Revolution: Authenticity, Day 1

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I’m pissed this evening. No use hiding it. So, sorry if I’m a bit squirrelly today.

I attended a mandatory “media group” meeting today. It’s killing me right now that I’m not at liberty to be completely authentic about it. I want to say some things. It really, really bothered me. Yet even so, it seems as though it used to bother me more. I used to resist any restraint like this as slimy, disease-ridden evil. As I’ve gotten older, become a parent, adopted a “professional persona,” it’s uncomfortable, but I’ve adopted fears. I don’t want to be seen as a bratty, impulsive miscreant by my coworkers. “Maturity” would have me believe it’s silly to get all riled up about things. But that’s not brave-heart talk. That’s not an Aragorn notion. That’s not very wild at heart, is it? (My pseudo-Biblical evangelicalism is beginning to show…)

Fact is, as I was sitting there in the back row today, I realized a few things. I’m not going to convince any hard-core traditionalists to accept the revolution. You know who I mean, I think. They simply don’t see the need and think we’re just fools (or sinners) for bringing it up. No matter what we do, we just don’t see the same glass of water. That’s abundantly clear in my line of work. It’s an impasse of values and perception. Though our theology and ideology are completely in sync, what we value will always polarize us. And though they will never accept the spiritual significance of Marilyn Manson, hymns and P.O.D will continue to share the same iPod on my desk because I value what both have to offer. That the traditionalists can’t see value in the same things is indeed unfortunate, but we’re not going to change them. And I guess they’re just going to have to continue being offended, because like it or not, true wisdom cares to understand what others value.

Authenticity! That’s what we value. It’s what this revolution is about. Being authentic is the sacred value of the emergent church and the writing revolution and the WTO riots and behind the loathing of politics and pretty much everything these “hooligans” claim as their sacred values, whether they can explain it or not. Remember Holden Caufield’s phonies? The traditional conservative capitalists (the same ones who got Bush reelected) have a tendency to make themselves incapable of seeing the “post-modern generation” as anything other than disrespectful, slovenly, misguided, inarticulate miscreants. But at least we’re real miscreants. Some of them will continue to villify whatever doesn’t meet with their orthodoxy and use the slipery slope argument to deny any compromise that might allow conversation to develop. And they’ll continue to think the world is going to hell on a Segway.

Yet rather than villify them right back, I want to try to appreciate them. After all, the world IS going to hell. I can see how they’d think Christina Aguillera is leading children to practice witchcraft and voo-doo. I’m the first to agree that media saturation has completely replaced God in our society. But let’s also be rational and stop labeling everything for a moment. Step back. There’s no underground organized conspiracy. It’s the same devil he’s always been. Pride, selfishness, and money-hunger are the same things today as Jesus was dealing with. And let’s not forget that the gospel says there is nothing so filthy that can’t be made sacred.

There is only one revolutionary answer to saving the traditionalists along with this heart-sick world, and that is in allowing authenticity to revolutionize your life. I plan to meditate on that for the next few days. I hope you’ll be back to do the same.

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15 thoughts on “Revolution: Authenticity, Day 1”

  1. I echo Mary’s comments (except, of course, the part about speaking at the staff conference — I didn’t do that) and encouragements. The irony here is that the “traditionalists” are most likely striving to be authentic, too. Perhaps they are motivated partly by fear or legalism or spiritual pride — only God knows their hearts — but they believe they are defending the one, true, right way.
    Don’t we all operate under the same assumption? How unfathomable is God’s patience. It blows my mind.
    So. At this time in history God has placed you on the back row at the media group meeting. He has given you unique insights and a burning passion for revolution. It’s making you uncomfortable. I imagine that’s His plan. I pray you’ll have the grace and wisdom you need to plow this particular field for a season. The resulting fruit isn’t your responsibility anyway.
    You are where you are for a million reasons. I will pray with you. “Thy will be done.”
    I look forward to reading your ongoing meditations.
    His peace.

