican, Canterbury, and Wittenberg were run by theologians but the theologians lack the production value to run Christianity in the age of abundant social media and scarce attention spans. It is happening in politics, celebrities are running for political office. It is that the adult toddlers that are A-list influencers, rather than sober doctors of divnity, are clasping the tiller of my religion. My religion will become a consumerist circus whose movements are elected by the market forces of global capitalism.
The Christianity coming out of the back end of liberalism does not look like Janurary 6th, it looks like an MLM scheme with self-help gurus in the pulpit and sponsorship endorsements from celebrities. It is not becoming Michael Moore’s “Jesus Camp” but the movie “Idiocracy”. It is dying as a religion and is returning as an Instagram model selling bitcoin and nutricuticals. It will not have substance and its theologians didn’t study the Bible or devote themselves to altruism, they studied the asinine drama of love triangles and the hyperbolized emotions of interpersonal relationships.