Friday, May 17, 2013

To love God and neighbor....

David Zahl makes a rather stunning point today at Mockingbird:
While we’re on the subject of legalism (and shame), Anthony Bradley’s take on one of its more seductive current Christian guises, “The New Legalism: Missional, Radical, Narcissistic, and Shamed”, struck me as remarkably sound, ht KW:
The combination of anti-suburbanism with new categories like “missional” and “radical” has positioned a generation of youth and young adults to experience an intense amount of shame for simply being ordinary Christians who desire to love God and love their neighbors (Matt 22:36-40). In fact, missional, radical Christianity could easily be called “the new legalism.” A few decades ago, an entire generation of Baby Boomers walked away from traditional churches to escape the legalistic moralism of “being good” but what their Millennial children received in exchange, in an individualistic American Christian culture, was shame-driven pressure to be awesome and extraordinary young adults expected to tangibly make a difference in the world immediately. But this cycle of reaction and counter-reaction, inaugurated by the Baby Boomers, does not seem to be producing faithful young adults. Instead, many are simply burning out.
I could not possibly agree with this more; the old moralism has clearly become a new moralism.  And what's amazing about this, actually, is that nobody seems even to realize it.

Even more amazing:  practices that can help with "loving God and neighbor" - something that actually takes a lifetime to learn! -  seem not really to be on the agenda at all.  "Loving God and neighbor" often seems to be mistakenly confused with political and social movements and/or "activism" of various sorts - none of which are bad things in themselves.

But the church exists for healing and deep metanoia - and it's got to reclaim that function too.

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