Apologies for another rant about Christians, and most specifically those in Britain (who are a pretty mixed bunch just by themselves). Think this might not be the last one this week. I’m just annoyed by the recurring theme I keep finding: non-Christians (perhaps more specifically atheists, who have no meta-narrative to work from) who seem to be examining the world way beneath the surface, and yet so many Christians, people who should be thinking in terms of an underlying narative, taking such surface-level approaches to political issues.Its great to see so many Christians engaging with the major issues of our day. Actually, its also disappointing that it still remains quite a small number who are actually doing stuff about it, but its definitely something that is changing. But very little of this seems to be being tied into a deeper, more holistic, understanding of the way our world currently works. Talk about world poverty and climate change, people are concerned, suggest some kind of underlying theory, and they get edgy.
On the other hand, I meet people outside the church, OK, they’re activists, but they are a pretty big bunch of people these days, who are really thinking about how issues connect, about the bigger picture, about the reasons the same people are involved in different injustices.
And yet, Christians are supposed to have this meta-narrative, for which there is no comparison amongst the atheist activists, indeed, often there is huge resistance to such a notion. We believe there is purpose in life, we believe the world was carefully and lovingly made, we have a story about a fall from paradise and of redemption, we think about a world beyond our own, and in theory we work to build that world, and yet, somehow, we’re unable to see past the fact that a representative government will represent the rich, not the poor, that power comes in three forms that are inherently inseparable: political, economic and military, and that while we allow some to accumulate any of these, there will be those who are violated by that power.
We believe in so much, and yet we can’t seem to piece it together into a bigger picture. My atheist activist friends try to show a connection between forms of oppression, and yet my Chrisitan friends, supposedly interested in sin and redemption, just seem to see an isolated set of issues. And its not like the Christians aren’t supposed to believe in someone who sees the bigger picture, and who can guard and protect them.
I have atheist friends who are prepared to take on injustice at a far deeper level, challenging the destructiveness of power in our world, putting themselves in far greater danger, with no concept of someone looking out for them who’s far greater than even the injustices they are challenging. Taking things to their most extreme, they have no concept of heaven, death is the end, and yet some of them take much bigger physical risks than we who have an assurance of something beyond. Thats not to say that Christians should be reckless, just that they shouldn’t be quite as scarred of such a possibility.
So lets study deeper, analyse things ourselves, try and get beyond the simple briefings put out by NGO’s, try and connect the wisdom of other movements to our own over-view of the world, however limited either might be, for there can be no wisdom in looking just for the surface facts and not seeking to really get to the bottom of them. And then we can begin to really change the world, instead of simply adjusting it a little, and what change we manage can be far more than cosmetic. Someone once said that a good Christian should hold the bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other, and read both. Perhaps we should change the newspaper, with reports of separate incidents, to a pile of books that seek to understand the flows and structures of this world. Then we might actually begin to see change.