(Blogger’s note: one of the things I mentioned in “Don’t Mourn For Me” was job security. That topic was part of the “American Dream” post. Therefore I will go ahead to our present post).
“What?” You ask. “Wither American Christianity? Surely you jest!”
Ever since there was an America, American Christianity has been the part and parcel of this nation’s religious life, despite the fact that the US of A was not founded as a Christian nation. Christianity-especially the American variant-has been the dominant religious “800 pound gorilla” for years; all other faiths take a back seat. And now it pervades every area of American life-even attempting to take over the White House. You hear enough about it daily and hear me chat about it by my moniker, “fundagelical” (fundamentalist-evangelical). Therefore I’m not going into detail about it.
Yet, as Ashford and Simpson once sang, “Get Out Your Handkerchiefs” for it’s time to mourn the passing of American Christianity.
As I write this post, we’re seeing a gradual shift in the American religious landscape. Atheism, once kept “in the closet”-especially in ethnic communities-is gaining stream. Americans are growing weary of the Church’s attacking Evolution, a woman’s right to choose, attacking other religions, etc. The growing “emergent” (home) church is opening its doors to disaffected ecclesiastical Christians. American Christianity’s meanness towards the “other”, snuggling up to the powerful (and rich), disregard for the planet (thanks to a faulty reading of Genesis), and hijacking of the Divine for its own purposes has left a bad taste to many. Let’s not forget the televangelists on TV and the web, pimping the “health and wealth gospel” to desperate masses looking for Divine financial aid and healing, yet they’re the ones benefiting.
With organized religion losing steam in Europe, the same can one day be said about the US of A. The fundagelical American Christianity’s doing all it can to maintain power in America in hopes to shape the nation to “Biblical” (read their own) values. They’ve even co-opted with politicians to try and “bring America back to God”. Even if these people succeed, it will be a short-lived victory.
Today, we seeing Christians defying denomination and “doctrine” by embracing Gays and Lesbians, by opening up church doors and reaching out into their communities, by siding with the “99%”/Occupy movements. “Higher Criticism” has allowed people inside and outside the ministry to take a serious reevaluating look at scripture, thus weakening the Biblical literalism that’s part and parcel of American Christianity. People are realizing that they don’t need hierarchical or ecclesiastical churches to be part of the church (“called out ones”). That the Kingdom/Queendom* of God is in us, not in some doctrine or denomination. As I said earlier about the emergent church, it has a powerful tool in social media-turning the institutional church into a dinosaur.
What we’ll see is a Christianity that was based on “Manifest Destiny”, faulty (literal) interpretation of Scripture, Capitalist ideals, and the quest for power go into the dustbin of history. In its place, a Christianity that’s returned to Christ: smaller assemblies that welcome dialogue; individual witnesses free from the dying dinosaur of institutional church; socially conscious Christians who care about the poor, the environment, women and their rights to determine their lives without male influence, people who desire to commune with the Divine without ecclesiastical “go-betweens”.
We could see the beginning of a New Reformation in America that will re-shape Christianity here and elsewhere. And ultimately we’ll evolve into the true Kingdom/Queendom of God.
So get out those hankies for American Christianity. The loss will be painful for many. But look on the bright side. If what I believe is true, then to paraphrase the old Gospel tune, “there will be a bright side somewhere”; and that “somewhere” will be here.
*Thank you Matthew Fox for the term “Queendom of God”!