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.
7 thoughts on “The Christianity After Liberalism”
I’m not entirely convinced you are correct. Perhaps it’s true in the US and many other places, but I do not see it as being universal. I do not consider myself to be Christian, nor do the majority of my fellow citizens, but of those who are, the majority keep that fact out of the public gaze even when they are acting on what they believe are the essentials of their respective faith traditions. Christian nationalism seems to be a non-starter here, and my experience is that those values you hold as important – love, mercy, grace, and fraternity, and I’d add charity, compassion and diversity – is the glue that holds the liberal/progressive end of the Christian spectrum together.
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New Zealand is an oasis of liberalism, almost Vulcan in its ascent to Scandanavian-type democratic socialism. Ostensibly, that is where my sympathies lie although while I would prefer liberal democratic socialism, I find the hyperliberal progressive modernism distatseful. It lacks poetry, passion, romance, ritual, and the like. I certainly am not for keeping religion out of the public gaze, less out of my sincere religious convictions (although I have them) and more out of my love for the ritual, paegantry, art, and theatrics religion entails as a cultural tradition. Secularism censors what is most of a culture’s artistic canon, it turns a potential Burning Man festival into a book club on NPR. From Angkor Wat to Florence, Italy, to medieval Baghdad, religion enriches the culture greatly.
In any case, the former paragons liberal social democracy, the countries of Western Europe, are cracking at the rise of populism and nationalism. Marine le Pen nearly won the last French Presidential election, Italy is devolving into populist rage with no end in sight, and Britian is slipping into a creeping conservatism that is turning it into Europe’s America. Eastern Europe is almost a lost cause for the liberal social democrats as far as nationalist populism goes. New Zealand is a great success story for liberal social democracy but is much more the exception and not the rule. While I am rooting for it to keep on doing that, I don’t believe any country will escape the revenge of history. I believe Fukuyama’s utopia is too Rawlsian and doesn’t satisfy even the mid levels of Maslow’s hierarchy and is ultimately doomed to collapse.
As far as the virtues I listed, I was not going to list redundant synonyms. If I mention love and mercy, charity is redundant and it was not meant to be an exhaustive list, just a representative sample. I’d also have used an Oxford Comma.
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Let’s talk serious, you ready? Cultural Christianity in the west is pretty sour. Its low hanging fruit. The reason it’s so bad is that there is a profound lack of love for Jesus Christ and the Truth. The fact of the matter is that most U.S. Christian’s treat what is supposed to be a marriage to Jesus Christ like a social charade, in an attempt to either gain wealth, prestige, power, honor, or any mixture of the above.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is ultimately designed by God for the poor, the needy, the outcast. Its about impossible for a rich man to cast off his wealth and perhaps fame in order to ‘pick up his cross and follow Jesus.’
Your best Christians are not going to be famous. Why? Most humans, including a LOT of Christians, hate Jesus. But were supposed to love Him. It’s a marriage.
Jesus said we would be hated by all men for His name’s sake. How many celebrity Christians seem hated for His name’s sake? If you have millions of people loving you as a Christian: take heed, you’re probably doing something wrong.
I could keep going. I’ll say this though: many say they live by the bible, but they mix so much of their denominationalism into it that they’ve missed the whole point. As Jesus said, ‘a little leaven, leavens the whole lump.’ Avoid mens tradition. Study the scriptures alone.
Final note: I’d rather be a homeless man who truly loves Jesus than some of these rich celebrities and pastors on TV.
No offense, that comment sounds a bit fundie. Should Christians ignore the traditions of men? Well, No, and we shouldn’t ignore the traditions of women or nonbinaries either. Not listening to the wisdom and experience of others is a terrible idea. Do most humans hate Jesus? I think a more accurate way to say it is that they hate the spirit of the Gospels and turn Jesus into someone who agrees with everything they believe and do. Is it Christian to ghost platonically? No, but you’ll find plenty of Chrisitans who rationalize the sin not being wrong.