  2. Is that Kenny Loggins in the background? Are we about to get footloose? :) Seriously, this sounds like a familiar scenario: whether they are traditionalists or not, every organization has an inertia behind it and has a hard time re-evaluating its message on the fly. And you’re right that “convincing” them isn’t going to be easy — or even possible. But what words can’t do deeds often can, and what we can’t do the Spirit often does.
    When you think of how many years it took to create the current evangelical status quo, it gives you an idea of the timeline we should be thinking of. This is a long-term vision, and it will require as much orthopraxy as orthodoxy along the way.

  3. I’ll be the dissenting voice here. Mick, your statement: “Being authentic is the sacred value of the emerging church…” scares me. I have a Buddist cousin who is authentic, but it doesn’t affect her eternal condition.
    In my younger days, I had a most outstanding pastor (you would recognize his name) who stressed authenticity, and I am better for it. Much better. As I look at it, authenticity is merely refusing to live a lie. For far too long our culture, including the Christian community, has looked upon dishonesty of any kind as sort of a minor thing.
    I think it is a main weapon in Satan’s hands. He is, after all, the Father of Lies.
    But the reason I consider my views dissenting has to do with the idea that authenticiy is “the sacred value.” Living truthfully can lead to where my cousin is. Living in the light of the Truth is a different matter. Authenticity should not beTHE value. (Personally I think balance should be, but that’s another discussion. Hahah)

  4. The point is living our Christian faith with authenticity, where being “authentic” means open, transparent, struggling and all the ups and downs of sanctification that a Church Face is designed to hide. Authenticity is not a value that’s unique to the emerging church conversation, but it is certainly one of the things it’s striving to model.

  5. relevantgirl,
    I would definitely agree with you. When asked to identify the most important command, Jesus said, love God. Then He added, love others. I don’t recall Him ever talking about the command to be authentic.
    I think 21st C Christians have had to because of the dishonesty of our cultrue, but I would hope we NEVER make it THE value that is our distinctive.

  6. OK you lost me right here.
    “And though they will never accept the spiritual significance of Marilyn Manson, hymns and P.O.D will continue to share the same iPod on my desk because I value what both have to offer.”
    What is POD? Are you serious in saying that marilyn manson has some spiritual significance? Do you mean to suggest that we should listen to his gross, disgusting, God-hating lyrics and we can derive some value from that?
    Do you think that creature is authentic? He is to be pitied–a deluded, hell-bound, twisted, perverted individual. How authentic is that? Do you mean that because he stands up and curses God to his face that somehow makes him authentic and brave.
    The Bible calls him arrogant, blind, and a fool. No, you should not be listening to him in the hopes of finding spiritual significance.
    sally

  7. Sally, I know your heart, but I’m assuming you haven’t read the books to the right. There’s an awful lot of filth in Palahniuk and Eggers. But that’s our world. That’s who we’re called to love.
    Manson creates a little too much chaos, but then so does Jerry Falwell. Manson’s talking about the differences between art and propaganda, between religion and truth, and between piety and hypocricy. Hear him first (www.beliefnet.com/story/78/story_7870_2.html) (www.rollingstone.com/news/story/_/id/5923915), and then condemn, judge, and villify.
    This is an essential task of the revolution: no person, place, or thing can’t be redeemed. Growing up the way he did, I’d venture that Manson (a preacher’s kid from Ohio named Brian Warner) is more Christian than some others who claim the mantle.

