Approaching a Culture of Despair

I had a phenomenal evening talking last night with a group of disciples from Redemption Church in Olathe, KS. We watched this video (below) of Stanley Hauerwas, and talked about despair and what it means to speak like a Christian in the midst of a world that has ceased to believe in God. I felt really fortunate to be a part of the conversation & have been thinking about it ever since.

We had a very lively discussion around the topic of whether or not Christians are supposed to try to run the world – and if our job is not to run the world, then what sort of community do we need to belong to in order to survive. Hauerwas asserts that we have to become a community that knows how to live by our wits again. Here’s an example of what we talked about:

When I was growing up Wednesday nights and Sundays were sacrosanct. There were no activities planned on those nights. We had no play/musical rehearsals at school, we had no athletic games on Wednesdays, nor did we practice late on those nights. No sports league for children would have ever considered planning league games on Sunday morning. That is no longer the case. School and sporting activities roll on undaunted through the Wednesday evening/Sunday morning time frame without giving it a moment of thought.

If those in our culture who run the sports teams and school calendars have rejected the idea that slowing down to worship a couple of times a week is an important part of a healthy rhythm of life, how should we respond? One side would be to say, “These people are running the world & they don’t follow God… We need to take it over. We need to take back the culture for Jesus,” and then lobby the school systems and athletic league managers. Another approach would be to say, “You can go whatever way you want, but my family and my friends – our community – we’re going to live according to a different rhythm. Join us, don’t join us, still we’re going to pursue a different way of living.”

Those are very different approaches, which require a very different obedience. The first approach sets up a situation in which it’s “us against the world.” The second sets up a situation in which it is “us on behalf of the world.” We live differently in order to offer the world a different way to do life – one in which they can actually come into harmony with the way the world is supposed to be. How could we live differently – hopefully more interestingly than most – and do so in front of a watching world? How can we do this and continue to make space for others to join with us in those different rhythms? These are the questions we have to keep asking. Thanks for letting me be a part of the discussion! If you want to join in – watch the video & let me know what you think!

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  • Den

    What's wrong with going our own way in this matter? In a country that supposedly is all about personal fulfillment, why shouldn't those who see a different set of priorities follow their own guide?

    We no longer have blue laws. 24/7 is the mantra of modern business. And yet, and yet, I continue to read articles, even in the Information Technology field where I work, that talk about the absolute need to sometimes disconnect from the always-on life so many of us live. This is just one field. We can look at life in general and see the same need. We need, absolutely need, to sometimes disengage from the mankind hustle and focus instead on the mind of g-d, to stop, look, and listen to the small voice that wants us to listen. The time in the desert prepares us to engage more fully with those around us, and in that, we're engaging with g-d at the same time.

    We don't need to rule the world – it already has a ruler. We just need to obey what our Lord asks us to do. I wish we could find that simple task easier to do, more frequently. We would all be the better for it.

  • I like that you are coming at it from a contemplative point of view. We disengage so we can reengage appropriately. Solitude is absolutely a necessary component of community life.