Friday, August 24, 2012

What Has Happened to Us?

   I was thinking out loud today, while swaying in place with my friend, about how twisted our culture is.  The backwardness of our society is the conclusion I came to gradually when researching for an essay/argument I had to write for my Humanities class.  The paper I had to write had to include a direct quote from a person or organisation that was linked to a worldly ideology, or "ism," as our teacher likes to call a philosophy.  I got so frustrated even after I understood that she was not asking for a quote that directly correlated with a specific argument of Worldly-Wiseman, a character from "The Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan.  What frustrated me was that I couldn't chose just one worldly ideology because there are so many that I could easily write an entire thesis about!  I practically did in an earlier blog, in which I presented popular ideas and attempted to explain the theologies behind them.  Of course, being the imperfect human being that I am, there are many that I forgot to include, but I promise not to get on that this time.

  One thing about our culture that baffles me is our tendency to run circular zig-zags in our attempts at explaining our wacky habits.  For instance, people seem to think "uncool" is "cool," but if you're "cool" than you're different, which makes you "cool," even though you lost your "uncool badge," which is considered "cool," yet "cool" is "uncool" and "uncool" is "cool."  Am I making sense to y'all?  'Cause I'm certainly not making a lick of sense to myself!  It's circular nonsense and paradoxical jargon.

  SO... From now on...

  Another one is the concept of individuality.  Everyone tries to be different, but that in and of itself is a uniformity.  For example, we teenage girls seem to think that we all need to be either wannabe-models, girls-next-door, intellectual beauties, or harlots-in-the-making.

  Also, we all have to be either bottle-blondes, wannabe-emoes, or crazy-colours, and we all have to have at least #4 skin type, if we're not already hispanic or mulatto, that is.  And we're always preaching about individuality?  Can we all say, "hypocrisy" together?

  Honestly, I don't care if you love or hate rap, country, pop, metal, or alternative music, because music genres are irrelevant to society.  Music is supposed to be something unique to a culture, not the individual, for one.  It is meant to be something that brings the people of a culture together, unifying a culture, rather than segregating it into ages, classes, nationalities, preferences, etc.  But, unfortunately, we can no longer converse with our grandparents about the technicalities of Elgar's Cello Concerto in E-minor, or Beethoven's Für Elise, or Mozart's Ave Verum, because precious few of those steeped in 21st-Century America give a rat's ear for what Granny listened to, nor Granny what her Grandmother listened to.  It's just the sad world we live in.  Now, we could go to Ireland and Great-granddad O'Riley and little Murphy Jr. would be singing "Oh Danny Boy" together while tilling the barley field or pulling potatoes.  I don't know about y'all, but I'd love to sing "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" with my grandma, mother, and sisters whilst sewing away by a warm fire with a cup of Lady Grey Tea with snow piling up on the window sill.  I just waxed idealistic for y'all.

  To be honest, our culture is more segregated than it has ever been.  We have no cultural tradition - only small, family traditions, and even those are minimal.  We've also lost our one-room-schoolhouse mentality, which used to bring all children together, allowing the older kids to look out for the younger.  We see this loss of unity even in our churches.  An example of this would be children's church and youth groups.  Rather than bringing the people of God together into one central area of worship, we branch off and sever the unity we are supposed to have as a church by taking the children away from the centre of worship.

     I'm all for youth ministry, but it's the right thing done in the wrong way.  Though not all youth ministry groups are the same, most are really awesome social events where you get told the Nice News, and get to listen to cool music, meet cool people, and pick up a girlfriend/boyfriend.  They're the epitome of cool.  But the Gospel can be spread in FAR better ways.  You see, spreading the Gospel through being cool and dressing it up to appeal to teenagers' senses is fitting God's Word into the box of modern society.  The problem with that, is that the Gospel and the world are NOT of the same shape.  While God is a sphere, with no beginning and no end, the ideologies of the world are more of a line segment: they have a beginning and they will certainly come to an end. And one fit a sphere into a line segment?  No, because a line segment only has length, not width or depth, while a sphere has all.  Don't try to worldlinate (that's a new word) God's Word for lost teenagers.  Call it what it is.  Use examples of God's grace in even pagan or secular cultures to show that no one is out of His reach.  But in no way will the Gospel be squeezed into modern culture.  It's like trying to fit to ocean in a 2-liter bottle -- you're gonna have a little spillage.

  "So what's your solution, O' Great and Wise Counsellor?"
  My solution to this cultural rut is to stop thinking about yourself and what social category you may fall under.  Just don't even try.  I tried, and I found myself miserable in the end.  I've considered many possible ways by which I could fall under the "girl-next-door" category, but it was so far from who I was and am.  Be yourself, as in, who God made you to be, not who the world says you should be.  To try to change who you are is to shake your fist in God's face and say He made a mistake in creating you with a personality that you find unattractive.  Be a child of God - no more, no less.

  Godspeed my friends!
  - Abigail Earle

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