  8. Relevant Girl,
    I can understand how you thought I was saying that I wouldn’t pray for MM to be saved. Forgive me for not being clear. I agree that we need to pray for his salvation and further, I would be overjoyed to arrive in heaven to find Hitler and Jeffrey Dahlmer sitting at Christ’s feet. The blood of Christ is so precious that I would love to see it claiming victory over Satan by purchasing the worst sinners. In regards to MM or Hitler all I can say is “There but for the grace of God, go I.” If God can save me he can save anyone.
    But MM is a hell-bound sinner as surely as I was a hell-bound sinner before God set me free. OK if the man is saved then he was saved before the foundation of the world but do we need to get into such distinctions here? He is, right now, a hell-bound sinner. How do I know this? Because he is God’s enemy. The Bible says that the wicked are at enmity with God. There is but one way for reconciliation and that is the blood of Christ.
    Marilyn Manson calls himself the anti-Christ. He does not confess with his mouth that Jesus is the Lord or believe in his heart that God raised him from the dead. He proclaims with his mouth that he is anti-Christ. He says he’s Christ’s enemy, not I.
    What benefit could there be, for us or him, in our listening to his filth? Our time would be much better spent in praying for his soul.
    I do not need to be someone’s friend to evangelize. Read Peter’s first sermon in Acts. He didn’t buddy up to his listeners or listen to their concerns or sympathize with them because life sucks. He preached Christ. He held up Christ as all glorious. And he accused his listeners of nailing Christ to the cross. He accused them of killing God. He told them plainly that they were hell-bound sinners and the Holy Spirit convicted them and they were pricked in the heart and they cried out, “What must we do to be saved?”
    People are dying all around us every day. Oh, that we Christians would wake-up and smell the burning the flesh. They don’t need us to listen to their complaints. They need us to hold up Jesus so they can see his holiness and their own filth.
    Do we need to beg sinners to repent? Respect them, stroke them, listen to them? Do we need seeker sensitive churches? I think there may be times for some of these different approaches in evangelism. There is a time to rebuke and a time to plead. Certainly we need to love those we evangelize.
    But I was not evangelizing anyone in my post. I was attempting to rebuke brother Mick. Heh heh. Now I’m off to rebuke him some more. =0)
    Thanks for the thought-provoking posts.
    sally

