Zeitgeist meets Kairos

Every age has it’s zeitgeist, or spirit of an age that defines it. For children of the 60’s it is difficult to explain to younger folks the seismic shift between then and now, and how today’s “now” would have been foreign to us in the 50’s before the cultural quakes.

A sampling of today’s news stories serve to illustrate.

We are told Heather Locklear has an uncanny knack at defining the Zeitgeist through her roles, first in Melrose Place:

“Locklear continued as a smiling ambassador for the times, joining the cast of Melrose Place and, in short order, dominating every scene of a show that captured the trashy, social-climbing, backstabbing, self-involved ’90s¢â‚¬¦If you believe in such things, you might argue that Locklear, the youngest of four children, was destined to move in lockstep with the American zeitgeist. She was born in 1961, the year John F. Kennedy was president, the year the Berlin Wall was erected, the year West Side Story and Breakfast at Tiffany’s both hit the big screen. Ever since, she’s shown an uncanny ability to embody characters on shows that reflect, for better or worse, our culture.”

Now in LAX: “Harley (new role in LAX) is a character for these contradictory times: Driven yet relaxed, invincible yet vulnerable, strong yet delicate. In control yet profoundly lost.”

She personified “in control but lost” in an appearance with Regis Philbin during which in a matter of seconds she forgot who she is currently married to and then used the “f” word on TV. (This is not the 50’s).

Andy Borowitz describes John Kerry as “in control and lost” by satirically talking about Kerry’s plans for a “December Surprise.”

Spirituality has changed and today we have a story of a spiritual man, smoking hallucinogenic mushrooms before committing suicide. That is “so a” 60’s story not a 50’s story. ( “so a” being a 2004 phrase).

Then in the world of fashion we read that “slutwear is out” and it is hip to be modest. The phrase “slutwear” could not have appeared in print in the 50’s.

In his book, “The American Paradox,” Psychologist David Myers offers a more sobering statistical assessment of the erosion of the cultural landscape reporting, “We are better paid, better fed, better housed, better educated and healthier than ever before¢â‚¬¦yet for 30 years America slid into a deepening social recession…The divorce rate has doubled, the teen suicide has tripled, the recorded violent crime rate has quadrupled, the prison population has quintupled, the % of babies born to unmarried parents has sextupled, cohabitation has increased sevenfold and depression has soared to ten times the pre-World War II level, by one estimate.”

Sadly, today’s church is often responding to a commercial opportunity instead of the spiritual one, offering “Jesus junk,” to a spiritually hungry age.

As followers of Jesus we are advised to understand the “times” so we can live our faith vigilantly ours is to be a vibrant faith calibrated to “today’s times” not yesterdays. At times the Bible refers to “kairos,” the Greek word for timing. Applied today? Heather Locklear may define the times (Zeitgeist), but her slip of the tongue on national TV was “bad timing” (Kairos). (Kerry’s December Surprise is bad timing as well!) In the Old Testament Mordecai believed Esther had arrived for such a “time as this.” By this he meant she was showing up at the right time (Kairos) to address the issues of her time (Zeitgeist). May it be so with today’s Culturally Savvy Christian

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in September 15, 2004 by | No Comments »

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