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Quinn Fox
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I’m grateful for all of the comments and interaction so far. Thanks to all, and I welcome additional conversation. I agree with Lee that we not try to “market” or in any way leverage the theme of exile for gain, the way “missional” has been (before missional, the word “transformational” was appropriated in the service of every conceivable church cause). And there is always a danger in facile comparisons, which I acknowledged in my qualified appropriation of the theme of exile. Charles, Hans, Steve and Jay: I don’t disagree that in many ways there is nothing to compare between late/post-Christendom America and post-monarchical Judah (e.g., our wealth, and our high level of comfort within the culture). But there is nevertheless something compelling in the image. Charles, I actually find the image of “captivity” helpful in this context. But as David notes in his allusion to Pogo, the enemy (our captor) is “us.” Neil Postman’s insightful book, “Amusing Ourselves to Death” (1985) began with the observation that Alduous Huxley, not George Orwell, was correct in his vision of the future. In “1984” Orwell alleged it is the things we fear that will ruin us. It hasn’t turned out that way; “Big Brother hasn’t come to get us.” Rather, Huxley’s “Brave New World” is the more accurate picture: it is what we desire that will ruin us in the end. We have, in a sense, taken ourselves captive in the culture of “commodification” and consumption (I think this is Lee’s point, that we try to market everything). Mark Labberton explores this in “The Dangerous Act of Christian Worship.” He observes, “the American church is in exile in its own contemporary Babylon… whether liberal or conservative, the church mostly looks like the culture around us.” To Hans' point, sometimes God's judgment takes the form of allowing the people to have what we want, along with reaping the consequences of our idolatry. Exile, captivity, diaspora. All are suggestive images for the dislocation in which we, the church, find ourselves vis à vis the surrounding culture. Ironies abound in this. It is what we love, not what we fear, that is eroding us. Even as many in the PCUSA are enfranchised and in leadership roles in the culture. Tom has anticipated this in the most recent comment. Yes, to a large extent the solution of the church to our current situation appears to have been to “become better Babylonians.”
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Sep 24, 2010