  9. Mick? There is more garbage in the books you are advertising? Arghhhhhhh. You’re breaking my heart, man.
    Ha ha. This is what I get for falling in love so fast. =0)
    OK here’s the deal on Manson. I have read him. I studied up on him six years ago when my niece was listening to him and I just read the two links you provided. I believe the man is in deep trouble and he has nothing of value to say that hasn’t been said better by someone else. What is about him that makes him worth listening to? He’s weird? He’s famous? What? Why would anyone care what he has to say? He is not articulate or smart or witty. He lacks imagination. He mistakes sin for art. He criticizes the system that makes him money and he laughs all the way to the bank. He dresses and speaks in the most evil fashion and he has a bunch of silly teen-agers spending money to listen to him and thinking he’s profound. Why? What is there about him that is any way attractive to a child of God?
    And you, my dear Mick, put him side by side with hymns and say you keep them both in your ipod because you value both. You VALUE manson. You VALUE him right up there with hymns.
    (yes I’m yelling at you. Sorry, I cannot contain myself.)
    So we have Wesley saying “And can it be that I should gain an interest in my Savior’s blood? Died he for me, who caused his pain? For me, who him, to death pursued. Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die, for me?”
    And then we have MM saying, “Maybe I should become a Christian and make them all happy. But I think if I found Jesus–which, I didn’t know he was lost in the first place–I don’t think he would be all that different from me.”
    This statement, from the moronic humor to the shallow thought, sounds like a 13 yo boy speaking. There is nothing of value here. Christ is infinitely different from this guy who dresses like a really gross, scaggy he/she/it thing, and who loves sex and violence and thinks the image of Christ dying on the cross is “very violent, sexual, and phallic.”
    He also says, “So at an early age, Christians already started to appear to me as people who believed that their interpretation of God was the only one that was right.”
    Is there anything of value here? All people believe their interpretation of God is right. If we didn’t think we were right we wouldn’t think what we thought. We’d think something else and we’d think we were right about it. What bothers him? He wants us to say that all ways lead to heaven? Well that’s not original. Why should we value his voice at all? What has he said that others haven’t said better?
    And then we get this gem:
    “To me, Satan ultimately represents rebellion. Lucifer was the angel that was kicked out of heaven because he wanted to be God. To me, what greater character to identify with?
    “So initially I was drawn into the darker side of life. But it’s really just human nature. I started to learn that everything that’s considered a sin is what makes you a human being. All the seven deadly sins are man’s true nature. To be greedy. To be hateful. To have lust. Of course, you have to control them, but if you’re made to feel guilty for being human, then you’re going to be trapped in a never-ending sin-and-repent cycle that you can’t escape from. And you’re going to be miserable.”
    Well God forbid that we be miserable! Let us eat and drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. This man is headed for misery. An eternity of misery. Pity him, sure. But how you can say his name in the same breath as you say the word “hymn” is beyond me. Our Christian hymns are given to us by God, written by saints who loved God and loved not the world. Some of the writers suffered and died for God. The hymns are given to us by our brothers who let the word of Christ dwell in them richly as they wrote to rebuke and encourage us. These brothers and their voices are to be valued. And you say you value them and Marilyn Manson both. As if they are equally valid voices.
    I can’t comment on Falwell because I’ve never studied his works. But I think there are many who claim to be Christians and are not. There are wolves in abundance in the church. The CBA stores sell Benny Hinn books. This is disgusting to me. I could name all kinds of so-called Christians that I cannot commune with because they worship a different Christ. But that has nothing to do with Manson.
    Manson says he’s creating art when he’s really creating propaganda. He’s just selling his dung to a different church. We have CBA stores selling Jesus junk and we have Manson selling weirdo junk and neither is better one than the other. He is pushing a religion, not truth. His religion is “Everybody should do what he wants and no one should be miserable except the one I’m using and abusing.” There is no truth n his words. He is a hypocritical as any TV preacher around. He says he’s an artist and he’s doing what he does for the sake of serving the art and not to make money. Yeah. Well if he says so it must be so. I still don’t think his work has any spiritual significance at all.
    Can he be redeemed? Of course, praise God. Of course he can be redeemed. The blood of Christ is powerful for sinners just like us. Is he more Christian than others? What does that even mean? The man claims to be anti-Christ. How can be more or less Christian? He simply is not Christian. Should we waste any amount of our limited time on Earth reading his inane commentary on society? Some should. If they feel called to interact with him or his followers then they sure should read him so they can refute his perverted views on God. But no one should read him looking for spiritual value or significance. And that statement is not in any way condemnatory, nor am I vilifying him (as if anyone could vilify him when he loves playing the villain) or saying that he can’t be redeemed.
    Nor does any of this mean that I don’t still love you, brother Mick. I just realize that I have be more diligent in my prayers for you. LOL
    You may write back and argue all you want. But I fear you will not convince me. I am afraid I’m just an old traditionalist that will never see any value in ugly boys playing dress-up and trying to sound profound while practicing and encouraging perverted sexual practices and violence.
    sally
    PS why do you say he’s a preacher’s kid? In the very first paragraph of the interview you link to he says this:
    What was your religious upbringing?
    My first memories of religion were being taken to Episcopal church. My father was Catholic, but my mother, I believe, was Episcopal. So I sort of veered off into the watered-down version of Catholicism.
    PPS I was laughing through half of this so I hope you are able to take it in the spirit it is offered. I just can’t figure out how I could be so wrong about you, I thought you were such a nice young man. =0)
    But seriously, I do appreciate your blog and you, Mick. Keep on, in spite of the wicked old traditionalists that attack you and tear you down. I’m laughing so hard now because I think I once encouraged you to not worry about the old goats who were going to attack you, didn’t I?

  10. Sally, I agree. I didn’t intend to imply that Manson’s music has as much spiritual value as hymns (though the argument could be made, I suspect). My point is, Jesus hung out with some pretty coarse, “anti-Christ” people. And He doesn’t call some of us to do the same–He calls ALL of us.
    There was an argument mentioned in that meeting I attended Wednesday that incited my half-baked comments on authenticity. The statement was, “Unless you preach to the choir, sometimes they won’t sing.” That really set me off. I understand the need for this, but what a cop out (much like the misuse of Phil. 4:8)! And too often, it is these religious people who create the audience for artists like Manson, the ones who would pass the Samaritan on the other side of the street.
    I appreciate your taking the time to comment. I wish more would. I know you care, and it isn’t easy. So thank you. I’m just glad we’re on the same side…. Let’s hope Manson comes around like Alice Cooper: http://www.charismalife.com/online/articledisplay.pl?ArticleID=4521

