Jesus WEPT: Wife Swap, The Age of American Unreason, Africa & The Demise of Christianity

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Wife Swap, The Age of American Unreason, Africa & The Demise of Christianity”

Woody Allen’s line in Hannah and her sisters is still one of my favorites. “If Jesus saw what is going on in his name he’d puke.” Setting aside the theological debate about whether Jesus in fact can see what is going on his name (peering down from heaven and the right hand of God and all that)–it is a prognostication that rings true.

Just about everything I love about Jesus is what I don’t see in so much of today’s Christianity.

Let’s begin with a stunningly depressing episode of “Wife Swap” that daughter Molly insisted we watch it and I’m glad we did¢â‚¬¦sort of.

In this episode the wife of a fundamentalist family swaps with a career woman married to a house-husband with two PhDs,’ one in New Testament. He claimed to know something like nine ancient languages (including Ugaritic).

In the fundamentalist home the father rules the roost, is the watchman at the gate and has, by his own admission, brain washed his children since childhood, to believe as he does about the role of women (marry, cook, love her husband) and a range of other issues.

In the liberal Lutheran home, scholarly dad openly derides fundamentalists, in part because as we learn, he was raised in some form of it and bears deep emotional scars.

Career woman talks to fundamentalist girl and learns the young one wants to be a doctor. Fundamentalist dad, upset at the liberal mom’s influence on his daughter, “kidnaps” the daughter and gets her back on the straight and narrow housewife path.

Househusband liberal Christian becomes emotionally unglued when his views are attacked, specifically when his daughters are asked to take a vow of chastity until marriage–we find him sobbing in bed the next morning, crying out to fundamentalist wife that she has really hurt him. He is almost inconsolable, but fundamentalist mom, being a dutiful husband-supporting wife, actually morphs into the wife that supports liberal fundamentalist mocking husband. It is after all, her wifely duty.

By the end of the show I’m sickened with the thought of what this has done to viewers perception of Christians and Christianity. Given the choice, any reasonable person would look for the box marked neither.

Sadly, the reasoning process of media sated American is such that in the words of Susan Jacob, author of “The Age of American Unreason,” “we have reached a sobering new era where something different is happening: anti-intellectualism (the attitude that “too much learning can be a dangerous thing”) and anti-rationalism ( “the idea that there is no such things as evidence or fact, just opinion”) have fused in a particularly insidious way. Not only are citizens ignorant about essential scientific, civic and cultural knowledge, she said, but they also don’t think it matters.”

Instead of being horrified we laugh when we see American Idol darling Kelly Pickler appearing on the Fox game show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” during celebrity week. Selected from a third-grade geography curriculum, the $25,000 question asked: “Budapest is the capital of what European country?” Ms. Pickler threw up both hands and looked at the large blackboard perplexed. “I thought Europe WAS a country,” she said. Playing it safe, she chose to copy the answer offered by one of the genuine fifth graders: Hungary. “Hungry?” she said, eyes widening in disbelief. “That’s a country? I’ve heard of Turkey. But Hungry? I’ve never heard of it.”

Flip over to the March issue of “The Atlantic” and read “Born Again” an article on evangelicalism, described as flexible, user friendly and market driven,” a “religious tradition that seeks above all to be relevant.” Think about it. Dumbed down America meets need meeting dumbed down religion Viola evangelicalism.

Flip over a few pages and read “God’s Country” about Christianity and Islam battling it out for religious superiority in Nigeria. Here in Africa’s most populous nations (140 million, one seventh of Africa) and wealthiest nation (one tenth of the worlds oil reserves) We learn that “using militias and marketing strategies, Christianity and Islam are competing for believers by promising Nigerians prosperity in this world as well as salvation in the next.”

Did I mention that by 2050 because of the growth of Christianity, Nigeria will be the geographic center of Christianity?

Sometimes when I look at the insanity of how Christianity is positioned, packaged and the form of the religion that is evolving into it’s sustaining force, I am reminded of the description of Apple in the early days, “it was like the Boy Scouts without the adult supervision.”

I believe in the sovereignty of God, but I also believe that sooner or later responsible people need to stand up and say–enough is enough–what you are calling Christianity is not Christianity.

Hopefully one day, the anemic imposter of so-called Christianity will be seen for what it is and Christianity will be defined for what it is supposed to be, the embodiment of Jesus who was full of grace and truth.

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 February 17, 2008 by | 1 Comment »

    One Response to Jesus WEPT: Wife Swap, The Age of American Unreason, Africa & The Demise of Christianity

    1. Annette on May 16, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      I think that troubles me most is that you’re not even questioning how terribly staged this episode appeared. Not only that, but the that BOTH liberal and conservative fathers were completely intolerant and belligerent. The fundamental father drove ideals into his children through fear; the liberal father drove ideals into his children through ridicule. There is no difference. Fear, or the fear of being belittled by your parents.

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