Friday, February 6, 2009

the erosion of identity

My own read on some of the data on religious identity is that liberal culture erodes Christian identity (I suspect it erodes everyone’s identity, but…). Thus you see the growth in those who identify themselves as “no religion”. Insofar as certain Christian groups were growing, it was limited to those groups that have no historical memory, lack a strong confessional identity and emphasize the immediate psychological experience of the believer as the basis of their Christian commitment (Evangelicals, Pentecostals, non-denominational, etc., etc.). This immediacy, the loss of any sense of belonging to a historically dynamic community, the denigration of rationality, all yield Christians who in fact lack an identity. Identity relies on memory; the absence of it means a Christianity that is simply caught in a perpetual present.

blowing away in the white sense
Uttaporn Nimmalaikaew, "Blowing Away in the White Sense" (2007) [Oil, Thread and Inkjet on Canvas]

In the face of this erosion, communities with a rich historical tradition find themselves resorting to authority to protect themselves from this religious-stream-of-consciousness. Authoritarianism is though just the other side to the coin of identity-loss. It reflects the fact that the persons no longer have a sense of why they believe the things they do and so the traditional practices are maintained, not by an ephemeral feeling, but by fiat. It stands in reaction to social forces that are chaotic, unmasterable by the individual, and therefore frightening. Authority may produce a kind of stability but it is no better at creating identity. Unable to experience the present moment as part of History, we, instead, believe because God (e.g., some guy in a dress, the Church or pick-your-random-book) says that is what we must believe in order to get the reward of avoiding relativism and getting our ticket punched to heaven.

-LoA

1 comment:

thekingpin68 said...

'Authority may produce a kind of stability but it is no better at creating identity. Unable to experience the present moment as part of History, we, instead, believe because God (e.g., some guy in a dress, the Church or pick-your-random-book) says that is what we must believe in order to get the reward of avoiding relativism and getting our ticket punched to heaven.'

Therefore persons in the Church need to seek God's help in individual and group study in the Bible, theology, philosophy and other disciplines. I am not anti-establishment but do not want to be spoon fed truth by the authorities.

I very much like the painting.

Thanks LoA

Russ:)