I would also say your argument is simplistic and clichéd. Christianity is, of course, about asceticism. Yet, is the average celebrity Christian better or worse than the average Christian in a trailer park? I won’t say. Many are capable of truly beuatiful acts. The blog, however, was not about asceticism and material attachment in Christianity as much as it was about love and empathy. Revenge anthems help perpetuate grudges of the people in the audience. It isn’t that they’re rich but that they use their primary talent to spread hatred. The wealth leads them to that sin since those pieces sell well. They could spread love and make less money or spread hatred and make more.
I certainly would not ascribe to the idea that someone not being hated is a sign they are bad. Martyrdom does often come to the righteous, and that can include being a pariah but that isn’t a given. I’m not going to argue, for example, Carrie Underwood is a fake Christian who hates Jesus. She is a normal person who used her power and platform to do the easy thing of surrendering to her worst emotions as opposed to resisting them. It certainly demonstrates a considerable weakness in moral courage. If she did not write her hit “Before He Cheats” and wrote the song about forgiving and amicibly parting with the person in the song, Jesus would be happier and her label would be sadder as their bottom line would be less. Could she have written a song about the victims of the devestating hurricane that hit while that album was being produced? Yes. There was no love, only hatred and consumerist glitz. In the end, she didn’t see using her power to spread hatred as bad and much less was willing to defy her label over it.
In Greek, ‘men’ can be used to signify humanity in general. Kind of like ‘guys’ in English. Should we ignore traditions of men? yes, and wisdom of men, too. The Lord Jesus Christ has determined that since the wisdom of men cannot find Him, that He will save as many as are willing through the foolishness of preaching. The wisdom and traditions of men will pass away with this world. So I hope I sound downright foolish to you. I’m certainly not trying to sound wise. But I do hope you understand that Jesus Christ is the only way into eternal life. For He is the door, and there is no other way into His house except through the door.
If I sound ‘fundie’ to you, definitely avoid reading anything Jesus had to say.
Hey, I just wrote a comment, and i feel like such a jerk. Listen, let me try again, okay?
Christianity is not what culture tells you it is. Listen, I’m not trying to be mean. But please listen.
Christianity is a marriage. It is a marriage contract; a marriage covenant, an eternal bond, to Jesus Christ. The Church, that is, the invisible body of people who truly love Jesus, are His bride. He is the Husband.
I would love to help you with your walk with Him, if you would still like to listen to me after I was so rude with you. Please understand that I’m schizophrenic and my dad is paralyzed. I’m going through a lot right now. I’m sorry for being mean.
Jesus has been so good to me. He showed me so much about Himself. He likes to joke, He is humble, meek, and lowly. I’m known for my kindness in person. Man I feel like a jerk. But hear me out please, even if you don’t want to talk to me.
He is the loveliest of 10,000,000,000. He is the most beautiful and precious person to exist. He has a heart of pure gold; He is lovely, He is kind, He is sweeter than honey. He is also the King of the Universe, and His throne is made of pure sapphire. He is the King of Beauty and love. After all, He designed wine. A lot of the things we enjoy are His personal creations.
I’m not one of those Trump-voting ‘fundies’. I’m kind of like a monk. I get on fire sometimes, I’m sorry. I live in complete detachment from this world to seek out a better marriage with Jesus Christ.
Well this comment is kind of long, so I’ll end it. I hope you accept my apology. I am not an unkind person. Please show me mercy.
Well, you could have edited the comment. I live in the United States’ Eastern Standard Time so I was asleep for many hours from the time that comment went up to when I saw it. I would say that you’re being hypocritical in claiming I should not listen to the wisdom of other people in matters theological yet wanting me to believe and accept your position. And it seems a tad narcissistic to believe one’s own theology is the best without discussing it with others.
You’re fine with me. You don’t need to be worried that I’ll judge you. I don’t. You do come off as a fundamentalist and you’re missing the point of everything I’m saying.