  11. Ah, there you see? I knew you were a nice young man. =0)
    I don’t understand the comment about preaching to the choir. We should preach to each other all the time. We should constantly be reminding one another about how much Christ loves us and encouraging one another (and, of course, rebuking when needed.) =0)
    So what was the context of the statement that it should make you angry?
    I do understand about the Philippians deal. The verse I don’t like people to pull out is the “abstain from all appearance of evil” one. I think they misinterpret it. Shoot, Jesus looked evil to the Pharisees and he didn’t feel the need to abstain. It is when evil really makes an appearance that we must abstain. Not when busybodies think what we are doing looks bad.
    I had heard about Alice Cooper. That is so great.
    sally

  12. Mary,
    I listened to the link you posted and am happy to tell you I have no bumper stickers or fish on my car, and my church doesn’t have a marquee. =0)
    I agree with what the guy was saying. But then I’m a missionary kid so I may have a different take than some. I grew up thinking we were to love sinners even at great personal expense.
    I know some in the church are really bad—like the godhatesfags.com people. And I know others are just subconsciously snobbish toward the unsaved. But we do live in a complicated time. I like Chuck Colson’s social commentary. I really want to live in a country where abortion is illegal. . .and homosexuality for that matter. I really don’t want to see same-sex marriage given any legal ground. My immediate neighbors are lesbians and we have a good relationship (we are not friends because we don’t have anything in common, but we are friendly neighbors and we do help each other out often—one of them just gave me a really good personal reference for a job, in fact) but I don’t want them to be able to adopt children.
    Love is not always easy to figure out. God loves the oppressed and in order to do that he sometimes punishes the oppressor. To love the children we have to speak out against government schools teaching kids that homosexuality is an acceptable alternate lifestyle, I think. If we live in a country where we have a say in these things don’t we have to answer the militant homosexuals? If we say nothing aren’t we giving consent?
    And there’s a difference between loving the teen mother who aborts her baby and loving the women who work at NOW. There is a difference between loving the teen who listens to Marilyn Manson and loving Marilyn Manson himself. There is a difference between loving the lesbian neighbors and loving lesbian congresswomen and pastors.
    We have to love them all but some of them we also have to try to take down because they are leading others astray.
    It’s complicated.
    Anyway, thanks for the link. I suspect that we are not all that far apart in our beliefs on evangelism.
    sally

  13. OK Mary. How about if we gently topple them from their positions of influence? Having first strewn feather pillows and foam rubber all over the ground beneath their pedestals, of course. =0)
    I agree that “take them down” is not a loving statement. But handing someone over to Satan doesn’t sound too loving either. According to Paul it is a good thing for some rebellious persons to be so handed over, though. Ultimately the best way to remove a person of evil influence is to preach the gospel and pray for their repentance. But there comes a time when you have to shoot or imprison the child molester, I believe. And there are many, in the church and out, who are molesting God’s children. (I used to be a pacifist but I can’t sustain an argument for it any longer.)
    But I will try to tone down my language some. Our speech should, after all, be filled with grace and seasoned with salt. Not filled with salt and having only a tiny bit of grace at the bottom of the cup. So I thank you for making me hear myself the way others hear me. =0)
    Now, on with the revolution!
    sally

  14. hey mick, mrs. day late here, but i am glad to hear you are not “afraid.” i’m so sick of the petrified body of Christ. i was listening to marilyn manson the other day and thinking, he’s right you know. much as i HATE to admit it. the church has an in crowd and an out crowd. if you be saved, you might be in (we’ll have to check your papers and do a body cavity search first). if you be out, well, go to hell, you deserve it. i’m sick of that thinking.
    don’t be afraid. i know you’re not and that gives me hope. i hate that you seem trapped, revolutionaryideasandall in the monster, but God has a plan and a purpose for you being there.
    suz

  15. Suz,
    I don’t deserve your compassion. I’m a real stinker sometimes and I’m going to have to pay for it when I stand at the throne.
    But thanks for the support. I crave it.

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